In a decision that defies common sense, a photographer climbed a nearly century-old wooden building in the Big Cypress National Preserve and proceeded to shower it with sparks from lit steel wool. The building burned to the ground.
The Monroe Station was built in 1928 as one of six service stations serving the Tamiami (Tampa to Miami) Trail, a far removed section of the Big Cypress National Preserve. Completing the entire trail from Miami to Fort Myers was considered an engineering feat on par with building the Panama Canal. Until recently, the Monroe Station was one of two remaining stations from the original six. It served as a communal gathering point, selling gas, containing a diner, and even hosting several weddings.
So significant was its presence that the National Park Service purchased it in 1988 and began restoring it in more recent years. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Unfortunately, on April 9, a group of approximately 30 photographers on a photo walk decided to stop at the station, and one of them tossed steel wool to another who was on the roof. Inexplicably, while standing on a wooden building constructed in 1928, they lit the steel wool and proceeded to take shots of it, before realizing the building had been set ablaze. Officials from the Big Cypress National Preserve said that the photographer (who has confessed to the stunt, but not been identified) and two other photographers attempted to put the blaze out, but were unable to and subsequently fled the scene.
I find it sad that not only was a chain of inarguably poor decisions made, but no one out of a group of 30 photographers stopped the events that were unfolding in front of them. Watch the news story above to see how the loss of the building affected local residents.
Lead Image by David Albers (Naples Daily News Staff), used with permission.
[via Miami Herald]