One of my favorite aerial photographs from my mother’s history books on Martin County is of the infamous Hugh Willoughby flying over the St Lucie River at Sewall’s Point and Willoughby Point. In more familiar terms for boaters, this location is known as “Hell’s Gate” due to the bottle-necking of the rushing tide.
Mr Hugh de Laussat Willoughby, one of the “early birds” of aviation, and a resident of Sewall’s Point, (http://earlyaviators.com/ewilloug.htm) had the idea of locating the New York Yacht Club at the southern tip of the peninsula as envisioned in the map below. It is difficult to see in the aerial, but the insignia of the New York Yacht Club is on the side of the biplane.
The yacht club never materialized as the market crash of the late 1920s and following depression of the 1930s dashed that dream. Today many local pilots fly over the St Lucie River at this same location to photograph a different dream. –By showing the devistation, inspiring a dream for our state and federal agencies, of clean water…
Would Mr Willoughby ever have imagined his paradise would be one of controversial pollution? Never in a thousand years….
This year, the ACOE has been discharging from Lake Okeechobee since January 29th 2016; in 2013 they released May through October, and in 2014 nothing…
May the photographs or today’s ailing river inspire change, and may the spirit of Mr Willoughby keep adventure and love alive in our hearts—and the wind— ever at our backs.
Today we look back in history….but you have to look….
These historic photographs are marked “Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc.”
According to Mr. John H. Canada, president, Ocean Naval Architects, the year was 1925. You may recognize one of the images as it was used in a former blog post discussing the piled up sand of the C-44 canal. From 1915 to 1925 the government was connecting the canal from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. A big mistake!
These photos below were originally sent to my mother, historian, Sandra Thurlow, by Mr John Whiticar. In their discussion, it is noted that one can see farming where Indian River Plantation is today (The Marriott); one cannot see an Intercostal Waterway–no spoil islands off Sewall’s Point; there was no development on Rocky Point; and most interesting for me, looking at the photo this time: today’s Martin County Golf Course, part of yesteryear’s “Sunrise Inn,” sits right there “in the middle of no where” in 1925. Those were the days!