Thoughts of War – St Lucie River 1918

Greetings everyone. I have fallen behind in my new year’s resolution for 2023 – “write once a week on a historical aspect of the St Lucie Canal for 2024’s 100 year anniversary.” The St. Lucie Canal was built by Florida’s Everglades Drainage District from 1916 to 1924. In the early days many locals called it the “monster ditch” but it would reach much larger status in the years to come once turned over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1931.

Today, I share one of my mother’s articles from the early days of the canal and river from one of Sewall’s Point’s most famous adventurer naval residents, Hugh L. Willoughby who came to Sewall’s Point in 1906. This article is an uncovered gem of a piece from The Stuart Messenger penned by Willoughby. The date on the front page is hard to read; to me it looks like 1918. My mother thinks it looks like 1916.

World War I occurred between 1914 and 1918 and thus the St Lucie Canal was first constructed during this difficult era. Also Congress was considering deepening the St Lucie Inlet after being opened by hand in 1892.

Thoughts of war are reflected in the article: “Willoughby Boost the Canal and Inlet, Both are of Great Importance. On the Completion of These Projects Submarines and Torpedo Boats Can Navigate East Coast.”

Hopefully, such thought are never something we have to ponder again…

Willoughby in aviation gear. Courtesy of Martin County Historical Society ca. 1920s.

1st aerial over St Lucie River and Inlet at Sewall’s Point-Willoughby. Courtesy Dale Hudson Stuart on the St Lucie, Sandra Henderson Thurlow ca. 1910s.
Archives Sandra Thurlow, ca. 1918.


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