Category Archives: History

Early Newspaper Articles, Loxahatchee Wild and Scenic River

Lillies, and ferns along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno.

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3 

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

Loxahatchee Lesson 6

Loxahatchee Lesson 7

Life buds forth -along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno.

Today I share my final Loxahatchee Lesson, # 8.

“My husband Fred van Vonno worked as a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior,  National Park Service, Regional Office, Atlanta Ga.  His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails”. My  husband was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies”. -Nicki van Vonno 

These news articles saved by Fred van Vonno, now loving shared by his wife Nicki, are now available for all.  I learned so much reading through them and most are not available on line. Now they are! May we continue to study our past so that we may work towards  the best future our beloved Loxahatchee River! 

The photos are organized by year: 

1980

STUDYING THE LOXAHATCHEE

PROTECTION BEING STUDIED

1981

RIVERS FATE

1982

C-18 SUIT SETTLED

WMD TO PROTECT

1983

RES IPSA LOQUITUR

Bromeliad in bloom along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno

1984

RIVER WAR IN PIVOTAL BATTLE

1985

LOXAHATCHEE WILD AND SCENIC

2001

CAN THESE CYPRESS TREES BE SAVED

2002

RIVER FRIENDS UNITELOXAHATCHEE VITAL

2004

UNIQUE ECOSYSTEM

No Date

STATE MOVES TO PROTECT RIVER

1978 Booklet

“Study By the Staff of the U.S. General Accounting Office, Land Use Issues”

General Accounting Office Study – Land Use Issues

Red-eared slider along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno

The above photos were slides

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER (also see Lessons 4, 5, and 6 above)

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented as many are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. ~Sandra Henderson Thurlow

 

 

 

 

 

DRAFT EIS: Wild and Scenic River Study, Environmental Impact Statement, Loxahatchee River, Florida, 1982

Wild and Scenic River Studies, Loxahatchee River, archives of Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3 updated!

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

Loxahatchee Lesson 6

Loxahatchee Lesson 7 

~History of Florida’s Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee

In the lessons above, I have been sharing the archives of Mr Fred van Vonno who worked as a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior, National Park Service, Regional Office, Atlanta Georgia.

According to his wife, Nicki, his work involved assessing the recreational potential of rivers and trails and Fred was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. 

One of the documents Mr van Vonno saved was the 1982 Wild and Scenic River Study, Draft  Environmental Impact Statement.  This declaration led to the Loxahatchee River being designated Florida’s first Wild and Scenic River. An incredible feat! 

You may ask, “what is an Environmental Impact Statement anyway?” Basically, it is a rigorous requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 and thankfully it is still protecting the environment even today. 

The FINAL Loxahatchee EIS is available on line. As of publishing this blog post, the DRAFT is too. It is always interesting to see the evolution of a document and to see what ends up on its pages, and what does not…

Please see link below for the DRAFT Wild and Scenic River Study, Environmental Impact Statement, July 1982, Loxahatchee River, Florida and thank you Mr van Vonno for saving! 

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT LOXAHATCHEE  WILD AND SCENIC RIVER RIVER STUDY JULY 1982

Excerpt from the Environmental Protection Agency

What is the National Environmental Policy Act?

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. The range of actions covered by NEPA is broad and includes:

  • making decisions on permit applications,
  • adopting federal land management actions, and
  • constructing highways and other publicly-owned facilities.

Using the NEPA process, agencies evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions. Agencies also provide opportunities for public review and comment on those evaluations.

On this page:

  • What does NEPA require?
  • How do federal agencies carry out the NEPA requirements?

What does NEPA require?

Title I of NEPA contains a Declaration of National Environmental Policy. This policy requires the federal government to use all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony.

Section 102 in Title I of the Act requires federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary approach. Specifically, all federal agencies are to prepare detailed statements assessing the environmental impact of and alternatives to major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. These statements are commonly referred to as Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Environmental Assessments (EA).

Title II of NEPA established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to oversee NEPA implementation. The duties of CEQ include:

  • Ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under NEPA
  • Overseeing federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process
  • Issuing regulations and other guidance to federal agencies regarding NEPA compliance.

Learn more about the National Environmental Policy Act.

https://www.epa.gov/nepa/what-national-environmental-policy-act

 

Loxahatchee Structures, People…~Wild and Scenic Rivers, Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Structures and People, courtesy of Fred van Vonno, Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River Studies

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

Loxahatchee Lesson 6

~Loxahatchee Structures and People, Fred van Vonno, Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River Studies.

As we continue to share the slides of the late Fred van Vonno,  today’s photos fall under the categories of structures and people. Lesson 5 contains Flora and Fauna, and Lesson 4 Aerials. Thank you to my mother for archiving these photos that were once slides in Mr van Vonno’s 1980s slide shows. Thank you to our friend, Nicki van Vonno for sharing her husband’s work. 

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the photos are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. 

Sandra Thurlow 8-20

STRUCTURES

PEOPLE

As I have room in this post, I am going to include two tother categories my mother achieved even through I first thought I would leave them out. The first my mother labeled as “bad.” Some of these photos may be technology not recognized today. The next is labeled “other places.” Mr van Vonno’s research as Study Coordinator for the Wild and Scenic River Program certainly took him many places and perhaps he wished to compare some of those places to Florida, thus I am including them as well. The purpose of these photos is to share and I am hoping some who see them can see and share something I don’t know. Please write if you do! Thanks. 

ELSEWHERE

Loxahatchee Flora and Fauna, River Scenes; Wild and Scenic Rivers, Fred van Vonno

Giant cypress trees, Wild and Scenic River Studies, courtesy archives Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

The purpose of this post is to continue to share the slides of the late Fred van Vonno.  I presented charts and aerials yesterday in Loxahatchee Lesson 4. Tomorrow, or later today, I will add structures and people. Today we share my favorite, Loxahatchee Flora and Fauna as well as River Scenes. If you recognize anything interesting let us know! My mother noticed what appears to be old world climbing fern slide #7. A terrible invasive plant that costs millions of dollars for the State of Florida to manage. 

Thank you to my mother for archiving these photos that were once slides in Mr van Vonno’s 1980s slide shows. Thank you to our friend, Nicki van Vonno for sharing her husband’s work. 

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the photos are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. 

Sandra Thurlow 8-20

FLORA & FAUNA

RIVER SCENES

 

Loxahatchee Charts and Aerials, Wild and Scenic River, Fred van Vonno

Wild and Scenic River Studies, ca. 1980, courtesy archives of Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Today, I share “charts” and “aerials” from the archives of the late Fred van Vonno. My mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, was given these materials by Mr van Vonno’s wife, Nicki. Ms van Vonno summarizes her husband’s work below. 

“My husband Fred van Vonno worked as a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior,  National Park Service, Regional Office, Atlanta Ga.  His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails”. My  husband was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies”. -Nicki van Vonno 

We share these photos and materials so that they are available to the public for reference and continued documentation of Martin and Palm Beach counties’ “Wild and Scenic River,” the Loxahatchee. Tomorrow, I will highlight more slides including flora and fauna, river scenes, structures and people. 

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the aerials are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. The aerials are pre-I-95. There are a couple of scenes of Trapper Nelson’s place that are of significance. -Sandra Thurlow 8-20

AERIAL CHARTS

AERIALS

CHARTS

 

 

“Environmental Considerations in Wild and Scenic River Studies,” FVV’79

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Few of us get to see our river dreams come true; Frederik von Vonno did. 

In 1979, while getting his master’s degree in City Planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Mr. van Vonno, wrote a paper entitled, “Environmental Considerations in Wild and Scenic River Studies.” In this paper he primarily juxtaposes the Obed River of Tennessee and the Myakka River of Florida to make his point regarding environmental issues. But the following year, van Vonno would be conducting the Loxahatchee River National Wild and Scenic River Study in Martin and Palm Beach counties with Luther Winsor, Chief, Division of Resource Area Studies for the Southeast Region of the National Park Service. (Evening Times, 1980).

Certainly van Vonno’s work on this paper was invaluable and set the North Star…

Map insert, Chapter 2.

Today, I share Chapters I-V of this paper; I see it as a seed of what became the Loxahatchee Wild and Scenic River and a clear guide to understanding the designation today. You can access a PDF of the report by clicking the link below. 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS IN WILD AND SCENIC RIVER STUDIES, Fred von Vonno, 1979.

In achieving the “wild and scenic” designation, the Loxahatchee River had a lot of competition as many of our nation’s rivers appear to be much more dramatic. But in the end, for Florida, the Loxahatchee’s stunning and calm sub-tropical beauty was honored first, to stand along side some of the most famous rivers of the United States.

Loxahatchee River https://lrpi.us

APPENDICES to Mr van Vonno’s report: A, B, and C. 

A: Wild and Scenic River Act

B: Guidelines for Wild and Scenic Rivers

C: Park Service Study Process.jpg

Full map insert from Chapter 2, van Vonno.

 

Mapping the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee

Loxahatchee Lesson 1 

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love maps! Today I opened a map entitled “Physical, Hydrological, & Biological Characteristics of the Loxahatchee River Estuary, Florida, U.S Geological Survey,” that may not have been unfolded since the year I graduated from Martin County High School in 1982.

In June of 2020, my mother and her dear friend Nicki van Vonno, shared with me documents belonging to Nicki’s late husband, Frederik W. van Vonno. In 1979, as a student, “Fred” wrote a paper that he presented to his Georgia Institute of Technology professor,  entitled: “Environmental Considerations in Wild and Scenic River Studies.”

As we know,  the Loxahatchee River was designated a federal Wild and Scenic River shortly thereafter, in the momentous year of 1985. It was Florida’s first!

So this map is part of the history of the Loxahatchee becoming a Wild and Scenic River. There is a lot to talk about in Mr van Vonno’s documents, but I want to begin with this map. It will be our guide over the coming days. There are sections listed: Introductions, Purpose and Scope, Methods, History, Physical and Hydrologic Characteristics; Sediment; and Summary and Concluding Remarks -by Benjamin McPherson, Maryann Sabanskas,  and William Long -all of the Department of the Interior’s Geological Survey. You can peruse all of these sections  if you click on map below.

For purposes of time, and our goal to learn beginnings today, I will focus only on the historical building and demise of this great river, Loxahatchee.

History of the Estuary from map

The Loxahatchee River estuary owes its existence to a rise in sea level and an increase in rainfall. About 15,000 years ago, the shore of the Atlantic Ocean was several miles east of more than 300 feet lower than its present location and altitude at Jupiter Inlet. The climate was windy, cool, and dry. From about 15,000 to 6,000 years ago, sea level rose relatively rapidly at a rate of more than 3 feet per century. Near the end of this period, modern vegetation and climate became established and the rise in sea level slowed. Sometime near the end of the rapid rise in sea level and several thousand years ago, tidal waters began to flood the estuary embayment. Prior to this time, the embayment was  probably a flood plain or a freshwater marsh. From the time of the first tidal flooding to about 1900, the shape and bathymetry of the estuary were modified solely by natural processes of sedimentation and erosion…

The rest I will paraphrase:

In 1900 came the “progress” of man bringing with it two big shifts: 1. the dredging and permanence of the Jupiter Inlet which allowed much more salt water into the delicate estuary,  and a familiar foe, over-drainage – Ground water levels were lowered and fresh water inflows reduced.

The once fresh water inputs going into the Southwestern Fork (far left/down) from Hungryland Slough and the Loxahatchee Marsh -part of Loxahatchee Slough we talked about in Loxahatchee Lesson 1- were tamed by  the huge C-18 canal. The Everglades connection severed.

The Northwest Fork’s water (middle) was reduced due to development of the Central and South Florida Plan, all of the giant historic canals that are managed today by the South Florida Water Management District. Creeks Kitching and Cypress remain, but are anemic. A portion of this Northwest Fork -from  Riverbend Park to Dickinson State Park is the area that was deemed “Wild and Scenic” in 1985. In spite of this status, cypress trees have been replaced by mangroves due to less fresh water input and more salt water input. 

The North Fork (far right) is surrounded by development but a small portion looks untouched in its upper region. 

All things life changing begin with a dream. My writings will follow Fred van Vonno’s dream. 

The Loxahatchee is one of thousands of United States rivers that have been negatively transformed by agriculture and development; but, the Loxahatchee has more hope than most. In future blog posts we will explore this studying the Wild and Scenic designation and how this “dream come true” is not over yet. 

DOI Archives: 

Click to access 0001pt01.pdf

The Once Incredibly Long Reach of the Loxahatchee…

Excerpt Loxahatchee, 1839 Map of the Seat of War, Florida, Gen. Zachary Taylor
Page 48, Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, McVoy 2011

“The Loxahatchee River,” Seminole for “River of Turtles.” What a beautiful name. A name, a river, I really know very little about…

Let’s learn…

First, we must note that that today’s Loxahatchee River, located just south of Stuart, is the antithesis of the St Lucie River. Whereas the St Lucie’s watershed has been immensely expanded, the Loxahatchee has been amputated. 

Over the next few days, I will be sharing about the Loxahatchee, a river that partially lies in Martin County. However the majority of this once great river lies in Palm Beach County, home to over 1.2 million people! 

Let’s go back….

First, we have to think about where the Loxahatchee originally flowed, before drainage. The Loxahatchee’s story is an incredible one as the Loxahatchee was connected to the Everglades.

Look at the image below from Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, McVoy. Note the red drawn outline that represents the natural edge of the Everglades. Now look at the “arm,” the red formation in the upper right hand side of the image. This is what is called the Loxahatchee Slough, now gone, but today its remnant is Grassy Waters. This gigantic slough was indeed connected to the Everglades and in high water times the flow from the Everglades rose to swell inside the Loxahatchee Slough feeding the Loxahatchee River. Incredible! Today this gone. It, like everything else in South Florida has been channelized, drained, for agriculture and development. We drive over these now dry lands thinking this is the natural state. It is not, these lands were once a mosaic of the Everglades, our River of Grass.

Excerpt: SFWMD Facilities Map

So think about this for a moment.

The Loxahatchee  River “ran” from the coast, near Jupiter, to the Everglades. The river has been minimized, the slough is compartmentalized, but one remaining piece of this Loxahatchee Reach to the Everglades still alive is today’s Aurthur R. Marshal Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

This important refuge is easy to recognize as it is the “top oval,” in the images.

It is considered” the last northernmost portion of the unique Everglades. With over 221 square miles of habitat, the Loxahatchee Refuge is home to the American alligator and critically endangered Everglades snail kite. In any given year, as many as 257 specie son birds may use the Refuge’s diverse wetland habitats.”

These lands/waters are owned by the state through the South Florida Water Management District but are managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. You will find the most intact remaining tree islands here. Deer and other wildlife live on these tree islands and sometimes in the early morning as the sun rises, the deer stand on the levee while bicyclists go by!

To the South Florida Water Management District the refuge is known and functions as Water Conservation Area 1, just west of Parkland, Florida. 

When I drive south on Highway 95 from Stuart to the South Florida Water Management District, I often wonder what these lands will look like one hundred years from now. Quite a thought isn’t it? What do you think? Who knows what will happen; but let’s continue to get to know the Loxahatchee! 

Southern Path to the Loxahatchee River: Time Capsule Flight, Todd Thurlow: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/history-of-the-loxahatchee-river/)

 

St Lucie Connections – Lost Through Time

Excerpt from 1839 Map of the Seat of War in Florida compiled by order of Brid. Gen. Z. Taylor principally from the surveys and reconnaissances of the Officers of the U.S. Army.

The following of which you will recognize many names and places, was shared from my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow. For years it lie dormant in her history files.

Written in 1881 as an article in an old time newspaper, The Florida Star, the article describes the location of pioneers living near the river and the extent of the St Lucie River itself. It is told that the South Fork of the St Lucie was connected all the way “westward of the Jupiter Lighthouse having its origin in the Everglades.”  Since 1881, we have drained so much of Florida that we only know its remnant. Imagine what it was like. Read, dream, and enjoy! 

From The Florida Star, Titusville, Florida, February 23, 1881, “Indian River” by Elias B. Wager, transcribed by Sandra H. Thurlow 

One mile south of Judge Paine’s is the mouth of Taylor Creek; on the left bank of which is the residence of Mr. Alex. Bell. Opposite the creek the oyster bars decrease. Two miles south from Bell’s is the old parade ground at Fort Pierce some of the of which are yet visible, extending quite a distance back to where was a watch tower commanding an extensive view of the river. Here is a fine spring of water bursting out from under the river-bank. Here also is the site of a store kept by Mr. Hogg. Going southward from Fort Pierce and passing several old places along the  skirted western bank, we find Herman’s Grove about eleven miles from Fort Pierce. This grove, a valuable piece of property is owned by a man living at Key West. About two miles from Herman’s Grove, is the clearing and home of Mr. T. E. Richards, late of Newark, planted to orange trees and the pine-apple. He has a clearing on the east shore of the river also, for growing vegetables, etc. Six miles from Mr. Richards is Mount Elizabeth, crowned with hummock of Cabbage Palmetto, the home of J. S. Fowler, late of New York. The river at this point is some two and one-half or three miles wide. Nearly opposite Mount Elizabeth and on the east bank of the river is the “Old Cuban’s Place.” Here grows the bananas very luxuriantly. The distance from the eastern shore of the river to the beach, is some three or four hundred yards. The river from Indian River Inlet to the Narrows is called St. Lucia Sound. Some three miles south from “Old Cuban’s Place” is located House of Refuge No. 2. Four miles south of Mt. Elizabeth and on the west side of the river is the mouth of the St. Lucie River. This river has a North and South Branch. Some ten miles above the meeting of the Branches, the North Branch separates into three streams, called Five, Ten, and Eleven Mile Creeks, indicating the distance from Ft. Capron to the several Fords used in the Seminole war.  The South Branch comes from away down to the Westward of Jupiter Lighthouse, having its origin in the Everglades. It has two branches from the Westward which have their sources in the “Big Cypress” and are called Big and Little Cane Creeks, and abound in black bass.

Simple Version, Canal Network of SF w/Historic Imagery 1940-53, SFWMD

Current Canal Network of SF w/Historic Imagery 1940-1953 Map (Simple Version), SFWMD, created by supervisor of Geospatial Mapping, Dr Ken Chen, and his team: Lexie Hoffart, Nicole Miller, and Erika Moylan.

~Today’s map has almost the same name as July 11, 2020’s shared map, but it is “simple,” as the 298 drainage districts are not marked. To best view this image go to South Florida Water Management District’s Featured Map Gallery, click on the image, and then export the PDF to your desktop. An easy way is to link here to the image entitled SFWMD Current Canal Network with 1940-1953 Historic Images Simple Version  (2nd row, 3rd to right) then go to “File” and “Export as a PDF.”

Once downloaded to you desktop, you can zoom in and move up and down wherever you wish to go. North, south, east, west, central. What will you see? You will perceive the modern mapped canal network of South Florida atop hundreds of historic aerial photographs that have been stitched together. These maps are the first of their kind. 

This image gives us a clear idea of what canals drain South Florida. I don’t think ever in one place has this information been so visually available.

I will use the east coast of Florida to zoom into with screen shots for examples, as this is my home. Later, hopefully, you can use your zoom feature as described at the beginning of this blog post to downloaded the map as a  PDF for an even closer view. It will blow you away! 

In the images below, from north to south, we see St Lucie; Martin; Palm Beach; Broward; and Miami-Dade Counties with in the footprint of the  Central and South Florida Plan, now managed by the South Florida Water Management District. Mind you many of these canals in the map pre-date the SFWMD. 

Oh my gosh! Look at all these canals! Look at the wetland images they rest upon. Most children grow up today not even knowing…

The canals are almost everywhere draining what was once of the largest wetlands in the world. Think of all the animals that once roamed and swam here. According to Mark Perry, CEO of Florida Oceanographic, through these canals approximately  1.7 million gallons of fresh water a day is drained to tide.

Kind of weird isn’t it. Like we are living on a squeezed out sponge. Looking at this map makes me want to rethink Florida. How about you? 

CLICK ON EACH COUNTIES IMAGE TO ENLARGE AND SEE ALL OF THE CANALS OVER ONCE WETLANDS – as revealed in 1940-1953 aerials taken by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture.  

Again~

To understand the creation and complexity of the maps I am including the following words of Dr Ken Chen  Ph.D., GISP, Supervisor, Geospatial Mapping Services UnitInformation Technology Bureau, South Florida Water Management District. I had asked him to describe what was entailed with the historic imaging. Thank you to Dr Chen and Team whose talent, research, and time made these maps possible. 

  1. Historical aerials (1940 – 1953)

“Sources of historical aerials, especially 1940s and 1950s, are very scarce, especially for such a large area in South Florida. Therefore our focus was to get whatever we could find online regardless cloud cover or quality of images. As you know, all of those old images were recorded in an analog format (i.e. film or paper), instead of digital. Some (maybe all) of those films/paper images were later scanned and saved to a digital format and made available online. Scanning usually results in loss of imagery quality. For this canal map project, we were fortunately able to locate aerial index images (I would call them aerials index panels), after weeks of online research including data download and review. Each index panel displays a group of aerials in sequence over a specific area. For instance, say 200 images from #1 to #200 over an entire county. These index panels are usually used for aerial imagery management and archival purposes, just like a library index card for images. There is no information at all regarding how those index panels were created, but they are seemingly made via camera shooting or scanning of a group of stacked paper images or positive films. The index panels are simple graphics or pictures without any geospatial information, such as projection, coordinate system etc. The first step to process these index panels, prior to mosaicking, was to geo-rectify and inject geospatial information into the images. To do so staff needed to identify ground control points. It’s very challenging to identify those points in those very old images due to lack of apparent landmarks, e.g. road intersections. This is particularly difficult in the middle of nowhere across the vast wetlands in 1940s-1950s. So staff tried to use a very few of the intersections between rivers, canals and a few major roads to geo-rectify the panels and assigned appropriate geospatial information into them to make them georeferenced images. Then staff clipped each panel image to trim out the white or black edges before stitching all of them together for the majority of south Florida.

The original aerials were collected by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. The aerials index panels were obtained from the Univ. of Florida’s Imagery Library. One thing to note – it’s very evident that there are strong image vignetting effects in the old aerials – bright in the center and getting darker toward the edges. That is an inherent optical artifact in the analog images and can not be corrected during the post processing.

This may be more than you asked for. I’m not sure if I have explained this clearly. To summarize it, this process can be simply illustrated in the following format:

Online search of available sources of data -> data download and review to accept or reject -> identify ground control points (GCP) in prep for image processing -> Using GCPs to georectify the index panels -> inject geospatial information into the panel pictures to make them georeferenced images -> remove the white/black edges -> Mosaick all georectified index panel images -> clip the mosaic to the district’s boundaries before use in the maps.

I forgot to mention the number of historical aerials we used to create the historical mosaic. We used totally 84 aerial index panels. Each panel consists of roughly 50+ to 200+ individual aerials, depending upon the geographic area each panel covers. I can’t get the exact number of aerials, my best guess the number would be ~7,000+-12,000.”

-Ken

Dr Chen

Current Canal Network of SF w/Historic Imagery 1940-1953 Map, SFMWD

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) FEATURED MAPS: 5, *6, 7 https://sfwmd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MinimalGallery/index.html?appid=1facf32f199240b49a326432258c102f

Today I am very excited to begin sharing maps created by SFWMD Supervisor of Geospatial Mapping, Dr Ken Chen, and team: Lexie Hoffart, Nicole Miller, and Erika Moylan. These maps allow us to “see” Florida in a way never seen before! 

I will start first with the map entitled Current Canal Network of South Florida with Historic Imagery 1940  to 1953 (298-linework). This map is best viewed after you export the PDF to your desktop. In Safari this can be done by linking to SWMDCurrentCanalNetworkHistoricImages, then “File” and “Export as a PDF.” 

Once downloaded to you desktop, you can zoom in and move up and down where you wish to go. What will you see? You will see the modern mapped canal network of South Florida atop hundreds of historic aerial photographs that have been stitched together. Incredible! 

Tommy Strowd, former Assistant Executive Director of Operations, Maintenance & Construction at the SFWMD now Executive Director of the Lake Worth Drainage District eloquently states: “These maps are beautiful completed puzzles that clearly show probably the best photographic evidence of what the pre-drainage landscape looked like before the the C&SF Project and the vast system of secondary and tertiary drainage ditches were constructed.”

So this map juxtaposes Florida’s pre-C&SF Project drainage landscape to the canals that drain that remaining landscape today…

The current canal system includes the Primary System of the South Florida Water Management District, Works of the District; Other Canals Streams or Rivers; and the Secondary /Tertiary System including 298 Special Drainage District canals, and other canals, streams or rivers.

As an example, let’s zoom into St Lucie, Martin, and northern Palm Beach Counties. The pastel colors denote 298 Special Drainage Districts, some like the Lake Worth Drainage District go back to the 1913 General Drainage Laws of Florida. The Central and South Florida Project -what we think of when we think of the SFWMD-was constructed starting in 1948. Just a quick glance reveals the extensive wetlands that have been drained by the primary and secondary/tertiary systems. Wow! Now we can “see” how we drained the land and contemplate our water past as well as our water future. 

What a great learning tool to understand and improve water quality!

Close up: St Lucie and Martin County: primary SFWMD canals (blue large), along with secondary/tertiary (smaller blue) some could be under purview of county or otherwise. Independent special/drainage districts-298s (color). Many historic creek/s were made into canals such as today’s C-243 and C24 in St Lucie County that discharge into St Lucie River. This area was once home to the famed Halpatiokee Swamp.
Palm Beach County has 18 298 special drainage districts! I counted a total of 66 within the SFWMD C&SF boarders.

To understand the creation and complexity of the maps I am including the following words of Dr Ken Chen  Ph.D., GISP, Supervisor, Geospatial Mapping Services UnitInformation Technology Bureau, South Florida Water Management District. I had asked him to describe what was entailed with the historic imaging. Thank you to Dr Chen and Team whose talent, research, and time made these maps possible. 

  1. Historical aerials (1940 – 1953)

“Sources of historical aerials, especially 1940s and 1950s, are very scarce, especially for such a large area in South Florida. Therefore our focus was to get whatever we could find online regardless cloud cover or quality of images. As you know, all of those old images were recorded in an analog format (i.e. film or paper), instead of digital. Some (maybe all) of those films/paper images were later scanned and saved to a digital format and made available online. Scanning usually results in loss of imagery quality. For this canal map project, we were fortunately able to locate aerial index images (I would call them aerials index panels), after weeks of online research including data download and review. Each index panel displays a group of aerials in sequence over a specific area. For instance, say 200 images from #1 to #200 over an entire county. These index panels are usually used for aerial imagery management and archival purposes, just like a library index card for images. There is no information at all regarding how those index panels were created, but they are seemingly made via camera shooting or scanning of a group of stacked paper images or positive films. The index panels are simple graphics or pictures without any geospatial information, such as projection, coordinate system etc. The first step to process these index panels, prior to mosaicking, was to geo-rectify and inject geospatial information into the images. To do so staff needed to identify ground control points. It’s very challenging to identify those points in those very old images due to lack of apparent landmarks, e.g. road intersections. This is particularly difficult in the middle of nowhere across the vast wetlands in 1940s-1950s. So staff tried to use a very few of the intersections between rivers, canals and a few major roads to geo-rectify the panels and assigned appropriate geospatial information into them to make them georeferenced images. Then staff clipped each panel image to trim out the white or black edges before stitching all of them together for the majority of south Florida.

The original aerials were collected by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. The aerials index panels were obtained from the Univ. of Florida’s Imagery Library. One thing to note – it’s very evident that there are strong image vignetting effects in the old aerials – bright in the center and getting darker toward the edges. That is an inherent optical artifact in the analog images and can not be corrected during the post processing.

This may be more than you asked for. I’m not sure if I have explained this clearly. To summarize it, this process can be simply illustrated in the following format:

Online search of available sources of data -> data download and review to accept or reject -> identify ground control points (GCP) in prep for image processing -> Using GCPs to georectify the index panels -> inject geospatial information into the panel pictures to make them georeferenced images -> remove the white/black edges -> Mosaick all georectified index panel images -> clip the mosaic to the district’s boundaries before use in the maps.

I forgot to mention the number of historical aerials we used to create the historical mosaic. We used totally 84 aerial index panels. Each panel consists of roughly 50+ to 200+ individual aerials, depending upon the geographic area each panel covers. I can’t get the exact number of aerials, my best guess the number would be ~7,000+-12,000.”

-Ken

Dr Chen

 

 

Historic Property Dispute Over the House Of Refuge

The once home of pioneers Hiram and Hattie Olds as viewed from Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge after a shipwreck. Hutchinson Island, Florida. ca. 1904. Courtesy local historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow. 

I learned something form my previous blog post  that I think is really interesting. 

See the house in the distance in the above photograph? It was the Olds’ homestead that I mentioned in my previous post about Hutchinson Island. I had thought when I read about and discussed a property dispute between the Olds and the U.S. Government -that built the House of Refuge- that the Olds’ property was built first, as they were making a claim against the building of the House of Refuge-saying that they owned the land it was built upon. But that was incorrect;  the House of Refuge was built first, but built on land that mistakenly later was homesteaded to the Olds. Confusing! 

In thinking about this story the above photograph helpful because it shows part of the long strip of land that was homesteaded to the Olds as well as the proximity of House of Refuge -apparently built about in the middle of what became the Old’s very long parcel of land. The survey and documents below will help us unravel all this and why in the end, the Olds had to get an easement to access their own property with the Gilbert Bar’s House of Refuge like an island in between. 

To clarify the dates that I got confused about in my previous post, the Olds’ homestead was formally granted by the U.S. government in 1894 (as you can see below) and they built shortly thereafter. My reference to 1862 comes from the date of the Homestead Act itself. The House of Refuge was built in 1876. In spite of the dates, or the paper issuing of the homestead, somehow the Hutchison Island property was deeded to the Olds even after the the House of Refuge was built on it. (See History of Martin County below.) The House of Refuge was the first house built in today’s Martin County, but there is more to the story than just “being first.” Next time you visit this wonderful place, remember that even in the 1800s things could get very mixed up. 

STA_Patent_FL0860__.343

The Olds homestead shows well on this map.” Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

Email exchange after my prior blog post: 

Mom : “Jacqui, The Homestead Act of 1862 was what provided for Hiram Olds homestead claim of 1894. It is strange that he homesteaded after the House of Refuge was already standing but it happened. It was an error that it was granted and the government had to make amends later. The House of Refuge was the first build we know of in this area.” 

Jacqui: “So the Olds house wasn’t built first? Shouldn’t I still mention 1862, the first year of the U. S. Homestead Act?

Mom: “I don’t think 1862 should even be mentioned. It throws people off because it is a date when the country first was open to homesteading. Our first homestead was no earlier than 1883.”

Jacqui:” It seems to me, if they had rights to the land they must have gotten those rights prior to 1894 or there would not have been a conflict with the US Govt. regarding their construction of the House of Refuge in 1876. Right? It was granted afterwards? Strange. I’ll figure something out.”

Below: Explantation from page 52, The History of Martin County, Historical Society of Martin County, Florida.

Photographs by JTL at sunset of the House of Refuge we know and love today. If you’d like to learn more you can order Sandra and Deanna Thurlow’s Gilbert’s Bar, Home of History. You can visit too!

The Once Beach-Jungle of Hutchinson Island

Looking south in the direction of today’s St Lucie Inlet. Former home of Hiram and Hattie Olds, 1907, Hutchinson Island, in what became Martin County, Fl. Courtesy Agnes Tietig Parlin, achieves Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Deanna Wintercorn “Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, Home of History.” 

Olds Homestead Hutchinson Island, 1862

The more I learn about water, the more I want to know about the land. Inexorably connected – as the lands change, so do the surrounding waters. 

Don’t you love this above photograph?

The lone high-house rising through thick vegetation reminds us of what the beach-scape of today’s Hutchinson Island, Martin County, Florida, used to look like. Cradled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, the home belonged to Hiram E. and Hattie Olds who made application for homestead with the United States Government in the early Florida year of 1862. The photo above spotlights the natural beauty and native vegetation; it was taken in 1907 – forty-five years after the original homestead. With almost a half century passed, like a protective cape over the sandy dunes, the Indian River Lagoon/Hutchinson Island vegetation remained in tact. What an incredible and rare photograph! It almost feels like Africa or some far-off exotic place. 

There must have been so many hiding places for birds and other wildlife. Rain percolating through sandy soils to ocean and estuary. Only a shadow of this vegetation remains today, although Hutchinson Island remains a beautiful place. 

This second photograph reveals the same house in the distance, the Olds’ homestead, granted in 1862-but structure built ca. 1894 -that later became the Yacht Club. From this perspective we are now looking south from the House of Refuge -built in 1876.  It is clear from this Thurlow Archives photograph that  the Georges Valentine shipwreck had recently occurred thus this photograph must have been taken around October 16, 1904 – the fateful night of the ship’s destruction. Again, look at the thick high curve of vegetation along the western edge of the Indian River Lagoon. Fabulous! 

With these 1904 and 1907 photographs we can, for a moment, go back and imagine what Hutchinson Island looked like. It was not just an Anastasia rocked shoreline, but a Beach-Jungle! A jungle that protected wildlife and waters of our precious Indian River Lagoon. 

In our next blog post, we shall learn how the Olds homestead and the House of Refuge were “connected,” not just via fantastic vegetation, rocks, and dune lines, but also through claims of property rights  to the United States Government. 

 

If you are interested in restoring native beach vegetation please see this link. It is a great way to help our wildlife and our waters. 

 

 

Awesome Aerials of Stuart-Martin County in the Days of Old!

I hope everyone is in good health and doing well.  Last week I published an outstanding 1959 aerial from my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow’s Shanley Collection entitled Looking Wide West 1959 Aerial~South Fork to Lake Okeechobee. It was very popular, so today, I wanted to  post the four remaining aerials that make up that collection. All of the photos are remarkable documenting a “time gone by.”  

I find the photos really interesting to look at…

What do you see? What don’t you see? How would you develop it, or not develop it  if we could start over? Me? I would never have cut that C-44 Canal connecting Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River! 

Since a picture speaks a thousand words, I’ll stop here and let you begin your visual tour of yesteryear. 

“~One with Roosevelt Bridge in the center is Feb, 9, 1971

~The on showing the South Fork and the new Turnpike is Dec. 5, 1957

~The one looking all the way to Lake Okeechobee is Oct. 26, 1959.

~The one looking from Palm City toward the airport and inlet is Jun. 13, 1957.

~The one looking along Dixie Highway A1A and US 1 toward the ocean is Dec. 19, 1958

The donor is William Shanley who used to live in the Stucco house across from the Quisenberry property on Sewall’s Point. He was in real estate and he and Dan Deighan bought the Real Estate office of C. O. Rainey on Colorado that had the aerials on the wall.”  ~Mom 

Below: (L) Area where St Lucie Canal (C-44 Canal) connects to the South Fork of the St Luice River. Here one can also see the New Turnpike, the “Sunshine Parkway,” and how beautiful the remaining wetlands were in the area of the South Fork. December 5, 1957.

Below:  An “old” Roosevelt Bridge, connecting the shortest distance over the St Lucie River; North River Shores over the bridge and west is already developed with canals;  Lighthouse Point is being built (L) in Palm City; most of Rio is empty to the east of US1 to the ocean; Stuart is built out as it is the County Seat and the heart of Martin County and our history.  February 9, 1971

Below: Looking from Palm City to the Airport. Hutchinson Island’s Indian River Plantation and Sailfish Point are not yet developed. The glaring white sands of the Stuart Causeway can be seen at what will become the Ernest Lyons Bridge (A1A) connecting Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island; seeing lots of greenery we can tell Sewall’s Point had many river to river estates remaining; in 1957 the town did incorporate and subdivision followed; Cabana Point Circle jutting forward is clearly seen as white fill in the St Lucie River south of the Palm City Bridge. Dredge and fill was not outlawed until the 1960/70s as its destructive environmental issues became clear especially for the marine environment. June 13, 1957.

Below: Dixie Highway A1A and US1 looking towards the ocean one sees that the Hobe Sound area is wide open and natural. Dixie Highway was the most traveled prior to US1 (R) Note the fires burning in the upper right corner. Sugarcane? Burning tree trunks? Something else? December 19, 1958

Thanks Mom! Your history files are AWESOME! 

 

1911 Kissimmee Valley Gazette; Amazing Old Pics!

My mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, sent me this remarkable 1911 magazine promoting the wonders of the Kissimmee Valley as seen in 1911; I think you’ll enjoy it too! Click on images to enlarge and view as gallery. Magazine is organized into four sections due to length. After viewing gallery section, X out in upper right corner to be able to enter next galley section.

KISSIMMEE VALLEY GAZETTE, 1911

Jacqui,

I have this over-size magazine published in 1911. Since you are working on the Kissimmee it might interest. Believe it or not, there is an aerial of Lake Tohopekaliga–oblique. I wonder why Miami is misspelled on “Miam” on map page 9? Notice no St. Lucie Canal.  Interestingly, P. A. Vans Agnew ended up here and was involved in the formation of Martin County. ~Mom 

Pages 1-10

Pages 10-21

Pages 22-30

Pages 31-42

Finding the Lost Rapids of Lake Worth Creek

Before Hurricane Dorian came this way, my brother, Todd, was helping me answer a question. ~One I think will be interesting to you as well…

“Where were the rapids of Lake Worth Creek?” Yes, rapids!

T41S R43E, Survey 1855 John Westcott, Surveyor General.

To answer the question, we must first recognize that Lake Worth Creek has been altered as we can see comparing the images above and below.

This change happened slowly over time, but most notably in 1894 with the completion of the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Maimi. The Google Map below shows the Intracoastal today. The 1855 survey above shows Lake Worth Creek pre-development. In both images, it’s the area between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth- the historic area of Lake Worth Creek.

To learn where these rapids were located let’s read an excerpt from Palm Beach County’s MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR FRENCHMAN’S FOREST NATURAL AREA, FCT PROJECT # 96-011-P7A, June 1998.

The Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area (located right under Frechman’s Passage, JTL)  is part of a broad coastal swale that was separated from the Atlantic Ocean by coastal sand ridges and from the Loxahatchee Slough by a broad pine flatwood ridge. It was part of the headwaters of the former Lake Worth Creek, a meandering blackwater creek that flowed northward to join the Loxahatchee River near its mouth at the Jupiter Inlet. The earliest accounts of the site date from the 1840s, and were from U.S. Army Topological Engineer reports made during the Second Seminole Indian War (Corbett 1993). Eighty men from Fort Jupiter moved up Lake Worth Creek in seventeen canoes. Approximately two miles north of the natural area, they reached the “rapids”, a series of muck terraces that disappeared during periods of high water, but helped hold water at a higher level in the upstream sawgrass marshes. Another series of muck terraces may have been present 0.25 miles north of the natural area. After getting past these barriers, the troops entered a large sawgrass marsh, where they pulled the canoes for a mile to a haulover path over the sand ridge separating the marsh from Lake Worth. The southeastern portion of the natural area was part of the sawgrass marsh, and the soldiers may have crossed through the site. Once they reached Lake Worth, the soldiers raided Seminole Indian villages along its shores, capturing guns and canoes. The soldiers had followed an old Indian route for traveling between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth. When the last Seminole Indian war ended in 1859, pioneers began to use this route for coastal travel. Charles Pierce (1970) described his family’s travel to Lake Worth by small boat via this route in 1873. He noted his father’s difficulty in finding the right channel through the sawgrass to the haulover. Pierce and his family were among the earliest permanent settlers on the shores of Lake Worth. Pierce also provided the first direct reference to the natural area, noting that the bird rookery on Pelican Island (present-day Munyon)…

Click to access 1998_01.pdf

Another source we can use comes from the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company 1881 Prospectus where it documents the advantage of making the cut through Lake Worth Creek. Nine lines from the bottom it mentions the rapids: “There is a depth of five feet of water in the channel from its mouth to the rapids…”  

And the last shared source is from an 1884 USGS Survey Report noting the difficulty of working through the sawgrass route from Haulover Head on Lake Worth to the Rapids of Lake Worth Creek.

Fascinating and historic information, but what about X marks the spot? Where were those rapids?

Using the above information, below (look for yellow arrow) Todd shows more specifically on a topo map from his video “Lake Worth through the Haulover and Sawgrass Route to Jupiter Inlet – 1883” showing where Lake Worth Creek’s rapids may have been located. On today’s map that is very close to Frenchman’s Passage/Frenchman’s Creek.

Next time you’re in the area give a shout out to the once rapids of the former Lake Worth Creek,  a wonder of old Florida that we shouldn’t forget!

9:16am 9-16-19: I was close! My brother just texted me this: Hey Jacqui. Sorry Dorian interrupted our discussion of the Falls. It was actually near the creek called Frenchman’s Creek on the old topos not Frenchman’s Passage which is a neighborhood today about a mile and a half south and inland from the old creek/rapids. 😬

Frenchmans Creek still appears on Google maps. It is where Cypress Island Marina is today off of Palmwood Road.

https://goo.gl/maps/5Wqm4HA8DbL884eG9

Video Lake Worth Time Capsule Flight, Todd Thurlow: https://youtu.be/2pDsQl7rQmQ

Thank you to my brother Todd Thurlow for all of the historic images in this blog post and for his expertise wi