Tag Archives: 1962-1971 Channelizing the Kissimmee River

The Destruction of the Kissimmee River, an Historic Flyover

Our recent focus on the Kissimmee River has inspired my brother Todd Thurlow to create a very special Time Capsule Flight. He has geo-referenced more than twenty 1940s historic aerials and topography maps revealing the destruction of this once remarkable, not just river, but vast floodplain. The outcome is epic! You will see this historic mistake as you’ve never seen before.

The 1962-1971 channelization of the two mile wide Kissimmee floodplain into a thirty foot deep C-38 Canal was perhaps the all-time worst act of the State of Florida and the Army Corps of Engineers. Why was the channelization of the Kissimmee any more destructive than any other of the Central and South Florida Plan atrocities? Because the Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee was already very compromised. This act not only  killed the Kissimmee, but just about everything below it.

Like a knife through flesh, the engineers cut deep, draining the life blood, water, from the surrounding marshes and curves to now shoot down, unfiltered into the Lake. In short order, with devastating ecological consequences, over ninety percent of the waterfowl that once graced the region, disappeared. Fish and other wildlife’s health and bio-diversity plummeted. ┬áToday the ACOE and SFWMD recognize this huge mistake and are working hard to restore parts of the Kissimmee. But before we witness that, Todd will lead you through a time capsule flight of what indeed, we did do…

Please watch video directly below.

(The Destruction of the Kissimmee River, click here for YouTube with Todd’s full write up: https://youtu.be/xChsxU8Nv5s)

This video compares 23 USDA aerials from 1941 and 1944 to historical aerials from 1999. The early aerials predate the transformation of the river into a canal in the 1960s. The 1999 aerials show the canal before recent restoration efforts. Beginning in 1999, the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers began restoring sections of the river by dismantling the canal. Twenty-four miles of river have been restored. Aerials of those restoration projects will be the subject of future videos. ~ Todd Thurlow