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Images of America releasing new books on Caloosahatchee, ‘Ding’ Darling Refuge

By Staff | Aug 17, 2011

The newest Images of America book, entitled “Along the Caloosa-hatchee River,” will be released next week.

The latest offering in the popular Images of America book series, entitled “Along the Caloosahatchee River,” will be released on Aug. 22, joining more than a dozen local subjects featured in the photographic-focused historical chronicles.

Authored by Amy Bennett Williams, a journalist and editor of Tropicalia magazine, the book tells the Caloosahatchee’s story of the ancient mastodons that once roamed its shores, the 19th-century entrepreneurs who bent it to their wills, and the celebrities who have relaxed on its waters.

“Flowing 75 westerly miles from Florida’s Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico, the historic Caloosahatchee River has always been critically important to the region it traverses,” the title reads, in part. “As it makes its way past farm fields, quiet hamlets, and urban downtowns, manatees graze in its warm shallows, bass lurk in its shaded oxbows, and alligators sun on its banks.”

With more than 200 historical black-and-white images filling its 127 pages, Williams acknowledges Rae Ann Wessel of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation with helping provide vital information about the river in “Along the Caloosahatchee River.”

“Over the years, the river has attracted luminaries as well as colorful characters. Thomas Edison had a Caloosahatchee riverfront home, as did Henry Ford and telegrapher George Shulz, who created Florida’s tarpon-fishing industry,” the book continues. “Without the Caloosahatchee, the Southwest Florida that people know today would not exist. Without people, however, the river known as the Caloosahatchee would not exist either, since it was human effort and engineering that connected the river to the lake and made it navigable – changes that sometimes spelled disaster.”

“Along the Caloosahatchee River,” $21.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available at local retailers, online bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or 888-313-2665.

Previously published Images of America titles from the Southwest Florida region include books on Sanibel (produced by Yvonne Hill and Marguerite Jordan back in 2008), Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande, Bonita Springs, Buckingham Army Air Field and Lee County Islands.

In the coming months, there will also be other books with local interests published in the Images of America series, including “J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge,” which is scheduled for release on Sept. 26.

Authored by Charles LeBuff, whose previous titles include “Everglades Wildlife Barons: The Legendary Piper Brothers and their Wonder Gardens,” “Sanybel Light,” “The Sanibel Lighthouse: A History” and “The Loggerhead Turtle in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico,” the book details the history of the refuge, created as the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge on Dec. 1, 1945 during the administration of President Harry S. Truman.

“I started work on the book about a year ago, but it wasn’t supposed to come out until 2012,” said LeBuff. “But the publisher pushed me a little bit to get it done early.”

According to LeBuff, the refuge was renamed in 1967 to honor J.N. “Ding” Darling, the syndicated editorial cartoonist. He wintered on Captiva Island and advocated the establishment of the refuge.

“Sanibel, once cherished by the conquistadors, is renowned as one of the best places on the planet to collect seashells and watch birds. Now an island-city, incorporated in 1974, Sanibel is famous for its land development code, which helps make the city a special place. ‘Ding’ Darling would not completely approve of what has happened to the island he once loved, but he would applaud the human effort that has saved the island’s wetlands and nurtured his wildlife refuge,” the book reads, in part.

LeBuff has selected a series of images and has written narrative captions that best portray the history of J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

“It was difficult to assemble the 135 photographs which appear in the book,” said LeBuff, acknowledging the efforts of Anne Bellew with providing access to the Island Reporter’s archive of historical images. “I had to reach out to a lot of friends.”

Throughout the book, LeBuff draws widely on his personal involvement with this special place. After all, it is here where he has spent most of his lifetime.

“I think people will enjoy it because it’s an interesting read,” he added. “It’s fun looking through all those old images.”

In early 2012, an Images of America book chronicling the history of Fort Myers Beach – authored by Mary Kaye Stevens with assistance by the Estero Island Historical Society – will be released.