Today I share yet another remarkable historic article from my mother Sandra Thurlow’s archives. This time from the Miami Herald, 1923. The significance of this article, that I have transcribed and broken down into two parts, is that it tells the story of Palm City, Florida, as part of the “Empire of the Everglades;” this a past of Palm City that most of us don’t know.
Indeed, Palm City was founded partially as Palm City Farms and even had its own drainage district. We have altered the land so we can be productive and live here, and today, and in the future, we try the best we can to put some of the water back on the land to clean it and bring all back to health. Also this article is shared as 2024 is the official 100 year anniversary of the St Lucie Canal.
“Empire of the Everglades,” Miami Herald, 1923, Part 1 as transcribed by JTL
“The Great Prairie of Florida”
Palm City Drainage District Lets Contract for Additional Ditches
Will Expend $100,000 Supplementing the Original Drainage Plan; 900 Acres of Citrus Trees Growing In the Reclaimed Area; C.C. Chillilngworth Is the Developer.
By William Stuart Hill
Back of Stuart, in the Palm Beach county, lies Palm City, then Palm City Farms and the Palm City Drainage District, the latter extending almost to the St. Lucie canal and containing 14,300 acres of land and prairie.
Palm City is situate on the shore of the south fork of the St. Lucie river, and its inhabitants have access to the other bank by means of the Palm City bridge, and to Stuart two miles away, by means of a hard surface road. Another road, to the south, connects with the Dixie highway at a considerable distance below Stuart.
The Palm City drainage district was formed recently to supplement the work of drainage begun and achieved by the Palm Beach County Land company, original owner and developer of the Palm City Farms, C.C. Chillingworth, attorney, of West Palm Beach, is owner of the Palm Beach County Farms company and retains about 5000 acres of the original 10,000 acre tract. The remainder has been sold to settlers.
There are 28 citrus groves in Palm City Farms, comprising 900 acres. The largest of these, the grove owned by the Niagara Fruit company, contains 160 acres, and is said to be the largest citrus grove on the east coast of Florida. There are also considerable plantings of avocados and one guava grove in the drainage district, which takes in 6,200 acres not in the Palm Beach Farms.
The land within the drainage district is well adapted to citrus culture and has the double advantage of easy drainage and easier irrigation. The highest elevation in the district is 27 feet above sea level. Artesian water may be had, with flowing wells at a depth of approximately 600 feet.
During the years between 1912 and 1916, the land company spent $102,000 in the digging of drainage ditches and the construction of the roads within its 10,000-acre tract. Three main outlets were provided, one through Danforth creek, another through Bessey’s creek, and a third large ditch, emptying into the south fork of the St Lucie river near the outlet of the big St. Lucie Everglades drainage or control canal.
~Transcription end, part 1, paragraphs 1-7.
To be continued.