Epiritu Santo Springs
Summary of Features
- Scale -4th magnitude total
- Scenery - poor
- How Pristine? - springs covered by development, water piped for spa and fountain
- Swimming - in pool filled by spring water
- Protection - unknown
- Access - excellent to fountain and spa, none to actual springs
- Facilities - excellent
- Safety - excellent
- Scuba - no
- Cost - free to spring-filled fountain, fees to use private spa
Address: Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, 105 North Bayshore Drive, Safety Harbor, 34695, 727-726-1161)
In downtown Safety Harbor at the edge of Safety Harbor in upper Old Tampa Bay. Most of the springs are underneath the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa at the end of Main Street where it meets Bayshore Drive. The fountain is across Bayshore and one block south of the Resort and Spa by the Marina Park Fountain and marina.
Six small mineral springs are located in this developed area. Five of the springs are underneath the building complex for the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa. According to information provided by the spa (www.safetyharborspa.com), the five springs are named Beauty (for its cosmetic benefits), Stomach (for overall health problems), Kidney (for kidney benefits), Liver (to help the liver), and Pure Water (lower in mineral content and used for drinking). In the past, the springs were also called Worth's Harbor Springs, and Green Springs, the latter name suggesting their water had a green tint. According to the spa, the total flow from the five springs is about 67,000 gallons per day, which would mean an average of about 13,000 gallons per spring per day or 9 gallons per minute (6th magnitude flow) from each spring on average.
Additional information from the spa web site lists the following minerals as being present in the five springs' flows (no differentiation between springs or mineral levels by spring provided): bicarbonate, boron, bromide, calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, flouride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphate, potassium, silicate, sodium, sulfate, and zinc.
A sixth spring is located about 300 feet to the SSW in the front yard of a private residence along Bayshore (a few feet from the street), across the street from the Marina Park Fountain. This unnamed spring is covered with a steel lid. The author could find no historical information about this particular spring, which for many years was piped a short distance into Safety Harbor at the marina. In 2001, the town of Safety Harbor tapped water from this spring and existing pipe for use in the new Marina Park Fountain. When visited by the author in July 2002, the attractive fountain was operating. A park staff person said the high mineral contents of the spring were filtered so as not to clog the fountain with mineral deposits.
According to a story about the fountain in the St. Petersburg Times (Tucker, May 18, 2001), it was estimated that the spring flow would take two days to fill the 8,700 fountain pool. If this is an accurate calculation of the spring's flow, its discharge is about 4,350 gallons per day or 3 gallons per minute--6th magnitude flow.
Traditionally, these springs flowed a short distance--perhaps 200 feet--into Safety Harbor.
- As already noted, five of the springs are utilized by the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, the latest in several owners who have tapped the springs for medicinal or recreational purposes.
- The spa also uses the spring flow for its drinking water supply and laundering and notes that the water is triple-filtered to "clean" it without removing its beneficial minerals.
- The facilities offer baths, pools, and other spa-related treatments.
- Four of the springs are beneath the floor of one of the spa's large rooms.
- The spa web site notes that the water from Pure Spring was bottled and sold not only for drinking, but also for ships' batteries, suggesting again that it had low mineral content compared to its companion springs.
- The springs were used as a water supply for thousands of years by native peoples--see below.
The springs are significant historically and one of only a few springs still utilized as a spa and for health purposes in Florida. JF was disappointed, however, at not being able to actually see the springs themselves.
The springs are recognized as a National Historical Landmark and a Florida Heritage Landmark. A marker near the springs says the following:
ESPIRITU SANTO SPRINGS
Where Healing Waters Flow____________
On May 18, 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the shores of what is now Tampa Bay, landing near these mineral springs used by the native population for nearly 10,000 years. Believing he had found the legendary Fountain of Youth somehow missed by Ponce de Leon, de Soto established a camp here, naming its crystal-clear waters Espiritu Santo Springs--"Springs of the Holy Spirit."
Each of the five springs on this site was identified and said to cure certain ailments, a claim drawing thousands of visitors yearly to the "Health Giving City" of Safety Harbor.
The Safety Harbor Sanitorium opened its doors here in 1926, offering porcelain bath tubs and a large swimming pool for "taking the waters." In 1945 the springs and sanatorium were sold to Dr. Salem H. Baranoff, who opened the facility as a health spa.
Today the springs continue to attract health-conscious travlers.
JF would like to see documentary/journal evidence that de Soto believed these springs constituted the Fountain of Youth.
- Philippe Spring
- Salt Spring
- Indian Spring
- Wall Spring
- Tarpon Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Other Nearby Natural Features
- Honeymoon Island State Park
- Anclote Key State Preserve
- Chassahowitzka River National Wildlife Refuge