Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Museum to highlight Indian River Lagoon history


January 16, 2008

FORT PIERCE — The St. Lucie County Historical Museum has begun preparing for the construction of a new outdoor boating and fishing heritage exhibit at the South Hutchinson Island museum.

"It's exciting to see this exhibit construction process beginning because the new exhibit will demonstrate how the Indian River Lagoon played an instrumental role in our history," said St. Lucie County Cultural Affairs Director Jody Bonet.

The exhibit will feature educational graphics, boats and other artifacts that demonstrate how Treasure Coast residents benefit from the Indian River Lagoon.

The first Native Americans, the Ais, will be featured along with the plants that were used for fishing, boat building and food.

The Spanish section will focus on the Urca de Lima shipwreck and how the Spanish introduced oranges to the area.

The "Pioneer Years" were very exciting and visitors will have the opportunity to climb into a "river flattie" boat used by local fishermen during the early 1900s.

The exhibit will also include information on the Seminole Indians, as well as the World War II era when more than 130,000 men trained right on the site of the exhibit.

Additionally, the exhibit will have educational graphics demonstrating how important the lagoon is to our current economy including research by the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution.

In the "Modern" section, telescopes will be provided for children and adults to see all of the ships that come into the port.

The first step of the exhibit is under way, utilizing the St. Lucie County Jail trustees and Environmental Resources Department staff to remove several invasive landscape plants on site.

Although some native Mahogany trees were removed due to damage from the 2004 hurricanes, the wood will be used by the local wood-carving groups and featured in the exhibit since Mahogany is still used in boat building today.

New plants on the site will feature native vegetation that was used by our early residents in fishing, boat building and for medicinal purposes.

The project, which includes the removal and replacement of vegetation, new sidewalks, six educational kiosks and the moving of the landing craft, is expected to be complete within six months.

Additionally, the Seminole Indians will assist with construction of a "chickee" that will be used for educational purposes and as a shelter for school groups and visitors.


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