Tag Archives: Florida

Airspace, President Trump, and the Destiny of Our St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

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Circles showing TFR, Temporary Flight Restrictions

Witham Air Field in Martin County is north, just outside of the circles….the circles that designate “No Fly Zones”during Presidient’s Trump’s return home today to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Many Palm Beachers will be flying into Witham who can’t get into Palm Beach due to the flight restrictions. Perhaps as they pass through they will be learning about the vociferous but sleepy little town of Stuart, to their north, with the toxic water problems stemming from discharges from Lake Okeechobee?

Martin and Palm Beach counties have a long history. In fact, Martin County was formed of north Palm Beach County in 1925. Our destiny is connected…

Looking at the circles on the “Temporary Fly Restriction” map above, sent to my husband, reminded me of some other circles that are also causing a stir. Senate President Joe Negron’s proposed circles for land purchase in the EAA. I know you are familiar with that map! I hope President Trump reads the local paper while he’s here. Or maybe he’ll even get a chance to meet with the President of the Florida Senate?

As we know, in today’s world, anything can happen…

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Palm Beach Post: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/negron-defends-plan-buy-land-for-lake-okeechobee-cleanup/ad5uuAtxgWErmvCqGbhGmJ/

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Circles showing Senate President Joe Negron’s proposed land purchase in the EAA

Below is an explanation of the NO FLY as explained by Palm Beach Post reporter Eliot Kleinberg, January 24, 2017

Planned flight restrictions when President Trump is at Mar-a-Lago:

A “no fly” zone in a 1-mile radius. Commercial flights that normally would leave or arrive on a straight line from PBIA must instead angle north or south.

A ring of 10 nautical miles bars all private planes from landing at either PBIA or Lantana unless they came from a “gateway airport,” at which they’ve been screened by the Transportation Safety Administration. Any planes that land at Lantana can’t leave until Trump is gone.

A ring of 30 nautical miles allows only planes traveling to or from fields outside the 10 mile ring, all of those closely monitored by air traffic controllers.

Banned at Lantana during visits: all flight training, practice approaches, parachuting, and flights of aerobatic aircraft, gliders, seaplanes, ultralights, gliders and hang-gliders, balloons, and even crop-dusters. Also banned: banner-towing and sightseeing, maintenance test flights, model rockets and aircraft, utility and pipeline surveys and drones.

A ring of 10 nautical miles bars all private planes from landing at either PBIA or Lantana unless they came from a “gateway airport,” at which they’ve been screened by the Transportation Safety Administration. Any planes that land at Lantana can’t leave until Trump is gone.

And a ring of 30 nautical miles allows only planes traveling to or from fields outside the 10 mile ring, all of those closely monitored by air traffic controllers.

More ominously for Lantana: the restrictions ban from that airport, at leeast while Trump is in town, all flight training, practice approaches, parachuting, and flights of aerobatic aircraft, gliders, seaplanes, ultralights, gliders and hang-gliders, balloons, and even crop-dusters. Also banned: banner-towing and sightseeing, maintenance test flights, model rockets and aircraft, utility and pipeline surveys and drones.

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Below is the Report from https://www.aopa.org : Over Palm Beach, FL beginning Friday, February 3, 2017(((Change in times)))

30 NM RADIUS TFR

Location
On the PALM BEACH VORTAC (PBI) 094 degree radial at 1.6 nautical miles.
From the surface up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL.

2 NM EXCLUSION

Location
On the PALM BEACH VORTAC (PBI) 349 degree radial at 30.9 nautical miles.
From the surface up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL.
Location
On the FORT LAUDERDALE VOR/DME (FLL) 004 degree radial at 7.4 nautical miles.
From the surface up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL.

Times:
4:15 PM local Friday, February 3, 2017 until 11:30 AM Monday, February 6, 2017
10 NM RADIUS NO-FLY ZONE

Location
On the PALM BEACH VORTAC (PBI) 094 degree radial at 1.6 nautical miles.
From the surface up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL.

Times:
4:15 PM local Friday, February 3, 2017 until 11:30 AM Monday, February 6, 2017

Affected Public Use Airports

KPBI Palm Beach Intl
KLNA Palm Beach County Park
F45 North Palm Beach County General Aviation
KBCT Boca Raton

KPMP Pompano Beach Airpark
KFXE Fort Lauderdale Executive
X58 Indiantown
Additional Notes:

No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM (except as described).

Except as specified below and/or unless authorized by ATC in consultation with the air traffic security coordinator via the domestic events network (DEN):

A. All aircraft operations within the 10 NMR area(s) listed above, known as the inner core(s), are prohibited except for: Approved law enforcement, military aircraft directly supporting the United States Secret Service (USSS) and the office of the President of the United States, approved air ambulance flights, and regularly scheduled commercial passenger and all-cargo carriers operating under one of the following TSA-Approved Standard Security Programs/Procedures: Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP), Full All-Cargo Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (FACAOSSP), Model Security Program (MSP), Twelve Five Standard Security Program (TFSSP) All Cargo, Or All-Cargo International Security Procedure (ACISP) and are arriving into and/or departing from 14 CFR part 139 airports. All emergency/life-saving flight (medical/law enforcement/firefighting) operations must coordinate with ATC prior to their departure at 561-684-9047 to avoid potential delays.

B. For operations within the airspace between the 10 NMR and 30 NMR area(s) listed above, known as the outer ring(s): All aircraft operating within the outer ring(s) listed above are limited to aircraft arriving or departing local airfields, and workload permitting, ATC may authorize transit operations. Aircraft may not loiter. All aircraft must be on an active IFR or VFR flight plan with a discrete code assigned by an air traffic control (ATC) facility. Aircraft must be squawking the discrete code prior to departure and at all times while in the TFR and must remain in two-way radio communications with ATC.

C. All flight operations not covered in paragraph A. within the 10 NMR area must be security screened by TSA at a gateway airport prior to arriving or departing Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI). Aircraft operators must register with the TSA for gateway screening no less than 24 hours prior to their scheduled departure time. Reservations for screening may begin on February 01, 2017 and last through the duration of the event by calling TSA at 561-616-9650.

D. Gateway airports have been created at Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI), Orlando International Airport (KMCO), Fort Lauderdale International Airport (KFLL), Dulles International Airport (KIAD), Teterboro Airport (KTEB), and Westchester Co. Airport (KHPN) by TSA to accommodate aircraft arriving or departing Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI).

E. TSA screening will not be available on Friday 2/3/2017. TSA screening will be available from 1702041300 UTC (0800 local 02/04/17) to 1702042200 UTC (1700 local 02/04/17), 1702051300 UTC (0800 local 02/05/17) to 1702052200 UTC (1700 local 02/05/17), and 1702061300 UTC (0800 local 02/06/17) to 1702061500 UTC (1000 local 02/06/17). Pilots, crew and passengers must provide valid government-issued photo identification to the TSA at the gateway airport. Gateway screening will include id verification and vetting of all pilots, crew and passengers, screening of persons and baggage, and inspection of the aircraft. No firearms on board aircraft will be authorized.

F. On departure from a gateway airport aircraft must maintain radio contact with ATC and continuously squawk an ATC-assigned discrete code. Intermediate stops while enroute are not authorized unless an emergency exists.

G. The following operations are not authorized within this TFR: flight training, practice instrument approaches, aerobatic flight, glider operations, seaplane operations, parachute operations, ultralight, hang gliding, balloon operations, agriculture/crop dusting, animal population control flight operations, banner towing operations, sightseeing operations, maintenance test flights, model aircraft operations, model rocketry, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and utility and pipeline survey operations.

H. FAA recommends that all aircraft operators check NOTAMs frequently for possible changes to this TFR prior to operations within this region.

TFR over Palm Beach, FL beginning Friday, February 3, 2017(((Change in times))): https://contentsharing.net/actions/email_web_version.cfm?recipient_id=2873089534&message_id=13922314&user_id=AOPA%5F4&group_id=4023858&jobid=36382299

“Airspace will change,” Palm Beach Post: http://postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2017/02/02/why-president-donald-trumps-palm-beach-arrival-could-affect-your-friday-commute/

Witham Air Field, Stuart, FL: https://www.aopa.org/airports/KSUA

Once You Have Tasted Flight…SLR/IRL

“Once You have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1529)

Ed Lippisch, Crossroads, SLR/IRL 1-16-17

The Swing-Bridge Between Us,#GladesCoastMatters, SLR/IRL

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Original locks at Canal Point WPB Canal, JTL
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WPB Canal built in 1917 at Canal Point, JTL

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Survey marker on original lock at Canal Point, WPB Canal. JTL
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The beautiful iron and wood work on the original lock at Canal Point’s WPB Canal.
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Ironwork
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Pictured here: The original lock at Canal Point. I think this should be restored as a historic landmark as it was built in 1917 as part of the WBP canal and basically set us on the path we are today and is also a symbol of where we can go. The man on this lock reminded me of the story of the shared swing-bridge at Torry Island that once was part of the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart. This will be the subject of today’s post.

2016 has been an incredible year, and 2017 will be as well. In 2016, both Lake Okeechobee and the St Lucie River blew up with toxic algae, and #GladesLivesMatter was established as a voice for a way of life that could be lost…

As far as 2017, as I write this post, deals are being cut, and advocates on both sides are working to get legislative support for their positions. But during this season of light, may we also remember our interests, as they hold things we share in common rather than apart: a Healthy Lake Okeechobee and St Lucie River, as well as Local Economic Prosperity for All  are certainly goals both the Glades and the Coast desires…right now, in most areas of our combined worlds, this does not exist…

Yesterday, I toured the Glades once again with former Pahokee mayor, J.P. Sasser, someone I don’t always agree with, but definitely get along with. Someone who is teaching me a ton about the Glades, a history linked to my history, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….

Along the journey, a noteworthy thing happened right of the bat at Canal Point, our first stop. Here, I met an older gentleman fishing along the original locks of the historic West Palm Beach Canal. As I was taking photos, I thought I should introduce myself.

“Hello,” I said, extending my hand.

“Hello.”

“Catching much?” I asked.

“Not today, but usually, yes.”

“Do you live around here?” I inquired.

“No, Tequesta.”

“Wow Tequesta? That’s pretty far away…”

“Not really,” he said. “Maybe thirty minutes. I used to come here with my father in the 1950s.”

“That’s cool.”

“And where are You from?” He inquired.

“Stuart.”

The fishing line bobbed in the water. I saw noticed a dead gar fish float by. The water doesn’t look so good, I thought.

“Have things changed a lot?” I asked.

“Yes they have,” he said, “but not a lot out here at Canal Point. That’s why I come.”

An alligator silently swam the shoreline…

“You know  your bridge is here.” the fisherman softly said,” pulling on the line.

“Wow, funny you should know that…my mom…she’s a historian. Torry Island right? They used part of the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart to build out in here in Belle Glade in 1938. It’s still here today…a swing-bridge….right?”

He looked at me holding his gaze. “Right young lady, the bridge is here….”

J.P. called from the car. The fisherman and I locked eyes.

“The bridge is here.” I repeated.”The bridge is here.”

As we drove away, I wrote something on my notepad: “2017 #GladesCoastMatters … ”

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Torry Island Bridge is located in Belle Glade about a 15 minute drive around Lake O from Canal Point.

“The story of the bridge’s origins flow smoothly from Corbin… The 1928 hurricane that ravaged the Glades set in motion the chain of events that would bring the bridge to Belle Glade. The storm destroyed the original dike that surrounded the lake. To build the replacement dike, the federal government spooned out a canal, separating Torry Island from Belle Glade, and used the dirt for the dike. The new canal, called the Okeechobee Waterway, needed a bridge. In 1938, state contractors built the Point Chosen Bridge, replacing a pontoon bridge with a swing bridge that was built in 1916 and relocated from the St. Lucie River near Stuart. The bridge consisted of the movable portion and wooden trestles on each end.” Associated Press article, 2009.

Link to story: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/torry-island/

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers! See you in 2017!

Jacqui

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This is the swing bridge that used to be in Stuart on the Roosevelt Bridge but is now part of the Torry Island Bridge in the city limits of Belle Glade.
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Sorry Island, Belle Glade.
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The swing-bridge looking across the rim canal around Torry Island.
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The Bridge Between Us…
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JP and JTL.
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J.P.’s bumper sticker

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My bumper sticker/s
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Historic map of the Glades showing cities. Canal Point upper left and Belle Glade further west and south. WPB canal is in Canal Point and the Torry Island Bridge is in Belle Glade.

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“What The Muck?!” SLR/IRL

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Flying over the black gold of the EAA. JTL
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Fields in Pahokee, JTL

Road Trip Series.

Since I began my Glades “Road Trip” Series, I have read three books by Lake Okeechobee historian, Laurence E. Will: Okeechobee Hurricane, Swamp to Sugar Bowl, and A Cracker History of Okeechobee.

These books hold amazing stories of the Glades; if Mr. Will hadn’t written, there would be very few first-hand accounts of farming that became a Florida mega-industry just over the first half century of the 1900s. Today, I will transcribe some of his most interesting descriptions of Lake Okeechobee, the magical landscape that was transformed into today’s contoversial Everglades Agricultural Area, for none other than its MUCK.

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EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map SFWMD)
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Photo of pond apples also know to locals as custard apples in Big Cypress- shared on Flicker by photographer Mac Stone, allow us to envision what this incredible forest looked like. 32,000 acres rimming the southern and eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. The best muck built up over thousands of years under these roots that worked like a seine as the lake overflowed its edge then running south through the sawgrass. The Everglades….

When I was on my recent tour with former mayor of Pahokee, J.P. Sasser, I learned the nick-name for Pahokee is “The Muck,” named so for the “black gold” soil that accumulated over thousands of years under the roots of a custard apple forest that rimmed the lake. (Kind of like fresh water mangroves today in the Indian River Lagoon.)

When one drives deeper into the Glades, one finds similar nick-names or “muck mottos,” that have to do with the muck. For instance, Belle Glade’s motto is “Her Soil is Her Fortune;” Clewiston’s is “America’s Sweetest Town,” and South Bay’s refers to its highways, “Crossroads of South Florida,” named so for its intersection of two major roads, East-West State Road 80, and North-South, U.S. Highway 27, roads that get one into the muck, or out of it….

Will first experienced the Lake in the early 1900s as a boy when his father was developing Okeelanta, located about four miles below today’s South Bay. Okeelanta, today a mill location for the Fanjul holdings, was located not in an apple custard forest, but rather in the miles of sawgrass lying south. Although the soil here is excellent, it is different, more peaty and not as “mucky.” Thus the most productive lands lie closer to the lake, deep in the MUCK.

Here is a moving account by Will about the land of muck in “Cracker History of Lake Okeechobee:

“Before the dredges crashed through the custard apple woods to start the first canals, the lake most always stayed high and clear, unbroken except for those islands Kreamer, Torry, and Observation. When I first saw the lake it was still wild. Excusing the trifling settlements at Utopia, Ritta, and Tantie, a score of fishing camps, and the openings to four unfinished canals, it’s swampy shores hadn’t changed since Zachary Taylor found the redskins or probably not since DeSoto anchored in Tampa Bay. It sill was just as the good Lord had fashioned it. The lake was lonely Mack, silent and mysterious as well. But I tell you boy, it was beautiful, and sort of inspiring too.”

Will was absolutely pro development, pro farming/agriculture,  but he, like most of the old timers, recognized the tremendous awe-inspiring beauty of the place.

Most all the natural beauty the lakeside shoreline in Martin County, where the FPL Power Plant is today, and north to the town of Okeechobee has also been radically altered as well.

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FPL solar plant and “cooling pond” in Martin County looking west towards “Barley Barber Swamp.” This area was once a forest of mostly giant cypress trees and others. JTL

Excerpts by Lawrence E. Will:

“Dense forest ringed the lake around. Along its northern half water oak, maple, cypress, potash, rubber and palmetto trees crowded each other on the lakeshore ridge…the south shore and half way up the eastern side was something else… Here were custard apples, a solid belt of tropical trees, blanketed with a moonvine cover, which stood, two miles or more in width, without break or opening, from near Clewiston’s Sand Point, slap around to Port Mayaca. 32,000 acres of custard apple woods there were, the most of these trees, I wouldn’t doubt, on the whole blamed continent of America.”

“…Although the shores were for the most part black muck, low and flat, there were some fine sandy beaches too. Along the east side for eighteen miles lay beautiful East Beach…”

“Now if Zachary Taylor or Hamilton Disston could return to Okeechobee they would find that farmers have exterminated the custard apple woods. Highways, service stations, super markets and housing projects have replaced the cypress, rubber and maple trees along the ridge. A levee occupies the onetime shore and drainage has lowered by half a dozen feet the water’s elevation. Tractors cultivate the former seining grounds, and unless you as old–and no amount, as some of us, your never heard of town of Tantie, Utopia or Ritta. Civilization has re-made the lake and I’d be the last to say it isn’t better so, but the lakeshore’s one time natural beauty is long gone, and man, wasn’t that old lake a fascinating place.” 

Well, to the land of Lake Okeechobee! For all she was, and for all she is. It’s enough to make one exclaim:”What The Muck?!!!”

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Agriculture’s Eradication of the Mythical Pond Apple Forest, Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL: https://www.google.com/amp/s/jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/04/15/agricultures-eradication-of-the-mythical-pond-apple-forest-lake-okeechobee-slrirl/amp/?client=safari

Black Gold and Silver Sands, Snyder/Historical Society of Palm Beach County https://floridafoodandfarm.com/book-reviews/turning-soil-gold-silver-look-back-palm-beach-county-agriculture/

Lawrence E. Will: http://museumoftheglades.org

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War map of the Everglades created during the Seminole Wars, 1856.

*Custard Apples are also known as Pond Apples. The old photos of the trees are from Mr Will’s books or the Florida Memory Project.

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Pond apple blossom. Photo by Lisa Jefferson, 2015.

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Proposed land purchase in the EAA, Senator Joe Negron 2016/17.

Our Honest Law-Breaker Common Ancestor, The Real McCoy. SLR/IRL& Glades

1921

 

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Bill McCoy

Glades Road Trip Series: 

Remember phone books?

When looking through old ones you can find clues to Martin County’s historical ties with The Glades. Finding things in common is important as we work to improve relations, communications, and our waters.

My mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, came across this ad, when looking in a 1921 Stuart City Directory. She writes: “The McCoy Brothers became rum-runners and owned what is now Sailfish Point. What is interesting to me is that in the 1920s, they were taking passengers and freight across the state through Lake Okeechobee via the West Palm Beach Canal.”

As we are learning from our Road Trip series, the West Palm Beach Canal was built in 1917 and intersects with Lake Okeechobee at Canal Point. What we might not know is that the McCoy’s Hutchinson Island land then known as “Coral Strand” became today’s Sailfish Point.

The brothers knew and loved the St Lucie Inlet area well enough to buy this land and establish their business there. The “Everglades Line” was probably one of many. Perhaps the brothers drank ice tea on their way from Sailfish Point down the Indian River Lagoon to Lake Worth’s entrance to the West Palm Beach Canal and through Lake Okeechobee? Although they were famous rum-runners, the most well-known brother, Bill, did not drink!

His obituary notes:

William Frederick McCoy (1877 – December 30, 1948): Bill McCoy was an American sea-captain and rum runner smuggler during the Prohibition in the United States. In running alcohol from the Bahamas to the Eastern Seaboard, he became world-famous as his merchandise was uncut and clean. Thus the saying the “Real McCoy.” McCoy himself never touched liquor and was considered an “honest law-breaker.” He also took pride in the fact that he never paid organized crime, politicians, or law enforcement for protection.

I think we can consider Bill McCoy a Glades/Martin County honest law-breaker common ancestor. “The Real McCoy” a symbol and foundation for building better relations from the Coast to the Glades?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t  think of a better place to start. 🙂

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Map of Canals 1924 Florida Archives.
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1950 map by Ben McCoy of the “Coral Strand” and its riches, today known as Sailfish Point.
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South Hutchinson Island aerial showing mosquito ditches through mangroves and other vegetation. 1952 courtesy of Thurlow Archives.
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Google map showing Hutchinson Island with Sailfish Point south next to St Lucie Inlet. East is Atlantic Ocean and west is the Indian River Lagoon and Sewall’s Point.
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Lake Okeechobee.

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The Seeds of U.S. Sugar’s Success, Canal Point, SLR/IRL

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Sugar ration ad WW1

Before we begin today’s lesson, two major changes must be recognized. First after almost a year, the ACOE halted the destructive Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St Lucie River. These releases began January 29th, and lasted through November 4th, 2016.

And on Tuesday, November 8th, Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election over Hillary Clinton, an election considered the most remarkable and unpredictable in over 100 years…

Now back to our Road Trip series:

Most recently we have traveled to Canal Point, the first town south of the Martin County line on the east side of Lake Okeechobee. This almost forgotten little town has an amazing history, and holds the seeds of today’s expansive Everglades Agriculture Area and of  United States Sugar Corporation itself.

The easiest way to take this drive through history is a timeline. So let’s crank up the car and begin!

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Connors’ Hwy 1920s Florida Memory

1914-1918 – World War 1. Sugar rationing across the nation.

1917- The West Palm Beach Canal is constructed, intersecting at Canal Point, allowing transportation of goods and internal land development around Lake Okeechobee

1918-After the war, Congress holds hearings about concerns that the county should “never again” get into a position where domestic sugar production is just 1.7 billion. The United States Department of Agriculture opens a sugarcane research central at Canal Point that still operates today-a hundred years later.

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Original USDA lab/office, Canal Point (Wiki)
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2016

1920- The American Legion and Federation of Women’s Clubs mount a national lobbying campaign against the high price of sugar. West Palm Beach chapters lead in support of the effort.

1920- Englishman, F.E. Bryant, already a successful farming business man in Lake Worth, forms the Florida Sugar and Food Products Company working with G.T. Anderson at Canal Point. They buy land and build the first sugar mill by 1921 and encourage expanded sugar farming.

1922-Flooding of some cane fields…they plod on…

1923- 900 acres of sugarcane in Palm Beach County, 800 of it in Canal Point. This is a real success.

1924- Connors’ Highway constructed allowing access in and south of  Lake Okeechobee for more sugar farming and development

1924- More flooding of cane fields– a major set back so Bryant merges his faltering company into a “better capitalized” company in Clewiston. The name of this company is Southern Sugar Company.

1926- Hurricane

1926 Florida land booms slows, beginnings of the Great Depression for Florida

1928 Hurricane- an historic Category 4/5 hits Lake O area coming through West Plam Beach. Up to 3000 people die. Many are never found.

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Coffins at Canal Point, Florida Memory

1931 Businessman and General Motors executive, Charles Stewart Mott purchases Bryant’s failing Southern Sugar Company renaming it United States Sugar Corporation. This is the hugley successful and profitiable Clewiston “US Sugar Corporation” that we know today. http://www.ussugar.com

When I drove through Canal Point a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea that this little town held so much history. A history that eventually and unintentionally led to the diking of Lake Okeechobee and the destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

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S-352 at Canal Point/WPB Canal

*Thank you to the book Black Gold and Silver Sands, by James D Synder, and the Palm Beach Historical Society as sources.

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The Road of No Return, Connors’ Highway, Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

Fingy Conners, History’s Forgotten Villain

Video about Fingy Connors:https://www.buffalorising.com/2013/09/fingy-conners-historys-forgotten-villain/

Canal Point, the lake town just south of today’s Martin County line, was once an epicenter of life changing activity, a road trip there is no turning back from…

As we learned previously, in 1917, the construction of the West Palm Beach Canal created Canal Point, the town of lumber-man and developer, Mr. Gilbert A Watkins. During this era, planting sugarcane in the rich muck soils surrounding Lake Okeechobee was becoming even more of a rage and the federal and state government helped it take shape.

In 1913, Florida’s Internal Improvement Fund appointed an engineering commission to study the feasibility of draining the Everglades. At this same time, roads were assessed. In 1919 those belonging to Southern Land and Timber Company, Hamilton Disston’s heirs’ lands around Lake Okeechobee–some that became Watkins’—were determined to be “inadequate.” The only east/west road was Jupiter -Indiantown, and that was not enough.

Nationally, it was all the rage to be part of South Florida’s new-found” investment. “Buffalo’s New Yorker, Fingy Connors, was perfect for the job. He’d lost his thumb when he was young, but this didn’t keep him from grasping or getting what he wanted. After a visit to the area celebrating the building of the West Palm Beach Canal, he bought lands in the area of Canal Point and built his road.

Connors’ Highway Toll-Road became an “engineering and development marvel” and all knew it was Fingy’s skill as a big time political boss that got it done. Like the video and biography in this post implies, some saw him as a villain, and others as a hero…

What is for sure, is that although a large section of the road was built from Canal Point north to Okeechobee, it later was extended under the lake and across the state becoming Highway-80, paving the way for the future of the sugar industry  and what would  evolve into the riches of the Everglades Agricultural Area.

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William Fingy Conners

Tycoon, Saloon Boss, Businessman, Politician, Philanthropist:

William J. Conners, aka Fingy (1857-1929) was born in the slums of the Old First Ward. Fingy obtained his nick-name because he lost his thumb when he was young. When he was 19, his parents passed and he acquired a small saloon/rooming house on Louisiana St. He then bought a 2nd saloon on Ohio St. With Conners’s flashy, tough personality, he managed to form contracts to supply labor all across the Great Lakes utilizing 1,000s. His men would eat, sleep, drink, and spend their earnings at his saloons. He had sovereignty over the work force for over a decade. Next in life, he became a leading real-estate developer, operated his own paving company and brewing company, poultry farm, and started the early stages of the Courier Express. Conners definitely tested the waters by reducing wages of grain scoopers which caused a strike. This strike caught nation-wide attention, as 8,000,000 bushels of wheat were backed up. After dipping into politics, he came to control 85% of the packaged freight business on the Great Lakes (Great Lakes Transit Corporation). Conners donated a small fortune to Buffalo’s poor. Later in life, Fingy resided in Florida for half of the year. Floridians considered Fingy to be of hero stature.

HISTORIC PHOTOS CIA FLORIDA MEMORY, CONNORS’ HIGHWAY 1920s.

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Connors’ Hwy. toll area with non-diked Lake Okeechobee in background ca. 1925. (Florida Memory Project)
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A car drives along Connors’ Hwy. with Everglades fauna to right. (FMP) 
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Connors’ Hwy and Everglades fauna. 

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Cistern with Lake O in background.
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Connors’ Hwy along area of canal or rim canal-here I am uncertain but this photo too is included in the Florida Memory Projects documentation of the Connors’ Hwy. 

HISTOROR MARKER TEXT AND PHOTO

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*Thank you to my mother for the photos retrieved from Florida Memory and the write up of the historical marker and the video history.

Palm Beach Historical Society:http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/land-boom-and-bust-conners-highway

https://dedicatedtobuffalo.wordpress.com/history/defining-men/fingy-conners/