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This week in history: Lake Worth Inlet officially opens

On Jan. 18, 1920, the inlet north of Palm Beach opened, sort of. The Palm Beach Post reported:

The inlet is open — and it isn’t open. The saline waters of Lake Worth and the salt waters of the Atlantic Ocean embraced and kissed yesterday morning — and to that extent the inlet is open. But at dark yesterday a bar of sand stretched from the south jetty to the north jetty, above the level of the ocean. While that bar is there no boats can pass — and to that extent the inlet is closed.

The dredging continued the following day, until the inlet was 200 feet wide.

In 1926 residents voted to deepen and widen the inlet. Later that year the first cargo steamer arrived at the port, and in 1927 the first passenger boat dropped anchor in the harbor channel.

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Posted in Flashback blog January 17, 2011 at 6:00 am.

1 comment

One Reply

  1. Capt. Wm. Stafford Jan 27th 2011

    Lake Worth, as a fresh water lagoon prior to the inlet, boasted of some fantastic fishing. Noteworthy was the Catfish, Bass, and the Tarpon.

    It is unknown if a plan for a lock was first introduced on the scale of the Miraflora Locks in Panama; tas hat would have preserved the Lake Worth Lagoon.

    The inlet was then charted as a navigable passage. But Boynton Inlet was dug later to alleviate the tidal rush further north (as I have come to understand the reason ‘why’), especially during neap tides and storm surges.

    Boynton Inlet, on the other hand, was declared non-navigable due to the width and venturi effect of water flowing at peak tidal changes. Even thought boats and commercial vessels continue thru the inlet, they do so on their own perogative and, for the inexperienced, at their own risk.

    A few driftboat companies navigate Boynton Inlet daily, and their Captains have specialized knowledge and lots of experience with regard to passage thru the inlet.

    Years ago, my father & I went-out thru Boynton Inlet in our 14′ Lyman boat which was a clinker-built runabout. We went thru at slack tide, but returned with the outgoing flow 3 hours later. We broke 3 ribs in the hull, and had we lost power, the boat would have surely broached and capsized. We never did that again…

    Boynton Inlet did shoal-up with sand shortly after it was dug, and a quickly constructed jetty solved that problem.

    But had a set of locks been built in the 1920′s then a lot of problems could have been avoided.

    But passage thru an inlet, especially one as wide as Lake Worth Inlet, is usually non-eventful, as opposed to passing over a tidal bar or a narrow inlet. Use common sense, and stay safe.


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