Background: Time Capsule Flight: Jupiter to Lake Worth Haulover Canal, by Todd Thurlow
Recently, my husband Ed and I guided Adrift south from Stuart to the Lake Worth Lagoon. For us, the boat ride was delightful! Jupiter is by far one of the Intracoastal’s most beautiful of places with its blue water and iconic Jupiter Lighthouse. Today the canal linking it to Lake Worth Lagoon is easy to navigate. What we must remember, as the video above shows, it wasn’t always this way…
Today I share Ed and my 2019 modern Intracoastal Waterway photos contrasted to an 1884 account by Champlin H. Spencer, an experienced seaman, who took the same route in 1884 before the area was developed. In his account, he describes this journey as “the most arduous of any yet experienced.” In the early days, this area between Jupiter and Lake Worth was a marsh, creek and in high waters, a sawgrass highway. It must have been spectacular in natural beauty, but not so easy to navigate!
Thank you to my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow for sharing this rare piece she researched from the National Archives while writing her book US Life-Saving Service: Florida’s East Coast.
~From the library of historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, a historic account: Jupiter to Lake Worth, 1884.
A letter in the national archives written to Captain James H. Merryman, Inspector of Life-Saving Station by Champlin H. Spencer. Spencer became the superintendent of District Seven after William Hunt died in 1882. The narrative illustrates the hardships encountered by early District Superintendents.
Nov. 6th, 1884
In connection with my last trip, I may say, it was the most arduous of any yet experienced. Knowing the October trip to be the worst of the year, I had provided the government sharpie with new sails at my own expense… the only practicable means of locomotion for the Superintendent to get over the 7th District. On arriving at Jupiter, a gale was blowing, a hurricane expected and no reasonable prospect for weeks for crossing the various bars on my route.I therefore borrowed a boat from the assistant light-house keeper Carlisle, pushed in company with my boat-hand through the everglades to haul-over near Lake Worth with the little dinkey in tow which with my boat-hand’s help, it being a desolate point, I tugged over to Lake Worth. The experience of making miles a few inches at a push with pole adhering in the mud & all locomotion confined to literal pushing through lily-pads & rushes cradled in amphibious land is unique while on this occasion camping in an open boat in a torrent of rain amid such surroundings gave a higher spice to its uniqueness. My regular boat-hand returned to Jupiter to take care of (?) while in the cockle shell of a dinkey, proceeded to the settlement, procured a sailboat, hoisted the peak as reef, sailed down the lake & hence footed it down the beach. Mr. Quimby … more from innate gallantry & personal liking than for pay, accompanied me and at the Hillsborough swam the gauntlet of alligators and shark to the other side, bring from the opposite side the boat left there by the Coast-Survey although in so doing he came nigh being swept out to sea. The water was very high, the walking, at all times execrable, was the worst I have ever known it along the coast so that on arriving at Lauderdale station, it being impossible at the time to push through the everglades in a boat to Miami the gale still blowing, I dispatched Keeper Peacock for Keeper Pierce who met me a Lauderdale and there signed the pay-roll. It is my settled purpose not to shirk any portion of the route, but footsore, exhausted and down with a chill & the back track before me, the volunteered readiness of Keepers Peacock & Pierce to meeting me at Lauderdale was truly acceptable & I trust inspection in the premises will not meet with severe censure.*Photocopy of official letter obtained from Ranger Sandra Hines, Canaveral National Seashore.
Overlay of 1883 USCGS Map over Google Earth, Todd Thurlow.
Today’s post is super cool. My brother, Todd Thurlow, Time Capsule Flights, made a fly over of Lake Worth over the Haulover and Sawgrass Route to Jupiter Inlet using 1883 USCGS maps. His inspiration? Marty Baum’s recent comment on “The Gale of 1878, Ten Mile Creek.”
An excerpt from Marty’s retelling of his great-great grandfather, Hannibal D. Pierce, referred to as “Father” below, reads:
“…A few days after the storm Father reached home in a skiff borrowed from Mr. Rogers, the lone settler at the haulover. The last hurricane having raised the water in the sawgrass to an extreme height and good northeast wind blowing, Father decided to try the sawgrass route from Jupiter to the lake. He found the swamp like a great open lake, and had no difficulty in its navigation in the Creole; he landed at the haulover only a few hours after leaving Jupiter. Here he had to leave the Creole until help could be found to haul her over the three hundred yards of hill and dale to the lake. Borrowing the skiff of Mr. Rogers, he rowed it to his home a distance of twenty miles…”
What Todd’s video allows us to see is that, indeed, in the old days, after a gale, one could sail from Jupiter to Lake Worth, east and west of today’s U.S. 1, south through a sawgrass river! The sawgrass river today? High rise building, shopping malls, and gated communities….
I find this absolutely amazing, and a bit strange. 🙂
Please enjoy the video below!
Marty’s comment and the post the “Gale of 1878, Ten Mile Creek” is reposted for reference.
This time capsule flight shows the 1883 USCGS Maps from the south end of Lake Worth over the following areas:
0:44 The homestead of Hannibal Dillingham Pierce (father of barefoot mailman Charlie Pierce)
0:46 Hypoluxo Island
2:07 The old Lake Worth Inlet (note the 3D image of the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort on that spot!)
3:08 The Haulover between the north end of Lake Worth and the Sawgrass Route
4:55 Jupiter Lighthouse
5:18 The old Jupiter Inlet (about 1/3 mile or 630 yards south of the current inlet)
I am a serious student of this, and the next storm that year. Hannibal D. Pierce, my GG Grandfather back at the homestead on Hypoluxo Island having served a couple years as Keeper at Orange Grove HOR. had recovered a longboat from the Providentia wreck Feb 1878. He sloop rigged it and took it on its maiden voyage to Titusville. Charles W. Pierce; On Wings of the Wind, unpublished manuscript.
Cheap enough some would say, but there were some settlers who could not afford to spend any money buying nuts to plant; they needed what money they had to buy food and clothes. These people did not plant any coconuts from the wreck of the Providencia. But Hammon and Lainheart opened their hearts to Father after he bought 200 nuts for himself, 200 for Cecil Upton, and seven hundred for Captain Armour; they gave him the Providencia’s longboat. This boat was a heavy built round bottom boat, twenty feet long and six wide. …
When Father got the Providencia’s longboat home, (Hypoluxo Island, today, under the Manalapan Club) he hauled it out at his east landing and planned to make her into a sloop. Uncle Will and Mr. [Ruben] Pease, who were good carpenters, helped with the work of putting in a centerboard and half decking her forward and along the sides. When rigged with a jib and a leg-o-mutton mainsail she made a pretty good sa
It was the first week of September that Father announced his intention of making a trip to Titusville in his new boat, the Creole, for much needed supplies. … When Father had been gone about two weeks there came a hurricane. It was not a very bad one, but it lasted five days. A few days after the storm, the seas were calm and we looked for Father to return. But he did not show up and the weather became stormy again and there was no news from up river in all that time. No one came to the lake so there was no news of storm damage from up Indian River, nor any news from Father, and the family on Hypoluxo Island was worried and anxious.
We kept on worrying and wondering as week after week went by and no word from Father or the Creole. I spent a good part of each day, when not hunting or fishing, in the top of an old rubber tree that stood on the west shore of the island south of the landing, with the old long spyglass resting over a limb I scanned closely the lake to the northward. While the magnifying power of the old telescope brought distant islands and shorelines into plain view, it did not show that which I most longed to see – Father’s boat coming home.
One day as I climbed to my customary perch in the tree I was overjoyed to see a sail far up the lake. But a minute’s scrutiny with the spyglass caused my sudden joy to vanish; it was not Father’s boat, but a much smaller craft. It was a very small boat that had come from up river by way of the sawgrass route; they brought a letter from Father, who was at Jupiter waiting for a smooth sea to make the outside run to the lake. We were certainly pleased to hear that he was safe and well and so near home. But days and days went by and the wind continued to blow hard from off the ocean and then there came another hurricane, which lasted only a day and one night, but was most severe; the worst we had experienced since 1876. The wind was from the east-northeast on the first day and most of the following night, and how it did blow and rain. The rain was the most tremendous any of the settlers had ever seen before or since. The rain drove in through the sides of the house until the entire inside was afloat; boards had to be laid on the floor so Mother could attend to her work without wading. About two o’clock in the morning the wind shifted to the southeast and about an hour later began to slacken just a little. Up to this time it had been impossible for us to sleep on account of the roar of wind and rain and of the possibility the house might be blown down. When the wind shifted there was some protection afforded by a hammock to the southeast of the house, and knowing by the change of the wind that the hardest had passed, we “turned in,” as the sailors call going to bed.
In the morning a scene of desolation met our gaze when we went to the door and looked out. Coconut trees blown down or their leaves whipped to threads, leaves and limbs scattered all over, bananas all flat on the ground, and not a whole tree or plant anywhere; and the lake – it was near five feet higher than before the storm. The whole back country was flooded by the September blow and now this had caused it to rise beyond all bounds. It flowed over the low spot in the spruce ridge to the north of Bradley’s through the pine woods into Lake Worth. And up across from the inlet it flowed into the lake from the back swamp in such a volume it created a large deep creek.
A few days after the storm Father reached home in a skiff borrowed from Mr. Rogers, the lone settler at the haulover. The last hurricane having raised the water in the sawgrass to an extreme height and good northeast wind blowing, Father decided to try the sawgrass route from Jupiter to the lake. He found the swamp like a great open lake, and had no difficulty in its navigation in the Creole; he landed at the haulover only a few hours after leaving Jupiter. Here he had to leave the Creole until help could be found to haul her over the three hundred yards of hill and dale to the lake. Borrowing the skiff of Mr. Rogers, he rowed it to his home a distance of twenty miles.
It was a week or so later that the tram road was built at the haulover, and the Creole was the first freight hauled by the new road from the swamp to the lake, and when she again rode anchor near her home dock, eight weeks had elapsed since her departure for Titusville.”
I tell this story in the first person AS my Grandfather. The trip took nearly months to complete. As an aside, Emily Lagow (she MET Jim Bell who she later married on this trip) was but a day behind my Grandfather in Captain Abbotts trade boaton its first trip down the lagoon boat and rode the hurricane out anchored near Gilbert’s Bar HOR. Gramps was at Jupiter Light. Em Lagow even stopped and visited the Faber Brothers at Rockledge where my Gramps had weathered the 5 day storm while suffering the flu. Here is Em Lagow Bell’s account; From My Pioneer Days the above booklet Sandy shared with Jacqui;
“We went on to the House of Refuge at Peck’s Lake, on the way to Jupiter. “We got the sails all down, for the clouds were black, and about four in the afternoon it began to rain and blow so that the spray came over on the boat, but we were in a good harbor and it was fierce all night, and lasted 24 hours. We were all right. That was my first experience of gales in Florida. I was so scared I couldn’t lie down or sleep till it was over.
We started for Jupiter and arrived at noon, so glad to get ashore to walk around. ”
My Gramps had left that morning up Lake Worth Creek to Mr. Rogers mentioned above. Jacquie, I transcribed this document years ago and not only have the story, but I indexed it also. Yours for the asking. Cheers!