Denise Kleiner lives in a house built in 1940 by Lincoln Marine, who built the house so he could host poker parties and not have the cigar smoke bother his wife. Denise became interested in the history of the house, affectionately called the “shack,” and the area. After living on the river only three-and-a-half years, she realized there was history here worth documenting and saving.
To get started, she made flyers and distributed them to the residents of Marineland, the development along the stretch of river where she lives. The first meeting was held in May 2007. Denise also conceived our motto: “In order to honor the past, we need to protect what remains.”
OBRHS Inc. is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer group of people interested in preserving the history of the communities and people who have lived along the river as well as the natural environment. We celebrated our fifth anniversary in May. Current membership is approximately 44 people, most of whom live along the river or in the immediate area.
In 2005, Manatee County had purchased the old Jiggs Landing Fish Camp, located on Evers Reservoir, and was prepared to create a county park. One of our first efforts was to convince the county to allow us to restore one of the cabins built by “Jiggs” Metcalf in 1944 and then to rent it to folks who came to fish in the river. The county agreed, and we began to raise funds for the restoration and to create a historic exhibit. However, it was later determined to be economically unfeasible to restore any of the old cabins.
Under the leadership of Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Natural Resources Department, the county then decided to build a replica cabin as part of the new Jiggs Landing Preserve. OBRHS undertook the task of furnishing the historic cabin. A historic marker has been placed by the cabin. The text on the marker was written by Sandy Metcalf, Jiggs Metcalf’s niece, and paid for by Manatee County.
In October 2007, we held our first river cleanup. In partnership with Keep Manatee Beautiful, we have adopted the Braden River. We conduct three cleanups a year, each focusing on a different stretch of the riverm, from above Linger Lodge to the Manatee River. Our first cleanup of the river below the dam — from approximately S.R. 70 to the Manatee River — yielded 1,855 pounds of debris. Since then we have removed several hundred pounds each time. Debris removed has included tires (some with rims), lawn furniture, toilets, a safe, a variety of toys and an assortment of cans, bottles, plastic and foam items.
A current project focuses on helping to fund and create interpretive panels to be placed at Jiggs Landing Preserve. These panels will be placed on the outside walls of one of the buildings at the preserve. They will include the history of Jiggs Landing Fish Camp, the Braden River and the reservoir, the Braden River watershed and its importance and the flora and fauna of the area. Some of these panels are in various stages of development and will be installed at the preserve in the future. Funding for these panels came from OBRHS member donations, Manatee-Sarasota Game & Fish Association, Sandy Metcalf (and family) and the sale of commemorative bricks that are installed at the preserve.
Additional information on our organization, meetings and activities can be found on our website (oldbradenriver.org). We are always looking for old photographs of people and places along the river. If you have any and will share them, please contact us through the website.
Bill Halstead, Vice President & Chair, Board of Directors of the Old Braden River Historical Society, has lived on the Braden River since 1988. He is a retired marine research scientist and administrator who worked for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).