The passing of Midnight Pass

By Randall Poulton | Apr 12, 2019

This will be my last dispatch from Florida. We will miss the warm and sunny weather, but I really want to be home in time for mud season. There is no mud in Florida — it is all sand and pavement. Pot holes are few and there are no “yes mams.” Floridians have no idea what driving fun they are missing!

Another thing that is missing in Florida is Midnight Pass. Before I get into the “dirt” on the passing of the pass, a little geography lesson: Much of the Gulf Coast is bounded by barrier islands, or keys, which separate the mainland from the ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

From time to time, at nature’s whim, there is a break in these ribbon-like islands of sand. These water-filled breaks are called “passes” and are critical to both the coastal ecosystem and to marine traffic. Local passes include Stump Pass, Big Pass and Venice Inlet. Until 1983, that list would have included Midnight Pass. Not anymore.

The story of the demise of Midnight Pass still fires up locals. Like any unseemly family secret, there is a cover story. In this case that story is: The hurricane did it. Well, it must have been the same hurricane that built the road to Sears Island (didn’t Halliburton have a hurricane machine?). Which is to say, the passing of Midnight Pass was a man-made catastrophe funded by stupidity and greed. Here is how it really happened.

For hundreds of years, Midnight Pass separated the northern tip of Casey Key from the southern end of Siesta Key. Sometimes a big storm would cause the pass to wander a bit, but it always remained open to the Gulf. Legend has it that, in the 1800s, pirates and rum-runners frequented the pass, often late at night, which explains the name Midnight.

Early, legal marine traffic included ships laden with oranges headed to the railroad depot at Cedar Key. Then, in the 1970s, a few very rich people built huge mansions on the fragile sands on either shore of the pass. Trouble soon followed. Suddenly, the gorgeous beeches around their estates began to disappear.

Was it that construction of the mansions that started the fateful erosion? Or was it destiny? We will never know. What we do know is the currents of the pass relentlessly ate away at the sandy shoreline.

Now, these mansion owners were very rich people — the sort of people who get what they want, whatever the cost or consequences (picture MBNA on steroids). In this case, what they wanted was to stop the erosion near their mansions. The millionaires hired a bunch of lawyers and, with the court’s blessing, Midnight Pass was filled in and closed. Such a travesty would be unthinkable today. Needless to say, filling in the pass did not sit well with locals.

Soon thereafter, a group of aggrieved do-gooders formed the Midnight Pass Society. The mission of the MPS was to get the pass reopened. When all else failed, MPS dispatched a “shovel brigade” and hand-dug a new channel through the sands of Siesta Key. The rich people were very pissed: Lawyers were rehired and the tables were turned. Now it was the members of MPS, trying to right a wrong, who were the criminals! Again, the lawyers won. In short order, the new channel was filled back in, and remains so today.

At about this time, a famous author from the Bangor area bought a multimillion-dollar winter home on the fragile, controversial sands that were once Midnight Pass. Now, I believe people should, within the bounds of our laws, be able to do as they please with their money, including getting a full body massage at the Asian Orchard (but that is another story).

But what I find interesting, is how many wealthy people who publicly tout social and ecological responsibility, check that ethos at the door when it comes to their personal life. They travel by private jet, from mega-mansion to mega-mansion, all the while telling me to reduce my “carbon footprint.”

I cannot wait for sea level rise, or a real hurricane, to sweep away all the millionaire mansions that have despoiled the keys. And, if the wind blows hard enough, who knows, maybe Midnight Pass will once again be open to the Gulf! And that would have the makings of a really scary horror story.

This month’s did you know

I have not shared much concerning the Russian Collusion Delusion saga with readers. I have done a lot of research, and, what I have found is really troubling. It includes corruption and abuse of power at the most senior levels of both the FBI and DOJ. The recent release of the transcripts of testimony by Christopher Steele and Lisa Page are particularly damning for these two agencies. I mention this here because, since the testimony content did not support the media’s anti-Trump narrative, the revelations therein have been buried.

Here is just one example: To refresh your memory, it was Steele who produced the now infamous 35-page dossier in which he reported there was an “extensive conspiracy between Trump’s campaign team and (the) Kremlin.” Steele also claimed Trump engaged in “sex parties” at a Moscow hotel and paid prostitutes to urinate on the bed President Obama once slept in.

Exactly how did Steele come to these far-fetched accusations?

What we learned from the document release is that Steele used various sketchy sources to craft his dossier. One of those sources was “CNN iReport.” This was a website hosted by CNN (since taken down) that allowed individual “users,” like me or you, to “report” stories and theories on all things politic.

CNN did not vouch for the veracity of the content, and, in fact, posted the following disclaimer: “These stories (are) submitted by users (and) are not edited, fact-checked or screened before posting.” As a source to impeach a president, iReports is perhaps slightly better than the “funny pages.” Or perhaps not!

Another Steele source was an unnamed maid at the Moscow hotel who was later deemed difficult to locate. One does wonder how exactly Steele elicited the golden showers story from a difficult-to-locate maid when he has not visited Russia in eight years.

If only the Steele dossier had been subjected to the level of scrutiny that Nordic’s fish farm application has been, this whole very sad chapter in U.S. history could have been avoided.

Randall Poulton lives in Winterport. His columns appear every other week in The Republican Journal.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Seth Thayer | Apr 14, 2019 07:36

hmmm, my recollections of the closing of Midnight pass is completely different than your version.  I remember the hurricane that closed the pass....and yes, there was some controversy that some homeowner on Siesta had built part of his home too close to the open pass and that the sands had no way of flowing in and out during the hurricane,  But you make it sound like the pass was deliberately closed.  Mr. King's house is at least a 1/4 of a mile away from the old pass, and not built on its fragile shores.  He did not build the house, but bought it after it was on the market for many years.  When I was a kid, it was a very secluded area on our Casey Key side....now we have to contend with the garbage left by tourists coming along the beach from Siesta.  These beachcombers are the ones who have turned the beach into a garbage pile...too sad, really.  My family has been on those keys for almost 80 years now and the changes are incredible.  My poor grandfather would never know his beautiful Casey Key now.

 



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