FLORIDA EVERGLADES ONLINE -- RIVER OF GRASS TOUR
AN ONLINE TOUR THROUGH THE RIVER OF GRASS

 

(Special Commemorative Edition of the Naples Daily News celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Everglades, published Dec. 6, 1997)

Call it the fight of the century. River of Grass vs. Concrete Jungle. But unlike those heavyweight bouts between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, in this battle only the contender is punching.

From the walking dredge that carved a swath through the marshes to build the Tamiami Trail to the agricultural runoff from sugar farms that pumped excess nutrients into Everglades waters, the ecosystem has been continually shocked for the greater part of the 20th century.

The Everglades may not resemble the endless expanse the Seminoles knew, but it remains alive. As Florida celebrates the 50th anniversary of Everglades National Park today, a cleanup estimated to cost as much as $7 billion over the next 50 years is in the works.

For Collier County, the Everglades is more than a reminder of the uninhabitable swamp country Barron Gift Collier encountered in 1923 when he first pondered one of the biggest real estate gambits in Florida history. The national park provides an economic base for Everglades City. It's our anti-Disney World, a natural tourist attraction loved by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who hope to experience its undistilled magic.

Staff writer Ralf E. "Ted" Kircher and staff photographer Cameron Gillie experienced that magic on a one-week canoe trip through the heart of the Everglades. Their story anchors this special section. On these pages we celebrate the River of Grass and try to map its past, its present and its future.

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