Tag Archives: NOT all Aboard Florida

Lie Down on the Tracks? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Railroad Bridge, Stuart Florida. (Photo JTL)
Railroad Bridge, Stuart Florida. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)
Classic photo of original wooden trestle bridge over the St Lucie River and train-- courtesy of the Historical Society and Sandra H. Thurlow.)
Classic photo of original wooden trestle bridge over the St Lucie River and train, 1894. (Courtesy of the Historical Society of MC and Sandra H. Thurlow.)
train
Train going over new steel railroad bridge in 1905. (Archives of  Historical Society of MC and Sandra Henderson Thurlow, “Stuart on the St Lucie.”)
The present railroad movable part that was built/added in 1925. (SHT)
The present railroad movable part, “wide enough to accommodate a double track”  was built/added in 1925. (“Stuart on the St Lucie,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

Did you know that Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway was originally named “Jacksonville, St Augustine and Indian River Railway? ” I didn’t until I re-read The Railroad chapter my mother’s book “Stuart on the St Lucie.” The name was changed on September 9, 1895 to the infamous and famous “Florida East Coast Railway.” The train did and does, massively affect our Indian River Lagoon Region.

Yesterday, All Aboard Florida had a poster presentation at the Kane Center where the public was allowed to view and then put hand written comments in boxes. The Stuart News said 800 people showed up. When I was there, the tension was thick between the public and the paid, mostly young, working “presenters” in the room. These presenters looked exhausted. As usual business and outside politicians don’t know what they are in for when they come to Martin County. Like a mother bear protecting her cub, we fight for the beauty, tranquility and “quality of life” of our area. AAF met NOT All Aboard Florida. It was a train wreck…

I personally, am not against train travel at all, in fact I am for it,  but I am against All Aboard Florida as there are no benefits, only unfunded mandated costs to the Treasure Coast area  to maintain equipment and tracks and to alter the pleasant areas of downtown crossings that fill our counties.

Also it is so obvious that this is really about freight of course: the widening of the Panama Canal, the expansion of the Port of Miami, about feeding “all those people in Orlando” as it is encouraged to grow, consume, and excrete pollution that will drain down the Kissimmee then into Lake Okeechobee and be released into our rivers. It’s about Airglades Airport that really is not about the Sugarhill development “proper” as much as the already “approved” Airglades Airport Inland Port in Hendry County that will scare away every panther that has quietly walked that remote part of Florida over hundreds of years and yes affect Everglades restoration.

South Florida is headed to become a shipping center.

I recommend we lie down on the tracks. Honestly. I don’t want AAF’s freight corridor or fake passenger through trains. Not here.

Since a picture speaks a thousand words,  I will stop “talking”and let you take a look at what we are, and you can image what we will become, how our real estate and marine industry will change, and what these new shipping tracks and trains will look like—unless of course, we rise up and change the course of history…never doubt that that can be achieved.

Google Earth view of Roosevelt Bridge today 2014.
Google Earth view of Old and New Roosevelt Bridges today 2014.
Train going over railroad track 2014
Train going over SLR railroad track 2014
Close up
Close up
The railroad bride up, built in 1925 and now expected to allow 32 more trains plus freight to drive over it.
The railroad bridge up, built in 1925 and now expected to allow 32 more trains plus freight to drive over it.
Close up view
Close up view of the past to become the future.

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.

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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)