Okeechobee: A Modern Frontier

A journey through backwoods, pioneer central, and southern Florida . . . and a sensitive portrayal of the people who distinguish the area today. --Vicki Silver, senior planner, Palm Beach CountyFrom the foreword: In this book, you will discover cowboys, fish camps, tourist campgrounds, sugarcane workers, and miles of dikes that hold back the waters of Lake Okeechobee. . . . Jim Janosky has used his camera lens to capture the toughness, the sensitivity, and the diversity of life around the lake. --Susan Duncan, historianIn 115 black-and-white photographs, Jim Janosky records the features and faces of Okeechobee, from Saturday night in downtown Pahokee, to the great hurricane of '28, to the cane fields, preachers, county agents, beekeepers, and countless others who make up the region. His evocative, fact-filled essay presents one man's journey along this modern Florida frontier. Lake Okeechobee lies still, eerie and almost invisible, behind a high earthen dike that encircles its long shoreline. Yet the area around it has been lashed for decades with waves of human conflict and natural catastrophe. A government study in 1847 describes it as a wilderness of profound and wild solitude. Just 65 years later, 50 real estate companies in Chicago were selling property around the lake. The region boomed with fishermen, cowboys, and bootleggers, and Okeechobee City earned a reputation as the roughest town east of the Mississippi. In the '20s, nature struck: three successive years of heavy rains; a drought that dried out the organic soil so thoroughly that it caught fire; and hurricanes in 1926 and 1928 that decimated the countryside. With the Hoover Dike in place in the '30s and the pioneer spirit still strong, new communities developed from the reclaimed wetlands. Today the area is enmeshed in one of the most intense debates in the country between environmentalists and farmers. Haunted by the soul of this Florida landscape, Jim Janosky has observed it, photographed it, and captured its spirit once and for all in this moving visual and written history.Jim Janosky, former environmental education specialist with the U.S. Army at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, is a poet, farmer, photographer, songwriter, and music publisher.