Panacea Mineral Springs
- Scale - 4th magnitude
- Scenery - fair
- How Pristine? - remnants of concrete, wood, and brick structures around vents
- Swimming - none
- Protection - fair
- Crowds - none
- Access - excellent
- Facilities - none
- Safety - very good
- Scuba - none
- Cost - free
From Tallahassee, take U.S. 319 south to U.S. 98 west to Panacea. After passing the first big turn into Panacea and a little diner on the right, turn right into the springs entrance immediately after crossing a culvert over a slough. Look for a large sign on the right for the springs
For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site at the following address: http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida
There are at least seven small springs on the site, in a marshy area near Dickerson Bay. Some appear as potholes; at least three have a clear flow into a nearby creek that flows under U.S. 98 into Dickerson Bay. Six of the springs have the remnants of concrete structures around them, vestiges of their use in the early 1900s as a spa to which people traveled to seek cure in the mineral waters. One spring, encircled by brick, has the remnants of a stump in it. The stump had been hollowed, and pressure forced water through the stump in a small fountain. The banks of the creek have at least twenty small- to-middling seeps that are visible at low tide—see rough drawing below for locations of the springs. The largest of the seeps is near U.S. 98 on the north bank and has a volume of perhaps one gallon per second.
- In a late 1990s project, students from Wakulla High School cleared the site, erected a sign, and built picnic tables to encourage local use. They have also conducted research on the site, which was a city park in the 1960s and 1970s before falling into neglect.
- One can walk the site and locate the various springs and restored structures.
- As noted above, the site was had a hotel in the early part of the century, as well as baths, trails, and supposedly as many as 20 springs that discharged a "large" quantity of water. According to an article in the Tallahassee Democrat in 2004,
- "In the 19th century, Wakulla boosters were determined to transform the county's natural mineral springs into a tourist attraction. That's how 'Smith Springs' became 'Panacea'--Greek for 'healing all'--in 1889. Advertisements boasted that each of the town's 13 bubbling ponds cured a different ailment. Tourists flocked to Panacea to bask in the restorative springs. Later as South Florida began to hog the tourist trade, Panacea's mineral springs became a thing of the past, a mysterious artifact of a forgotten time."
- As part of their research, students interviewed local residents in an oral history project about the spring. They have a scale-model replica of the old hotel and spa at the high school.
- The land is privately owned, and the possibility that it may be sold for development has halted the high school students' restoration efforts.
Even with some restoration, the site is not attractive. However, it is a very interesting little cluster of springs and historically significant. The town is named for the springs. Before students began their restoration, the site was so overgrown that even established residents (those who moved to Panacea after the park closed in the 1970s) did not know it was there. With precise directions in hand JF drove by it several times before seeing the way in. The nearest spring (one in the slough) is less than 30 feet from U.S. 98.
- Kini Spring
- Indian Springs
- Natural Bridge Spring
- Newport (or Sulfur) Spring
- Rhodes Spring
- St. Marks Springs
- Wakulla Springs
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Mashes Sands Beach
- Apalachicola National Forest
- Shepherd Spring
- Leon County Sinks Park
- Wakulla Spring State Park
- St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge