My father’s parents moved to Stuart, Florida from Syracuse, New York in 1952. This aerial photograph of the St Lucie Inlet was taken that same year so it holds personal significance to me.
This was one of many aerial photographs my parents acquired from Aurthur Ruhnke when he closed down his photography shop in Downtown Stuart during my childhood.
My mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, wrote about the image when she first shared it with me in 2010.
“Jacqui, I have quite a few Sailfish Point images I have never scanned. This is one I think might do for you. It is one of the ones that has an exact date on it. February 28, 1952. It is before any of the Rand excavation took place. People would probably enjoy seeing the way the inlet looked as well as how the land was bisected with mosquito ditches. You can also see the fresh water lake and the way the waves broke over the reef. ” Mom
What else do you see?
Below I am including a timeline of the inlet with a history up to 1994, and ACOE dredging costs up to 2000. See links below for source of ocean science.net.
St. Lucie Inlet Jetties and Detached Breakwater
St. Lucie Inlet, Florida
Date(s) Construction and Rehabilitation History
1892 St. Lucie Inlet, located at the south end of Hutchinson Island, is reported to have been cut through the barrier island by local residents. Initially, the inlet was 30 ft wide and 5 ft deep.
1909 Federal interest in a navigation project recommended Federal funding of a 18-ft channel as well as a jetty along the north side of the channel.
1913 The 1913 River and Harbor Act provided initial appropriation of funds for experimental dredging of a channel 18 feet deep across the reef and ocean bar.
1916 Federal construction of the channel seaward from the mouth of the inlet began. The dredged portion of the project rapidly shoaled with sand and abandonment was recommended in 1917 and again in 1933, but no action was taken.
1926-1929 Local interests constructed the north jetty out of coquina rock to a length of 3,325 ft. The maximum dimension of the rock was 6 to 7 ft with a density of about 120 pcf. The offshore 100- to 200-ft portion of the jetty was partly covered with granite blocks. Martin and St. Lucie Improvement District dredged a turning basin at Port Sewall and an 18-ft deep by 150-ft wide by 10,000 ft long channel.
1966 Federal legislation was passed modifying the St. Lucie Inlet project to include maintenance of a 6 by 100-ft channel along the best natural deep water alignment between the Federal bar-cut channel and the Intracoastal Waterway.
1974 An extension of the north jetty and modification to it for a weir section, excavation of a sand impoundment basin, construction of a south training jetty with a fishing walkway, a 10 by 500-ft channel through the bar-cut tapering to 150 ft through the inlet, and a 7 by 100-ft channel to the Intracoastal Waterway were authorized by Congress.
1979-1982 This Federal project consisted of extension of the north jetty 650 ft (350 ft south-southeasterly and then 300 ft southeasterly), construction of a 1,400-ft south jetty with fishing walkway and a connecting rock bulkhead, construction of a 400-ft detached breakwater directly south of the north jetty extension (700 ft apart at their outer ends), an entrance channel 16 feet deep by 300 feet wide, an inlet throat channel 10 feet wide, and the dredging down to rock of a 2,500 foot long by 450 foot wide impoundment basin. Capstone was to be 6 to 10 tons (at least 75 percent to be 8 tons or more), except on the outer ends of the jetties and the detached breakwater, where the capstone would weigh 10 to 12 tons. Estimated quantities for completion of the improvements were 64,800 tons of capstone, 8,000 tons of core stone, and 28,600 tons of foundation stone. The fishing walkway was built using asphaltic concrete cap and grouting mixes. During construction there was a severe problem with scour, and large apron blankets had to be added (no details on apron or jetty cross sections).
1994 Construction by non-Federal interests of a sand tight groin about 450 feet long at an elevation of about 4 feet NGVD located about 50 feet north of and parallel to the north jetty.
*”Pictures speak a thousands words.” You never know what photo you take today– may become a window of understanding in the future.