Saturday, September 21, 2019

Riding the trail

Beauty along the trail. Photo by Jeane Brennan

Beauty along the trail. Photo by Jeane Brennan

Long ago, if one knew the rules—or lack of rules—of survival, there was as much safety in the pioneer wilderness as there is now on a major downtown highway. I often try to imagine why those early pioneers ventured from north to south those many years ago, when dirt roads and paths, wild animals, and all sorts of difficulties in self-protection were the norm. What were their reasons for packing up the minimum of possessions, and for stepping out into the unknown, harsh and brutal wilderness of the Everglades?

As interest in South Florida began to become more prevalent, construction on the Tamiami Trail (the name is a combination of Tampa and Miami) began in 1915. It started, like most events in our lives, with a dream, an idea, a vision. Miami’s Captain James Franklin Jaudon first proposed a

Along the Tamiami Trail. Photo by Jeane Brennan

Along the Tamiami Trail. Photo by Jeane Brennan

road connecting Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, with plans on developing properties in the Everglades. Because of difficulties with financing, changes in routing and other reasons during the course of the following years, it was another seven years, in 1922, Barron Collier pledged to bankroll the completion of the Tamiami Trail, on condition that the State legislature establish a new county and name it after him.

In 1928, the Tamiami Trail was considered a feat of engineering. It took thirteen years to build, cost $8 million dollars, and used 2.6 million sticks of dynamite. At that time no one considered the potential damage to the Everglades. Both the roadway and the canal, which was used for dirt to build the road, acted as a dam to block the natural water flow from Lake Okeechobee to the Florida Bay. Throughout

Iron Rhino Saloon on the corner of CR29 and US41. Photo by Jeane Brennan

Iron Rhino Saloon on the corner of CR29 and US41. Photo by Jeane Brennan

these many subsequent years, the Army Corps of Engineers and the legislature have attempted to remedy the situation again and again.

With all that in mind, I look forward to and love to turn east at Iron Rhino Saloon, at the corner of CR92 and US 41, and to head into the Everglades, whether in my Jeep or with the top down in my Miata. For me, the most beautiful portion of Tamiami Trail is between that corner and the Everglades City turnoff at CR29. However the day unfolds, whether it is bright beautiful and blue or the sky full with heavy rain-filled clouds, that ride can offer, if one can allow, beauty, peace, thankfulness and tranquility. Heading out into the Everglades without a firm destination in mind, who knows what the day may bring? May your travels be joyful and safe.

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