Tag Archives: Stuart on the Lucie

Henry Flagler Wouldn’t Have Bought All Aboard Florida Bonds, SLR/IRL

Stuart's City Seal The original seal of Stuart was designed by a committee of three, A. T. Hogarth, J. A. Hancock and Curt Schroeder. It showed the confluence of the north and south forks of the St. Lucie River and the Florida East Coast railroad bridge. The original seal, adopted when Stuart was incorporated on May 7, 1914, served through the 1970s. (Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Stuart on the St Lucie)
Stuart’s City Seal
The original seal of Stuart was designed by a committee of three, A. T. Hogarth, J. A. Hancock and Curt Schroeder. It showed the confluence of the north and south forks of the St. Lucie River and the Florida East Coast railroad bridge. The original seal, adopted when Stuart was incorporated on May 7, 1914, served through the 1970s. (Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Stuart on the St Lucie)

The ironies of life in Stuart and Martin County are grand.

Here are a few:

  1. Business tycoon, Henry Flagler, is said to have first planned to run his railway through and develop Sewall’s Point and then across the St Lucie River to Rocky Point rather than developing Palm Beach. Title problems with the Hanson Grant, of which Sewall’s Point encompassed, led Henry to change the path of his railroad, instead taking it through Potsdam, later named Stuart.
  2. Stuart’s orignal seal, adopted in 1914, shows only the railroad going through Stuart as there was no “auto bridge” at that time. The docks sticking out into the St Lucie River can be seen on the seal due to their importance to property and commerce at that time in history. —The St Lucie River was important to “commerce” like the train at that time.
  3. Stuart was first on the north side of the railroad over the St Lucie River. When leaders wanted to change the name to “Port St Lucie” the railroad company “denied” this as there was already a town by the same name north. So the clever leaders of the town just moved the train station over the river to Potsdam and changed the name to Stuart. When things don’t work, smart business men take another path…
  4. All Aboard Florida and East Coast Railroad, Henry Flagler’s company, is now owned by Fortress; their plan to expand Mr Flagler’s business is likely to fail.
City of Stuart seal showed the railroad and an auto bridge in 1978. Seal taken from city stationary. Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
City of Stuart seal showed the railroad and an auto bridge in 1978. Seal taken from city stationary. Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

 

Today proposed All Aboard Florida is not following Henry Flagler’s one famous quote: “To help others is to help yourself,” in the age of paternalism such was the justification of the railroad….not today… Fortress Corporation is doing nothing to help others, like putting a stop at every pineapple plantation, but rather figuring how much money they can make for themselves barreling right through and then failing for bigger and better things…like Panama Canal freight.  Luckily their plan is falling apart.

The following information was simplified and explained by Mr Len Sucsy, of CARE, Citizens Against Railroad Expansion. He is a business expert. He gives us the inside scoop in layman terms we can understand.

You probably know about the Martin County and Indian River County lawsuits that are pending, but the specifics of All Aboard Florida’s failing business deal makes its vulnerability easier to understand:

“All Aboard Florida is having difficulty selling their $1.7 billion tax
exempt, junk bond issue. Municipal bond investors are being quoted in
Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune, and other media sources as being
“uncomfortable” with the business model not only because no passenger train in the
history of the country has been profitable but also the real estate
above and around some train stations is speculative and yet to be
built. Other freight rail cash-flowing services are also future
events and speculative. The high leverage of the deal is also been
noted…. a problem. A well known muni manger of a $36 billion fund passed on the deal for
“credit risk” reasons.

Fortress, Inc., parent company of All Aboard Florida and Florida East
Coast Railway, is closing its flagship macro hedge fund. At its peak, it managed
$1.6 billion which now stands at $400 million due to investor flight. Last year the fund lost .6% and this year is down 17.5%. Managing partner and billionaire co-founder of Fortress, Michael Novogratz will leave the firm.
The company share price (FIG, NASDQ) has dropped 32% this year…”

AAF CAN’T SELL ITS BONDS. THEY ARE A BAD DEAL. SPREAD THE WORD. WRITE IT ON FACEBOOK. CALL YOUR FRIENDS  UP NORTH. PUT UP A SIGN.

Maybe our sign should read: “HENRY FLAGLER WOULDN’T HAVE BOUGHT AAF BONDS.”

A train on the original wooden bridge that spanned the St Lucie River 1894. Historical Society of Martin County.
A train on the original wooden bridge that spanned the St Lucie River 1894. Historical Society of Martin County via Sandra H. Thurlow’s book St on the St Lucie.

Citizen’s Against the Train: (https://www.citizensagainstthetrain.com)

CARE Citizens Against Rail Expansion: (http://www.saveourfl.com)

Not All Aboard Florida: (http://www.floridanotallaboard.net)

Chicago Tribune article: (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-florida-rail-e93cdf80-6e97-11e5-91eb-27ad15c2b723-20151009-story.html)

The Long Deteriorating “Fishing Ground of Presidents,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Harold R Johns, posing with a large tarpon, early 19920s, Stuart, St Lucie River. (Photo from Stuart on the St Lucie by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Harold R. Johns, posing with a large tarpon, early 1920s, Stuart, Florida, St Lucie River. (Photo from Stuart on the St Lucie by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

When the pioneers permanently opened the St Lucie Inlet in 1892, it killed the freshwater grasses that filled the waterways creating a brackish estuary that due to the convergence of tropical and temperate zones, and the nearby warmth of the Gulf Stream, became “the most diverse estuary in North America.” (Gilmore)

After a short period of time, sportfishing thrived in the area, and fishing guides called Stuart the “fishing grounds of presidents” as US president, Grover Cleveland, vacationed and fished the area in 1900 and years after.

In spite of long standing issues with the health of the estuary,  as late as the 1970/80s Dr Grant Gilmore of Harbor Branch documented over 800 species of fish living and breeding in the then healthy seagrasses around Sailfish and Sewall’s Point at the convergence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. This was a larger variety of species in one place than any other area in United States. (Gilmore)

"Goliath Grouper" called "Jew Fish" at the time, Stuart. ca. 1920s. (Thurlow Collection)

“Goliath Grouper” called “Jew Fish” at the time, Stuart. ca. 1920s. (Thurlow Collection)

Going back to the the 1930s, the 1938 Blue Book, a popular annual fishing publication of the time, lauds fishing throughout the entire Stuart area:

“The City of Stuart located approximately 20 miles south of Fort Pierce is world renowned for its fishing. Located as it is…it offers a variety of fishing similar to Fort Pierce but somewhat more pronounced, particularly with regards to the tarpon, sea trout, snook, channel bass, bluefish, crevasse jack, pompano and ladyfish. It’s fresh water fishing is particularly good far into the back county among the Sloughs with their tributary and drainage canals to Lake Okeechobee and the many drainage canals through this territory. These Sloughs and Canals offer splendid fishing for black bass, as well as for the larger game fish from the salt water, such as  th snook and tarpon, that make their way into Stuart Harbor and on up into the both and south branches of the St Lucie River. –Particularly good fishing for these species can be had at the St Lucie Locks about 12 miles inland south of Stuart…”

All photos from Stuart on the St Lucie, Sportfishing chapter, by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
All photos from Stuart on the St Lucie, Sportfishing chapter, by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

IMG_5769 IMG_5767

It is interesting to note that although the Blue Book piece, written in 1938, celebrates Stuart’s fishing, one can find evidence of tension regarding the releases from Lake Okeechobee in the literature of the day as early as 1925.

Fearing the onslaught of development in the booming twenties and the changes brought on by the connection and building of the C-44 canal from Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River, beginning in 1923, the South Florida Developer’s, November 10th, 1925 headline reads:

Article 1925, South Florida Developer. (Thurlow collection.)
Article 1925, South Florida Developer. (Thurlow collection.)

“Fish Will Leave the River As City Grows, Fisherman Assert, Sewage and Oil Sure Death to a Favored Sport is Verdict.”

The article quotes commercial fishermen who know that  the over abundance of fresh water from Lake Okeechobee will chase away the salt water fish and that the oil on the water from development, perhaps from cars and road runoff,  if excessive, won’t allow the fish to sufficiently breathe.

Fishing guide Phil O’Brian is quoted as saying: “I know the ways of the sea fish. They can’t stand fresh water; and they won’t stand sewer water. We have the fresh water now mixin’ in from Lake Okeechobee and we’ll soon have the sewer water.”

These pioneers are probably rolling over in their graves should they have learned about the story of the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon most recently.

The St Lucie River was labeled “impaired” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 2002 mostly due to pesticides and heavy metals from agriculture and urban pollution runoff accumulating in the sediment from all area canals, especially C-44 and Lake Okeechobee. In a way, just like the 1920s fisherman foresaw…

The fight against the area canals and Lake Okeechobee continues today, and if by the grace of God we can undo some of the hands of history, the St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon will surely heal herself and we once again could be the ” Fishing Grounds of Presidents…”

…but then we might have to get rid of that green and sprawling golf course at the Floridian.

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FDEP Impairment St Lucie River: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf)