Scenic USA - Florida
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA FAA Photography
Stephen Foster first introduced Americans to the Suwannee River and the state of Florida through one of his most famous songs during the mid 1800s. It became so popular, the state of Florida adopted the Old Folks at Home as its official state song in 1935.
Foster not only used a mis-spelling of Suwannee (Swanee), but also wrote his song about a river he had never seen. However, this popular tune heard around the United States spurred a major tourist movement in Florida, especially around the Suwannee River.
The scenic river and its recreation area splits Florida between the panhandle region and peninsula. The river originates in Georgia's Okefenokee Wilderness Area and flows southward toward Florida's Gulf Coast and out into Suwannee Sound. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection teams up Suwannee River Water Management District, maintaining 170 miles of trail along the blackwater river. Today, the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail winds from Stephen Foster State Park to Branford, while the river continues to the Gulf of Mexico.
Here in the town of White Springs, one of Florida's cultural state parks celebrates the life of Stephen Foster and pays tribute to the prolific composer. Located on the banks of the Suwannee River, the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park features a museum, a 97-bell carillon, river access, and rental cabins. Often called the the father of American music, Foster wrote more than 200 songs, including Oh Susanna, Camptown Races, Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair and Beautiful Dreamer. All about the composer and his music, the museum features vintage pianos, Foster's sheet music, and a variety of dioramas which depict Foster's songs. The carillon tower plays Foster's music throughout the day.
Wilderness Trail Map
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