In the beginning of this chapter I recommended for an excellent and fantastically concise history of central, southeast, southwest and southern Florida one must read The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas. This book will take you through the geology, the early explorers, the development, the almost total destruction of the water source for this area, the Everglades, and the battle to save it.
Since there never was an extensive geological survey on the results of drainage, and no realization that the Everglades, River of Grass” was a ecological system, the balance of nature was upset. This brought about too much water, too little water, intrusion of salt water into the mainland, loss of fresh water wells, dying cypress trees, changing vegetation, drying out of the muck land, fires burning the dry muck, the runoff of phosphorus and chemicals from the cattle and vegetable farms, and loss of animal and bird populations. The Everglades were dying.
Mrs. Douglas’s book takes you through the slow and arduous trail back to Everglades preservation. During her entire book she never mentions anything about herself. I believe she only had the well-being of Florida and the Everglades in mind.
I was leaving the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation and could see that I was heading into the Big Cypress Swamp. The road ended and straight ahead was a canal going south. Right next to it was my way across these glades. A huge dragline was parked alongside the canal. There was a rough marl (clay and calcium carbonate) road along the canal dredged by this great dragline. The road was made up of “Miami limestone” with occasional bits of brain coral in it. It is a misconception of both the early scientists and even many people today, to think that lower Florida is an old coral reef. I, too, was one of those until I read Mrs. Douglas’ book.
All I had to do was walk along this road. The Native American men I had talked to at the first store I had stopped in had told me about this canal. They knew just what they were talking about. There was also some shell mixed in with the limestone, and because it was raining the road was real sticky. All I had to do was walk along this road. I continued along just on the grass, keeping a lookout for snakes.