Tag Archives: Lake Worth

Finding the Lost Rapids of Lake Worth Creek

Before Hurricane Dorian came this way, my brother, Todd, was helping me answer a question. ~One I think will be interesting to you as well…

“Where were the rapids of Lake Worth Creek?” Yes, rapids!

T41S R43E, Survey 1855 John Westcott, Surveyor General.

To answer the question, we must first recognize that Lake Worth Creek has been altered as we can see comparing the images above and below.

This change happened slowly over time, but most notably in 1894 with the completion of the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Maimi. The Google Map below shows the Intracoastal today. The 1855 survey above shows Lake Worth Creek pre-development. In both images, it’s the area between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth- the historic area of Lake Worth Creek.

To learn where these rapids were located let’s read an excerpt from Palm Beach County’s MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR FRENCHMAN’S FOREST NATURAL AREA, FCT PROJECT # 96-011-P7A, June 1998.

The Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area (located right under Frechman’s Passage, JTL)  is part of a broad coastal swale that was separated from the Atlantic Ocean by coastal sand ridges and from the Loxahatchee Slough by a broad pine flatwood ridge. It was part of the headwaters of the former Lake Worth Creek, a meandering blackwater creek that flowed northward to join the Loxahatchee River near its mouth at the Jupiter Inlet. The earliest accounts of the site date from the 1840s, and were from U.S. Army Topological Engineer reports made during the Second Seminole Indian War (Corbett 1993). Eighty men from Fort Jupiter moved up Lake Worth Creek in seventeen canoes. Approximately two miles north of the natural area, they reached the “rapids”, a series of muck terraces that disappeared during periods of high water, but helped hold water at a higher level in the upstream sawgrass marshes. Another series of muck terraces may have been present 0.25 miles north of the natural area. After getting past these barriers, the troops entered a large sawgrass marsh, where they pulled the canoes for a mile to a haulover path over the sand ridge separating the marsh from Lake Worth. The southeastern portion of the natural area was part of the sawgrass marsh, and the soldiers may have crossed through the site. Once they reached Lake Worth, the soldiers raided Seminole Indian villages along its shores, capturing guns and canoes. The soldiers had followed an old Indian route for traveling between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth. When the last Seminole Indian war ended in 1859, pioneers began to use this route for coastal travel. Charles Pierce (1970) described his family’s travel to Lake Worth by small boat via this route in 1873. He noted his father’s difficulty in finding the right channel through the sawgrass to the haulover. Pierce and his family were among the earliest permanent settlers on the shores of Lake Worth. Pierce also provided the first direct reference to the natural area, noting that the bird rookery on Pelican Island (present-day Munyon)…

https://regionalconservation.org/ircs/pdf/publications/1998_01.pdf

Another source we can use comes from the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company 1881 Prospectus where it documents the advantage of making the cut through Lake Worth Creek. Nine lines from the bottom it mentions the rapids: “There is a depth of five feet of water in the channel from its mouth to the rapids…”  

And the last shared source is from an 1884 USGS Survey Report noting the difficulty of working through the sawgrass route from Haulover Head on Lake Worth to the Rapids of Lake Worth Creek.

Fascinating and historic information, but what about X marks the spot? Where were those rapids?

Using the above information, below (look for yellow arrow) Todd shows more specifically on a topo map from his video “Lake Worth through the Haulover and Sawgrass Route to Jupiter Inlet – 1883” showing where Lake Worth Creek’s rapids may have been located. On today’s map that is very close to Frenchman’s Passage/Frenchman’s Creek.

Next time you’re in the area give a shout out to the once rapids of the former Lake Worth Creek,  a wonder of old Florida that we shouldn’t forget!

9:16am 9-16-19: I was close! My brother just texted me this: Hey Jacqui. Sorry Dorian interrupted our discussion of the Falls. It was actually near the creek called Frenchman’s Creek on the old topos not Frenchman’s Passage which is a neighborhood today about a mile and a half south and inland from the old creek/rapids. 😬

Frenchmans Creek still appears on Google maps. It is where Cypress Island Marina is today off of Palmwood Road.

https://goo.gl/maps/5Wqm4HA8DbL884eG9

Video Lake Worth Time Capsule Flight, Todd Thurlow: https://youtu.be/2pDsQl7rQmQ

Thank you to my brother Todd Thurlow for all of the historic images in this blog post and for his expertise with historic map and waterway information: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/todd-thurlows-time-capsule-flights/

 

Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth Lagoon

Last week, I told my mother that my husband Ed and I were planning on taking the trawler from Stuart to Fort Lauderdale down the Intracoastal Waterway, and that I was most excited about passing through the Lake Worth Lagoon: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/southflorida/regions/lake-worth-lagoon/

“Do you have some history for me?” I asked.

She ran upstairs returning with a little booklet entitled “Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth, Dade County, Florida, by Porter and Potter, Real Estate Agents, 1893.”  Mom said her friend and fellow historian, Mrs. Marjorie Watts Nelson, had gifted a copy of the famous little book and that it was cherished.

I carefully looked through it and understood why…

Today, I would like to share this historic booklet. I believe pages 15 and 19 are missing, but it remains a priceless read. The beautiful artwork was created by George Wells Potter, of Porter and Potter, a star citizen and gifted artist whose drawings remain an outstanding record of the day.

Enjoy!

http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/george-wells-potter

 

“West Palm Beach Canal 1940 Aerials and 1958 Topo,” Todd Thurlow

West Palm Beach Canal 1940 Aerials and 1958 Topo, Todd Thurlow

You will see:
0:06 1940 USDA Aerial Index of Palm Beach County
0:20 Eight 1949 and 1950 1:24K USGS Topo maps
0:45 Pinner Island (now known as Ibis Isle)
1:01 1940 USDA Aerial – West Palm Beach Canal outlet to Lake Worth
1:40 Lake Clarke area where the Palm Beach Canal now crosses under I-95
– The road “s” turning over the canal is actually the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (now CSX)
– The Florida East Coast Railway is 0.6 miles to the east (the next canal crossing downstream)
1:54 Lake Clarke – on the 1950 Palm Beach USDA Topo
2:54 Morrison Field Airbase (later renamed Palm Beach International Airport).
See: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/…
3:37 SFWMD Offices south (left) of the canal across from the airport
4:11 Wide fade-in of 1940 USDA Aerial Index – ponds and bogs of western Palm Beach County
4:21 The northern end of what is now the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
(aka WCA1 – Water Conservation Area 1)
4:41 1958 USGS 1:250K Topo Quad showing western Palm Beach County
4:49 Twenty Mile Bend
5:05 Eastern portions of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)
5:46 Canal Point at the western end of the Palm Beach Canal

____________________________________
Palm Beach County is a fascinating place, especially, as in 1925, Martin County was born of it. We are connected, as is everything in this water-world of South Florida.

Today, I feature another incredible “Time Capsule Flight” by my brother, Todd Thurlow. I have recently been studying Palm Beach County and Todd’s flights help me understand what was, what is, and would can be. Palm Beach County is interesting as unlike Martin County, it has been developed very far west into the historic Everglades.

When I made a big deal out of this, my mother gave me a book published in 2000 entitled OUR CENTURY, a conglomeration of articles by the Palm Beach Post. A historian, my mother smiled saying, “Jacqui, Palm Beach County always planned on going west…”

The first article I came upon was about Louis Perini, the father of “Westward Expansion.” Eliot Kleinberg writes: “In the mid 1950s West Palm Beach was only a mile wide. But a single land deal set off a westward land rush now limited only by the Everglades…”

And to the Everglades it certainly went!

To learn some canals while were at it, you’ll see that Lake Okeechobee is connected to the historic West Palm Beach Canal, which is connected to the C-51 Canal, which in turn drains the C-51 Basins to the Lake Worth through Structure-155. Like the C-44 Canal, both lake water and basin water can be transported through the C-51 canal damaging the water quality in Lake Worth ~Sound familiar? Very similar to the plight of the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon. Tremendous amounts of precious fresh water wasted to tide, destroying ecological habitat and property values along the way. We must do better!

In any case, it is an amazing thing to really see that we are living in what once was indeed a beautiful marshy swamp.

Enjoy Todd’s flight “West Palm Beach 1940 Aerials and 1958 Topo;” it’s time-travel into Florida’s past and into her future. Again here is the video.

(https://youtu.be/G4oNnXJt7q0)

Links and References:

Our Century, The Palm Beach Post: https://books.google.com/books?id=TiC84R9yXgEC&pg=PA169&lpg=PA169&dq=elliott+kleinberg+perini&source=bl&ots=BNWQOIFp5X&sig=ACfU3U1TI15nVYF5P3rxi-ZiGrAMUHDTvQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwihw_zh_JXhAhURwlkKHWtsCvMQ6AEwAXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=elliott%20kleinberg%20perini&f=false

Evolution/maps of Palm Beach County with Martin County’s creation by Florida Legislature in 1925: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/evolution-of-palm-beach-county

Todd Thurlow, bio: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/todd-thurlows-time-capsule-flights/).

Lake Worth, fading 1958 topo map to 1940 US Ag Dept. aerials ~outlet of  C-51 to Lake Worth. Looking west to 20 Mile Bend going north then west again as  West Palm Beach Canal leading to Lake Okeechobee. Todd Thurlow