Readers: Last week, in response to a question by Palm Beach Gardens Realtor Al Hayward, we listed the name origins for several area lakes and rivers.
Some on Al’s list — most are in or near Palm Beach Gardens — were a little tougher to track down.
We got some help from our archives, the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society and the South Florida Water Management District, and attained partial success. If you can provide more detail, send it on.
Thompson River, Palm Beach Gardens: A clip from November 1962 describes the “newly dug river waterway which flows through PGA grounds and supplies several lakes.” It says the developer had an idea to introduce “sea cows” — manatees — to the river. The developer was, of course, John D. MacArthur. Another clip, from March 1962, says the waterway “flows around an island along the seventh hole of the beautiful East Course.”
Sailboat Lake: News clips make references to a generic “sailboat lake” but nothing about this specific site.
Crystal Lake: A 1964 classified ad in The Post mentions a “new Small Friendly Park” with “only 50 lots, eat on water at deep crystal lake.”
Square Lake: The first published reference we find is a February 1956 ad for “1 to 5-acre plots” in “a rural setting.” An ad from the same week assures potential buyers this is a “restricted neighborhood.” That was code for “no black people.” The community was built around the 11-acre man-made lake — square, of course.
Earman River, Palm Beach Gardens: According to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, from 1918 to 1923, in what is now Lake Park, there was an Earman Post Office. John Sites Earman was voted the first mayor of West Palm Beach when it was incorporated in 1894. Although he lived with his family in downtown West Palm Beach, Earman farmed north of town in the area that is now Lake Park and North Palm Beach. As preparation for the dredging of the Florida East Coast Canal in 1897, a ditch was dug south of the haulover from Lake Worth Creek in order to help drain the land for farming. Joseph Borman, before he became Palm Beach’s first town marshal, helped to dig “Dimick’s Ditch” by hand, along with Nathan Pitts (Pitts Island), Elisha N. Dimick and George Lainhart. Borman said in an interview in 1962: “I worked in it all the winter of 97, cutting muck down that floated out in the lake.” Today the waterway is known as the Earman River, or C-17 Canal.
Clear Lake, West Palm Beach: The Historical Society of Palm Beach County’s Nick Golubov says Clear Lake was on maps as early as 1893. We might be overthinking this; it might just be that someone just thought the lake was nice and clear.
Submit your questions to Post Time, The Palm Beach Post, 2751 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Include your full name and hometown. Email EK@pbpost.com or call 561-820-4418. Sorry; no personal replies.