Tag Archives: Panthers

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.

Black Bears of Hutchinson Island, Our Wild Past

Mr Reginald Waters with black bears killed on Hutchinson Island, around 1930.  (Photo credit Sandra Thurlow, Sewall's Point," A History of a Peninsular Community on Florida's Treasure Coast"/Reginald Waters Rice)
Mr Reginald Waters with black bears killed on Hutchinson Island, around 1930. (Photo credit Sandra Thurlow, Sewall’s Point,” A History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast”/Reginald Waters Rice)

When I was a kid, I had a favorite stuffed animal; he was orange bear with blue eyes and his name was “Beary Bear.” I carried him around until his eyes fell off and my mother sewed new ones back on. Over the years, all of his fur came off  so he was bald.

There wasn’t a whole lot “to do” growing up in Stuart in the 1960s and 70s so a kid had to rely on the freedom of empty lots, friends, and  his or her imagination to have any fun.

Before dinner, I used to climb to the top of a giant cedar tree in our back yard and look at the ocean and Indian River Lagoon from our house in St Lucie Estates, in Stuart. I carried Beary Bear up about forty feet with me and we talked about the black bears out there on Hutchinson Island and how there were just a few secret ones left,  a few Mr Walters and the other pioneers couldn’t catch, and didn’t kill. That was fantasy.

According  to historian Alice Luckhart, the black bear population on Hutchinson Island was completely wiped out by about 1930.  (http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/feb/03/historical-vignettes-when-bears-roamed-hutchinson-/)

Before modern man came and planted bean fields and produced honey, the bears ate turtle eggs, palmetto berries and the riches of the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River. But they they became a problem, so we “wiped them out.”

Isn’t it amazing to think of where we  really live? A land where not too long ago a panther may have swum across the St Lucie Sound;  or a black bear happily frolicked along the Indian River Lagoon? Where fish were so plentiful they kept you awake at night. What I don’t understand is why we “wiped them out.” I guess times were harder then and the mentality was 100% “man over nature” but it’s fun to imagine what it would be like if we hadn’t killed them all,  or somehow, we brought them back.

Well, Beary Bear is long gone, and the bean farms have been replaced with million dollar homes and unimaginative condominiums. But I still have my imagination and somewhere out there, there’s a bear;  I’m sure of it.