Today’s post is Part 2 of “Palm City, Empire of the Everglades,” written for the upcoming, 2024, official 100 year anniversary of the completion of the St Lucie Canal. This canal was renamed the C-44 Canal after the federal government’s incorporation of the canal into the construction of the Central and Southern Florida Project -post “great flood” of 1947.
I prefer to call C-44 it by its first and more personal name, the St Lucie Canal.
Below is part two of a transcription of an historic 1923 Miami Herald article from my mother Sandra Thurlow’s local Martin County, Florida, history archives. Today’s historic article gives insight into a world forgotten. A world of excitement for “drain baby drain,” with little if any concern or knowledge of the health of Florida’s state waters or the greater environment.
In the few remaining paragraphs of the article the reporter, William Stuart Hill, notes how many miles of ditches have been dug, what dredging contracts have been executed, what equipment will be purchased for even more ditching to drain into the St Lucie River and St Lucie Canal, and what roads are available – by today’s standards very few!
It was a world set out to drain the Everglades and a tremendous determination to create an empire of agriculture. In 1923, there was no Publix at every corner, nor FEMA to come help if a hurricane brought you to your knees and the drainage of the land to produce food became extensive.
Thank you to my mother for sharing these old articles and pointing out the important history of Palm City, Florida. As we learn about our past, we can build a better future.
Transcription Part 2 begins, paragraphs 8-12. JTL
The drainage district has recently sold bonds amounting to $100,000 to carry on a more comprehensive plan of drainage than the one originally intended and has awarded a contact to F.A.McKenzie, of Miami, for widening and deepening the original outlets and doing other work. Mr McKenzie’s contract provides for the payment by the drainage district to him of $75,000. Supervisors of the drainage district are: G. Wuckner, F.C Garde and O. Coffrin, all of Palm City. The drainage district was created under the general statutes by petition to the circuit court.
Mr. McKenzie is making preparations to begin work immediately on the execution of an Economy drag line excavator, and intends buying a Bucyrus machine.
A hard surface road extension seven miles through the district, and leads from Palm City to Tropical City and thence back to Stuart, a total distance of 21 miles.
The Palm Beach County Land company, at its own expense, dug 40 miles of drainage ditches, exclusive of 80 miles of road ditches, at a cost of $63,720. It also built more than 40 miles of dirt roads in Palm City Farms, on the outer lines of the sections, at an expenditure of $38,783.
Transcription/article end. JTL
I am including the map below from 1928 (five years after the Miami Herald article) as it shows what roads were in the Palm City area although Palm City is not on the map. Road to the Glades, today’s Highway 76 or Kanner Highway, US 1 -some that was linked with today’s AIA or Dixie Highway, and what was known as “Loop Road” off of 96A (opposite direction of today’s Pratt Whitney Road going to Citrus Blvd.) are visible as is the infamous St Lucie Canal built first from 1916-1924. Again, thank you to my mother for sharing all of these historic documents in my obsession to document the history and thus aid in a better water future for the St Lucie Canal and St Lucie River.