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Florida Pines: 1905

Florida Pines: 1905

Circa 1905. "In the pine woods, Florida." Who can direct us to I-95? 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

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Full circle

This report about an interesting guy and his ambitious plan to restore just this kind of nearly-vanished landscape aired on NPR a few weeks ago.

Hurricane Magnets

With their long skinny trunks and heavier tops, pine trees have a tendency to come crashing down during storms. Hurricane Donna's direct strike in 1960 had this little kid helping Dad clean up the destruction for weeks. Our neighborhood? Pine Shores. (Sarasota, FL).

The Way It Was

People think dirt roads have always been the way they are today: well-graded and with good drainage. After all, that's how they are depicted in "historical" movies and TV shows, so it must be accurate, right? Wrong.

Before the New Deal (at least in the South) there was virtually no state maintenance of roads, and precious little by the counties. There were only a limited number of convicts available for chain gangs. Heavy equipment, to the extant it existed, was too expensive to buy, much less operate. Most of what passed for maintenance was done by landowners, who had a vital interest in keeping them as passable as possible.

Southern railroads had to provide staffed agencies every five miles along their lines, because that was the maximum distance rural customers could travel, transact their business, and return within daylight hours.

I always laugh when I see farmers in movies and on TV, breezing happily along in their two-horse buckboards at what looks like 20 or 30 mph. Most Southern farmers couldn't afford horses, they owned one mule. And mules don't trot, they walk. Besides, even if you did own horses that could pull a wagon that fast, they'd be exhausted after a quarter mile, although you wouldn't be there to know it, since you'd have been thrown off the wagon almost immediately.

Pine Straw Road

Yep Pine Straw.

The roads in the Florida Panhandle are better today... But not by much.

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