Angle to Key West: Swampland in Florida (2/27)

Vacationland

Plate Creek Bay, Everglades National Park – February 27, 2013

If your grandmother ever bought some swampland in Florida, she might have owned a piece of Plate Creek Bay.

“They used to sell it out of here,” John told me. “Had an office and everything. Said they’d fill it in and drop a road down from the highway.”

There were a bunch of con men scheming to sell tracts of Florida swamp. They advertised in magazines and papers in New York City, they handed out brochures, and made promises. People bought it–pieces of the swamp–on the dream that one day they could retire to Florida. Paradise was just a few canals and some filled in mangroves away. Now all that’s left of the company’s office is a wood chickee for sleeping and a blue plastic outhouse.

“I once found a twenty-dollar bill in the water here,” John told me. “And the guy I was with got jealous and started looking all around the mud for money, but he didn’t find anything. Said I had to buy him a lunch when we got out but that wasn’t how I saw it.”

The swamp never got filled in. The development never began. The grandmas in New York didn’t get to retire in Florida. “I’ve got some swamp land in Florida to sell you,” became a phrase and the Everglades became one of the most remote, wildest places in the United States.

“Then the same guy came back one day and found three bottles of whiskey someone lost,” John told me. “Maybe it’s the ghosts off all those New Yorkers haunting the place.”

Maybe.

Or maybe that story is just some swampland in Florida.

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2 thoughts on “Angle to Key West: Swampland in Florida (2/27)

  1. Florida, the land of dreams, lost dreams, made up dreams and dreams come true. Where you fit is usually dictated by your perspective on life and not Florida..

  2. There’s a fabulous book called Mirage, which goes through the incredible history in Florida of land “deals” and draining swampland and the ultimate destruction of so many wild places to “develop” the land for human use. Woe to us, and it is still going on. Water issues in Florida are at a critical point and policy changes sure move slowly. Read Mirage by Cynthia Barnett. Everyone in Florida should read this book.

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