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Urban Parks: Exchange Club Island

Accessible only by boat, Exchange Club Island is a 34-acre uninhabited oasis of serenity in the heart of urban Jacksonville.

Published September 22, 2010 in Neighborhoods      47 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

About Exchange Club Island



Quote
The Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund of the State of Florida dedicated Exchange Club Island, formerly known as Mud Island, to the Board of County Commissioners of Duval County on October 8, 1956 for use and development as a public park. Exchange Island, located within the St. Johns River, close to downtown Jacksonville, occupies approximately 34 acres of land. The island, which averages approximately 350 feet in width and 2,400 feet in length, is oriented with its long axis in a north-south direction, parallel to the reach of the St. Johns River, in which it is located. The island is currently undeveloped.
http://apps2.coj.net/parksinternet/parkdetails.asp?parkid=62












Quote
Exchange Club Island was dedicated for the benefit of Jacksonville boating enthusiasts.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detachment from Fort Benning, Ga., which was in the area for a training exercise, volunteered pontoon barges that transported several thousand people between the foot of Highlands Avenue to the island under the Mathews Bridge.

In the afternoon, the engineers further demonstrated their skill by constructing a 500-foot pontoon foot bridge that connected the island to the bank at the Arlington terminus of the bridge.

Pyrotechnics for the occasion were provided by a U.S. Navy battery, which blasted off a 21-gun salute about noon.

On the island, visitors inspected the small boat slips, picnic area and sanitary facilities which resulted from teamwork and joint financial contributions from the Exchange Club and the Board of Duval County Commissioners.

Among the officials exchanging congratulatory remarks were County Commissioner Julian Warren and Exchange Club President William H. Wood.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary spent most of the day patrolling the area around the island for safety purposes and to ferry visitors from various boat launching sites.

The occasion was particularly festive for the auxiliary because it marked the dedication of its new building, which would be the headquarters for rescue, first aid and training operations for the benefit of the county’s boating community.

Ray Chapman, commander of the auxiliary’s Flotilla 4, presented a plaque to Chuck Lightner, representing the Jim Walter Corp., which donated the aid station.

The island was formerly known as Mud Island. The Exchange Club credited one of its veteran members, Sam Millner, with visualizing the island as a boating center and helping push the idea through to completion. The island was formed from muck dredged from the St. Johns River during construction of the bridge.
http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=531376

























Jacksonville may be one of the few major cities in the United States with an uninhabited refuge of greenspace in the heart of its urban core.


Exchange Club Island is located under the Matthews Bridge, where the Arlington River meets the St. Johns River.

Article and photographs by Ennis Davis







47 Comments

Noone

September 22, 2010, 04:33:33 AM
Great Pics and appreciate the history that goes with it. Another Jacksonville treasure.

Garden guy

September 22, 2010, 08:24:33 AM
Looks like a cool place for inner city kids to camp or boyscouts to camp...someone use it a little and clean it up and get rid of those dead boats...

acme54321

September 22, 2010, 08:51:01 AM
The article mentions boat slips and sanitation facilities... where did it go?

JaxResident

September 22, 2010, 09:10:21 AM
Fantastic photos and a great article!

Jacksonville has so many great places to see and stuff to do.

Dapperdan

September 22, 2010, 09:22:58 AM
Looks like this whole island has gone into disrepair. Maybe this would be a great place to  build a Maritime museum or dock a  floating museum. Could the foot bridge be rebuilt? Or maybe leave it as is and only accesible via water taxi.

Ocklawaha

September 22, 2010, 09:33:25 AM
Looks like this whole island has gone into disrepair. Maybe this would be a great place to  build a Maritime museum or dock a  floating museum. Could the foot bridge be rebuilt? Or maybe leave it as is and only accesible via water taxi.

With little help from it's friends, this place WOULD make a fantastic water taxi stop on weekends and holidays. Simple boarding dock, restrooms, picnic shelters, emergency landing area for life-flight, and BBQ and any tourist could have their very own Tarzan safari within sight of the Skyline.

HELLO! Mr. new guy at visit Jacksonville?


OCKLAWAHA

north miami

September 22, 2010, 11:34:05 AM
The sandy Gilligan Island beach on the easterly side can be very photogenic.Good to see the photo of the interior open water pooling.
The island is a perfect platform and backdrop for dandy photography.

The trash pile is a familiar land mark.Quite a bit of shoreline trash is likely not discarded on the island intentionally but rather float in from the river-much trash streams in to the river system via roadway drainage points.

Great place for kayak stop and stretch.Hang out.Fairly shoal along Gilligan Beach,deeper with current effect near the westerly shore.Fisher folk take note.In fact,the best place is....hey,wait a minute-that's a secret!

Last time I was there there was what appeared to be a 'homeless' person with rustic camp.No vessel.

I probably looked wacko too with 16 foot square stern Gruman "Guide Boat",small modern four stroke outboard,fancy shirt by Columbia,funny hat with SPF rating for crying out loud....cigar......now that is Yachting!

                      *****   The Island yet again another example of "Potential"   *****

blizz01

September 22, 2010, 11:45:58 AM
Could be like Jungle Island in Miami.  I always heard from boaters that it was infested with snakes - maybe that was an old wive's tale........

billy

September 22, 2010, 11:54:33 AM
MJ needs a clubhouse.
A namesake island would be neat.

north miami, what was in your cooler?

fieldafm

September 22, 2010, 11:59:22 AM
That sunken boat has been in that cove ever since I was a kid. 

urbaknight

September 22, 2010, 12:18:24 PM
I like the idea of having a water taxi dock for an urban park with restrooms, drinking fountains maybe even a snack bar. But no footbridge, it would give the homeless access to the island. Let's keep something for the tax paying public to enjoy.

Or on the flipside, we could round up all the homeless and simply strand them on the island, give them seeds, farming tools, small livestock and basic shelter. We could rename it Bum Island.

finehoe

September 22, 2010, 12:34:30 PM
Thanks for this.  I was fascinated by this island as a child.  Every time my family would cross the Matthews Bridge I would look at it and imagine that pirate booty was hidden there.

Here's another uninhabited refuge of greenspace in the heart of an urban core:  http://www.nps.gov/this/

Debbie Thompson

September 22, 2010, 12:39:41 PM
I had always wondered why it was called Mud Island to begin with, and now I know!  I always assumed it was a natural island the bridge just happened to anchor on to. I never knew it was man-made when the bridge was built, but it makes perfect sense now that I know.  There's a lot of land downtown that was "created" that way.  Bay Street used to be riverfront.

heights unknown

September 22, 2010, 12:46:26 PM
I think I would want someone to clean up all of the litter, beer cans, condoms, etc. before I'd let my kids camp there.  Beautiful Island; the city should do more with it like develop it more as a Park and have ferries for a nice price to take people back and forth. Nice Island; I remember looking at that Island whenever I commuted over the Matthews Bridge.

"HU"

Lucasjj

September 22, 2010, 01:02:25 PM
I always heard from boaters that it was infested with snakes - maybe that was an old wive's tale........

I heard the same thing growing up.

fieldafm

September 22, 2010, 01:07:41 PM
When I was in my teens, we hunted birds on the island.  It is no more infested than any stretch of woods in this area.  Before I ever set foot on the island... the tale I always had heard was that there was once an abundant rabbit population on the island before the snakes ate them all, lol.

stephendare

September 22, 2010, 01:10:04 PM
When I was in my teens, we hunted birds on the island.  It is no more infested than any stretch of woods in this area.  Before I ever set foot on the island... the tale I always had heard was that there was once an abundant rabbit population on the island before the snakes ate them all, lol.

and the snakes were all done in by wild pigs.

Ocklawaha

September 22, 2010, 01:30:53 PM
Back about 1970 when my parents ran a marina just south of Daytona Beach Cris-Craft, there was a similar spoil island. Pelican Island was really two little islands no bigger then Exchange Island out in the Halifax River. A bunch of us otherwise long haired, noble faired, leaping gnomes, decided it would make for a great "nation". We found an old white parachute on which was painted (both sides) with a giant leaf... not too far off from the Canadian idea!

Clothing was optional and usually discarded at the shoreline... Beautiful young women with crowns of flowers actually danced in worship of the sun on the shell mound in the islands center. Condoms HU? Man that was like washing your hands with gloves on... Many thousand happy hours were spent sitting under the palms near a spot we called "Flip-Out-Forest" (mangroves which have upside down roots) which could do a number on your brain under the influence of certain chemical substances.

Once we sponsored the "Worlds Greatest Freak Party," out on the island, only in reality we had NO INTENTION of using the island. A couple of hippy chicks and myself spent a couple of late hours hanging tiny (Penlight for anyone old enough to remember) flashlights out in the "Forest" along with about a 1/2 dozen transistor raidos cranked right up. We ran a ferry service for those coming to the party (they had no idea we were taking them to the marina) and sat on the end of the dock at the marina and laughed out asses off as the USCG and Marine Patrol raided the island. (almost as funny as the time I wrecked the USCG patrol boat!)

I vaguely remember waking up on the hard wooden floor of the old restaurant building next to a dozen or so friends and thinking "I will NEVER drink and smoke again," which lasted about 20 minutes...  We got everybody home safe, and were rewarded with... ummm?... well??... Lot's of teeny boper favors for inviting them all. As far as I know, no children with my last name came from that party, but?? We really shouldn't deprive the young people of Jacksonville an equal chance to defile themselves!


OCKLAWAHA

KuroiKetsunoHana

September 22, 2010, 02:04:53 PM
right there, folks.  that's why i don't like hippies.  hedonism's a grand old thing, but when coupled with the kind ov irresponsibility it's rather sickening.

north miami

September 22, 2010, 02:14:39 PM
Islands certainly have an allure.

There are similar islands sprinkled throughout my native North Miami Biscayne Bay.(We were a bit more reserved than 'Ock'......)

Like so much of the Downtown waterway,Exchange Island represents yet another 'opportunity'.

The island is accessable to primarily smaller boats.

I feel that with additional spontaneous small vessel hand launch facilities in the DT area we would see greater appreciation of the Island.
After all,we take a stand according to where we sit.

JaxNative68

September 22, 2010, 02:52:32 PM
I have a friend whose grandmother tells tales of swimming to the island from the Arlington side for a couple of years after it was first built.  It was her version of swimming the English Channel.

Ocklawaha

September 22, 2010, 02:53:09 PM
right there, folks.  that's why i don't like hippies.  hedonism's a grand old thing, but when coupled with the kind ov irresponsibility it's rather sickening.


Just say "NO" to hippies! YOU first bubba!

What a pisser! I'm just trying to imagine a college scene with young men and women and you standing in the corner and telling everyone NO! NO! NO! Pollination of the flower is a natural activity in nature, it's only mankind that try's and control it with rules and regulations...

Yeah well so you don't like the FACT that YOUR DAUGHTER might have visited Pelican Island, I'll just say when she left she had a giant shit-eating grin on her face! Maybe it was the 24,670 acid trips I took, but today, high on life and whatever the hell the VA gave me (yep! Volunteered for Vietnam so I wouldn't get drafted into some God forsaken rice paddy), you really sound like the life of a party.


OCKLAWAHA

mlnowlin

September 22, 2010, 03:01:04 PM
I've been raised here since my birth almost 40 years ago. My father and family have been shrimpers/fishers/crabbers my entire life. I have watched every island that we have be developed (mostly for profit). I hope someone will keep this island from being too "developed"!

Growing up with a shrimper as a father I spent every summer morning helping dad rig up his boat and everyday we drug the bottom of the St Johns River hoping we were in the right spot. Hoping we'd catch enough shrimp to have enough money to pay for the gas we used and enough for dinner. If not, we had shrimp for dinner. We had shrimp for dinner quite alot!

Everyday, around lunch time, he would take me to Exchange Island and drop me off with my lunch and a bucket. I'd eat my lunch as I walked the outer banks of the island while he continued to drag. I used the bucket to pick up all kinds of things that washed up on the shore....a lot of golf balls and other balls, lighters, cans, teddy bears, clothes, purses, shoes, etc. I even found a matching pair of converse high tops that I gave to my cousin. There were animals that didn't bother me and I didn't bother them. We coexisted without no concern to the other. My days spent on the St Johns River changed my life! Without those hard working days and the variety of lessons learned on the water I wouldn't be the hard working woman that I am today!!!

We need to keep this island as RAW as we can!! No development at all! I have watched as almost every island we camped on or hunted on be turned into another subdivision! Have you seen this island when we have an NFL game? It's the most beautiful scene of the bridge and downtown with this uninhabited gem underneath....who has that? We are very lucky and we need to make sure it is protected! Too many "GEMS" are gone or in the process of disappearing.

Coolyfett

September 22, 2010, 03:09:00 PM
I didnt know this  place had an official name....I always saw it when going over the Mathews.

Keith-N-Jax

September 22, 2010, 03:31:10 PM
Neither did I until I saw it on MetroJax first I think.

Seraphs

September 22, 2010, 04:25:09 PM
This place has great potential, just hope it's done right.

coredumped

September 22, 2010, 04:26:47 PM
clean it up and get rid of those dead boats...

I think the boats give it (more) character. Each one has a story, perhaps an urban legend.

5PointsGuy

September 22, 2010, 09:30:52 PM
I'd go over there and clean it up if I were in town. I could easily see a solar powered Gazebo placed there.

stjr

September 22, 2010, 10:38:46 PM
Maybe the island needs a live-on caretaker.  Like the lighthouse keepers of old.  Live in a little log or wood sided cabin.  Run off the riffraff and keep the place clean.  ;)

Ocklawaha

September 23, 2010, 12:07:28 AM


Hippies line up at the left! Damn STJR where is Gilligan when we need him.


OCKLAWAHA

ricker

September 24, 2010, 02:22:00 PM
this city is like that alcoholic overbearing control freak parent.
Ock.. .you are a riot!
the canoeing through the McCoy Creek AND now THIS!
thank you for the reminders of days gone by.
COUNT ME IN FOR A VOLUNTEER CLEAN-UP!

Noone

July 26, 2011, 06:43:19 AM
Past weekend shared another Downtown Waterway Destination with the steady and sure North Miami.

We started in District 4 Palmer Terrace Park. Saw the monument. Bring the bug spray because the mosquitos were thick. Another fantastic trip through our Downtown.

Lets open our Waterways. Lets Make it Happen.

fieldafm

July 26, 2011, 08:42:37 AM
Saturday August 5th we are planning a Hogans Creek to Exchange Club Island excursion to anyone that wants to join!!

CG7

August 05, 2011, 12:17:18 PM
Are we still on for tomorrow @ 8 AM?

fieldafm

August 05, 2011, 02:22:36 PM
I talked to Noone and he was out.  No one else called me.

Noone

September 01, 2011, 05:45:20 AM
ITS GO TIME! Anyone want to experience this Destination? Monsterous, Statewide Announcements are coming. Anyone want to join me in an ACA class on 9/17 and 18. One of the biggest industries coming to Downtown. Special shout out to enthusiastic, motivated, people.

CG7- would still love to share this trip with you.

CG7

September 01, 2011, 08:36:07 AM
Either Sunday 9/4 or Monday 9/5 early morning would work for me John. Anyone else?

bornnative

September 01, 2011, 08:46:47 AM
Forgive the ignorance, what is ACA?  I'd enjoy joining you guys on one of these downtown trips eventually (either exchange Club Island, hogans creek, etc...), but it won't be this weekend.  I'll just continue to lurk until I can latch onto a trip that works with my schedule.

CG7

September 01, 2011, 09:07:58 AM
ACA is american canoe association, the classes go from beginner to certification as an instructor or guide. Don't worry the St John's and it's tributaries aren't going away and neither are the kayak crazies that love to swing our paddles. So you have plenty of time to join us.

acme54321

September 01, 2011, 09:18:51 AM
One of the biggest industries coming to Downtown.

Waht's that?

knhknh

September 01, 2011, 09:43:48 AM
I "thought" this island was called Rattlesnake Island? Or am I thinking of somewhere else.  We do have a "goat Island" over in the Mill Cove area - but I believe all the goats are gone - eaten by a Velociraptor that also inhabits the island.

bobsim

September 01, 2011, 01:06:23 PM
 I've always thought Goat Island and rattlesnake island were the same place. Rattlesnakes were common on the island, I haven't seen any there in years though. Fwiw I have seen fresh goat droppings but no goats. Lots of bones and fire pits though... I have heard there was a bridge connecting the island to Reddie Point at one time. ?


 I'll drift a little farther off topic and let the yakkers know that the Reddie Point Preserve is a good place to put out and explore the island and the west end of Mill Cove. Plenty of history at Reddie Point and lots of sharks teeth on Goat Island.

billy

September 01, 2011, 01:27:19 PM
can anyone post a map or chart?

bobsim

September 01, 2011, 04:21:37 PM
 Here you are. Goat Island is labeled as a 'spoil area' north of Reddie Point.http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/11491.shtml

north miami

September 01, 2011, 07:45:43 PM
One of the biggest industries coming to Downtown.

Waht's that?
[/quote

Noone is excited.Thank you Noone for your vision,hard work.
You crawled out past the MJ Screen to make outreach,make a friend.
Precious memories,looking forward to many more.Thank you for including me among your Trip Guidance roster.
I want an autographed Custom Noone VISIT JACKSONVILLE  poster.Two please,one to keep,one to frame and donate for display at the Jacksonville Historical Society just steps from Noone Country.

Noone

September 05, 2011, 06:24:39 AM
I've been raised here since my birth almost 40 years ago. My father and family have been shrimpers/fishers/crabbers my entire life. I have watched every island that we have be developed (mostly for profit). I hope someone will keep this island from being too "developed"!

Growing up with a shrimper as a father I spent every summer morning helping dad rig up his boat and everyday we drug the bottom of the St Johns River hoping we were in the right spot. Hoping we'd catch enough shrimp to have enough money to pay for the gas we used and enough for dinner. If not, we had shrimp for dinner. We had shrimp for dinner quite alot!

Everyday, around lunch time, he would take me to Exchange Island and drop me off with my lunch and a bucket. I'd eat my lunch as I walked the outer banks of the island while he continued to drag. I used the bucket to pick up all kinds of things that washed up on the shore....a lot of golf balls and other balls, lighters, cans, teddy bears, clothes, purses, shoes, etc. I even found a matching pair of converse high tops that I gave to my cousin. There were animals that didn't bother me and I didn't bother them. We coexisted without no concern to the other. My days spent on the St Johns River changed my life! Without those hard working days and the variety of lessons learned on the water I wouldn't be the hard working woman that I am today!!!

We need to keep this island as RAW as we can!! No development at all! I have watched as almost every island we camped on or hunted on be turned into another subdivision! Have you seen this island when we have an NFL game? It's the most beautiful scene of the bridge and downtown with this uninhabited gem underneath....who has that? We are very lucky and we need to make sure it is protected! Too many "GEMS" are gone or in the process of disappearing.

mlnowlin, I'm sorry I missed your one and only post almost a year ago. The Aug. 24 Board meeting of Downtown Vision was a Redman NO Show with an out of town presentation on a Downtown Waterways issue.

The Aug. 31 Waterways subcommittee of FIND with Don Redman Dist.4 who is the chair of the Jacksonville Waterways Commission and his aide Scott Wilson can move legislation.  The 2 1/2 hour meeting will result in MAMMOTH, sweeping, announcements. Absolutely HUGE. Look for 2011-560 to be in Waterways 9/14

north miami

September 05, 2011, 01:01:15 PM
Hand launch vessels,Downtown Waterway matrix enabling spontaneous,inexpensive,accessible participation will elevate and confirm the rightful place for Exchange Island.

Nature based light recreation boating destination.

Visit Jacksonville!

Visit Exchange Island!

Participate
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