Skip to main content

Ghost Town Tuesday; The Ghost Towns of Lake Okeechobee

The 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane was the second most deadly in U.S. history behind the 1900 Galviston Hurricane.  The Category 5 Hurricane first hit Puerto Rico before moving to Florida with winds sustained at 160 MPH.  The path of the hurricane took it directly over Lake Okeechobee which is the largest lake in Florida and headwaters of the Everglades.  The Lake Okeechobee Hurricane raised the water level by at least 20 feet and wiped out many of the surrounding communities.

In total it is estimated that there was at least 2,500 fatalities related to the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane in Florida.   A general list of the communities destroyed by the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane include; Port Mayaca, Sand Cut, Canal Point, Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay, Okeelanta, Bean City, Ritta Island, Lake Harbor, Chosen, and Kreamer Island.  Some communities like Belle Glade eventually were rebuilt but others became ghost towns largely wiped clean. 

In response to the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane the Herbert Hoover Dike was built around the lake to a modern height of approximately 20 feet.  The Dike was eventually expanded to almost completely encircle the lake which allowed only shipping to occur via flood control locks.  Most of the communities destroyed by the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane were in the sugar fields on the south side of the lake in Palm Beach County in the sugar cane fields of the Everglades watershed.

Okeelanta was located approximately at the junction of US Route 27 and Palm Beach County Route 827.   At it's peak by 1920 Okeelanta had an approximate population of 200.  A rebuilding attempt in Okeelanta was attempted but ultimately failed due to a lack of investors.  There is a sugar refining facility located near the Okeelanta town site which bears the name of the community.  The only other structure of interest is the abandoned Gatorama on US 27.




Port Mayaca was located east side of Lake Okeechobee in Martin County on what became US 441/98.  Port Mayaca ultimately became the location of the most burials following the 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane due to the slightly higher elevation over the lake.  US 441/98 used to run on Old Conners Highway through Port Mayaca but it was raised to a new alignment following the completion of local locks.  Port Mayaca regrew enough that it warranted Post Office service until 1958.  The white home pictured below was once the community hotel called the Cypress Lodge.



Kreamer Island is located immediately west of Florida State Road 715 on the southeast shore of Lake Okeechobee. Kreamer Island was settled in the 19th century and was one of the first communities settled around Lake Okeechobee.  Kreamer Island faced various large scale floods related to hurricanes in the 1920s but the 1928 Hurricane was the death knell.  Upon the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dam road access to Kreamer Island was cut off.  Various overgrown roadways and grades can be observed on Kreamer Island via satellite.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Dummy Lights of New York

  A relic of the early days of motoring, dummy lights were traffic lights  that  were  placed  in the middle of a street intersection. In those early days, traffic shuffled through busy intersections with the help of a police officer who stood on top of a pedestal. As technology improved and electric traffic signals became commonplace, they were also  originally  positioned on a platform at the center of the intersection. Those traffic signals became known as  " dummy lights "  and were common until  traffic lights were moved  onto wires and poles that crossed above the intersection.  In New York State, only a handful of these dummy lights exist. The dummy lights  are found  in the Hudson Valley towns of Beacon and Croton-on-Hudson, plus there is an ongoing tug of war in Canajoharie in the Mohawk Valley, where their dummy light has been knocked down and replaced a few times. The dummy light in Canajoharie is currently out of commission, but popular demand has caused the dummy

Colorado Road (Fresno County)

Colorado Road is a rural highway located in San Joaquin Valley of western Fresno County.  Colorado Road services the city of San Joaquin in addition the unincorporated communities of Helm and Tranquility.  Colorado Road was constructed between 1910 and 1912 as a frontage road of the Hanford & Summit Lake Railway.  The roadway begins at California State Route 145 near Helm and terminates to the west at James Road in Tranquility.   Part 1; the history of Colorado Road Colorado Road was constructed as frontage road connecting the sidings of the Hanford & Summit Lake Railway.  The Hanford & Summit Lake Railway spanned from South Pacific Railroad West Side Line at Ingle junction southeast to the Coalinga Branch at Armona.  The Hanford & Summit Lake Railway broke ground during August 1910 and was complete by April 1912. The Hanford & Summit Lake Railway established numerous new sidings.  From Ingle the sidings of the line were Tranquility, Graham, San Joaquin, Caldwell, H

Madera County Road 400 and the 1882-1886 Yosemite Stage Road

Madera County Road 400 is an approximately twenty-four-mile roadway following the course of the Fresno River in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Road 400 begins at California State Route 145 near Madera and terminates to the north at Road 415 near Coarsegold.  Traditionally Road 400 was known as "River Road" prior to Madera County dropping naming conventions on county highways.  Road 400 was part of the original Yosemite Stage Route by the Washburn Brothers which began in 1882.  The Yosemite Stage Route would be realigned to the west in 1886 along what is now Road 600 to a rail terminus in Raymond.  Parts of Road 400 were realigned in 1974 to make way for the Hensley Lake Reservoir.  Part 1; the history of Madera County Road 400 Road 400 is historically tied to the Wawona Road and Hotel.  The Wawona Hotel is located near the Mariposa Grove in the modern southern extent of Yosemite National Park.   The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel but it does predate th