Sunday, December 18, 2016

Walk Across Florida - Lake Okeechobee

Excepts from Bob Kranich's A Walk Across Florida

The '58 Chevy Ride Around Okeechobee City
I walked the three miles through the town of Okeechobee and came to the lake. I crossed over Highway 78 and then over the Hover Dike. There was a picnic and camping area right next to the lake…..

A family came over and said that I could use their campfire because they were going and were done with It. I moved over to their site and sat there by the fire.

Then here came three boys in a white 58 Chevy. They stopped, stayed in their vehicle and hollered to me as their two exhaust straight pipes roared….ah..thoomp, ah..thromp.

“What-sha-do’n? We saw you walking through town,” they hollered, “we’ll be right back.” Off they went roaring and spinning donuts in the sand...and then sure enough, shortly they came back and brought me a coke and a snack. We sat around the campfire and talked.

Then they said, “Hey Bob we’ll show you around the whole town.” It seemed like an interesting endeavor, so I cleaned up my camp, secured my pack and we all jumped in their Chevy.

We drove back over the levy and into Okeechobee. They showed me the old school house, a railroad grade and the railroad station. The railroad is now the Seaboard Air Line running from northwest to southeast. The Flagler Florida East Coast Railway is not active in Okeechobee any more. It does intersect and cross the Seaboard Air Line on the northeast side of the lake and then go south along the east side.

“Hey, let’s take Bob over to the cattle auction,” one of the guys said, and that is what they did. We parked and went inside. The auction pit had some selling activity going on and we watched for a while. There was a large scale next to it, I guess for weighing those large cows.

Today Okeechobee City* is a town which has a lot to do with the local cattle business. It supports dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, naturally tourists, and now the Florida Trail biker/hikers. Of course it wasn’t always this way. Back 2 to 3,000 years ago native villages began to appear in the Okeechobee area. Mounds have been found and some excavated in various areas around and about Lake Okeechobee, and one has been found near Okeechobee City. The first white settlers arrived in the Okeechobee City area about the time of the canal dredging in the late 1800’s.They settled along Taylor Creek…..

It was getting late so the boys took me back to the lake and my campsite. We sat around and talked for quite a while. As they were leaving they told me why they liked to spin donuts.

“Yea, when the tourists pack in on the beach during fishing season, we like to come down in the evening and spin donuts to scare them Yankees off!”

This having been said, they took their leave in their Chevy with sand flying in a double-donut spin.

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

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