flood the swamp!
October 18, 2018 11:49 AM   Subscribe

From the very beginnings, Europeans looked at the swamps, marshes, bogs, and wetlands of what would become the United States as useless lands, suitable only for draining prior to agriculture or dredging for ship traffic. Now we have all found ourselves In The Dismal Swamp.

Drain the Swamp? Florida says No

Florida swampland was, and is, a prime source of real-estate scams and municipal development, with the Everglades the largest target.

And now Florida is home to The Boomtown That Shouldn't Exist.

Maybe after the decades of high-pressure mail-order and phone-call and internet land sales we'll re-swamp the subdivisions.

Never Drain That Swamp: Real Life in the Louisiana Atchafalaya Basin
Almost all early visitors thought the cypress swamps were dark and dismal places, beyond civilising tendencies. In 1816, William Darby’s geographical description of Louisiana drew attention to the “deep, dark and silent gloom of the inundated lands of the Atchafalaya,” and the “dead silence, the awful loneliness and the dreary aspect of the region.” Searching for woodpeckers, Audubon wrote of “gloomy swamps… oozing, spongy.. where the sultry, pestiferous atmosphere nearly suffocates the intruder.” The cypress itself is rot-resistant with a deep tap-root, and withstands strong winds well. The seeds root in mud flats bordering rivers, but die if covered by water. Once old enough to reach the canopy, they can stand in water, and develop the distinctive buttressed base with unique cypress knees that are part of the root system. The wood is called eternal: hollow logs used as water pipes in New Orleans in the 1790s were still serviceable more than a century later.

Still today, the swamp is used as an evil metaphor, something needing draining. And once drained, the land will become great again.
A Tour of America's Greatest Swamps
posted by the man of twists and turns (11 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Having grown up in Florida, I interpreted Chump's "drain the swap" phrase as "destroy the wetlands," which was a much more credible promise.
posted by Foosnark at 12:10 PM on October 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

previously: Archaeology is my activism
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:36 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

"drain the swap"

Missed the edit window. Though I suppose it could be a reference to his trade "deals."
posted by Foosnark at 1:02 PM on October 18, 2018

there's an interesting cultural history to be written about the perception - economic, artistic, mythical - of swamps and wetlands from around the world. It's out there in bits and pieces (I've written a touch myself), but not pulled together into one place.
posted by jb at 1:20 PM on October 18, 2018

They failed to mention the Green Swamp, across the river from Wilmington NC. I spent a fair amount of time over there when I was young, especially at Girl Scout camp. Fascinating place. Here's a link: Green Swamp NC
posted by MovableBookLady at 1:22 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Given that DC itself was a malaria-infested swamp when first settled, "drain the swamp" seemed...oddly apt.
posted by dbmcd at 1:34 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wow. I thought Thomas Kinkade was a hack until I saw MAGA Kinkade, Jon McNaughton (mentioned in the In The Dismal Swamp piece). It's art that would work in a MAGA household (because it's got the holy uh... tredenity of Trump) and an anti-Trump household (because of the paint-by-numbers / velvet Elvis vibe.)
posted by ensign_ricky at 1:52 PM on October 18, 2018

For reasons that are almost certainly horrible, Cape Coral has a fractal boundary.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:13 PM on October 18, 2018

Growing up in Virginia, it was always a sense of pride I felt whenever I reflected on the fact that we had a place called "The Great Dismal Swamp." It seemed like something out of a Poe writing or even out of a fantasy novel. It was foreboding and remote. It helped that the one person I knew who had been there reported nearly being attacked by a giant water moccasin that swam aggressively toward their boat, undeterred by their shouting, smacking the water with their paddles, and all to the tune of their little off board motor whining in protest, reluctant to turn over and let them escape. Eventually, it did, just before the aforementioned aquatic serpent reached the side of their boat, and they puttered away to safety.
posted by Atreides at 2:34 PM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

My sister recently spent a couple of days in the Dismal Swamp, working her way up the Intercoastal Waterway. From the pictures it looks absolutely beautiful. At least from a modern boat in a convenient canal.
posted by Nelson at 3:12 PM on October 18, 2018

Here in Ohio we used to have The Great Black Swamp, covering an estimated 1,500 square miles in the northwest corner of the state. It is now completely gone, having been drained and converted to farmland.

Now, runoff from that farmland is causing dangerous algal blooms in Lake Erie. It has been proposed that restoration of 10% of the Great Black Swamp could solve the algal bloom problem.
posted by zakur at 6:08 AM on October 19, 2018

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