Moonshine in the 10 000 Islands of the Everglades.

Exploring a hidden bit of the colorful old time Everglades history!

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Overgrown mangrove jungle at the Liquor Still site ten thousand islands

Overgrown mangrove jungle at the Liquor Still site in the Ten Thousand Islands.

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Take a look at the panorama above and imagine hacking out a small clearing just above the tide line in the 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 in 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 just read:

Totch: A Life in the Everglades by Loren G. Brown

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 In this story I will offer you a photo journey of a quest to find this “lost” bit of old Everglades history. I was joined by Ted of the Palm Beach Water Yaks meetup group and Esther from the Virginia Key Outdoor Center. The plan was to paddle to the find the liquor still, check it out, and then continue on to our campsite.

Really, a simple “overnight” trip – but with some miles to cover!

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

Moonshine in the 10 000 Islands of the Everglades.
Approximate route taken over 2 days totaled up about 42 miles of paddling!

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Everglades City aerial kayakfari Florida kayak Chokoloskee Bay launch ramp canoe

Birds-eye view of kayak launch into Chokoloskee Bay at Everglades City.
CLICK for 360 aerial panorama!

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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!

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

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

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The Lopez River Campsite Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

First pit stop was at the Lopez River Campsite.

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

Ted taking a “break” at the Lopez River Campsite.

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To help preserve the integrity of this site,

I am purposely vague and omitting any directions – sorry!

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

Arrival in Liquor Still Bay deep in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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

Entrance to the liquor still site hidden in the mangroves.

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

The overgrown entrance could be anywhere and was hard to spot!

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

A Banana Spider guards the path at Liquor Still Bay.

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

Remnant old wood planks leading to the still site.

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Finally, the remains of the still site literally pop out of the woodwork!

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

First look at the Liquor Still Bay site.

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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!

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

Pieces of an old wood barrel.

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ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades

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

Remains of the concrete storage pen as described in Totch’s book.

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The Liquor Still replica (prop) in 2011 Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

The Liquor Still (replica prop).

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Original still foundation circa 1930 Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Original still foundation circa 1930 at Liquor Still Bay.

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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 interactive panorama!

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

As a young boy, Totch and his family lived

in an 8 x 14ft tar shack just behind the still!

Yesterday’s Everglades film at Amazon

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

In all the excitement, I forgot to take off my spray skirt. This is the liquor still replica!

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John Brown had filled the camp with shells and brought in debris by boat to create something akin to his own “shell mound”. The Calusa Native Americans had pioneered this way of living over many generations previously throughout the Ten Thousand Islands!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Remains of the hard packed shell mound walkway that Totch’s father had built in the early 1930’s as described in the book.

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

Canopy provided some nice shade at the entrance to the Liquor Still site!

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ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Shine on you crazy Outlaws”
CLICK to enter a time portal into the old Everglades!
ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades.

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

Liquor Still in timeless black & white.

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With the Liquor Still Bay mission accomplished, we headed out into the Gulf on a slack tide. The paddling was easy and serene here, and not at all what the Gulf waters had in store for us!

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

Heading out to the Gulf of Mexico on the Huston River.

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Once out in the Gulf, winds had picked up as our first “big” fall cold front had moved in over the area, kicking up 3 -5 ft seas. Our original plan was to camp at Pavilion Key, however as it was getting late we chose to re-examine our situation. As we had already paddled over 20 miles, we elected to surf down-weather towards Mormon Key, which was only a couple of miles to the south.

About 20 minutes later we were beaching the boats and enjoying

the refreshing 15-20 knot NW winds and sunset!

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

Late afternoon / early evening arrival on the beach at Mormon Key.

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Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands

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

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

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Meanwhile, after dinner back at the campsite, I watched a crescent moon set and the belt of our milky way galaxy straight overhead.

It stayed windy through the night, but windy meant NO BUGS!

🙂

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

Moon setting over Mormon Key beach in the Ten Thousand Islands.

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part II
“It’s full of Stars!”

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

The ancient Calusa ate well, I think!

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

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

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On a different note, as beautiful as it is, this beach has been overtaken by sandspurs (“sticklers”), like the one’s you’ve probably already 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, and you will need three layers of 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 my kayak!

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

Sea Grape buds about to open on the beach at Mormon Key.

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

Into one of these flowers!

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

Prickly Pear Cactus growing on Mormon Key shell beach.

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Finally,

a delightful 20 mile open water paddle to

Everglades City layed ahead!

🙂

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

Launching back out over all the shells on Mormon Key beach.

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

Last stop on the Rabbit Key sandbar in the 10k basin.

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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,

and Esther of the Miami Kayak Club for the great company!

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Continue with more paddling and camping adventures from the Ten Thousand Islands:

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Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camp hell evil ten thousand island

“Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands“

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Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands

Flex Maslan kayakfari camping hell everglades heaven kayak canoe bugs photography adventure ten thousand islands paddle rain

Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen chokoloskee history

ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades!

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© 2012 – 2022 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.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!

I hereby disclaim any sponsorship, endorsement, nor association with any product or service described herein. The photographs, depictions, products, and ideas presented on this site are for informational purposes only. Your results may vary, and I do not imply nor guarantee the effectiveness, suitability, design or operation to adhere to any standard. I assume no legal responsibility for the implementation of anything herein presented! Use any and all information at your own risk! By using any and all information from this website, you accept the final liability for any use or possible associated misuse!

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With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

 

6 comments on “Moonshine in the 10 000 Islands of the Everglades.

  1. Pingback: The Daily Dose – Fifty miles, three nights and ten thousand skeeters in the Everglades. | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  2. Pingback: The Daily Dose – Exploring a hidden bit of the colorful old time Everglades history! | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

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