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Environmental Postcards

Suwannee River

Small map showing location of Suwannee RiverThe Suwannee River is 207 miles long, originating at the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and ending at the Gulf of Mexico. Mentioned in the Stephen Foster song, "Old Folks at Home," the Suwannee is Florida’s most famous river.

The name "Suwannee" comes from the American Indian word meaning "black muddy water." It is also said to come from "echo," a word from the Creek Tribe. Both meanings are appropriate; its water is dark and at places along the river, echoes are easily heard. Arrowheads and pottery fragments indicate early human visitors.

Suwannee River was among the first to be a part of the Florida state park system. An original 300 acres was purchased in 1936. Today, Suwannee River State Park has more than 1,800 acres in three counties: Suwannee, Madison and Hamilton.

Hiking trails feature the varied park landscape, from open pine forest to hardwood hammock. Plant and animal life are abundant. Red-tailed hawk, osprey and wading birds seek the river’s fish. There are 13 plant communities; each featuring varied plant species. For those who are patient, beavers can be seen building homes and looking for food.

The spring-fed river offers canoeing and kayaking challenges, including "Big Shoals" rapid. Within the park, the scenic Withlacoochee River joins the Suwannee River. An overlook provides a view of the rivers and the surrounding wooded uplands. When the water level is low, springs may be seen bubbling from the banks of both rivers.

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Suwannee River post card