Tag Archives: John Whiticar

The Crashing Ocean, and the Unfazed House Upon the Rock, SLR/IRL

John Whitcar, of the famed local Whiticar Boat Works family,  has been a longtime family friend, and I have featured his incredible photography before. Today’s shared photos were taken on March 5th.

He describes today’s photos below:

House of Refuge Huge Waves
Monday, March 5, 2018 / Stuart Florida, USA
11 ft. waves coming in from North Easter off of New England.
Very little wind / High Tide / ~11:00 am

The story of the House of Refuge is an amazing one, being the last of its kind, Old-Florida pine construction, having endured multiple hurricanes and other forces of time and nature, and still standing since 1876.

“US government houses of refuge were constructed to assist shipwreck survivors and were unique to the east coast of Florida. Ten were constructed between 1876 and 1886, but only but Martin County’s Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge survives.” ~Historian Sandra Thurlow

The moral of the story?

Build your house upon a rock. ~Including the Anastasia Formation, preferably.


Thank you John for sharing your wonderful photos of Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge including its mascots the Blue Angels of Nature, our brown pelicans!

*House of Refuge web site: (http://houseofrefugefl.org/house-of-refuge-museum-at-gilberts-bar/)

Environmental Provisions in Florida’s State Constitution/Getting Your Issues in Front of the CRC, SLR/IRL

Indian River Lagoon, John Whiticar

Part #4 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission, (CRC) and how to get involved, by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Environmental Provisions in Florida’s State Constitution/Getting Your Issues in Front of the CRC (https://www.flcrc.gov)
The Florida constitution….(http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3)

It is amazing to realize how much of the Florida Constitution ensures protections of the environment, and yet we see the continued degradation of the natural resources of our state. It’s time we learn our constitution by heart, make sure it’s followed, and take action to see if something need be added.

Today, I am going to list the areas of the constitution that have to do with the environment for easy reference. You can click the links below to see the full amendments.

In 1968, “ardent environmentalist” and respected state representative, John Robert Middlemas, of Panama City, insisted that words of support for environmental policy were placed in the historic constitutional revision that same year.

In his honor, I ask that all fellow environmentalists review below, and ask oneself how to make these words take on a new sense of urgency as our springs, rivers, and natural lands need our voice. At the end of this article, and after reviewing our state constitution, if so inspired, please feel free to enter your own constitutional proposal or improve one that’s simply being ignored.

The CRC is considering September 22nd as the deadline for public proposals so please submit soon!

As an aside, it is my honor to serve as the Chair of the CRC’s General Provisions Committee, which is charged with examining Article II of the Florida Constitution. If you have comments or thoughts regarding Article II (or other provisions relating to the environment), please email me at Jacqui.Lippisch@flcrc.gov.

Here is the list of current environmental provisions in the Florida Constitution:


  • General Provisions (Article II): Section 7, Natural Resources & Scenic Beauty/Everglades Agricultural Area
  • Executive (Article IV): Section 4 (f), cabinet/Internal Improvement Fund/Land Acquisition Trust Fund; Section 9, Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Finance and Taxation (Article VII): Section 3 (f), conservation easements/ taxes -exemptions; Section 4 (b) taxation-assessments ; Section 9 (a), special districts/water management; Section 11 (e) state/revenue bonds; Section (14) bonds-pollution control
  • Miscellaneous (Article X): Section 11, sovereignty lands; Section 16, limiting marine net fishing; Section 17, Everglades Trust Fund; Section 18, disposition of conservation lands; Section 28, Land Acquisition Trust Fund, (Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, 2014.)

  To enter your own proposal or idea regarding the environment:


Adams Ranch, Bud Adams/Photographer
  • Go to gov/Proposals/Submit to create a free account and submit your proposed change to the Florida constitution. The online tool allows you to create your proposal using legal language by redacting or adding language. Remember to keep it simple and clear.


  • Using the same program, submit your proposal to the Constitution Revision Commission and sign up for the alert emails. Commissioners will review proposals and determine which proposals should be placed on Florida’s 2018 General Election ballot.


*Proposals can also be emailed to the commission at admin@flcrc.gov, or sent in the mail to: Constitution Revision Commission, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399. Thank you so much for conserving and protecting the great state of Florida!

Manatee, Paul Nicklen, King’s Bay, FL
Mangroves, John Whiticar
Kids swimming/Florida springs, John Moran
Blue Springs, Madison, FL Sandra Henderson Thurlow
We especially must conserve and protect our environment for the future! (My niece, Evie, co-founder of River Kidz http://riverscoalition.org/riverkidz/ photo, Jenny Flaugh)





Finding Inspiration in the Face of Destruction, St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon

Sunrise over the St Lucie River by Mr John Whiticar.
Sunrise over the St Lucie River’s Willoughby Creek, by John Whiticar.

Today, I will once again feature the work of local photographer and famous Stuart boat building family member, Mr John Whiticar.  I have shared his gorgeous photographs many times, but this time may be the most important.

This morning, as I walked to the mailbox—- in the darkness of Sewall’s Point—-the peninsula lying between the two massacred rivers of St Lucie and Indian, I saw the “rosy-fingered dawn” rising— silhouetted— against arching gumbo limbo and ancient oaks trees.

I thought to myself, “you know, on this day I shall not share more photos of destruction, but rather the recent sunrise photos of Mr Whiticar…..”

In the face of the present destruction, we will find inspiration for our rivers. We must not despair but be the light for a new generation.

John Whiticar
St Lucie River, John Whiticar.
St Lucie Sunrise, John Whiticar.
St Lucie Sunrise, John Whiticar.
Mangrove Indian River Sunrise, John Whiticar.
Mangrove Indian River Sunrise, John Whiticar.

Mr John Whiticar, Feb 4th, 2016.
“The mangrove island is on the Indian River. The sad part is the water was finally starting to clear up only to get trashed again by new releases from the c-44 canal. The last release was bad but this may be the worst ever. Massive back-pumping to save crops from record-setting rain yields higher amounts of sediments and nutrients.
The second panorama was taken…on the St. Lucie… The location is a few blocks north of the (Whiticar) Boat Yard… sunrise was taken at the Boat Yard on Willoughby Creek.”

Thank you to Mr Whiticar for his beautiful and inspirational photographs and for allowing me to share.

Whiticar Boat Works: http://whiticar.com/wp/

The “Pig” of the Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL


Photo of sow along IRL, by John Whiticar, 2015.
Photo of happy, prancing, sow along IRL, by John Whiticar, 2015.
John Whiticar, sow looking forward, IRL 2015.
John Whiticar, sow looking forward, IRL 2015.
A beautiful photo of the sow enjoying the sunrise along the IRL. John Whiticar, 2015.
A beautiful photo of the sow enjoying the sunrise along the IRL. John Whiticar, 2015.

I have a soft spot for pigs, or any animal related to a “pig.” Pigs, you may remember, sat upright at the table in George Orwell’s classic novel ANIMAL FARM; they became like humans…

For me, pigs are part of my family history as my grandfather Henderson won a scholarship to the University of Florida for his famous 1926 pig “Charlotte.” This launched a very successful career for him as an agriculture man at the University of Florida.  My grandfather’s brother, my uncle, became a wealthy “pig-farmer” in Madison, Florida. I loved visiting there as a kid! The most fun ever! When my family arrived, Uncle Gordy would run out into the fields almost before saying “hello,” and bring back piglets for my brother, sister and I. They were adorable coming in all different colors and patterns. Their small noses scrunching, we were allowed to hold them, and later return the piglets to an irritated, snorting mother. At the time, I didn’t think much about their fate of “becoming bacon….”

My grandfather, Russell Henderson Sr. who became famous as a young man in the state of Florida for his breeding of the best pigs. He received a scholarship for his work and has a long career at UF in soil science and headed IFAS.
My grandfather, Russell Henderson Sr. at 17, in 1926, Madison, Florida. My grandfather became “famous” as a young man in the state of Florida for his breeding of the best pigs. He received a scholarship for his work and had a long career at UF in soil science and worked for the IFAS Extension Office in Gainesville.

As I got older, I realized that often pigs get a “bad wrap”as they are “dirty.” Again, just like humans….They are also very smart, just like humans too. I read somewhere that they are smarter than dogs. Maybe that’s why George Orwell chose them to take over Manor Farm.

Anyway, I have been wanting to write a post on pigs, or wild boars, (males) or sows, (females) since I recently saw marina owner and photographer John Whiticar’s photos of a wild sow he photographed along the Indian River Lagoon.

What great shots and thank you John for allowing me to share! I have seen sows with their piglets on Savanna Road in Jensen at night foraging.  I have also seen wild pigs more recently at Billy’s Swamp Safari in Big Cypress. Here a baby pig got separated from its mother and fellow piglets and it followed the mother’s scent very far zig-zagging perhaps a quart mile to find her. And he did! We followed and all clapped when the family was reunited.

“Wild pigs” were brought to Florida by the Spanish in the 1500s, and today they wreak destruction on the environment, just like humans. We have so much in common! It’s amazing! Seriously though, for me, they are one of God’s creatures, and should be treated humanely as all animals. Popular since the early days of Florida, they appear on many of my mother and father’s historic postcards below.

It you see a sow or a boar, know that you are staring Florida history right in the face, and that some might say that we are even “related.” Also remember, like George Orwell’s satire states, unfortunately: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS…. 🙂

Historic post card, courtesy of Thurlow Collection.
Historic post card, courtesy of Thurlow Collection.
Postcard back 1914.
Postcard back 1914.
Another historic post card with a wild pig or sow. (Thurlow Collection)
Another historic post card with a wild pig. (Thurlow Collection)
Back of postcard reads 1912.
Back of postcard reads 1912.
Historic post card, Thurlow Collection.
Historic post card, wild boar, Thurlow Collection.


University of Florida. Hogs in Florida, Ecology and Management: (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw322I)

Animal Farm, a novel by George Orwell, 1946: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm)

Remembering to Enjoy the “Real Florida,” Ernie Lyons, SLR/IRL

Ernie Lyons speaking, ca.1950 (Photo courtesy of Sandra Thurlow, Thurlow Archives)
Ernie Lyons speaking. Timer Powers (right) and other community leaders in background, ca. 1950. (Photo courtesy of Sandra  Henderson Thurlow, Thurlow Archives.)

Ernest Lyons, known to his friends as “Ernie,” is one of my heroes. You probably know of him, but maybe you don’t. He was a  homegrown-boy become “newspaper man” right here in Martin County. He worked for what evolved into the “Stuart News” from 1931 until late into his life. Lyons won many Florida Press awards for his weekly columns that focused mostly on conservation, but also simply on the poetic natural beauty of our area. The bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island is named for him. He was an avid and talented fisherman.

Lyons Bridge marker. (JTL)
Lyons Bridge marker. (JTL)

I think of Mr Lyons often when I walk the bridge and try to listen to his words floating in the winds and waves, and on the wings of the pelicans flying past. Today I would like to share a few words from his essay “Take Time, Enjoy the Real Florida,” from his book “My Florida.”

Ernest Lyons Bridge as seen from Sewall's Point Park, 2014. (JTL)
Ernest Lyons Bridge as seen from Sewall’s Point Park, 2014. (JTL)

“Millions come to Florida–and never see it. They are like motorized pellets in a glamorized pinball machine, hitting the flashing lights of widely publicized artificial attractions before bounding out of the state and back home…

But the Florida we love who have lived here most of our lives has no admission fee, except the desire to appreciate beauty, the awareness to see it and the time to enjoy it…

The real Florida is a land of beauty and serenity, a place to take time to enjoy dawns and sunsets beyond the river against silhouetted pines. It is a place to hear the wind in the needles of the pines and to remember the dancing wreaths of Spanish moss on live-oaks. Florida is for quiet contemplation on a sea beach, watching pelicans skimming the breakers in singe file like long vanished pterodactyls…

Florida is for amazement, wonder, and delight, and refreshment of the soul. It may take a little more time to hunt out and enjoy the real Florida, but you will be well repaid.”


I find that the “real Florida” is actually very close and hand, in my yard, in the sky, in the water. Yes, even in the destitute and tired river beauty still prevails. Just look when you drive over the bridge. Look and “see.”

Photo by John Whiticar, St Lucie River, 2014.
Photo by John Whiticar, St Lucie River, 2014.


Florida Press, Ernest Lyons: (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)

Publications of books “My Florida” and “The Last Cracker Barrel,” compilations of Mr Lyons columns from the Stuart News, can be purchased at Stuart Heritage Museum, 161 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart, FL.(http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com)

The Train Track Over the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon

Sunrise Roosevelt Bridge draw bridge, by John Whiticar, 2014.
Sunrise Roosevelt Bridge draw bridge, photo by John Whiticar, 2014.

All Aboard Florida and NOT All Aboard Florida have Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railway on the front page of every paper along Florida’s Treasure Coast.

History and urban legend have some railroad stories of their own I’d like to share….

According to the book, The History of Martin County, Henry Flagler wanted to extend his railway through Sewall’s Point between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, but instead had to take a sharp easterly turn near Rio in order to cross the shortest point of lands  along the St Lucie River, near today’s Downtown Stuart.

Looking at an aerial one can see that the Florida East Coast Railway swings east before reaching seal's Point.
Looking at an aerial one can see that the Florida East Coast Railway swings east before reaching Sewall’s  Point -see middle “line.”
Railroad takes a sharp easily turn over towards today's Downtown Stuart.
Railroad takes a sharp easterly turn over St Lucie River at today’s Downtown Stuart.

Quoting from The History of Martin County:

By February of 1894, Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railway was as far south as Fort Pierce, and he planned to extend it along the Indian River Lagoon through Jensen Beach on through Sewall’s Point, and then to build a bridge across the St Lucie, to what is now Port Salerno, and so on to Palm Beach where he had already built a luxury hotel. Running into opposition from pineapple growers who did not want railroad tracks through their plantations,  and refused to sell him the right of ways he needed, Flagler faced a serious problem. Far sighted Walter Kitching with an eye to commercial improvement of his own property, was only too happy to solve the problem. 

Owning  property on the St Lucie including at the area where the railway bridge now crosses the St Lucie River along side the present Roosevelt Bridge , Kitching offered Flagler the right of way he needed provided the railroad went through his property: “I offered the railroad $200 in cash and all the land they required if they would give us a railroad dock and a depot on this side. They accepted the land and built the dock.” Downtown Stuart was born. 

Aerial of old roosevelt Bridge, draw bridge for train, and the New Roosevelt Bridge. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013.)
Aerial of new Roosevelt Bridge, original draw-bridge for train, and the old Roosevelt Bridge. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013.)

History is sometimes hard to really know as it “becomes” what is written. However, one thing is certain, for now, the sun always rises and the sun always sets, and a bridge is a symbol of the people and the times along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Sunrise over the fishing pier at the new Roosevelt Bridge. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.
Sunrise over the fishing pier at the  Roosevelt Bridge. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.


Thank you to photographer of Whiticar Boat family fame, John Whiticar, for allowing me to share his beautiful photos. His words: “Going across the old Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart Florida this morning facing the new Roosevelt and old Railway bridges; Second photo is the fishing pier under the bridge.” September 22, 2014. 

The book, The History of Martin nCounty can be purchased at Stuart Heritage: (http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com)

The Astonishing Beauty of the Great Egret, Indian River Lagoon

Great Egrets along the Indian River Lagoon. Photo John Whiticar, 8-20-24.
Great Egrets along the Indian River Lagoon. Photo John Whiticar, 8-20-14.

For me, there is no greater beauty than to look up into the sky and see a lone Great Egret making its way back home to Bird Island or other rookery in the early evening light.

I see them often, and every time, I stop what I’m doing, and look and wonder where they are going, and where they have been. They are so elegant, with their perfect flying posture, always looking straight ahead.

When Ed and I  first bought our home in Sewall’s Point we had a gold-fish pond behind the house and a very tall Great Egret would come to hunt. I would watch in complete fascination the ancient bird’s posture, patience, and beauty. Like a Japanese painting.

Today, I wanted to share some photos of local Martin County resident, John Whiticar, who I have featured before.  John has a talent for capturing the beauty of the sky, the water, and the bird life of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

These photos were taken recently on his way to Ft Pierce. Mr Whiticar states: “A bunch of White Herons were spotted on the way to Whiticar North this AM on Indian River Drive this morning. There were at least 10 in a group on the morning calm of the Indian River Lagoon.”

Great Egrets, IRL. John Whiticar.

According to the US Park Service, the fishing habits of Great Egrets are among the most efficient of all birds. “They stalk their prey by slowly walking or standing motionless in the shallows and forage with their webbed feet, raking and probing the bottom, snapping up fish in a matter of milliseconds with their quick bill reflex.”

Great Egrets are solitary birds but do congregate during breeding season when both males and females get delicate breeding plumage and their faces take on a fluorescent green color along the beak.

Great Egret in breeding plumage. Public photo.
Great Egret in breeding plumage. Public photo.

During the fashion of feathered ladies hats in the late 1800s, the Great Egret and many other shore birds were almost hunted to extinction in the Florida Everglades. The bird’s beauty inspired the Audubon Society to adopt it as their symbol as they helped abolish the destruction of these birds.

Today, across the nation, the Great Egret’s numbers are strong,  but over time have declined in many areas along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon due to destruction of shoreline habitat and wetlands for development.

So let’s help our feathered friends in every way we can, and the best way to do that right now to continue working to save our Indian River Lagoon.

Great Heron, IRL. John Whiticar.

Great Heron, IRL. John Whiticar.


US National Park Service, Great Egret:

The “River of Light” and John Whiticar’s Photographs, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Sunrise Indian River Lagoon, John Whiticar.
Sunrise, Indian River Lagoon, Jensen Beach, John Whiticar, 2012.

There are two times of day that the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is in her glory, sunrise and sunset. At these times, the “river of light” seems both new and ancient.  With the reflection of the sky on the water all the sadness of the river’s demise and destruction seems to fade. We are inspired.

The photos I am sharing today were all taken family friend, Mr. John Whiticar, of the famous local “Whiticar Boatworks” family, (http://whiticar.com).

John’s work captures the beauty of the Indian River Region in a way that is both personal and etherial. I thank John for allowing me to share his photos. You may have seen some of them on Facebook throughout the past years. He has also taken some horrific photos of the lagoon’s destruction, but today I will focus on the beautiful.

May you have a wonderful weekend, and when that moment comes and  you see the hand of the Creator upon the waters, please say a prayer or make a wish for a better future and for the rebirth of this spectacular place.

Sunrise/Sunset photos St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Beautiful.(Photos by John Whiticar.)
Sunrise/Sunset photos St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Beautiful.(Photos by John Whiticar.)

Image 7 Image 3 Image 1 Image Mail Attachmentdaibfbed Beach Storm 4All photos by John Whiticar, SLR/IRL. Whits Wharf Sunset 08-05-14


I will be taking a blog break August 11-15th as I will be attending the Florida League of Cities Annual Conference. I am the chair of the Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Committee for 2013/2014. (http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com)