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.