Tag Archives: old photos

The Long Forgotten Wetlands of East Ocean Boulevard, SLR/IRL



4th Street/East Ocean Blvd 1957, Stuart, Florida, Arthur Ruhnke. Courtesy archives of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.  
“See that white strip just below the wetland? That is the extension of Flamingo Drive that skirts the pond behind the old car wash. They just dug a retention pond and conducted the water to it. All of that pineland is covered with condominiums today.” (Cedar Point, Vista Pines, and Kingswood)~ Sandra H. Thurlow


Today we drive over the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River surrounded by “civilization,” and forget that once it was once a wetland and pine forest full of wildlife. In the course of a lifetime, these things are long forgotten.

The above 1957 photograph hangs in my brother’s law office. When I visit him, I find myself staring at it for long periods of time. It is one of those rare photos that really puts things into  perspective. The road construction through the wetlands, (note it going through the pond, and pine forest) was all taking place around the same time that the “Bridges to the Sea,” from Stuart to Sewall’s Point, and Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island, were completed. It’s amazing to see what the landscape once looked like. The road in the photograph, Fourth Street, was renamed “East Ocean Boulevard” in 1960, and is a major thoroughfare to the  beaches today.

Jenny, Todd and I 1973, alligator in background.
I remember early East Ocean Blvd, although it was already quite changed by the time I was born in 1964. My family lived at 109 Edgewood Drive in Stuart, a short distance away from these wetland ponds under development. I recall Scrub Jays in our back yard and feeding them peanuts. By 1974 the family moved across the river to Sewall’s Point “growing and improving” with the changing landscape.

By 1979, when I was fifteen  years old, riding my bike over the bridge to Stuart to work at the Pelican Car Wash, the beautiful wetland pond had been relegated to a retention pond for run off.  Over the next two decades, you didn’t see wetlands and ponds anymore, or wildlife, just condominiums, office buildings, and shopping plazas. The state four-laned East Ocean Boulevard and built higher bridges to the ocean too.

Believe it or not, the pond in the aerial is still located behind a gas station that used to be the car wash. It is not even a shadow of its former self. Two days ago, I drove by and noticed that there was an extensive algae bloom in the pond backed up to the  parking lot and gas pumps; the water reflecting a sickly shade of green.

I sat there thinking about the long forgotten pond in the middle of East Ocean Boulevard in the photo I love in my brother’s office, wishing the developers had figured out a way to go around the pond. As the shortest distance between two points, over time, is not always a straight line.

East Ocean Blvd 1957, courtesy historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow

Flamingo and retention pond at Flamingo and East Ocean 2017, once a wetland.
Google map of East Ocean Blvd. through what was once wetland and forest, 2017.
1940s Dept of Agriculture photographs of Martin County showing wetlands. Courtney Todd Thurlow and UF archives.
Overlay 1940 aerials over Google map today, Todd Thurlow.
USDA History of Wetland Development in Florida: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/fl/newsroom/features/?cid=stelprdb1252222

Bridges to the Sea, Luckhardt Vignette TCPalm Series: http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/historical-vignettes–martin-county-bridges-and-bridge-tenders-ep-306449407-342336761.html

Governor Rick Scott Signs Negron’s Senate Bill 10 in Clewiston? SLR/IRL


Today, May 12th, at 9:45 A.M. Governor Rick Scott is scheduled to sign Senate President Joe Negron’s “Senate Bill 10” in of all places Clewiston. Clewiston is “America’s Sweetest Town” and the headquarters of U.S. Sugar Corporation…

According to the article in the Glades County Democrat announcing the signing: “Earlier this week Senate Bill 10, a move to secure funding for a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee was approved. In its amended form, Senate Bill 10 became a measure that we in the Glades could stand behind. The bill no longer stated that additional farmlands be taken out of production but rather the state would utilize the property that it already owns to create a reservoir with a much smaller footprint.”

Full article: (http://gladescountydemocrat.com/lake-okeechobee/governor-rick-scott-set-sign-sb10-clewiston/)

Although I am scratching my head, you know what? Sometimes you just have to be happy for what you get, no matter where you get it. I am tremendously thankful to Governor Scott for signing the bill ~ although I do wish he had decided to sign it in Martin County since we’ve worked so hard to get it.

When I read the announcement officially last night, it got me thinking about Clewiston before I went to sleep. It brought back memories of 2013 and famed paddle boarder Justin Riney’s idea to hold the Sugarland Rally in Clewiston on September 1st, 2013 to unite the movement.  This was one of the early rallies for the river during the devastation of the “Lost Summer.”

Since Governor Scott is going to sign in Clewiston I think it’s a good time to walk down memory lane and be proud of how far we’ve come and to get ready for how far we have to go! The point of the location of the Sugarland Rally was to “meet halfway.” Hopefully Governor Scott is thinking the same, in that Joe Negron helped us meet half way and we are all thankful.

Now let’s remember the past, enjoy today, and then take it to the finish line!


“The Sugarland Rally will unite the east and west coasts of Florida in a peaceful, historic demonstration to speak out against the pollution of our estuaries from Lake Okeechobee discharges. We support both immediate and long-term solutions, but ecosystems and communities along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries are in crisis. We cannot afford to wait for ecological and economic collapse. We urge all stakeholders–especially local, state and federal governments–to act immediately. We chose Clewiston as a central location to unify east and west at Lake Okeechobee, the source that is polluting our estuaries, and because we believe Florida’s sugar industry can be part of the solution. Please don’t misinterpret our intentions–we are NOT holding a rally at Clewiston to protest or point fingers at “Big Sugar.” It’s quite the opposite, actually. We invite Florida’s powerful sugar industry to join us in crafting an immediate solution to the ecological and economic crisis caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee.” (Press release from Justin Riney, Aug. 2013)



Maggy Hurchalla, Comm. Taylor, and Mayor Roland
Don Voss!
Nic Mader, Jenny Flaugh and the River Kidz
Eve Samples of TC Palm and Don Voss with crowd

_NIK4990Y35s8T142140259133367b2e03f1945d15e65859eb345d86 2

Press release on Sugarland Rally from 2013, in Clewiston, Justin Riney: http://www.supradioshow.com/2013/08/justin-riney-sugarland-rally-unite-east-west-coasts-florida-sup-radio/

9:35 am JTL

Rand’s Pier Remembered, Seminole Shores-Sailfish Point, SLR/IRL

Rand's Pier 1957. Photo via Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Thurlow Archies.
Rand’s Pier being built in 1957; the pier  was built out 400 feet into the Atlantic. I visited the pier often through the 60s-80s growing up in Martin County. Photo Sandra Henderson Thurlow archives.
Aerial of Seminole Shores. Thurlow Archives.
Aerial of Seminole Shores. Thurlow Archives, ca. 1950s.

I think it is typical to think the time one grew up in was the “best of times,” but I feel mine really was…

One of my fondest memories of growing up in Stuart is visiting Rand’s Pier at Seminole Shores on Hutchinson Island. This area became today’s Sailfish Point. Tromping through the hot sands, my mother would lead my brother, sister, and I down a long, winding, sand-spur/beach-sunflower covered path. Finally, we would arrive at our destination, a pier that would provide shade and shelter for the outing.

From here my brother, sister, and I would take our buckets and nets and catch baby fish, collect shells and sea glass, or dig holes and bury each other up to our necks.

1957 Seminole Shores. (Photo Thurlow Archives)
1949 Seminole Shores. (Photo Thurlow Archives/Ruhnke)

The pier was a reference point for a time past, and man gone, who my mother said was famous. The man was James Rand Jr. of Rand Ledger Corporation decent who went on to build his own fortune. An impressive eccentric,  a Harvard graduate, with his share of troubles—but always a gifted business man— he did many wonderful things for Martin County including becoming a benefactor to the hospital and helping found and fund the Florida Oceanographic Society. Although it was not to be his fate, he had dreams of fully developing what was then known as Seminole Shores—-today’s Sailfish Point.

According to the History of Martin County: “In the early fifties James Rand acquired part of what was known as Seminole Shores on Sailfish Point three miles south of the House of Refuge. It was his intension to develop the area with exclusive residences, a marina, a clubhouse, cabanas, and a restaurant. He built the marina, the clubhouse and yacht basin, laid out and paved a number of streets, and built some thirty cabanas  in a semicircle around a swimming pool, facing the ocean that one might take advantage of either fresh or salt water bathing.  He also put in the telephone lines for the south end of the island at a cost of approximately $15,000…”

When my siblings and I were running around we did not think much about the man who built the pier, or put in the telephone lines, or helped make the island accessible for us to play. But his name always stuck in my head as someone who had made a difference to Martin County. The years have passed and Martin County has changed.

Today, Sailfish Point is beautifully developed– certainly beyond what Mr Rand would have ever imagined. The pier? Time tide and time have taken it: it has washed away– But when I walk the beach I still look for it and remember the “best of times”…

Pier 2009. (Photo JTL)
Remaining pier 2009. (Photo JTL)
My husband Ed under the pier in 2009. The pier washed away a few years later after a great storm.
My husband Ed under the pier in 2009. The entire pier washed away a few years later after a great storm. (JTL)
Beach sunflowers
Beach sunflowers…(JTL)

James Henry Rand Jr. 1886-1968: (http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rand-1):
Historic Vignette including story of James Rand and his good works, historian, Alice Luckhardt: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/historical-vignettes-interesting-stories-and-facts-about-martin-county-part-2-ep-349553375-340215561.html

Born to be a River Warrior? SLR/IRL

Born to be a River Warrior
Born to be a River Warrior?JTL at 16 with horseshoe crab on head at Boy Scout Island in the Indian River Lagoon, family outing ca. 1979. (Photo Sandra Thurlow)

There are real positives to having a historian for a mother.

My mother saves everything–every picture, every letter ever written, every card.

My mother—-Sandra Henderson Thurlow—-the self-proclaimed “history lady of Martin County,” has written four books, inspired numerous people, saved a historic post office, and to this day sits every Wednesday at the Captain Sewall House in Indian Riverside Park to “share history,” with those who come to visit.

The photo above she recently pulled out of her files writing something like: “Jacqui, just found this looking though some old photo albums, perhaps you were destined to become a River Warrior…?” Love Mom.

I thought I’d share today since I am feeling like more of a River Warrior than ever.


Jensen’s Coconut Heads, and the Old-Time Fun Establishments of the Indian River Lagoon

The crowd having fun surrounded by coconut herds at Pichford's Bar, Jensen Beach. Billy Pichford is behind the bar. (Photo shared by Bob Washam/info. from historian Sandra Thurlow)
Crowd having fun surrounded by hanging home made coconut heads at Pitchford’s Bar, Jensen Beach, ca. 1950s. Billy Pitchford is behind the bar. (Photo shared by Bob Washam/info. from historian Sandra Thurlow)
1943 aerial photograph of the Jensen School and today's downtown Jensen with the wooden Jensen Bridge. As shown on page 20 of "Historic Jensen Beach and Eden on Florida's Indian River," by Sandra Thurlow-Henderson, 2004.
1943 aerial photograph: Indian River Drive shoreline along the Indian River Lagoon approaching  today’s Downtown Jensen Beach. Wooden bridge in distance. As shown on page 20 of “Historic Jensen Beach and Eden on Florida’s Indian River,” by Sandra Thurlow-Henderson, 2004.(Jensen School in center.)

Recently, I visited Bob Washam and his wife Cynthia in their home along the Indian River Lagoon in Jensen Beach. Because Bob has recently retired and had a very long career at the Martin County Health Department, I  wanted to interview him about the river and the history of toxic algae blooms. Obviously this is a very serious topic, and I kept trying to ask him questions, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off the coconut head hanging in his kitchen.

“Sorry to go off topic, but what’s the story with the coconut head in the kitchen Bob? It looks authentic. Old. It’s really cool.”

“Oh that’s Connie.” He matter-a-factly replied…

Coconut head belonging to Bob Washam. The head comes from the old Pitchford's Bar that used to be on Indian River Drive in Jensen. (Photo Bob Washam)
“Connie the coconut head” belonging to and photographed by Bob Washam. The now historic coconut head once hung in the old Pitchford’s Bar that used to be on Indian River Drive in Jensen. (Photo Bob Washam)

Bob told me that when he was a young man and went to college at FIT in Jensen in 1975 Pitchford’s Bar was closed, “but the heads were still hanging there.” Eventually he was given one. It’s a special reminder of Jensen’s earlier days…Bob took out some old photos and allowed me to share them with you today.

Jensen establishments, Seymour’s Inn, Pitchford’s Bar, and Poor Bobs were all located right next to each other on Indian River Drive, just north of the Jensen (Frank Wacha) Bridge. Their popularity somewhat overlapped, but over the years they all deteriorated. Nonetheless, these establishments left wonderful memories for thousands of people. Bob Washam also has great memories. He told me a story about “Pineapple Louie,” a Jensen Beach local character from the 70’s.

“One day when I was working at Poor Bob’s, he ran into kitchen, grabbed a big knife and chased another bar patron onto Indian River Drive. That was our big excitement back in those days. That and dancing with…ladies at Seymours after our work shift. ” –Bob Washam

Poor Bobs. (Bob Washam and Sandra Thurlow)
Poor Bobs. (Bob Washam and Sandra Thurlow) ca. 1950s.
Poor Bobs. (Courtesy of Bob Washam)
Poor Bobs. (Courtesy of Bob Washam) ca. 1950s.
The crowd having fun surrounded by coconut herds at Pichford's Bar, Jensen Beach. Billy Pichford is behind the bar. (Photo shared by Bob Washam/info. from historian Sandra Thurlow)
Pitchford’s Bar. (Courtesy of Bob Washam)ca. 1950s.
Seymour's Inn ca 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Bob Washam)
Seymour’s Inn ca. 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Bob Washam. Taken by Art Ruhnke)
Francis Langford, Seymour Giddeon, and an unidentified man at Seymour's Inn, ca 1940s. (Photo archives Sandra Thurlow)
Even famous Francis Langford would come by for a cocktail! Here with Seymour Giddeon, who became a Martin County Commissioner, and an unidentified man who certainly looks like a movie star.  (Photo archives Sandra Thurlow, ca 1940/50s)

My mother writes more historically about Seymour’s Inn in her book “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River.”

“Jensen’s main attraction was its wonderful fishing. The mile long bridge was not only lined with fishermen on both rails, it was a social gathering place. What was needed was a place to enjoy a cold beer after a day of fishing…

Seymour’s Inn officially opened on December 13th, 1936 in the former filling station building and grew through the years with numerous additions.  Seymour’s became the “fun spot” of Martin County. There was square dancing, round dancing, and mixers seven days a week. Seymour, the owner,  played harmonica, musical groups performed, and there were Sunday afternoon jam sessions and costume parties…

…War came in the 1940s and Seymour’s became a popular place with servicemen stationed in the area in the 1940s during World War II. Following the war, Seymour’s continued to be popular and drew people from miles around…

Today, times have changed, but the spirit of these places along Indian River Drive absolutely lives on….next time you drive by, if you slow down and listen, you may even hear the music and laughter of the age. 🙂

Close-up from "Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida's Indian River Lagoon." Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Page 23. Notice clear water and healthy seagrasses.
Close-up from “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River Lagoon.” Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Page 23. Notice clear water and healthy seagrasses.
Full page 23 with text. SHT
Full page 23 with text. SHT


Seymour’s Inn  is-now popular attraction Conchy Joes owned by the famous and generous Fred Ayres;  Pitchford’s Bar much later became Dena’s Restaurant, and now is under new ownership with the funny huge shark with a ladies legs hanging out on the facade; and Poor Bob’s is an empty lot just north of the bridge.

Florida Audubon: Toxic Algae Blooms in the SLR/IRL (http://fl.audubon.org/crisis-indian-river-lagoon-solutions-imperiled-ecosystem)

*All of Sandra Thurlow Henderson’s books on local areas, Stuart, Jensen, Sewall’s Point and the House of Refuge can be purchased at Barnes and Noble on US 1 in Stuart, near Jensen Beach Boulvard.






Old Photos, Jupiter Island’s Shoreline/Peck Lake’s 1960s Inlet Along the Indian River Lagoon

Local kids, Jupiter Island, ca. 1968
(ca.1971) Local Stuart kids swimming on Jupiter Island beaches, near Peck’s Lake. Pictured: (Jenny Thurlow, Mark Postsdam, Lynda Nelson, Jacqui Thurlow, Eric Potsdam, and Chris Williams. (Thurlow Family album)

My post yesterday about erosion at Bathtub Beach brought a lot of discussion and questions about when the inlet at Peck’s Lake broke through to the Indian River Lagoon as well as beach erosion in general.

Later in the day, my mother sent me some old Whiticar family photos of the Aurthur Ruhnke family. Her friend, John Whiticar, had shared these photos awhile back. I had seen them before as well, and in light of the erosion situation, I thought I would share them today. I often share the gorgeous IRL photography of Mr John Whiticar of the famous Whiticar Boatworks family (http://whiticar.com). John’s photos of the Ruhnke family’s photographs are outstanding and quite beautiful, especially in the black and white of the 1960s.

So whether looking at my own family photo on the beach in 1971 above, or the Whiticar/Ruhnke photos of the same era, one thing is for sure: the shorelines and tree lines may change, and the shifting tides of time may change as well; but one thing is constant: people, especially kids, love the beaches and shorelines of our Atlantic Ocean and St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon area….Enjoy!

Peck's Lake breakthrough inlet, early 1960s. (Photo Whiticar Family)
Peck’s Lake breakthrough inlet at Jupiter Island, early 1960s. (Photo Whiticar/Ruhnke.)
Wash through, Peck's Lake, ca. early 1960s. (Whiticar)
Wash through, Peck’s Lake, Jupiter Island, ca. early 1960s. (Whiticar/Ruhnke)
Another angle of Peck's Lake inlet, ca. early 1960s. (Whiticar)
Another angle of Peck’s Lake inlet at Jupiter Island, ca. early 1960s. (Whiticar/Ruhnke.)
News clip regarding Peck's Lake Inlet contract dated June 6th, with no year. (Whiticar, ca. early 1960s)
News clip regarding Peck’s Lake Inlet contract date to be closed,  “June 6th,” with no year. (Whiticar, ca. early 1960s)
Aerial of Peck's Lake area with new inlet. (Whiticar, ca 1960s)
Aerial of Peck’s Lake area with new inlet. (Whiticar/Ruhnke, ca. 1960s)
Boaters in the area of Peck's Lake, (Whiticar, ca. 1960s)
Driftwood, old trees, and “forest” of perhaps Australian Pines/erosion in the area of Peck’s Lake’s beaches, Jupiter Island. (Whiticar/Ruhnke, ca 1960s)
Boaters.... (Whiticar, ca. 1960s)
Boaters,  Peck’s Lake area…. (Whiticar/Ruhnke ca. 1960s)
Old tree... (Whiticar, ca. 1960s)
Huge old tree..perhaps a black mangrove/erosion. (Whiticar/Ruhnke ca. 1960s)
Old tree. (Whiticar, Ca. 1960s)
Ancient looking tree and beautiful lady… (Whiticar/Ruhnke ca. 1960s)
Shoreline...(Whiticar, ca. 1960s)
Shoreline…(Whiticar/Ruhnke ca. 1960s)
Old trees...(Whiticar ca. 1960)
Old trees…(Whiticar/Ruhnke ca. 1960)
Old tree....(Whiticar ca. 1960s)
Old tree….(Whiticar/Ruhnke ca. 1960s)
Thank you to John Whiticar for allowing me to use his family photos. If you regularly read my blog, you may have seen many of the beautiful sunrise and sunset photos I have shared of John's. He is a true artist and captures the beauty of our area.
Thank you to John Whiticar for allowing me to use his family’s Art . Ruhnke  photos. The Ruhnke’s had a photo shop in Stuart’s early days.



Yesterday’s blog on erosion at Bathtub Beach, 12-11-14: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/12/11/looking-at-our-barrier-islands-through-new-eyes-srlindian-river-lagoon/)

Interesting site on Florida Beach Erosion and stats/”State of the Beach:” (http://www.beachapedia.org/State_of_the_Beach/State_Reports/FL/Beach_Erosion)