Tag Archives: Taylor Creek

St Lucie Connections – Lost Through Time

Excerpt from 1839 Map of the Seat of War in Florida compiled by order of Brid. Gen. Z. Taylor principally from the surveys and reconnaissances of the Officers of the U.S. Army.

The following of which you will recognize many names and places, was shared from my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow. For years it lie dormant in her history files.

Written in 1881 as an article in an old time newspaper, The Florida Star, the article describes the location of pioneers living near the river and the extent of the St Lucie River itself. It is told that the South Fork of the St Lucie was connected all the way “westward of the Jupiter Lighthouse having its origin in the Everglades.”  Since 1881, we have drained so much of Florida that we only know its remnant. Imagine what it was like. Read, dream, and enjoy! 

From The Florida Star, Titusville, Florida, February 23, 1881, “Indian River” by Elias B. Wager, transcribed by Sandra H. Thurlow 

One mile south of Judge Paine’s is the mouth of Taylor Creek; on the left bank of which is the residence of Mr. Alex. Bell. Opposite the creek the oyster bars decrease. Two miles south from Bell’s is the old parade ground at Fort Pierce some of the of which are yet visible, extending quite a distance back to where was a watch tower commanding an extensive view of the river. Here is a fine spring of water bursting out from under the river-bank. Here also is the site of a store kept by Mr. Hogg. Going southward from Fort Pierce and passing several old places along the  skirted western bank, we find Herman’s Grove about eleven miles from Fort Pierce. This grove, a valuable piece of property is owned by a man living at Key West. About two miles from Herman’s Grove, is the clearing and home of Mr. T. E. Richards, late of Newark, planted to orange trees and the pine-apple. He has a clearing on the east shore of the river also, for growing vegetables, etc. Six miles from Mr. Richards is Mount Elizabeth, crowned with hummock of Cabbage Palmetto, the home of J. S. Fowler, late of New York. The river at this point is some two and one-half or three miles wide. Nearly opposite Mount Elizabeth and on the east bank of the river is the “Old Cuban’s Place.” Here grows the bananas very luxuriantly. The distance from the eastern shore of the river to the beach, is some three or four hundred yards. The river from Indian River Inlet to the Narrows is called St. Lucia Sound. Some three miles south from “Old Cuban’s Place” is located House of Refuge No. 2. Four miles south of Mt. Elizabeth and on the west side of the river is the mouth of the St. Lucie River. This river has a North and South Branch. Some ten miles above the meeting of the Branches, the North Branch separates into three streams, called Five, Ten, and Eleven Mile Creeks, indicating the distance from Ft. Capron to the several Fords used in the Seminole war.  The South Branch comes from away down to the Westward of Jupiter Lighthouse, having its origin in the Everglades. It has two branches from the Westward which have their sources in the “Big Cypress” and are called Big and Little Cane Creeks, and abound in black bass.

Across the State: 714, Taylor Creek, Kissimmee River, Fort Basinger, Phosphate Mines, Manatee River, Yeehaw Junction

We spend so much time on the coasts, it’s fun to get in the car and cross the state. Ed, the dogs, and I, did just that over the weekend. We saw close-up things we had only seen by air.

What struck me most?

How beautiful the drive was really, but also how there is not an inch of the state that seems untouched.

We saw Taylor Creek, famous for its pollution issues, on the northeast side of Lake Okeechobee that has been channelized like just about every other river; then the famed Kissimmee River of which some has been restored, nonetheless at the bridge crossing it looked dry and unnatural. I thought to myself “this would once have been all floodplain…”

Fort Basinger is also right there at the bridge crossing, a famous place during the Indian Wars, built by Zachary Taylor, our first governor. Close to Sebring on Highway 98 there must have been 20 osprey nests atop the telephone poles! There were signs noting that 98 and others were part of the “Great Florida Cattle Drive.” As I was reading about it on my phone, Ed was telling me to look out the window to see all the chicks with their heads sticking up!

So pretty, and then miles of orange groves, a wonderful sight, as most of Martin’s are dead from greening. And boy, wow, near Mulberry, the phosphate mines! Giant landfills hovering over the landscape. ~Bone Valley and the riches of phosphate mining for fertilizer production, the exact thing that is causing our waters to become impaired and eutrophic, supplying not just Florida but the world. And to think just a couple of years ago one was swallowed up by a sink hole! Radioactive water and all…I could not find out where it went.

Once we got to the west coast near Tampa Bay, the Little Manatee River was lovely although a bit tired looking. Interesting that there is a reservoir in the middle for water supply.

The drive back? More oranges, farmlands, ospreys, lakes, and phosphate mines. Most fun reaching YeeHaw Junction and buying some Plant City strawberries. I made a shake on Sunday morning; strawberries never tasted so good!

I really recommend a day trip across the state. See what’s there. So much is like “Old Florida.”  Any Highway will do. Best to zig-zag through, and enjoy the ride.

PHOTOS FROM OUR TRIP

Highway 714 Martin County to Lake Okeechobee:

Taylor Creek at Lake Okeechobee

Wonderful Sable Palm Hammocks

Kissimmee River channelized as C-38, 22 miles now restored

Fort Basinger

Osprey nests & Orange groves

Phosphate Mining

Little Manatee River

Mosiac sign and osprey nest heading back east

Approaching YeeHaw Junction a crossroads for many decades!

Links:

Martin Grade, 714:
https://floridascenichighways.com/our-byways/southern-region/martin-grade-scenic-highway/

Taylor Creek:
https://www.sfwmd.gov/document/lake-okeechobee-watershed-stormwater-treatment-areas-stas-taylor-creek-and-nubbin-slough

Fort Basinger and Kissimmee River Valley:
https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/125432

http://www.fortwiki.com/Fort_Basinger

SWWMD:
https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/kissimmee-river

Florida Cracker Trail: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM2WWJ_The_Florida_Cracker_Trail

Phosphate Mining DEP: https://floridadep.gov/water/mining-mitigation/content/phosphate
http://www.fipr.state.fl.us/about-us/phosphate-primer/phosphate-and-how-florida-was-formed/

Sink Hole: https://www.wuft.org/news/2016/09/20/concerns-continue-over-polk-county-phosphate-sinkhole/

Little Manatee State Park: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/little-manatee-river-state-park

Beautiful Ft Pierce, Coming of Age, SLR/IRL

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Ft Pierce Inlet, Ed Lippisch, February, 2016

Our Indian River Lagoon neighbor to the north, Ft Pierce, was recently voted as one of Florida’s “most affordable beach cities.” I have always loved Ft Pierce, and felt like it was underrated. Growing up in Martin County I was aware of its history and some shortfalls, but Martin County has its fair share too.

These aerial photos were taken recently by my husband Ed Lippisch and his friend Scott Kuhns. They show the beautiful turquoise  water the area usually experiences. Yes, Taylor Creek is attached to the C-25 canal and at time spews dark, polluted water primarily from draining agricultural fields, but work is slowly being done to improve the situation. As we can see from some of the photos, seagrass has suffered in this area from repeated poor water quality too.

In the mid 1800s the area was called Edgartown, famous for an oyster cannery and fishing village. It was later named for a lieutenant colonel and fort of the Seminole Wars. Ft Pierce was incorporated 1901.

One thing the area can consistently brag about is its usually beautiful water. Certainly a better bet than the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon in Martin County. As one the most affordable beach towns in Florida, maybe it’s time to take out our checkbooks…

Photos show Ft Pierce around the IRL, Taylor Marina, the Ft Pierce Inlet, and C-25.

icon_maps_st_lucie basin canals
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-25 canal is the northern most canal in the image.

DEP C-25 at Taylor Creek: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/FPF_C-1_Impairment.pdf

https://smartasset.com/mortgage/americas-most-affordable-beach-towns

http://www.cityoffortpierce.com/220/St-Lucie-County-Regional-History-Center

“History, Encyclopedia Britanica: Fort Pierce, city, seat (1905) of St. Lucie county, east-central Florida, U.S. It is situated on the Indian River (a lagoon connected to the Atlantic Ocean by inlets), about 55 miles (90 km) north of West Palm Beach. The fort (1838–42), built during the Seminole Wars, was named for Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin K. Pierce (brother of President Franklin Pierce), who commanded a detachment. Permanent settlement began around the fort site in the 1860s, and the small fishing village of Edgartown and an oyster cannery were also established. In 1901 these entities were incorporated as the City of Fort Pierce. Pineapple growing was an early factor in the city’s economic growth that was later replaced by citrus farming.”

https://www.britannica.com/place/Fort-Pierce

Taylor Creek’s Ft Pierce Filth

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The Indian River Lagoon is damaged by more than releases from Lake Okeechobee. After days of a hard rain, like today, February 1st 2014,  local canals not attached to the lake dump tremendous filth into our river as well. Right now, not during the summer “rainy season,” Canal-25 in Ft Pierce is dumping agricultural and residential runoff into a once beautiful Taylor Creek, that in turn, runs into the Indian River Lagoon. This is not just water staining from vegetation, it is fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, sediments and other pollutants. Fortunately, the Ft Pierce Inlet is close by so this runoff goes into the ocean quickly, but of course this is not good for the ocean either. Please fight for source control and stricter laws in favor of our river. (Photo taken 2-1-14 by Ed Lippisch)

Ft Pierce Does Get Canal Releases at Taylor Creek

Black water is released into the ILR near Ft Pierce Inlet
Black water is released into the ILR near Ft Pierce Inlet

Along the Treasure Coast it seems “everyone” always thinks Ft Piece does not get any releases. It does. C-25 is one of three that lie in the northern Martin/St Lucie region that drain rain water and runoff from agricultural and some residential lands. This area is part of the IRL Project for CERP that was appropriated in 2007. At this point lands have been purchased for C-23 and C-24 but otherwise it s the same old  _______ running right into our beloved estuary. Disgusting.