Today is a follow up to my recent post: “The Once Great Forests of Indiantown.” In response, my dear friend and well known engineer Dr. Gary Goforth commented:
“Jacqui, there is a beautiful linear park containing a diverse sample of trees similar to what was in the historic Barley Barber Swamp: the Lake Okeechobee Ridge Park. The park is the last remnant of the original shoreline of Lake Okeechobee. The Rafael E. Sanchez Memorial Trail runs throughout the length of the park and is a part of both the Big Water Heritage Trail and the Great Florida Birding Trail. The trail runs along the original sand/muck berm that was constructed along portions of Lake Okeechobee before the 1926 and 1928 hurricanes washed them out. Access is along US41 just north of the St Lucie Canal.”
The park in Port Mayaca, Martin County – next to Indiantown, is open from dawn ’til dusk, so yesterday afternoon, Luna and I went for a walk in the Rafael E. Sanchez Memorial Trail that Gary told us about. It was fascinating!
The skinny forest was stunning and even with the modern noise from the old Connors Highway ringing in my ears, it took me back about a hundred years. As I walked, I thought: “The park is the last remnant of the original shoreline of Lake Okeechobee; the trail runs along the original sand/muck berm that was constructed along portions of Lake Okeechobee before the 1916 and 1928 hurricanes washed them out…”
Soon after 1928, the state and federal governments’ answer materialized into the Herbert Hoover Dike, -forever altering the living-lake, shrinking it and blocking it from expanding.
Today I share Luna and my walk through this amazing remnant forest. Once periodically flooded, now dry, Luna and I saw only a few very tall and beautiful cypress trees. But we could imagine the old shoreline full of them with their knees pushing forth from the earth. Luna and I also saw massive strangler-figs and oaks and even the famous white moonvine that once graced the pond apple forest south and east along the lake. Luna and I also saw many cabbage palms. The leaning/curving palms, seeking light, were really beautiful. Certainly a hundred years ago the flora and fauna was very different, but Luna and I did get a “glimpse” and for that I am thankful.
For perspective, the FPL cooling pond lies to the east. The park goes on for six miles well beyond my image below. I hope you’ll check it out! Thank you Gary for your comment and for expanding my knowledge of the once great forests of Indiantown.
Raphael E. Sanchez Memorial Park address
Who was Rafael E. Sanchez who must have inspired this wonderful park?