Moonshine in the 10 000 Islands

Overgrown mangrove jungle at the Liquor Still site

Overgrown mangrove jungle at the Liquor Still site

Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Totch Brown’s Liquor Still in the Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades.
CLICK for superwide zoomable panorama!

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Look at the panoramic above and imagine hacking out a small clearing in the above mangrove forest to live in and operate a clandestine moonshine still. This is what Totch Brown’s father John Brown did during the Great Depression to make ends meet during those difficult times. His life story is fascinating, and I couldn’t possibly do it justice here, suffice to say I will mention that you should read Totch: A Life in the Everglades by Loren G. Brown. In this post I will offer you a photo-journey-essay to find this “lost” relic in Everglades National Park.

As I was recently afforded the opportunity to paddle and find this site in the apt named “Liquor Still Bay”,  I jumped at the chance to explore a colorful bit of the old time Everglades! The plan was to paddle to the find the still, check it out, and continue on to our campsite. Next day return via a different route, for a rough total of about 40 miles or as it would be.

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Approximate route taken over 2 days totaled about 42 miles

Approximate route taken over 2 days totaled about 42 miles

Since we were going to find the remnants of an illegal liquor still, I felt it was good form to fly the colors and represent!! ;)

The Banana Boat flying the colors

The Banana Boat flying the colors at the launch in Everglades City

The Lopez River Campsite

First stop at the Lopez River Campsite

Taking a "break" at the Lopez River Campsite

Ted taking a “break” at the Lopez River Campsite

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Arrival in Liquor Still Bay

Liquor Still Bay

Liquor Still Bay

Entrance to Camp

Entrance to Camp

Overgrown entrance could be anywhere ..

Overgrown entrance could be anywhere ..

Remnant planks leading to the still camp

Remnant planks leading to the still camp

Finally, the remains of the still camp literaly pop out of the woodwork!!

Liquor Still Camp

First look of the Liquor Still Camp

Compare these pics with this video filmed in 1993,  The Everglades Outlaw, Totch Brown, watch @ 3:26 as the camp was re-created for a documentary!

A Banana Spider guards the path

A Banana Spider guards the path

Pieces of a barrel

Pieces of a barrel

remains of the cistern

remains of the cistern?

The Liquor Still replica (prop) in 2011

The Liquor Still replica (prop) in October 2011

Original still foundation circa 1930

Original still foundation circa 1930

Liquor Still (prop) replica

Liquor Still (prop) replica

In this video, Totch talks a bit about his life, and living in the frontier ‘Glades:    Yesterday’s Everglades Preview

As a young boy, Totch lived in an 8 x 14ft tar shack just behind the still..

Totch Brown’s acting career

Production Company that made the films of Totch and the old Everglades

Yesterday’s Everglades film at Amazon

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Flex

Flex Kayakfari and the Still

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John Brown had filled the camp with shells and debris to create a shell mound much like the Calusa did generations previously..

Raised path made of shell material

Raised path made of shell material (shell mound)

Canopy provided some nice shade!

Canopy provided some nice shade!

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Read an update to Liquor Still Bay and more about camping in the Ten Thousand Islands:

Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands

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Mission accomplished, we headed out towards the Gulf on a slack tide..

Heading out the Huston River

Heading out the Huston River

Winds had picked up as our first “big” cold front moved over the area, kicking up 3 -5 ft seas. As it was getting late, and we had already paddled 20 miles, we elected to surf down-weather towards Mormon Key a couple of miles south. About 20 minutes later we were beaching the boats and enjoying the refreshing 15-20 knot winds and sunset!

Late arrival on Mormon Key

Late arrival on Mormon Key

One of those crazy Gulf sunsets

One of those crazy Gulf sunsets .. that’s what you come out here to see, right!?

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, I was watching the setting crescent moon, the moonshine, and the belt of our milky way straight overhead.. so you can see it was still windy == NO BUGS!! :)

Moonset over Mormon Key

Moonset over Mormon Key

The next morning was very comfortable and clear, winds had shifted to the N-NE and dropped considerably. One cool thing about Mormon Key is that it is completely covered in shells, from pulverized microscopic pieces (“sand”) to foot-long pieces and giant clams. The ancient Calusa ate well, I think!

This beach is made of all shell, of all sizes!

This beach is made of all shell, of all sizes!

On a different note, as beautiful as it is, this beach has been overtaken by sandspurs (“sticklers”), like the one’s you’ve painfully stepped on at the beach.. sadly I don’t think you can find a spot that isn’t covered with them here! They will poke through your tent floor, and into your mattress and/or private parts..lol,  and you will need three tarps to prevent this. Even after you think you’ve got rid of them all, you will find even MORE! My final surprise was a few that managed to attach themselves to the underside of my sprayskirt as I went in to launch.. !

Sea Grape buds about to open

Sea Grape buds about to open

.. into one of these flowers

.. into one of these flowers

Prickly Pear Cactus growing on beach

Prickly Pear Cactus growing on beach

A delightful 20 mile open water paddle lays ahead..

Launching back out over the shells

Launching back out over the shells

Last stop on Rabbit Key

Last stop on Rabbit Key

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Read more about camping in the Ten Thousand Islands and an update to Liquor Still Bay:

Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands

http://kayakfari.wordpress.com/trips-sea-stories-pics/camping-hell-in-the-ten-thousand-islands/

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THE END.

..was followed by an awesome fish sandwich and cold beer at

 City Seafood in Everglades City !

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Thanks to  Kayak Ted of the Palm Beach Water Yaks  for organizing!

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© 2012 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David McNeely
    Sep 19, 2012 @ 03:09:38

    Rough waters, long distances, congratulations on another challenging voyage.

    Reply

  2. Jeff R
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 08:00:35

    love your stotries

    Reply

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