How We See the World–Maps For the Past, Maps for the Future, SLR/IRL


1866 map shared by Jim Davis
1866 map shared by Jim Wilson.

I don’t know about you, but I love maps! As a visual person, a map helps me understand  more than words…

In his “Student Guide to Map Making” Ralph Ehrenberg writes:

“Maps are one of the most important types of documents associated with exploration. A map is a graphic representation that facilitates a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes or events in the human world. They are used by explorers to help find their way. They are also prepared by explorers to document or record what in fact they discovered.”

It may not be the 1800s, but we are still explorers. We are trying to find a way for a better water future. One of the best ways to achieve this is to study the past. Over the weekend Facebook friend, Jim Wilson, discovered a very interesting 1866 map of Florida and the Everglades:

You can view the 1866 map in full here:

I emailed Dr Gary Goforth about it and this is what he said:  “Portions are accurate, but feel that other portions are not accurate, e.g., the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee. Regardless, it is an amazing compilation of “known” information from 1866!”

In spite of perfection or imperfection, the map has the ability to inspire and give us a visual of what the lands and area south of Lake Okeechobee may have looked like—-I have studied many maps, but I had never had a way to envision the rivers/rivulets running south to the Everglades—–yes, the multiple “fingers” so often reported by early explorers. For me the 1866 map, in one form or another, was an “ah-ha” moment. Thank you Jim!

Maps give “vision…”

We are still explorers…

—I think we should create a “map” of what we would like to see in the future for the waters of our state, particularly south of Lake Okeechobee. Not a drawing, or a satellite, but a good-old map.

You can view other old cool Florida maps from 1800-1849 here:

Portion of 1845 Florida Military map showing around south of Lake Okeechobee but no rivulets.
Portion of 1845 Florida Military map showing “fingers” south of Lake Okeechobee but no continuing rivulets as the 1866 shows.


Thank you Jim Wilson for sharing the 1866 map and inspiring this blog post. jacqui

7 thoughts on “How We See the World–Maps For the Past, Maps for the Future, SLR/IRL

  1. Jacqui: Strange to see no inlet in the Gilbert’s Bar area thus no inlet between Ft Pierce and Jupiter. I couldn’t agree more with you suggestion of creating a “Wish” map highlighting the area from the south shore of the lake to Florida Bay.  It would highlight exactly the lands not currently in public ownership that are needed to recreate the cleansing flow south and it would also highlight publicly held lands not needed that could be part of a cash and trade deal.  If such a map were created, and the various organizations reviewed, commented, updated, and agreed, we would finally have the “positive ask” to put against the far more expensive “sugar friendly” projects currently underway. Chas

    1. Thank you Charles! My mom has all these old accounts about inlets opening and closing and being recored at different times as opened or interesting. I think Ft Pierce inlet but further north was the “permanent” inlet which meant it was open most of the time but not all! The shifting sands of time are now engineered by modern man….YES we need a visual. I have to find someone to create it as I am not gifted in such. In order for water to move south we must have a visual and not just our strong words–as I mention in this blog. I will try to get something going over the coming months. Thanks for you insights, comments and continuos work on this subject.

  2. Very cool, this is the first map I’ve ever seen that shows the rivers south of Okeechobee. Hopefully one day those lands will reconnect with the southern Glades.

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