Blue Spring State
Park is located in Orange City, Florida (28.940N,-81.338W). Each Winter,
more than 100 hundred different manatees migrate to and visit the protected
sanctuary known as the Blue Spring "Run".
The Run is like a wide stream that "runs" from
inside the Park down to the St. Johns River, a distance of about 1/3 mile.
The water in the Run originates from a hot spring, and remains at a constant
72 degrees F (22.2 degrees C). The spring is located inside the Park,
at that end of the Run known as the "Boil".
Spring--The Early Years
enlarge Diagram of the "Run"
of years the Timucuan Indians made the spring area their home. The spring
run, river and the surrounding swamps anduplands provided food, clothing,
shelter and materials for tools and weapons. Snails gathered from sandbars
were staple food for these people. Over the centuries, the discarded shells
formed a massive mound.
Three years after England acquired Florida from Spain, John Bartram, a
prominent British botanist, explored the St. Johns River in search of
resources of value to the Crown. On January 4, 1766, he rowed his boat
past sunning alligators into the clear waters of Blue Spring.
By the mid-1800's, most of the Indians had been killed or driven south
and pioneer settlers took their place. In 1872, the Thursby family built
a large frame house atop the Indians' shellmound, safe from the floodwaters
of the St. Johns. The pilings of the steamboat dock remain, relics of
a bygone area.
Ripples on the
water surface at the Boil show that this is the outlet of a massive water
flow from a great spring below. In fact, each day the spring pushes 104
million gallons of 72 degree water up from the limestone caverns below.
Scuba divers regularly explore the shaft which the spring
water surges up from, and it is quite amazing. They enter the shaft at
the Boil. To start their descent, they pass by several underwater logs
that are crossed over the shaft. Then they descend against the rising
water current. At 103 feet beneath the water surface, the shaft opens
into a round chamber.At the base, a large "Cork" rock partially
blocks the shaft, which continues directly downward from the chamber.
The strong flow and great pressure at that depth prevent divers from progressing
further toward the unknown source of Blue Spring.
of the Boil
of the Boil
Saved for Manatees and People
Unfortunately, years ago, the Run was open to boats and unrestricted
swimming, and swimmers and campers could get very close to the Boil area
without rules. As a result, this dark room at the base of the Boil shaft
is littered with debris--both man made and natural. Railroad spikes and
parts of cars have been seen amidst old logs and fossil-baring rocks.
Fortuantely for the Run and the manatees, use of the Run and the Boil
is restricted now, and conditions are much better.
on image for a closer "before" look)
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