Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
2nd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

An Essay on the Springs Near Luraville
I’ll bet you’ve never been to Luraville, Florida,and you may not have ever heard of this tiny crossroads by the SuwanneeRiver. Located 15 miles south of Live Oak halfway between Gainesville andTallahassee, Luraville has a flashing light, gas station, and a church.Oh, and there are also two dive shops because Luraville may have more springsthan people.

In a state with more springs than anywhere else, nondescriptLuraville is "spring central." Within 10 miles of the town are at least25, including Telford, Bathtub, Cow, Peacock, Orange Grove, Bonnet, Blue,Convict, Charles, Luraville, Pump, Thomas, Royal, and Running. Some ofthe springs are state- or county-managed, but many are on private landwith varying accessibility.

The best known site is Peacock, which was purchased bythe Nature Conservancy in the 1980s and is now a State Recreation Area.Peacock is a scuba mecca and gateway to an underwater cave system thathas been mapped for several miles. The recreation area also contains lovelysinkholes that tap into the aquifer, and there is another beautiful sinkjust across the road. But while Peacock is great for divers, there is notmuch for anyone else to do, so let’s move on.

The main local hangout is Telford Spring, which is twominutes from the flashing light. A low, sandy spring along the river, Telfordhas clear water flowing from a cave 16 feet down. The key-shaped springand its run create a strong current. Although on private property, thereis free access to the spring, which also contains the obligatory rope swingon the river. Heavy local use has badly eroded the land around the spring,and you need to watch for bottle caps and occasional broken glass. On theother hand, it’s the kind of place where no one will notice that your bellyhangs out, men spit without guilt, women wear bras as bikini tops, andboiled peanuts are available on weekends.

A few minutes away is Charles Spring, which is more attractiveand managed by the Suwannee River Water Mgt. District. Once you find thespring down dirt roads, you will see two limestone bridges forming twoshallow pools. The flow creates a wade-able 250-foot run to the Suwanneeand tumbles into the river in a 4-foot waterfall. It is a great place forswimming or for a picnic with or without children.

The other area springs take a bit more searching. Aftergetting directions from the dive shop, head for Running Springs in thefarmland beyond Peacock. You’ll pass Cow Spring along the way. Cow is aclear-blue spring about 25 feet deep and set in heavy woods, brooding quietlyamidst its limestone boulders. Linked to the Peacock cave system, Cow isowned by the Speleological Section of the U.S. Cave Diving Society andis open to the public.

200 yards away and on the Suwannee itself is Running Springs.The main pool is breathtaking in its pristine beauty. Dozens of small ventscreate a circular swimming and wading area about 30 feet across at thebottom of a steep bank. A fallen tree makes a natural bridge over the spring,which has a powerful waterfall into the river. Water seems to come up fromeverywhere, and the snorkeler will never tire of the underwater sights.Just past the rope swing nearby is Running Spring #2, which creates a prettyrun that is great for wading. Running is entirely shaded, so it needs tobe a warm day or you will quickly be chilled.

Bathtub can only be accessed from the river--you willneed directions from the locals--but it is simply the prett iest littlespring ever, with sparkling azure water forming a 12-foot-wide naturalpool that is the perfect cool tub. You may hear the legend of the drowneddrunk when you visit.

You have to look a bit to find these diamonds in the roughcountry that surrounds them. By their nature, springs are down and away,hidden by trees and sloping land, and many are unmarked. They make youwork to find them, but then reward you by uplifting all their secrets andbeauty. The next time you’re traveling along U.S. 27, turn north at Mayo,cross the trestle bridge over the Suwannee and spend some time in springcentral.

Springs Near (within 10 miles of) Luraville

In a line that runs from the northwest to the southeast along theSuwannee River lie at least 25 springs. At the center of this concentrationis the hamlet of Luraville, north and east of the river in Suwannee Countyabout five miles north of Mayo. The majority of the springs line the river,but some—Peacock and Orange Grove being the most notable—are inland onthe east bank. Several of the springs are currently either protected bythe state (Allen Mill Pond, Charles, Peacock, Orange, Bonnet, and Royal)or otherwise open to the public and readily accessible (Blue, Telford,Cow, and Convict). A number of others can be reached by land or water withouttrespassing, although several are very difficult to locate. The rest areon private property.

The springs range greatly in description, size, condition, and utilization.In addition, the character of the springs varies dramatically based onthe level of rainfall and the height of the Suwannee River. Some have noflow at all when the river is low, and many are hidden by the tannic-acid-waterof the Suwannee when the river is high. Of the springs in this group, onlya few—Blue, Telford, Royal—offer real swimming opportunities. Several more,including Peacock, Orange Grove, Bonnet, and Convict, are popular or evenrenowned scuba sites.