Tag Archives: Indian River Drive

Breathtaking/Historical Indian River Drive Along the Indian River Lagoon

Antique post card of Indian River Drive. (Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, ca. 1940s)
Antique post card of Indian River Drive. (Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, ca 1940s.)
Writing on back of post card sent to Jensen Beach from Germany as a V.E. Day souvenir.
Writing on back of post card sent to Jensen Beach from Germany as a V.E. Day souvenir.
Indian River Drive today. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)
Indian River Drive today. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)

For six years I have driven north to Ft Pierce from the Town of Sewall’s Point, along Indian River Drive, to attend my meeting as a representative for the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments.

I love this time. I love this road. It is a meditation, a prayer for me.

I know lots of stories that I heard throughout my childhood and they all seem to come alive as I drive through the cathedral of sabal palms, old plantations, and ancient live oaks;  my car creeps up the rising ridge rolling at the 25 mile an hour speed limit; I gaze over the lagoon itself, sometimes quiet, sometimes moody, but always beautiful. Ospreys keep their high perch or fly in circles over my head, egrets and herons stand along  the shallow shoreline; I pass ancient Indian mounds, and when I wave, the the warriors hold up their right arms in strength and friendship; I see old pioneers like Captain Richards, and Bahamian workers sweating buckets, as they labor to grow pineapples in the heat of the 1800s; I see their graveyards …Every once in a while, I have to stop day dreaming and let a family of sandhill cranes cross the road. Sometimes I think I see a pirate out of the corner of my eye…

The road is an old one, first an Indian trail on the pushed up Atlantic Ridge along the west side of the lagoon; later to become a river road for Florida’s early pioneers as they traveled along its “river highway,” trading supplies and establishing post offices.  After being a military/wagon trail it evolved with the modernization of the post World War II era, and the event of the automobile, into a “modern drive,” and its large parcels were sold off and eventually the “Indian River Freeholder Association” formed in St Lucie County, for its protection and order. (http://rickinbham.tripod.com/TownOfSIRD/SIRD_History_2.html)

Indian River Drive covers more than our shores going more or less the entire 156 mile length of the Indian River Lagoon from Stuart to St Augustine covering  five counties; thankfully it has been designated as a “Scenic Highway” in many areas. (http://www.floridascenichighways.com/indian-river-lagoon-national-scenic-byway/)

It is my favorite drive along our Treasure Coast.

If you have not driven it lately, on a beautiful morning please take a ride,  and if your imagination gets the best of you, don’t be afraid to wave!




Visit Florida: “Treasure Coast Scenic Highway” Indian River Drive  (http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/listings/002/a0t40000007qu8nAAA.html)

“The Seminole Spirit of the Indian River Lagoon”

Coacoochee or Wildcat, by James Hutchinson 1976
Coacoochee or Wildcat, by James Hutchinson, 1976

Their stern faces stared at me for three years on the office walls of Stuart Middle School, and from the conservative backdrop of First National Bank and Trust Company of Stuart. My mom and dad told me stories at the dinner table about neighbor and artist James Hutchinson and his wife, Joan, living and painting these serious and  beautiful people on their reservation, not too far from where we lived. I drove on the school bus and graduated with Kevin Hutchinson, James and Joan’s son; I saw Kevin’s younger brother learn to ride a tricycle. The faces of the Seminole warriors and the faces of the Hutchinsons were an integral part of my childhood and we remain friends today.

The portrait above is of Coacoochee, or Wildcat. Coacoochee was possibly the greatest of Seminole warriors; he was not a formal chief. He rose up as a leader in a time of need during the Second Seminole War. His people loved him; to them, it is said, he had a great sense of humor, of all things–during the worst of times for his people, and yet he taught them how to fight back; how to survive.

Somewhere, I learned that in early times, the Seminoles used to camp and hunt along the North Fork of the St Lucie River making their way south across the Indian River Lagoon to Hutchinson Island to hunt black bears.  And once my mother, on the way to Ft Pierce, pulled over the car, and showed me how to find Native Indian pottery artifacts, right along the side of  the road, close to the mound by the railroad track.

Often, today, when I drive over the bridges, or along Indian River Drive, I imagine the Seminoles; I imagine that I can see them right there, fishing, cooking, and hunting or even their Ais ancestors. Perhaps a difficult life, but one in harmony with nature, unlike my own people…

Today, I have all four of Mr Hutchinson’s Seminole prints in my office staring at me from all walls.  And for me, their spirt is certainly alive.