Tag Archives: Beauty

The Old Drained Ponds of Downtown Stuart, Now Poison the St Lucie River, ~Time Capsule Flight, Todd Thurlow, SLR/IRL

Today’s blog post, created by my brother, Todd Thurlow, just totally blows my mind. His time-capsule flight through images of Google Earth, historic maps from 1850 and 1940, and an aerial from 1958, takes us on a journey through the extensive pond-land/wetland that used to be the area of Downtown Stuart and beyond. Today we all live here, most of us not even realizing what the land once was…this wetland now “magically” drains into the St Lucie River.

In Todd’s video you can see that Stuart Middle School actually is now sitting where an old pond used to be; there were ponds expanding and contracting with the rains in today’s Memorial Park; there were ponds in the areas of today’s County Courthouse; there were ponds scattered over today’s airport, Witham Field; there were extensive ponds along East Ocean Boulevard and  Dolphin as featured in last Friday’s popular blog post. Yes, there little ponds just about everywhere!

Sometimes we think the wetlands are “out west” and they are, but years ago they were also here. I have to say am guilty of this too. When I came home after university in 1986 and just about everything was developed, once again, amnesia! Look, after you watch Todd’s video, and notice the drainage canals around Monterey Blvd., St Lucie Blvd, back by Kingswoods Condo, and on the edges of Witham Field and there are many more. Of course like the grates and drains in every parking lot, these canals drain into our ailing St Lucie River. Lake Okeechobee is the big toxic hammer but there is local destruction too…

Thank you Todd and please watch the video!

Jacqui

Link to East Ocean Blvd and Dolphin Drive 1885, 1949 and 1958 video: (https://youtu.be/RCA47UsrmAc)

BY TODD THURLOW

The video is a follow-up to my sister’s 5/19/2017 blog post “The Long Forgotten Wetlands of East Ocean Boulevard, SLR/IRL” (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/201…)

She describes a 1958 aerial photograph that hangs in my law office. The photo is from my parent’s “Thurlow/Ruhnke” collection. I had used the photo for a Google Earth presentation for Stuart Heritage on May 8, 2012. http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com/

This is a recording of maps and photographs used for part of that presentation: 1850s Government Land Office Plats, 1940 USDA aerials and the 1958 Thurlow/Ruhnke photo.

There is no sound or text overlays but here are a few features to note:

0:50 –What was called the “Stuart Middle School Pond”. We jumped in that pond on the last day of school to celebrate graduating from 8th grade. A few years ago the pond was filled in to make room for a new building.

1:00 – The end of Fourth Street (what is now called East Ocean Blvd). East Ocean Blvd. ended at the intersection of St. Lucie Blvd/ Oriole Ave. on the left (north) side and Dolphin Drive on the right (south) before it was extended to the “Bridges to the Sea”.

1:14 – The oblique aerial described in Jacqui’s blog. Note the building in the bottom right corner. That is the Broadway Service Center which still stands today. See https://goo.gl/iODQwU

1:47 –The Evan’s Crary Bridge (aka the Ten Cent Bridge) under construction in the background

2:24 – 1940 flyover of Dolphin Drive. Note the single building in the middle of nowhere. That residence is still standing on the corner of SE 6th Street and Flamingo Ave. According to the Martin County Property Appraiser, it was built in 1925, years before the photo was taken.

2:30 –The 1940 view before our current airport. The previous Krueger Airport was off of East Ocean Blvd. Dolphin Drive continued all the way from East Ocean Blvd. to St. Lucie Blvd. by the river. If you have ever taken the “back exit” from the Stuart Air Show onto St. Lucie Blvd, that still existing right-of-way is what used to be the other end of Dolphin Drive.

~Todd Thurlow

Thomas H. Thurlow III

“Time Capsule Flights,” created by my brother, Todd Thurlow, has been a shared favorite on my blog since 2014. In these remarkable videos, Todd uses his legal and historical knowledge to create a living collage juxtaposing historic and modern-day images to achieve dramatic insights into watershed and land use changes in Florida over the past hundred years. These videos are a must for anyone wishing to understand our state’s history or working to restore its waters and lands in the future. You can access all of Todd’s videos here: http://maps.thethurlows.com.

1940s Dept. of Ag. aerials Martin Co. Dark areas are ponds/wetlands.

Thurlow and Thurlow PA: http://www.thurlowpa.com​

 

Storms of the River, the Timeless Words of Ernest F. Lyons, SLR/IRL

Storm forming over the Indian River Lagoon. (Photo JTL 8-11-15.)
Storm forming over the Indian River Lagoon around sunset, North Sewall’s Point.  (Photo JTL 8-11-15.)

 

Storm approaching over the IRL. (JTL)
Low clouds of storm approaching over the IRL. (JTL)

Late yesterday afternoon, I walked the Ernest Lyons Bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. There was a storm in the west–way off in the distance over Palm City perhaps. In what seemed like minutes the storm had flattened and stretched out over the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. It was upon me.

For a moment I was scared. There was lightning in the near distance. Cold rain pelted down. The winds generated tremendous power and the birds flying back to Bird Island were caught in place suspended like mobiles.

I started running,  not something I do ever anymore….

After stopping and starting, and taking  photos….. 🙂 I got safely to the other side.

I had ‘made it.” I felt invigorated. It’s good to be aware of your smallness against nature every once in a while….

Today I will share “Reflections on Reflections on a Jungle River” written by famed environmentalist and “Stuart News” editor Ernest Lyons. The work is transcribed by my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow. I think  Ernie’s essay “captures the storm better than I ever could…although he is writing about the St Lucie or Loxahatchee,  the sister Indian River seems  just the same…

Storm forming in iridescent blue and white. (JTL)
Looking overhead –storm forming in iridescent blue and white. (JTL)

 

Reflection on Reflections on a Jungle River

by Ernest Lyons (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)

Transcribed from My Florida

 

Drifting on the surface of a Florida jungle river, like the South Fork of the St. Lucie or the Northwest Branch of the Loxahatchee, I experience the feeling that nothing is ordinary, nothing is commonplace.

The onyx surface of the water reflects in perfect color the images of the bushy headed cabbage palms, the moss draped live-oaks and cypresses along the banks.

Cascading clumps of wild asters and a fragile white spider-lily are mirrored on the smooth blank film. I drift in my rowboat on top of an image of scenery. There is probably, a natural law which some logically minded egghead can recite to explain how a color image can be reflected on the face of a river, but please don’t quote it. I would rather marvel.

What has happened to awe? Where has wonder gone? I suspect that too much has been “explained” by the ignorant to the stupid. Modern man’s greatest loss of spirit may be that he has ceased to be amazed at the wonders all around him.

Looking up from the tunnel of trees one sees more intimately the blue sky and white clouds. Why blue? Why white? Why are the palm fronds that glittering green? Why is that crimson color on the air plant’s flowering spikes? I glance at the molten sun above the palm trees. Just a glance. What frailty is in us that we can not ever look the sun in the eye? I remember a snatch of Alfred Noyes’ poem to the sun: “My light upon the far, faint planets that attend me…whose flowers watch me with adoring eyes…”

A flower can do what a man cannot; it can look the sun in the eye. Mighty Ra to whom the ancient Egyptians built temples on the banks of the Nile. The Sun God who controlled the seasons, the droughts and the floods. We smile at the fantasies of the Pharaohs and have replaced them with plain, old ordinary sun among millions like it sending out radiation as it burns nuclear fuel. But it still does what Ra did — and sunlight remains as great a mystery now as then.

The river on which I drift begins in that distant flaming sphere pouring our rays of light that suck mists from the sea to make clouds in the sky.

So simple a process. There’s really nothing to it. Just done with light. All of the rivers and all of the clouds all over the world are children of a star. The sun is their father, the sea is their mother and they are born and reborn again so long as the light shines on the waters. We yawn at continuing creation. It is all explainable, if you just have a logical mind. I’m glad I don’t.

Storm over Sewall's Point. (JTL)
Storm in distance over Sewall’s Point. (JTL)
Storm rapidly approaching, IRL. (JTL)
Storm rapidly approaching, IRL. (JTL)

I would make a good Druid. I believe in magic and in miracles, in mysteries and wonders, and that trees, mountains, rivers, even clouds and certain secret places have personalities. I like storms. I enjoy watching the maneuvering of giant thunderheads, edging around each other, moving in closer, muttering and grumbling and threatening, coming together and destroying each other with furies of wind, crashes of lighting and deluges of rain.

They remind me of the ponderous movements of great governments coming in on each other toward a war which everyone wants to avoid —until caught in the thick of it, when all must make the best of it. One is a storm of mist, the other a storm of belief —and the second is the least tangible and the most destructive. The sun makes one from water; we from the other from thoughts and beliefs. As we believe, they are shaped. What a power for good or evil is the human mind, making its own storms, malignant and benign.

Storms up the river remind me of creatures that sneak up and pounce. You hear them muttering, you see them coming, you figure they are going to miss you—and there is a time when you could do something about avoiding them. Then there is a point of no return. You are definitely caught, can do nothing to escape. There is no place to go.

You look at the bright side. You are glad you are not in a small boat at sea. You are going to get wet, but you are not going to be drowned. You are, after all, a land creature, and having shielding trees and firm land close by is relatively comforting. How human it is that, our first thought about the threat of nuclear storms is that perhaps—just perhaps, but hopefully—we may burrow into the earth and escape.

Hauled under a leaning palm, I endure the storm, but it finds me out and soaks me to the skin. And it is gone. Nothing is so completely gone as a storm that has passed or Druids or Pharaohs or empires in which people have stopped believing.

There are trickles and rivulets and creeklets coming into the river, making it whole again, flowing to the sea to be warmed once more by the sun and made into clouds to fill the river again.

What is light? I glance at incandescent Ra, but dare not look him in the eye. “You wet me good,” I say, “Now warm me up.”

Ernest Lyons Bridge marker. (JTL)
Ernest Lyons Bridge marker. (JTL)

 

 

Rainbow Storm-Sunset, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Sunset over St Lucie River, September 10, 2014 by Todd Thurlow.)
Sunset over St Lucie River with storm clouds and rainbow. (September 10, 2014 by Todd Thurlow.)

At another time of my life, I lived in North River Shores, in Stuart, looking west over the wide beginning branch of the North Fork of the St Lucie River. I remember feeling like I was seeing Stuart for the very first time, although I had lived here “my whole life.” The sunsets were the most beautiful I had ever seen. Amazing… Like the canvass of the Creator, night after night.

I thought to myself, why haven’t I seen this before? Sewall’s Point, Stuart, Jensen Beach all front row seats to this phenomenon of nature…but North River Shores? This view is beyond anything one can experience anywhere in Martin County…

The years passed, life changed, and I no longer reside in North River Shores, but ironically my brother’s family lives directly across from where I did reside. And my brother still looks upon this  sky, that upon occasion, will bring you to your knees in worship of something beyond this world.

My “little” brother’s name is Todd, (http://thurlowpa.com) and he took this photo Wednesday, September 10th.

I feel the rainbow in the storm clouds is most symbolic. There is alway hope, even in the brewing, impending storm…

The Astonishing Beauty of the Great Egret, Indian River Lagoon

Great Egrets along the Indian River Lagoon. Photo John Whiticar, 8-20-24.
Great Egrets along the Indian River Lagoon. Photo John Whiticar, 8-20-14.

For me, there is no greater beauty than to look up into the sky and see a lone Great Egret making its way back home to Bird Island or other rookery in the early evening light.

I see them often, and every time, I stop what I’m doing, and look and wonder where they are going, and where they have been. They are so elegant, with their perfect flying posture, always looking straight ahead.

When Ed and I  first bought our home in Sewall’s Point we had a gold-fish pond behind the house and a very tall Great Egret would come to hunt. I would watch in complete fascination the ancient bird’s posture, patience, and beauty. Like a Japanese painting.

Today, I wanted to share some photos of local Martin County resident, John Whiticar, who I have featured before.  John has a talent for capturing the beauty of the sky, the water, and the bird life of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

These photos were taken recently on his way to Ft Pierce. Mr Whiticar states: “A bunch of White Herons were spotted on the way to Whiticar North this AM on Indian River Drive this morning. There were at least 10 in a group on the morning calm of the Indian River Lagoon.”

Great Egrets, IRL. John Whiticar.

According to the US Park Service, the fishing habits of Great Egrets are among the most efficient of all birds. “They stalk their prey by slowly walking or standing motionless in the shallows and forage with their webbed feet, raking and probing the bottom, snapping up fish in a matter of milliseconds with their quick bill reflex.”

Great Egrets are solitary birds but do congregate during breeding season when both males and females get delicate breeding plumage and their faces take on a fluorescent green color along the beak.

Great Egret in breeding plumage. Public photo.
Great Egret in breeding plumage. Public photo.

During the fashion of feathered ladies hats in the late 1800s, the Great Egret and many other shore birds were almost hunted to extinction in the Florida Everglades. The bird’s beauty inspired the Audubon Society to adopt it as their symbol as they helped abolish the destruction of these birds.

Today, across the nation, the Great Egret’s numbers are strong,  but over time have declined in many areas along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon due to destruction of shoreline habitat and wetlands for development.

So let’s help our feathered friends in every way we can, and the best way to do that right now to continue working to save our Indian River Lagoon.

Great Heron, IRL. John Whiticar.

Great Heron, IRL. John Whiticar.

___________________________________________

US National Park Service, Great Egret:
(http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescience/greategretindepth.htm)

Historic Descriptions of “Indian River Country,” Sewall’s Point-1891, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Sunset photo, oak hammock, Sewall's Point, 2011. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)
St Lucie River sunset photo, oak hammock, Sewall’s Point, 2008. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

History is a window, a  window into understanding why and where we are today. The Town of Sewall’s Point along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has some of the most wonderful historical descriptions of its original beauty, and I believe that is why we try so hard as a town to keep remnants of that historic beauty today.

The town is a “Tree City;” a bird sanctuary; and there are very strict fines for cutting down trees with over a two inch across  trunk.  Development rules are supposed to be protective of wooded uplands and wetlands, sometimes this does not seem to be the case.

Nevertheless, today I will quote from a “Description of Indian River County,” as it was called, from a Maine Journal , The East Coast Advocate, April 24, 1891 by Rufus King Sewall. This document was transcribed by my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow in 2009.

Here we go and remember 1891 was the year before the St Lucie Inlet was opened permanently so the river waters were fresher..

_____________________________

“At the Indian River Hotel, Titusville, we lodged for the night and were lulled with the song of two mosquitoes…at 5 a.m. the Indian River steamers called for embarkation south-bound and all aboard, most comfortable quarters in neat staterooms, spacious saloon and good service are found… The banks of the Indian River are general sops-wood, of cabbage palm, pine and cactus—uncleared because used as a screen against the fierce east winds which whip the orange and banana to death…Fine oysters, big trout, mullet, pompano, with channel bass abound…

The climate is the great charm of travel in the region. Within an hour of Titusville, the heavy, hot depressing , suffocating atmosphere of the interior of Florida suddenly changes to soft exhilarating, and cool refreshing inhalations, which the lungs expand to draw in with gateful sensation.

Cover of book "Sewall's Point," Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Sewall's Point Post Office last 18002.
Cover of book “Sewall’s Point,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Sewall’s Point Post Office late 1800s.

It was 2 a.m. when the whistles sounded for San Lucie Landing at Sewall’s Point starting to wing acres of and acres of sleeping ducks whirring, splashing and diving, in dismay, before the lights of the rushing steamer and we rested on shore, while the St Sebastian turned toward Jupiter below. The river scene and surroundings were enchanting , sea and shore burnished with tinted rays of a sunrise and indescribably grand and novel.  The ducks had grouped in shoals on their feeding grounds.

Fish were leaping in the light and the hum of her life stirred the evergreen prospective with a marked absence of bird song. In the east across the sound tree miles away, over Gilbert’s Bar, the broad ocean stretched beyond sight, the pathway of big ships southward bound clear to the naked eye. In front, Mangrove Islands bounded the horizon whose channel fretted the outgoing tides of Jupiter Narrows. Northward and west the broad reaches and pitch-pine plains of the deep and wide San Lucia shut off vision.

Underfoot and around the rock-bound bluff of the Peninsula of Sewall’s point in gorgeous green and gold, of satin-wood, oak, palmetto and rubber forest trees dazed the eye.

All strange and primitive with novel tropical surroundings out of reach the peninsula separating the Indian and San Lucie waters is a  rockbound elevated ridge with bluff frontage on San Lucie shores in L. N. 27 degrees 15 min.

It is crowned with tall  grown palmettos with tufted  tops of palm leaves, naked branchless stems like the mast of a ship.

The water is pure and good…The largest trout I ever saw abound and shoals of mullet.

Sharks and alligators abound in the waters, and turkeys, bear and deer on shore in their season. In the creek opposite Point Manatee the fishermen linger with nets and gun to catch the sea-cow as they feed along the shore….”

The airs and winds are soft and balmy expect the northwest, refreshing, grateful to the lungs with wonderful healing properties and purifying effect exciting to outdoor activity and stimulating to vital forces…The entire atmosphere environment pregnant with healing…

_____________________

Interesting. Like poetry but for me “disturbing” as it talked about people hunting manatees. This at least highlights how we have changed historically, as manatee are protected today.

Sewall's Point, photo by Ed Lippisch, 2011.
Sewall’s Point, photo by Ed Lippisch, 2011.

I hope you enjoyed that reading….

It was a beautiful world, there for the taking and we have taken it. For better or for worse we have. Let’s remember our history and that no matter what this place, this St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is today, it has always been “a place of beauty.”

May we revive her waters and her shores in respect to that which created this sacred place,  and for those who have loved and documented her before us. Thank you Rufus King Sewall. 

Ten and Five Mile Creeks, the Once Glorious Headwaters of the North Fork of the St Lucie River

North Fork of the St Lucie River is fed by Five and Ten Miles Creeks in St Lucie County. Once the glorious headwaters, they are today hardly recognizable.
North Fork of the St Lucie River is fed by Five and Ten Mile Creeks in St Lucie County. Once the glorious headwaters, they are today hardly recognizable.(Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2010)

10 mile creek

Map, SLC, Ten and Five Mile Creeks are located in St Lucie County north of Midway Road.

Ernie Lyons wrote in the 1960s: “There was never anything more beautiful than a natural South Florida River, like the North and South Forks of the St Lucie…Their banks of cabbage palms and live oaks draped with Spanish moses and studded with crimson flowered air plants and delicate wild orchids were scenes of tropical wonder, reflected back from the mirror-like onyx surface of the water….”

A recent St Lucie County tourist publication goes back even further back: “Early Ten Mile Creek along with Five Mile Creek to the northeast form the headwaters of the North Fork of the St Lucie. These waters were originally comprised of a large area of interconnected march that eventually formed a creek. This marsh system in times of high water connected with the St Johns River, which flows north, allowing native peoples to  travel many miles by canoe. These native peoples lived and flourished in this area 3000 to 750 years BC.”

Although the north fork and attached waters were awarded the “Florida Outstanding Waters” designation in the 1970s, by 1995 the Department of Environmental Protection published a report on pesticide contamination in the area: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/tenmile_creek.pdf)

Today the area is most well known for “Ten Mile Creek,” the failed storm water treatment area  built by the Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/10Mile_FS_July2012_508.pdf) Thankfully after more than a decade, the agencies are moving forward on rectifying what they can of the project.

So what happened? How did this paradise die off? How did the “fresh water in the upper zones, furnishing some of the most marvelous sport fishing conceivable” pretty much disappear?

Again, I will quote Stuart News editor and environmentalist, Ernie Lyons: “Drainage canals mostly for agricultural purposes, cut the throats of the upper rivers. During periods of  heavy rainfall, muddy waters gushed down and turned the formerly clear streams into a turbid, silted mess. During dry spells, gated dams held back the water for irrigation. The water table was lowered. Salt marched upstream, turning the formerly fresh waters brackish and eventually so salty that fresh water fish could not procreate.”

As we know, humankind changes his/her environment. Not only were the canals cut in the northern creeks, but Gilbert’s Bar/St Lucie Inlet was opened permanently (by hand) in 1892, allowing salt water permanently into what used to be a fresh water river….the St Lucie.

Somehow it seems we should be able to change things with out creating so much destruction. I have hope our children will…