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Ed Watson was a Bad Man
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PROLOGUE: This cache was originally created by Dogbone back in 2001 as GC568, 'Ed's Place'. It was eventually revised into a virtual cache and taken over by FatMike. FatMike was the owner of Ed Watson for several years, until he unselfishly allowed me to adopt it. I am honored to be the current caretaker for old Ed, and owe a debt of gratitude to FatMike for allowing me to update this historic cache and keep it going for future cachers. Thank you again, Mike! ___________________________________________________________________________________
And now on to a little visit with Ed...
Yes, Ed Watson was a bad, bad man. Or was he? It all depends on who is answering the question!
This cache is located 16 or 17 miles waaaaaaaay out in the back country of the Florida Everglades on the Chatham River. The 'Chatham River Bend' was once the site of one of the most successful sugar cane and vegetable farms of the late 1890's. The owner, Edgar Watson was a drifter with a bad temper who was linked to (but never charged with!) numerous murders over several states, including the famous shooting of fellow 'outlaw' Belle Starr. Mister Watson moved from state to state staying one step ahead of the law until he reached a place where the law could not (or would not!) come and get him...the untamed wilderness of the Florida Everglades. Records of these killings are sketchy at best, but there are written details of 'bar brawls' and a 'throat cutting' (but that man lived to tell the tale!). Legend has it that Mister Watson 'disposed' of several workers on his farm rather than having to pay them, then threw their bodies into the river for the gators to find. Other killings occurred on a nearby island that Ed had his eye on to purchase. Again, no charges were ever filed...but Ed got his island!
Now, everyone who knew 'Mister Watson' would say what a devoted family man and fiercely proud father he was. He even built a new house near a doctor over in Ft. Myers for his wife and children to move to as Mrs. Watsons' health declined! By all accounts, he always paid his debts and was generous to his neighbors. So how could a man like that be a murderer? The real truth will never be known. But the townspeople of Chokoloskee Island were convinced enough to take the law into their own hands. They formed a civilian possee and shot Ed Watson to death in 1910.
The legend of Ed Watson is one of the many fascinating, ruthless and often tragic stories of pioneer Everglades Florida. And as for old Ed, many say that his 'ghost' is still here watching over his beloved Chatham Bend. Indeed, cachers and non-caching campers alike have spoken of 'strange sounds' and 'feelings of being watched'. Are YOU brave enough to come out and meet Mister Watson?
Today, the Watson place is a beautiful campsite where ruins of the farm still remain. The still-useable cistern and the giant syrup-boiling kettle now serve as fresh water sources for the local critters. Several pieces of rusted farm equipment still stand as silent sentries keeping the secrets of a time long passed. All but one of the farms' original 35 acres have grown over and been returned to the mangrove forests.
Now, a few words about getting to the cache. In the words of Dogbone, this is NOT a Sunday afternoon outing! It will take planning and execution! It can be reached by kayak or canoe or motorboat. I don't know much about motor boat planning, but I do know that you will need a very shallow draft for the numerous oyster shoals along the route. However, there is a nice dock to tie up to at the site. If you are paddling, allow two days to get to the site! When my friend Anidanid and I did this cache, it was a four-day round trip from Everglades City launching from the Everglades National Park. The three nights we were out we camped at the Lopez River site, the Watson Place, and the Sunday Bay Chickee on the way back. Much of the route will be along the Wilderness Waterway and is marked pretty well. You will have NO cell phone coverage out here, so plan accordingly! A quote from the original Dogbone cache..."Get charts, get books at the library. Get weather reports. Get your #*@$ together!"
Caches that are the hardest to get to are usually the most rewarding, and the Watson Place is no exception. Your trip will be a nature lovers paradise. You will see the Everglades back country as it was meant to be seen...unspoiled and uninhabited.
There is, however, one strict condition of logging this cache! You MUST post of picture of yourself with the syrup kettle...the 'giant soupbowl' if you will, as proof of your find. Sorry, but 'flyovers' will not be loggable as the whole idea of caching is to physically visit a cache site. You must visit the Watson Place in person to experience the history first hand. (Of course, 'flyover' logs from years past are grandfathered in. Besides, after you visit, you may want to research more about Florida's pioneer history...I know I did!
So, enjoy your trip and happy caching!
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Last Updated: on 4/22/2018 6:12:41 PM Pacific Daylight Time (1:12 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum