Young 80 for old 41

Trail turns 80 …

But doesn’t feel a day over Old 41

Don’t miss the celebration in Everglades City on April 26th and 27th if you get the chance.

You can click here to find out more.
Also read Mayra Repko’s historical retrospective in the Naples Daily News on the Trail’s influence in shaping our corner of the state.

You won’t see any more scenic stretch of it than through Eastern Collier County where it passes through Big Cypress National Preserve.

A drive on that stretch of Old 41 is a drive back in time – back into Old Florida.

It’s a stretch of road that’s right out of folk legend Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land in which he coined the phrase “asphalt ribbon of highway.”

I can’t think of a better descriptor, because that’s exactly what US41 becomes as it passes into eastern Collier County.
And with one short step off that asphalt – and be careful, it may be a wet one – you’re knee deep in wide-open – and wild – Old Florida … as far as the eye can see … and then some.

The story of US41 is also closely tied to south Florida’s water story.
All the structures that feed water into Everglades National Park are along the Trail.
Many of the major levees and canals of the Central and South Florida Project, built between 1950 and 1975 … you guessed it: they too are tied into the Trail.

Oh, and don’t forget one of the best places to see The Park is right along US41, at Shark Valley Visitors Center. It’s just a short turn to the south at the S12B structure.

And don’t forget Tamiami’s Trail little brother to the South – Loop Road.

Loop Road’s eastern spur – the one that runs to Pinecrest – had aspirations of becoming part of The Trail.

But it was Barron Collier who “tied the final knot” on the “asphalt ribbon” – so to speak – and as an entrepreneur (and a smart one at that) he detoured the Trail to the north, straight from Dade into newly formed Collier County; leaving Monroe County, and its unofficial “mainland capital” Pinecrest, off the main thorough fare.

That spur was later extended to the west and looped up to the north where it connects with the Trail at Monroe Station, yet another historic spot along Old 41. What’s the one thing that makes Tamiami Trial special?

There is no one thing, probably; but rather a list. And that list changes from person to person.
I go back to The Little Prince whose journey led him to the realization that, among other things, the rose is not beautiful because the rose is beautiful … the rose is beautiful because of the time you spend with the rose.

For me, the Trail’s allure is the riddle of Everglades restoration – past, present, and future – that whispers in the flows that pass under its bridges, through its structures, and into the wetlands below*.
If you stop one day in your travels between Point A (Naples) and Point B (Miami), you’ll hear that whisper loud and clear.

But it may take a bit of walking to get away from the road … in order to see the “ribbon of asphalt” from the vantage of the wetlands through which it passes.

And yes, you may get your feet wet.

* The US Geological Survey has been monitoring Trail flows since the 1940s in cooperation with the National Park Service and US Army Corps of Engineers. It’s one of our oldest and best hydrologic data sets in south Florida.

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