Category Archives: History

Building New Bridges, Remembering the Old: 1934, “Franklin D. Roosevelt Highway Bridge,” SLR/IRL

I continue to share my mother’s historic documents for those who love and appreciate history. Today’s original 1934 Stuart Daily News publication is very impressive, oversized, with aerial photographs and pride-filled words lauding the City of Stuart, and her  Roosevelt Bridge as part of  the new “Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico.”

This gateway, of course, was the Cross State Canal that was federally funded through “navigation” with the dual use to discharge Lake Okeechobee water, that Nature would have flowed south to Florida Bay, into the northern estuaries enhancing “Fishing, Hunting, and Sports on the Beautiful St Lucie….Lake Okeechobee, and Caloosahtchee River….”

In 1934, an era of Man Over Nature, both men and women did not know their determination to control the environment  and its waters would, eventually, kill almost everything they loved.

And here we are today…

But as my hero Ernie Lyons, editor environmentalist of a later newspaper, the Stuart News said: “What men do they can undo.”

I believe this.

New bridges must be built. Not just of concrete but of the heart.

Bridges between people and politics. Bridges between corporations and children. Bridges between agriculture giants and fish. Bridges between developers and a new way to live. Why? Because like it or not, we are a Florida Water Family. All connected. All bridged together by depending on this place.

#FLWaterFamily

I will end with words from my mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow:

“Jacqui, This is a very large book that was published to celebrate the dedication of the original Roosevelt Bridge on January 8, 1934.  The pages are supposed to face each other so “Stuart–‘Atlantic Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico'” run together. The sentence at the bottom should be “The City of Stuart Invites You to Winter on the Beautiful St. Lucie River.” A gentleman who lives in Rio, Richard Lewis Miller,  shared the original in honor of his father, Alvin Richard Miller 1906-1976.” Mom (http://www.sandrathurlow.com)

Links:

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, website:http://www.sandrathurlow.com

Joe Crankshaw, Transformation of Stuart, TCPalm, http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/in-10-year-span-roosevelt-bridge-transformed-sleepy-little-stuart-ep-405274002-349339071.html/

Former Blog post on subject, JTL: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2018/04/12/city-of-stuart-atlantic-gateway-to-the-gulf-of-mexico-1937-staurt-daily-news/

History Helps Us “See,” Septic to Sewer Conversion, SLR/IRL

Aerial of Lighthouse Point Feb. 8, 1965, Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives.

At my request, my mother has been sharing historic real estate photos. Regarding today’s aerials, it seems the perfect time to broach the controversial subject of “septic to sewer.”

When I first saw the photographs of Lighthouse Point, I said “What is that?” I thought the land had been created by fill, but then realized it was natural lands filled and dredged. This practice was very common before the 1970s and happened at various locations throughout Martin County, but was more prevalent in destinations like Ft Lauderdale and Cape Coral. Wherever this land use was completed, early photographs allow us to see how strange, how vulnerable,  how naked, the land looks. And we can see its connection, like a sponge, over the surrounding waters…

Let’s take a closer peek at this 1965 photo of Lighthouse Point in the St Lucie River. In 1965, developers had no concerns about nutrient pollution, and every property of course had its own septic tank.

Lighthouse Point/Seagate Harbor 1968, Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives

Fortunately, in the 2000s, Martin County did help residents of Lighthouse Point and neighboring Seagate Harbor, convert from septic to sewer, along with other “hot-spot” communities, as documented in this outstanding presentation by former Martin County Ecosystems Manager, Deborah Drum.

http://riverscoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DDRUM-Rivers-Coalition-June-2017.pdf

Red ballon shows Lighthouse Point/Seagate Harbor neighborhoods in Palm City
See yellow dots, slide from Deb Drum’s presentation of completed projects.

But there is more work to do.

As we know, Septic to Sewer is one of those subjects people passionately fight over as we try to understand why our waterways have become so impaired. This was the case in my own hometown of Sewall’s Point.

Famous for the first strong fertilizer ordinance on Florida’s east coast in 2010, a year of my mayorhood, The Commission flipped this environmental streak, and last year, when I was off the commission, following much back and forth and very poor communication, ~in spite of heroic efforts, but a totally exhausted, confused and furious public, decided not to work with Martin County for a partial sewer conversion. The backlash to this is far-reaching.

I agree that most of Sewall’s Point is not dredge and fill, but some is, and with out a doubt, old septic tanks in flood zones along the Indian River Lagoon are not a good idea.

In Sewall’s Point, and all Martin County residential areas we can “feel better about ourselves” as we know that  Agriculture is the primary nitrogen and phosphorus polluter into our waterways, (and they need to get to work!) by about 88% according to Dr Gary Goforth. (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/phosphorus-loading-by-land-use-what-fdep-isnt-telling-us-gary-goforth/) Nonetheless, this does not mean we should act too self-righteous to change out ourselves.

As we all begrudgingly work to lessen nutrient pollution (nitrogen and phosphorus) into our waterways, it is helpful to look backwards as we plan for the future. Thanks mom for sharing your photos; history helps us “see.”

Links:

What is nutrient pollution? EPA https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution

Martin County Sewer Conversion: https://www.martin.fl.us/SeptictoSewer

City of Stuart Sewer Conversion: http://cityofstuart.us/index.php/en/sewer-expansion/sewer-expansion-maps

Scientific paper: Earth Sci 2017 estimation of nitrogen load from septic systems
to surface water bodies in St. Lucie River and Estuary Basin, Florida, Ming Ye1 • Huaiwei Sun2,1 • Katie Hallas3: http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~mye/pdf/paper62.pdf

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, local historian: http://www.sandrathurlow.com

The Maps We Follow, SLR/IRL

1910 Standard Guide map of Florida, courtesy historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow

Maps. They get us where we’re going, and they reference were we’ve been.

This 1910 Florida Standard Guide map, shared from my mother’s archives, is a black and white goldmine for comparison to our “maps” today.

If you are from my neck of the woods, you may notice that there is no Martin County just sprawling Palm Beach County. Across the state, we see a monstrous Lee County. Collier and Hendry counties were created out of Lee County in 1923. As far as roads, one may notice there is no Tamiami Trail. In 1915 construction began on this famous highway that has blocked remaining water flowing south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades ever since. And what about Alligator Alley constructed around 1968?

What do you see? What dont’ you see? What’s different from today? I think it is interesting to wonder how South Florida would function today if we didn’t work so hard to fill in the southern part of the map.

Mother Nature just may take it back anyway. Check out this sea level rise map: https://freegeographytools.com/2007/sea-level-rise-google-mapplet

Yes, today we use Google Maps, or GPS instruction from our smart phones to figure out where we’re going and what develops.

Where these electronic maps are taking us is only for the future to know. Hopefully our choices, and the maps we follow are more helpful to the environment and to wildlife too! Florida Wildlife Corridor explore maps: http://floridawildlifecorridor.org

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, local historian,  website: http://www.sandrathurlow.com

Google Maps, Florida: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=18J9_j-2FuhO9ABdZDdDg1MKDeQk&msa=0&ie=UTF8&t=h&vpsrc=6&ll=28.750319037763777%2C-83.85705481014259&spn=5.403019%2C10.810547&z=8&output=embed

Tamiami Trail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamiami_Trail

Interstate 75/Alligator Alley: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_75_in_Florida
Alligator Alley: https://protectnepa.org/alligator-alley-75-extension-everglades-parkway/

Backroads Travel, vintage Florid maps: https://www.florida-backroads-travel.com/florida-vintage-road-maps.html

Blog on Florida Counties’ Evolution: 1884 Rand, McNally & Co. Map, the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee,”My How Things Change…”SLR/IRL: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/counties-florida/

The Scenic Route of Florida? Gone to Hell in a Handbasket! SLR/IRL

Isn’t this old ad from the early 1920s great? Thanks to my mother, local historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, I have some old real estate ads to share from our region of the state. It makes me think…

The ad reads:

Oscar Hand Pullman Bus Line Connecting with Everglades Boat Line

“Scenic Route of Florida” Daily (Except Sunday)

Through the Everglades, Canals, Across Lake Okeechobee and Along the Famous Muck Soil, the Richest in the World.

Down the Famous Caloosahatchee Vally Route, Abounding with Tropical Scenery, To Fort Myers, the Prettiest Town on the West Coast.

Just $14.04

Today? We could offer a Toxic Algae Tour from Coast to Coast, couldn’t we?

Our ad could read:

A boat ride from the red tide waters of the Atlantic through a polluted St Lucie River

to an airplane or satellite view of an algae filled Lake Okeechobee

then a boat ride to the ailing Calooshahtchee with both red and green tides too!

$1140.04

Historic Scenic Route of Florida?

It went to Hell in a Handbasket! 

Come See! 

Toxic algae under the Evans Crary Bridge, St Lucie River, JTL
Lake O 239 square foot algae bloom, NASA satellite image
Jamie Burns, St Lucie River full of algae bloom from Palm City to Sewall’s Point.
Caloosahatchee algae bloom, photo courtesy Dave Stone.
Caloosahatchee region, photo John Moran

Links:

Local Historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Martin County, FL: http://www.sandrathurlow.com

Stuart History Stuart Chamber: https://www.stuartmartinchamber.org/tourism/history

Florida Landboom: http://floridahistory.org/landboom.htm

Florida Land Boom Florida History: https://www.floridamemory.com/blog/tag/florida-land-boom/

History of Development, Fort Meyers, FL: https://fortmyers.org/live-in-fort-myers/history-of-fort-myers/

Miami Herald,
What’s an algae bloom and how did it wind up sliming Florida’s biggest lake?
BY JENNY STALETOVICH, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article214620390.html

Phy.Org: What’s Causing the Algae Crisis? https://phys.org/news/2018-08-florida-algae-crisis.html

Red Tide, FWC east and west coasts of Florida: http://myfwc.com/redtidestatus

Buy it Like a Real Man! Florida Real Estate That Is… SLR/IRL

Historic real estate advertisement, ca. 1919 Pinecrest, FL, Museum of the Glades, https://www.museumoftheglades.org

I have been looking though my collection of maps and other Florida things, and I came across this remarkable real estate ad by W. J. Willingham. I would think it is from the early part of the 1900s when Barron Collier and James Jaudon, “Father of the Tamiami Trail,”  were developing South Florida. Apparently, Jaudon sold the land that became Pinecrest to Willingham.

What is of most interest to me is the tone of the ad, and how different is it compared to how we sell real estate today.  For instance, the first section reads: “Hesitation:” On the plains of Hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions; some men are just plain quitters, but the most pitiable sight in the whole world of failures, is the man who will not start. Opportunity will knock at your door this week and give you a chance to start. You can deny yourself one or two simple luxuries, drop a useless habit or two, and the start is made. You can own a Pinecrest lot. You can be a true-born American and take a shot at it and if you lose, you can take your loss like a real man. On the other hand, if Pinecrest makes a wonderful town, you can enjoy the pleasures invariably comes when a man uses his head and wins. My friend, it is up to you. Will you hesitate? Or will you start?  W.J. WILLINGHAM

Holy cow. This must have been the way one sold land in the Everglades in the old days, before political correctness, equal rights, and other things. Interesting to ponder, don’t you think? Maybe that’s why they mowed everything down.

Looking at the rest, Mr Willingham’s rant continues:

Here’s another duzzie: “Nerve.” That word nerve spells success. I was looking through some of old papers the other day and I ran across and old advertisement I put in a Florida newspaper a few years ago. At the at time I tried my level best to persuade someone to buy a certain property for $11,000. No one seemed to have the nerve. Finally I persuaded my brother to go in with me and buy it. All that was required a small  cash payment and just a little nerve. Now to make a long story short, we recently sold a part of that property for $137,000 and we have some o the property left. In a few short years you will wonder why you did not accumulate just a little nerve when Pinecrest was just starting. Pincerest has a mighty bright future. I am going to give you an opportunity to pick up a few Pinecrest lots at auction. W.J. WILLINGHAM

This is a good one, today we would write “Do you know of anything that has destroyed America’s Everglades more than Tamiami Trail?

W.J. Willlingham’s final words are a harsh motivator as well: “J.J. Hill Said:” James J. Hill, one of the greatest builders this county has produced, designated thrift as the one qualification without which no man could succeed. He said: If you want to know whether you are destined to be a success or a failure in life, you can easily find out. The test is simple, and infallible. Are you able to save money? In not drop out. You will lose. You may think not. But you will lose as sure as you live. The seed of success not in you.” W.J. WILLINGHAM

The seed of success not in you? Hmmmm. I agree with being thrifty, but how the “seeds of success change.” To be successful, the new developers of South Florida will have to adapt to our new world of rising seas, stronger storms, climate change, and the subtleties of selling to modern society. This could be a challenge; we may have to get some advice from the gators who have around a long, long time.

Alligator, public photo.

Links:

Pinecrest went on to be a very successful community. I wonder what the ads in the future will look like as it goes underwater…

Pinecrest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinecrest,_Florida

Pinecrest History: https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/our-village/history

Pinecrest website: https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/our-village

James Jaudon, Father of the Tamiami Trail: http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim/bios/jaudon.htm

Roads in the Everglades, Collier, Jaudon, Willlingham: https://books.google.com/books?id=oOvcDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA147&lpg=PA147&dq=wj+willingham+fl+pinecrest&source=bl&ots=TzcvzlZ04_&sig=1uugd2-UG8ag8B1QEy0IyD6oYzM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwitwbfgwIjeAhWqTd8KHXnuCVcQ6AEwA3oECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=wj%20willingham%20fl%20pinecrest&f=false

What if the EAA had Become “The Promised Land, “Okeechobee Fruit Lands Company… SLR/IRL

“Eager salesman from the Florida Fruit Lands Company crossed the country, promoting the Everglades as a “Garden of Eden”, a “Tropical Paradise,” “The Promised Land”. These “swamp boomers” enticed potential buyers with sales literature quoting government officials who extolled the possibilities of the Everglades…” 

Okeechobee Fruit Lands Co., early 1900’s map, ~Museum of the Glades.

For years, Ed and I have flown over the Bolles Canal, just south of Lake Okeechobee in the Everglades Agricultural Area, and for years, I wondered who the east/west canal in the EAA was named for…

Just goes to show, even if you become famous, or even “infamous,” over time, chances are, even people who should know your name may not have a clue…

Like Hamilton Disston, Richard “Dicky” J. Bolles was a millionaire of the late 1800s and early 1900s set up to help Florida get out of debt and grow an empire out of this “swamp.”

We get the picture here:

“Bolles founded the first of his Florida enterprises, the Florida Fruit Lands Company, to dispose of 180,000 acres in Dade and Palm Beach Counties. The company divided the lands into 12,000 farms of varying size and designated a townsite, ‘Progreso’, with plans for streets, factories, schools, churches, and public buildings. For the price of $240, a buyer could purchase a contract from Florida Fruit Lands Company, entitling them to bid on a farm and town lot through a scheduled auction. This same scheme was employed by other sales ventures pitching swamp land in Florida, including Okeechobee Fruit Lands Company, which dealt in Bolles’ remaining 428,000 acres around the shores of Lake Okeechobee….

Eventually, Federal prosecutors initiated a case against Bolles and his cohorts, producing a 122-page indictment and more than 100 witnesses from across the country. Bolles was arrested on December 18, 1913 and tried the following March — he was found to be “an honest man”… ~Library of Congress, http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim/bios/bolles.htm

Florida Fruit Lands Co. Map ca. 1907, Museum of the Glades.

 

Okeechobee Fruit Lands plat map once again.

It’s fascinating to look at the Okeechobee Fruit lands map and imagine what would have happened, what could have happened, if Dicky J. Bolles had been successful in his underwater private swampland “scheme.” Look at his plan for this multicolored plat map!

Instead over time, the Great Depression set in, and the Federal Government, ACOE, came in just over a couple of decades later to help save us from Mother Nature and from ourselves, creating unified protections of the EAA under the 1848 Central and Southern Florida Plan, House Document 643.

And we all know the rest of the story…

What coulda, woulda, been?

HOUSE DOCUMENT 643 – 80TH CONGRESS (00570762xBA9D6)

Image up close, Museum of the Glades~although I see no date was obviously created prior to the 1914-1923, the dates of the  first digging of the St Lucie Canal which has been worst part of  the  St Lucie’s River’s complete and total destruction. This canal has been deepened and widened many times, reinforced by the CSFP of 1948. Interesting to note penciled in blue line to Jupiter, perhaps this was a possible canal never built.

Links to story of Richard “Dicky” J. Bolles, Reclaiming the Everglades, 1884-1934, U.S. Library of Congress: http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim/bios/bolles.htm

Special Edition Everglades Presentation by Fritz David 2004:
http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~pbeerli/BSC3052/restricted/slides/04-11-everglades.pdf

ACOE Central and Southern Florida Project:http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/CFS-CSFC/

Hamilton Disston, UF:http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/spec/ingraham/expedition/DisstonDrainage.htm

Florida Water, A Thing of the Past? SLR/IRL

My mother gave me a late birthday present: antique post cards and a bottle once filled with “Florida Water,” a popular tonic sold for health and beauty around the world. Believe it or not, “Florida Water” is still selling across the globe, and has been since 1808 ~for 210 years!

It was poignant to receive such a rare and special gift from my mother because if Murray & Landman began marketing Florida water today, the product would not be so romantic; in fact, the branding  would more look like war.

“Florida Water,” a thing of the past?

Not if we fight to win.

TCPalm reporter Tyler Treadway holds a container of Florida Water in July 2018, Photo by John Moran
Posted on #toxic18, Florida’s new image

LINKS:

Florida Water Cures: http://www.nydailynews.com/making-splash-old-fashioned-florida-water-cures-ails-ya-smells-good-article-1.828293

Florida Water, History WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Water

Florida is Losing it’s Brand:

Graham Brink, Business Columnist: Toxic algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee are a stain on Florida, Tampa Bay Times: https://www.tampabay.com/news/business/tourism/Brink-Toxic-algae-blooms-from-Lake-Okeechobee-are-a-stain-on-Florida-_169667590

Julie Dermansky, Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways,https://www.desmogblog.com/2018/08/02/pollution-policies-toxic-algae-red-tide-cyanobacteria-florida-lake-okeechobee