Florida Springs History
estimate that there are more than 700 springs in the state of Florida,
representing what may be the largest concentration of freshwater springs on
Archaeological evidence indicates that people have been attracted to
Florida’s springs for thousands of years. The springs made the perfect home for
Native Floridians who used them as a source of water and food, while the clay
taken from the spring’s bottom was ideal for making arrowheads, spear heads and
The first spring dwellers coexisted with the now extinct and mighty animals
such as the mastodon, mammoth, ground sloth, giant beaver and giant armadillo.
During the last Ice Age, 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, sea level was as much as
300 feet below present levels.
As the last of the Ice Age came to a close in Florida, many environmental
changes were occurring. Global weather patterns changed and sea levels began to
rise. The large animals that had once roamed the Florida landscape were becoming
extinct. As these drastic changes were taking place, Florida's human inhabitants
were forced to adapt.
The Exploration of La Florida
later arrived to Florida, from Ponce de Leon to John and William Bartram and
others, and were drawn to the subterranean discharges of freshwater that were
scattered across central and northern Florida.
As colonists and settlers began to inhabit Florida, springs continued to be a
focus of human activity. Florida’s springs served as locations for Spanish
missions, steamboat landings, gristmills and post offices. They were used by
local churches for baptisms, as sources of drinking water for homesteads and as
reservoirs for irrigating crops. In the middle to late 1800s many of Florida’s
springs served as magnets for development, attracting settlers, tourists and
even railroads. A few springs gave birth to towns, including Silver Springs in
Marion County, Green Cove Spring in Clay County and De Leon Springs in Volusia
The Power of the Springs
Some of Florida’s springs were valued for their perceived therapeutic
qualities and people flocked to them to soak in the medicinal waters. Health
resorts at several springs attracted thousands of tourists in the early 1900s.
People sought the healing powers of White Springs in Hamilton County. Panacea
Mineral Springs in Wakulla County was the site of the 125-guest Panacea Hotel.
Worthington Springs, in Union County, now completely dry, once beckoned visitors
to drink from and bathe in the healing waters. And Warm Mineral Springs, in
Sarasota County, still attracts visitors to its year-round 87 degree waters.
Many Florida springs provide recreational opportunities for swimmers,
boaters, wildlife observers and cave divers such as Blue Spring (Madison
County), Ichetucknee Springs (Columbia County) and Blue Spring (Volusia County).
Florida Springs Today
continue to attract people with their unique beauty. They have
provided immeasurable natural, recreational and economic
benefits for residents and visitors for more than a century.
Ginnie Springs is the most popular freshwater diving location in
the world and the 15 state parks named for springs across
Florida attract more than 2 million visitors and contributing
nearly $7 million in revenue annually.
Florida’s springs serve as windows to the mysteries of the Floridan Aquifer.
Because of the pristine beauty of the springs, the bottled water industry has a
renewed interest in spring water while at the same time, many of Florida’s
diverse wildlife communities continue to depend on the careful stewardship of
Florida springs for their needs. The challenge lies in preserving the water
quality of Florida’s springs while meeting the needs of Florida’s residents,
visitors and wildlife alike.