Lake Worth, where Beez is anchored, was originally a fresh water lake, long before the days of sea inlets and ports. In 1915 our old friend Henry Flagler blasted through the area near here to continue his railroad south bringing with it expanding trade and wealth. The island was created by dredging-related projects in 1918 which also created the inlet and the Port of Palm Beach.
We took Baby Beez to the island where Joe acted as our guide. Originally named Inlet Island, the 79-acre island was renamed Peanut Island for a planned peanut oil-shipping operation which failed in 1928 when a hurricane hit. 1929 efforts to start the business failed due to the Great Depression. The building in front, as we landed, is the old coastguard station and holds the original stairs to the attic where seven men bunked. The island was planted with Australian fir trees as it was thought nothing native would grow on the barren sand after the failed peanut planting. These trees were all cut down some years ago, the last one stands next to the barracks, it survived as at the time of the felling it was only a tiny sapling. Today native plants have been introduced and are doing quite well.
Before we headed over to the barracks, we took a picture of the map hanging in the boathouse, hmmm, pause for thought.
It was in 1936 the US Coast Guard opened the station, complete with row boat rescue vessels. The seven men who bunked above the lifeboat house worked in a “fireman schedule” while the rest lived in the barracks.
The US Coast Guard’s original function, when it was created in 1790, was tax and import duty collection from incoming vessels. In the early 1800’s their sole duty became search, rescue and protecting the shores of the USA. Here on Peanut Island the barracks was built in the style typical of all their landmark buildings and was home to thirty men.
Interesting to look around the rec room. Small for thirty men, but in the basement a fully functioning bar for forty, sadly due to a flood – not open to the public, hopefully to be fully restored. Buster the mascot, backgammon and an old monopoly set gave an insight into the lives of the men stationed here.
We wandered around the museum part of the barracks. The master had his own room on the ground floor, Joe showed us all the machinery used, much of it in working order. He explained the last picture, it shows a successful seizure of a “Square Grouper”, a haul of cocaine. The US Coast Guard left the island in 1996 when they moved to new premises at Blue Heron Bridge. A $13 million renovation on the island in 2005 resulted in Peanut Island Park including camp sites, a pier and a manmade reef.
There were some interesting newspaper clippings on the walls – these about a hospital ship
The USS New York was built with twenty four tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Centre. She is the fifth in a new class of warship – designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. She carries a crew of three hundred and sixty sailors and seven hundred combat-ready Marines that can be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft. The steel from the WTC was melted down in a foundry in Amite, Los Angeles to cast the ship’s bow section. When it was poured into the molds on the 6th of September 2003, “those big rough steelworkers treated it with reverence”, recalled Navy Captain Kevin Wensing, who was there. “It was a spiritual moment for everyone there”.
Junior Cavers, Foundry Operations Manager, said that when the Trade Centre steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the “hair on the back of my neck stood up”. He said “They knocked us down. They can’t keep us down. We’re going to be back”.
The ship’s motto? “Never Forget”.
Time for us to leave the museum but not before THE most amazing story of chance we have ever heard
The museum was closed today, but very kindly Joe (on the left) still took us on the tour of the museum and the JFK Bunker (own blog). He and the other chap in the picture – Matt – were working in a bar in Boca Raton, down the coast a little way. They got on well as friends and began chatting. Soon matters turned to where they came from and things began to get a little spooky. Turns out they are brothers. They share the same mum and had no idea about the others existence. They have worked here and lived on the island together for five months. Now that is what you call amazing, the chances of that must be trillions to one and a real WOW.
ALL IN ALL WHAT AN INTERESTING VISIT TO AN INCREDIBLE ISLAND