Tag Archives: change

The Long Forgotten Wetlands of East Ocean Boulevard, SLR/IRL

 

 

4th Street/East Ocean Blvd 1957, Stuart, Florida, Arthur Ruhnke. Courtesy archives of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.  
“See that white strip just below the wetland? That is the extension of Flamingo Drive that skirts the pond behind the old car wash. They just dug a retention pond and conducted the water to it. All of that pineland is covered with condominiums today.” (Cedar Point, Vista Pines, and Kingswood)~ Sandra H. Thurlow


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Today we drive over the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River surrounded by “civilization,” and forget that once it was once a wetland and pine forest full of wildlife. In the course of a lifetime, these things are long forgotten.

The above 1957 photograph hangs in my brother’s law office. When I visit him, I find myself staring at it for long periods of time. It is one of those rare photos that really puts things into  perspective. The road construction through the wetlands, (note it going through the pond, and pine forest) was all taking place around the same time that the “Bridges to the Sea,” from Stuart to Sewall’s Point, and Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island, were completed. It’s amazing to see what the landscape once looked like. The road in the photograph, Fourth Street, was renamed “East Ocean Boulevard” in 1960, and is a major thoroughfare to the  beaches today.

Jenny, Todd and I 1973, alligator in background.
I remember early East Ocean Blvd, although it was already quite changed by the time I was born in 1964. My family lived at 109 Edgewood Drive in Stuart, a short distance away from these wetland ponds under development. I recall Scrub Jays in our back yard and feeding them peanuts. By 1974 the family moved across the river to Sewall’s Point “growing and improving” with the changing landscape.

By 1979, when I was fifteen  years old, riding my bike over the bridge to Stuart to work at the Pelican Car Wash, the beautiful wetland pond had been relegated to a retention pond for run off.  Over the next two decades, you didn’t see wetlands and ponds anymore, or wildlife, just condominiums, office buildings, and shopping plazas. The state four-laned East Ocean Boulevard and built higher bridges to the ocean too.

Believe it or not, the pond in the aerial is still located behind a gas station that used to be the car wash. It is not even a shadow of its former self. Two days ago, I drove by and noticed that there was an extensive algae bloom in the pond backed up to the  parking lot and gas pumps; the water reflecting a sickly shade of green.

I sat there thinking about the long forgotten pond in the middle of East Ocean Boulevard in the photo I love in my brother’s office, wishing the developers had figured out a way to go around the pond. As the shortest distance between two points, over time, is not always a straight line.

East Ocean Blvd 1957, courtesy historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow

Flamingo and retention pond at Flamingo and East Ocean 2017, once a wetland.
Google map of East Ocean Blvd. through what was once wetland and forest, 2017.
1940s Dept of Agriculture photographs of Martin County showing wetlands. Courtney Todd Thurlow and UF archives.
Overlay 1940 aerials over Google map today, Todd Thurlow.
USDA History of Wetland Development in Florida: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/fl/newsroom/features/?cid=stelprdb1252222

Bridges to the Sea, Luckhardt Vignette TCPalm Series: http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/historical-vignettes–martin-county-bridges-and-bridge-tenders-ep-306449407-342336761.html

The Dramatic Shifting Sands of Ft Lauderdale, SLR/IRL

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Comparison of 1883 historic map and Google Earth image 2017, Ft Lauderdale’s New River Inlet

Today I am sharing two creations of my brother, Todd Thurlow. Entitled “Ft Lauderdale House of Refuge/Life Saving Station,” and “Short Version,”they were originally for my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Timothy Dring’s “Image of America, U.S. Life Savings Service” book presentation at the Elliott Museum.

For me, Todd’s videos are mind-boggling as they bear witness to how much and how fast we humans can change the  environment. Like an army of ants, we organize; we build; we destroy; we create…

By comparing and contrasting Google Earth maps of today with historic maps from 1883, 1887, and 1935, Todd’s “time capsule flight,” takes us through time and space to see the shifting sands of the multiple New River Inlets; Lake Mabel that morphed into Port Everglades; remnants of the forgotten Middle River that spread and contracted into new canals and developments; and of course, for mom, House of Refuge #4, that once rested north of a New River Inlet that today we can see is completely filled in, while beach-goers relax in reclining chairs like nothing ever happened!

Maybe one day we humans can use all this energy and ability to really fix our waters that have been destroyed during all this construction? Wouldn’t that be a dramatic video?

In closing, in the early 1900s, the New River… that was believed by the Seminoles to once be an underground river that collapsed and the Great Spirit revealed during an earthquake… was selected by modern-day humans as the “natural channel” to connect two of the largest drainage canals from Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Coast, the North New River/South New River, and the Miami.

Please watch and enjoy Todd’s videos below!

Long Version with old New River Inlet:

(Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge1bCV5Tz5Q)

Short Version:

(Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYWga93XL3w)

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1936 historic write-up, Francis H. Miner,  Federal Writer’s Project Ft Lauderdale, https://www.broward.org/library/bienes/lii10210.htm

Click for enlarged images:

To contact Todd: http://www.thurlowpa.com and you can access all of Todd’s videos here: http://maps.thethurlows.com.

Kait Parker’s “Toxic Lake, The Untold Story of Lake Okeechobee,” SLR/IRL

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Kait Parker’s website: https://kaitparker.com

Vimeo video link: (https://vimeo.com/194372466)
Website Toxic Lake video and article : (http://www.toxiclake.com)

On May 10th, 2016 there was a knock on my front door. I was expecting somebody. Kait Parker and her team from the Weather Channel had arrived via New York to do a story on the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

The group was upbeat and friendly. They interviewed Ed and me in our kitchen, and later we took them up in both the Cub and the Baron to shoot footage and to get “the view.” –The aerial view of the discharges from Lake Okeechobee that had started this year on January 29th.

What really struck me about Kait was that although this Texas girl’s beauty, talent, and ambition had moved her beyond the Treasure Coast to Atlanta’s Weather Channel, (Kait had been a well-known and loved meteorologist for three years at WPTV, the West Palm Beach/Treasure Coast NBC affiliate), she had come “home” to see what the heck was going on. She, as so many others, had heard the horrible stories of destruction facing the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

I commend Kait for coming back to see for herself and for using her fame to share our story with others. This gesture will not be forgotten and “Toxic Lake” is already making waves! Waves of change.

Thank you Kait.

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With Kait Parker
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Getting camera and barf bag ready just in case
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Ed explaining something.
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Smile

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Discharges from Lake O through the St Lucie Inlet 5-10-16
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Plume rounding Jupiter Island through St Lucie Inlet 5-10-16
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St Luice Inlet 5-10-16
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Crossroads and SL Inlet 5-10-16

*Thank you Kait Parker,Spenser Wilking,and Andy Bowley.

1884 Rand, McNally & Co. Map, the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee,”My How Things Change…”SLR/IRL

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Rand, McNally, and Co. 1884 (Bloomfields Illustrated Historic Guide) Library of Sandra Henderson  Thurlow.

Yesterday, my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, came across this map while going through some old things…isn’t it a beauty? Look at the sprawling Everglades! Look at how the St Lucie River was not connected to Lake Okeechobee– at all…Look how at that time the inlet, Gilbert’s Bar, our inlet, was open…naturally.

When my mother came across this image, she wrote my brother and I:

“I know Todd has every map there is but still holding an original is fun and I thought the configuration of Lake Okeechobee was interesting on the 1884 Rand, McNally & Co. map tucked in the back of Bloomfield’s Illustrated Historical Guide. Of course it was too big for me to scan the whole thing. I love it that I know right where I am on this map. I am about on the former Dade/Brevard County line as I type this.” Mom

What is she talking about? Our family home in Indialucie, Sewall’s Point, named so as it is located between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, sits on the border of what once was Dade and Brevard counties. Since I was a kid there has been a piece of wood nailed to a tree, in my parent’s back yard that reads: “Dade County.”

My, how things change..too bad we didn’t save more our state’s natural water connections. Swamp or no swamp, it must have been beautiful. But I am glad our family home in now in Martin and not Dade County. 🙂

Jacqui

 

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Map of Florida’s changing counties. (SHT)

 

Rand,McNally’s history: (http://designorati.com/articles/t1/cartography/385/a-brief-history-of-rand-mcnally.php)

Rand’s Pier Remembered, Seminole Shores-Sailfish Point, SLR/IRL

Rand's Pier 1957. Photo via Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Thurlow Archies.
Rand’s Pier being built in 1957; the pier  was built out 400 feet into the Atlantic. I visited the pier often through the 60s-80s growing up in Martin County. Photo Sandra Henderson Thurlow archives.
Aerial of Seminole Shores. Thurlow Archives.
Aerial of Seminole Shores. Thurlow Archives, ca. 1950s.

I think it is typical to think the time one grew up in was the “best of times,” but I feel mine really was…

One of my fondest memories of growing up in Stuart is visiting Rand’s Pier at Seminole Shores on Hutchinson Island. This area became today’s Sailfish Point. Tromping through the hot sands, my mother would lead my brother, sister, and I down a long, winding, sand-spur/beach-sunflower covered path. Finally, we would arrive at our destination, a pier that would provide shade and shelter for the outing.

From here my brother, sister, and I would take our buckets and nets and catch baby fish, collect shells and sea glass, or dig holes and bury each other up to our necks.

1957 Seminole Shores. (Photo Thurlow Archives)
1949 Seminole Shores. (Photo Thurlow Archives/Ruhnke)

The pier was a reference point for a time past, and man gone, who my mother said was famous. The man was James Rand Jr. of Rand Ledger Corporation decent who went on to build his own fortune. An impressive eccentric,  a Harvard graduate, with his share of troubles—but always a gifted business man— he did many wonderful things for Martin County including becoming a benefactor to the hospital and helping found and fund the Florida Oceanographic Society. Although it was not to be his fate, he had dreams of fully developing what was then known as Seminole Shores—-today’s Sailfish Point.

According to the History of Martin County: “In the early fifties James Rand acquired part of what was known as Seminole Shores on Sailfish Point three miles south of the House of Refuge. It was his intension to develop the area with exclusive residences, a marina, a clubhouse, cabanas, and a restaurant. He built the marina, the clubhouse and yacht basin, laid out and paved a number of streets, and built some thirty cabanas  in a semicircle around a swimming pool, facing the ocean that one might take advantage of either fresh or salt water bathing.  He also put in the telephone lines for the south end of the island at a cost of approximately $15,000…”

When my siblings and I were running around we did not think much about the man who built the pier, or put in the telephone lines, or helped make the island accessible for us to play. But his name always stuck in my head as someone who had made a difference to Martin County. The years have passed and Martin County has changed.

Today, Sailfish Point is beautifully developed– certainly beyond what Mr Rand would have ever imagined. The pier? Time tide and time have taken it: it has washed away– But when I walk the beach I still look for it and remember the “best of times”…

Pier 2009. (Photo JTL)
Remaining pier 2009. (Photo JTL)
My husband Ed under the pier in 2009. The pier washed away a few years later after a great storm.
My husband Ed under the pier in 2009. The entire pier washed away a few years later after a great storm. (JTL)
Beach sunflowers
Beach sunflowers…(JTL)

James Henry Rand Jr. 1886-1968: (http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rand-1):
Historic Vignette including story of James Rand and his good works, historian, Alice Luckhardt: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/historical-vignettes-interesting-stories-and-facts-about-martin-county-part-2-ep-349553375-340215561.html

Hutchinson Island’s Indian River Plantation, the Shifting Sands of Time, SLR/IRL

Hutchinson Island 1957
The barrier island of Hutchinson Island, 1957. Atlantic Ocean on left. Indian River Lagoon on right. Photo courtesy of Thurlow Archives.

The sands of time….shifting, reforming,  just like my childhood memories. 1977–Seventh grade—I remember riding my bike with my best friend, Vicki, out to Hutchinson Island. No  traffic. Along the way we would take our hands off the handle bars holding them over our heads, laughing and shouting “look mom!”

A veritable paradise and giant playground we left our bikes at Stuart Beach not locking them and jumped into the ocean.

This photo was taken in 1957, twenty years before Vicki and my bike ride, but it was still relatively undeveloped at that time. If my memory serves me correctly Indian River Plantation’s first condo, The Pelican, went up in 1976 and later in the 1980s the establishment filled out to its final glory. Later sold to the Marriott these lands, though altered, remain a beautiful part of Martin County with public beaches for all to enjoy.

I got ahold of this photo from my mother asking her what kind of vegetation pre-development was on the island. This was her reply:

“This aerial was taken on October 16, 1957. The causeway was under construction as were improvements to Stuart Beach. It is hard to tell what kind of trees are there. They were probably a variety of things, oak, salt bush, cabbage palms, palmetto and Australian pine. The later were growing at the House of Refuge at this time so they were no doubt popping up everywhere. It was “disturbed land” since patches of it had been cleared for farming. Mangrove would be growing along the water but I doubt they had reached inland yet. You can see the new piles of sand indicating mosquito ditches had recently been dug. Notice the little Beach Road.” Historian,  Sandra Henderson Thurlow

Thinking a bit more about this area I asked my brother, Todd Thurlow, if this area formed “the fan” because it was once an inlet, such as the Gap, he talks about so much. He sent me this:

“The steady forces of long shore drift have operated over the eons to produce not just the current BI and previous BIs such as the ACR on the mainland, but even the peninsula of Florida itself (Schmidt 1997). The strong linearity of the east central and southeast Florida coastline, its low fractal dimensionality (Rial n.d.), indicates the steadiness and consistent directionality of these forces. Chaotic events like storms, on the other hand, produce drastic BI and lagoonal modifications via overwash and tidal inlet cuts, and leave chaotic, or irregular (“squiggly”) backbarrier shorelines, the former producing overwash fans, and the latter producing flood tidal deltas (Figure 3-6).

Figure 4-19. Cartographic signatures of geomorphic stability and instability. Map to left is most north, right map is most south”

Alan Brech, NEITHER OCEAN NOR CONTINENT: CORRELATING THE ARCHAEOLOGY AND GEOMORPHOLOGY OF THE BARRIER ISLANDS OF EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA, 2004.
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Translation: Breaks occurring during storms create overwash fans. (e.g. IRP and Sailfish Point). Tidal inlets produce flood tidal deltas, somewhat like the old Gilberts Bar. BI = Barrier Island; ACR = Atlantic Coastal Ridge. —-Todd Thurlow, “Time Capsule Flights:”(https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDaNwdmfhj15bmGNQaGhog9QpkQPAXl06)
The shifting sands of time… So many wonderful memories, and so many more to make as times and sands continue to change.

IRP Marriott today, Google Maps.
IRP Marriott today, Google Maps 2015.
Wide view, red dot is IRP Marriott.
Wide view, red dot is IRP Marriott 2015. Sewall’s Point east.

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The IRP Marriott today/photos:(http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pbiir-hutchinson-island-marriott-beach-resort-and-marina/)

Mullet Jump! St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

A mullet jumps in the St Lucie River off North River Shores. (Photo Todd Thurlow, 10-10-15.)
A mullet jumps in the St Lucie River off North River Shores. (Photo Todd Thurlow, 10-10-15.)

Mullet are famous for being excellent jumpers. In fact, Florida Fish and Wildlife states “it’s often easy to identify their locations by simply watching for jumping fish.” Me? When I see a mullet jump, I have a tendency to personify thinking, “now there’s a happy fish!”

This beautiful jumping mullet-sunset photo was taken by my brother, Todd Thurlow, this past Saturday evening, October 10th, 2015  just off of North River Shores.

Former Stuart News editor and river advocate Ernest Lyons wrote about mullet jumping in his essay ” Never a River Like the St Lucie Back Then.”

There was never a river to compare to Florida’s St Lucie I when I was young….the river fed us. You could get all the big fat mullet you wanted with a castnet or a spear. If you were real lazy, you could leave a lantern burning in a tethered rowboat overnight and a half-dozen mullet would jump in, ready to be picked off the boat bottom next morning….at the headwaters of the south fork of the St Lucie….the waters were clear as crystal… (Ernest Lyons 1915-1990)

Today, the water of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon are anything but clear, but “hail to the mullet that are still jumping!”

Sunset over the St Lucie, Todd Thurlow, 10-10-15.
Sunset over the St Lucie, Todd Thurlow, 10-10-15.
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Mullet: Florida Fish and Wildlife: (http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/mullet/)

Ernest Lyons, Stuart News editor, writer and award winning conservationist: (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)

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

SFWMD’s St Lucie River history (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20protecting%20and%20restoring/stlucie)

Florida Sportsman, by Larry Larsen, Fishing Mullet Schools: (http://www.floridasportsman.com/2013/09/24/mullet-schools/)

Why Mullet Jump, by Terrie Gibson/Visit Florida: (http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/fishing/articles/2013/february/8431-why-mullet-jump.html)

Stop by the Stuart Heritage Museum to purchase Ernest Lyons’ books with writings about the St Lucie River:(http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com)