Ritta Island

I visited Ritta Island, located in Palm Beach County, on 8/14/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

Ritta Island’s first residents arrived around 1909. In 1917, the U. S. Government surveyed all the Okeechobee islands and declared them open for homesteading. Early settlers include John Windham, Mays Thomas, and Captain Ed Forbes, who ran the mail boat to the Ritta Island Post Office. The land was originally covered by custard apple trees which had to be cleared before anything could be planted. Corn, onions, and green beans were the main crops, and there was one mule on the island to help plow the fields. Continued heavy rains in 1922, completely flooded Ritta Island and most of the mainland around the Lake. The entire island was under more than a foot of water, ruining most of the crops and infesting the area with water moccasins. Following the flood, most of the residents moved away. The final end came in 1928 when the hurricane washed away all the buildings on Ritta Island. By Jim Pike

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Kreamer Island

I visited Kreamer Island, located in Palm Beach County, on 8/14/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

Kreamer Island was settled as a fishing and agricultural settlement in the 1800s. Access was very limited and most everything arrived by boat. There were several dwellings, a store, church, and a school. In fact, one of the dwellings served as a home, post office, and general store. Inaccessability and the weather contributed to the demise of the community. Several hurricanes continually damaged the village, especially the great hurricane in the 1920s; which killed approximately 1000 people around the lake. When the dike was raised from 6 feet to about 20 feet, much of the area was flooded. Some folks lived on the island into the 20th Century but all are gone now. The only access to the northern part of the island would be by airboat. By Mike Woodfin

Chosen

I visited Chosen, located in Palm Beach County, on 8/14/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

J.R. Leatherman, a preacher from Virginia, founded the town of Chosen along the southeast bank of Lake Okeechobbee. It was originally a Calusa Indian site with artifacts and burial mounds. The town name came from a Biblical reference to “this being the Chosen Place.” It was a farming community and in 1921 had its own school and Post Office. It met its untimely end when the Hurricane of 1928 flooded and destroyed many of the small communities around the Lake. The muck dike on the south part of the Lake was breached by a 17 foot wave, sending a wall of black muddy water thru the town. The McCormick family who lived in Chosen, at the time, documented their experience during the storm, which ultimately killed over 2300 people. In the 1930s, the Smithsonian Institute excavated the Calusa Indian settlement at the former town of Chosen, now referred to by many simply as “Indian Mound”. By Jim Pike

 

Bean City

I went to Bean City, which is located in Palm Beach County, on 8/14/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

Bean City began as one of several farming communities in the Everglades. It was named after its primary crop, string beans. In 1923, the Bean City School opened, and the population consisted mainly of owners, workers, and management of the large vegetable farms and sugar plantations. The town was right along the southern ridge of Lake Okeechobee and was flooded and destroyed in the 1928 Hurricane, with all but one house being demolished. It was somewhat rebuilt over the following years, and by 1936 once more had its own school and received a post office. Following a 1952 school board evaluation, the Bean City School was closed, and the post office closed in 1973. The townsite has steadily disappeared in the years following, and today consists of sugarcane fields and a few houses along the old road. By Jim Pike

Fort Desoto

I went to Fort Desoto, located in Pinellas County on 8/17/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

This abandoned fort is now a County Historical Park. Construction began in 1898, just after the Spanish American War, to protect the coast from a navel assault. The fort never saw any action and was deactivated in the 1920s. There are still gun emplacements with thick concrete walls supported by soil. It was a sister fort to Fort Dade on Egmont Key. By Mike Woodfin

Bunce Village

I went to Bunce Village, located in Pinellas County on 8/17/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

The first permanent settler on Mullet Key was Capt. William Bunce, a Baltimore Sea Captain and Key West merchant. In 1837, he set up a fishing village there, growing to have 40 structures on the island. Bunce employed Spanish fishermen, Spanish-speaking Indians, Blacks, Cubans, and Seminoles for his fishing business. In 1848, Robert E. Lee, at the time a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. army, recommended that Mullet Key be used for coastal defense in Florida. Soon after, Bunce’s fishing village was destroyed, considered by the U.S. Army to be a hiding place for renegade Spaniards. By Jim Pike