Tag Archives: Special Edition Stuart Daily News

1937 Celebration! Cross-State Navigation Canal, The Stuart Daily News

Page 5, historic Stuart Daily News, Special Edition 1937, in celebration of the Stuart to Ft Meyers Cross-State Canal, courtesy Knight A. Kiplinger
Florida cross-state and coastal-route compared, 1937.

Today we study page five of the historic 1937 Stuart Daily News. A message at the top of the page “invites participation” in a celebration, both in Stuart and Ft Meyers, for the completion of the cross-state canal. This was a celebration of navigation and the commerce and growth it would bring to these areas. As we know today, this cross-state canal is not just used for navigation, but also to drain Lake Okeechobee.

It is interesting to note that the “Stuart to Ft Meyers Cross-State Canal” must  later have become known as the “Okeechobee Waterway:”

WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okeechobee_Waterway

Although this celebration was about the benefits of navigation, Edwin Menninger on the front of the 1937 historic edition wrote:

“Construction of the St Lucie Canal began in 1921 when the fact dawned on the Everglades pioneers that canals through muck lands were useless – they refused to carry water out of the lake. Four of them had been dug, and were utterly worthless. The St Lucie was completed in 1924 and for 13 years has been the only functioning outlet from Lake Okeechobee to the sea.”

So perhaps the opening of the cross-state canal in 1937 was the beginning of “shared adversity” or shared destruction of the two coasts as it was not until 1937, after great investment by the Federal Government, that the Caloosahatchee River finally had a “navigable channel 7 feet deep and 80 feet wide,” before that it was very limited.

Considering that today the poor Caloosahatchee takes about two-thirds of the water drained from Lake O, we here on the east coast have to consider the possibility that if the “improvements” of the 1937 cross state canal were not done, the St Lucie might still be taking 100% of Lake O’s drainage water!

(Caloosahatchee And Its Watershed, FAU 1998, outstanding time-line, see pages 5-11 or vi-xii http://www.ces.fau.edu/publications/pdfs/the-caloosahatchee-river-and-itswatershed.pdf)

In 2009 my husband Ed and I took the our dogs Bo and Baron along the cross-state canal trip from Stuart to Ft Meyers, but stopped in Lake Okeechobee. Lots of storms! It was insightful and fun. One day I do hope to go all the way to Ft Meyers. This is definitely a “Florida bucket-list to do!”

Ed, Bo and Baron ~St Lucie River on way to Lake O – Cross State Canal trip 2009.

Video of Ed my 2009 trip cross state canal to Lake O: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8fyYCw6aW4&feature=em-share_video_user)

McKee Jungle Gardens, “The One Thing In Florida You Must Not Miss!” 1937 Stuart Daily News

Photo of McKee Jungle Garden ad, The Stuart Daily News, 1937, courtesy Knight A. Kiplinger.

Video link “Going Places with Graham McNamee – McKee Jungle Garden” vintage original:  (https://youtu.be/3zY7SZT1B-c?list=PLWV6Eymwwv0PWs7iU-3oFyLXk5rNKJ3Lv)

As a young child, I remember my parents taking me to visit McKee Jungle Gardens near Vero. What a  magical place! That visit certainly planted seeds in my head, and a love for all things “Florida.”

I remember towering magnificent palms; a mammoth-sized cypress tree trunk that looked like it came from the age of the dinosaurs; interesting rustic structures that matched the mood of the tropical paradise; beautiful giant lilies floating in shallow ponds reflecting purple and greens like a Monet painting; a gigantic, long, mahogany table; as well as my favorite thing to see at the time, monkeys, parrots, and other animals!

The McKee Jungle Gardens was founded in 1929, when engineer and land developer, Arthur G. McKee teamed up with famed Vero legend and entrepreneur, Waldo Sexton, in the creation of an 80-acre tropical hammock just west of the Indian River Lagoon. Tropical landscape architect William Lyman Phillips was hired to design its beautiful and acclaimed streams, ponds, and trails. The indigenous vegetation was augmented with ornamental plants and seeds from around the world. In 1932, the garden was opened as a tourist attraction. Although very successful for several decades, it shut down in 1976, post Disney and I-95, and most of its land was sold for development. The site remained vacant for twenty years until the Indian River Land Trust rescued the area legacy, purchasing it in 1995. The current Garden, McKee Botanical Gardens, was formally dedicated in 2001 and is now a Florida landmark. On January 7, 1998, the property was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places under its original name, “McKee Jungle Gardens.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKee_Botanical_Garden)

Perusing page 4 of the 1937 Stuart Daily News, celebrating the opening of the Cross State Canal from Stuart to Ft Meyers, featuring McKee brings back happy memories for me. About three years ago, I visited the new McKee Botanical Gardens and the magic is still there! I find Florida’s old-time famed gardens so much more appealing than today’s focus on boring “floratam lawns and perfectly manicured hedges.” Today or yesterday, showcasing Florida’s tropical beauty is Florida at its best!

VISIT McKEE BOTANICAL GARDENS TODAY:

Today’s 18 acres:  McKee Botanical Gardens Web-Site: https://mckeegarden.org

History, McKee Botanical Garden, formally McKee Jungle Garden: https://mckeegarden.org/about-us/

“Old highway Notes,” McKee Jungle Gardens, great info: http://oldhighwaynotes.blogspot.com/2015/04/mckee-jungle-gardens.html

Florida Memory: https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/165302
Location south of Vero Beach, west of IRL

Bios:

Aurthur G. McKee: http://case.edu/ech/articles/m/mckee-arthur-glenn/

Waldo Sexton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldo_E._Sexton