Summary of Features
- Scale -2nd magnitude
- Scenery -fine
- How Pristine? -remnant of stone structure around spring, cleared land, beach area
- Swimming -fair, water is sulfurous
- Protection -excellent
- Wildlife -fair to good
- Crowds -can be crowded on warm weekends
- Access -fine
- Facilities -good
- Safety -very good
- Scuba -no
- Cost -free
From Live Oak, drive about 7 miles north on U.S. 129, crossing under Interstate 10. Turn right on old highway 129, just before the agriculture station and solid waste collection site, and before crossing the Suwannee River. travel north to 32nd Street, turn right, and follow the street to the parking lot.
A rectangular stone floodwall surrounds the spring on three sides--on one side, white sand has filled in to make a small beach. A lower stone wall encloses the spring itself. On the wall facing the Suwannee are three arched openings, two of them big enough to walk through when the river is low. The pool is about 40 feet in diameter. The spring is attractive, with clear greenish-yellow water that has a marked sulfurous odor. The spring has two vents and a limestone ledge beneath the water but clearly visible. One flow is from under the SE corner of the wall from limestone openings. There is another flow near the center of the pool from beneath the limestone ledge, creating a mild slick on the surface that is about 3 feet in diameter. Suwannee Spring flows through a hole in the floodwall, directly into the river.
There are two other vents just outside the enclosure at its base. These vents are inundated in times of high water, but are easy to spot when water levels are low. In addition, there is another vent about 45 feet east of the structure at the edge of the river, and at least three other flow points at points from 40-60 feet west of the structure, all at the edge of the bank. On date of visit (March 2001), all were flowing and had strong or otherwise clearly visible boils.
A concrete walkway leads down to the ruins. The walls of the walkway look like rough-hewn stone at first glance, but they are actually wedge-like concrete blocks.
- The site is protected and has been restored by the Suwannee River Water Management District and is open to the public. Besides the old walls aroundthe spring, there is a path to a large sandbar that is used for picnicking, swimming and sunbathing by the river. Fishing, biking, and horseback riding are also permitted on the tract.
- On the other side of U.S. 129, by the current U.S. 129 bridge, is the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and campground. Many people confuse this commercial park with the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in nearby White Springs. I-75 is about three miles north of the bridge.
- There is a scenic trail along the high banks of the river. The sandy path goes up and down along the high rocky banks, emerging right at the foot of the old bridge. The bridge is closed to traffic and provides a scenic vista above the Suwannee. Downstream in the distance is the current U.S. 129 bridge.
Text from Johnson & Faircloth:
Suwannee Springs was a prime tourist destination from 1890 to 1925 as people from all over the country came to bathe in the medicinal sulfur water thought to cure kidney problems, rheumatism, gout, constipation, and many other common ailments. Three hotels and 18 private residences were located on the site during its heyday. The Atlantic Coastline Railroad stopped at Suwannee Station, a mile north of the springs, and ran a spur line down to the hotels. In 1925, the last hotel burned down, and Suwannee Springs ceased to be a year-round resort. The spring house and railroad pylons can still be seen today. Years of unmanaged use caused erosion and a decline in the spring's natural beauty. A major restoration to restore the spring and to provide better recreational opportunities was completed in 1996. Work included stabilizing the back-filling areas around the spring; constructing additional parking areas and walkways; and replanting with native plants (1996, p. 38).
There is a notorious murder associated with Suwannee Springs. In 1941, a young (17) black man was beaten by a white mob, tied in chains, and thrown into the spring where he drowned. The youth had supposedly sent a greeting card to a white girl in the community. No one was ever arrested or punished for the murder. In late 2000, a radio reporter tracked down the aged but still-living mother of the victim, who had moved away from the Suwannee Springs area shortly after the murder. The mother refused to speak with the reporter about the crime; other relatives told the reporter that the mother still feared retribution from the community after 60 years.
In a 1852 book, Charles Clinton provides the following description of Suwannee Springs:
The following day we proceeded to Suwannee Springs, and stopped at Mr. Tresvant's, where we found excellent accommodations. This is a fashionable watering-place for the Floridians in summer; and the river Suwannee is within one hundred yards of the house. It is a clear, apid stream, with bold rocky banks. The spring is white sulphur, immediately on the margin of the river. The path to it is precipitous; and there is a wooden machine to lower visitors, if too indolent to walk. There are good arrangements for swimming and shower baths; and should suppose that a few weeks might be passed comfortably here. There is some fishing; and wild turkeys and deer are numerous. Leaving this place with reluctance . . . (p. 36)
- White (or White Sulfur) Springs
- Iron (or Wesson's Iron) Spring
- Bell Spring
- Mattair Spring
- Louisa Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Big Shoals
- Little Shoals