Tag Archives: FIND Florida Inland Navigation District

Mystery Revealed! Exact Date of Peck Lake’s Inlet Breakthrough-“Ash Wednesday Storm, 1962”–Indian River Lagoon

Stuart News article dated March 12, 1962 about the Ash Wednesday Storm and the breakthrough inlet at Peck's Lake along the IRL.
Stuart News article dated March 12, 1962 about the Ash Wednesday Storm and the breakthrough inlet at Peck’s Lake along the IRL.

In case you have been reading my blog the past week or so, you may have noticed that the date/s of Peck Lake’s Inlet breakthrough/s, into the Indian River Lagoon, along Jupiter Island, have been in question.

I originally wrote in my blog dated 12/12/14, “1948 and 1960” as the dates of the Peck’s Lake breakthroughs, based on my mother’s book Sewall’s Point, A History of a Peninsular Community of Florida’s Treasure Coast.

After I wrote, my mother contacted me saying that she had learned throughout the years that the date of 1948 and 1960 may be incorrect as she had taken the 1948/1960 dates off the back of historic photos from “The Ruhnke Collection” in her and my father’s history photo archives. Also there was the fact, that some old timers had said that date/s seemed a bit “off…” and that the 1940’s break may have been somewhere else…

Nonetheless, no one remembered the right dates. Time and tides fade all good memories, even at Stuart Heritage! (http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com)

I am proud to say, due to some “history detective work” on the part of my mother, who yesterday actually went to the Blake Library and looked through the old papers on the microfilm machine, and a lead from a group email of friend, and attorney, Ted Guy, the exact and correct date of the 1960s break has been revealed!

The exact date that Peck’s Lake Inlet broke through in the 1960s was Thursday, March 12, 1962 during the famous “ASH WEDNESDAY STORM of 1962….” (Still working on 1940s date.)

Being raised Episcopalian, when I heard this clue, I had to ask my mother….”Mom, when is Ash Wednesday? ”

She looked at me and immediately spurted out : “Maybe 40 days before Easter….”

“The Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 occurred on March 6–8, 1962 along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. Also known as the Great March Storm of 1962, it was considered by the U.S. Geological Survey to be one of the most destructive storms ever to affect the mid-Atlantic states. One of the ten worst storms in the United States in the 20th century, it lingered through five high tides over a three-day period, killing 40 people, injuring over 1,000, and causing hundreds of millions in property damage in six states.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Wednesday_Storm_of_1962)


Close up of date on newspaper
Close up of date on newspaper

This was my mother’s final message:

 “Jacqui, because of your interest, we have finally pinned down the date of the article that had the wrong year on it. Your dad found a piece by the county on hurricane damage and it said Peck’s Lake washed through in 1965 as well…”


Thank you to all those who helped uncover this “mystery.” It is important to know as surely Peck’s Lake and other areas of Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island, our ever changing barrier islands, will break through again. 

Here are the photos of the Peck’s Lake 1962 breakthrough originally displayed , in case you did not see them the first time:

Peck's Lake breakthrough 1962
Peck’s Lake breakthrough 1962 (Photo Ruhnke Collection)
Another angle
Another angle, Peck’s Lake Inlet 1962 (Ruhnke Collection)
Inlet open to IRL
Peck’s Lake Inlet open to IRL, ca. 1962
Another Peck's Lake photo (Ruhnke Collection)
Another Peck’s Lake photo after ACOE filled in, (Photo Ruhnke from Thurlow Archives.)
Filled in
Filled in after breakthrough….


Original post with updates on Peck’s Lake, JTL: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/12/12/old-photos-jupiter-islands-shorelinepeck-lakes-inlet-along-the-indian-river-lagoon/)

Spoil Island History, Martin County, A Time Capsule Flight–Indian River Lagoon

Spoil island history, MC, FL
Spoil island history, MC, FL (A time-capsule  “flight” by Todd Thurlow.)

For today’s post, I am partnering up with my younger brother, attorney, Todd Thurlow. Todd, as all members of my family, is intrigued by history and maps. As he is a technology buff as well, he has learned to use Google Earth Pro (in this case a trial version) to superimpose old maps over today’s Google Earth aerials. The effect is amazing in that one can literally “see” the changes over time in land, shoreline, and in today’s case, IRL spoil islands. The islands that one sees in the IRL are not natural, they are dredge fill from the creation of a channel with its government beginnings in 1881. This includes some islands that are now exclusive neighborhoods, such as Island Edition and Archipelago, in Sewall’s Point. Fortunately, the birds got one too–“Bird Island” now a Critical Wildlife Area, (CWA) or MC2. MC2 is located just north, off the Archipelago.

Today our channels are managed by FIND, the Florida Inland Navigation District.

I will provide a summary TIME LINE of Todd’s notes below; nonetheless, be sure to watch the video in the link below, so you can “see!” It is amazing: you will feel like you are taking a time-capsule flight right over our beautiful and ever-changing Indian River Lagoon:

Link to IRL/SPOIL ISLAND TIME CAPSULE FLIGHT 1887-1970, by Todd Thurlow: (http://youtu.be/sODqzQ8EW9o)


Question: “When Did Spoil Islands “appear” in the Martin County Area of the Indian River Lagoon?”


1881: Florida Coastline Canal and Transportation Company was formed

1887: Aerial shows no spoil islands in IRL

1890: Dredging complete from Haulover Cut in Merritt Island to Jupiter

1892: Locals dig St Lucie Inlet by hand

1920: No spoil islands east of Sewall’s Point. US ACOE recommends dredging 8 feet deep and 75 foot wide from Jacksonville to Miami

1930: ACOE increases recommended width to 100 feet from 75

1935: Work complete-8 feet deep and 100 feet wide channel

1940: USDA map aerial shows spoil islands deposits on east side of Sewall’s Point (these became Island Edition and the Archipelago developments among other things…)

1945: Congress authorizes ACOE to dredge 12 foot deep 125 foot wide channel

1952: USDA map showing spoil islands DIRECTLY EAST of Sewall’s Point

1958: USDA aerial shows “break through/wash through” at today’s Bathtub Beach

1958: USDA aerial still shows no spoil islands on EAST SIDE of channel near Sewall’s Point (these are new islands, not the ones already deposited off of the near east side of SP)

1958: NOAA chart shows Seminole Shore’s, (today’s Sailfish Point) marina is undeveloped

1960: Due to ACOE determination, IRL portion between Ft Pierce to Miami is dredged to 10 feet rather than the 12 feet wanted in 1945

1963: NOAA chart shows new channel but no new islands still on the EAST SIDE of the channel off of Sewall’s Point

1965:  ACOE work complete– based on 1945 and 1960 determinations

1970: Aerial finally does show spoil islands on EAST SIDE of channel off of Sewall’s Point from dredging/channel projects

1970: Aerial reveals, if one looks closely, that the smallest of the spoil islands to the EAST of the channel off of Sewall’s Point has since disappeared….


Todd Thurlow has given presentations at Stuart Heritage and Florida Oceanographic (http://thurlowpa.com) Call him if your club would like a presentation. Todd and I will be doing more work together in the future!

*I must also credit my dear river activist friend, Ezra Appel, who recently got me interested in spoil islands all over again.  Ezra got involved two years ago with the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves (IRLAP), when his company adopted a spoil island in Vero Beach. Now he is involved with  a newly formed group “Friends of the Spoil Islands, Inc, ” a 501 (c) non-profit, Community Service Organization working in partnership with the DEP and IRLAP.  Ezra sits on the board as the Treasurer. They have a Facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/spoilislands) Check it out! Ezra also shares with me aerial photos from INDIAN RIVER BY AIR; they have some great shots of the spoil islands in their neck of the woods: (http://www.indianriverbyair.com/tagged/spoil%20island)


Prior blog post on Atlantic and Okeechobee Waterways and FIND, the Florida Inland Navigation District: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/06/11/florida-inland-navigation-district-f-i-n-d-maintaining-the-okeechobeeatlantic-waterways-of-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

Florida Inland Navigation District, F.I.N.D., Maintaining the Okeechobee/Atlantic Waterways of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

The Okeechobee Waterway or Cross State Canal is managed through a partnership of  F.I.N.D.and the US government.
Parts of the Okeechobee Waterway or Cross State Canal, (partially C-44), is managed through a partnership of F.I.N.D.and the U.S. government, ACOE. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2009.)

The Intracoastal and Okeechobee Waterways are important navigation channels and part of our country’s heritage.

Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway from Maine to South Floida. (Map, public.)
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Maine to South Floida. (Map, public.)


Okeechobee Waterway from Atlantic to Gulf of Mexico. (Map, public)
Okeechobee Waterway from Atlantic to Gulf of Mexico. (Map, public)

The history of navigation in the United States is a long one that is difficult to put into perspective within the context of today’s modern world. Military, commercial and communication centers were imperative goals to the newly established United States and remain so today, but these things are now taken for granted and have also inadvertently caused massive environmental destruction.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is a 3000 mile inland waterway along the east coast of the US from Maine to Florida. The Okeechobee Waterway is a few hundred miles across the state, from Stuart to Ft Meyers, linking the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico through canals and Lake Okeechobee.

These canals are directly supported by the public though a tax.  If you look at your tax bill you will notice you are charged a .3045 mill to maintain the Florida Atlantic and Okeechobee Intracoastal Waterways. After a long evolution, today, the state’s Florida Inland Navigational District or FIND is the entity that acts in cooperation with the US Government, Army Corp of Engineers,  to oversee these tax funds in order to maintain these important canals that serve many purposes.  Some we don’t like…

One of the purposes of the Okeechobee Canal, built in the late 1920s and “improved” many times since, by being deepened and widened,  is to release water from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon when Lake Okeechobee gets too full, as the lake  has been diked for the safety of agricultural lands and urban communities living around and south of the lake.

The mission of FIND is very broad actually; if we look at the mission statement of FIND it reads:

“The Florida Inland Navigation District has two primary missions: (1) to perform the functions of the “local sponsor” of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway project and a portion of the Okeechobee Waterway project in Florida, both of which are State/Federal navigation projects, and (2) provide assistance to other governments to develop waterway access and improvement projects. As the local sponsor of the Waterway, the District provides all lands required for the navigation project including rights of way and lands for the management of dredged materials removed from the waterway channel during dredging activities.”(http://aicw.org/index.jsp)

FIND is overseen by commissioners from the twelve counties along Florida’s east coast. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate. Our local commissioner is friendly and well known,  Mr Don Cuozzo.

Don Cuozzo
Don Cuozzo

FIND also serves other purposes very close to the people and local communities that I do care about, such as providing grant funding for local waterways improvements, and maintaining the important manatee signage and protection zones. We all know this iconic and endanger species, a gentle, distant relative of the elephant, is often stuck by speeding boaters.

Award winning photo seen in National Geographic story on south Florida waters.
Award winning photo seen in National Geographic story on south Florida waters, 2012.) (Photo by Paul Niklin, friend of Nichole Mader.)

Thank you to FIND, but it sure would be nice if we could FIND another way to for the lake’s water to go than through the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon.

For 2013, Ed and I paid $13.31 to FIND. Although I would prefer not to support the Okeechobee Waterway atrocity, I do like manatees, boating, and the Town of Sewall’s Point has benefited from FIND grant programs as well.  So, I guess, for now, Ed and I  will pay the tax; but one day, I have the feeling, I might just rebel!


Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Intracoastal_Waterway) 

Okeechobee Waterway, ACOE: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/LakeOkeechobee/OkeechobeeWaterway(OWW).aspx )