Salt Creek, ca. 1925

Salt Creek, ca. 1925
(courtesy, St. Petersburg Museum of History)

Salt Creek, and its cousin Booker to the north, can tell the story of St. Petersburg. The ongoing timeline (below), assembled by students at USF St. Petersburg, provides insight into how a city has negotiated its relationship to the natural world, how people and policy have shaped human lives, and how the past hundred years will continue to determine a history.

1906-08 “Bayboro Improvements“: Bayboro Harbor as well as Salt and Booker Creeks to be dredged, in tidal flats (where there were three artesian wells) known as Fiddler’s Paradise)

1909 Booker Creek Floods–periodic and severe flooding in the area.

1912 “Deep Water Harbor Considered

1913 “Dredge Begins Clearing Out Salt Creek Channel

1914 Charles M. Roser purchases acreage alongside Booker Creek, donates parkland

1921 “Open Waters in Salt Creek“: Six-foot channel completed, petty theft a problem

1923 Noted landscape architect John Nolen proposes groundbreaking city plan, with  recommendation to link downtown waterfront to Boca Ciega Bay through Salt Creek/Clam Bayou corridor

1924 New Subdivision to Open“: Harbordale development laid out

Palanza Park

(courtesy, St. Petersburg Mus. of History)

1925 Pallanza Park proposed “Lake Maggiore Named by Pirate“: Name and legend fabricated (or restored), pronounced “Margy-ory.” City Drains Booker Creek, part of extensive city works project

1926 ”Salt Creek Span to be Built” (aka “Thrill Hill”)

1928  Moonshine raid on Salt Creek houseboat

St. Petersburg Tennis Center established

1929 Oil Storage Plant, seawall built along creek

1930 Lake Maggiore Dam Proposed, to replace former dam

1935 Bartlett Tract, wetland used as automobile dump, to be landscaped

1936 Concrete bridge at 4th Street South approved

1937 Dairy Adds Plant“: Southern Dairies expands, using Sealtest system

1939 Big Bayou-Lake Maggiore Canal Proposed

1940 Dam at 9th Street South (Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.)

Lake Maggiore Drowning MysteryTons of Fish Die in Lake Maggiore

Salt Creek Map

1945 Flash Flooding Continues along Booker Creek–stream’s origins traced to 31st Ave. and 39th St. North

1950 Housing Development proposed along Clam Bayou

1951 Gulfport Dredges Clam Bayou for Harbor, Sewer Installed to ease drainage problems, Booker Creek culverted and bridged at 1st Ave. North

1955 System of Lakes channeled into Clam Bayou proposed to ease city drainage problems

1958 Booker Creek “has a split Personality” (column by George Bartlett:)

1960 ”Yacht Basin Faces Clampdown“: Restrictions to “maritime slums”  

“Downtown Waterfront Like Neglected Cinderella“: Five-part St. Petersburg Independent series  

1961  ”Agee Allowed to Find Home for Children“: Welfare officers remove children of Vernon Agee, who inhabits creek because he believes in coming Ice Age.

Salt Creek Squatters Trouble City Again” Louis F. Lane evicted from bait house and boat, to return later

1961His Life for a Job,” column on joblessness in Gas Plant neighborhood, by journalist Sam Adams

1962 “Fishermen spread their nets to dry” (photographic essay)

1963 Quiet, Winding Salt Creek” (photograph by Weaver Trip). Gas Plant razed along Booker Creek

1964 Salt Creek Cuts a Slow, Meandering Course to Bay” (photographic essay by Norman Zeisloft)

1965 ”Tide Not Cause of Kill“: Low oxygen levels kill herring, mullet and snook in a creek

Lake Maggiore: It’s a Hydro-Haven“: Recreational boating on lake

1966 “A Fishy Smell at Salt Creek“: Low water level, salt intrusion, lead to catfish kill

Children permitted to fish in city lakes, including Lake Maggiore and Salt Creek

Discover Salt Creek” (photographic essay, Bruce Beard and Dan Hightower)

Columbia Yacht Corp. closes boat yard on Salt Creek

1967 “Shrimp Boats Wake Early” (photograph)

1968 Rep. Claude Pepper calls for greater fish inspections, citing shrimp boats on Salt Creek as “unsanitary

Bosworth Marina cashes in on “amazing national houseboat boom

Drug Raid Nabs 11“: $10,000 worth of marijuana seized from “barnacle encrusted” boat

1969 Salt Creek Yacht Sales opens on Second St. N.

In the Middle of the City” (photograph, Tom Bennett)

1970 Another Type of Pollution”: Salt Creek a favorite place for local photographers”

City workers dump crude oil and plastic into creek September

Fish Kill in Bartlett Park

Powerboat races on Lake Maggiore

1971 “A Salt Creek Essay” (photographs by George Trabant)

Pollution Team Finds a Violation“: Pinellas Seafood dumping water used to clean freezers in creek

Boat Find Haven from Open Sea“: Fleet from Panama (photograph by Norman Zeisloff)

Lake Maggiore: Fight Against Aging“: Salt water intrusion “

Tide, Trash a Problem“: Canal in Harbordale neighborhood is smelly dump

City Fuel Company blamed for oil pollution, Salt Creek a “slime pit

Oil in Booker Creek sourced to Florida Power

1972 “Gulfstar Activates Salt Creek Facility

Florida Power Quadruples Bayboro Plant“: Construction of 55,000-kilowatt “peaking” units

Interstate planned over Booker Creek

1973 “A Salt Creek Morning is wavelets kissing the shore …” (photograph, Dale Wilson)

“Artist’s scene without artists …: (photograph, Norman Zelsloff)

Salt Creek Flow Sickly“: Eight times the level of coliform bacteria safe for human contact

Abandoned boats problem for creek

1974 Greenbelt Proposed, connecting Lake Maggiore and Clam Bayou

Conceptual Plan

1975 City Council donates 35 acres for USF campus

Jacques Cousteau promises marine center for harbor

1976 “Federal Grant Awarded for Study of Bayboro Port“: Feasibility study for port and creek dredging

First Suncoast Powerboat Regatta

1977 Port of St. Petersburg may be Dredged“: proposed dredging to stimulate industry and cruise ships

City Pumps Oxygen into Lake Maggiore to Fight Silt

King of the Cats“: Catfish Master in Lake Maggiore

1978 Death Sentence“: “Nuisance” Alligators Removed from Lake Maggiore, blamed for destroying lake’s aeration system

Flood Control Map, 1977

Flood Control Map, 1977 (courtesy, St. Petersburg Museum of History)

1979 “The Shrimp Boats Are In“: Deepening of harbor to bring business (photograph, Norman Zeisloft) 

1981 Affordable housing, light industry promised for Gas Plant neighborhood (domed stadium built instead)

1985 Bayboro area “targeted for redelopment“: property values boom, drawing complaints from residents around Creek and in Old Southeast neighborhood

1986 “Salt Creek: Paddling Down an Artery“: only a “weirdo” would ”want to paddle this creek”  (Jon Wilson)

City Council approves rezoning of Bayboro Harbor

1988 “Creek’s Beauty Skin Deep” (column by Jeff Klinkenberg on toxins found in Booker Creek, uncovered during construction of domed stadium)

1991 Lake Maggiore Sick from Pollution“: Storm runoff leads to eutrophication

Toxins found in soil along Booker Creek during “Thunderdome” renovation

1992 “‘Natural, Normal’ Fish Kill Hits Lake“: 300 pounds of dead fish, mostly salt water species, hauled from lake

1993 1993 – Native Americans protest building on middens along Booker Creek

1994 City covers up contamination reports during renovation of Thunderdome/Tropicana Field, lawsuit settled out of court

1995 “The Water’s Not Fine” (editorial): Widespread dumping of raw sewage polluting area waterwaysSt. Petersburg awarded Major League Baseball expansion team

2005 “Latest Tally Notes Gator Upswing“: Alligator count tops 200+ in Lake Maggiore; nuisance complaints on rise

2006 “Daring Rescue Brings Missing Boy Home” (story and photo gallery)

2007 Dell Holmes Park revitalized and rededicated

2009 Can Salt Creek Become a Navigable Canoe Trail?

2016 Booker Creek deemed navigable, made “wet zone,” alcoholic consumption allowed

2017 “Mini Lights: Folklore as a Way to Deal with Trauma” (column by Jabaar Edmond on African-American infants and alligator farms)

Compiled from the digital archives of the St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg Evening Independent., and Weekly Challenger. Edited by Thomas Hallock. Researched by Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, Andrew Fairbanks, Brent Jowers, Karen Lucibello, Abagail Mills, Laura Mulrooney, Taylor Russell, Jeffrey Salomon, Patricia Seffrin, John Stewart, Hugh Tulloch and Eric Vaughan.