Indian River Drive - PARADISE (Ft. Pierce Tribune Article) and section Index page
MAPS Index Page

HISTORY Index Page

Prepared by Rick Langdon
Historian - Indian River Drive Freeholders Association



"NEW" -  21 April 2006   /   "Revised" - 27 April 2006

1895 - 2006
THE DRIVE - That ribbon of asphalt thru our front yards  

(From my message to The_Drive Group at Yahoo):  (#144, April 16,2006)

--- First, "the bottom line" ---

Most of the segment of South Indian River Drive which remains within unincorporated St. Lucie County is "undefined" with respect to roadway alignment and right of way width  - except as defined specifically within individual property descriptions, recorded plats, formal conveyance, or other instruments.   That is, it "may" have been surveyed, but it has not been mapped on a "Roadway Maintenance Map" as defined by Florida Statute.

--- Background that builds to where we are now ---

July 17, 1821 - Florida purchased from Spain by the United States and became a US Territory,  St. Johns County formed which included most of
"East Florida"

December 29, 1824 - Mosquito County formed  - basically the central third of East Florida

February 4, 1836 - Dade County (Florida's 19th) formed - basically all of South-East Florida

1835-1842 - The period of "The Second Seminole War"

1838 - Ft. Pierce (The fortification) established on the bank of the Indian River, South of Ft. Capron

August 4, 1842 - The "Armed Occupation Act" passed.  This was intended to encourage settlement within Florida and provide for a source of ready militia, if necessary.  It offered title to 160 acres of land and a years rations to those willing to settle on and cultivate a minimum of 5 acres for a period of 5 years.

This Act prompted some scattered settlement along the banks of the Indian River including several homesteads in this area in what was called the "Susanna" Settlement.  Remains of a Coquina Rock Fireplace inscribed "1844", part of the oldest existing structure in St. Lucie County are still visible at 4111 South Indian River Drive.  This was part of the William B. Davis Permit lands, one of Two Armed Occupation Act Grant Parcels which predate the original Government Land Surveys - conducted in the early 1850's.  The other Armed Occupation Act Grant Parcel is at the South end of The Drive, the James S. Grant permit lands, about a mile North of the current St. Lucie/Martin County line.

March 14, 1844 - St. Lucia County (Florida's 25th) created - basically the Northern half of what was Dade County, from about the Hillsboro River, North of the Ft. Lauderdale area, North to Cape Canaveral, and skirting the South Shore of Lake Okeechobee to the center of the state..

March 5, 1845 - Florida granted statehood
From the 1850 census, St. Lucia County: Most civilians have departed the area and not yet returned.  (The Susanna Settlements were abandoned following the "Indian massacre" of a store operator in the White City area.)  The majority of the St. Lucia County population, 22 dwellings in this "division" of the census, consisted of soldiers barracked at Ft. Pierce.
January 23, 1851 - The Florida legislature appropriated $1000 to build a wagon road from Ft. Dallas at the North end of Biscayne Bay to Ft. Capron on the Indian River in St. Lucia County

Early plats (Ref. The Ransom Plat dated February 1897, PB 1 Page 198) indicate this "public road" being West of the FEC RR through the Sand Pine

January 6 , 1855 - St. Lucia County renamed Brevard County

1855 - 1858 - The period of "The Third Seminole War"

In the Late 1870's and early 1880's the first of the permanent residents settled along the southwest shore of the Indian river in lower Brevard County (which would become St. Lucie County) ... 10+ years before there was reliable inshore transportation on the (then freshwater) Indian River adjoining our front yards ... 15+ years before the Railroad pierced through our backyards ... and 18+ years before Brevard County slashed out what would become South Indian River Drive through our front yards.  Among the first of these earliest permanent settlers were Capt. Thomas E. Richards and family from Newark, New Jersey who settled in and named the Eden Community, The Ankeny Family who settled in the area which became the Ankona Community, and the Elon Eldred family from Illinois who settled in what would become the Eldred Community.

September 1890 - Henry Morrison Flagler through his "Florida Coast Line Canal & Transportation Company" was granted 36,103 and 3/100 acres within the St. Lucie County portion of Brevard County in September 1890 for the completion of 134 1/2 miles of canal work (which would become part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway) from the "Haulover" near Cape Canaveral to Jupiter.

1892 - 1894 - Henry Morrison Flagler extended his railroad "The Florida East Coast Railroad" from Daytona to West Palm Beach.  The railroad arrived in Ft. Pierce in January 1894 and West Palm Beach in March 1894.

1895 - Lands were being purchased for a roadway along the West bank of the Indian River, what is now "South Indian River Drive - "The Drive", by Brevard County.  One sale, for $1 to Elon Eldred, deeded 13 1/4 Acres through his lands "along the top of the bank and about 20' back therefrom" for the road.  By the Fall of 1898, the original (horse and buggy) sand trail had been cut through to Stuart where Dade County picked it up and eventually completed it to Miami and Homestead.

This Sand trail was later stabilized with oyster shells from local indian mounds, and in 1910 the first Model "T" struggled down the road from Ft. Pierce to Stuart.

May 24, 1905 - St. Lucie County (Florida's 46th) established and basically included lands from the current Palm Beach county line, West to Okeechobee and North to Sebastion.  It would later "lose" lands to the formation of Martin, Indian River, and Okeechobee counties.
From the St. Lucie County Tribune, August 25, 1905:
"Eden - The County lawnmower broke down when it attacked our road.  We knew we had more and better stock in weeds than those grown anywhere else."
From the St. Lucie County Tribune, Sept 8, 1905:
"The first automobile in Ft. Pierce appeared Wednesday afternoon.  An "Orient Buckboard" manufactured in Waltham, Mass.  It is the property of Mr. F.H. Fee, President of the Bank of Ft. Pierce.  It is expected to develop a speed of 20 to 30 miles per hour."

From the earliest days, speeding on The Drive has been, and remains, a major concern of residents.

From The St. Lucie County Tribune, March 21, 1913: "We second the Ankona correspondent’s efforts to draw the attention of the proper authorities to the reckless use of automobiles on Riverside Drive.  A pedestrian, bicycle, or horse and wagon have no rights at all, as far as some of them are concerned, and that Fort Pierce man who drives so recklessly at night without lights need to be severely dealt with.  One of our most conservative men said an unlighted car passed down the road one night last week, going a mile a minute.  It is a shame and an outrage and should not be allowed.  To the credit of most of the owners of cars we will say that they are uniformly courteous and gentlemanly, but there are a few who are aching to get into trouble and will probably succeed."
1914 - E.P. Maule contracted to pave the road (single lane - 9' width) through St. Lucie County using White Lime rock mined in Ft. Lauderdale, shipped up via the FEC RR, delivered to the work site using 36 head of mules, and spread by hand.

Sometime prior to 1927
The Drive, then known as "Old Dixie Highway", had been given it's first asphalt surfacing and the width expanded to 16', two 8' lanes.

October 1951 - the road was recently resurfaced by the state road department at a budgeted cost of around $80,000 and the paved width increased from 16' to 18'

Starting in the late 1970's, maintenance responsibility for many roads, including South Indian River Drive, was being transferred from the State of Florida to the various Counties and Municipalities, i.e. the redesignation of our riverfront roadway from SR 707 to CR 707.  To clarify and define the Right of way, and in compliance with Florida Statutes the following FDOT Maintenance Maps were filed with the appropriate County Clerks certifying the Right of Way.

In April 2004, to satisfy my own curiosity about the alignment and extent of the Indian River Drive Right of Way I purchased a two CD set of all plats filed with the St. Lucie County Clerk.  In April 2006 I updated this set of CD's, which is now a 3 CD set.  Although the "Index" is difficult to decipher, many and various forms of "Plat names" are used to identify roadway maintenance maps, I found the following plat maps filed relating specifically to the SIRD ROW:

Martin County, PB 7 Pg 21, recorded July 12, 1977
(This was confirmed by, and a copy obtained from the 4th District Office of the Florida Department of Transportation - in May 2005)
Records FDOT Maint Map Section 89030 Sheets 1, 2, and 3 of 3 which maps the segment of The Drive from the Jensen Beach Bridge intersection Northward to the Martin / St. Lucie County Line.  The certification for the transfer includes references to " ... per Sect 341.59 FS 1951, Sect 337.31 FS 1955, Sect 95.361 FS 1974, and /or under formal conveyance and other instruments ..."

St. Lucie County, PB 19, Pages 10, 10A, and 10B, recorded February 13, 1979
Records FDOT Maintenance Maps Section 94100 Sheets 1, 2, and 3 of 3 which maps the segment of The Drive from the (old) Ft. Pierce City limit at the South Line of Section 23 Twp 35S Rge 40E Northward to Citrus Ave in Ft. Pierce.  The citation by FDOT referenced 95.361 FS, the citation by the County Commission referenced 337.31 FS

St. Lucie County, PB 23 Pg 17, recorded September 28, 1982
Records a plat showing Right of Way of Indian River Drive from Seaway Drive Northward to Fisherman's Wharf, the Certification by the county Commission does not contain any reference that the plat is being filed based on compliance with Florida Statute.

St. Lucie County, PB 23 Pg 22 and 22A, Recorded January 5, 1983
Records (revisions) to FDOT Maint Maps Section 94100 Sheets 1 and 3 of 3 These are the same maps recorded in PB 19 Pages 10 and 10B.  It appears that the refiling was to correct the referenced citation by the County from Sect 337,31 FS 1955 to Sect 95.361 FS 1974, It does not appear that there was any change in the map data itself. Therefore, the 3 valid sheets showing this section of ROW are:

PB23 PG 22 = Sheet 1 of 3
PB19 PG 10A = Sheet 2 of 3
PB23 PG 22a = Sheet 3 of 3

St. Lucie County, PB 41 Pages 18 & 18A, recorded September 23, 2002
Records FDOT Maintenance Map 94100-Maint, Sheets 1 and 2 of 2 which Maps the segment of The Drive from Citrus Ave. to Palmetto Ave. (Ave. "A").  The citation references 95.361 FS.

PB41 PG 18 = Sheet 1 of 2 (Cover Sheet)
PB 41 PG 18A - Sheet 2 of 2 (Map Sheet)

1999/ 2000 - St. Lucie County resurfaced the county portion of South Indian River Drive from the Ft. Pierce City Limit to the Martin County Line with 2 courses of hot mix asphalt, ~ 1 to 1 1'2" each, separated with a felt fabric "crack" barrier, width expanded from 18' to 20'.

September 2004 - South Indian River Drive was directly hit with two Hurricanes, Frances on September 4th/5th and Jeanne on September 25th/26th.  The storms surge and waves over topped The Drive at the South end and severely eroded the high bank along the ridge section to Ft. Pierce.  At several locations the bank erosion extended to the East edge of the roadway.

November 2004 / March 2005 - St. Lucie County, with the assistance of a Federal Grant of $30-40 Million, and the permission of the majority of property owners along The Drive, restores the eroded river bank, installs rip rap toe protection along the low southern section and a controversial interlocking concrete block "armoring" revetment along the toe of the high bank.  Some, roughly 35 to 40, property owners along the drive "opt out" from the embankment restoration and armoring project.  A "minor" section, South of the FP&L "High Voltage Main Lines" from the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant, were "naturally" protected by remanent/exposed sections of the sedementary rock formation which formed "The Atlantic Coastal Ridge" and were excepted from the Bank Restoration and Revetment Project.

The County Commission, in response to homeowners concerns that the completion of this project plus 4 years of continued "maintenance" could lead to an expansion of the road right of way, under the provisions of Florida Statute 95.361, to include the all lands east of the roadway - adopts resolution(s)04-338 and 04-345 (supplementing 04-338) and files the Board of County Commisioners Resolution 04-345 with the County Clerk in the Official Records of the County.  On November 17, 2004 The County issues a recorded copy of 04-345, an extract copy of S95.361, and a copy of an undated letter from the county administrator clarifying the county's intent in requesting homeowners permission for access in the form of a "license to Access".  These document copies are provided via mail in a letter from the county Attorney to "each effected property owner on The Drive".


Despite the assurances provided by St. Lucie County, a recommendation still exists that, for the continued marketability of our lands (TO CLEAR THE POSSIBILITY OF A CLOUD TO TITLE FOR LANDS EAST OF THE ROADWAY) each property owner whose lands were effected by "The Project(s)" seek a judgment to "Quiet" their Title.

Core borings through the roadway and soil samples at various locations determine that remnant sections of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge / sedimentary rock formation make embankment restoration unnecessary in some areas.  Roadway cores and soil samples reveal pavement thickness of 5-6" underlain with 6-8" of white lime rock and 6-10" of sand mixed with shell fragments.

Summer 2005 - St. Lucie County, with grant funds, and again with permission of the effected property owners, completes a "native plant" revegatation project along the restored, and privately owned, river bank.

October 2005 - The Drive area was again severely impacted by a hurricane, Wilma on October 18th.

March 2006 - St. Lucie County resurfaced The Drive again with two courses of hot mix asphalt, each ~ 1" thick.

April 2006 - Some "punch list" work still remains open on parts of both the Bank Restoration and Revetment Project and the Native Plants Revegatation Project.

Now, we come to the "interesting" question of defining the Right of Way for South Indian River Drive - also now, or formerly, known as County Rd. 707, State Road 707, Temporary "A1A", Old Dixie Highway, Dixie Highway, or Riverside Drive.

Highway/road Right of way is presumed to be dedicated for perpetual maintenance to municipalities, Counties, or States.  Conveyance of this right of way to the appropriate governing agency is usually made from the individual landowner or by plat dedication upon filing a plat for the subdivision of lands.  Although some of the properties along the drive is subdivided and platted lands, much of it remains unplatted and therefore described by metes and bounds or a subdivision related to the
original government lands survey with (frequently undefined) exceptions for the right of way of "the roadway".

As Illustrated by the Deed transferring 13 1/4 Acres of the Eldred lands to Brevard county for this roadway "along the top of the bank and about 20' back therefrom", the question of alignment and width is left undefined.

Based on this, as it relates to many of our earliest roads, and the fact that frequently they were "just built", the question of alignment and right of way of public roads has been addressed in the Florida Statutes. As illustrated in the discussion above this includes (at least) Sect 341.59 FS 1951, Sect 337.31 FS 1955, and most recently Sect 95.361 FS 1974, more specifically -

95.361 Roads presumed to be dedicated.--

The Statute as currently written provides a method for the filing of a map (a roadway maintenance map) in the county where the road in question is located which would define the limits of maintenance and fix the roadways alignment and right of way limits.  Further, it makes a distinction between roads constructed under government authority and roads constructed by non governmental entities and provides for a method to this second group (property owners along roadways constructed by non governmental entities) for redress through the filing of a claim in equity, or with a court of law, within specified time limits, and provides that such timely filed and adjudicated claims shall prevent the dedication of the road to the public.

South Indian River Drive clearly falls in the first group - roads built under government authority.  Therefore, there is clearly the presumption that it is dedicated.  However because of the timing and nature of the way it was "built", the question remains as to it's specific alignment and limits.

Maintenance maps filed for record in St. Lucie (and Martin) County under the provisions of (the various) Florida Statutes do satisfy the questions related to alignment and limits for the portion of South Indian River Drive from the (old) Ft. Pierce City Limits Northward and from the Martin County line Southward.

In May 2005 I visited the FDOT 4th District office - 3400 W Commercial Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale and spoke with several of their people who are responsible for the creation or filing of DOT Maintenance Maps with the hope that perhaps they were not turned over and were still on file in the District Office.  I met with Mr. James Walker (x4391), Mr. Gary Nastacio (x2287), and Mr Kenneth Olson from the Survey Department.  After several hours of discussion and searching it was determined that no Roadway Maintenacne Maps were ever created for the portion of SR707 in unincorporated St. Lucie County.  In addition, despite the clear indication on some of the maps that were found for this "Project 94100" segment, that a baseline survey for the full length of SR707 was made at some point in time, we were unable to find any field notebooks to support this survey.

Again, the bottom line -
That 11.188 (I think) Mile Segment of South Indian River Drive from the County line North to the "old" Ft. Pierce City Limits, remains "undefined" - except as defined specifically within individual property descriptions, recorded plats, formal conveyance, or other instruments.  That is, it "may" have been surveyed, but it has not been mapped on a "Roadway Maintenance Map" as defined by Florida Statute.

While I totally agree that the right-of-way for The Drive appears to be "quite unpredictable", I would like to point out that the Tax maps and the Zoning Maps, which are now produced through the County's GIS System - for the Tax Appraiser, the Zoning Board, the public's, and other purposes  - do not reflect "an" actual survey".  Rather, they are a compilation, from many survey sources.  For "information and general use", they are excellent.  However, they do contain a disclaimer to the effect that they are for information only.  The only OFFICIAL RECORD of The Drives location, limits, and alignment is in those plats and maps recorded with the Clerk of Court or within the legal descriptions of those parcels not included in platted lands. 

Because so much of The Drive's length IS NOT platted lands it is exactly the sort of roadway which "should have been" defined by the filing of a roadway maintenance map - in compliance with State Statutes.  In my (not so) humble opinion, this should have taken place back in the late 1970's when St. Lucie County assumed responsability for it's maintenance from the FDOT and changed it's designation from SR 707 to CR 707.

So that we all have our FACTS correct, if or when we might want to bring this situation to the attention of the appropriate authorities, and perhaps go on record in opposition to any additional widening of The Drive, I  reviewed of all plats noted on the "informational" Tax Maps which cover the length of the drive from the old Ft. Pierce City Limits to the Martin County line, the length of the drive where the right-of-way is "questionable" - at least as far as we are concerned.

Based on my review of recorded plats, the 30' width of the "original" right-of-way is confirmed by the documents.  Also, several right-of-way additions by plat dedication for segments North of Walton Road is also indicated.

Table of Platted lands on The Drive - with NOTES Re. The Roadway's name, location, and ROW width
(As included in Plats CD's furnished by the recording section of the St. Lucie County Clerk of Courts Office, and as noted on early 2003 printed copies of the "Tax Maps" from the Property Appraisers Office)

--- In Summary, the recorded plats which include "ROW" greater than 30' width are ---
(LINKS are to Plat Images)
Length along The Drive
Plat Name
NORTH of Midway Rd

ROW width = 60.39'
ROW width = 50'
BETWEEN Midway & Walton Rds

Expanded ROW width= 60'
ROW expansion is in the form of "agreements to convey"
ROW width= 50'
ROW width = varies
County lands extend to waters edge
ROW width = varies
SOUTH of Walton Rd

ROW width = varies
ROW width = 50'
ROW width = 65'
ROW expansion is in the form "Public Access Easements"
ROW width = varies
County lands extend to waters edge
ROW width = 60'
ROW width = 50'