Bay City Walking Dredge

Friday October 16th 2020

One of the historic displays at the Collier-Seminole State Park is a piece of equipment used in the 1920s to build the Tamiami trail across the Everglades. The Tamiami trail is the name of the first road from Tampa to Miami. The section across the Cyprus strands and water flowing grasslands of the Everglades was particularly difficult. To assist the laborers in the task was a Bay City Walking Dredge.

Bay City Walking Dredge. The one cubic yard bucket could swing from side to side.

The dredge is an early twentieth century engineering marvel. A set of metal beams and cables along with a thirty horse power engine and a one cubic yard bucket dug the mud off of the limestone built up from the oceans. After the limestone was blasted loose the dredge brought it out of the depths to be broken into pieces for the road bed. The canals that line the side of the road as it crosses the Everglades were largely produced by the work of the dredge. The behemoth is truly an engineering marvel.

Close up side view of the dredge. The center vertical a frame remained still while the dredge forward.

Today was one of those waiting for the weather kind of days. The day started with a little bit of sun and a lot of big puffy clouds. Most of the weather overnight remained to the east, but you could see it getting closer as the day went by. It didn’t disappoint. The slow moving storm front arrived overhead shortly after 2PM. By 2:30 the wind was blowing. It was pouring. Lightening and thunder were all around. It continued unabated for a good two hours. The campground was a soggy mess with massive puddles by the time the storm passed. It hasn’t rained since, but more is in the forecast for the overnight hours.

Clouds building to the east.

The campground started filling up for the weekend shortly before the storm arrived. A few unlucky people arrived during the storm. The smart ones just waited for the rain to stop, but a few pushed to get setup in the storm. The people arriving after the storm have been dealing with the mud. Anyone that misses the gravel sinks into the soft grass. All of people arriving for the weekend are once again changing the character of the campground. Hopefully it doesn’t get to to much of a party.

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