A Landing a Day

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Poinciana, Florida

Posted by graywacke on March 14, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2089; A Landing A Day blog post number 517.

 Dan –  All it takes is a couple of USers in a row, and I’m back below 150, thanks to this landing in . . . FL; 29/45; 4/10; 149.8.  Here’s my regional landing map showing that I’m smack dab in the middle of the peninsula:

 fl landing1

Here’s a closer-in landing map showing that I landed in the greater Kissimmee / Winter Park area:

 fl landing2

You can see that I added “Poinciana.”  For some reason (in spite of the tens of thousands of people who live there), it wasn’t shown on my Street Atlas map. . .

 Here’s my Google Earth shot, showing at least a localized boonies area:

 fl GE 1

If I zoom back (and look to the east), it stays boonies:

 fl GE2

But if I zoom back and look a little west, I see a 7-mile stretch of urbanization (the aforementioned Poinciana):

 fl GE3 urban

Here’s a close-up of a very small piece of it:

 fl GE 4 urban close-up

I zoomed back with GE, and discovered the reason that most visitors venture to this part of Florida:

 fl ge disney

Not that I have any issues with Disney World, but I wouldn’t feature Mickeyville unless I actually landed on the grounds . . .

 It’s time for a streams-only landing map:

 fl landing streams

And yes, drainage from my landing ends up in the Kissimee River (3rd hit) and on to Lake Okeechobee (the body of water 75 miles south of my landing in the above map). There has been much man-made drainage engineering associated with Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades (south of the Lake).  But as is my norm, I care more about drainage as it was before us western-civilization types started messin’ with it. 

 Back in the day, water from Lake Okeechobee flowed to the south into the Everglades.  At least one of the outlets of the Everglades was the Miami River:

fl landing everglades

Good enough for me (5th hit for the Miami, making it the 151st river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits).

 Before I get away from hydrology, I have to show you this GE shot of Winterhaven:

 fl GE winter haven lakes

A little bit of research shows that all of these lakes are water-filled sinkholes.  Here’s the story:  sinkholes happen in limestone (the entire Florida peninsula is limestone).  A sinkhole happens when the roof of a cavern collapses.  The cavern is there because limestone is slightly soluble; i.e., water flowing through limestone dissolves it (the way water would dissolve, say salt, but at a much, much slower rate).

 Caverns are formed at or below the water table, but sinkholes typically happen when the water table is lower, and the buoyancy of the water is lost.  So – my more astute readers may wonder – how it is that the sinkholes are now lakes if the watertable was deeper for the sinkholes themselves to form?  And the answer is . . . global warming!!!

 That’s right, over the last 10,000 years ago (since the end of the last ice age), no one (not even those of the most conservative persuasion) can argue about the significant warming accompanied by sea level rise that occurred as the glaciers began melting (and has continued more-or-less to this day).  So back when glaciers ruled the earth, sea levels were much lower, as was the watertable in now low-lying Florida (and many sinkholes were forming).

 From Ice Age Now.com:

 During the last ice age, sea level was at least 394 feet lower than it is today, exposing much more area on the continents.

Many changes took place as sea level rose, among them the disappearance of the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska, the appearance of much of Britain and the islands of Southeast Asia, and the filling of the Hudson Bay.

 Here’s a map from the same website showing the world with lower sea levels:

sea level much lower

Bottom line:  see how fat Florida is?  That’s because of the much lower sea level.  So:  limestone + lower sea-levels & deeper water tables = caverns (which collapsed, forming a myriad of sinkholes).  Then the glaciers melted.  High sea levels & shallow water tables = a myriad of lakes, as the water table rose to fill the sinkholes.

 Moving right along . . . I was doing a little research on Kissimmee the city and Kissimmee the river when I stumbled on one Hamilton Disston, a name with which I had no familiarity.

 Well, he has a Wiki entry:

 Hamilton Disston (1844 – 1896) was an industrialist and real-estate developer who purchased four million acres of Florida land in 1881, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, and reportedly the most land ever purchased by a single person in world history.

 [Wow.  Four million acres.  Size of Connecticut.  Largest real estate purchase ever.]

Disston was the son of Pennsylvania industrialist Henry Disston who formed Disston & Sons Saw Works, which was one of the largest saw manufacturing companies in the world.

 [Evidently, there’s a lot of money in saws.]

The Florida Historical Society reports that Disston’s $1 million deal to buy 4 million acres of the flat prairie of the Kissimmee River valley to the Gulf coast “prevented the state of Florida from having to declare bankruptcy in 1881.”

[Hamilton was no dummy.  Twenty-five cents an acre???  He proably saw an opportunity to drive a hard bargain.  A little Google research shows that the average cost of a house in 1880 was $2,200.  Let’s say that now, it’s $220,000 (making the math easy).  So I might be able to conclude that real estate is now 100 times more expensive.  So that makes the inflation-adjusted price a pathetic $25/acre!]

 Hamilton Disston’s investment in the infrastructure of Florida spurred growth throughout the state. His related efforts to drain the Central Florida around the Kissimmee River (as well as the Everglades) triggered the state’s first land boom with numerous towns and cities established through the area.

 [That damned good-for-nothing swamp land . . .]

Although Disston’s engineered canals aided water transport and steamboat traffic in Florida, he was ultimately unsuccessful in draining the Kissimmee River floodplain or lowering the surface water around Lake Okeechobee and in the Everglades.

 [Round 1 in the Florida wetlands battle goes to Mother Nature.]

He was forced to sell much of his investments at a fraction of their original costs.

However, his land purchase primed Florida’s economy and allowed railroad magnates Henry Flagler and Henry Plant to build rail lines down the east coast of Florida, and another joining the west coast, which directly led to the domination of the tourist and citrus industries in Florida.

Once again, I’ll use the same segue:  moving right along . . . it turns out that there’s a “Disney Wilderness Preserve.”  It also turns out that I actually landed within the Preserve!  Here’s a map of the Preserve with my landing location shown:

Wiki mapia disney wilderness preserve

I found a video produced by Destinations in Florida Travel, which takes us along a trail to Lake Russell, the lake just north of my landing:


 I’ll close with a couple of Panoramio photos from the Wilderness Preserve.  First this, by StephofNature:

 pano stephofnature

Here’s a lovely sunset shot by Ealaspada:

 pano ealaspada sunset

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day


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