1998 Mystery
Steamer Trunk #2

1. The name of our state means "full of flowers" in Spanish and our nickname is the "Sunshine State." Our state is 58,664 square miles, twenty-second among the states in size, with 1,350 miles of coastland. The highest point is only 345 feet above sea level (the lowest highest point of the fifty state) and the lowest point is sea level.

State Flower: Orange Blossom

State Bird: Mockingbird

State Tree: Sabal Palm

State Animal: Panther

2. The Seminole Indians have greatly influenced our watershed . Since they were the first people to live near it, the Seminoles named our watershed a word meaning big water. They also named the long stream of water flowing west from our watershed, they called it a word meaning river of the Calusas (an Indian tribe on our west coast). However, naming these isn't the only way the Seminoles have influenced our watershed. They have also created their history around our watershed and still live here as they did over 150 years ago.
3. Animals - We have many species of animals in our watershed. The climate and land give many animals a comfortable home.

American crocodile
coral snake
green sea turtle*
green snake
indigo snake
king snake
red rat snake
snapping turtles
soft shell turtle
water moccasin
gimy rattlesnake
loggerhead turtle*


bald eagle*
purple gallinule
red-shouldered hawk*
roseate spoonbill
sand hill crane
turkey vulture
white ibis
whooping crane
wood stork*


black bear


apple snail
spotted gar
alligator gar
oscar fish

*endangered species

4. Plants - There are over 600 species of trees in North America and over half of them grow in our watershed. The climate and soil make it a place where plants grow easily. Much of the southern part of our watershed is covered with saw grass, a grass that grows ten to fifteen feet tall. On the hammocks, small, raised, fertile areas, palms, pines, live oak, cypress, saw palmetto, mangrove, and other trees and bushes grow. The cypress is an unusual tree that has lived for centuries. During nesting season dozens of different species of birds make their home in the high branches.
5. Canals - In the 1800's, as this southern US state began to become populated, there was a need for navigable waterways as that was the only mode of transportation since there were no roads to our area. People and supplies had to be brought in by boat. So, the first change in the countenance of the lake came in the late 1800's when Hamilton Disston dredged a navigable waterway from a town north of the lake to our lake. In the process, he dug canals between many lakes , lowering their levels by nine to eleven feet. Disston's goal was to have a navigable waterway from Jacksonville to the Gulf of Mexico.

Our lake is the second largest freshwater lake in the United States and is a major water source to many people. Its name means "Big Water". This lake covers about 700 square miles and is 25 miles across. Its maximum depth is 15-20 feet and its average depth is 7 feet.

Today, our lake is a natural wonder. It is used for recreation and life. No one could live here without the lake because it is an exclusive and vital source of water.


The Herbert Hoover Dike reaches around the southern part of our watershed and also at the northern tip of the lake. A dike is a huge wall that blocks storm water from flooding towns around a lake or body of water. The Herbert Hoover Dike was named after the US President, Herbert Hoover, because he cared so much about the safety and well-being of our watershed.

The construction of the dike took many years. Because of the construction during the worst years of the depression, the area around the lake was not hit as hard as the rest of the nation. The height of the construction on the levee was reached during 1934-35.

8. Hurricane 1928 - In our watershed, we have had some amazing weather, including hurricanes. A series of storms over the lake in the early 20's earned the large body of water the reputation of being a killer. The first true killer hurricane roared into the area on September 18, 1926, and literally devastated the southern part of our state, but one of the largest and most devastating hurricanes to our area was one that occurred on September 16, 1928. There were so many people killed in that storm that bodies were put in mass graves. Many were never recovered. For years after the hurricane, farmers tilling their fields would find the bones of storm victims in their fields.
9. Sugar Cane is a perennial grass, a crop that grows back every year without being replanted. It requires a tropical or subtropical climate. The stalk is composed of layers that contain most of the sugar.

We usually have three out of five good harvests before the cane has to be replanted. After those years the sugar content declines. In order for a new cane field to be grown, the well-worked soil must be dug deeply and the seed cane placed in furrows then coverd with soil. Once mature, the crop must be harvested and processed quickly. The harvesting lasts from October to March. The fields are burned to get rid of the leaves to make it easier to harvest and mill. The mill only produces raw sugar, which must be purified before it is edible.

10. Citrus is defined in the dictionary as the name of a group of trees in the rue family, but to us, it is a sources of life. Some citrus fruits are oranges, grapefruit, lemons, mandarins including tangelos, tangerines, tangors, and their hybrids. Some more are kumquats, bitter oranges, limes, citrons, shaddocks, and bergamots.

Ripe citrus fruits may be green or yellow to orange-red in color. The fruit is very healthful containing high amounts of vitamins especially vitamin A.


A journey through our mysterious Everglades is more than just an adventure - it is an exciting voyage back in time. It is not only a look at things as they are - it is as they might have been millions of years ago. The Everglades is made up of 4.5 million acres of swamp, jungle and saw grass that have changed little since prehistoric times. They originally extended from the large lake in our watershed south to the Gulf of Mexico. More than 40 miles wide in some sections, they have an area of 4,000 miles. The northern part of the Everglades has been drained by a complex system of canals and dikes, and its rich soils are now used for farming. The southern part has been preserved as the 1,506,500 acre Everglades National Park, established in 1947. Only about 200 Seminole Indians now remain in the Everglades.
12. Our Largest Company - Two of the largest farming industries, which utilize our lake's water supply, are sugar cane and citrus. In our city, there is a large company that produces a large amount of raw sugar, orange juice, rice, corrugated plastics, and bagass (a byproduct of sugar cane used as fuel for the mill). This summer, it will open its own refinery to make processed white sugar, which will be packaged under the Pillsbury Best label. It also manages a railroad division.
13. Our Town's Inn - In 1938, our town's sugar corporation built an inn to host company executives and visiting dignitaries. Today, the inn is on the National Historic Registry and the corporations still use it for their guests, but it is also a popular place for vacationers.

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Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
Phone: 651-523-2480 Fax: 651-523-2987
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