Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

I hope everyone's having an enjoyable Memorial Day and not spending it inside reading blogs.  It's 95 degrees and about 90% humidity here in Florida.  Even the beach is no fun when it's this hot.  But over the weekend we had quite a thrill.  I and my madam toured a lighthouse that's only open to the public six times a year.  Built in 1907, the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse stands 175 feet and is the most powerful in the world.  This, of course, created a problem for some jackass who bought a condo across the inlet and tried to have the light extinguished.  Fortunately, it has enough fuel to last for the next 100 years, long after said jackass will be extinguished.

The lighthouse is perched on a sandy point halfway between Palm Beach and Miami.  It is inaccessible except by private road and boat, so it was quite a treat to be out there.  The water is pristine, with a coral reef right at the shore line.  After climbing 175 steps to the observation tower, we saw sharks swimming along the reef.  I had no plans to swim, because I didn't know it was allowed, but next time I will.  There are also tons of parrots, refugees from 1992's Hurricane Andrew, nesting under the light.

A neat story centers on the Barefoot Mailmen.  It seems, prior to 1875, to mail a letter from Jupiter, Florida to Miami - about 90 miles - it first traveled north to Titusville, Florida, where it hopped a train to New York.  From there, your letter sailed to Havana, Cuba, before crossing the Straits of Florida to Miami.  About a six month journey.  At some point, someone figured out a better way and the Barefoot Mailmen took charge.  Because Florida was still pretty much untamed jungle, the Barefoot Mailmen traveled by boat and foot, spending the night in Delray Beach.  The next day, they walked about 30 miles to the Hillsboro Inlet, where the lighthouse now stands.  The Mailmen used a rowboat to cross the inlet, which still has a pretty strong current.  Next they walked along the beach to Ft. Lauderdale to spend the night, before completing their journey on the third day.  In all, they traveled 28 miles by water and 40 on foot, but three days was a bit better than six months.

There is a statue near the lighthouse of one of the Barefoot Mailman who mysteriously disappeared.   His uniform and mail sack were found neatly folded on the sand on the north side of the inlet, yet the boat was beached on the south side.  Theory's speculate that someone had taken the boat across and when he arrived, he tried to swim across to the boat, only to be swept away by the current.  Another idea is that after walking 80 miles on sand each week, he got fed up, stripped off his uniform, left his mailbag, and rowed across to meet his waiting Indian girlfriend and the two lived happily ever after in the Everglades.  No one knows for sure, but there is a statue commemorating his loss.


Bossy Betty said...

I like the second theory concerning the barefoot mailman!

Love these pictures!!!

Okie said...

Great photos and a cool story. Thanks for sharing.