"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

May 2, 2014

May 1 - Palatka, FL

Palatka City Dock

We continued our way down river today, retracing our path from a few weeks ago and trying to soak in anything we might have missed. We kept our eyes open for eagles, alligators and manatees...no gators or manatee, but we did see two eagles today, one flew past us this morning while we had coffee on the deck and another was in a tree above the dock at Corky Bell's where we had lunch.

We had a nice cruise, although a little warm, back to the Palatka area. Our first stop was at Corky Bell's for lunch. We could have spent the night on their dock...which we planned to do, but we found out their were having a bass tournament this evening and we knew that would more action than we wanted to be part of. So after a good, but too big, lunch we moved to the Palatka city dock. We had another small afternoon shower...this is getting to be a routine, but no large storms.

On our way into the Palatka area we passed a canal that was dug as the eastern section of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. This canal would have connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico. In 1964, President Johnson commenced the building of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. The nearly 200-mile long, 30 foot deep canal would dwarf the Panama and Suez canals. The Canal would begin in Jacksonville and travel down the St. John’s River through Palatka, follow the path of the Ocklawaha River to Silver Springs, then cut west below Ocala until it entered the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown. The project was estimated to cost upwards of $300 million to build but would have provided a critical link between Mississippi River commerce and the east coast.

Only seven years after its authorization, President Nixon announced he was stopping all work on the canal to prevent further environmental damage to the Ocklawaha River. Less than one third built, the canal remains the largest public works project in American history to be halted in the midst of construction. Two sections of the project were completed before being called. The area around the barge canal is now a protected green belt corridor, named Marjorie Carr Cross Florida Greenway, after the leader in the fight against the canal construction. 

Corky Bell's Seafood Restaurant 
Looking at the Buckman Lock on what was to be the Cross Florida Barge Canal 
This canal definitely would have changed the looks of Florida and which areas grew. The canal wouldn't have been this straight through the state or this large, but it gives you an idea of what it would have been like. 

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