Tag Archives: Anthony Stevens

The WWII Beach Horses of the Indian River Lagoon, Yesterday and Today, SLR/IRL

Army horses were used to patrol Indian River Lagoon area beaches during WWII. (Photo untitled: http://olive-drab.com/od_army-horses-mules_ww2.php)
Horses were used to patrol the  Indian River Lagoon region’s area beaches during WWII. (Photo untitled: http://olive-drab.com/od_army-horses-mules_ww2.php)
Men on horseback looking fro enemy invaders, Hutchinson Island. Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida's Indian River, Sandra Henderson Thurlow,. Photo James W Harrington.
Men on horseback looking for enemy invaders, Hutchinson Island. “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow,. Photo James W. Harrington.
1945 US Coast Guard Station and stables for horses were later converted to the Kensington Club located in the area where Jensen Beaches are today. (Photo Dale Hipson via Sandra H. Thurlow.)
1945 US Coast Guard Station and stables for horses were later converted to the Kensington Club located in the area where Jensen beaches are today. (Photo Dale Hipson via Sandra H. Thurlow.)
US Coast Guard patrol and former snack shop at Jensen Beach. 1943. (Thurlow Collection)
US Coast Guard patrol and former “snack shop” at Jensen Beach. 1943. (Thurlow Collection.)
Jensen residents could hear explosions and see billowing smoke from freighters torpedoed by German U boats. in 1942. (Florida Photographic Archives via Sandra Henderson Thurlow's book "Eden and Jensen."
“Jensen residents could hear explosions and see billowing smoke from freighters torpedoed by German U boats. in 1942.” SHT (Florida Photographic Archives via Sandra Henderson Thurlow’s book “Eden and Jensen.”

I love animals whether they walk, fly, hop, slither, swim, run, or trot…

As a young person growing up along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, one of my very finest memories is riding horses along the beaches of Hutchinson Island. My friend Michelle White whose father still lives on McArthur Boulevard, had horses at their ranch in Palm City and would often bring them to —keeping them under the shade at the “beach house.” Michelle and I would get up at the crack of dawn and ride these horses bareback along the beach. It was wondrous.  Obviously, the laws were not as restrictive then. We even got our picture in the Stuart News!

Stuart News photo ca 1980, Joseph Noble. Michelle White and Jacqui Thurlow ride along the beach Hutchinson Island.
Stuart News photo ca 1980, Joseph Noble. Michelle White and Jacqui Thurlow ride along the beach Hutchinson Island.(Sandra Thurlow’s photo archives)

So horses……

Today, I will share a story sent to me by blog reader Stan Field, A.K.A. Anthony Stevens who is a professional writer who lives in Rio and friend of my family.

When he sent me this excerpt about the beach horses of WWII, I wrote back: “I do hope none of the horses were hurt jumping off the Jensen Beach Bridge.” He assured me all were fine. Here is his amazing story:

Horse Patrols on Hutchinson Island
“Early in the war, it was decided that they needed to maintain regular patrols of the Atlantic beaches. Someone in Washington thought that horse patrols would be a good idea.

“In September 1942, horses were authorized for use by the beach patrol. The mounted portion of the patrol soon became the largest segment of the patrol. For example, one year after orders were given to use horses, there were 3,222 of the animals assigned to the Coast Guard. All came from the Army. The Army Remount Service provided all the riding gear required, while the Coast Guard provided the uniforms for the riders. A call went out for personnel and a mixed bag of people responded. Polo players, cowboys, former sheriffs, horse trainers, Army Reserve cavalrymen, jockeys, farm boys, rodeo riders and stunt men applied. Much of the mounted training took place at Elkins Park Training Station and Hilton Head, the sites of the dog training schools.” – US Coast Guard
One of these horse patrols groups was stationed on Hutchinson Island. What is not generally mentioned is one of those horrible snafus that always happen during wartime.
Well, they arranged for a large herd of horses to be delivered by the Florida East Coast Railroad and a corral and stables was built on Hutchinson Island, near the old wooden bridge in Jensen. Seaman from the Coast Guard base in Fort Pierce would be stationed there and at the House of Refuge and they would patrol the entire island.
Now since there were no roads on the island from Jensen north, this seemed like a great idea. The soft sand was murder on jeeps and mounted riders would be able to cut around swampy areas and investigate in the woods, if needed.
They asked for volunteers for the first herd and there was only one real cowboy in the base. There were only a few more who had pleasure riding experience.
Well, everyone was pretty excited when the big day came and several railroad cars were delivered to the siding just north of Jensen Beach Blvd. A temporary corral had been built there to hold them for inventory and basic tack was in the back of trucks, ready to mount the animals and ride them over to their permanent duty station, on the island.
There was an immediate problem when they opened the doors, however. In its infinite wisdom, the Government had decided that purchasing trained horses was too expensive. And since a lot of wild horses lived for free on Government land out west, they just rounded up a herd of wild ones, packed them onto cattle cars and shipped them to Jensen. Not one of them had ever been in close contact with a man before… much less a saddle.
Riding them to the island was out of the question. So the one loan cowpoke arranged a ‘drive’ and the entire community was drafted into helping with the operation.
Well, things seemed to be going pretty well, until they got to the old wooden bridge that led to the island. This was more than a mile and a quarter long, two narrow lanes wide and the decking has ½” gaps between each plank. The horses did NOT want to cross it!
About half of them were driven over by the shoving, shouting crowds behind. The other half jumped the sides of the bridge and the banks of the Indian River and swam for freedom. Most of the next couple of days was spent with the Pitchfords and other boat owners chasing them around the river and running them down on land. Eventually they all made it to the island and the serious breaking and training started.
The one loan cowhand and the base officers appealed to the locals for help once more and older cowhands, both male and female, volunteered to teach the Coast Guard people how to break and train the wild herd.

There is not a lot of information available on the mounted patrols of World War II. They did setup training facilities in Hilton Head, SC.” —-written by Anthony Stevens, in a letter to JTL August, 2015

Wow.  Can you imagine all those poor horses jumping off the bridge into the Indian River Lagoon? Crazy! And wild ones at that. Wonder what happened to them all after the war?

Well today horses are allowed on the beaches in St Lucie County and horseback riding is a very popular and extremely well rated experience. When my husband Ed flys the cub looking for pollution plumes in the Indian River Lagoon and area inlets, he often sees horseback riders from his plane. There is some romance left in the world…

—–Right here along the Indian River Lagoon…I wonder if any of those horses’ ancestors patrolled the beach? If only a horse could talk!

Horseback riding along the beaches of St Lucie County. Cover photo of website, 2015.
Horseback riding along the beaches of St Lucie County. Cover photo of website, 2015.

Beach Tours on Horseback: (http://www.beachtoursonhorseback.com)


US Coast Guard: (http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=070-05-08&category=1334262365)

Cool blogs on horses and dogs used in WWII: (K9 http://www.k9history.com/WWII-uscg-beach-patrols.htm)


Time Capsule Flight, USCG Stations at Ft Pierce and Lake Worth, “Then and Now,” SLR/IRL

Google Earth image with historic photo overlay, USCG Ft Pierce, Fl. Taken from Todd Thurlow's Time Capsule Flight THEN AND NOW.
Google Earth image with historic photo overlay, USCG Ft Pierce, Fl. Taken from Todd Thurlow’s Time Capsule Flight.


It’s fun when a blog blossoms into more!

My recent post of the historic US Coast Guard station in Ft Piece was one such post…Thank you for the many wonderful comments and insights.  Also, Dr Edie Widder is going to have the historic photos printed and hung at ORCA, located in the building itself. Talk about full circle!

As a follow-up, my brother Todd created a “time capsule flight” of the Ft Pierce USCG Station and the Lake Worth station using the historic photos shared by Tim Dring, President of the U. S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association. Mr Dring had recently shared the photos (discovered in the National Archives) with my mother as she is writing a book on the subject.

My brother’s time capsule flight will take you from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon  proper to the  Ft Pierce Coast Guard Station, and then jet-off to Peanut Island’s Lake Worth USCG Station. It is wild to see the what our area looked like undeveloped. I have to say although they are invasive, I miss the tall Australian Pine Trees. I can still hear them blowing in the Trade Winds. Such a romantic time it was….Have fun. Wear your seatbelt and don’t lean too far out of the Cub!

My mother, Sandy Thurlow, flying in the cub with Ed. 2014. Go Pro photo.
My mother, Sandy Thurlow, taking photos and flying in the cub with my husband Ed, 2014. (Go-Pro photo.)







Also I am going to include a “funny story” about the “boys of the USCG” in Ft Pierce during WWII sent to me by family friend Stan Field, whose pen name is Anthony Stevens.

Hi there, Jacqui [cheery wave]

I just read your post about ORCA and the old CG station and thought I would share this tale with you. My mother, Emmy, shared this family legend many times. She was a teenager during WWII.

A true story about telephone Operations during WWII.

My mother and her friends, worked as telephone operators during most of the war. In those days, that involved a headphone and a bank of ¼” phone jacks with cables and plugs. There were no automatic dialing systems. Every call was placed manually via party lines with anywhere from four to a dozen phones on each line. Now Emmy and her fellow operators were usually pretty bored and would stay ‘on the line’ when there were military conversations.
One night, a very young and very ‘cool’ fellow that everyone loved for his sense of humor, was stationed at the Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge. A call came into Emmy’s switchboard and she was asked to patch in to the House lookout station. Now all of the watchtowers along Hutchinson Island were on the same party line. When it rang, everybody picked up. The person on the other end asked for the station they wanted and that station would respond. Normally, as soon as you realized it wasn’t for you, you would hang up.
This night, the caller asked for the watch on duty at the House of Refuge. The young man’s reply was loud and clear… “Gilbert’s Bar! Wine, women and song, all night long!”
There was a dead silence on the line for several seconds and the caller asked in a cold voice… “Do you know who this is, son?”
“No sir.”
“This is the Captain of the Coast Guard Base in Fort Piece.”
Without missing a beat… “Do you know who THIS is, Sir?”
“THANK GOD!” And he hung up.
The sound of loud laughter flowed from a dozen headsets that were listening and the Captain hung up in fury.
The next day, the Captain passed the word that the person who answered had better confess or the entire post would lose liberty the following weekend. Even though everybody on watch that night knew who it was, NOBODY stepped forward and they all were restricted to barracks that weekend. Needless to say, the young man was a model sailor for the rest of the war… and he owed each of his buddies a great deal.

Stan Field, aka Anthony Stevens

Anthony Stevens
Tales for the 21st Century!

Ft Pierce USCG station. National Archives.
Ft Pierce USCG station ca. 1930/40s. National Archives. Tim Dring via Sandra Thurlow.
Lake Worth USCG Station 1951. National Archives.
Lake Worth USCG Station 1951, Peanut Island, National Archives. Tim Dring via Sandra Thurlow.

HISTORY:  US Coast Guard Stations across the nation, organization and location: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organization_of_the_United_States_Coast_Guard#Regional_responsibilities)

My blog post from 8-26-15 “Ready, Responsive and Resolute for the IRL:”(http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/08/26/ready-responsive-and-resolute-for-our-indian-river-lagoon-uscg-and-orca/)

Video creator: Todd Thurlow (http://www.thurlowpa.com)