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Silver Springs, Florida

Silver Springs
Unincorporated community
Silver Springs Park
Silver Springs Park
Location of Silver Springs, Florida
Location of Silver Springs, Florida
Coordinates:
Country United States
State Florida
County Marion County
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 34488-34489

Silver Springs is a U.S. unincorporated community and the site of aquatic springs in Marion County, Florida. The springs are one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world, producing nearly 550 million gallons of crystal-clear water daily. Silver Springs forms the headwaters of the Silver River, the largest tributary on the Ocklawaha River, a part of the St. Johns River system. The springs were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971.[1]

One of Florida's first tourist attractions, the springs drew visitors even before the U.S. Civil War. Glass bottom boats have been a popular way to see the 242-acre (98 ha) complex. A small amusement park with various animals, a concert stage, carousel and exhibits also developed. As the land around the springs developed, fertilizer and septic tank runoff carrying nitrate pollution has caused brown algae to cloud the springs, reducing visibility and fish populations.[2] Declining attendance and profits have led the operators to drop their lease and end the amusements at the park.[2] Plans for the Adena Springs Ranch nearby and its water pumping proposals are also a concern.[2]

Silver Springs is located just to the east of the city of Ocala. It is part of the Ocala Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

  • History 1
  • Cattle ranch development 2
  • Notable residents 3
  • Transportation 4
  • Gallery 5
    • Six Gun Territory, closed 1984 5.1
  • References 6
  • External links 7

History

Steamboat and railroad at Silver Springs in 1886. Photo by George Barker

Silver Springs was founded in 1852.[3]

Since the mid-19th century, the natural beauty of Silver Springs has attracted visitors from around the country. Glass bottom boat tours of the springs began in the late 1870s. In the 1920s, W. Carl Ray and W.M. "Shorty" Davidson (Ray and Davidson leased the land from Mr. Ed Carmichael. Upon whose death the Springs were left to the University of Florida) made the land around the headwaters of the Spring into something resembling the attraction that is there today, now known as the Silver Springs Nature Theme Park. The attraction features native animal exhibits and glass bottom boat tours of the springs. Downstream from the attraction is the Silver River State Park.

Also located in Silver Springs is a water park, Wild Waters (opened in 1978). The T. W. Randall House, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located to the northeast. Several defunct tourist attractions were once located in Silver Springs, including the Western-themed Six Gun Territory with its own 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge[4] railroad named "Southern Railway & Six Gun" (closed 1984), Carriage Cavalcade, Early American Museum, Paradise Park, and the Prince of Peace Memorial (closed in the mid-1970s).

Fishing is not allowed on the Silver River[5]

Cattle ranch development

Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach has been building the Adena Springs Ranch for cattle, an abattoir, residential property development, and a thoroughbred horse farm in the area, stirring concern over plans for water use and how groundwater draw will affect the springs.[6][7]

Notable residents

Transportation

The main road through Silver Springs is State Road 40 which runs east and west from Rainbow Lakes Estates to Ormond Beach in Volusia County. State Road 326 terminates at SR 40, as does State Road 35, which becomes County Road 35 north of SR 40 before terminating at SR 326. County Roads 314 and 314A are also important north-south county roads that run west and into the Ocala National Forest.

Gallery

Six Gun Territory, closed 1984

References

  1. ^ "Silver Springs". nps.gov.  
  2. ^ a b c Lilly Rockwell [Spring Woes] June 2013 Florida Trend
  3. ^ "Marion County". Jim Forte Postal History. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Surviving Steam Locomotive Search
  5. ^ http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastals/oklawaha/info.htm
  6. ^ Joe Callahan Billionaire makes big donation to Fort McCoy School September 28, 2011 Ocala.com
  7. ^ Nathan Crabbe Water-issue protesters greet UF's Stronach center dedication May 15, 2012 Gainesville Sun

External links

  • Ocala/Marion Visitors' & Convention Bureau
  • Official site on Florida springs
  • Silver Springs Nature Theme Park
  • Through the Looking Glass of Silver Springs
  • Ocklawaha River Watershed and Silver Springs Protection - Florida DEP
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