We have now been here for 10 days. We leave here Monday for three days of travel to Gulf Shores Alabama on Thursday. It has been unusually hot here, about 88 to 90, every day, normally it is about 77 or so. It also has been windy here, 20 Mile per hour winds and higher every day. If you stay out in it for a few hours or so, it kind of beats you up a little. We are sort of out in the middle of no where to. It is about a twenty minute drive to the nearest town, which is La Belle. We are surrounded by farm land and pastures, with cows, horses ,donkeys and even pigs. We are a mile off the main road, which runs east, west. The campground is right on the Calooseahatchie river, right at the lock ,and dam. The campground road is about 1/4 mile long with a loop, and campsites on either side, 52 in total. We have water, electric, but no sewer, they have a dump station. There also is not really anything to do here, unlike Cypress trails. So it is quiet, with no kids and we have found that most here are much older than us. I mean in there 70’s. It is however a pretty nice place to stay. It got better the day we arrived. When I made reservations six months ago, I paid $30.00 per night. When we got here I read that if you have the America The Beautiful pass, it is only $15.00 a night, so I got a refund of $180.00. that was real nice. So our stay here ,and in Florida this year is almost over, by Thursday we will be in Alabama, and from there head north.
A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE DAM AND LOCK.
Campground is on the left side, and corps headquarters on the right.
The dam and lock were built in 1937, to help control flooding and help with navigation of boats in the river. Before the locks the river had a very swift current as it made its way to the gulf. The Calooseahatchie river runs east, west and somewhat severs Florida in half. The river starts running west from Lake Oakachobie, which is on the eastern side of Florida. The river runs about 60 miles or so to the Gulf of Mexico. Which is where Fort Myers is. There are three locks along the river, Ortono is the middle lock. The river is average about 200 yards wide, until it gets close to Fort Myers, where it has been dredged and widened quite a bit. The river also has many man made canals that run into it to keep this part of Florida from becoming a swamp again, which is what it was until the early 1900’s. The Ortona lock drops or lifts boats 8 feet, the dam keeps the water level higher on the one end than the other.
We got to see a boat come into the lock, it is pretty cool to see and I can only imagine the power it must take to open and shut the locks.
This is the walk way over the lock, water on the right is higher than on the left.
Lock is open about one foot with water pouring into the channel to fill it up, way down on the left is another lock which is closed.
Water level in the channel even, they open the lock and the boat comes in.
Boat coming in, the lock behind him is being shut, the lock way down on the end will be opened soon and the boat will drop to that level of water.
Water starting to flow out of the end lock.
Now the boat is down to the water level, and the lock is opening.
Away he goes. The whole process took about twenty minutes. You can see further down two smaller boats ready to come into the locks and get lifted up. So there you have it, the working of a lock. Also there is no fee to the boater to go through the lock. I am not sure how all that is paid for.
On a final thought, it is bittersweet, we are leaving Florida. It has been a good time here, but we are heading places we have not been before, this spring. It also will not be as warm where we are headed. It will only be in the 60’s but I guess that will be alright. We have a lot planned so we are excited to get going.