A 1925 View of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

May 1925 aerial for the Sailfish Club by bob Higgins shared by historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
May 1925 aerial for the Sailfish Club by Bob Higgins shared by historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

This amazing 1925 aerial photograph of the confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon tells a story….I found this photo looking back through some old emails between me, my mother, and my brother dated  2010. At the time, I did not catch all of the nuances in the photograph….

For instance, look at the beautiful, healthy seagrasses hugging the elbow of the shoreline  of Hutchinson Island; what about the dock in the midst of the seagrasses that is no longer there; the gentle, crashing waves over a thriving reef at “Bathtub Beach;” the entire area so pristine with extensive natural vegetation. Look at the wispy sandbars forming in the river… Nearby the St Lucie Inlet had been permanently opened, (1892),  but also much “improved,” as 1925 was just before the real estate crash, great depression, and two hurricanes that altered Florida’s history forever.

In 1925, community leaders were actually planning a port, Port Sewall, one to complete with Miami and Jacksonville right in this area! In fact they dug a turning basin for ships just off the southern tip of  Sewall’s Point and created Sandsprit Park with the fill. Can you imagine?

Back to the photo…

Notice there were no spoil islands off of Sewall’s Point–no Archipelago or Island Addition…Notice the sparse development of Stuart and the lack of an airport. Notice the basically undeveloped peninsula of Sewall’s Point, Rocky Point, and the even less developed— later named— “Sailfish Point.”….The Manatee Pocket just east of and beyond Sewall’s Point shows some signs of the coming future but not many….Do you see anything else?

For me the most interesting thing of all was caught by my brother Todd’s keen eye.

“What is that huge white stripe on the horizon??” He said. “It’s looks like a giant 20-mile-long spaceship runway. Well, it’s the spoil from the freshly-dug Okeechobee waterway. See it in the attached comparison from Google Earth.”

Looking upward and beyond in the 1925 photograph to the right of the clouds,  Todd noticed the piled up sands of the C-44 canal—a long curving snake connecting Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River. Can you see them?

Of course we all know that this canal along with others and extensive development, over time, destroyed the healthy seagrasses, great fishing, negatively altering the beautiful paradise of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon..

It’s fun to look back, but its even more fun to think about how we have the ability to improve things in the future.

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Google image 2010 showing C-44 canal to compare to 1925 aerial. (Todd Thurlow)
Google image 2010 showing C-44 canal to compare to 1925 aerial. (Todd Thurlow)

 

 

2 thoughts on “A 1925 View of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

  1. If you put calcium in the fresh water EVERYTHING will come back Fresh water does NOT kill anything People removed ALL the calcium years ago to pave roads and make cement Not to mention eating clams and oysters and not putting the shells back Indians left mountains of shells

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