Tag Archives: view from South Fork to Lake Okeechobee

Looking “Wide West,” 1959 Aerial ~South Fork to Lake Okeechobee

Looking “Wide West, “1959 Aerial~South Fork to Lake Okeechobee

What a photograph! This remarkable 1959 aerial was shared by my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

“The donor is William Shanley who used to live in the Stucco house across from the Quisenberry property on Sewall’s Point. He was in real estate and he and Dan Deighan bought the Real Estate office of C. O. Rainey on Colorado Blvd. that had the aerials on the wall.”~Historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow

When my mom handed me the original photograph my jaw dropped. The photo is huge, 16 x 20 inches, its unique perspective capturing at least thirty miles from the South Fork of the St Lucie River west to Lake Okeechobee!

This style of photograph looks like it was made using a plane and camera typical of the WWII era. These cameras were used after the war to help promote development especially here in Florida.

Even though taken sixty-one years ago, the photo reveals many familiar landmarks that define Martin County today, or once did: the winding South Fork of the St Luice River; the St Lucie Canal (C-44) connecting Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork; the dreaded St Lucie Locks and Dam (S-80); Highway 76 running from Stuart all the way to the Lake; the Florida Turnpike; Lake Okeechobee itself; the straight east west lines of Cove and Salerno Roads, the tropical fish farm between the two, and Paulson Road -today, near the bridge at Halpatiokee Park.

In modern times, development covers much of the wetlands in the forefront of the photo but back then….Harris Ranch, a beautiful area, along Roebuck Creek, sold in 1972; and good old fashioned Florida farms are also part of the historic mosiac. The most prominent farming taking place atop the high Green Ridge near Indiantown -at the sharp west turn of the St Lucie Canal.

This morning, Ed and  I had some time, so we flew the “River Warrior” to get a glimpse of the modern view in mom’s photograph. An iPhone and an open air plane at 1000 feet wasn’t the same as a high flying spy plane with advanced camera equipment, but it was great fun to compare. We used the figure eight oxbow in the South Fork as the guide to find our way. It  is circled it in red below for you to use too.

Whether 1959 or 2020, looking wide west, remains a sight to see!

~Click on images to enlarge.

Above: Oxbow in red circle above, today clearly seen in aerial Below. You can follow the St Luice Canal, (C-44 Canal) above the oxbow to identify today’s I-95, the Florida Turnpike, and St Lucie Locks and Dam.

Below: Close up, beyond I-95 and Turnpike sits St Luice Locks and Dam.

Flying southwest along  most South Fork of the St Lucie River…

Below: Short video of open airplane


Ed puts the River Warrior away to rest for another day!