With all the fanfare this week regarding the filling of the C-44 Reservoir, I thought I’d share the C-44’s “birth certificate.” It’s pretty old. This photograph below is from the Florida Archives in Tallahassee and is part of a series of survey maps stating “Survey by G.V. Scott and J.D. Weems. Made under direction of F.C. Elliott, Chief Drainage Engineer, Tallahassee, Florida. July 6, 1915.”
-1915 historic blueprint for the St Lucie Canal, Florida Archives (click for larger image) At first glance, the giant photo of the survey is hard to read. The blue background and white lines are a bit dizzying. So I printed the survey out and colored it trying to get an idea of what was what. Looking below, from left to right, we can see Lake Okeechobee. We can also note the cut-in of “Chauncey Bay,” and the saw grass/glades marsh running both north and south connecting with the Halpatiokee Marsh and Allapttah Flats on the east side of “high pine” culminating south at Annie, near today’s Indiantown. This survey reveals the once extensive and beautiful, virgin, slash-pine forests that covered most of our lands. imagine the wildlife! We can also see the crooked black line, running east, that was to become the St Lucie Canal or C-44. We notice the “Green Ridge” clearly separating sprawling Lake Okeechobee from the petit St Lucie River to the east of the “Cane Slough,” an area that today must be drained lands somewhere around Kanner Highway and Bridge Road. If you study the “blue birth certificate survey,” there area many other notations, but those mentioned are what I colored.
It’s amazing isn’t it? There are no boundaries except the one’s we make. In 1915 this area not only was a forest, glades, slough, and marsh but was mapped as Palm Beach County. Today the region contains Martin, St Luice, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties.
How amazing this Florida Jungle must have been before we tamed it. Before we drained it. I especially wonder what the Cane Slough looked like. Headwaters of the St Lucie? The fishing must have been magnificent!
As Thanksgiving approaches, I wish to state that I am thankful that I belong to a generation of people trying to restore these lands rather than trying to drain them. Water is lifeblood. I always remember, my dad’s friend Mr Hadad saying to me: “Jacqui we spent a hundred years draining the water off the lands, and we’ll spend the next hundred putting it back on.” We should think about this when we have a sip of water while eating turkey!