Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spite Highway

In the 1950's,  Florida was rapidly being developed as more and more Americans took vacations to Florida,  fell in love with it and wanted to move there.  Plans were made to develop the northernmost of the Florida Keys (which are ancient coral reef islands).  These plans included the dredging of 8000 acres of bay bottom to create a jetport.  Bridges, roads and buildings were all in the beginning stages.   Everything looked very much the way that the rest of Florida was being developed but something wonderful happened, something that so rarely does happen.   A small group of people worked against this development and wanted these keys and the water around them to be a haven for wildlife and a place of nature for people to enjoy.  (One of them, Herbert Hoover, Jr., the vacuum cleaner magnate, brought delegates from Washington, D.C. and took them over the islands in a blimp, absolutely convinced that if they saw the beauty of it, they would be on his side to save them.)  The wonder of it all...the ones who wished to save it, actually prevailed and it is now and has been since 1968, Biscayne National Park.

What does my title, "Spite Highway" have to do with this story?    As a last ditch effort to stop this park from happening, the developers brought in bulldozers and cut a road right down the middle of one of the keys.  It was on Elliott Key and it was 6 lanes wide and 7 miles long.   It became known as "Spite Highway".   It did no good: the plans for the park went ahead anyway and President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law and it became the beautiful national park it is today.  The Spite highway?  It is all overgrown by trees and has become a popular walking trail.  The image of that road stays with me, it was meant for spite but has become something good.
   You really can't stop meaness and cruelty and greed in the world, you can only do your best and try to make it into something better.  It pleases me greatly to read of this small group of people behind this national park and that those who built the Spite highway were defeated.

24 comments:

  1. That trail sounds exactly like my kind of place - an overgrown highway, how lovely is that!

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    1. Oh yes, and that SHADE over the trail! In south Florida, that would be so very welcome from the heat of the spring and summer.

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  2. What an inspirational story Kay :) It's a good thing there are always people with vision and foresight willing to speak up or we wouldn't have a tree or green space anywhere if it were left up to the developers.

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    1. Dear Jane,
      You wouldn't believe how many trees the Metro Atlanta area has lost. I have seen an aerial map from the 80's compared to today and it was sad.

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  3. Hi Jane,
    I enjoyed that story about saving the Florida Keys. We were watching a show last night on PBS and they were showing Fl.in the 50's and 60's and my husband and I commented on how when we were growing up Florida seemed like an exotic and foreign country to us. Full of wonder. I know most of it has been sold off to the developers now, I remember Panama City in the 1970's, nothing but white sands and aqua water far as you could see. Now all you see is condos when you drive up. I like reading Carl Hiaasen's books about fighting back, they are quite good reads!! Well, I'm rambling, enjoyed your blog today!
    Dorothy and Wilma

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    1. I too remember Panama City and especially Destin from the 80's and even then there wasn't a whole lot of development. I have heard of Carl Hiaasen, of course, I will check him out!
      Thank you for your visit!

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  4. Amazing. I had no idea about this. I can't believe the audacity to name it "Spite Highway". But I love that it's now overgrown and so beautiful.....just the way nature intended. This post was SO up my alley, Kay....thank you for sharing!

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    1. Dear Audrey,
      I'm glad you liked this story too. Nice to hear of good news for a change, eh? Let's hear it for nature!

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  5. I meant, Hi Kay! I always read what Jane has to say, also!! :-)

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    1. Ha! No worries, I have done the same thing!

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  6. We went to the Keys a couple of years ago, it was wonderful, we're lucky it's mostly parkland.

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    1. As a travel agent, I sent so many people to the keys...
      they all loved me for the suggestion.

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  7. What a great post; my type of story! I love when nature prevails. And I love that there are people fighting to keep it alive.

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    1. Dear Martha,
      Thanks, and I knew you would like this story!

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  8. How fantastic! A spite highway now a walking trail. Yay for nature doing its part.

    This is a story to remember, Kay. Thank you :-)

    Love
    kj

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    1. kj,
      Just a tiny story but a powerful message behind it, I think!

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    1. Scriptor,
      Remember this phrase: "Wiser heads prevailed"?
      You don't hear that much anymore. Is that because it hardly every happens?

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  10. Kay, if you visit my blog there is an award waiting for you there :)

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    1. Dear Tracey,
      But you have already given me one! Are you really an angel? Bless you!

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  11. You know, I love the vegetation here in this warm and moist climate - if you leave human-made structures (or highways) unattended for a while, Mother Nature reclaims them and makes them beautiful again... Yeah for nature!! And those who preserve it... Hugs, Silke

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  12. Hugs to you, dear Silke!
    I knew you would like this story and I love your words, "Mother Nature reclaims then and makes them beautiful again".
    Thank you!

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  13. What an interesting story and how inspiring. I never knew about this, and I would really love to visit this place and see for myself, I like Florida, we had friends with a ranch there and often stayed and were so fascinated by all the wildlife. (They've moved away now, sadly). It's harder now for UK media to work easily in the US than it used to be.

    Anyway, love the idea of the Spite Highway becoming a walking trail. And what a great name for it!

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    1. Dear Jenny,
      I'm glad you find this interesting too! I am drawn to stories that are considered inspirational. Do you notice that oftentimes you have to really search for them these days?
      We must be getting closer to Florida, he keeps saying "sunny beaches, sunny beaches". That's an old punchline to a joke, that still makes me laugh!

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