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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was doing some research on Perdido River and came across this article from the late 1800's referencing a place called Death Lake on Perdido River. Supposedly the lake's depth exceed 900', the water was covered in thick moss and nearly stagnant but full of bream. Anyone ever heard of it or know anything about it?

http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/docs/d/death.htm

An excerpt from the article:

But all round us was death; no sign life anywhere. No birds in the trees; no insects in the air. Even the reptiles and snakes avoided the fearful place. To breathe such air for an hour, except the sun was directly over the water, would be death to any living creature. Even the water was lifeless, and the trees and all vegetation were dead, except the moss, which lived at the expense of all else. The old man had told me in his queer parlance that the lake had no bottom, for although he had dropped 900 feet of line, he had never touched. I had taken the precaution to bring with me two of my sea trolling lines, and fastening them together, I had a line 250 feet long. With this I sounded in several places, but only proved the old man's words, for I never touched bottom. I afterwards learned, as the explanation of this, that all Western Florida is of a limestone formation, and so I presume this lake is one of those wonders that have their sources far away down in the bowels of the earth.

As soon as the sun touched the water we let our fish-lines down to a depth of about thirty feet, and soon began to pull out very quickly the "brim"—a corruption of the name of bream. Although, when the hand was thrust through the slime, the water had a horrible slimy, warm feeling, the fish came up cold and firm, showing that below the water was clear and cold. The fish had the same dull, opaque eyes as fish of subterranean caves, proving that the vegetable mould on the water's surface had for many years formed a bar to any light in the water.
 

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Pretty cool story. Played around on google earth for a little bit and here's what I found.

If you assume he's got the 36 miles from pensacola right it puts you up by bay minette. Now if you look at phillipsville rd it opens pretty good for a little bit and its about half a mile from where it meets the perdido so thats my guess but who knows what it looked like 140 years ago. Also, if you go about 4 miles east or a 2 hours walk through the woods you got to a small creek that looks clear which could be the spring they were camped around.

Originally reading the description I was thinking down near the mouth in one of the lakes off the river but he describes it as a small river and its decent sized down there and its only about 15 miles or so from pensacola.
 

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Pretty cool story, so I'm sure some of the ole timers in the area could put some input in on it...I would guess it's just a clever "mystery" article that has no substance.
 

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I read an interesting article a few years ago about some soldiers from Pensacola who'd made their way to this body of water. They met an old man with a big stringer of fish and all ate the fish.
 

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Given that the second part of the story (cut and pasted below) reads like it was heavily embellished, suspect that parts of the story that relate directly to the 'death lake' are also embellished..

______________

After reaching the river, the old man suggested our stopping at a place on the banks, where the ground rose in a little knoll, and cooking some of our freshly caught fish. I agreed to the proposition, and as we reached the bank I jumped out and took three or four steps inland, when the old man sharply cried, "Look out, Loot'nent ! See there!" at the same time pointing, as he stood up in the boat, to something directly in front of me. I looked and beheld, about a yard from me, a huge moccasin snake, the most deadly poisonous reptile of the South upreared to strike me. I involuntarily took a step backward, and as I did so I heard another hiss behind me, and then others on all sides. One quick, horrified glance showed me that I was surrounded by at least a dozen of these fearful reptiles, all coiled and ready to strike. For an instant I was paralyzed and unable to move, and it was, perhaps, well that it was so, as I should probably have stepped on one and been bitten.

"Move carefully and come away," the old man cried. "If you don't git close to them they can't hurt you; they're casting their skins."

So it proved. It seems that this spot of ground, being drier than its surroundings and more exposed to the sun, had, by the natural instinct of the creatures, been selected as the place for the annual changing of their skins. While this process is going on they are almost incapable of motion. As a rule they will move off when disturbed, provided they are not attacked, but in this case they could not; but had I got within striking distance they would have bitten me. I picked my way out very daintily, and stepped into the boat, with no further desire to eat fish till I got back to camp. Indeed, I felt quite faint as I realized my narrow escape. We paddled down the river, soon reached our landing-place, and then made a bee-line for camp, which we reached just at dark. With such a string of fish, my return was heartily welcomed; but after hearing my adventures, no one else seemed anxious to make the visit to the lake.1
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I agree definitely a cool story, but after some further digging it appears that it might be a fictional story based on imagination not reality. The story came from an old magazine called "Outing", sort of like modern "Outdoors Life/ESPN/Patrick F. McMannus magazine". Copies of the magazine have been archived by Indiana University and University of Michigan and the Death Lake story can be found under the "Outings" section in the 1887-1888 archives.

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=inu.32000000713307;view=1up;seq=8

The magazine has stories on everything outdoors... collegiate sports, hunting, trapping, fishing, cycling, Indians, military, etc. I'm definitely bookmarking it for the next week of rain and wind.

Link to all of the archived Outing magazines.

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/serial?id=outing
 

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Nice post. Very interesting and entertaining story. The biggest stretch was the water depth obviously, but I’m curious how far west do those deep springs go? I grew up nextdoor to Blakeley State Park, “ exploring,”hiking, biking, and fishing that whole area (not Perdido) so some of the descriptions bring back good memories.
 

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I was doing some research on Perdido River and came across this article from the late 1800's referencing a place called Death Lake on Perdido River. Supposedly the lake's depth exceed 900', the water was covered in thick moss and nearly stagnant but full of bream. Anyone ever heard of it or know anything about it?

Floripedia: Death Lake, Florida

An excerpt from the article:

But all round us was death; no sign life anywhere. No birds in the trees; no insects in the air. Even the reptiles and snakes avoided the fearful place. To breathe such air for an hour, except the sun was directly over the water, would be death to any living creature. Even the water was lifeless, and the trees and all vegetation were dead, except the moss, which lived at the expense of all else. The old man had told me in his queer parlance that the lake had no bottom, for although he had dropped 900 feet of line, he had never touched. I had taken the precaution to bring with me two of my sea trolling lines, and fastening them together, I had a line 250 feet long. With this I sounded in several places, but only proved the old man's words, for I never touched bottom. I afterwards learned, as the explanation of this, that all Western Florida is of a limestone formation, and so I presume this lake is one of those wonders that have their sources far away down in the bowels of the earth.

As soon as the sun touched the water we let our fish-lines down to a depth of about thirty feet, and soon began to pull out very quickly the "brim"—a corruption of the name of bream. Although, when the hand was thrust through the slime, the water had a horrible slimy, warm feeling, the fish came up cold and firm, showing that below the water was clear and cold. The fish had the same dull, opaque eyes as fish of subterranean caves, proving that the vegetable mould on the water's surface had for many years formed a bar to any light in the water.
I just read this “article”. It’s sitting on my desk. Chapter 9 - “Tales of Old Florida”. It is a highly interesting bit written in 1888. Especially, to me, the railroad part. I know that track west of Chattahoochee. I’ve railroaded in Fl for 28 years. But, remember. These articles were written post-Civil War by yankees who complain that they can’t get fresh beef at a hotel in St Augustine ! Duh ! The north tried to starve the people of Florida to death ! They took our natural resources, cut down every old growth tree, and blocked any goods from being sent in. Late 1800’s Florida Crackers were a gaunt lot. Skin and bones. This author and his peers still thought the yellow fever was transmissible like influenza so there’s an air of suspicion as to some of these facts. On the other hand, his description of a tunnel being cut out of the vegetation where they could barely squeeze through in their boat is exactly like descriptions I’ve read from the 1800’s about the Atchafalaya River Basin in Cajun country. It was how they kept their fishing spots secret. This is a hell of a book ! 40 different articles by different people about Florida in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Pre-Disney, pre-air conditioning, pre-yankee invasion. These water depths are the real mystery here. Wakulla Springs isn’t even THAT deep. But, I’m damn sure going to try to find it, or word of it ! And I’m so old that I actually use old books and maps. Not just Google.
 

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On thing to know is P N J ran an article on the area YEARS ago and said the run off from the paper plant left the water with little oxygen ie no good fishing !!!!!
 

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On thing to know is P N J ran an article on the area YEARS ago and said the run off from the paper plant left the water with little oxygen ie no good fishing !!!!!
The runoff is into 11 Mile Creek. And supposedly made fishing in Perdido Bay no good...although I have caught some nice bass in 11 Mile and caught tons of specks, redfish and some stripers in the North end of Perdido Bay.
 

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i've always been told that perdido bay was polluted. even the people in lillian won't eat the crabs.
jack
 
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