Saturday, March 4, 2017

Only Cypress Ghosts Remain

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

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