Scenic USA - Florida
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA FAA Photography
Volusia County's Blue Spring, one of Florida's many freshwater springs, pumps out more than 100 million gallons of water every day. Enough to supply a large city, Blue Spring is one of Florida's largest springs. Measured in cubic feet of water per second (cfs), a first magnitude spring discharges at least 100 cfs. And to most everyone's amazement, Florida has more first-magnitude springs than any other state or nation in the world.
First visited by botanist William Bartram in 1774, it was the Thursby family that first developed the site in 1856. Gold prospector turned orange grower, Louis Thursby built a two story wood-frame house over a Timucuan shell midden in 1872. Here, Thursby transported tourists and goods up the St. John's River to Jacksonville.
Today the spring is part of the 2600 acre Blue Spring State Park, best known for its constant 73 degree clear waters. This cool summer respite is enjoyed by snorkelers, scuba divers, swimmers, and canoeists. In the winter the springs are a popular winter habitat for area manatees. Escaping the chilly waters of the Saint Johns River, the spring with its 73 degree water doubles as a manatee refuge.
The surrounding park area is a haven for picnicking, hiking and wildlife viewing. For those early morning hikers, wildlife sightings include turkeys, deer, red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles and an occasional black bear.
The park also rents canoes, kayaks and tubes for the Blue Spring Run. Guided Segway tours and St. Johns River Cruises also depart from the park.
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