Remembering the days when Seagrove was alligator alley

Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM.

Snakes were abundant then. So were alligators in the spring area of Camp Creek Lake. There were no cabins anywhere around then. After World War I, many people had homestead cabins in order to meet the requirement to sleep on the property at least one day a year.

Sometimes we would walk around the lake barefooted and fish standing in about eight or 10 inches of water fishing with bamboo poles with cork float and worms. We were usually pretty lucky with our catches. One time, I standing in the shallow water barefooted and fishing. I did not know that I was snake bitten on my big toe. I thought that two yellow flies bit me. The punctures were close together. I soaked and soaked my foot in hot water and Epsom salts for hours. The swelling just would not go down.

Three days later, I went to a drug store and asked the druggist for something to get rid of the swelling explaining that I had yellow fly bites. I could not wear shoes. He said that it is not yellow flies, "You have been snake bit.” He said that by then I had nothing to worry about and to just wait it out. I did. I recovered.

A hurricane passed over about 1952, the best I remember. I was away in the service at the time. I had a Chris Craft runabout that was destroyed and now sits in the bottom of the lake about 150 feet off shore. That hurricane twisted most pine trees about 30 to 40 feet above the ground. It snapped off the tops and scattered them. None were untouched.

The head springs to Camp Creek Lake came out of a bluff. That bluff sides were smooth where the alligators would slide into the spring water. The old-timer homesteaders call that bluff "The Alligator Slide.” Alligators usually stayed up in the fresh water because Camp Creek Lake was brackish. Hwy. 30A changed that when it was built in 1952. The lake then became mostly fresh on the east and north side of the 10-foot wide bridge. The filled-in highway was like a dam except for the 10-foot-wide space under the bridge.

Even after Hwy. 30A was built, there were very few houses around. It did not take long to develop.

The highway ruined our natural fishing habitat. It restricted Gulf water from getting into the east and north parts of the lake. The state would capture alligators in the residential Panama City general areas and put them in our lake. The Florida alligator protection law was passed. It was illegal to kill them. We swam in our lake. The alligators would surface nearby.

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