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Time Capsule Flight – St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon

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Historic map with beginnings of Google overlay showing pronged area of South Fork, St Lucie River, C-44 canal’s connection, and the many ponds that once spotted the landscape that are now filled with agriculture and development. (1940 US Government aerials shared by Todd Thurlow.)

C-44 canal 1940 map with beginnings of Google overlay. (Todd Thurlow)
C-44 canal 1940 map with beginnings of Google overlay emerging. (Todd Thurlow)

Link to video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuYkQ26OZvg&feature=youtu.be)

0:34 – Roosevelt Bridge
0:39 – Note the Old 1934 two-lane drawbridge in use. The current drawbridge was built in 1964
1:05 – Palm City Bridge
1:22 – Indian Street Bridge
1:27 – Note the increase in width of the river — in some places from approx 225 feet to 460+ feet.
3:24 – Halpatiokee Park
3:24 – Note the old Gaines Highway “Humpback” Bridge (SR-76) in use in 1940.
3:42 – Okeechobee Waterway (C-44)
4:00 – St. Lucie Lock and Dam (—timetable from Todd Thurlow)
I continue to take great pleasure in featuring the “time-capsule flight” historic map and Google Earth work of my brother, Todd Thurlow.(http://thurlowpa.com)

Today’s short video focuses on our beloved South Fork area of the St Lucie River. This video visually juxtaposes 1940s U.S. Government maps to Google Earth images of today. The video begins over an undeveloped Horseshoe Point, Sewall’s Point, and St Lucie River proper and then travels in a southern direction to the wide fork of the St Lucie River and deep along its wild, winding, and African-looking curves. One sees the old Palm City and new Veteran’s Memorial bridges come and go, and notices the  build up over time of sand in the fork (maybe some from dredging and some from sediment build-up from Lake Okeechobee releases.) This serpentine and beautiful section of the South Fork is southerly of Highway 76 that runs out to Lake Okeechobee alone the C-44 canal.  Today’s I-95 exchange is also visible.

Broad overlay of maps South Fork. (Todd Thurlow)
Broad overlay of maps South Fork. (Todd Thurlow)

And the little ponds! My favorite! Just everywhere!This is most incredible to me as today they are “gone.” These hundreds, if not thousands of little ponds, once slowly increased and decreased in depth and size based on rainfall, overflowing at times, into the winding South Fork. One can still see the lush vegetation surrounding some of these areas.  Can you imaging the wildlife that used to be in our area? I so would have loved to have seen it but this trip is better than nothing!

As the flight continues, “today’s”  development is neatly  stacked right up to the winding edge of the fork on the south side in particular…makes me think of septic tanks???

I have to say it nice that there is some land around the areas of the fork and I am sure local environmentalist have fought to keep this over the years. Nonetheless, if we had it to do over again, I think we would decide to leave a much wider birth around these important watersheds.

In the final minutes of the video we travel over the dreaded C-44 canal built in the 1920s, known in  its early years as  the “St Lucie Canal.”  This canal of course, connects Lake Okeechobee to a section of a second prong (fork) in the winding South Fork. The canal itself is wider and apparently the “connection is just “above” today’s Four Rivers which lies beyond the I-95 bridge and exchange and All American Marina.

Zooming in and out in time and place,  one can see the cleared lands around St Lucie Locks and Dam and white sand piled high from dredging on the north side of the canal….The picture fades in and out as we view the old locks structure compared to its “new and improved” version today….

I just love this stuff. It makes it all so easy to “see.”

The environmental destruction that is…I guess for others it is the sight of money and making a swamp “useful.” How ever you view it, the journey is an education.

Thank you to Todd for opening my eyes and for allowing me to travel in time and “place.”

C-44 canal Google Earth with St Lucie Locks and Dam. (Todd Thurlow Google Earth)
C-44 canal Google Earth with St Lucie Locks and Dam. (Todd Thurlow Google Earth)
1940 US Gov't map showing C-44 canal cut form Todd Thurlow's video.)
1940 US Gov’t map showing C-44 canal cut from Todd Thurlow’s video. Notice agriculture fields on top of what was a stream.

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To see more of Todd’s work on my blog, search his name on my blog’s front page, go to my blog’s “About Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch” page or just google Todd Thurlow bluewatertt3 on You Tube.

About Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch:

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Although born at Travis Air Base, California, Jacqui considers herself a native of Stuart, Florida, having moved there at eight months old. Her father’s family, originally from Syracuse, New York, has lived in Stuart since 1952. Her mother is a 5th generation Floridian from Gainesville. Jacqui is a Daughter of the American Revolution.

Jacqui is journalism graduate of the University of Florida, and an education master’s graduate of the University of West Florida. She went on to teach English and German and later after a serious accident of breaking her neck, started selling real estate. Later, she ran for public office having served on the Town of Sewall’s Point Commission since 2008, and is former mayor. During this time she saw the opportunity to help showcase the work of a locally formed river group, the River Kidz, and this has been her passion ever. She incorporates youth/river education  into her political work for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Jacqui is the treasurer/secretary of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council; has chaired the Florida League of Cities Environmental and Energy Committee; was chair, and a six year member of the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments; is an alternate for the Water Resources Advisory Commission for the South Florida Water Management District; and is a board member for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation, in St Lucie County.  She also serves as a board member (ex-officio) for the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund, and is head administrator for her beloved River Kidz, now a division of the Rivers Coalition.

Jacqui’s reach involves not only local, but state and federal government. In 2013,  she served on Senator Joe Negron’s panel for the Select Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee. In 2014, she actively supported the elections of both Senator Joe Negron and Congressman Patrick Murphy who have both been strong supporters of  Indian River Lagoon issues. In 2015, she is part of the Florida League Cities Treasure Coast Advocacy team to influence and educate Tallahassee. Jacqui received the Everglades Coalition’s 2015 “John V. Kabler Award” for “Grassroots Activism” working to organize and educate the public, generating grassroots support for Everglades restoration.

– See more at: (http://evergladescoalition.org/awards-kabler.html#sthash.lt7eGpIp.dpuf)

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