Lake Evergreen in Longwood is a small but formidable barrier that for almost 70 years has prevented Highway 434 from being a straight shot through Longwood. The lake is located between Grant and Oxford. Longtime residents have long called the spring fed lake “bottomless” and observed how its water level barely budges even in droughts.
Somewhere around 1950 State Road 434, then called Molnar Avenue between 427 and 17-92, was being paved. In an oral history with pioneer resident Andy Jones told of how the road builders brought the stakes up to the side of the lake. They planned to straighten the road by filling it in. But as they dropped in fill, the lake just at the dirt until they finally gave up and went around it.
During the 1960s the sharp curve became known for its danger to drives who drove too fast. Its soft dirt shoulders did not help matters. More than one car ended up submerged in Lake Evergreen.
In 1977 the road construction was back in action to four-lane the highway. As long as they were widening it, they decided they’d attempted to straighten the road once again. Once again, according to Jones, the construction stakes went right up against the lake shore. Fill went in. More fill went in. Cables went down. But the bottom was elusive. Each dump of fill merely sank to the depths.
Eventually they gave up and settled for making the curve less severe, but still going around the small rounded lake. Mother nature had defeated progress once again.
Next time you drive the stretch, be sure to observe this (now more subtle) curve. You will never look at it the same. I know I don’t… I reflect on this every day when I pass it on the way to work!
Martin Andersen, the former owner of the Orlando Sentinel, once lived on a large estate on the southwest corner of the lake. It was along Grant Street, built back in 1947, and torn down around 2016.
There is a tiny creek or canal that connects Lake Evergreen to Lake Wildmere. You can barely see it but it’s still there. The area is still a protected wetlands area despite the recent construction on both sides of it between the two lakes.