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/)