Back in the early 1960’s, cattlemen would drive herds down Indiantown Road from Pratt & Whitney towards the Burt Reynolds Ranch in Jupiter Farms. Florida had an outbreak of “fever ticks” that was deadly to cattle. Florida’s cattlemen began to lose cattle and their means to make a living.
The southern fever tick epidemic was introduced to Florida from Texas cattle and nearly cost the cattle industry $10,000,000. The USDA implemented a mandatory cattle-dipping program. This was a period of “open range”, meaning no fence laws and the cattle roamed freely.
The Florida Cattleman’s Association also supported “cattle dipping program”. The dipping program required every cow in South Florida to be rounded up and drove to the nearest pen with a dipping solution vat. More than 3,400 vats were constructed throughout Florida. According to “The Legacy of the Florida Pioneer - “Cow Hunters”, the vats were 25 – 30 feet in length, 7 feet deep and 3 feet wide. The cattle were then made to run through the chute and forced to swim through a concrete vat filled with solution and onto rigs. They were then painted with a stripe to show they had been dipped. Government “range riders” were brought in to secure unmarked cattle, locate the owner and have the cattle dipped. If an owner could not be identified the infected cattle was “put down”.
Back then, rounding up 150 – 300 cattle would take a couple of days. The cattle were problematic to handle because they were wild and difficult to locate. Cattle dogs helped the wranglers gather and hold more into the herd and drive them to the dipping pens. These round-ups continued for many years in the area from Indiantown Road, Jupiter and Hood Road, Palm Beach Gardens until the tick epidemic was eradicated in the mid 1960’s.
The Jupiter area has changed considerably from "Jupiter old days"!