Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Walk on the Indian River


My mom lives on the Indian River, a 121-mile long saltwater lagoon which separates the barrier island from the mainland on the coast of Florida and forms part of the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway. When we visited her last week we spent some time walking on this beautiful river.



This is a little part of Florida with no hi-rise condos, just parks and private homes and plenty of nature.






A bug sculpture created from metal debris and driftwood.



Metal seahorse sculpture on the river



Osprey nest with young,

driftwood sculpture



Pelican Island in the background


In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt designated the island as the first National Wildlife Refuge to protect brown pelicans and other native birds nesting on the island.

On this small 5-acre mangrove island 5000 brown pelicans nested, and egrets and as many as 60 roseate spoonbills were killed by poachers every day.

Their feathers, harvested to adorn women's hats, were by weight worth twice as much as gold.


Because of the tireless protection of this simple guy, Paul Kroeger, a refuge was created and the slaughter of the birds was stopped. Kroeger, a German immigrant, arrived in Florida in 1881. He homesteaded on the river bluff looking out over the island and its flocks of birds.

The 1880s were a time when the area had no roads and the Indian River was the "highway". There were alligators, poisonous snakes, and hordes of mosquitoes. It was a frontier where living was hard and dangerous.

Kroeger saw poachers slaughtering the birds and became their protector, for years sailing out to the island when he saw boats approaching and standing guard with his gun.

After the creation of the refuge, the Florida Audubon Society paid Kroeger $1 a month to continue his work as Congress had only given the island the designation of refuge but provided no funds for its protection.



In the 1960s developers tried to buy the actual river around Pelican Island to fill it in and build on it. They were nearly successful. A group of citizens saved it by purchasing it instead and leasing it to the refuge.

In recent years the Jungle Trail was created, an historic and scenic public road that provides a buffer between upland developments and the refuge waters and is now a designated Florida Greenway and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge has over 4,359 acres of mangrove islands, bottomlands, and uplands with viewing areas, hiking trails, and a boardwalk that leads back through history.

These are some of the birds that nest on Pelican Island today.



  1. It's very intersting to read how one person really can make a difference. The sculptures are wonderful!

  2. You have combined many of my favorite elements in this post. I love history.

    Thanks for coming by. Deer like hostas too, so be forewarned. Sometimes tin pie plates in the trees scare them away.

  3. How one man can have such an impact on the world around him is truly incredible. Well done to the local citizens for saving it from the developers. Hope you are having a good time there catching up with your Mum.

  4. You do visit some of the most interesting places. I like those fences made from driftwood. I'm glad developers did not get to buy the river.

  5. Really interesting place. I'll have to put it on my list for my next Florida visit.

  6. Cynthia definitely great unspoilt place. I can't imagine no high rise condos..

  7. Thank goodness for the strength of some people as nature's caregivers. I'm loving those driftwood fences.

  8. Thank goodness for the strength of some people as nature's caregivers. I'm loving those driftwood fences.

  9. No mincing around the bush from me!
    Developers have only one interest in life - it is called money.
    Here in Australia if they could, they could put highrise apartments on each
    side of the Entrance to Sydney Harbour: thats north and south heads!
    or in Egypt put highrise condos all around the Sphinx etc.
    Great to see little people triumph again over these "unspeakables".
    Rant completed.

    Great driftwood walkways - very artistic.

  10. Interesting place, I enjoyed seeing the driftwood fences and the sculptures:)

  11. I wish a few of our present day leaders would think and act like this. I wish some of the developers and business people could also see the value of something other than money.

  12. I really liked seeing the sculptures too. What a lot of fun it must have been to look at them. Thank goodness for the good people who took a stand for preserving nature and it's beautiful creatures.

  13. Thanks for sharing the history of this island. Great that one man only managed to stop the slaughtering, his reword only 1 dollar is a shame.

  14. Hope your mum was well, and I expect she was pleased to see you.
    That's a lovely place there, thanks for showing us. It's good to see that one mans's actions saved many birds.
    That area would have been spoiled if developers had had their way, good on who ever stopped them..

  15. Very interesting, haven't been to this part of Florida, maybe next February when we get tired of winter.

  16. Once again a very interesting post Cynthia; I learn so much from your blog. Theodore Roosevelt must have been a man ahead of his time as he apparently had quite a bit to do with creating Yosemite national park.

  17. I loved reading this post. Such an interesting piece. So many birds in such a small place. I had no idea the feathers were that valuable! The color,on them is beautiful, however. Thank goodness for wildlife refuges.