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The Mysterious Past Of Prange Island

A pair of lagoon islands just south of 17th Street have a
fascinating history all their own.

Frederick Prange, left, with his nephew Otto and Otto’s wife Anna in early 1900’s Vero Beach.

Frederick Prange, left, with his nephew Otto and Otto’s wife Anna in early 1900’s Vero Beach.

Amid a thicket of trees, where night-blooming Princess of the Night cacti meander over bark and root like a prickly sci-fi creature, lie suggestions of lives once lived: housing supports, stairs to nowhere, an old cistern, the remnants of a dock and, closer to another nearby shore where dolphin and mullet frolic, the foundation of a trough that might once have been used to clean citrus. The place is a jungle paradise known as Prange Island, actually a two-island chain where more than a few living locals have either camped or trespassed over the past half-century.

Prange Island consists of about 17 acres of land on the main isle and another six on so-called “Little Prange,” plus more than four acres of seagrass bed, all situated in the Indian River Lagoon just south of the 17th Street Bridge (recently renamed the Alma Lee Loy Bridge). It has been the property of Indian River County since 1996 and was one of the first purchases made with state environmental bond monies, says Beth Powell, the county’s conservation land manager.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2012 issue