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

Former California State Route 1 over Old Pedro Mountain Road

California State Route 1 in western San Mateo County traverses the Montara Mountain spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  In modern times California State Route 1 passes through Montara Mountain via the Tom Lantos Tunnels and the highway is traditionally associated with Devils Slide.  Although Devils Slide carries an infamous legacy due it being prone landslides it pales in comparison to the alignment California State Route 1 carried prior to November 1937 over Old Pedro Mountain Road.   Old Pedro Mountain Road opened to traffic in 1915 and is considered one of the first major asphalted highways in California.  Old Pedro Mountain Road clambers over a grade from Montara towards Pacifica via the 922 foot high Saddle Pass.  Pictured above an overlook of Old Pedro Mountain Road facing southward towards Montara as it appears today.  Pictured below it the same view during June 1937 when it was part of the original alignment of California State Route 1.  Today Old Pedro Mountain sits abandoned a

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo

Originally US Route 101 upon descending Cuesta Pass southbound entered the City of San Luis Obispo via Monterey Street.  From Monterey Street US Route 101 utilized Santa Rosa Street and Higuera Street southbound through downtown San Luis Obispo.  Upon departing downtown San Luis Obispo US Route 101 would have stayed on Higuera Street southward towards Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande.  Notably; beginning in 1934 US Route 101 picked up California State Route 1 at the intersection of Monterey Street/Santa Rosa Street where the two would multiplex to Pismo Beach.  Pictured below is the 1 935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County depicting the original alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in the City of San Luis Obispo.   Part 1; the history of US Route 1 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo lies at the bottom of the Cuesta Pass (also known as the Cuesta Grade) which has made it favored corridor of travel for centuries.  Cuesta Pass