Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Hidden in the woods of the Croom Wildlife Management Area you'll find the forgotten ghost town of Oriole, that is if you know where to find it. The town of Oriole began when families began settling in the area back in the 1800's. These early settlers built farms and started orange groves and traded amongst themselves. In order to get to the area, many people would have take a ferry across the Withlacoochee River to get to this remote location. Eventually the first post office of Oriole was established in 1884 and a railroad line reached the town bringing in further growth. Around this time phosphate mining was a booming industry and the town got their mining permit in 1890 and operated in the industry until around 1915. The town's cemetery can still be seen today if you know where to look. It is known as both the Oriole Cemetery as well as the Giddens Homestead Cemetery. The Giddens family was one of the first families to settle in the area. The cemetery is believed to be the third oldest in Hernando County. Oriole was a small town with only about 100 people at its biggest. Just like many other small Florida towns the great freezes of 1894 and 1895 wiped out the majority of the crops that folks depended on for sustenance. An outbreak of influenza claimed many lives of settlers in the area, most of which were very young judging from the dates on many of the tombstones. Eventually the town of Oriole was abandoned but the land was used by ranchers who built homesteads during the 1900's to the mid 1920's while raising cattle and various crops. Remains from these homesteads can also be found in these woods, there's even a windmill that is still standing serving as a reminder of this bygone era.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
To live in a world without pollution and waste, yet keep parks, playgrounds, art and music centers, schools, and health care available to everyone without a price tag, profound changes are required in the way we plan our cities and conduct human affairs. To support this new aim and direction, our city designs, industrial plants, waterways, energy systems, production and distribution centers, and transportation systems must be re-designed and operated as a coherent, integrated, global energy system enabling them to be safe, clean, and energy efficient. In this way we can use our technology to overcome resource shortages, provide universal abundance and protect the environment.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
What Happened to Ochopee? by Jeff Whichello Like a tall palm tree growing from a single seed, the community of Ochopee emerged from one man’s solitary dream. In 1928, twentyeight-year-old James Gaunt saw undiscovered potential in the swamp that lay on either side of the new road that connected Tampa to Miami. His love of farming and community fueled his actions to build his own world. One of the top producers of tomatoes in the country, Ochopee earned its place on the Florida map but when the market dropped, other adventurers joined. Only people with a certain creativity, workethic, and talent succeeded in this mucky land. An airboat and a swamp buggy venture, animal exhibits, real estate businesses, a water company, a mining operation, restaurants, a motel, bars, a general store, a campground, movie makers, and a skunk-ape followed Gaunt to the grassy field he first declared his home. A small twentieth century pioneer town prospered on the open plain where children were born and families lived in peace. Then, the takers came. These big-picture people were unconcerned about the details of their actions while staring at a map of Florida from their government offices. They were unable to imagine or realize the activities of this unique community living free in the wild. When environmentalists and developers collided on the Ochopee battle ground, it was the common person, the one who scrambled every day to feed their family who suffered in this war. The only one with a stake in it, they had something to lose.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Only Cypress Ghosts Remain The majesty of the giant Tidewater cypress is something to behold – or wish you could – as most of the thousands that once stood near Copeland, Florida have long since fallen to the lumberjack’s saws. The seemingly ageless trees stood for hundreds of years – but one day in 1943, the almost sacred grounds of the cypress were invaded by man in search of cypress for lumber. He carved out a settlement at the edge of the swamplands, built houses for workmen, machine shops, a railroad roundhouse, streetlights, a water system and sewers – a support community for the rape of the cypress. Copeland, north of Everglades City and the Tamiani Trail and south of Alligator Alley just off State Road 29 was a Lee Tidewater cypress town. And at the edge of the ancient Everglades, they came to take the cypress. In 15 years of operation(it closed in 1958), millions of board feet of cypress were marked, cut, hauled out of the swamp by steam engines to a siding of the then Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The cypress was shipped to the company’s Perry mills for sawing into lumber. The whine of the power saw, black smoke of the engines and hustle and bustle of the logging community faded. The large stands stood no more. Birds find the once-dense cypress forest no longer available for nesting. Wildlife misses the trees for shelter and the cleared land now has less water retention. It takes time to grow a tree and hundreds of years for a cypress. There is not too much hope for the return of the giants. Some say the Everglades is drying up and the once misty home of the cypress may become a desert. - George Lane Jr. – St. Petersburg Times, May 21, 1970