Friday 8 July 2016

The Florida Everglades

I first discovered the Florida Everglades as a young teen when I read the book The Ghost of Flight 401 based on an airplane crash in 1972 which killed 101 passengers and crew.  The author claimed that since the crash, the ghosts of the fateful flight's pilot land flight engineer were sighted on other Eastern Airlines flights, especially those fitted with salvaged parts from the crashed jet.

The wreckage of Flight 401 courtesy 

Everglades National Park, established in 1934, is 1.5 million acres of wetlands on the southern tip of Florida composed of: coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods.  The Everglades begin at Lake Okeechobee and end at Florida Bay, roughly the bottom third of the state.  In 1947, Marjory Stoneman Douglas published the book The Everglades:  River of Grass warning its readers of the degrading quality of life in the area.  Douglas, a freelance magazine writer, was asked to write a story about the Miami River.  She chose instead to write about the Everglades, a topic she researched for five years.  Douglas had a revolutionary thought:  she maintained that the Everglades was not just a swamp, but a river.  She called for "an intelligent conservation program in the entire Everglades" after witnessing the wetlands slowly slipping away.  She observed endangered species including the sea turtle, Florida panther, American crocodile and West Indian manatee.

Everglades River of Grass.jpg

Douglas book has sold more than 500,000 copies and is still in print.  The same year that it appeared, Everglades National Park was officially dedicated by President Truman.  The United States Post Office issued a stamp honouring the Park.

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