July 17, 2003
40 pages -
Powell begins the interview with his family background and other circumstances that led to his
job with the Corps of Engineers in 1958 as an engineering draftsman GS-2. Soon after he
changed jobs and began to draw real-estate maps of the Intercostal Waterway. Then Powell
discusses the issues related to managing the 6,000 acres connected with the Gulf-Atlantic
Ship canal project acquired in the 1930s. He tells why the lands lay dormant until the 1960s
and then tells about the people at the Canal Authority and their 1st million dollar appropriation
for a lock canal system in 1964 (pages 1-8).
In 1971 Nixon halted the Barge Canal Project that began in 1961 after it had acquired 77,097
acres of land. Powell projects what would have happened if the project wasn't killed and the
progress the Corps had already made at that point. He discusses Rodman Pool and the
Corps requirement for a collar around reservoir. Some concerns about Rodman Pool
included the speculation that the locks would damage the aquifer. Powell also gives his take
on the debate over whether or not to include recreational sites in the project and addresses
environment issues of the project (pages 9-13).
Powell speaks briefly about phase II of the Inglis Power Dam and then about the alignments
of the Ship Canal and the Barge Canal. He tells about the surveyors used in the project and
how work began on both ends and was intended to meet in the middle. Next he discusses the
Rodman Recreation Area and boat ramps at Orange Springs. The he tells of the Forrest
Services involvement in the project and their issues with the Corps design. Also in relation to
Rodman Pool Powell discusses the acquisition of lands owned by the Ocala Ice and
Manufacturing Company and other private land owner issues (pages 14-21).
To address more of the legal issues Powell speaks 1988 dependent restudy by the Bureau of
Land Management and about Section 114 of Public Law 99-662. He also briefly comments on
property negotiations with the Container Corporation of America before returning to the 1961
law in which the federal and state government would enable the Canal Authority to manage
the 77,00 acres involved in the project. Next Powell tells of talks in 1988 to de-authorize the
entire project and the subsequent meetings with politicians and members of the Defenders of
the Environment to prevent this from happening (pages 21-26).
Powell then reflects on how the Rodman Pool area appeared when he was growing up, what
he knew then of the Ship Canal project then, and its original purpose. Again addressing more
current times he tells about the various times he has testified in court and the environmental
controversy surrounding the Canal Project. He gives his take of Nixon's motivation for
stopping the project, the good things that could come from the project, and what should be
done with the Greenway. His ultimate goals are preserving land and managing it under one
entity. Powell concludes the interview with ideas for topics to explore in future conversations
about these subjects (pages 27-38).
Interviewee: Cleveland Powell
Interviewer: Alan Bliss
Date: July 17, 2003
B: It's July 17, 2003. I'm in Jacksonville, Florida. My name is Alan Bliss and I'm at the
home of Cleveland Powell, at his home on Fort Caroline Road in Jacksonville. I'm
conducting an oral history interview with him for the Cross Florida Greenway
Project of the Office of Greenways and Trails, Florida Department of
Environmental Protection. Cleve, would you tell us please your full name and
where and when you were born?
P: My full name is Cleveland E. Powell. I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on
October 21, 1936.
B: Who were your parents and what were their occupations?
P: My father's name was Ted Powell. He was from Princeton, West Virginia. He
worked for the shipyards during World War II, and unfortunately he got sick and
died at the age of forty-three in 1954. My mother's maiden name was Mary Louise
Johnson. When she met my dad, she worked for the state health department in
the Bureau of Vital Statistics. We lived on a farm and she actually ran the farm
while my dad worked. We lived with our grandparents, so you could call her a
farmer, for lack of a better term.
B: Was that farm here in Duval County?
B: What part of the county?
P: It's in the Arlington area. We used to deliver milk and eggs every day, particularly
in World War II when the food stamps, ration-stamps were prevalent. We raised
chickens, turkeys, had a horse, sold milk, sold sugar cane, cane syrup, all that
B: That's not a very rural area anymore, is it?
P: No, actually where I grew up is now called Tree Hill. It's a state park.
B: Who were your grandparents?
P: My grandfather's name on my mother's side was Cleveland Johnson, and his
wife's [maiden] name was Louise Bruce. Cleveland Johnson worked for the
Corps. He went to work for the Corps in 1901.
B: That's the Army Corps of Engineers.
P: [He worked for the] Army Corps of Engineers on the construction of the jetty. He
was fresh out of college. He was born in Lake Butler.
B: Now, the jetty you refer to is which one?
P: It's the Mayport Jetty at Jacksonville Harbor. He met my grandmother, Louise
Bruce, who was the daughter of F.W. Bruce, who was in charge of the jetty
construction at Mayport.
B: F.W. was your great-grandfather. Do you know what the F.W. stands for?
P: Frederick William.
B: He was the earliest member of your family to work for the Corps of Engineers, is
P: Yeah, you can stretch the issue, F.W. was fort-keeper at the Fort in St. Augustine
in 1885, and he hired his father to repair the woodwork at the port. He was a
B: So he sub-contracted with his father. He was the fort-keeper, you say, at the fort,
and that's a reference to Fort San Marco.
P: [Yes,] or Fort Marion, as they used to call it.
B: He was not born in Florida, was he?
P: No, he was born in New Hampshire and his family from many generations back
were from New Hampshire.
B: Do you know when he was born in New Hampshire?
P: I think in 1854.
B: Was it the Army that brought him down to St. Augustine?
P: In the Civil War, his father, Timothy Bruce, and his father's brother, whose name
was Elisah Bruce, they were in the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry.
They were stationed at Fort San Marcos in October of 1862. Elisah Bruce married
a local St. Augustine girl, Raphaell Usina. He settled in St. Augustine, and then my
great-great-grandfather went back to New Hampshire and had one more child.
Then, his wife took ill and he brought his whole family, including F.W. and F.W.'s
wife and my grandmother; they all moved to St. Augustine in 1884.
B: They became permanent Floridians after that?
B: But it was the military and the Civil War that originally brought your family down
here to Florida.
P: Correct. On the Powell side, my dad's father was born in Elkton, Virginia. He
moved to West Virginia in 1898, started a sawmill with two of his brothers, and they
all three married local girls and bought [adjacent] farms [where] they raised
thirty-three kids on a mountain they now call Powell Mountain.
B: That's a big family.
P: Very big.
B: How did your dad wind up down here in Florida?
P: I had a very enterprising uncle whose name was D.B. Powell, which is short for
Daniel Boone. He came to Florida and he worked for Standard Oil. He met
Cleveland Johnson's secretary and married her, and so he got the two families
together and he had them exchanging wheat and apples in West Virginia for
oranges and sugar-cane in Florida. As a result, my uncle married my aunt and my
mother married my daddy.
B: They became double-first cousins there.
P: I have a double-first cousin.
B: Yes, I have a similar connection in my own family too, on my father's side. It's
pretty interesting. You've got to take care to explain all that to people who haven't
P: Yeah, it sounds a little bit like incest, but it really isn't.
B: It takes some sorting out sometimes for people. What year was it that uncle came
to Florida with Standard Oil?
P: It's around 1927.
B: Did he come here to Jacksonville?
B: So, your father was born in West Virginia, but moved down here.
P: Yeah, he married my mother in 1935, and actually they didn't plan to get married,
but she went up to visit her brother's wife's family, and they hadn't met each other,
but they decided to get married. So, they got married and he got in a car and came
back with her and stayed here until he passed away.
B: Where were you educated?
P: Well, I went to Landon High School in south Jacksonville. The year I got out of high
school, I went to what's now called Jacksonville University; it was called
Jacksonville Junior College. I studied pre-engineering.
B: What year did you graduate from high school?
P: [I graduated in] 1954, so I started college in 1954. I went one year, and my source
of money was my grandmother. She passed away, so I went to work for a
strip-mine, which is where the Regency Square area is in Arlington; they called it
Humphrey's gold-mine. I worked on dredges because they used to dredge the
strip-mine. I worked on drill-rigs where they researched the mineral content in the
ground. When I was in high school, my grandfather got me a job surveying, so I
had cut line and pulled a chain all through my early days. While I was working at
Humphrey's, I had the misfortune of getting into a car accident at the old Daytona
Beach race-tracks. I had to overcome spinal injury, but I got through that and I
went back and got another semester of college in 1957.
B: This was also at JU?
P: Yeah, and it was still called Jacksonville Junior College. Then I went back to
surveying. I was looking for a better job and so I went to Blue Cross and Blue
Shield, and I ran into a guy named Ernie that I had gone to high school with. He
said, did you ever think about working for the Corps of Engineers? I told him I
hadn't, and he said, well, they're right across the street. He took me and
introduced me to a lady in personnel, who happened to have known my granddad
in 1948. She told me to fill out an application and I'll send you all the notices. So,
I went to work for the Corps on June 2, 1958, in the engineering drafting
B: You knew then that your grandfather had a career with the Corps of Engineers,
P: You would think so, but to be honest with you, everybody talked about building the
jetties and everybody talked about the fort. My grandparents talked about going to
work at Camp Blanding, and my granddad worked on the construction of the levies
at Lake Okeechobee, but then he was a private contractor. I never associated
them with actually working for the Corps until when I got the job offer and I told my
mother that I'd been hired by the Corps, and she said, oh, your great-granddad
worked for them and your granddad. I actually didn't know that. I knew what kind
of work they did, but I didn't know they actually were employed by the Corps of
Engineers, so it was coincidence.
B: It was kind of a sanguine coincidence, as it turned out. You mentioned a strip-mine
that you worked for, for a period of time after your first semester at Jacksonville
Junior College. What were they mining on that site?
P: They mined six different metals, but the only three I can remember are rutile,
elmonite, and zircon. To separate the minerals, they used a process [where] they
pumped the sand and the water together into spirals and it ran, gravity-fed, down.
They had cuts where the heavy mineral ran to the outside and they would separate
and it would run down through a header system. Then, they further refined and
separated it, and took it to a drying kiln, and dried it. Let it dump on rollers that had
static electricity and further separate it. They put it in bags and carried it to the
railroad station and shipped it off.
B: What was it used for?
P: Zircon is used in the manufacturing of artificial diamonds. Rutile, I understand, has
some significance in atomic energy, but I couldn't tell you what it is. I never did get
too deep. Back then I was a worker. I didn't ask a lot of questions, except, where's
B: You went to work for the Corps of Engineers in 1958. What was your first job?
P: [I was an] engineering draftsman GS-2.
B: What project were you started out working on?
P: The section I was in, we reduced field notes to cross-sections for dredging
soundings. So [I was at] Jacksonville Harbor, Tampa Harbor, Miami Harbor; any
project where they were doing navigational stuff. I worked there for about six
months and they had a GS-3 cartographic draftsman opening in real-estate, which
was more in-tune with my surveying background.
B: As a land surveyor.
P: Right, so I transferred to real-estate. So, I started out drawing real-estate maps on
the Intracoastal Waterway, Jacksonville to Miami. Real-estate has permanent
maps of all the projects in what they call audited-files, which are [maps and] books
with copies of the deeds, the titled evidence, and the attorney's opinions. They
had a set of audited-files on a project called the Atlantic-Gulf Ship Canal, which
had been acquired in the 1930s by the Corps of Engineers. What we were doing,
the part I was involved with, was mapping of what they called out-grant -
[interruption by telephone]
B: You were describing the audited-files on the project called the Atlantic-Gulf Ship
P: Right, and real-estate has four branches: the acquisition branch, the
management-and-disposal branch, the appraisal branch, and the
planning-and-control branch. The maps and audited- records and the money are
kept in the planning-and-control branch, which is who I worked for. The
management-and-disposal branch was in charge of managing the 6,000 acres that
had been acquired in the 1930s. They out-granted parts of the canal ends for
farming, cattle grazing, bee-hives, anything for anybody, and they sold timber off of
it. So, they mapped it. They had an extra set of drawings and they started me out
marking in where they had out- leased parts of the project, so that's the first
indoctrination I had into the Atlantic-Gulf Ship Canal.
B: The Corps of Engineers then owned, you say, about 6,000 acres of land
connected with the Gulf-Atlantic Ship Canal project, is that right?
P: That's correct.
B: That had all be acquired back during the middle 1930s, around 1935, right?
P: Yes, [that's] correct.
B: Six thousand acres, did that represent all of the property that the canal route
P: No, the original canal was designed to be a mile-wide, have a mile-wide driving
way. The Corps was given money by the state to acquire lands that evidently they
were having trouble acquiring through the courts, so the state had acquired some
[11,886] acres of land and the Corps had acquired some [6,626] acres. There was
a total of [18,512] acres that were acquired in the 1930s. Some of the land was
actually used, construction had started on part of that. Where Highway 301 goes
through Ocala, you could still see the old bridge [piers] above where they were
going to build a bridge over the canal. Just west of 1-75, you can see the
excavation where they started digging with mules and [drag] buckets, which is
where the Camp Roosevelt area was. I've got the exact figures somewhere if you
want them, but that's just approximate.
B: Approximations are good enough. I guess I'm interested in trying to get clear here,
for my own understanding as well as for the historical records, the land that the
Corps owned when you came back into the project. Apparently the project had lain
idle since the late 1930s as far as any canal plans were concerned. It was a
function of the Corps owning property that it managed for other purposes, right?
P: This is correct, but, in 1942, a law was passed which set up a multi-level canal.
That law was on the books, but nothing had ever been done with it.
B: There was no money.
P: [There was] no money, so in the period of time from 1942 to when I got involved in
1958 [or] 1959, the state managed their part of the land, their 12,000 acres, and
the Corps managed their 6,000 acres. They passed a law in 1960 which merged
the two lands. It was Section 104 of Rivers and Harbors Act of 1960. When that
passed, there again, as a draftsman, we put our symbol on the map that the lands
had been disposed of.
B: Hold up for a second. When you say the lands have been disposed of, you're
referring to the Corps' 6,000 acres?
P: The Corps' 6,000 acres was transferred to the state per Section 104.
B: All right, so that all became state of Florida, basically Canal Authority, land.
P: One of the key issues there is that they had a revexter clause in it that more or less
said that the land had to be used for the canal. That was always a key issue in later
years. Almost immediately after we deleted all of the land on the maps and they
transferred land to the state, the Corps started plans to build a lock-type canal
based on the 1942 law. When it first started, real-estate didn't have a whole lot to
do with it. They did economic re-studies, and what was previously called the Ship
Canal Authority state agency was revised or upgraded to what they called the
Canal Authority as a sponsor for the lock reservoir-type canal. From the
real-estates part, this was above my level, I'm sure they entered into a
local-assurance agreement with the Canal Authority, which would have provided
the terms. One of the things that the Canal Authority would do was furnish lands
for the project as part of their cost-share. We got involved in the legal end of that,
to a degree. At that point in time, Morris Spooner was chief of real estate. I worked
for a man named Al Radspinner. Radspinner was the Chief of P&C, Spooner was
a chief of real-estate.
B: P&C is what?
P: P&C is Planning and Control.
B: This is all within the Jacksonville district?
P: [This is] all within the Jacksonville district. Then the Canal Authority leased a
building. We were located at 575 Riverside Avenue in the old Buick building. The
Canal Authority leased property two blocks to the north on Rossell Street, which is
named after a former Corps district engineer.
B: This would have been about 1961, now?
P: [It was] 1961 or 1962, yeah.
B: Was Giles Evans having any authority at the time?
P: Giles Evans came...I think the original, I've been trying to remember the [other]
guy's name, he was [also] a retired Army colonel, I think. [Tom Cuttino was
assistant director and Ralph Elliott was attorney.]
B: Oh, not from the Corps.
P: No, but Giles Evans was the one we dealt with mostly. They had a cartographer
whose name was John Pollard, who later became Congressman Bennett's aide.
He was the one that all the real-estate requests went through.
B: He was at the Canal Authority?
P: He was at the Canal Authority.
B: Had he previously been at the Corps?
P: Not to my knowledge, no.
B: Now the Giles Evans that we're talking about, he was formerly a Corps of Engineer
officer, was he not?
P: That's my understanding.
B: He was a colonel, I believe.
P: [He was a] colonel, yes.
B: Had you ever known him before he went with the Canal Authority?
P: No, I met all these people. At my initial involvement, I was still in the cartographic
section. When they got the economics and everything and got Congress to
appropriate money, which according to this chronology here, the fiscal year of
1964 was the first appropriation of one million dollars. They did what they called
detailed-design memorandums, which got the approval of the design. In October
of 1963, the St. Johns Lock detail design memorandum number one was
submitted, I guess. In December of 1963, the fiscal year of 1964, the first
appropriation for a million dollars was appropriated by Congress. In February of
1964, President Johnson broke ground on construction in the vicinity of St. Johns
Lock [now called] Buckman Lock. That was on some land that had previously
been acquired by the Corps in the 1930s. They built an observation deck there.
One of the Corps of Engineers real-estate people had a, in those days what we
called a de-dudder, which means that he exploded unexploded ordinance.
B: It was a dud, like an unexploded shell, a de-dudder. His name was Bun Campbell
and he set the dynamite that Johnson blew the hole in the ground with. He was a
real-estate man. The reason we had him, after World War II, we had a lot of bases
that were closed and the land was transferred to cities and airport authorities.
There was quite a bit of unexploded ordinance. In later years, we got into what
they called a superfund, the defense restoration program and they got rid of all that
stuff again. He went to all these bases, and even down on Hutchinson Island they
had practiced the Normandy invasion there and there was some unexploded
mines still laying on the beach that he exploded around 1957 [and] 1958.
B: They found a couple more aerial bombs over at Fort De Soto county park in
Pinellas County just a couple years ago.
P: Yeah, it's everywhere. As a matter of fact, I went home with this that we found in
the Dominican Republic. I'll show you sometime before you leave.
B: Let me clarify something here for the narrative. The Corps of Engineers owned
some 6,000 acres, the state of Florida owned its own separate set of parcels that
added up to some 12,000 acres. The two combined wound up with a total
project-size of around 18,000 acres.
B: Was that 18,000 acres, did that wind up representing the total amount of land that
was required for the Barge Canal Project?
P: No, the total lands at the time that the project was halted was approximately
B: There was a lot more acquisition, even after the state and the Corps merged their
P: Oh yes, there was a total of 77,097 acres.
B: As of about when, would you say, it came up to that total?
P: [It was] probably 1971 when Nixon stopped the project.
B: Were you still in the process of acquiring real-estate at that time?
P: Yes, sir.
B: So there could have been more acquisitions.
P: There would have been more, yeah.
B: About how much more land, do you suppose?
P: About another 5 percent to 10 percent [could have been acquired]. I'll caveat that.
That would have been to complete the project, with the exception of real-estate
recreation acquisitions. We had real estate later, [and] we did what you call a
real-estate design memorandum, which gave us [the Corps] the authority to
acquire land for recreation. The Canal Authority could transfer lands to us for
recreation out of the lands they had acquired, out of the 18,000 acres [not needed
for the navigation project], but they weren't responsible for going out and acquiring
any of the recreation lands. The 77,000 acres was what had been acquired for the
project itself [and] for the mile-wide right-of-way. [The] two recreation sites that the
Corps had acquired at the time that the project had been condemned. Title was
transferred by the condemnation, but they hadn't settled the price of it. That still
had to go through courts at the time Nixon stopped [the Canal project].
B: When you acquired property as it was still needed in various locations for the
canal, was the Corps of Engineers acquiring it or the state Canal Authority?
P: The Canal Authority acquired it.
B: Were you negotiating the acquisitions or involved in the selection?
P: Let me explain how this worked. We did it by job. They started work on the east
end where the Buckman Lock and the channel goes into St. Johns River. They
started work on the west end near Inglis where the cut comes from the Gulf, or
US-19, up to the old Lake Rousseau, where the Power Dam [is]. Engineering
designed each end of it. In theory, they came to real-estate with the land request
and gave us the maps.
B: "Came to real-estate," meaning your office?
P: To our office, right. Then, we would go to the Canal Authority and forward that
together with the estates that were required for them to transfer it back to us.
B: The estates being...?
P: This was Corps' regulation: all structures had to be owned in fee simple title. All
permanent channels had to be owned in perpetual easement or greater [estate].
Construction [sites], this whole area could be temporary, but permanent
maintenance areas had to be permanent easements. Permanent access roads
were permanent easement. At the time that this happened, the Corps didn't have
any reservoirs in Florida, unless you consider Lake Okeechobee a reservoir. The
very first land request for Rodman Lake only requested a flowage [easement],
which was a mistake. It was corrected many times in letters, but it kept
perpetuating itself through the years, because the Canal Authority acted on that
first request and they acquired some 7,000 acres from the Miller family and the
Tilton family. We had requested under a flowage easement with some other
reservations that really didn't help, but the Corps went back and requested that
they upgrade that [to fee] a whole chain of correspondence that went on year after
year about that. It went on up until the last day that the project existed, because
basically what it says [is that,] if the project is no longer authorized, than those
flowage easements go away. If you drained Rodman Pool, who's to say what
happens to that land right now today?
B: That interesting, yeah. As far as I know, isn't it the Forest Service that thinks it
owns [that land]?
P: Do you want me to get into that? That's another story.
B: Well, let's save that.
P: Let me tell you the criteria for Rodman Pool. Rodman Pool, everyone says it has
some 9,600 acres of land. It's actually got more than that, but the criteria for the
design was the pool was to be flooded up to the twenty-foot contour. The
regulation for a Corps reservoir requires a collar around from the maximum pool a
foot higher. It varies in different parts of the world, in Kentucky, it's five feet, [and]
in Florida, it's one foot of additional elevation. So, the criteria for the taking line
was a twenty-one foot contour or a line 300 feet running parallel to the twenty-foot
contour, whichever was the greatest. We went to the Canal Authority with this
designed pool [taking line], which was a series of tangents. It was all laid out under
the Mercator grid-system grid- coordinates. Canal Authority gave this to a
company in Ocala called Moorhead Engineering, that was headed up by a
gentleman named Gene Stanaland. Gene and I got to be good friends through the
years. What they did was they took these XY coordinate-points and converted
them into ties to the sections, townships, and ranges, so that they could accurately
write up the deeds to buy the land. Now, we've got to get into the real-estate
mapping, because that was a big thing. The way the real-estate regulations are
written, in the real-estate maps and audit-files, you number each tract that's
deeded to the Corps, numbered in comparison with the drawing number that it's
found on. So, being as we had work starting at both ends, we had to map the
whole project. Even though we didn't have tracts on every sheet, we had to have
the whole thing mapped, so we knew what sheet number the west end fell on. We
found that the center line for the Barge Canal was identical with the center line for
the Ship Canal.
B: Was that by intention?
P: I think so. So, we took that center line, we laid it out, we deduced what scale would
accurately show the lands we needed to show, which ended up being an inch
equals 400 feet. We ended up, I think, with twenty-four sheets across the state,
the first sheet being the index. The project actually started in Palatka, but it was
channelization of the river from Palatka south to where it left the river and went
inland to Rodman Pool, so we drew these twenty-four sheets. We took some of
the sectional information that was on the 1930s Atlantic-Gulf Ship Canal
information because the Corps had, as well as buying it or acquiring it, they had
actually surveyed it. We had field books that were in storage at the Dredge Depot
that had section, township, and range information for the part we had actually
acquired. So, we took that information and drew it on the map. Same as when the
Canal Authority furnished us lands, the first tract we got was Buckman Lock, that
was Track 400, because it fell on Sheet Four. What it came with was a legal
description. It had ties to the Spanish grant that I think was the Delespine grant.
Don't hold me to that. Most of the Spanish grants in Florida were on the rivers and
that land that lay on up.
B: Can I interrupt you with a question? I'm still intrigued by the land that was owned
by the Corps after the 1930s Sea Level Canal project, that 6,000 acres. Did that
land fall roughly along the actual center line of the canal from one end to the other,
or was it in separate, chopped up, unconnected parcels along the right of way?
P: It was basically in two areas, which were quite a distance apart. I believe the first
part was where the Buckman Lock was.
B: Okay, it was on the east end.
P: Yeah, they had land on the east end and then they had land over towards the
center where they started the excavation.
B: Those diggings over there are west of today's interstate. So, wherever you found
evidence of actual work having been done during the 1930s, that's part of the land
that the Corps actually owned outright, then?
P: That's my belief.
B: Probably that was land that had perfected title, as far as the quality of the estate
that the Corps had acquired it in, right?
P: Right, we had our audited-files with title-evidence, you know, attorney's opinions of
titles, the deeds, and everything. Another thing, some of this stuff had revertive
clauses in it, so there was a lot of glitches in title. Not major [problems,] but some
of the land that the Corps acquired had glitches in title, and some of the lands that
the state acquired in the 1930s had revertive clauses.
B: Had any of those 1930s vintage revertive clauses activated by the time you came
into the project?
P: No, because the project was still going.
B: Okay, even though dirt hadn't been turned, nobody had raised the white flag?
P: Nobody ever asked for the land back, even to the day that I retired, which was ten
B: Really? That's interesting. Now, the Rodman Pool issues that you bring up to do
with the property that state acquired at the request of the Corps. Those were
issues that really had nothing to do with the Ship Canal Project, right, because
there was no pool contemplated in the original Sea Level Canal?
P: That's correct.
B: Okay, I'm with you.
P: Yeah, the pool was a new concept. The Sea Level Canal, everybody was afraid it
would cut the aquifer and the state's south end would float away to Cuba. We had
to test wells all the way across the state, which gave the water levels and the
aquifer levels. It was proven engineering-wise that the project with the locks in it
wouldn't damage the aquifer, but there was a lot of people who didn't believe that.
You always had to answer that question everywhere you went, you'll damage the
B: Was that a question that you began to notice coming up, even from the very
beginning when you came on board, when you started the Barge Canal project
around 1961? Even then, this is a big issue still, right?
P: Yeah, I can tell you in, I think it was April 1965, we started a real-estate design
memo for the recreation sites. A friend of mine and myself spent two weeks
looking up records, finding out how many ownerships were involved in the
recreation sites. I think there was thirty recreation sites. I can almost name every
one of them for you.
B: What would be a couple of examples? You don't need to name them all, but just a
couple that come to mind.
P: There's three that were actually built. One is right at Rodman Dam. One's called
Kenwood, which is on the north side of the lake. There's one called Orange
Springs, which is over on where the Oklawaha bends and heads south, and there
is actually a spring there. One notable one was what they called Paynes Landing,
which is where the Seminole Indians signed one of their peace treaties during the
Seminole Indian war; that's a little further down on the west side of the Oklawaha.
Johnson's Landing; which already had a county boat ramp, which is in the Eureka
Pool, right where State Road 40 is, where the Silver Springs come in; there's one
there. At Inglis, they actually put in boat ramps at Inglis as part of the lock and
B: Right by the Highway 19 bridge there.
P: Yeah, there's one there, but there's one on up where the lock is in the dam; there's
a boat ramp there. Not to get ahead of myself, but that was the second phase, [it]
was the Inglis Power Dam. I think that was acquired in 1906, and it was for a
B: Yeah, Florida Power.
P: Yeah, not the Florida Power and Light, but the Florida Power. When they moved,
they deeded all that to the state with a covenant that that would never be used for
any kind of hydroelectric use again. There are several covenants in there that
made it interesting.
B: Do you remember any of the other covenants?
P: No, not off the top of my head. There were things in there that made the title a little
difficult when they used it for the Corps property. Lake Rousseau was, I think, only
designed to be flooded to the seventeen-foot contour. It's been a long time since
I've thought about this, but the Florida Power had only acquired flowage for those.
So, one of the big issues when we started doing the design and did a land request
for Lake Rousseau, was that we wanted them to expand the area of the pool, put
the collar around it, and convert flowages from 1906 to fee.
B: Who was it that you were requiring to do this?
P: The Canal Authority, and they took great exception. That was towards Nixon
stopping the project.
B: Did the Canal Authority take exception because they felt it was unnecessary?
P: Yes, that land had been flooded and there were houses built right up to the edge of
the water, so if you install the collar that was called for, the purpose of the collar
was to keep the natural vegetation around the pool, prevent erosion and turbidity in
the pool. If you cleared the houses away, all you would have is dirt. They said,
why buy a 300 foot strip that's not going to do what you want it to do to start with.
They probably had a good point. That was still in negotiation at the time the project
B: Not to mention, there's the cost of acquiring that collar.
P: We had several recreation sites on the banks of Lake Rousseau that would have
taken care of part of it, because we would have bought land for the project.
B: Let me clarify one other thing. I think we've run across this, but I'm not
remembering exactly, when the Corps transferred its 6,000 acres to the state
Canal Authority, did the Canal Authority or the state of Florida compensate the
government for that transfer of land?
P: No, because the state paid for it to start with. I've kind of lost my train of thought.
When we did those recreation site studies, I took slides of every place that I went.
P: When the environmental aspects became a big to-do. When I took the slides,
Rodman Dam was just being started. It was just a bulldozer cutting woods. I had
pictures of the Oklawaha [with] snakes hanging out of the trees and all of the
amenities that you get. We had an executive assistant named Al Newburn. They
put a memo out, when the environmental question started surfacing, if anybody
had pictures of the project. I gave him my slides and I never saw them again.
B: I was about to ask you where those slides are.
P: I don't know.
B: You don't know. They're somewhere. Those are a few pictures of the project
taken by you?
B: I would like to look at those when we're done here.
P: So, we started out with bugs and muck, and then the channel on the west end.
B: Let me ask you this: did the alignment shift from what the Ship Canal had called for
to what the Barge Canal called for, where the Buckman Lock meets the St. Johns
River there just south of Palatka?
P: No, the center line was still the same. Where it intersected the river was still the
[End side Al]
B: We were talking about the alignment of the canal at the Buckman Lock end of the
project, where it meets the St. Johns River just south of Palatka. I was explaining
that a local surveyor in Palatka seemed to believe that the alignments didn't match
up exactly, that there had been some earlier excavations that were not in line with
where the present canal runs. As far as you know, the two should be identical.
P: Well, you've got to think there's a mile-wide right-of-way there.
B: So they might have started digging further off?
P: Yeah, and they might not have tried to dig right on the center line. So, I'm sure it
was within the taking, but it might not have been in the same exact spot.
B: Yeah, I'm sure you're right. I had been curious abut whether there was some
reason why they decided to change the alignment, but there's no reason that you
would be aware of, and probably no change at all, really, of any consequence.
P: Not to my knowledge. I would have to go back and look at the old maps and I'd
have to dig out. I don't have the old maps, but I think it basically was in the same
B: I'm not remember the name of this surveyor. I've got it in my records; it's been at
least a year since I've talked to this guy. Did the Corps or the state Canal Authority
employ various private surveyors along the route, or would this have been
somebody that worked for the government, for the state or the Corps, at the time?
P: Well, when the Corps purchased the land in the 1930s, they used their own
surveyors, because we had the field books that were done by Corps surveyors.
When we did the engineering design surveys, which weren't based on township or
range or section corners or any of that stuff, they knew exactly where the center
line was. They set a control net using the state plane coordinate-system,
triangulations. The whole canal was designed, they hired a company out of
Mississippi, who I've been trying to remember their name.
B: I know who you mean. I don't remember the name either.
P: I think it starts with an M [Michael Baker].
B: Yeah, I was thinking that.
P: They sent a whole group of people over here and they did the topo[graphical]
survey of the pool. Then, our engineers laid out [the] taking line around the twenty
foot [contour]. We sent it and then Moorhead Engineering tied that in.
B: Did Moorhead work all along the whole route?
P: There was only a few companies that I'm aware of that did work for the Canal
Authority; one of the them was Moorhead, another one was Marion Engineering,
which is also out of Ocala. Over at the Inglis end, they had another surveyor there.
Somewhere I've got a copy of one of his surveys of the Inglis Lock, because there
were holes or parcels that were left out when the Corps built the new dam that
replaced the old power dam. Then they went to north of there and built a channel
out of the lake, ran it through the Inglis Lock, and then cut through the old
Withlacoochee River channel and ran the cut all the way to the Gulf. So, that
required him to put a freshwater bypass to the north of Inglis Lock, so that the old
riverbed, which ran and came out actually at the town of Inglis, got the same flow,
basically, of fresh water to keep the salinity down upstream in the Withlacoochee.
Buying those parcels right there was real critical. Another thing is, we required the
Canal Authority to get deeds from trustees of the internal improvement fund from
the river box, so that was another title type of requirement.
B: You were talking about some of the recreational acquisitions of the project, was
there anything that you wanted to add to that discussion?
P: We did the real-estate design memorandum and we were working. At the time
when Nixon stopped the project, we had purchased, through condemnation, land
for the Rodman Recreation Area. The area by the dam was donated by the Canal
Authority, because they owned the title from the 1930s acquisition. We acquired
land at Kenwood, which was from the same two families, Miller and Tilton, that the
flowage easement was acquired from for the lake. So, we acquired [fee] next to
flowage easement that went out into the lake, which made it interesting.
B: When you say next to flowage easement, what do you mean?
P: The recreation side ran right up to the taking line for the reservoir.
B: It was upland from it?
P: Yes. Now, the Corps and the Canal Authority got together at Orange Springs, they
decided that they could build boat ramps for "operation and maintenance" without
calling it a recreation site. They did this within the collar. They built a boat ramp in
a pretty nice area right at the end of Orange Springs Ferry Road, which comes out
of the little town of Orange Springs. One of the problems we ran into with that,
there was a dirt road that had gone in there for years and went to a fish camp.
Everybody thought that road had prescriptive right, because it had been there so
many years, but the Florida Power and Light Corporation here owned the land
where that was and they sold it to a guy from South Florida, and he closed our road
B: He made it stick?
P: Well, the Canal Authority fought with him on that for [a long time]. This man was,
by reputation, supposedly a drug dealer who had laundered money and became
rich, but he moved on some of that property right next to Orange Springs. We
fought with him a lot. I can deviate a thousand different ways on this, but one of the
interesting things [was that,] when they cleared Rodman Pool, we did it based on
the right-of-entry for construction from the Canal Authority. Now, let's go to the
B: Yes, all right.
P: The Forest Service, in the whole project, they owned some 9,209 acres within the
B: It is owned presently by them?
P: They still own that.
B: When did they come into the picture?
P: They came in the picture right away, because when we started building Rodman
Dam, the west half of that dam is built on Forest Service land.
B: Okay, that had not been in private ownership for some time.
P: Yeah, [the forest] was part of the Ocala National Forest. So, [referring to his map]
on my handy map, you see, here's Rodman Dam. The blue is Forest Service land.
The Forest Service actually has a boat ramp that goes into Lake on one of their
parcels, off Forest Service Road seventy-seven.
B: In fact, I think Dave Bowman took me out there to that boat ramp. It's high and dry
now. It looks like something out of a science-fiction movie out in the middle of the
P: Yeah, it looks like the docks in Keystone Heights where the lakes have gone away.
B: It does indeed. It's a beautiful boat ramp, though.
P: Yeah, I've seen it when the water was up.
B: Really, I didn't know it ever got that high.
P: Yeah, they had it up to twenty foot at one time.
B: What's the elevation of that boat ramp, twenty foot?
P: Yeah, at the upper end.
B: Was that one of the ones that was built as a recreational site, or was it built for
maintenance and access?
P: That was actually built by the Forest Service. They have another boat ramp right
where State Road 19 crosses at the old Oklawaha, and I think they have one at a
place called Johnston's Landing.
B: I don't know about that.
P: Anyway, the Forest Service, we dealt with them through the years. It was
proposed that they give us a memorandum of agreement to transfer the use of all
the land in the project to the Corps. So, we built Rodman Lake based on a
right-of-entry for construction from the Forest Service for their part of it. I've got
copies of it in this little book here, that we built Rodman Lake on a right-of-entry for
construction from the Canal Authority. The reason we didn't get deeds is, they
were trying to cure title from flowage easement to fee. So, all of these
right-of-entries were periodically updated. Each Forest Service tract was,
according to Corps regulation, had an A; which is a tract between one government
agency and another; numbered A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4, and right on.
B: A tract between, what do you mean?
P: When you acquire land from another federal agency, you have legal descriptions
for it. They have all these little parcels that stuck out into the reservoir, so each
individual one had its own number and a legal description. But it was never done.
The reason it was never done was the Forest Service took issue with the Corps
design where the Eureka Pool would back up into the waters of Lake Eaton, I think
was the name of it, in the middle of the forest. Mud Lake, which had a suspended
[ecology], was supposed to have critters living in there that no man had ever seen.
So, they didn't want them involved. They didn't want the flood waters to go up into
those lakes, and, in our design, I think Eureka was designed to go to the forty-foot
contour, which was higher than the ordinary high-water line of the lakes; so we
would have raised the water. What the Forest Service wanted us to do was build a
structure to keep water from going up there, and our engineering people didn't
want to do that. So that's why, in my memory, we never got any conveyance from
the Forest Service; they were still in a spitting-match over that area, which you can
see on this little map I've got here.
B: Did you make this map?
P: Yes. See these lakes here?
P: When they closed off the Eureka Dam here, then all this would have come up.
B: For the transcript, this is a map that Cleveland Powell made. It's color-coded
according to, it appears to be, the different entities of ownership. The Forest
Service areas that he's referring to, it appears, are due south of Eureka in the
Ocala National Forest. Are they south of the Silver River or not that far south?
P: No, Silver Springs is over here.
B: It appears to be just about midway between the junction of the Silver River with the
Oklawaha River, about midway from that point up to Eureka, on the east side of the
canal alignment, on the east side of the Oklawaha River. Is that a fair description,
what we're talking about?
P: That's fair. Now, one of the Corps' acquisitions was part of the land in the Eureka
Pool that was owned by the Ocala Ice and Manufacturing Company. The Canal
Authority had tried to acquire fee through the state courts and they weren't able to
do it, so they asked the Corps to acquire it. I think that was almost 3,000 acres.
Yeah, 2,997 acres was condemned from the Ocala Ice.
B: Ocala Ice and Manufacturing Company? What on earth would an ice and
manufacturing company be owning land out there in the forest for?
P: Well, it was all tied in. This is where the Oklawaha River splits into what they called
the Dead River and they had Marshall Swamp. So, we took Moorhead surveys, we
wrote legal description, and we went to federal court. We deposited what the
Canal Authority gave as what they thought the land ought to cost. The jury award
was tremendously higher. The state didn't want to pay it, and what I'm going to say
now is kind of fuzzy in my memory. I think C. Ray Green, who represented a lot of
land-owners, I think at one time, he was the Canal Authority's acquisition attorney,
and then he started working for the land-owners. He threatened and actually filed
legal papers to lock the doors on the federal courthouse in Ocala until they came
up with the money.
B: C. Ray Green was a Florida attorney. Where was he based?
P: Jacksonville. There's a lot of things that C. Ray Green was involved with. Some of
the interesting things at Paynes Landing [was that] one of the contractors that was
hired to clear Rodman Pool, his name was Jack Perko, and he owned land right
adjacent to the pool at Paynes Landing. He was successful, when he was
clearing, to drag the channel where it actually flooded on his land, so that he had
river access to the lake. That violated the 300-foot collar. He had his fish camp,
beer joint, boat ramp; so the Corps said, we can't have that, even though we had a
recreation site planted there too. That's off of Daisy Road, which runs between
Eureka and Orange Springs. I've got a photograph of Mr. Perko's place. Anyway,
the Corps redesigned their taking line to go around what he had [done]. He
claimed that there was a natural low spot there and, when he cleared it, the water
just ran right into his property, so that was one of the things. There's several areas,
little subdivisions, that C. Ray Green represented the land-owners where they got
some exceptions from the Canal Authority. There were some people that already
had little canals going down to the river from the Forest Service. The Forest
Service didn't own everything adjacent to the river. There were pockets of private
ownership in there. Once the project was built and the pool was flooded, we had
management issues. After Nixon stopped the project in 1971, and there was an
injunction in 1974 that kept the Corps from doing any modification, everybody was
wanting to build dockside into the lake. We had all kinds of problems with people.
We used that injunction as our reason for saying, no, you can't do anything. [We
said,] we can't do anything [and] you can't do anything, but right down by State
Road 40, on the north side, they built a little theme park there. I guess it's still
B: Where is that?
P: On the northeast quadrant of State Road 40 and River.
B: I don't know about that, but go on.
P: Anyway, it was called Wild-something.
B: Oh yeah, I know what you're talking about.
P: So, we had problems with them, and that was part of the real-estate. That's how I
got to know Dave Bowman. He was always wanting to know where our
right-of-way line was. While we are talking about Rodman and Eureka, somewhere
around 1988, the Bureau of Land Management, who lays out all the government
land [office], sections, townships, and ranges, at the request of a lot of surveyors,
went into the Ocala Forest and did what they called a dependent restudy. They
moved a bunch of section corners.
B: How can you move sections?
P: Because they weren't put in accurately to start with.
B: Well, don't the sections serve as the base-line for all the surveys that have been
P: That's right. So, there's a question as to whether the legal descriptions that were
used to acquire the land were actually [accurate]. How do you resolve if a section
corner has been relocated?
B: Yeah, that's got to be terribly complicated for, not just your property, but just about
every legal description, every recorded land transfer that's come subsequent to
the original township system, right?
P: Right. Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but part of the requirement when the
project was to be transferred to the Corps under Section 1114 of Public Law
99-662, which never happened, one of the requirements which carried forth into
the law that caused the Corps to give all their land to the state was that, a survey
would be done of all the lands transferred, to make sure that what was gotten was
supposed to be. Before I retired, I wrote the specs for the survey. I don't know
that that survey was ever finished. The last time that I talked to Dave, I think it was
being done finally, you know, when I've been gone ten years.
B: That would be a fabulously expensive survey project all by itself, wouldn't it?
P: It's a lot of stuff to tie in.
B: What would something like that cost, just to take a ballpark, shoot-from-the-head
estimate, would you reckon?
P: Probably about a million dollars, if you do it right with all the complications.
B: That's not title work, that's just physical survey.
P: [That would be] taking the old deeds, finding the corners, seeing how it matched
the points that set the field, if they were set. When we bought the Ocala Ice and
Manufacturing land, the land adjacent to it is owned by a container corporation,
which is now Jefferson-Smurfitt, which is a company out of Ireland, I think ...
B: I've heard of it, but I don't know who they are.
P: I've got to know some people [there]. There's a guy that works for Container; his
name is Tuck Rainey, who married one of the girls that was trying to get the
Oklawaha River saved. Her name was Valerie. I can't remember her last name. I
got to know those people really well, because they spent a lot of time calling me
about maps. In fact, I went to their wedding. They got married in a hunting camp
down there. Yeah, I get a Christmas card from them every year.
B: The container corporation, which I think is Container Corporation of America, they
were in the box-making business. They would have owed that property for the
lumber resources, I guess, right?
P: Right, and they kept getting over on our property. They had land leased for a hunt
club, so we worked a deal with them. We furnished the Corps of Engineers'
monuments, the brass disk, and all their supplies, and they furnished a surveyor. I
gave him all the legals and he went out there and started monumenting the
boundary. He found out that Moorhead's survey had a bust in it; mathematically, it
didn't close. So, we kind of did an interpolation of the points. That was still an
issue. From the real-estate standpoint, the recreation sites that are around
Rodman and the land we bought, that 3,000 acres, we got from Ocala Ice, all that
was swamp, beautiful land, really. It's never been clear-cut.
B: It's never been timbered, you don't think? I didn't think there was much of anything
left in Florida that had never been timbered.
P: No, there's a white oak tree [forest] there, I took my daughter with me when we
went to the wedding, and I showed her ospreys, eagles, white oak trees that have
a canopy like the Treaty oak downtown. It's just a fantastic area back in there. I
think it was acquired in the 1800s by the Elgin Watch Company. They have a hunt
club; when I went there, I was looking for a cabin. It looked like the house in Dallas
at South Fork [referring to 1980s TV show] with the big columns going up to the
second story. I said, this is a hunting camp.
B: Where is this?
P: This is right in the middle of Marshal Swamp, where the Dead River cuts through.
It's still there now, I'm sure.
B: I hope so.
P: We were more or less under law obligated to let people hunt on the federal land.
Of course, we'd had a meeting with the sheriff of Ocala, with the Container people,
with the hunt club people, and with Dave Bowen. We'd reached a decision that we
couldn't let anybody hunt on our land, because it was too narrow: you couldn't
shoot a gun on the federal property without the shells going outside the reach.
They told us, you know, you can take a boat and come down the river and shoot at
the deer out of a boat all you want to and nobody can say a word, because they
were actually wanting to hunt on our property. We said, well, that's all right, you
get in the boat and you can hunt, but you ain't coming on our land. It was a big
argument. That was a hot issue, but we held our ground.
B: When was that?
P: [It was] around 1985.
B: Back up to the Ray Green episode involving locking the courthouse. When was
P: It was before the injunction on the project, so it was probably 1969, 1970, 1971, or
somewhere along there.
B: It was before Nixon de-authorized it or suspended work.
P: Yeah, we acquired land for what they called the construction office, which is off
Sharpsferry Road. Well, we acquired that. That's right next to and part of the
B: There was supposed to be a lock there.
P: Right, so that was within the lock reservation, so to speak. I worked out of that
office quite a bit through the years. They had people working out of there that went
out in each end. Where they poured the concrete and had the test blocks, they
were stacked up all out in the yard. If you wanted a four-wheel drive, you could
drive your regular car down there and pick up a [vehicle with] four-wheel drive and
go where you wanted to go.
B: Did you relocate down there or commute down there?
P: I worked all over the state and everywhere and I've never moved from
Jacksonville. Even when I worked at the Cape, I rode the train from here to the
Cape on Monday mornings and came back on Friday afternoons. There was a
Navy bombing range, which is part of the downstream flowage easement for
Rodman Pool. So, we got a permit from the Navy to occasionally flood that. You
probably didn't know there was any Navy property there.
B: I did not. Is it still there?
P: Yeah, It's still there, I'm sure, unless they've transferred it since I retired.
B: Is it within the Pool?
P: No, it was from the downstream of the dam where the Oklawaha River [is].
B: Yeah, [that's] where the river runs out to the St. Johns.
P: If you drove from State Road 19 on the main road that goes to Rodman, it would be
to your south.
B: It's kind of in a wetland, I guess.
P: Yeah, part of it's upland, and parts are wetland.
B: Is it still active as a Navy bombing range?
P: That is 1,215 acres, so it's not a little thing. I don't know.
B: I know the Navy has another site further south than the Ocala National Forest, I
think its in Marion County. The name of the range escapes me, but I've been by it
P: It's down where that community called Paisley is down there, not far from where
State Road 40 comes across.
B: That's correct, and I think it's right off of Highway 17.
P: I'm real familiar with that one. We had a lot of pressure from the city of Ocala.
They wanted to use our 3,000 acres at Marshall Swamp for sewage outflow.
B: Oh, really, I do think I heard something about that.
P: We met with them and met with the Defenders of the Environment. Anyway, we
never let them do it. I can tell you that, when Section 114 said that the state would
give all the land to the Corps, we were supposed to do a study and develop a plan
to manage the 77,000 acres. The state had to pass a law saying that they would
go along with it.
B: Now, you're referring back to the 1961 laws?
P: This is after the project. We did a lot of environmental studies and they finally
decided that they weren't ever going to build it, but Bennett was instrumental in
having the Section 114, where all the land would be held within the federal
government and the state would transfer everything to us that they had.
B: They had to transfer all the Canal Authority property?
P: Right, and there was a lot of things involved in that, one of them was the flowage
easements for the lake. The way the thing was worded, from Eureka to the St.
Johns River and from Inglis to the Gulf would remain an authorized project; that
way we could keep operating the Rodman Lake and the Inglis Pool.
B: You could also keep operating the locks.
P: Right, and they were talking about de-authorizing the whole project. I made a trip
up to Washington with Sam Eisenberg in probably 1988 or 1989.
B: Identify Sam Eisenberg.
P: Sam Eisenberg was the engineering division's coordinator for the Barge Canal.
He's retired. He explained the ramifications of interrupting the first water flow to
B: Who did you go up to Washington to talk to about this?
P: This was a Senate sub-committee aides.
B: This was for aids to navigation?
P: No, [these were] aides to the Congressman. I did meet with a Congressman.
Earlier, they had a committee. I think one of the Senators or Congressman from
Maryland was on the committee. I told you this on the phone, they were going to
have a big public meeting at Palatka. So, with the actual Congressman coming
down to talk to the Defenders of the Environment and all the people that were
interested in keeping the project going, keeping Rodman Lake there, or getting rid
of the project.
B: This is, again, about 1988.
P: Right, and I was watching NFL football and having a couple shots of bourbon and
the chief of engineering, Mr. Garland, called me and asked me if I could come
down to the federal building and meet with him and the colonel.
B: This is here in Jacksonville?
P: Here in Jacksonville, and I think that was Colonel Meyers. I believe he was a
[interruption by telephone]
P: I met with Colonel Meyers and the chief of engineering. Their question was, when
we acquired land in the 1930s, who paid for it? So, I pulled out the old Atlantic-Gulf
Ship Canal files and showed him it had a notation right there that the money was
furnished by the state. They were supposed to meet at seven o'clock the next
morning with a Congressman, at the Holiday Inn in Palataka. They asked me a lot
of other questions, so then the colonel said, you need to come down here and
explain this to the congressman; I don't think I can explain it all. So, I went down
there and sat with him and the congressman said, you need to come to this public
meeting in case we have any questions. I ended up sitting through it. I'm glad, in
a sense, they didn't destroy the Oklawaha River through Eureka. I think the
Rodman Pool is a great resource, now that it's built. They had an alternative study
to build the project where they would leave ninety percent of the Oklawaha River
basin [in the Eureka pool] intact and put a dike on the westside of the Oklawaha
River and to make a smaller pool that would have still provided for it, but that
alternative was never approved. Personally, I think Rodman is just going to stay a
lake, now that it is a lake. I have been on it many times, so this is not just an
B: Are you a fisherman?
P: Yeah, I like to fish. I also like to boat ride and canoe ride. I've seen the fish and I've
seen the water birds, and I saw it before.
B: You saw it before the structures were built?
P: [I saw it] before anything was done to it. It was a swamp. It had a pretty river
running through the middle of it, but as far as now, it stores water, it has much
better fishing, it has a very good habitat for waterfowl, it doesn't have habitat for
coons and bears and wild pigs, but it has other amenities. You know, it's one of the
best lakes in northeast Florida.
B: Before the structures were built and before the pool was back-flooded, what did it
look like? Did it look pretty much the way the Oklawaha looks downstream of the
structures, downstream of the dam?
P: Pretty much. The river is a little wider. There was a ford or a road that came down
through Kenwood that crossed the river. I went down there and looked at it there.
There were several dirt boat-ramps that came off Forest Service Road 77. There
were a lot of hunt camps that went right down to the edge of the swamp. Yeah, it
pretty much was the same. It had the cypress trees and the bay trees, and the
muck and the mud, and a lot of mosquitoes, but that's all right.
B: When you were a young man growing up in Jacksonville, do you remember ever
hearing about the Ship Canal project or the project in general?
B: What did you hear about it, then, as a young man growing up?
P: Well, my granddaddy was involved in it somehow. I think he might have been at
Camp Roosevelt. I don't know that to be a fact, but he talked about it. I was very
much aware of the Ship Canal when I was growing up. I had seen the old bridge
abutments, you know, where it crossed with 301, came out and the road splits
B: Yes, it's down by Ocala there.
B: What did you hear your grandfather say about it? Did he talk about it as a valuable
thing, an important thing, or as another routine piece of navigational work that the
Corps was doing?
P: Well, I think he thought the principle of having a canal across the state of Florida
was shorter shipping routes. If you go through the St. Lucie Canal into Lake
Okeechobee out to Caloosahatchee, that's a pretty involved trip. The original
concept was to bring defense materials from one side of the state to the other
without being subject to going around the tip of Key West, where you're in open
water to the Caribbean. Part of the principle was to improve the shipping lanes and
the barges from the Gulf Coast coming through to the East Coast. The Sea Level
Canal, that would have been a major thing. He never talked about the concept,
whether that was a good concept or a bad concept. He worked on
Caloosahatchee River...this is Cleveland Johnson. He worked on construction of
the levies around the lake, he worked on dredging in Tampa Harbor, he worked for
the Tampa Sand and Shell Company in the 1920s. He actually took me, when I
was twelve years old, down to Tampa and showed me when they were building
that Skyway Bridge there. He told me about the dredging he'd done. He never
mentioned the Corps of Engineers, but then he was a contractor in those days. My
granddaddy worked for the Corps from 1901 to 1913. When his father-in-law,
F.W., retired, then he quit and went to work for him when they built the municipal
docks in the city of Jacksonville. F.W., when he retired from the Corps, he built the
city's first series of docks along the river.
B: That's interesting, I didn't know about that. Well, your grandfather commented on
the canal. You say he also worked on the Okeechobee waterway project, the St.
Lucie Canal, and the canal locks that lead down to Caloosahatchee on the west
side, and the Hoover Dike around the lake. Did he think that project, I mean, tugs
and barges could cross that when there was enough water in the lake. Did he see
any redundancy between that and the Barge Canal?
P: No, the Barge Canal is a shorter route and it ties a different part of the state
together. Another thing is, it's close to the West Coast Waterway which comes out
in Apalachicola, which runs all the way from Texas. You have a little stretch of
open water between Apalachicola and Inglis, and they had planned to put some
barrier island out of dredge material to kind of keep the winds off of anything that
went down there.
B: I see, it's kind of following the big bend contour around there, the shelf.
P: Actually, when the Tennessee Tombigbee was built that tied the Ohio River in to
Mobile, my understanding is, this was all a plan to bring barges full of coal down
through the Tennessee Tombigbee from the Ohio River, through the West Coast
Waterway, over to the Apalachicola, down into the Barge Canal, up to the coal-fire
plants in Palatka and Jacksonville and other areas. That was where part of the
economics for the project came from, was those coal barges.
B: It makes sense, yeah. Did you have much interaction with private-property
land-owners along the canal right-a-way that you were involved in, either acquiring
land, or trying to improve the estate, the quality of the title to individual
P: When we did the recreational planning, I met quite a few of the land-owners. The
Canal Authority bought land from the private owners, so they were involved with
them. The only time we got involved with the land-owners that the Canal Authority
dealt with was if they had a squabble or something and they involved the Corps.
Sometimes the Canal Authority would ask us to do an exception or something. If
there was a small area that they didn't want to take, they'd ask us to consider
modifying our land request or something like that. I dealt with Ned Folks, who I
think was a county commissioner in Marion County. He had land where the
Dunellon Lock was going to go. He was a real nice man. We had to cross his land
and he asked what we were doing, and so I told him. He was real nice and real
polite. He gave me a radiator cap for a 1936 Ford truck, which I used to have one
of. He had a couple of trucks sitting in his yard. Occasionally, a land- owner would
come to Jacksonville, like some of the people from Lake Rousseau, and they had
strong objections to some of the things that were planned, they didn't want to lose
their property. They'd come up and talk to us about it. One church, I remember,
the pastor was a lady, she came up and was a very interesting person. In general,
no [I didn't have very much interaction with private land-owners]. I had to go to
court. One of the land-owners that owned land right beside Rodman, on the south
side before you get to Orange Springs Road, when we had the Lake drawn down,
he went out there and dredged a canal into the lake. Our permits people wrote him
a ticket. There again, C. Ray Green was his attorney. We had to go in and we had
a big hassle where the taking line was, and this was an area where the Canal
Authority had not acquired land up to the 300 foot collar. There were some places
where they were a little lax. Anyway, I met them in court. Another thing, while
we're talking, there was a question when we condemned land for recreation as to
whether the enhancement for the project should be considered in the value of land,
whether the recreation was always a part of the project or whether it was an
add-on. So, I spent almost three hours on the witness stand, discussing the land
request and the design and real-estate design. That was the first time I saw the
mission of recreation. That was when the attorney for the land-owner asked me if
I had ever fished in the Rodman Pool. The U.S. attorney said, that's not relevant,
and the judge said, I want to hear what he has to say.
B: Who is the judge?
P: I believe his name was Judge Black [or Young], as a matter of fact.
B: Was he a state judge or a federal judge?
B: What did you say?
P: What did I say?
P: I told him I'd taken my family down there, where I had fished and what we'd caught.
Then, he asked me what kind of bait we were using. So, it was a personal
question, you know. That's the longest I ever sat on a witness stand, about three
B: Did you spend a lot of time testifying in these cases?
P: I spent a lot of time testifying when we bought land from the Cape, it was all survey
issues. We actually acquired that. When I got my state survey license, that was
primarily ... I'm license number 1911 in the state, I think they're up to 6,000 now.
B: That's a valuable license to have. I understand there's shortage of surveyors now.
P: Yes, there's a shortage of knowledgeable ones, anyway.
[End side A2]
B: We were talking about your court testimony and some of the various court actions.
I think that you had just mentioned that you did a lot of testimony in connection with
the Cape Canaveral acquisition. Getting back to the Canal Project, I guess one of
the things I wanted to cover, at least before we finish up today's session, was to
ask you about the de-authorization, the decision that Richard Nixon made to
suspend work on the project, the environmental movement, Florida Defenders of
the Environment. When did you become aware of the environmental controversy
about the Canal Project and how did you react to that as time went by?
P: I became aware of it. I think everybody that worked on the project was aware of it,
because it was vocalized. In the beginning, people in the district, particularly
engineering, did not want to take it too much into consideration. They wanted to
build the project. Engineering and construction people, they want to get it built, so
they don't see that side of it to start with. From my own personal viewpoint, I grew
up with a creek on both sides of my house, so I spent a lot of time walking through
swamps and fishing, so I'm willing to hear people that really like swamps, because
I've had a lot of fun in them when I was a kid. I felt like, if there was an alternative,
they ought to take it. I didn't know what Rodman was going to look like until it was
done. They did the thing where they took pressure and crushed trees down in the
mud and they started popping back up. I think the Corps kind of shot itself in the
foot with that method, which was supposed to save money. I think those trees
coming up brought the Rodman Pool to the forefront so much that it might have
gotten more attention than it would have if it had just been done in a conventional
way of clearing and logging and taking the logs away, digging a channel for the
largest to go through and then flooding it. There wouldn't have been anything to
stick up, there wouldn't been any trees to have died. Only Eureka Pool of Ocala,
where the offices are on Sharpsferry Road, I never saw any kind of environmental
problem with the rest of the project. Basically, it was farm-land.
[There were] some woods, but it was no different than building an expressway
through the state. It's the same concept [as when] you're going to have a road.
Seventy-seven probably took close to as much woods as the channel would have
taken through there. There were some pines and there were some communities
that it affected a little bit. Santos, I think, was one of the areas near Ocala, and
where State Road 434 crossed, there was some thought about that crossing.
They had to figure out where to build bridges. Bridges were a big issue. That was
another thing, do we ask the Canal Authority to buy land to build a bridge or do we
buy the land? We turned it over to the Federal Road Department, US 19, and the
bridge for State Road 40, and the bridge to Eureka. All of those were kind of issues
at one point. To answer your question, probably as early as 1967, I started hearing
repercussions from people on the environmental side of it. I paid attention to it. I
had been to several meetings where Marjorie Carr was at Defenders of the
Environment. We also had a group called Defenders of the Oklawaha that was
trying to keep sewage from being pumped into the Oklawaha River. That was a
different group, those were good people. The Defenders of the Environment, in
my opinion, they weren't totally ethical in their statements. There were things they
said which I didn't think were true and would ever be true, about we were doing
[and] how quick the river valley would go back to its natural state if you just stopped
and took the dam out. You know, it's going to be many, many years before it ever
gets back to looking anything like it had. It'll become a swamp with briars for long
periods of time before it ever comes back.
B: Do you think the things that were said, were they things that responsible people
might have disagreements over, or do you think that these were things that were
being said, where people should have known better but were trying to go for the
maximum rhetorical effect?
P: I think they were stretching the point. I wish I remembered some specifics. I
listened to some of the statements that were made, and just common-sense will
tell you, you don't have to be an environmentalist, you just have to be a person that
grew up in the woods to know that what they were saying wasn't going to happen.
[It would happen] maybe someday, but not within the time-frames or not within our
lifetime or the next generation's lifetime. In very recent [times], July 2003, the
governor [Jeb Bush] refused to sign a bill to make Rodman Lake a natural
preserve. He was saying on television [that] the bear will start coming in there, and
if bears start coming up before you drain Rodman, they'll be out in the open, they'll
be on the bank of the river with no protection in between. They're not going to do
that. You're going to lose a lot of fish. Rodman acts as a filter for the upstream
Oklawaha. If the muck farms upstream overflow and too much dirt comes
downstream and it kills fish, it doesn't kill the fish in St. Johns River, it kills the fish
in Rodman. So, it protects St. Johns River; it's a warning device. You'd never
know if it just ran in the big river, but, you know, at Rodman, if anything goes wrong
upstream, it instantly shows up. It's a barometer for the quality of the Oklawaha.
Those are just my opinions, I'm not an environmentalist, but I care about the
environment. I don't [think] Nixon really had the right to stop it. It was a
Congressional act, and I don't believe the president has a right to stop a
Congressional act. There was a one-page letter passed around. I don't know how
valid it was. Supposedly, it was a memorandum to Nixon that advised him to do
that for the benefit of his status in office. It had been a good thing for him to make
an environmental statement, so he ought to stop it.
B: You think that his motives for stopping it were more political, to polish up his
reputation as somebody who was a steward of the environment and not based so
much on science or any evenhanded data-based actual decisions.
P: That's correct, and I have the alternative study in a box in there. They were going
to keep most of the Eureka Pool and a natural forest and go to one side and dig a
B: What year was that?
P: I think it was 1977 or 1978.
B: What was the point of that?
P: The point of that was to continue the project, but not destroy the Eureka Pool or to
affect the Oklawaha River so much. Yeah, they went out and dug away some
uplands along the west side of the river. They got enough water to raise boats up,
so they deflected a part of the river into this wide channel and that gave enough
water to lock through the boats and so on and so forth.
B: Did that seem like a sensible sort of compromise?
P: Yeah, the project could have gone through and most of the swamp would have
been still like it always was.
B: Well, you came into the project when it was in full tilt toward construction, and you
worked for the Corps right through beyond the date when it was abundantly clear
that it was never going to be built, apparently; and after the Greenway, as it's called
now, exists as an asset for the people of Florida, a real-estate holding for the
P: Yeah, one of the things I did [was,] I worked really closely with Fred Ayers. He was
Chief of the Greenway and Trail Association. This map that you see here, when I
drew that, they wanted copies instantly. I worked with the Canal Authority through
the years to try to bring our records together. They took our maps and put their
parcels on it. They had different parcel numbers than ours, and I helped them.
They did not have a good set of maps for the whole project. They brought it in by
jobs, but they didn't have an overall set of real-estate maps for the Canal Authority.
They might buy fifty parcels to give us one deed, so when all this became an issue,
we kind of needed to know if there was any special interest in different tracts that
had glitches we needed to know about. So, I wanted them to take our maps and let
them superimpose their parcels on our maps. They retained them, but that helped
us, because we knew what they had.
B: As far as you know, are there still surveys with glitches or busts or properties that
are somehow ambiguous in terms of their proper boundaries and survey
P: Well, I don't know what's been done since I retired. I still stay in touch with some of
the people. Fred Ayers has retired. I'm sure that there are areas. Another thing,
there was areas that weren't acquired. When it was going to be the Cross Florida
Conservation Area, part of it was to have a trail across the state where wild life
could go east or west without having to go through a town, and there were some
areas that had to bought. You can look on this map and there are some areas that
we show as still in private ownership. [pointing out locations on the map to
interviewer] From my understanding, the reason the state didn't want to give us the
land, part of it was Marion County wanted to use a lot of this mile-wide right-of-way
for landfills, for various and sundry things. They made a big push. They said, if the
federal government gets this, we'll never get our hands on this land at all, but if the
state gets it, then through our political friends, we can use some of this land. The
final bill, the way it went, doesn't require them to keep but a narrow trail through
there, really only 300 yards wide. So, that lets them get rid of a lot of land for other
uses. [There's] a lot of politics involved in it. [There's] more politics than common
sense for the project. This project, in my opinion, and this is not on behalf of the
Corps, I think for recreation use, for the transfer of coal through there, I think for
even the transfer of... one of the theories was to bring rocket parts from Houston
through this system, go into the St. Johns River, down through the St. Johns, and
through the cut over to the Cape; so that was another feature .. there was a lot of
good things about it. The Corps maintained [the area]. If you saw it when it was
flourishing in the Rodman Pool after it started becoming a good fishing area, you
would know the recreation sites were well-kept; the Pool stayed clean. They
fought hydrilla, which they fight in every lake in Florida. As to whether the barges
would have spilled stuff into the lakes and caused problems, supposedly they were
going to monitor that, but who knows. You look at the Valdez [Exxon-Valdez, oil
barge that spilled oil in Alaska] and you multiply that in a barge in a smaller,
confined [area], how much damage would it do? In answer to your question, no. I
helped with Defenders of the Oklawaha by furnishing maps on what we were going
to do, because I believed in trying to keep the river clean, and I believe in keeping
Rodman Lake like it is, right to this day. I'm glad they didn't tear up Eureka, but I
think the alternative would have been satisfactory. That's my opinion.
B: What did you think of Marjorie Harris Carr?
P: Well, I think she was very effective. I heard her debate with one of our colonels. I
think it was Colonel [Rock] Salt, maybe. I had a little lake place in Keystone, I
would get up real early turn it on and watch it. He was very kind to her, because
she said some things that he could have really made her look bad over, but he
didn't. He was very polite. I think she had the ear of a lot of people. She was like
the lady in Miami that kind of saved the Everglades and the Kissimmee River.
B: Marjorie Stoneman Douglas.
P: Yeah, I put the two of them on the same plane, but I think Marjorie Stoneman
Douglas was little more ethical than Marjorie Carr. That's what I think. I met her, I
talked to Mrs. Carr. She didn't know what I thought; I didn't argue with her about it,
I just met her. That's actual, when I carried the maps over to Gainesville to have
them digitized, the ones of Rodman Lake and Eureka Lake, __ I think there's a
guy who worked for the Corps at one time that was kind of the mapping guy over
B: He was in the map library there at Marston?
P: Yeah, [his name] starts with a W. Anyway, it's an unusual name and it's not
coming to me, but I ran into him. He actually had the job that I had in real-estate
when I first transferred when I left [engineering] Bob Wigglesworth. Have you ever
heard of him?
B: No, I don't know that name.
P: He's probably gone now. He's older than me and I'm sixty-seven almost.
B: What do you think should be done with the Greenway now and in the future?
P: I'd like to see them preserve as much of the land as possible and actually make it
parks and trails, and keep a continuous area. I think the state of Florida needs to
very severely limit the construction in what's left of our pristine environment.
Anything that adds to that, I'm all for it. I think that they need to manage it. They
don't need to just say they're going to do it and then let it just sit. It takes some
money to keep it up. I think that the entire Eureka Swamp ought to be added to the
Forest Service land and maintained as part of the Ocala National Forest. I think
there's no use to have three or four different agencies managing one area. I think
that the area of Dunnellon where the power dam is, I actually think that they ought
to continue using the canal coming out of the Gulf up to the lake and up to the town
for commercial purposes.
B: They should use it for navigation?
P: Yeah, because I don't see anything that it hurts; the damage is done.
B: It's been there for a hundred years or so now, just about.
P: Yeah, and people [use] it, there's business where __ They were bring boats up
the [canal] and they had leased areas for construction for people that manufacture
and ship out of there, phosphate or Florida lime rock or whatever it is. The area
from where the Rainbow Springs run and comes in over through there, you know, I
would like to see that, just wherever they own it, I would like to see it just remain as
woods and to be a park or to be a natural wildlife area. Let it grow up and let it
flourish, because parks over there have been farmed, or they make a decision on
what could be farmed [and] what could be used. That pretty much is what I'd do
B: The Rodman Reservoir facility, you would continue pretty much as it is or would
you change it?
P: With Rodman, I would try to keep its lake level up where you could have recreation
all the way around it and go in and implement the recreation at Paynes Landing
and put the Forest Service boat ramp back where it could be used to launch boats.
That area of water, if you have four or five years of drought, it's a valuable thing to
have that much water stored. It's a reservoir for one product purpose, but it could
be used as a reservoir for other purposes.
B: That's true. Would you do the same thing with the Buckman Lock as your
suggesting with the Inglis Lock, keep it open for navigation and allow commercial
traffic to come and go up and through the Oklawaha River basin there?
P: Sure, the Oklawaha River was a major commerce [lane] at one point in time. Back
in the early 1800s, they snagged it so the people could go up and down. It had
steamboat landings and everything.
B: Yeah, we were saying earlier that the Corps worked on that, I guess.
P: Yeah, F.W. Bruce, my great-grandfather, did a snagging operation on the
Oklawaha in the early, early 1900s.
[interruption by telephone]
B: You were saying that, during the Seminole Indian Wars, there were some
snag-clearing projects done in the Oklawaha River to ...
P: To facilitate the Navy's bringing in small gunboats up to fight the Seminole Indians.
That was one of the few ways they could get to them was by boat.
B: How about during the Civil War?
P: Yeah, there was Union boats. In fact, there was quite a few gun battles between
what few Confederate ships they had and the Federals. I don't know if they
actually got into the Oklawaha or not. I know there was a gunboat that was sunken
in Dunn's Creek which goes into Crescent Lake. The Confederacy actually sunk
some of their ships to keep the Feds from getting them, and then after the Feds
left, they raised them back up.
B: I have read about some of that, yeah.
P: I'm sure that wherever the Union forces could go to try to find the Confederates,
you know they were kind of a will o' wisp in this area. Jacksonville and the St.
Johns River, between here and Palatka, was pretty much taken over by the Feds,
because they had the fort in St. Augustine and they pretty much had control of
Jacksonville through the whole war, off and on. They had Fernandina, so they had
B: We've talked about several different aspects of the project, and especially with
attention to some of the real-estate issues that came up during your professional
involvement with the Canal project. We're going to have to conclude for today here
momentarily, but I wonder if you have ideas for some future discussion about this,
maybe some paths that we didn't get a chance to go down yet today.
P: Let me see what would be of interest to people. Some of the things that occurred,
I'd have to stop and do a little deeper thinking. As I was telling you, the cabin
where the Yearling was filmed was taken for the Eureka Dam acquisition, so I got
to see that cabin before they tore it down.
B: Did you get photographs for it?
P: No, but I can tell you what parcel it was on the Canal Authority's maps. Looking at
the areas, almost everything along the Oklawaha was historic. Another thing was
everybody was afraid that the Silver Springs rung would be affected by Eureka
Lake. I saw the boat ramp area where State Road 40, where the little county park
is there, where the Corps transferred title to the state.
B: Ray Park is the name of the little county park.
P: Yeah, when they had some extreme high flood waters, I saw it partially covered
with water, up to where supposedly the Eureka Pool contour was going to go, and
it didn't have any effect on the Oklawaha River. All that water was coming down
the spring, so you know, that was an indication to me, because our engineers said
it wouldn't affect it, and after seeing that, I believed it. I met a lot of people [and]
learned a whole lot about that part of the state. Around Salt Springs and in the
town of Eureka, some of the things you could talk about was, what would it be like
if they'd have built [it], what would the people of Eureka be like now, with barges
sailing back and to by their front door. If you had a pleasure-boat, and particularly
in modern times, if you trailered your boat down to Palatka and put it in the river
and sailed over to the Inglis and went fishing in the Gulf for a day and then came
back, you know, it would enjoyable. It would be a pretty ride through there, too.
B: It sure would.
P: I don't know actually how far up that river [the manatee] went. I don't know that
anybody ever saw a manatee up that river, nobody ever mentioned manatees.
B: That's interesting you should say that, because Dave Bowen has made inquiries
over the years of people he's met along the river and he says the same thing,
nobody has ever mentioned seeing manatees.
P: I've talked to a lot of people, nobody ever say manatees. They saw manatees in
the Rainbow Springs run.
P: Yeah, but that's a different thing, a different side of the river.
B: Yeah, that is a different situation.
P: Yeah, apparently no manatees are known to have visited Silver Springs, ever. I
don't think they did.
B: It's kind of curious why not, though, because they've been all the way up the St.
Johns. I know for sure they've gone as far as Blue Springs down there by De Land,
Orange City, so they're capable of covering that territory.
P: Maybe the flow was too intense for them.
B: That could be.
P: I don't think they like swimming upstream too strong.
B: Nobody wants to if they can avoid it, right?
P: That's another thing, you know, I wonder about the statements about manatees. I
can't say it's not true, but I have never seen or talked to anyone who ever saw a
manatee anywhere in the river. I've talked to people at fish camps and stayed in
motels around the project, little old hotels and motels, and talked to people at night.
They knew what I was doing. All the people that I ever talked to that lived
anywhere around the project wanted to see it. I know one of the things I learned
talking about sewage along the river, you know, acquiring the project, all the
hunting camps and fish camps were in private ownership down when they
acquired to buy the Rodman Reservoir. They're not there now, so the Forest
Service has the project. That took potential destruction, you know, sewage or
trash or forest fire stretched from little hunt camps. Not that I'm against hunt
camps, but you know. I think those are some of the things we could talk about, the
what- ifs. I would have to go back and read through all these thousands of pages
I've got and try to research it a little and see if there's other things that come to my
B: Well, I would encourage you to do that and give it some thought, and I will be back
in touch with you. For today, I'd say, let's conclude this with me saying, thank you,
Cleveland Powell, for your time and your recollections. This has been valuable.
P: Well, I hope so.
B: I appreciate it.
[End of Interview.]