Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Glades

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Location:8898 W SR 78 SW
County: Glades
City: Moore Haven
Description: The Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 was the most deadly hurricane ever to strike the state of Florida. An estimated 2,500 persons in South Florida died when the storm came ashore on September 16, 1928, near the Jupiter Lighthouse, and traveled west across Palm Beach County to Lake Okeechobee. Many of the hurricane’s fatalities, most of them migrant farm workers, occurred when the Lake Okeechobee dike was overwhelmed and the populated south side of the lake was flooded with a fifteen-to-twenty-foot storm surge. The floodwaters carried victims and survivors as far as ten miles from the lakeshore along nearly the entire south half of the lake, from Moore Haven to Pahokee. Noted Florida writer Zora Neale Hurston used the events surrounding the tragedy in her 1937 novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” as she described the recovery and burial of the dead. The Ortona Cemetery contains the unmarked graves of several hundred victims of the 1928 hurricane, as well as victims of the 1926 hurricane that devastated Glades County. Several hundred African-American victims of the Okeechobee Hurricane were buried in a mass grave in the City of West Palm Beach’s pauper cemetery.
Sponsors: Representatives Denise Grimsley 2004-2012, Joseph R. Spratt 1996-2004, Florida House of Representatives, District 77, and the Florida Department of State
Location:Riverside Drive, near Three Mile Canal
County: Glades
City: Moore Haven
Description: Shortly after Florida became a state in 1845, its leaders began to consider draining the swampy areas of south Floirda to create prime farm land as an inducement to settlement. In 1850 Florida received title to all swamp and overflowed lands within its borders, but the young state did not have the funds to undertake drainage. Finally in 1881 the state convinced a wealthy northerner, Hamilton Disston, to drain the Everglades in return for half of the acreage he could reclaim. One of his projects was to improve the Caloosahatchee River and connect it with Lake Okeechobee by a canal which enters the lake near here. A lone cypress tree standing at the entrance to this canal served as a navigational aid for boatmen using the new waterways. Early in the twentieth century the town of Moore Haven, named for its founder James A. Moore, grew up around the "Lone Cypress" and the canal entrance. By this time the state itself had assumed responsibility for drainage, and in 1917-18 it constructed a lock at the canal entrance. In recent years state and federal governments have cooperated on the related problems of drainage, flood control and navigation. As a result, the Caloosahatchee Canal and River have been continually maintained and improved.
Sponsors: sponsored by calusa valley historical society in cooperation with department of state