National Geographic : 1896 Dec
OF THE UNITED STATES and south through its length there stretches an almost impass able prairie of saw-grass. This saw-grass, rooted in the muck, grows to enormous size, and in many instances resembles a bam boo pole, of the size of an ordinary fishing-rod, with a continu ous barbed-wire covering. On three sides of the grass grow teeth of singular sharpness, sometimes an inch in length. Through this prairie of saw-grass clear waterways are found here and there. Their direction is generally southward, and any attempt to cross the glades from west to east, as was the case with Mr Ingraham's expedition, is attended with great hardship and difficulty. Owing to the southerly trend of the glades proper, it sometimes became necessary for the members of the expedition, while carrying on their shoulders the camp outfit, to cling to the boats to prevent permanent bogging and an awful death in the sticky peat and ooze of the bottom. For the white man the passage of the glades means wading, poling, and portage, not infrequently through the densest of the grass, through which he sometimes has to blaze his way. The Indian, who has time on his hands, accommodates himself to the pro visions of nature; he follows the path of the open waters and, through years of experience, has learned the apparently track less way to his homestead or to the outside world. Frequently during Mr Ingraham's expedition the entire distance covered by a day of most arduous toil would not exceed 2t or 3 miles. When night came on, nothing but saw-grass was in sight, and camp was made on the spot, the making of camp consisting merely in cutting away the saw-grass tops to a level, spreading out upon them the rubber blankets, and over these the clothing for protection and the cheese-cloth netting as a safeguard from sandflies and mosquitos. This somewhat uncomfortable mode of camping gave the party opportunities for observing and re peatedly verifying the marvelous growth of the everglade bam boo. It was frequently noted that the inner part of the cut grasses grew fully three-fourths of an inch during a single night. Mosquitos are plentiful enough and sandflies exist in large numbers, but the greatest pest is the alligator-flea. This creature lives in the glade water, and has all the characteristics of his two namesakes. He is as strong as the alligator, as active as the Pulex irritansand his sudden sting has all the directness and keenness of that of the hornet. He is an oblong insect, brown in color, spongy in substance, and about three sixteenths of an inch in length.