This weekend I had the honor of being asked by the Citrus County Historical Society to speak on the final day of the county’s “Save Our Waters Week.” The theme “Make a Difference!” Citrus County houses multiple springs, three holding the title of “first magnitude.” These once “pellucid” waters form Crystal River and then flow out to the the Gulf of Mexico.
Although my most recent title is Governing Board, SFWMD, I was clear to say the presentation was my own words and that I have been acting and speaking out as a water advocate for eleven years.
Although I cannot share my words, I think it is important to share my presentation. See if you can add the words yourself…What do Florida’s Springs and the Everglades’ Northern Estuaries have in common? How can we work together to be an even more powerful political force?
Thank you to Florida nature photographer, John Moran, for sharing his aerial photographs of the Crystal River region and for his documentation of the deterioration of Florida Springs. As with the St Lucie River, we must look below the surface to see what is really going on…and we must speak out to stop it!
Rarely have I seen my husband with such determination, and he’s very determined all of the time…
To get his multi-generational Bahamian friend, fishing guide, Justin Sands of Marsh Harbor, a cooler of 16 hamburgers, some buns, mustard and ketchup, and a bag of tomatoes…
Ed told me he would be flying into Treasure Cay dropping off the Vaughns, president and vice-president of Operation 300, the group in Stuart, Florida, that is doing great things for the relief effort. Ed would be greeted by Stephen Leighton who along with his brother, John, are masterminding Operation 300’s coordination. Ed had hoped to get a ride to Marsh Harbor from Treasure Cay to meet Justin, about 26 miles away. That did not happen.
“Why didn’t it happen?” I asked Ed when he got home.
“Jacqui, there’s nothing left there. The beat-up cars they have, have no gas….or very little. The car they were lucky enough to have, ran out of gas.”
So after dropping off the Vaughns and not being able to get a ride, Ed asked Steve Leighton if in the course of his work, could he please deliver the hamburgers. Ed flew back to Stuart, and then something happened that could only happen today.
With Ed now back in Florida, and Steve and Justin with very limited communication service —Stephen in Treasure Cay, and Justin in Marsh Harbor—-the three, via text messaging, and an app called WHATSAPP, coordinated the 16 hamburger drop-off.
Stephen then sent Ed a picture of Justin and he standing amidst Marsh’s destruction- red cooler in tow. Delivery achieved! Later that evening Justin sent Ed a picture of the prepared hamburgers.
When Ed shared the photos, my eyes filled with tears…
Friendship and determination are something that Dorian cannot destroy.
Other photos shared by Stephen Leighton, Operation 300, 9-18-19
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!
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)…
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.
Today I got a call from my husband’s good friend, dentist and pilot, Scott Kuhns.
“I’m going up in the Super Cub” he said, “what pictures do we want?”
“Great!” I replied. “How about the canals? -what’s killing the river at this time. C-23 and C-24, nearer to St Lucie County, and C-44 in South Stuart-even though the ACOE isn’t dumping from Lake Okeechobee right now?”
I was thinking to myself that it’s important to see how these area canals affect our waters even without the worst off all, -discharges from Lake Okeechobee! Between all the extra water, Mark Perry says that the St Lucie River takes on more than twice it did from its natural watershed.
Scott’s voice came over the phone…
“How about the coast?” Scott inquired.
“Absolutely. The coast. There should be a pretty decent plume just from the canals and local runoff.”
“‘llI be in touch,” Scott said, and he was off!
Well, I just received Scott’s photos about an hour ago. The photos are telling and Dorian’s plume is very, very dark.
Dorian, all I can say right now, is thank you for not striking Florida. It was a scary few days, so close! And God bless the people of the Bahamas…
PHOTO BY SCOTT KUHNS and PILOT STEVE SCHIMMING, 9-6-19 at
ROOSEVELT BRIDGE, WIDE AREA OF SLR, HABOARAGE MARINA, STUART
C-23 & C-24 CANALS, C-23 DIVIDES MARTIN & ST LUCIE COUNTY, C-24 in ST LUCIE CO.
C-44 CANAL, SOUTH STUART
ATLANTIC OCEAN OFF HUTCHINSON ISLAND~PLUME VIA “LOCAL RUNOFF” & CANALS C-23, C-24 & C-44 (LAKE OKEECHOBEE IS NOT OPEN AT THIS TIME)
ST LUCIE INLET & SAILFISH POINT
AREA BETWEEN SEWALL’S POINT AND SAILFISH POINT KNOWN AS THE SAILFISH FLATS WHERE SEAGRASS HAD BEEN GROWING BACK.
Background: Time Capsule Flight: Jupiter to Lake Worth Haulover Canal, by Todd Thurlow
Recently, my husband Ed and I guided Adrift south from Stuart to the Lake Worth Lagoon. For us, the boat ride was delightful! Jupiter is by far one of the Intracoastal’s most beautiful of places with its blue water and iconic Jupiter Lighthouse. Today the canal linking it to Lake Worth Lagoon is easy to navigate. What we must remember, as the video above shows, it wasn’t always this way…
Today I share Ed and my 2019 modern Intracoastal Waterway photos contrasted to an 1884 account by Champlin H. Spencer, an experienced seaman, who took the same route in 1884 before the area was developed. In his account, he describes this journey as “the most arduous of any yet experienced.” In the early days, this area between Jupiter and Lake Worth was a marsh, creek and in high waters, a sawgrass highway. It must have been spectacular in natural beauty, but not so easy to navigate!
Thank you to my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow for sharing this rare piece she researched from the National Archives while writing her book US Life-Saving Service: Florida’s East Coast.
~From the library of historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, a historic account: Jupiter to Lake Worth, 1884.
A letter in the national archives written to Captain James H. Merryman, Inspector of Life-Saving Station by Champlin H. Spencer. Spencer became the superintendent of District Seven after William Hunt died in 1882. The narrative illustrates the hardships encountered by early District Superintendents.
Nov. 6th, 1884
In connection with my last trip, I may say, it was the most arduous of any yet experienced. Knowing the October trip to be the worst of the year, I had provided the government sharpie with new sails at my own expense… the only practicable means of locomotion for the Superintendent to get over the 7th District. On arriving at Jupiter, a gale was blowing, a hurricane expected and no reasonable prospect for weeks for crossing the various bars on my route.I therefore borrowed a boat from the assistant light-house keeper Carlisle, pushed in company with my boat-hand through the everglades to haul-over near Lake Worth with the little dinkey in tow which with my boat-hand’s help, it being a desolate point, I tugged over to Lake Worth. The experience of making miles a few inches at a push with pole adhering in the mud & all locomotion confined to literal pushing through lily-pads & rushes cradled in amphibious land is unique while on this occasion camping in an open boat in a torrent of rain amid such surroundings gave a higher spice to its uniqueness. My regular boat-hand returned to Jupiter to take care of (?) while in the cockle shell of a dinkey, proceeded to the settlement, procured a sailboat, hoisted the peak as reef, sailed down the lake & hence footed it down the beach. Mr. Quimby … more from innate gallantry & personal liking than for pay, accompanied me and at the Hillsborough swam the gauntlet of alligators and shark to the other side, bring from the opposite side the boat left there by the Coast-Survey although in so doing he came nigh being swept out to sea. The water was very high, the walking, at all times execrable, was the worst I have ever known it along the coast so that on arriving at Lauderdale station, it being impossible at the time to push through the everglades in a boat to Miami the gale still blowing, I dispatched Keeper Peacock for Keeper Pierce who met me a Lauderdale and there signed the pay-roll. It is my settled purpose not to shirk any portion of the route, but footsore, exhausted and down with a chill & the back track before me, the volunteered readiness of Keepers Peacock & Pierce to meeting me at Lauderdale was truly acceptable & I trust inspection in the premises will not meet with severe censure.*Photocopy of official letter obtained from Ranger Sandra Hines, Canaveral National Seashore.
She ran upstairs returning with a little booklet entitled “Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth, Dade County, Florida, by Porter and Potter, Real Estate Agents, 1893.” Mom said her friend and fellow historian, Mrs. Marjorie Watts Nelson, had gifted a copy of the famous little book and that it was cherished.
I carefully looked through it and understood why…
Today, I would like to share this historic booklet. I believe pages 15 and 19 are missing, but it remains a priceless read. The beautiful artwork was created by George Wells Potter, of Porter and Potter, a star citizen and gifted artist whose drawings remain an outstanding record of the day.
My recent post about “Holding Lake Okeechobee’s Algae at Bay” got a lot of responses with a few questioning whether the algae bloom in Lake O off Port Mayaca was caused by the waters of C-44 flowing back into the lake.
I do not know the answer to this question, but I do know flights over the C-44 canal in 2019 have shown no visible algae blooms, but many in the lake with some right off Port Mayaca. Nonetheless, we know the C-44 is full of nutrient pollution.
Today I want to share a chart from my brother Todd Thurlow’s website http://eyeonlakeo.com/ as well as our back and forth on the issue of how much water has been put into Lake Okeechobee from C-44 so far this year rather than going into the St Lucie River. The ACOE can flow C-44 flow both ways…
Be sure to read “Summary of Query Results” below for the answer.
Todd: Jacqui, I changed my DBKey on my daily spreadsheet to S-308 just to see what it would spit out. See below. It looks like S-308 has sent a net 17billion gallons of C-44 basin water (over 54,000 AF) into Lake O this year. I am pretty sure that means we get a “free” 17billion gallons in our direction before it is considered “Lake Water”.
Jacqui: Todd did the ACOE start sending the C-44 canal water back to Lake O May 29th? Looking at the chart this is what I see.
Todd: There has been little flows all year as can be seen on the chart too but the big flows started on May 13 at -2042cfs. There was a pause between June 4 and July 30. Then is started again with a few days off here and there. Here is the data that is summarized in that chart.
The May 29 date that you might see (its actually May 20) is where the “Cumulative Total Discharge” graph crosses the zero axis? That is where the net flows for the year were back to zero. In other words, it took from May 13 to May 20, 8 days of westward flow, to cancel out all of the net eastward flow for the year.
These DEP canal summaries are no longer available on-line but remain good references even though written in 2001.