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Pure Water Wilderness S c e n i c • G U I D E

Your Inside Guide to the Sparkling Springs, Pristine Rivers and Enchanting Gulf of Gilchrist, Levy and Dixie Counties, Florida presented by

w w w . F lo r i da s E d e n . o r g




Welcome to this remarkable place. Here, our land is still alive and wild; our

wildlife, exotic and primal. Our urban centers are exciting cultural destinations, while our rural towns, villages and hamlets portray a rich heritage that will surprise and enchant you. As travelers, you want to go where we, the locals, go—so we’re connecting you with all of our own favorite places, characters and stories. Hundreds of local Florida’s Eden writers, artists, naturalists, musicians and business owners contributed to create this personal Guide for your enjoyment. We hope you’ll connect with many of them as you make your own journey of discovery. Please send us email with your comments and stories.

Just thinking about Florida’s Eden conjures up a perpetual garden of earthly delights! Here we have the complete recipe for rich culinary offerings: a year round harvest, two coastlines, fresh & delicious products and the combined influence of Spanish, Caribbean, Southern Cracker and African cultures. This Guide includes information on what we are all doing to preserve our unique, yet fragile, environment. We want you to have an unforgettable experience exploring our beloved springs, rivers and coastal communities. We just ask that your visit will leave them as pristine as when you found them. Please take a little time to learn about Florida’s Eden at We created Florida’s Eden in 2002 as a citizen initiative, contributing solutions for our region’s environmental and growth challenges. Our innovative regional programs bring together new models for environmental conservation initiatives, education and sustainable economic development. As this region continues to be threatened by unparalleled changes, we need your support and invite you to join with us. Your Membership provides direct support for our programs and helps build the collective citizen voice for our region. Learn more about our Water Awareness and Conservation Efforts on pages 72-79, our Place Based Education Partnership on page 99, and our sustainable economic development Scenic Guides and Florida’s Eden Source on the back cover. o Professional $50 o Supporter $20 o Traveler $10 o Patron: o $100 o $250 o $500 o $1000 Send your tax-deductible contribution to: Florida’s Eden, P.O. Box 1149, Gainesville, FL 32602-1149 or join online at

Florida’s Eden

Non-profit 501(c)3 educational organization

The Santa Fe River, photo: Dick Madden



CONTENT ORGANIZED BY THEMES: Go to pages 8 - 11 CONTENT ORGANIZED BY COUNTY: Check the Table of Contents, page 12


HELPFUL WEBSITES FOR THE AREA: Listing on page 13 EVENT CALENDARS and GENERAL WEBSITES are listed when available and marked with the magnifying glass icon. KEEPING UP TO DATE To make sure your guide stays as current as possible, we have provided web addresses so that you can look up event and festival dates, check hours of operation, and get information on current offers and specials..




Official addresses and ZIP codes are listed in order to provide compatibility with GPS units and online maps. We caution, however, that not all locations that we tested showed up correctly on web maps. Addresses are determined by postal routes and do not always indicate actual location. We advise calling ahead to get directions. If you are using the print edition of the guide, we encourage you to use the online version as a companion as it offers many helpful interactive features.

INTERACTIVE FEATURES In the online version all links are live. Click on any link and you’ll be taken to the website. Use the SEARCH BOX to find content anywhere in the Guide. Print out just the pages you need; go to the page you want and click the PRINT ICON. Click on any website link for the option to communicate directly with the business or organization. Your contact information will only be used by the business to send updates or special offers for users of the Guide. Contact information is never shared or sold.

SCENIC GUIDES Find our other SCENIC GUIDES online to explore the areas adjacent to Pure Water Wilderness. Our rivers, forests and even some of our towns know no county boundaries, and neither do our visitors. We’re connecting the area through our regional guides.

BLOGS Read our online BLOGS about travel, food, the environment and more. THE SOURCE Search the FLORIDA’S EDEN SOURCE to find out even more about the local creative scene.


The Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide is published by Florida’s Eden, Inc., non-profit 501c3 organization, which is solely responsibleSanta for theFecontent. Pure Water River, photo: DickWilderness Madden is a registered name and trademark used by permission granted by the Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy Tourist Development Board which holds no responsibility for the content of the guide.

Pure Water Wild

Fish dart through the crystal waters of Blue Springs, photo by Lois Fletcher; inset photos, top, Lois Fletcher, center and bottom, Sean Dowie Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Organized in 2001, Florida’s Pure Water Wilderness, the Dixie-Gilchrist-Levy Tourist Development Board, is a three-county consortium of board members made up of community, business leaders and county commissioners who come together to promote the secret of Pure Water Wilderness, the lower Suwannee River area. The mission of Pure Water Wilderness is to promote the protection of our natural and historic resources and enhance economic development in Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties through nature-based tourism. In just over 2,000 square miles, the Pure Water Wilderness region is laced, dotted, etched and framed by some of Florida’s most precious liquid assets. From the Waccasassa, Withlacoochee and Steinhatchee, to the Santa Fe and majestic historical Suwannee, rivers run wild and free, carving county lines and chasing their way to the glistening Gulf of Mexico. Lakes, ponds, creeks and crystal clear springs adorn the landscape with their cool, clear shallows and mysterious, shadowy depths.

In just over 2,000 square miles, the Pure Water Wilderness region is laced, dotted, etched and framed by some of Florida’s most precious liquid assets. So, go with the flow and dive right in!

Flourishing in this vast watery wilderness is an amazing variety of diverse habitats and eco-systems, home to thriving populations of native Florida wildlife. Thousands of acres contain pristine forest and wilderness that are protected in a collection of state and federal parks, refuges and preserves, which are home to many rare and endangered species. From the Gulf coasts of Dixie and Levy, to the innermost wooded heart of Gilchrist, trails, maps, markers and an eclectic host of local guides make exploring the Pure Water Wilderness region easy and fun.

With most of the area still in its natural state, Pure Water Wilderness is a haven for outdoor sports enthusiasts, wildlife watchers and nature lovers alike. Freshwater and saltwater fishing, diving, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, boating, tubing and swimming form an endless deluge of watery recreational pleasures throughout the region. Biking, hiking, horseback riding, camping and hunting make outdoor fun a sure thing. Whether on horseback or afloat, on foot or on the road, visitors can enjoy some of the best wildlife watching in the world. In addition to creating a lush landscape and teeming wildlife population, the waters of Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties are the key to the area’s rich agricultural and aquacultural traditions. Throughout the Pure Water Wilderness region are colorful and intriguing assortments of sleepy rural communities, each with their own special Florida charm. From salty little fishing villages on the coast to quaint inland towns and hamlets, visitors will find little-known and long-remembered delights. Shops, restaurants, museums, lodging and special events provide one pleasant surprise after another. So if you’re looking for something more or less in Florida, go with the flow and dive into Florida’s Pure Water Wilderness.

The Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide is published by Florida’s Eden, Inc., non-profit 501c3 organization, which is solely responsible for the content. Pure Water Wilderness is a registered name and trademark used by permission granted by the Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy Tourist Development Board which holds no responsibility for the content of the guide.

“we set off in the cool of the morning, and descended pleasantly, riding on the crystal flood, which flows down with an easy, gentle, yet active current, rolling over its silvery bed. How abundantly are the waters replenished with inhabitants! the stream almost as transparent as the air we breathe.� Naturalist William Bartram, published 1791

Photo by Becky Kagan,

“Bowls of Liquid Light . . . “

Florida’s Springs as described by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide

Birding Paddling Springs Freshwater springs at a constant 72 degrees year round can be found throughout the Pure Water Wilderness. We invite you to explore the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world. If you’d like more information on how to care for this precious asset, check the water awareness pages starting on page 76 of this guide.

Bird watchers flock from around the world to experience over 250 species of birds, including the rare, the spectacular and the endangered. Great Florida Birding Trail, p. 42 The endangered Scrub Jay can be found at Shell Mound, p. 92 Highly recommended locales are the Dixie Mainline, p. 38 Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, p. 44 Swallowtail Kites, p. 63 Goethe State Forest, p. 68 Cedar Key, p. 92

Five rivers, wilderness coastline and extensive trail systems provide a paddler’s paradise. Outfitters and Guides, p. 46 Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, pp. 47, 51 A paddler’s view of the Suwannee, p. 31 The Historic Big Bend Paddling Trail and wilderness camping sites, p. 45 Paddle the islands at Cedar Key, p. 92 Put in at the Santa Fe River, pp. 17-19 Steinhatchee River, p. 32 Explore the Waccasassa River at Devil’s Hammock, p. 69 Withlacoochee River, p. 97

Romance Art People have been traveling to Florida for artistic inspiration for hundreds of years. The Old Florida Art Festival is the area’s oldest and takes place in Cedar Key, home to many artists and art cooperatives, pp. 86 - 89 Steinhatchee is home to fine woodworkers and a great gallery, p. 32 Check out the Suwannee Valley Shoppes in Trenton for quilts, stained glass, cross-stitch and more, p. 25 The Levy County Quilt Museum is a treasure trove of folk art, p. 59 So many artists call the area home that we’ve created the Florida’s Eden Source to help you see their works online or contact an artist for a studio appointment. Learn more on the back cover, or at

Food & Wine

Walks on the beach, sunsets over the water, dinner on the Gulf. What could be more romantic? Float down the Suwannee River on a houseboat, p. 41 Take a drive on the “Road to Nowhere,” p. 39 Paddle out to your own private island for the day in Horseshoe Beach, p. 38 Stay in the impossibly romantic Honeymoon Suite at the Cedar Key Bed & Breakfast (pictured above), p. 85 For a unique Florida experience, watch the sunrise on the Atlantic, cross Florida and watch the sun set over the Gulf, p. 65 Create your destination wedding at Steinhatchee Landing Resort, p. 33 or tie the knot on the porch in Cedar Key, below. Head down to the Withlacoochee, stay at the Pine Lodge, then “Follow that Dream” where Elvis made the movie. Cross the Bird Creek bridge and head to the end for a magnificent sunset! p. 96

Florida fresh in every season— dine at the historic Island Hotel in Cedar Key, try seafood on the coast or along a Florida river, or indulge in backwoods barbeque. Janice Owens offers a taste of Cracker Cooking, p. 20 Doc Lawrence on the intricacies of Florida food, and wine too, p. 48 Key Lime Pie at the Suwannee Rose Café, p. 25 Visit the Dakotah Winery, p. 58 See where your milk comes from at North Florida Holsteins, p. 17 Celebrate all things clam at Clamerica on July 4th, or stop by Tony’s any day for the best chowder in the world – it’s official, pp. 87, 90 In summer its scalloping, p. 36 Farmer’s Market fresh, pp. 22, 61, 67

Cave Diving Birding Quilts Heritage Steamboats, pirates, railways, and Indian mounds thousands of years old are just a few of the treasures awaiting you. Florida’s first railway, p. 64 Pirate gold on the Suwannee, p. 63 Sunken steamboats, pp. 55 - 57 Black History Trail, p. 65 Shell Mound, p. 93 Fort Fanning, p. 57 Cedar Key’s rich history: lighthouse, islands, museums, and more, p. 84


The epicenter of Florida’s quilt tradition can be found here, including quilting guilds, festivals, and gatherings. The Quilt Shoppe, largest quilt supply store in the South, p. 25 Stay and enjoy desserts at the Suwannee Rose Café and the delights of the other Suwannee Valley Shoppes The Suwannee Valley Quilt and Old Time Craft Show, p. 59 Florida’s one and only quilt museum is housed in the largest log cabin you’re likely to ever see, p. 59 Stop by for a visual feast and let the storytelling entertain you.

Experts and novices alike know North Florida is the Cave Dive Capital of the World. Experience crystal clear waters, rich fossil displays, and labyrinthine cave systems. Open water dives abound in springs and rivers. Instructors and Dive Shops, p. 18 Ginnie Springs, p. 19 Devil’s Den and Blue Grotto, p. 66 City of Hawkinsville wreck site, p. 57


Horses Equestrian Cycling Awarded America’s Best Trails, Florida offers an expanding network of dedicated bikeways. The Nature Coast State Trail connects all three counties, pp. 26 -27 Dixon Hammock is the western terminus of the 70,000-acre Marjorie Harris Carr Greenway, p. 69 Bike the Dixie Mainline, p. 38 Get around Island Style, p. 94

For those in the know, Florida’s Big Bend offers some of the richest fishing to be had. For freshwater fish, cast your line in any of our fine rivers. Fishing Capital of the World, the area offers freshwater, near shore and offshore fishing year round, p. 39 Fishing and Scalloping in Steinhatchee, p. 32 At the mouth of the Gulf, p. 40 Boat Captains and Guides, p. 46 Superlative fishing on the Suwannee at Andrews WMA, p. 57 Cedar Key fishing, p. 80 Aquaculture in Cedar Key, p. 82

Explore over 60,000 acres of forest, hammock and greenway on a superlative network of equestrian trails. Florida’s “cow catcher” heritage at the R.O. Ranch, p. 17 Nature Coast State Trail, pp. 26 - 27 Rodeo action in Williston, p. 67 Explore the Goethe State Forest, Devil’s Hammock, Greenway and more; take an equestrian vacation; dressage, carriage driving, B & B lodging with stables, pp. 68 - 69



Award-winning photographer, Sean Dowie, captured our cover shot of Roseate Spoonbills in the wetlands of the Pure Water Wilderness.

executive director Annie W. Pais creative director Stewart J. Thomas special projects coordinator Jacquelyne Collett director of photography Sean M. Dowie accounting Ann Ramsden • Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide editors Annie W. Pais Stewart J. Thomas design & production Stewart J. Thomas guide coordinator Jacquelyne Collett guide specialists Sean Dowie, Joni Ellis Lois Fletcher chief photographer Sean Dowie contributing photographers Lois Fletcher Bob Blanchard, Alan Cressler, Bruce Crenshaw Jill Heinerth, Joni Hoffman, Hugh Horton Tom Hundley, Becky Kagan, Bill Kilborn Luz Kraujalis, Steve Kroll, Lyn Kertesz Dick Madden, John Moran, Annie Pais, Tomes Rabold, Gabby Saluta Laurie Stamm, Stewart J. Thomas contributing writers Lars Andersen, Cynthia Barnett, Sue Cerulean Hugh Horton, Doc Lawrence, Kevin McCarthy Carol McQueen, Shelley Fraser Mickle Janis Owens, Jeff Ripple database programming William Triplett webmaster Stewart J. Thomas water advisory panel Cynthia Barnett, Ron Chandler David Flagg, Bob Knight, Annette Long Kathryn E. Sieving


Florida’s Eden Pure Water Wilderness Guide © 2009 Artists Alliance of North Florida, Inc. dba Florida’s Eden, non-profit 501c3 organization PO Box 1149, Gainesville, FL 32602-1149 All rights reserved by Florida’s Eden and individual copyright holders, no part may be reproduced for commercial use, in part or whole without express written permission. This project was partially funded by a grant from Progress Energy; and sponsored in part by a Culture Builds Florida grant from the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and produced in partnership with the Dixie, Levy, Gilchrist Tourist Development Board which holds no responsibility for the content of the guide.

Gilchrist County 14 Cave Diving 18 Trenton 22 Nature Coast State Trail 26 Dixie County 28 Steinhatchee / Jena 32 Fishing Capital of the World 39 Suwannee 40 Great Florida Birding Trail 42 Crossing Florida 45 Outfitters & Guides 46 Suwannee River Wilderness Trail 47 Food & Wine 48 Map of the Pure Water Wilderness 50 Levy County 52 Fanning Springs 54 Chiefland 58 History & Heritage 64 Williston 66 Equestrian Action 68 Bronson 70 Acknowledgments 71 Water Awareness Guide 72 Cedar Key 80 Inglis / Yankeetown 96 Education 99 Florida’s Eden Source back cover

Rubber Ducky Race on the Suwannee at the Festival of Lights, page 54

Dive in! Springs, Rivers, Coastlines—take your pick.

This publication was printed using low-chemistry, energyefficient plate and print technology, on elemental chlorine free (ECF) recycled paper with 10% post-consumer content.


THIS GUIDE ONLINE Live Links • Search Reader Response

PURE WATER WILDERNESS Events Calendar • Destinations Services • Activities • Resources • Maps

DESTINATIONS Driving Loops • Day Trips • Maps GPS waypoints / Downloads




FLORIDA SPRINGS Exploration • Protection Education • Recreation


FLORIDA’S OFFICIAL TOURISM SITE Trip Planner • Articles • Video

Volunteer at the Annual Suwannee River Clean Up sponsored by Pure Water Wilderness. Residents, businesses and tourism boards are passionate about keeping the region pristine! Info at:

The Cedar Key Star Party celebrates some of the darkest skies in America, p. 52

Wind and tide have brought enthusiasts to Small Boat Weekend for over 20 years, p. 94 Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Gilchrist County

The Rock Bluff ferry crossing the Suwannee in this archival photo. Today CR 340 crosses the river adjacent to the Rock Bluff boat landing. Rock Bluff Springs is accessible by boat from the river, just north of the bridge.

Gilchrist County remains one of Florida’s undiscovered, and unspoiled, treasures. This rural county is bounded by waterways and rich in freshwater springs, attracting visitors keen to paddle, dive, fish, or simply rejuvenate in the healing waters. Along the north is the springfed Santa Fe River. The west is bounded by the storied Suwannee River. Rolling hills are covered by lush forests, moss-draped oaks, and dotted with springs. Running down the center of the county are 61,000 acres of wetland known as the Waccasassa Flats. During the rainy season water flows upward from the Floridan Aquifer, filling countless sinks and ponds. The Thomas Farm Site is home to one of these sinkholes, and since its discovery in 1931 has yielded one of North America’s largest treasure troves of fossils, some dating back some 18 million years to the Miocene Age. Camels, rhinoceroses and horses the size of dogs, are just a few of the tens of thousands of fossils excavated to date. The friendly folks of Gilchrist’s small towns welcome you on your own journey of exploration along the rural roads and waterways of pristine Florida.

photos: top, Ginnie Springs by Lois Fletcher, below: Florida State Archives, right, Butterfly by Sean Dowie



1160 S. Main Street Bell, FL 32619 352-463-6859 Hours: Mon - Sat, 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. Online Info at Stop by Akins for country style barbeque and full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Daily specials are offered along with a scrumptious salad bar featuring over 50 items. Enjoy steak, seafood, baby back ribs, fresh vegetables and desserts. The banquet room is ideal for birthdays, meetings, reunions, rehearsal dinners or any other gathering. Owners Scott and Kim Akins invite you to stop by and taste good country cooking in Bell.


1200 NW 78th Avenue 352-463-9140 Bell, FL 32619 Enjoy the distinctively designed, fully furnished vacation cottages set in wooded parkland with riverfront access. Each three-bedroom, three-bath cottage features screened porches, deck and fully equipped kitchen, DVD and VHS player. Two televisions and board games provide entertainment inside. Outdoors enjoy BBQ grills, fire pits, porch swings and picnic areas. A host of community amenities and playing fields add to sports options. Naturally, the biggest draw is all that the Suwannee River and its many parks and springs can offer. Come create a lifetime of memories to cherish!


Welcome to Gilchrist County

Our small town atmosphere allows you to take a step back in time . . . Refresh . . . your spirit in a place away from the crowds that encompasses the beauty of living off the beaten path . . . Restore your sense of adventure exploring our Natural Springs . . . Reconnect with family and friends with a day of fun on the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers. Whether you are looking for excitement or relaxation you can find it in Gilchrist County. WARNING: If you visit, you may never want to leave.

Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce 220 S. Main Street, Trenton, FL 32693 352-463-3467 Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


9225 CR 49, Live Oak, FL 32060


The R.O. Ranch is a 2,500-acre equestrian park being developed under the auspices of the Suwannee River Water Management District. The ranch is located at the northern end of some 20,000 acres of public lands managed by the District. The Crossway Branch and Owl Creek traverse the property and feed into the Steinhatchee River. The property is currently in development, with a 1920s “Cracker” theme serving as a simple backdrop to the beauty and simplicity of North Florida life. While all visitors are welcome, the long range plans focus on horses, their owners, and the vast tracts of lands open to horses. As part of phase I, a challenging 20-mile Steinhatchee River Trail is being developed, along with a visitor’s center, 20 unit RV campground and covered arena. Please contact R.O. Ranch to learn of recent developments, visitor options, and special events. John Paul Schneider, left, grandson Jake Jerkins, center, and former RO Ranch owner Frank Schulte were a few of the veteran trail riders that accompanied the first Suwannee River Wagon Train as it made the historic trek from the headwaters of the Suwannee River to the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico where the Suwannee River ends. Photo: RO Ranch Archives


2740 West CR 232, Bell, FL 32619 352-463-7174 TOURS: Call in advance to schedule your tour of the farm Take a farm tour and see how a modern dairy produces one of nature’s finest foods in a people and animal friendly atmosphere. From the comfortable happy cows to the perky bouncy calves, the importance of properly cared for bovines will highlight how the human-animal relationship ties to economics North Florida Holsteins is home to 7,400 dairy cattle on 2,300 acres. The entire management team is committed to producing quality milk from comfortable cows, while supporting the welfare of community, employees, animals and the environment. The farm maintains an active International Student Program. Most of the students have either a 4-year degree or a veterinary degree and stay about one year. The nearly two hundred trainees having completed the program came from every inhabited continent. Many have become leaders in the industry in their own and other countries.


photos: Lois Fletcher


Nature Quest™ provides

extraordinary adventures at Poe Springs Park. Reserve our Lodge overlooking the “wild & scenic” Santa Fe River seating 70 plus people for weddings, family/class reunions & conferences. Poe Springs Park has 5 picnic pavilions, nature trails, volleyball courts, softball field & its own spring. Nature Quest™ rents canoes, kayaks & tubes to float down the River and view its manny Springs.

$5 Entrance Fee

Per Person (4 or Younger Free)

28800 NW 182 Ave. High Springs, FL 32643 386.454.1992

3349 NW 110th Street, Branford, FL 32008 Hours: Sun - Thurs, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Fri - Sat, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. 386-935-9518 Camping: 99 full hook-up 30 and 50 amp RV sites Tent campers welcome Situated on the banks of the beautiful Santa Fe River, Ellie Ray’s is the ideal place to enjoy boating, fishing, or skiing the Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers. A boat ramp and floating dock provide easy access to the water. Nearby springs, including Ichetucknee, Ginnie, Blue and Poe, offer a wide variety of water sports such as diving, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, and tubing. If you’re in the mood to shop, be sure to check out the stores in High Springs, Trenton and Fanning Springs. Camp amenities include free Wi-Fi, campfire spots, hot showers, laundry room, recreation hall and clubhouse, all in a beautiful, restful location. Dogs on leashes are welcome. If you’re looking for a natural place to relax, you’ve found it!

HART SPRINGS Park & Campground

4240 SW 86 Avenue 352-463-3444 Bell, FL 32619 Hours: 9 a.m. - dusk; RV and tent camping Hart Springs is a family oriented park and campground located on the beautiful Suwannee River. Come spend the day relaxing in the sparkling 72-degree springs, picnic with the kids or play a round of horseshoes. Take a stroll down our quarter-mile boardwalk that runs along the river. Keep an eye open for deer, turkeys, hogs and other wildlife. Over 100 different bird species frequent Hart Springs, including the Bald Eagle. While walking by the spring run be sure to look for the majestic manatee who often visit here. If you are looking for a place to take the family camping, Hart Springs is the place to be. The kids won’t be bored, with canoes, body boards, volleyball, basketball, and bikes for rent. The site even includes a large heated pool for your use. So, whether it’s for a day, week or month Hart Springs is the place to bring the family. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Photos: above and top right, Becky Kagan, bottom right, Ginnie Springs, Lois Fletcher

DIVE RIGHT IN DIVING EQUIPMENT AND INSTRUCTION Extreme Exposure Dive Rite Ginnie Springs Dive Shop Devil’s Den Diving Blue Grotto Dive Outpost DIVE INSTRUCTION Reggie H. Ross 352-333-3170 North Florida Cave & Technical Divers Johnny Richards (352) 404-5501 Central Florida Divers, Inc. Daniel C. Patterson 352-250-7740 Gary Brown 352-317-2066 Jim Wyatt 352-363-0013

Visitors to Florida have long been fascinated by the force and clarity of the water that issues forth from hundreds of named springs. Ponce de Leon was certain that one of these was the “Fountain of Youth.” Seventeenth century naturalist William Bartram was guided by Timucuan Indians to the great spring on the Suwannee now known as Manatee Springs. His description was so eloquent that it inspired the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. More recently, a small cadré of highly trained divers has discovered another aspect of Florida’s waterways, the miles of underground passages that thread through the limestone that supports the landmass of peninsular Florida. Using sophisticated equipment—often designed and built right here in North Florida—and exacting calculations, these men and women brave a dark and uncharted world. Combining sport, the spirit of adventure and science, divers are mapping out this underground world and giving us valuable new understandings that will help us maintain the watery environment that supplies almost all of the fresh water in the state. In recent years teams have worked underground within the aquifer along with those tracing their route above ground. These research explorers have proven that continuous water passageways extend for many miles underground. This new information is vital to understanding how to prevent nitrate run-off that pollutes the aquifer and reduces springs quality. The Floridan Aquifer is one of the five cleanest sources of water in the world. The liquid is so clear that divers move through absolute clarity, the darkness lit by hand held searchlights. At times the passageways close so tight that tanks and equipment must be temporarily removed or shifted in order to squeeze through. Other caverns are so large that a stadium could fit within the walls. Ancient fossils are embedded in limestone; layers of ancient clay deposits create color patterns as beautiful as any mural. Cave diving is a physically and technically demanding pursuit. Divers must be prepared, alert and keep safety foremost in their awareness at all times. But the allure of adventure, new discovery and beauty brings people back, again and again. Inspired by their experiences, Florida divers lead the world in documenting deep caves and oceans around the world. Poetry, science and a commitment to the future are woven together in the words of world famous diver, photographer and educator, Jill Heinerth: I swim through the veins of Mother Earth. In the pulsing, turquoise life of our planet. The future is revealed beneath our feet. All that we have wrought upon the land, Will be returned to us to drink.

Cave Dive Capital



7300 NE Ginnie Springs Road, off of CR 340 386-454-7188 High Springs, FL 32643 Hours: Mon - Thurs 8 a.m. - 7 p.m., Fri and Sat 8 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. Seven separate springs form the heart of this phenomenally well preserved nature park, discharging hundreds of millions of gallons daily of crystal-clear water at a constant 72 degrees year round. Tall trees (some over 500 years old) provide plenty of shade, providing a beautiful setting for camping, hiking or just plain relaxing. As much as possible, the 200 acres have been preserved exactly as they were when the native Timucuan and other tribes used the area for hunting, fishing and extracting flint from the Santa Fe River. Activities include camping, scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling, tubing, picnics, volleyball, nature walk, canoeing and kayaking. Facilities include RV hook-up and dump station, laundromat, warm showers, picnic pavilions, and miles of trails. Wood decks and stairs provide easy entry to the springs. The on site store offers food, beverages, candy, a complete line of rentals, and a full service dive shop. Sales, rentals, repairs, air refills, and open water and overhead training available. Certified divers are welcome in the world famous Ginnie Springs Cavern, and the Devil’s Eye and Ear cave system. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


BLUE SPRINGS PARK 7450 NE 60th Street (County Road 340) 386-454-1369 High Springs, FL 32643 Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 7 days per week RV and Tent Camping Swimming, picnicking, tubing, canoeing, camping, and nature trails are nestled on 250 acres of the “Real Florida.” Blue Springs has been family owned and operated since 1958. Stroll along the boardwalk, which follows the spring run to the scenic Santa Fe River. Jump or dive off the dock into the crystal blue spring boil. The 72 degree water is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and recharged. Enjoy a relaxing picnic in the shade provided by the many majestic oak trees found throughout the park. Covered pavilions are available for parties, family reunions or company picnics. If camping is more your style, there are many full hook-up and primitive campsites to choose from. Life is in the everyday details of the beauty around us. Take the time to explore the wonders that await you at Blue Springs: Make Blue Springs your adventure destination! photos: top left and right, Lois Fletcher, below right, courtesy of Dan Cavanah

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potatoes are favorites of Crackers for the same reason they’re the favorites of poor folk everywhere: they’re easy to grow, plentiful, and can be seasoned (that is: preserved in straw) all winter, meaning that you never had to go to The Cracker Kitchen bed hungry as long as Scribner you have so much as a single sweet potato left. I’m offering a newer, creamier version, courtesy of the modern Cracker’s recent infatuation with cream cheese; an affection that might one day equal, or even overtake our love of the lowly hog. Both versions are really scrumptious when topped with sweet whipped cream and a few chopped pecans. Eat with coffee at home, or bring to a funeral and send a good message: the departed was a person worth peeling sweet potatoes over.

Janis Owens


8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 cup of sweet potato, mashed 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 tablespoon plain flour 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ tsp regular salt 2 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 graham cracker pie crust In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mashed sweet potato, and sugars, then beat till smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon and salt, then add eggs and vanilla and beat till blended. Pour the mixture into the pie crust, and bake at 350ºF for 40 minutes, until firm. Serves 5


6470 SW 80th Avenue, Trenton, FL 32693 352-463-0800 Hours: 8 a.m. - Sunset, Daily First Saturday of the Month: Free Bluegrass Pickin’ at the Lodge Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Camping: RV, Tent, Cabins, Stilt House, Lodge With 636 acres of natural Florida on the banks of the Suwannee River and the fresh waters of Otter Springs, this is a true oasis from the world of stress. Full hook-up angled sites make for easy in and out for RV. A wide array of other camping and cabin stays is available. The entire park is shaded by an old oak forest. Foot, bicycle and golf cart trails make it easy to get around. Enjoy shuffleboard, horseshoes, washer toss and ladder golf; and of course, fishing in the spring run or along the river. For swimming try the indoor pool or freshwater springs. Don’t want to camp? How about a fully furnished cabin or stilt house with all the amenities? Single room cabins sleep 4 with fully equipped kitchen and bath. Three bedroom stilt house sleeps 8, with full kitchen and bath. For special events, there is nothing better than the Spring House Lodge; perfect for weddings, anniversaries, family and class reunions. First Saturday of every month: Bluegrass Pickin’ at the Lodge – FREE TO THE PUBLIC.

Dan Cavanah signed up in local horse-riding club when he first moved to Bell, Florida. The only problem? He didn’t own a horse. So began the saga that has led to a record for amassing the world’s largest collection of stick horses. “As a joke, a friend gave me a stick horse,” he says. “I took it to the next meeting of the riding club and proudly showed off my ‘new horse.’ I didn’t have a stick horse when I was a child, but it was easy to see how much fun everyone was having with it.” The one toy lead to a collection that includes over 500 stick horses dating back to the 1940s and ‘50s. Rare items include Prince Phillip’s horse from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the Samson, Roy Rogers’ Trigger, The Lone Ranger’s Silver, Gumby’s horse Pokey and a Davy Crockett stick horse. In 2002 the collection was recognized by Guinness World Records. The horses are now on display at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show. Dan himself has now written and illustrated a classic children’s book called Tiny Timber Finds a Friend. Info at Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


The Nature Coast State Trail departs from the historic Trenton Depot; Roy Messer puts finishing touches on one of Trenton’s heritage murals. photos by Lois Fletcher


“Looking Forward to the Journey to Tomorrow but Remembering Our Heritage.” From the late 1880s, Trenton flourished with the production of the highly prized Sea Island cotton. Floridians designed and patented cotton gins that, combined with soil and climate, allowed North Florida to surpass Georgia’s Sea Isles in cotton production. The arrival of the Atlantic Coast Line railway further enhanced Trenton’s stature. Trenton was officially chartered in 1910 when William E. “Bill” Bell was a leader of the town. A large man, Bill became well known in the area as an imposing and sometimes domineering character. Author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings traveled to Trenton and spent time learning about him, some 11 years after his death. She wrote the short story “Lord Bill of the Suwannee River,” although it has never been published in its entirety. Hogs, watermelons, and cattle are still important agricultural products. Cotton production ceased after the 1917 boll weevil infestation. The train depot is now the site of the weekly Farmer’s Market, every Friday from 3:30 - 7:00 p.m. You can also set out on foot, bicycle or horse from the train station on the Nature Coast State Trail that follows the old railway bed. The bustling downtown is now a 10-square block historic district. The Cracker Box Café is a favorite Trenton eatery, famous for serving up a great breakfast. Adjacent to the station is a complex of renovated buildings that make up the Suwannee Valley Shoppes, including the Ice House and 1925 Coca Cola plant. The plant houses the south’s largest quilt supply store, the Suwannee Valley Quilt Shoppe, and the Suwannee Rose Café. Be sure to ask about the barrel where the secret Coca-Cola formula was kept. The newly renovated Ice House features A Heart for Memories Scrapbooking Store. The Suwannee Valley Stained Glass Works offers large worktables, instruction, and one of the largest collections of glass in the state. Lynn’s Cross Stitch is one of the top ten in the country, and when you’re all done with your creation, there is Suwannee Valley Custom Framing.



Easton Corbin plays for a packed crowd in Gainesville. photo by Lois Fletcher, photo far right ©2009 Mercury Records

CRACKER BOX CAFE 203 NW 1st Street Trenton, FL 32693 352-463-0055 Hours: 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. daily

The Cracker Box Café is a must stop for down home country cookin’ famous for breakfast, daily specials and homemade desserts.

The smallest county in Florida cannot be mistaken for anything but country. Gilchrist is certainly rural, boasting towns with one stoplight, country roads, and tight knit communities. Easton Corbin, a graduate of Trenton High School and the University of Florida, is now Mercury Records most recent recording star. Growing up a mile from the Suwannee River, fishing, and helping out on his grandparent’s farm, Corbin is a country boy who always knew he wanted to be a country singer. “One my earliest memories is from when I was three or four,” Corbin says. “I was sitting between my parents in the car and a song came on the radio—it was Mel McDaniel’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.” I began using the gearshift as my microphone. The desire has always been there.” At 15 Corbin began taking lessons from Pee Wee Melton, a local musician who had played in Nashville. “He was a great player and a great teacher. He was a really big influence on me,” notes Corbin. Long hours of practice and playing lead guitar in a local band honed his skills. An audition at a local music store led him to a slot at the Suwannee River Jam. Admired for his “neo-traditional” sound, Corbin has a hit with his first single, “A Little More Country Than That,” written by Rory Feek, Don Poythress and Varble. “Even though I didn’t write it, this song identifies who I am,” says Corbin. To follow the progress of this rising star, visit Thanks to the Gilchrist County Journal for contributions to this article: Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


The Gilchrist County Commission building is a stellar example of a type of construction unique to this part of Florida. It was originally built for the Trenton Church of Christ by Frank Beach Sr. and sons and completed in 1938. The limestone rock was hauled in from Newberry and broken into pieces for the exterior walls. The interior is tongue and groove heart pine flooring, ceiling and wainscoting. The entire building was built with no power tools. A most unusual feature for Florida is a full basement. A great attic circulating fan provided cooling in summer. In winter weather a kerosene heater provided heat through a vent in the front of the building. In 2003, the county went to great lengths to maintain the historic integrity of the structure as it was renovated to accommodate the county commission.



VAUGHAN CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE 325 Wade Street 352-463-8120 Trenton, FL 32693 Hours: MWF, 8:30 a.m. - 12; 2 - 6 p.m. Online info at

“The Colors of Gilchrist” displays the natural beauty and community spirit of Gilchrist County. Artist photographer Lois Fletcher created this collage to depict the heart and soul of the area. The framed print is on display at Point of View in Fanning Springs. To order a 22” x 16” limited edition print with descriptions of each photo visit:, then click Feature Fotos. all photos this spread: Lois Fletcher


Robert L. Vaughan, Jr. , Chiropractor Activator® Method - A Painless Chiropractic Adjustment Julie Vaughan Noyes, LMT MA0014204 Therapeutic Massage Stress Reduction Tina Marie Kalbfleisch, LMT MA4953 Massage Therapy Emory Philman, LMT MA33088 Relaxation/Therapeutic Massage 352-463-3722

Key Lime Pie from the Suwannee Rose Café

Suwannee Valley Shoppes 517 North Main Street, Trenton, FL 32693 Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 a.m - 5 p.m.


9” graham cracker crust 1 can sweet condensed milk 3 egg yolks 1/2 cup lime juice Mix eggs and sweet condensed milk. Add lime juice. Mix well. Pour into crust. Bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes. Ragena Ransom

Three historic buildings adjacent to the Trenton Train Depot house the distinctive Suwannee Valley Shoppes. The Quilt Shoppe and the Suwannee Rose Café are housed in the 1925 Coca Cola bottling plant. This is the most complete quilting supply shop in the south. Select from over 5,000 bolts of quality fabric, supplies, and over 400 quilting books. The Rose Café serves light luncheon specialties and delicious home-style pastries. Next door, the 1910 dry goods store houses over 15,000 pounds of glass in the Suwannee Valley Stained Glass Works, the Custom Frame Shop and Lynn’s Country Cross Stitch. The newly renovated Ice House is home to the Scrapbook Shop. Generous space allows for ongoing classes in quilting techniques, stained glass, mosaic, and scrapbooking. Stop by for a few moments, or spend the day in the nostalgic ambience of the Shoppes while the friendly artisans assist you with your selections. The Suwannee Valley Quilt and Old Time Craft Festival is held annually in the spring. Check with the Suwannee Valley Shoppes for dates, vendor and visitor information. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Nature Coast S TAT E T R A I L

Connecting all three counties of the Pure Water Wilderness, the Nature Coast State Trail provides an excellent opportunity to get off the highway and enjoy the quiet of hiking, cycling, roller blading or horse back riding. The trail follows the old railroad embankments that intersect at Wilcox Junction, connecting the communities of Cross City, Old Town, Fanning Springs, Trenton, and Chiefland. Among the trail’s highlights is the historic train trestle that allows trail goers to cross over the Suwannee River near Old Town. Just south of the bridge is the preserved wreck of the City of Hawkinsville river steamboat (page 57). The trail provides easy access to Fanning Springs State Park, Andrews Wildlife Management Area, the Trenton Farmer’s Market, and other area attractions. Terrain is generally level, with a mix of rural farmland scenery, wetlands and forest. Equestrian pathway runs adjacent to the paved trail. Train depots at each terminus, as well as the train trestle over the Suwannee, provide visual clues to the heritage of the area. In Fanning Springs, stop by the Wayside Park, pictured below center, to see an original section of the southernmost bridge across the Suwannee. Trenton features the restored Ice House and Coca Cola bottling building adjacent to the train depot. The buildings now house the Suwannee Valley Shoppes, while the Trenton Farmer’s Market fills the platform of the station every Friday. Get out of the car and enjoy the Nature Coast on this jewel of a trail. Photos: top, cycling on the trail (photo Bruce Crenshaw); background, crossing the Suwannee on the historic railway trestle near Old Town. White buoy marks the City of Hawkinsville wreck (photos: Lois Fletcher). Map courtesy Fl. DEP, near right, depot at Cross City (photo: Sean Dowie); center right, old Suwannee bridge span at Hwy 19 Wayside Park (photo Lois Fletcher); far right, Trenton Depot as painted by artist Robin Popp.



Contact Information 18020 N.W. Highway 19, Fanning Springs, FL 32693 352-535-5181 Tallahassee Headquarters 850-245-2052 Hours: 8 a.m. - sundown, daily Major Activities: Walking, Hiking, Biking, Equestrian Trail Length: 32 miles paved Fee: None Websites: trails/nature_coast_trail.htm Information on connecting trails in adjacent counties: > Florida’s Bike Trails

The first ever “Best Trails State Award” was presented to the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails in 2008. “Florida has embraced the value of greenways and trails with an enthusiasm and level of quality that is a model for the nation,” said Bob Searns, Chairman of the Board of Directors for American Trails. “Online trails database and regional trails forums have set a standard. Local and regional projects are delivering a first class infrastructure for residents and an example for tourists to take back home.” The map of land-based trails shows existing trails in blue, and proposed trails in pink.

Florida Awarded Best Trails State in the Nation! Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide 27

Dixie County County Dixie

The Suwannee River meanders through a maze of hundreds of islands and salt marsh as it empties its spring-fed waters into the Gulf. photo: Bill Kilborn With a population of only 14,000 people, Dixie County offers a pristine and multi-faceted wilderness experience just miles away from Florida’s bustling thoroughfares. Bounded by an undeveloped coastline and the conservation lands of the Suwannee River, a full 18% of the county area is water. Come by land, water or by air into Cross City airport to experience the many recreational opportunities available. Campgrounds, motels and high-end resorts offer a wide range of accommodations. At Suwannee you can even rent a houseboat. Get out on the trails by kayak, canoe, bicycle or horse. The coastline between Steinhatchee and Cedar Key offers Florida’s best-kept fishing secret. Those in the know come from all over the world for the plentiful year-round fishing along the Dixie coastline and Suwannee Sound. Marinas can put you and your boat on the water. Professional guides await your call at waterfront villages. Boating opportunities are wherever you turn in Dixie. Excellent marina facilities are available at the Suwannee River, Suwannee at the Gulf, Horseshoe Beach and at Gulf-front Steinhatchee. Enjoy Dixie waters but please be careful: watch out for manatees, canoeists and fellow boaters. The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Reguge, Dixie Mainline, and “Road to Nowhere,” as well as the Suwannee River Basin, offer prime bird-watching territory. Dixie makes a perfect base for your SCUBA trips. Start with the historic City of Hawkinsville, underwater Archaeological Preserve, near the Nature Coast Greenway crossing of the Suwannee. Fanning Springs is rated highly as an open water dive and nearby Manatee Springs offers cave diving for certified divers. Within 50 miles in almost any direction, still more dives await you. Dixie County harbors several delightful little-known springs, accessible mainly from the Suwannee River by boat. The area has been known among hunters for decades. Private hunt clubs, stateDixie County managed wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges offer thousands of acres of wilderness. Many visitors return year after year to visit salty Jena, stroll through Cross City, Chamber of Commerce fish from Horseshoe Beach, relax in shady Old Town or enjoy the waterfront village P.O. Box 547 of Suwannee where the great river meets the Gulf. Cross City, FL 32628

FESTIVALS: Festival of Lights is one of the longestrunning festivals in the area with arts, crafts, rubber ducky race, and more, see p. 54 28

photos: above, Bill Kilborn, center, Sean Dowie, far right, Lois Fletcher


additional info:


County Operated CAMPGROUNDS, PARKS & BOAT RAMPS County parks offer camping, swimming, boat ramps, picnic sites and other amenities. INFO AT: RV Hookup and Camping: GUARANTO SPRINGS also known as Gornto or Gronto Springs HINTON LANDING SHIRED ISLAND HORSESHOE BEACH

Take CR 349S to CR 317 South of Old Town, FL 352-498-1239 parks_and_recreation.html This county operated park offers 10 sites for RV or tent camping. With its wooded location and the Suwannee River at your doorstep, this is the perfect place for canoeing, camping or a picnic. Facilities include two docks, one handicapped accessible, boat trailer parking, and picnic tables and pavilion high on the riverbank. Note that there are restrooms, but no showers or potable water.


PO Box 1135, Old Town, FL 32680 352-542-7800 1218 SE Hwy 346 RV and Tent Camping This stunningly beautiful and peaceful retreat from the world can also serve as your headquarters for exploring the area. Check in at the 1920s general store and enjoy the new clubhouse with fireplace, laundry facilities and bathhouse. Fifteen hundred feet of boardwalk meanders through wetlands to the Suwannee River. Nature abounds in an amazing variety of trees and plants. Bird watching and wildlife spotting opportunities are excellent. Enjoy the many springs and parks close by. The Nature Coast State Trail starts just 3 miles away. It is just 20 minutes to the beaches and excellent fishing on the Gulf. Located just north of Chiefland, the amenities of town, shopping and RV services are conveniently close by. The area is ideal for hiking, biking, paddling, bird watching and relaxing! Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



27659 SE Hwy 19, Old Town, FL 32680 352-542-7752 AAA Double

Diamond Rating

The “Gables” offers a beautiful, nature-lover’s retreat, with the perfect blend of rustic and luxurious. Modern guest rooms, suites, chalet-style cabins, and a beautiful swimming pool are located on an historic site with magnificent oaks and pines. Best of all, you are ON THE RIVER. The high bluff overlooks the Suwannee and was once inhabited by Native Americans. Five minutes away is Florida’s underwater archaeological park, the City of Hawkinsville. Enjoy nearby Fanning Springs, Manatee Springs, and the short drive to the Gulf of Mexico. Suwannee Gables offers many of the finer touches you would expect at a higher priced motel. Families, couples, vacationers, anglers, boaters and eco-tourists all enjoy the rooms, service, boat ramp, deck and dock. The party pavilion has served many a family reunion. For years, Suwannee Gables has brought families (and their pets!) together for an affordable yet unforgettable experience.

YELLOW JACKET RV RESORT 59 SE 503 Avenue, Old Town, FL 32680 Full RV hook-ups and camp sites


An oasis surrounded by thousands of acres of wildlife refuge, Yellow Jacket is a large 40-acre resort with 1,300 feet of frontage on the Suwannee River. Campsites are large and secluded and feature camp tables and fire pits. RV sites offer hookups, shade, and many sites have a direct view of the river. Camp, fish, swim or boat. Hike one of several nature trails. The seclusion of Yellow Jacket is perfect for RV campers or those arriving by river. Soak up the quiet and enjoy the starlit skies at night. This is the perfect spot to explore the nearby springs and attractions of the Suwannee. The Resort received the 2009 Trailer Life Directory Award of Excellence as one of the top rated RV Parks in North America. We recommend calling for directions before arrival.


Faces of the Suwannee River Along its 235 miles, Suwannee River has many faces and a diversity of natural communities. In a single day of exploration, you can easily visit half a dozen unique habitats. On a broader scale, the Suwannee has three distinct sections – the upper, middle and lower. To better understand the river and help plan your trip, we’ll compare and contrast these sections. The upper Suwannee is generally considered the area between the Okefenokee Swamp and the Withlacoochee River confluence. This part of the river carves a meandering course over the Northern Highlands. This is a remote, sparsely populated area of pine plantations and scattered hardwoods. The soil here is light and sandy. Between White Springs and Suwannee Springs, the BY LARS ANDERSEN river descends a low ridge, or Guide, Adventure Outpost escarpment, called the Cody Scarp. This is the remains of an ancient shoreline, eroded by wave action when the world’s sea levels were much higher than today. The Suwannee’s passage over the Cody Scarp is marked by massive outcroppings and sheer rock faces of limestone. Many of these are beautifully sculpted by water and chemical erosion. In periods of low water, the rocky riverbed develops many fun shoals and quick-water chutes for the thrill seeking paddler. However, in very low water, these shoals become a series of exhausting pull-overs. Be sure to check with a local outfitter if you’re unsure of conditions. As it passes over the Cody Scarp, the Suwannee descends from the Northern Highlands into the lower, more level Gulf Coastal Lowlands. This emergence into the Gulf Coastal Lowlands also marks the beginning of the middle Suwannee region, which extends from here to Fanning Springs. While still very rural, the middle Suwannee is the most populated section of the river. Farming and ranching are mainstays of the local economy. The photos: top left, Lois Fletcher, above, Tom Hundley

river itself hosts a greater diversity of aquatic life than the upper section, nurtured by minerals from the springs and nutrients from runoff brought by the Withlacoochee and other feeder streams. Limestone is still a major component of the riverbanks, but is gradually replaced by sand as it flows toward the Gulf. More than anything else, it is the abundance of cool, freshwater springs that defines the middle Suwannee. Of the 197 springs in the Suwannee basin, the vast majority is found in this section. Few rivers in the world can boast such a density of springs, making the popular sport of “spring hopping” a uniquely Suwannee experience. In low water, you may encounter several shoals, but these are deeper than those of the upper river and rarely require a pullover. Motor boats need to operate cautiously in this section during low water. Near Fanning Springs you enter the lower Suwannee region. High banks have melted away and the river has become wild again – flanked by low bottomlands and floodplain forests. Those rare places where high ground abuts the river are usually topped by homes. Some aspects of the lower river make it less suited to paddling than other sections. Wide-open water (which means more chance of winds), along with changing tides, can make very difficult paddling conditions that should only be attempted by strong, experienced paddlers. Boat ramps and access roads are rare, so getting help in an emergency could be difficult. But, with careful planning and all due caution, you’ll find that the lower Suwannee offers some of the finest paddling. Exploring some of the many side streams, you’ll find a fantastic swampy world of bald cypress trees, pumpkin ash, tupelo, swamp dogwoods and others. This rich environment hosts a wonderful variety of birds and other animals. Lars Andersen is river guide for Adventure Outpost. Based in the heart of North Florida’s famous “Spring Country,” the Adventure Outpost outfits and guides kayak and canoe tours on over 40 waterways throughout the region. 386-454-0611 Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



Straddling the Steinhatchee River, the Gulf communities of Jena and Steinhatchee are famed for fishing and oystering. Serenity and natural beauty are valuable assets in these parts and some of Florida’s finest vacations can be had here. For thousands of years the Steinhatchee and other rivers along the Gulf coast have deposited soils rich in minerals and foodstuffs into the Apalachee Bay. These deposits have formed one of the richest and most productive eco-systems in the world. The slope of the Gulf bottom is very gradual, making the water shallow for vast distances. The mean tidal range of approximately three feet means there is always shallow water for great fishing. The fertile grass flats support a variety of species of fish, including shellfish, making this part of Florida an incredibly exciting fishing ground. In addition to fishing along the coastline, rock-based and artificial reefs 10 miles offshore support a range of popular fish species normally found only in Caribbean waters. Area rivers and countless creeks provide an abundant supply of freshwater fish. In every season of the year fishing can be great fun. Paddlers enjoy the Steinhatchee River and its upstream rapids, as well as the maze of wetland paddling opportunities at the Gulf.

Clayton “Stickman” Oaks and Jerry Carter, pictured at left, shape hand-crafted wood furniture, objects and works of art. Turned bowl is shown in the photo at top right. Oaks and Carter use whatever Mother Nature supplies, including dragonwood – a common thicket in the area – cypress knees, driftwood and saplings. “Most people have a certain style,” says Oaks. “ We build what the wood dictates.” Find their work and that of other local artists at: Rustic Creations, 314 12th Street and Riverside Dr., ph: 352- 356-1320 all photos this spread: Sean Dowie



203 Ryland Circle 352-498-3513 Steinhatchee, FL 32359 “The Spirit and Romance of Old Florida” Nestled on the shore where the river flows into the Gulf, Steinhatchee Landing features a level of luxury not found in any other wilderness resort in Florida. Care has been lavished on every detail. Old Florida architecture, 35 landscaped acres, centuryold barn, fruit trees, gardens and vineyard complement the extraordinary natural beauty of the setting. The resort includes 51 luxury cottages, honeymoon cottages, wedding chapel, banquet hall and 60seat conference facility. Amenities include fireplaces, hydrotherapy baths, and charcoal grills. Pet-friendly, too!

1111 Riverside Drive 352-498-4049 Steinhatchee, FL 32359 Located across the street from the Steinhatchee River, restaurants and marinas, this is a beautifully furnished, non-smoking, all-suites inn. The courtyard features a large swimming pool, BBQ and picnic area under a canopy of stately oaks. Inside each suite features a full kitchen, WI-FI, and cable TV. The owners will happily assist you with kayak, boat or fishing charter arrangements. This small inn is proud to have met the state’s green lodging standards. “By changing just a few of our work habits here at the inn, we can do our part to conserve water and honor native habitats in Florida,” said Steinhatchee River Inn owner Loretta Fowler. “When we tell our guests about the methods we use here, we hope they take a little bit of our ‘green ways’ home with them and start thinking about making some new habits of their own.”


1117 SE Third Avenue 352-498-7770 Steinhatchee, FL 32359 Just a short block from the scenic Steinhatchee River, Heron House offers affordable accommodation in a quiet setting close to marina and restaurants. Whether you require a room or a full two bedroom apartment, Heron House can meet your needs. The layout of the house allows the flexibility to handle almost any size group. Please call to arrange your reservations. Don’t forget your boat! Docking is available for a small extra fee. Whether you are in Steinhatchee for kayaking, fishing, hunting or scalloping — or you just need some quiet time, stay at Heron House. You’ll be glad you did. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Steinhatchee Steinhatchee River Chamber of Commerce

1013 Riverside Drive, Steinhatchee, FL 32359 352-356-1086 Hours: Friday 12 - 5, Saturday 10 -3 The Chamber represents both Jena and Steinhatchee. It is our goal to promote both business and play while preserving our unique heritage and our natural resources. Our towns are nestled in the woods on either side of the Steinhatchee River. At the end of the road is the endless beauty of the Gulf.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS: ANNUAL EVENTS: Fiddler Festival, held President’s Day Weekend • Fiddler Crab Races • Swamp Water Cook-off • Car Show • Parade • Photo Contest Shells & Scales, held Labor Day Weekend • Mullet Toss photos: Sean Dowie


ANCHOR TRUST PROPERTIES, Inc. 220 Tenth Street, SE, Steinhatchee, FL 32359 352-498-7770


he most trusted name in Steinhatchee real estate sales and property management, Anchor Trust Properties is open 7 days a week to serve your needs. As a member of the Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy Board of Realtors, Anchor Trust is held to a higher standard of ethics and service and always goes the “extra mile” to serve with a smile. Whether you are looking for a vacation rental or to purchase a weekend getaway, we can help you find just what you are looking for. Our agents’ knowledge of the community make Anchor Trust the company to call. Check out our web site or visit the MLS at Better yet, come visit Steinhatchee at the mouth of the Steinhatchee River right on the Gulf of Mexico—the last bit of “Old Florida.” You’ll be glad you did.


7022 SW Hwy 358 352-498-8088 Steinhatchee, FL 32459 Hours: M - W 7 - 5, Th - Sat 6:30 - 6, Sun 6:30 - 5 This full-service marina features a completely updated and remodeled motel with tile floors, new bathrooms and furnishings. World-renowned recording artist Mel Tillis finished writing his first Christmas Album here in 2008, lending his name to Mel’s Crabshack Café and Tiki Bar on the premises and the annual “Fishing with Mel” Fishing Tournament and Benefit Concert. RV Camping, complete ship’s store, fishing and diving supplies, and boat docking: it’s all available at the Gulfstream. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Steinhatchee Summertime is scalloping time

Fiddler’s Famous Scallop Ceviche

2 lbs. scallops in Steinhatchee. The mouth of the river was once home 1/3 cup of diced red peppers to thousands of Native Americans. European explorers 1/3 cup of diced green peppers to the area wrote of large mounds of oyster and muscle 1/3 cup of diced yellow peppers shells along the banks of the Steinhatchee. 1/3 cup jumbo onions Today, Steinhatchee is one of the top places in the 2 medium tomatoes seeded and diced United States for catching bay scallops. The season 1 cucumber seeded and diced is open from July 1st to September 10th. The only (Reminder); A diced vegetable is cut into small cubes equipment you need is a mask, snorkel, fins, and a 1 jalapeño (optional) mesh bag to hold the scallops. It’s also helpful to have 2 cups of fresh squeezed lime juice or enough to cover ingredients a dip net, a five-gallon bucket and lots of sunscreen. 3 tablespoons of minced cilantro Scallops prefer sea bottom covered by the thin, round 2 tablespoon of minced parsley bladed type of sea grass more than the flat, broad 1 tablespoon salt/pepper bladed turtle grass. Patches of brown algae are also Mix all ingredients favorite hiding places. Once a few scallops are seen Add more freshly squeezed lime juice if needed to keep lying on top of the sea grasses, drop the anchor, put up ingredients covered a dive flag and start collecting. It’s easy, fun, and can Juice adds flair - refrigerate for 2 hrs be enjoyed by all ages. Add salt/pepper to taste and serve with your favorite snack crackers For legalities on scalloping areas, method, and limits, check: Chef Jim Hunt <> Fiddler’s Restaurant, Steinhatchee, FL

photos, top, left to right: Sean Dowie, Steve Kroll, Jimmie Lee; bottom, right: Sean Dowie


FIDDLER’S RESTAURANT & Pelican Pointe Inn 1306 SE Riverside Drive Steinhatchee, FL 32359 Hours: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Open Daily 352-498-7427 Exquisitely prepared food served in a casual atmosphere on the river. Specialties include scallop ceviche, generous platters of fried grouper fingers, shrimp or mullet, hush puppies, and grilled grouper napped with a tangy lime-dill sauce. The gumbo rivals the best anywhere on the Gulf. Fiddler’s is a classic north Florida river joint, full of local color, a great bar, and lots of fish stories! Bring in your catch and they’ll even cook it up for you. The adjacent Pelican Pointe Inn offers singles, doubles and suites for a nice stay in Steinhatchee. Call for reservations. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


DIXIE MAINLINE AND SHIRED ISLAND Access from CR 349 or CR 351 Road floods at high tides or heavy rains Oct - Nov: Hunting Season: no hiking or cycling permitted The Dixie Mainline, part of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, is a prime birding and wildlife corridor that parallels the Gulf Coast between the towns of Suwannee and Horseshoe Beach. The 9-mile road can be driven at 25 mph, hiked or biked without problems during dry weather. Built as a logging road, the route was closed for almost a quarter of a century, providing wildlife a near total sanctuary. See herons, egrets, ibis, barred owls, alligator, turtles, and a wide variety of plant life. Stop at Salt Creek Lookout for a boardwalk over wetlands where bald eagles nest. An interpretive guide and map to the Dixie Mainline can be picked up at the entrance signs.

Turn at CR 357 for Fishbone Creek Lookout and Shired Island. The site of a 7,000-year-old Native American midden, Shired Island has a county park with trails that lead through coastal hammock, mud flats and open beach, habitat for wintering shorebirds and songbird migrants making landfall in spring.

ROAD TO NOWHERE CR 361, off of CR 358 near Jena It may not be famous worldwide, but Dixie County’s “Road to Nowhere” has something of a local reputation. You’ll pass through gorgeous scenery, beautiful salt marshes, and spectacular birding country. The mysteries are how the road came to be built in the first place, and what created the surreal landscape at the “nowhere” destination. You’ll have to head back north to Jena when you’ve finished your explorations.

HORSESHOE BEACH Self-described as “Florida’s Last Frontier” Horseshoe has an official population of 206, making it one of Florida’s smallest towns. Surrounded by conservation lands, this hamlet is truly in the wilderness. With little traffic, the roads are perfect for hiking. In town, get around by bicycle. On the back roads try hiking, horse back riding or use a dirt bike. Visitors can spot rare birds and maybe even a Florida panther! Hundreds of small islands off the coast invite you to explore by small boat, canoe or kayak. Find your own private beach for the day. Fantastic fishing can be had for sea trout, red fish, sheepshead, cobia, mackerel, grouper, and flounder. Shellfish include blue crabs, stone crabs, oysters, and clams. Many families come annually for the scallop round-up. And don’t forget shrimp!


Experienced, Careful & Insured


Operations Manager 3500 NE Waldo Road, Bldg B • Gainesville, FL 32609 352-374-4791 • FAX 352-374-4488 • 800-797-6766

Leave the Moving to GATOR ! IM19




Fishing Capital of the World


For those in the know, the Gulf Coast of Florida’s Big Bend and the Pure Water Wilderness offers one of the best fishing areas in the world. For thousands of years the Suwannee, Steinhatchee, Fenholloway, Econfina, Wacissa and Waccasassa Rivers have deposited soils rich in minerals and foodstuffs into the Apalachee Bay and shallow offshore shelf of the Gulf coast. The slope of the seabed is very gradual, making the water shallow for vast distances. The mean tidal range is approximately three feet, so there is always shallow water for great fishing. One of the longest undeveloped seacoasts in the United States and the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve conserves the fertile nurseries that support a wide variety of fish and shellfish. The range of species includes many fish more commonly found in Caribbean waters. Rocky reefs and three artificial reefs provide valuable habitat off the coast of Jena and Steinhatchee. All this adds up to incredibly exciting fishing! In addition to saltwater fishing, the rivers and innumerable creeks provide an abundance of freshwater fishing. At any time of year, expect great fishing. Be sure to hire a guide for your first trip out. With years of experience, guides know their way around. With the oyster bars, rock piles, changing flats and shallows, it is good to get a tour from someone who knows their way around. Guides can provide all the equipment you need and have the knowledge to help you make the most of your time out on the water. Any of the coastal communities, including Steinhatchee, Jena, Horseshoe Beach, Shired Island, Suwannee, Cedar Key, Yankeetown or Inglis, can be a great place to head out for in shore, off shore, or deeper sea fishing. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect in this phenomenal fishing paradise. APRIL MAY JUNE Look for Spotted Seatrout, Redfish, Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel, Ladyfish, and Jack Crevalle in shallow beach, inshore, brackish river, or backcountry waters. Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Trout, and other aggressive fish can be found on offshore reefs. Farther out, Grouper, Black Seabass, and Red Snapper can be caught on the bottom in about 35 to 55 feet of water. Every spring and fall, rivers fill with the migratory Kingfish in their quest to stay in the perfect water temperature, approximately 72 degrees Fahrenheit. JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER is scalloping time in Steinhatchee (read about it on page 36). In addition to the fish present in spring, there are also Cobia, Tarpon, Flounder and Shark. OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER Prime fishing for Spotted Seatrout, Redfish, Bluefish, and Spanish Mackerel on the flats. Offshore Grouper, Black Seabass, Red Snapper and Kingfish. The large Spotted (gator) Seatrout floods the Steinhatchee River as the waters grow colder providing a phenomenal fishing experience. Ask a local guide to teach you salt-water fly fishing techniques. JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH is prime time for Grouper fishing. At this time Grouper can be caught in close to the shore and can even be caught on the flats. Reefs, rock-piles and wrecks offer the best locations for catching the feisty sheepshead. Photos, left to right: On the Dixie Mainline, Beach life, Horseshoe Beach “boat house” and police force (photos by Sean Dowie); catch of the day (photo by Steve Kroll) Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Suwannee photos this page, top to bottom: Sean Dowie, Sean Dowie, Sean Dowie, Lois Fletcher

It is here that the great Suwannee River meanders its way through countless islands and shoals, mingling its spring-fed waters with the salt waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This small community overlooks the river and Gulf, salt and fresh water creeks and canals. The estuarine environment provides support for large populations of birds, fish, shellfish and all types of marine life.


Experience nature at its untouched best while enjoying waterfront accommodations, great seafood, full marina services, and expert fishing guides. Suwannee is your start point for upriver voyages. Try a houseboat for a weekend, a few days or a week for the experience of a lifetime. This can also be a stopping place along the Historic Great Bend Paddling Trail, or a perfect place to begin a kayak or canoe trip along the coast.

Suwannee River Chamber of Commerce

RIVER Please contact the Chamber via their website. They will be happy to answer your questions and send you information.



23440 SE Hwy 349 W, Suwannee, FL 32697 352-542-7072 Info online at Beautifully situated on the mouth of the Suwannee River, Salt Creek features river and marsh grass views worth its name. Plan to be there at sunset and you will not be sorry! Salt Creek is also the main place to meet and eat in Suwannee. Experience informal dining to the sounds of osprey and egrets while enjoying fresh seafood right out of the Gulf. Bring in your own catch and they’ll cook and clean it for you!


full listing on page 62

Let us Show You the Lower Suwannee River

352-258-0187 or 352-542-8331


90 SE 910th Avenue, Suwannee, FL 32692 352-542-7349 800-458-2628 Full service marina, including boat slips, dockage, high and dry boat storage, fuels, bait and tackle, marine services and a full ship’s store. Miller’s offers all those things that the public needs for their boating pleasure. Vacation lodgings and condos are available at the Marina, right on the river. This is also the place to rent your Suwannee Houseboat. Are you en route by boat? Miller’s monitors Channel 16 all the time so you can pull your boat in for all your docking needs.

“Suwannee, Florida…where the land, water and sky meet.”


90 SE 910th Avenue, Suwannee, FL 32692 352-542-7349 800-458-2628 Cruising the Suwannee River aboard a 44 ft. Suwannee houseboat may prove to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Enjoy the scores of springs, parks, trails, historical sites and wilderness sanctuaries along the way. This is one of the least traveled rivers in the south — discover it for yourself. Your boat is fully equipped, comfortable and easily maneuverable. Boats accommodate six to eight people, and include bunks, salon, kitchen, bath, front and back decks and expansive roof deck. Included are range, refrigerator, dishes, full AC, two-way radio, and ample storage for fishing and diving equipment. Come aboard and relax. This is your home on the Suwannee for as many of the seventy miles of navigable water that you may wish to explore. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


The Pure Water Wilderness is a birder’s paradise due to its extensive conserved wilderness, wetlands and long undeveloped coastline. The area is an important migration route, and includes large rookeries and major habitat for large numbers of birds. Over 250 species of birds have been identified, including many rare, endangered and beautiful birds. Osprey and bald eagle nest in early spring, while graceful swallow-tailed kites arrive in March for breeding and remain through July. In March and April migrating shorebirds cover the oyster bars; thousands of knots, dowitchers, oystercatchers, sandpipers, turnstones, and plovers fatten up for the northward trip to their breeding grounds. Wading birds are most abundant during the summer and they can be found feeding in the freshwater and salt marshes. White ibis, great, snowy, and cattle egrets, roseate spoonbills, along with great blue, little blue, green, and tricolored herons are among the birds that roost and nest on the coast. Rare limpkins and endangered wood storks are occasionally seen prowling the water’s edge during the warm months. Other endangered birds that can be spotted in the area include the scrub jay, whooping crane, and red-cockaded woodpecker. THE GREAT FLORIDA BIRDING TRAIL The Great Florida Birding Trail is a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and includes 489 sites throughout Florida. This self-guided highway trail is designed to conserve and enhance Florida’s bird habitat by promoting bird-watching activities, conservation education and economic opportunity. The Great Florida Birding Trail makes it easy for all birders— casual or expert—to enjoy a quality experience. Trail guide booklets describe what species to expect at each site, and what kind of experience to expect: a quick stop or an all day hike, a driving loop vs. a foot-access only property. The Trail website provides maps, publications, newsletter, search tools and a new interactive tripplanning tool using Google™ Maps. More people travel to Florida to see wildlife, particularly birds, than to any other state. The Birding Trail serves this constituency by making it easier to find places to enjoy this great hobby and builds support for further conservation efforts.

Great Florida Birding Trail


photos: Sean Dowie

Tall Tales Ballads Interviews and Stories

from in and around the region 01) Introduction; Music – “Back Roads” written by Don Grooms, performed by The Roadside Revue, from The Roadside Revue: Getting Out of Town, ©2001, used by permission ( 02) Music - “Florida State of Mine”, ©2005 Curly Maple Music written and performed by Tom Shed, from Tom Shed Live at the Thomas Center (May, 2006) 03) Intro to Suwannee River medley, music bed “Old Folks at Home” recorded and performed by Tom Shed ( 04) Suwannee River Medley: Mike Jurgensen “Music Drifts Along this River,” ( Suzanne Marie Grooms “Banks of the Suwannee,” Eldon Philman “Wishin’ I was Back in Gilchrist,” performed by the Philman Family Band (, “Old Florida River,” written and performed by Ken and Leigh Skeens ( 05) “Confluence,” poem written and read by Lola Haskins ( 06) “Wisdom of the River,” written and performed by Mark Smith, © 2000, from The Sun of Winter, Bolt Outta The Blue Publishing, BMI ( 07) Cynthia Barnett excerpt from interview with Donna Green-Townsend, 2008, on “Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.” 08) “More Water,” ©2007 written by Janet Rucker, performed by Patchwork ( 09) “For Bo,” written and performed by Therapy Shock, from “Hogtown Pie” ©2009 Public Room Records ( 10) Gulf Hammock, “Paw Prints in the Sand,” written and performed by Ken and Leigh Skeens 11) Donna Green-Townsend interviews Will McLean about camping with wild hogs (recorded 1987) 12) “Wild Hog” written and performed by Will McLean, Wakulla Music BMI, from Will McLean and Friends: Live at the Thomas Center recorded 1987 © WUFT-FM ( 13) Sound clip from report by WUFT-FM reporter Charles Duvall & Amie Smith’s report about Rosewood Memorial Event (recorded 2004-2005) 14) Cedar Key—Music: Chris Kahl, “Out on Cedar Key” ©2009 Honey Ryder Music ( 15) WUFT-FM reporter Claudia Hickey on Cedar Key clamming 16) Intro to Levy County—Music: Elisabeth Williamson, “Florida Cracker Girl,” ©2006 Through-the-Mist-Music, ASCAP ( 17) Dunnellon: Music – Amy Carol Webb, “Rivers Roll On”, Different Stripes Music, ASCAP ( ) used by permission 18) Dale Crider on Music and the Environment, interview by Rikki Klaus, 2008 ( 19) Music—“Steinhatchee,” written and performed by Bob Butts 20) Music—“This Florida Again,” ©2008 written and performed by Garrison Doles from Whenever I’m With You ( 21) “Open Letter to Florida,” poem, written and read by Callie Thompson - Music by David Beede - Native American flute - ( 22) Music—“The Water is Wide,” traditional, performed by David Beede, dulcimer 23) Close—Music - “The Tide That Binds”, title cut from CD, ©2008 BMI, (Bolt Outta the Blue Publishing) written and performed by Mark Smith

produced by WUFTand WJUF studios Public Broadcasting for North Central Florida from the University of Florida

Musical selections are performed by the composing artist, unless noted; all pieces used by permission. The audio CD may not be sold, duplicated or distributed without the express permission of the performer, copyright holder and Florida’s Eden. All interviews recorded and copyright © WUFT at the University of Florida. Producer and Engineer: Bill Beckett Music Editor and Narrator: Cathy DeWitt Features Contributor: Donna Green-Townsend The Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide is published by Florida’s Eden, Inc., non-profit 501c3 organization, which is solely responsible for the content. Pure Water Wilderness is a registered name and trademark used by permission granted by the Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy Tourist Development Board which holds no responsibility for the content of the guide.

Lower Suwannee national wildlife refuge

Headquarters: CR 347, Entrance 1 Additional entrances on CR 347 Shell Mound, on CR 326 (see page 93) Dixie Mainline (see page 38) Offices: 16450 NW 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32626 352-493-0238 The 53,000-acre Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge protects one of the largest undeveloped river-delta estuarine systems in the United States. The Refuge’s undisturbed coastal salt marshes, tidal creeks, and tidal flats are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. These areas provide important foraging habitat for thousands of shorebirds and diving ducks while also serving as a valuable nursery for fish, shrimp, shellfish and juvenile sea turtles. Swallow-tailed kites, bald eagles, West Indian manatees, Gulf sturgeon, white-tailed deer, and eastern wild turkeys are but a few of the wildlife species that inhabit the Refuge. Dozens of species of shorebirds use the Refuge seasonally then migrate farther south during winter months. More than 250 species of birds have been identified on the Refuge with at least 90 of those species nesting here. The Refuge is where wildlife comes first and people can recreate in a variety of ways. The Refuge includes two wildlife drives, 6 observation decks, nature trails, and 2 ancient archaeological sites, as well as the free fishing pier at Shell Mound. Enjoy bird and wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, canoeing, hunting, and interpretive walks. A new Wildlife Drive is under construction. The National Wildlife Refuge System also includes 13 islands that constitute the 762-acre Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. Public facilities in this refuge are largely confined to Atsena Otie Key, which can be reached by boat from the city of Cedar Key.

This morning I’m lucky as I launch

my kayak from Shell Mound at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge a few miles north of Cedar key, drawing the last of an incoming tide, a balmy air temperature of 62* F, and a light but steady breeze out of the east. The morning sun is diffused by high overcast, and a low, dense bank of clouds crouches over the western horizon. White pelicans orbit a thermal, rising in slow circles as if climbing an invisible spiral staircase. Western sandpipers and ring-billed gulls watch with bright eyes from a mud flat as I paddle past, angling northwest on a course that will take me past Hog Island, Buck Island, and the Long Cabbage Keys before crossing the wide firth of Clark Creek to Deer Island, my first stop. From there, I’ll aim for a long line of trees, hazy with distance, that marks where the wide, forked tongue of the Suwannee River finally tastes the sea. Two miles beyond that will find me riding the sinuous back of the river itself.


Excerpt from “Where the Suwannee Meets the Sea” by Jeff Ripple, from the anthology The Wild Heart of Florida, edited by Jeff Ripple and Susan Cerulean. To purchase: More about the writings and photography of Jeff Ripple:

It is a “low-energy” coastline, one where the wind rarely blows onshore with any consistency, as it does on the east coast and Panhandle, and so is characterized by salt marshes cleaved by numerous tidal creeks, shallow bays, a few coastal islands, and thousands of jagged, winding skeins of oyster bars. Mostly it is a vast estuary, a place where salt water from the Gulf mingles with fresh water from mainland swamps and rivers, including the Homosassa, Crystal, Withlacoochee, Waccasassa, and Steinhatchee rivers, as well as the broad Suwannee. Much is protected state or federal land within three national wildlife refuges and one state preserve. The Suwannee meets the Gulf of Mexico like a snake with its mouth full. Born in the Okefenokee Swamp of southern Georgia, the river has distended and coiled its way through northern Florida for more than two hundred miles before gaping at the Gulf, grasping Hog Island (not the same Hog Island near Shell Mound) in its maw.


Historic Big Bend saltwater paddling trail

Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail

The Historic Big Bend Paddling Trail offers paddlers the opportunity to explore one of the longest and wildest publicly-owned coastal wetlands in the United States. The 105-mile trail includes eight primitive camping sites, spaced 10 to 14 miles apart, open September 1 to June 30th. Overnight trips require a camping permit. Located on the Gulf of Mexico between the St. Marks River lighthouse and the Suwannee River, the area encompasses the Big Bend Aquatic Preserve, hundreds of small tidal creeks and seven medium-sized rivers. Paddlers can continue down the coast on Section 7 of the route to Cedar Key, Yankeetown or Crystal River. Local guides and outfitters can rent equipment or make arrangements for any section of the trip. The Gulf coast is rich in wildlife and striking scenery. Flocks of white pelicans often zoom past in winter and great egrets dot marshy expanses. Bald eagles and ospreys entertain with their aerial maneuvers, and in the often clear waters, one can spot crabs, fishes, sea turtles, manatees, cannonball jellyfish and small sharks and rays. Throughout the Big Bend is abundant evidence of thousands of years of Native American life: remains of stone quarries, hunting and fishing camps, villages, mounds, and burials. Historic sites—hunting, turpentining, and logging camps—are also common. Settled coastal communities are few and are hardly visible from the water. You will occasionally see the roofs of houses well behind the coastal marshes and a few poles stuck in the water to indicate a channel that will take small boats “inside.” When planning your trip make certain that camping spots fall within your paddling capabilities. If you are not a hardy camper, take advantage of the fishing villages for overnight stays. Camping areas are usually primitive with no water or toilet facilities. Campers are asked to stay within designated areas and be respectful of vegetation and wildlife. Pack out all of your trash. The 40-page Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail guide contains detailed maps with GPS points, mileage figures and compass bearings to help you locate campsites and explore this fascinating coastline. Interpretive information explains the rich natural and cultural history of this region. It is printed on durable, water-resistant paper and spiral bound for easy use in a kayak.

RESERVATION SYSTEM: PURCHASE TRAIL GUIDE: ONLINE INFORMATION: Photos, opposite, by Sean Dowie. Above: photographer John Moran, captured this view of Big Bend traveling companion and fellow photographer Eric Zamora. For more photos of the journey: Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Outfitters & Guides

Guides and Captains offer tremendous knowledge about the area. If you are considering exploring the coastal areas by sea kayak or boat, a local Guide can give you invaluable tips for navigating the myriad islands, shoals and shallows. Fishing Guides can help you make the most of your stay. This is home territory for these experts and they are happy to share the lore and the history that makes the wildlife, environment and the heritage of the Pure Water Wilderness unique.

Eco-Guides, Tours & Rentals Adventure Outpost (p. 31) 386-454-0611 Captain Doug’s Tidewater Tours 352-543-9523 Kayak Cedar Keys (p. 92) 352-543-9447 Lower Suwannee Wildlife Excursions 352-543-5580 Mangrove Mike Kayak Eco-Tours 352-220-9928 Suwannee Guides & Outfitters (p. 62) 352-542-0577 Wild Florida Adventures (p. 93) 352-528-3984 Boat, Kayak, Canoe Rentals & Outfitters B’s Marina & Campground 352-447-5888 Blue Springs Park 386-454-1369 Faraway Inn, Cedar Key 888-543-5330 Ginnie Springs Outdoors (p. 19) 386-454-7811 Hart Springs (p. 17) 352-463-3444 River Haven Marina & Motel 352-498-0709 Suwannee River Tours 352-490-0909 Yellow Jacket Campground (p. 41) 352-542-8365 Houseboat Rentals Suwannee River Houseboats (p. 41) 352-542-3299 Marinas Cedar Key City Marina (Public) 352-543-5132 Cedar Key Marina 352-543-6148 Miller’s Marina, Suwannee (p. 41) 352-542-3299 Sea Hag Marina, Steinhatchee 352-498-3008 Suwannee Shores Marina, Old Town 352-542-7482 Yankeetown Marina 352-447-2529 Captains & Charters Cedar Key

Bar Harbor Charters Captain Al Hargrove Captain Lloyd Collins

Captains & Charters (continued) Cedar Key Island Hoppers (p. 93) 352-543-5904 Cherie Lynn Charters 352-543-5902 Lady Pirate Fishing Charters 352-543-0080 No Mission Impossible Capt. Allen 352-215-3686 Robinson’s Fishing Charters 352-543-5051 Saltwater Assassin, Capt. Jim Keith 352-472-7296 Saltwater Safari 352-466-4818 Voyles Guide Service 352-486-3637 Chiefland

Suwannee River Tours


Big Bend Charters, Capt. Smith Captain Jack Bishop Captain Manny Parsons Captain Pat Brooke Captain Paul Cronk Captain Steve Rassel Captain Terry Joyner Coastline Charters Pepperfish Key Charters (p. 35) Reel Time Charters Sweet Paradise Charters

352-498-3703 352-498-3489 352-498-7463 352-498-3721 352-498-7317 352-498-0180 352-498-2349 352-498-5898 352-498-9963 352-498-3176 352-498-5005

Bill’s Fish Camp Captain Beth Layer, Girls Go Fish Captain Les Flaherty Howard’s Fishing Excursion

352-542-7086 386-674-6017 352-542-0327 352-542-3278

Captain John Morris Charters Captains Richard & Janet Yant Osprey Guide Service Wavelength Fishing Service

352-447-2575 352-746-9067 352-447-0829 352-447-3510

Steinhatchee & Jena


Yankeetown & Inglis

352-543-0118 352-466-0630 352-543-9102

Listing provided for convenience only. Please check to make sure Captains have USCG Certification. For additional information and updates to this listing, please check the website:


photos: top left, Steve Kroll of Pepperfish Key Charters, right, Sean Dowie

Explore a short segment, or paddle the entire Lower Suwannee. Staged stopping points feature camps, cabins and supply points that make it easy to plan each dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s trip. The Suwannee River Paddling Guide provides detailed maps, information and lore of the river and can be purchased from most river guides listed here. >> See also page 51. Maps and Information Interactive Map:

Yellow Jacket

map courtesy of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Florida’s Eden conjures up a perpetual garden of earthly delights! Here we have the complete recipe for rich culinary offerings: a year round harvest, two coastlines, delicious products and the combined influence of various cultures. As the rest of the country puts their garden beds to sleep for the long dormant winter ,North Florida’s farmers are turning the soil and replanting for our glorious cool weather crops. Florida’s Eden indeed! Pure Water Wilderness offers Southern heritage at its best. It is where seafood meets barbecue! It’s a smorgasbord of clams, scallops, fish, beef, pork and even buffalo. Vegetables are taken fresh out of backyard and next door gardens. Recipes are embellished with pecans, persimmons, palm hearts, and one of North Florida’s best kept secrets, the melt-in-your mouth sweetness of winter citrus eaten right where it is grown.

Food and Cooking Styles THERE’S WINE, TOO By Doc Lawrence 

photos: top left, Sean Dowie, at right, Sean Dowie, Laurie Stamm

When you think about dining in Florida, raw oysters, fresh fish, shrimp and crab come to mind. These are wonderful and having them on your table daily is an enviable lifestyle that most of America can’t enjoy fresh. The food from Florida is complex, quite varied and has a tradition that includes many cultures, including Native American, African American, European and Latino. It’s Deep South and modern American. It’s definable and our own. Florida can be difficult for outsiders to understand. While the glitz and glamour of places like Miami Beach and all the family entertainment of Orlando have a tremendous impact, the “other Florida” merits review and visiting. Food wise, there is so much complexity that a treatise could be written. North Florida is vast, covering the Panhandle, Big Bend and the area over to the Atlantic. So much is undeveloped and the natural wonders are abundant and well-preserved. Few places on earth have anything like the natural springs of Florida–the largest concentration on the planet. Florida has more diversity than popularly imagined and while there are common cultural threads, fishing and outdoor recreation would be near the top. With so many small, beautifully preserved towns and the wonders of great restaurants serving up genuine Florida seafood recipes, this is a state unlike any other. It’s worth a different kind of visit. Locally grown and produced is the norm here and there is a strong connection to Southern cooking. Hushpuppies, those browned balls of spiced fried cornmeal go with almost anything here, but more commonly fit well with fried flounder, snapper, grouper and shrimp. Did I forget to add in gumbo and oyster stew? They’re gifts from the old trails like the Spanish Trace and the early railroads that connected Jacksonville with Mobile and New Orleans.  COOKING A ROGUE OYSTER  Oysters from the Apalachee Bay have a plumpness and ocean flavor so distinctive and admired that they occupy a hallowed status among chefs.  Eating them raw is almost preferred, but cooking them is a Florida art form. Dean Fowler, founder and CEO of Steinhatchee Landing Resort, makes a simple stew with milk, Vidalia onions, butter, salt and pepper. 48

The secret ingredient is the freshness. And, this is where Florida enjoys real advantage: oysters are here and plentiful. Cooking them? Use your imagination. Wine with oysters? Whether raw, baked, fired or in a Dean Fowler stew, the pairing will be perfect. Mullet and Stone Crab claws are indigenous to the area and a big part of food preferences. As a matter of interest, every Southern coast chef I interviewed in recent years said their fresh fish preference for cooking at home was mullet.  WINES AND MORE  Spanish conquistadors and missionaries brought the great wines from Spain with them. These wines were compatible with the heat, humidity and local food. Cracker cuisine and southern cooking have always been part of the wine experience. In earlier days, Champagne was commonly served with staples like fried chicken, fresh vegetables and bountiful desserts.   The traditions continue and a solid case can be made that North Florida food and cooking styles form an important part of modern American dining. 


is a veteran travel, wine, spirits and food journalist and frequent visitor to the area. He lives in Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale. Read his many offerings at:

If you enjoy a plate of smoked mullet and eat it outdoors, watch out for the seagulls. They’ll do anything to get it from you! SMOKED MULLET 5 pounds mullet fillets butterflied one gallon water 1 pound hickory branches or chips 2 quarts water 1 cup salt Combine water and salt. Place the fish in the brine for about 30 minutes. Remove the fish, rinse thoroughly and dry. Soak hickory chips in water for several hours. Use a hooded or covered charcoal, electric or gas grill with low heat. Cover charcoal or ceramic briquettes with approximately 1/3 of the wet chips. The remaining chips should be added as needed throughout the cooking process. Place butterflied fish skin side down on well-greased grill approximately 4 inches from the fire. Close hood, open vent slightly. Smoke fish approximately 1 hour at 150 to 175 degrees. The fish is done when the cut surface is golden brown and the flesh flakes easily with a fork.

Mark Twain couldn’t invent Max Rittgers. With a love of things natural and advanced winemaking skills, he comes with a mane of Albert Einstein-like white hair and penetrating eyes. After his first compelling story, you decide to stay a little longer. Along with his son Rob, Rittgers founded and operates Dakotah Winery and serves guests his muscadine wines in a room filled with Native American creations, folk art, wine barrels and fermenting tanks. SEE THE FULL LISTING FOR DAKOTAH WINERY, page 58 “These are fine wines,” Rittgers told me during my visit to the nearby natural springs, the largest concentration of aquifer-fed freshwater springs on the planet. “But we don’t pretend to make California style wines.” Emory University-educated Rittgers, an IrishAmerican native of South Dakota, uses native muscadine varietals, one of the fruits indigenous to the South that folklore says De Soto and Ponce de Leon made into wine. 

Although Dakotah produces mainstream wines like chardonnay and merlot, quintessentially native Florida muscadines are the stars. In contrast to oranges that were introduced by immigrants, muscadines still grow wild in the South, don’t mind heat and humidity one bit and with the expertise of a self-taught winemaker like Max Rittgers, make delicious wines from sweet to bone dry. At 33 feet above sea level, Dakotah Winery fronts storied Highway 19. Look for the antique windmill, the yard art and the inviting sign that says “Free wine tasting,” a signal to stop, park and begin one of the most interesting journeys in Florida. The vineyard features seven different varieties of grapes and an Audubon bird sanctuary. The rustic tasting room is also a museum and retail shop loaded with pieces of Americana, including Civil War artifacts, a collection of Indian arrowheads found on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, flags, costumes and a certificate authenticating Rittgers’ Irish citizenship. Yes, wines are for sale. Rittgers conducts a tour laced with Native American lore and will take you into the winemaking room after a fascinating visit to his crystal clear pond filled with rare Japanese fish and colorful wood ducks. His vines produce organic fruit and are protected from weeds by grazing sheep that he admits add “some helpful fertilizer.”  As part of the tasting experience, ebullient Max tells captivating wine stories. The generous sample of his semi-dry muscadine wine is a prelude to some other delights ranging from dessert sweet to the dreamy port and sherry, all handcrafted with the subtle earthiness common to all native wines. Winemaking came from ancient farming cultures. Closely tied to the soil, local wines paired comfortably with community cuisine. Industrialized, adulterated wine is as far removed from wine’s intended purpose as a silk purse from a sow’s ear. If you appreciate tradition and a commitment to place and authenticity, you will love Dakotah Winery. It’s a near-perfect stop for tourists and a one-tank drive from big cities like Atlanta or Orlando. Dakotah’s tasting room has a railroad coal stove with the inscription, “If I am good, please tell someone about it.” Everything Max Rittgers collects, produces, protects and pours is good.  Buy a few bottles of wine from Dr. Rittgers and enjoy an evening in your cabin after a memorable swim or kayak excursion. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



Robert Goodlet “Late Summer Storm” 22 x 28 inches. Oil on canvas

The thirty counties of Florida’s Eden span the peninsula from coast to coast in a landscape traversed by wilderness rivers fed by thousands of fresh water springs. Prairies, hammocks, forests and waterways are filled with an outstanding array of plant and animal life. Cultural centers, small towns and rural wilderness can all be found within easy travel distance from one another. Florida’s Eden Scenic Guides PURE WATER WILDERNESS HEART OF FLORIDA Available online:

Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (SRWT)

Along the entire 235 miles of the Suwannee River, only a handful of small communities overlook her waters. The largest have populations barely exceeding 1000. Away from towns, civilization is sparse. In some places you can travel for miles without seeing any sign of civilization. The shortage of camping areas and facilities inspired formation of the SRWT, a partnership of private and public lands and facilities that have coordinated efforts to enhance exploration of the river. The trail starts at White Springs and follows the river for 171 miles to the Gulf.

Map © 2009 River Graphics

Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Map and Resources on page 47

Central to the system are eight “hubs”—mostly state parks and towns— that offer a variety of activities and services. While the trail is primarily geared toward paddlers, the hubs offer trail users the opportunity to expand their exploration of the area by bicycle, on horseback, or on foot. In the towns of White Springs, Dowling Park, Branford, Fanning Springs and Suwannee, accommodations can be found in hotels and inns. Stephen Foster, Suwannee River, Lafayette Blue Springs, and Fanning Springs State Parks have vacation cabins that sleep six and are furnished with gas fireplaces, kitchenettes and screened porches. At the privately owned Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, you can sleep in your tent, cabin or even in a tree house! Yellow Jacket RV Park also offers tent camping. In more remote areas “river camps” have been built that can be accessed by river only. Each camp has 5 screened sleeping platforms with electricity, ceiling fans, restrooms, hot showers, picnic areas and fire rings. Each river camp offers its own personality. The platforms at Holton Creek river camp are situated in a deeply shaded stand of hardwoods, interspersed among sinkholes and swales, Adams River camp is high, dry and open, a reflection of the surrounding longleaf pine community. Fletcher’s landing is a quiet little clearing shrouded by dense floodplain forests and river swamps. Lars Andersen is a river guide for Adventure Outpost. For descriptions of the 40+ rivers on which he guides tours, visit Material excerpted from “Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Paddlers Guide” which he wrote for the Suwannee River Water Management District, To order a copy of the guide or for other river information, call (386) 454-0611 or e-mail: Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Levy County

Photos: above, the view from Shell Mound, by Tomes Rabold, at right top to bottom, cemetery on Atsena Otie Key, photo courtesy Levy County Visitors Bureau;

Levy County Visitors Bureau 620 N. Hathaway Avenue Bronson, FL 32621 Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

1-877-387-5673 352-486-3396


The history of Levy County goes back thousands of years to the various Native American cultures that inhabited the riverways and coastlines. Shell Mound near Cedar Key was the site of Timucuan Indian culture for over 1000 years. Later arrivals paint a colorful procession of explorers, pirates, privateers and adventurers. David Levy Yulee was an influential and pioneering character. He served as one of the first two senators from the state of Florida and made his mark on the county, building the first railroad in Florida from Fernandina on the Atlantic to Cedar Key on the Gulf. The county bears his name. 52

The rich history of Cedar Key may be explored at a number of museums and historic sites. Fanning Springs was home to a military fort—Fort Fanning—during the Civil War. The fort also served as a depot where cotton, lumber, turpentine and other plantation products were loaded and household and farm supplies received. Today visitors relish seafood, the arts, Gulfside vacation rentals, and the thousands of acres of conserved lands. The Cedar Key and Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuges host some of the largest bird rookeries on the east coast and see enormous flocks pass through on their migration routes. Equestrian pursuits are alive and well, from rodeo in Williston, dressage, carriage driving, and trail rides through the Goethe Forest. Williston was also home to the 101st Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure.

egret, fishing boat, classic cars, photos by Sean Dowie

JUST A FEW OF OUR FESTIVALS Find details and information under each town listing on the following pages JULY Williston Celebration, Clamerica in Cedar Key Visit Seahorse Key Lighthouse off Cedar Key OCTOBER Fall Harvest & Peanut Festival, Williston Cedar Key Annual Seafood Festival featuring live music, arts and crafts, parade Breast Cancer Awareness Trail Ride, Goethe Forest Halloween Show - Williston Horsemanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Park NOVEMBER Withlacoochee Blue Grass Festival, Inglis Annual Ten Day Log Cabin Quilters Show & Sale DECEMBER Clay Landing Days at Manatee Springs State Park Light Up Williston Chiefland Christmas Celebration Fanning Springs Festival of Lights Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Fanning Springs

Fanning Springs straddles county lines (Gilchrist and Levy) and occupies an important site on the Suwannee River. In 1936 it became the site of what is still the southernmost bridge to span the Suwannee River. When the bridge was completed residents from the area were so jubilant that they staged a square dance on the structure to celebrate the occasion. A modern bridge carries US 19/98 across the river, and remains one of relatively few spans across the Suwannee. The original span, along with its “Way Down Upon the Suwannee” inscription, can be found at the wayside park next to the current bridge. Next door is the town’s namesake, the powerful and very beautiful Fanning Spring. A 90-foot Union gunboat sunken by Confederate fire lies near the mouth of the springs. Take a dive and enjoy searching the remains. Just upriver is the sunken City of Hawkinsville, a well preserved river steamboat. The wreck lies just south of the old railway trestle that carries the Nature Coast State Trail over the river (page 26). Fanning Springs is at the center of the three spokes of the trail, making it an ideal starting point for a leisurely hike or a ride through scenic countryside.

Fanning Springs Chamber of Commerce 9890 Florida Ave., Fanning Springs, FL 32693

352-463-9089 FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS The Fanning Springs Festival of Lights is one of the longest-running holiday festivals in the area. Enjoy arts and crafts, the antique car show, great entertainment, and delicious food. The famous rubber ducky race takes place on the Suwannee River in the afternoon, followed by the lighted boat parade. People line the Suwannee River in Fanning Springs State Park, just across the highway and in Ft. Fanning, to cheer on the duckies and set up picnic dinners to watch the boat parade just after dark. Check Chamber website for current dates and information.

photos: Lois Fletcher



17110 NW Hwy 19 352-463-1998 Fanning Springs, FL 32693 Hours: Mon - Sat, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Online Info at Nestled under enormous oaks and planted all around with herbs, flowers, and tomato vines, the natural beauty of this eatery is matched by its clean and cozy country interior. The grill specializes in reubens, Cubans, gyros, panini, juicy burgers, Cajun gator, fresh salads, wings, onion rings, homemade sauces and much, much more. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a cannoli or other decadent dessert from our inhouse bakery. On cool evenings unwind around our cozy campfire.

THE LIGHTHOUSE RESTAURANT 7600 US Hwy 19 Fanning Springs, FL 32693 352-463-2644 With reasonable prices, large portions and a location right across from Fanning Springs State Park, the Lighthouse is a good option for dinner out. Specialities are seafood and steaks.


full listing on page 62

Kayak & Canoe Rentals at Fanning Springs State park

352-258-0187 or 352-542-8331


Located on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail 18020 NW Hwy 19 352-463-3420 Fanning Springs, FL 32693 Hours: 8 a.m. - Sunset Vacation Cabin Reservations: Canoe/Kayak Rental: Suwannee Guides & Outfitters 352-542-8331 Located on the Suwannee River, this inviting source of cool, clear water has attracted people for thousands of years. As a strong 2nd magnitude spring, Fanning Springs provides refreshing swimming or snorkeling. Arrive by boat or car and enjoy the water, picnic area, playground, volleyball court, or the large open space for ballgames, frisbee or events. Canoes and kayaks can be launched from the park and a boardwalk overlooks the river. In summer the gazebo at the end of the walk is a fine place to watch sturgeon jumping. Manatees are often seen during the winter and sometimes in summer. Wildlife and birds can be observed from the parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nature trails. Five rental cabins are available through the Reserve America system. Due to limited space and facilities the only camping allowed is for those who paddle, bike or walk in. Arrangements can be made in advance through the park office or upon arrival if space is available. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



17452 US Hwy 19 NW 352-463-0718 Fanning Springs, FL 32693 Hours: Mon - Sat 10 am - 5 pm, Sun 11 - 4 At Point of View, you are invited to “Explore the Difference.” It is much more than just another antique shop. From the moment you walk through the doors, you’ll be transported to places and times around the world. With over 40 dealers under one roof, you will find a a wide range of treasures to choose from. Antiques, artwork, furniture, collectibles, pottery, vintage jewelry, photography, glassware, nautical, woodcarvings and one-of-akind items make it a must see on your next trip through Fanning Springs, Florida.

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“Explore the Difference”

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US Hwy 19/98 and Kentucky Street Fanning Springs, FL 32693 Hours: 24 hours daily Fort Fanning was built in 1838 during the Second Seminole War. Made of wood and situated in a warm, humid climate, remnants of the actual fort have long since disappeared. Originally called “Fort Palmetto,” the fort was renamed to honor Colonel Alexander Campbell Wilder Fanning (1788-1846), who served under General Andrew Jackson in the First Seminole War. The park features a trail which adjoins the Nature Coast State Trail and ends at the Fanning Springs Chamber. Enjoy the boardwalk along the river, benches, playground and exercise bars.


160th Street off of US 19 Fanning Springs, FL 32693 Entrance only with a daily use permit Andrews Wildlife Management Area is an oasis in the rapidly developing Lower Suwannee River region. Of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 acres of upland hardwood forest that once existed along the lower Suwannee, the last large tract is located within the 3,501-acre Andrews WMA. The old-growth upland hardwood forest at Andrews shows little evidence of human disturbance. Its well-developed canopy with trees in various stages of growth and decay provides food, cover, nesting and denning sites for many wildlife species. Here you can enjoy small, high-quality hunts and excellent fishing along the banks of the Suwannee. Hike, jog, or bike along pleasant well-marked trails, three of which lead to champion trees. There is a dock on the river as well as a covered picnic area. The City of Hawkinsville is a well-preserved wreck located 100 yards south of the railroad trestle bridge at Old Town. The wreck is designated a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve and only divers with advanced open water certification may explore the exterior of the vessel. The wreck’s port side is only three feet under the surface, while its starboard edge is at a depth of 20 feet. The 141-foot long by 30-foot wide vessel is in a remarkable state of preservation due to the freshwater environment of the Suwannee River. The hull is almost entirely intact, including the stem post, the deck planking, exterior planking, boiler room and internal framing. Dating from the era of wooden-hulled paddlewheel steamboats, the vessel was constructed for the Hawkinsville (Georgia) Deepwater Boat Lines in 1886. It was sold 14 years later to the Gulf Transportation Company of Tampa, which used it to transport cargo on the Suwannee River. The City of Hawkinsville was especially important to the growth of the lumber industry in the region. In an ironic twist, the City of Hawkinsville transported materials for the construction of a railroad bridge across the Suwannee River, at Old Town, thus assisting in the development of the railroads in the region. In 1922, the City of Hawkinsville’s captain, Mr. Currie, abandoned the vessel in the middle of the Suwannee River as the steamboat was no longer profitable. photos: left, City of Hawkinsville, Florida State Archives, above, Lois Fletcher Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



The “Gem of the Suwannee Valley,” Chiefland is a great place to stock up on supplies or stay in a hotel while exploring the wealth of activities in the area. Manatee Springs and the Suwannee River are just nine miles to the west. The only quilt museum in Florida is between Chiefland and Bronson, while the Dakotah Winery is north on US Hwy. 19. In town, the Suwannee Valley Players <> stages six productions per year in the restored Chief Theatre.

Greater Chiefland Area Chamber of Commerce

23 SE Second Ave, Chiefland, FL 32644 352-493-1849

CALENDAR OF EVENTS: ANNUAL EVENTS: Bark & Purr, Humane Society, 352-317-0279 Chiefland Rotary Club Fishing Tournament, 352-493-4808 Chiefland Watermelon Festival, 352-493-2539 Trunk ‘n’ Treat, 1st United Methodist, 352-493-4627 Suwannee River Livestock Fair, 352-262-1829 Bull Bash Rodeo, 352-493-6000 Christmas and Winter Festival and Parade, 352-493-1849


photo, top: Stewart J. Thomas photos, opposite: Sean Dowie



14365 NW Hwy 19 352-493-9309 Chiefland, FL 32626 Hours: Mon - Sat, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Dakotah Winery is a spiritual, romantic and epicurean experience. From a start of just 200 vines and a sales desk made up of a board set across two buckets, this family winery now produces quality wines from 17 acres of grapes grown without pesticides. Join founder Dr. Max Rittgers and his son Rob for daily wine tasting in the comfortable tasting room and adjoining wine cellar. Guests are encouraged to relax under the large arbor and picnic area. Canada geese nibble under vines while the pond serves as sanctuary to wood ducks and hundreds of Japanese Koi. You will find Dakotah Winery a place of peace and a haven for both humans and waterfowl.


11050 NW 10th Avenue, Chiefland, FL 32626 352-493-2801 The museum is located between Bronson and Chiefland. Take 27A, look for the small sign, and travel one mile north on NW 10th Avenue Hours: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily


Just as they would piece together and hand sew a quilt, the ladies of Levy County, known as the Log Cabin Quilters, spent decades raising funds and building the only quilt museum in Florida, piece by piece with love, patience and devotion to detail. The vision for The Levy County Quilt Museum was born in the deep faith of Winnelle Horne and Mary Brookins and grew to reality through the 26 years of support from friends and community. Their goal was simply to “help others know the love of quilting and the peace it brings, while making something beautiful out of a handful of scraps.” What they offer all of us is that and so much more. The Levy County Quilt Museum comes as a surprise. Log cabin conjures up too small a building, because this log structure is huge. A cracker style porch wraps all the way around, filled with rocking chairs, Winnelle’s unusual plants, and a lot of fun stuff to explore. Stepping into the Great Room will momentarily leave you breathless as you struggle to take it all in. Give yourself the gift of time to explore and experience everything. Don’t be shy; each quilt has a fabulous story and ‘the ladies’ are authentic oral historians. The Museum’s own story will warm your heart, renew your faith and inspire your belief in the goodness of the human spirit! And then there are the quilts. Each one is unique, beautifully designed, crafted and named. You’ll feel it an honor to select one to take home. Bring your family and friends to experience the place, the people and the heritage of north Florida Quilting! We promise you’ll be coming back again and again for years!

The Suwannee Valley Quilt and Old Time Craft Festival every spring. Contact the Quilt Shoppe for dates and vendor info. The Quilt Shoppe, Suwannee Valley Shoppes, 517 N. Main Street, Trenton, Florida. Listing on page 25. 352-463-3842 Annual Ten Day Log Cabin Quilters Show & Sale Levy County Quilt Museum, See Listing Above. 352-493-2810 Starts the day after Thanksgiving. Local Quilting Guilds: Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



MANATEE ANTIQUES 121 S. Main Street 352-493-4043 Chiefland, FL 32626 Hours: Tues - Sat, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. online info at Head over to the “Old Feed and Seed Store” to complete, or start, that special collection. You’ll find a treasure trove that makes this a “must see” experience. • Griswold, cast-iron, primitives, tools, arrowheads • Hull, Florida, McCoy, Gondor and Hall pottery • Waterford crystal, antique china, Depression glass, Russel Wright and Fiesta china • Antique and vintage furniture, collectibles, kitchenware • Yankee candles and accessories

SEVENTH HEAVEN DAY SPA & SALON 2471 N. Young Boulevard, Chiefland, FL 32626 352-493-7277 Hours: Tues & Thurs - Sat 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Wed - Thurs 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Our carefully selected staff will indulge your every need as they help you look and feel your very best. We offer a special place where you will be honored, pampered, and relaxed. Sounds of trickling water, soft music and aromatic candles add to the warm Tuscan-like atmosphere set in the heart of the Pure Water Wilderness. Indulge yourself at Seventh Heaven where the staff truly cares about you! 60

photo, top: Sean Dowie


116 North Main Street 830 East Hathaway Chiefland, FL 352-493-4227 Bronson, FL 352-493-4BBQ 352-486-4BBQ -Sat 11 - 10, Sunday 12-9 Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 -9, Fri re! Fun Real Southern Atmosphe town a th wi in’ ill Gr t Pi al Re by BubbaQues in Down n, op St ! ily fam ole wh the onso for reet or in Downtown Br you St ain M on ht rig d, an Chiefl e us, General! Ya’ll come se across from the Dollar won’t be disappointed!



1206 N. Young Boulevard, Chiefland, FL 32626 352493-2022 Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Brand new RV Park and Large Laundry Facility open to the public daily Fresh produce, collectibles and the recycling of America’s used products! This venue includes everything you’ve come to expect at a flea market and much more. Colorful characters and dealers, animal exhibits, blue grass music, and car shows throughout the year. Every weekend is an adventure, so come on by!


121-B S. Main 352-356-1065 Chiefland, FL 32626 Hours: Wed - Thurs, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. - midnight Auction every Friday at 6:30 p.m. - then enter 12591 for Auctioneer ID Enjoy the excitement of a live auction every Friday night at 6:30 amidst a country atmosphere and friendly staff. Unique, unusual and unexpectedly great antiques and collectibles come in each week. View auction items Wed - Friday in the large red metal building across from Depot Park. Estate items include original artwork, bronze sculptures, vintage glassware, porcelain, pottery, sterling, vintage jewelry and furniture of all types. Licensed food service located on site for your convenience.

BEST WESTERN SUWANNEE VALLEY INN 1125 N. Young Boulevard, Chiefland, FL 32626 The independently owned and operated Suwannee Valley Inn provides 60 beautiful rooms, swimming pool, cable TV and conference facilities. Enjoy easy access to the Suwannee River and Manatee, Fanning and Hart Springs. Wildlife, bird watching, boating, fishing and diving round out the amazing recreational opportunities. The perfect center for your holiday, business meeting or conference -- the Best Western Suwannee Valley Inn.

352-493-0663 Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



photos: above left, Becky Kagan, center top and bottom, Lois Fletcher, right, Sean Dowie


11650 NW 115th St. 352-493-6072 Chiefland, FL 32626 7 miles west of US 19 on CR 320 Hours: 8 a.m. - sunset, daily Camping: A first-magnitude spring, Manatee discharges an average 100 million gallons of water every day. The spring is a source of life for many species of fish, reptiles, mammals, birds and invertebrates. From November through April, manatees use the spring’s life-giving waters for warmth. Popular for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving, the headwaters of the spring are an outstanding year-round experience for people as well. The spring run meanders through towering cypress, tupelo and other wetland trees to join the Suwannee River. In summer, Gulf sturgeon can be seen leaping out of the river as they have done for eons. Enjoy nature trails, boardwalk, kayak and canoe rental, concession stand, playground and picnic areas. Hardwood hammocks and upland pine habitats surround the fullfacility campground. Clay Landing Days in December features heritage reenactments, survival skills, hayrides, and more.



Let us Show You the Lower Suwannee River



Located at Manatee and Fanning Springs State Parks and Suwannee, “Where the River Meets the Gulf ”

Suwannee Guides & Outfitters provides exceptional customer service for paddlers and fishermen who want to enjoy the Lower Suwannee River, Gulf Flats, and Big Bend areas. Services Include: • Canoe and Kayak Rentals • Shuttle service, Manatee to Fanning Springs • River & Gulf coast shuttle services • Wildlife tours by pontoon boat • Fishing in the Gulf Flats • Overnight waterfront rentals in Suwannee photo: Gulf Sturgeon, Gabby Saluta USFWS

“My memory is etched with a clear image of how that bird swung into view and hung over me, suspended like an angel, so starkly black and white, with its wide-scissored split of a tail. I rushed to grab the binoculars, almost flipped the canoe. The bird rode a breeze too subtle to sense, its breast a center point for the sleek To me, kites are about surprise. maneuver of wing and tail, as if a kite string actually were attached to the deeply muscled Mystery. Being gifted. breastbone... When the first fleet kite shadow darkened my face and I lifted my eyes, astonished, to watch the bird wheel above the river’s sunny run, I knew that something essential connecting me viscerally to wildness had come into my life. I wanted that wildness. I wanted to leap out of the boat, to scramble over the abrupt knees of the cypress and climb the insufficient wild aster vines. I wanted to follow that bird…. To me, kites are about surprise. Mystery. Being gifted. Except when they nest or gather to migrate, it’s hard to specifically “bird” for swallow-tails. You can increase your chances of finding them by looking in the right places. It’s best to just be in the right places and let them come to you. In this part of the world that means getting out on the rivers in the summer months. When I drive up the west coast of Florida, north from Tampa...climbing the ladder of latitude, I slow at each river crossing and look skyward: Little Waccasassa, Waccasassa, the broad Suwannee, the Steinhatchee, (and further north in the Big Bend) the Spring Warrior Creek, the injured Fenholloway, the Econfina, the mysterious Aucilla, the Wacissa, the St. Marks, and dozens of creeks in between.”


Stories of pirate gold never die in Florida, but the treasure of pirate Jean LaFitte (ca. 1776 - ca. 1823) may turn out to be a true tale yet. People have searched for gold at Fowler’s Bluff on the Suwannee River for more than a century. In 1897 Emmett Baird took off with a map and one of his business partners and spent 3 months digging on the site. He returned to Gainesville claiming to have found nothing. However, soon after he purchased a French Second Empire style mansion (now the Magnolia Plantation Bed and Breakfast) and founded one of Florida’s largest hardware stores (located in Gainesville’s historic Baird Center). Now, treasure hunters claim to have found traces of gold dust and other evidence of treasure in a pit near Fowler’s Bluff. The site was known to be a hangout for LaFitte and “colleagues” Jose Gaspar, Billy “Bowlegs” Rogers, and Black Caesar. Tommy Todd, who owns the property, told a reporter for National Geographic that they believe pirate chests had sunk deep into the mushy, silt-laden soil. For now the treasure hunt continues.


Excerpt from Tracking Desire: A Journey after Swallow-tailed Kites by Susan Cerulean, University of Georgia Press,

Susan Cerulean works with the Red Hills Writers Project in Tallahassee and co-edited “Between Two Rivers: Stories from the Red Hills to the Gulf,” an anthology of naturalist writings published by The Red Hills Writers Project, A Heart of the Earth Initiative. Florida’s Eden encourages further exploration of their work in this vital part of our region. and Deer feast on tender leaves among the cypress knees at Manatee Springs State Park.

Photo: Stewart J. Thomas Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Crossing Florida

As you travel from Gainesville to Cedar Key on SR 24, you are driving directly on top of the nearly arrow-straight old railroad bed. Old train depots can be seen in Gainesville, on Depot Avenue, and in Archer. FLORIDA BLACK HISTORY TRAIL Passing through Archer you can see the memorial to Bo Diddley, born Ellas Otha Bates, and known as “The Originator” because of the key role he played in the transition of blues music to rock and roll. As a singer, guitarist, and songwriter he influenced such musicians as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

Bo Diddley Memorial in Archer, photo: by Sean Dowie.

ROSEWOOD The primarily African-American community of Rosewood is marked by a sign on SR 24, but bears the distinction of being the only Florida community completely destroyed by racial violence. In 1923, a white woman in nearby Sumner claimed that a black man had attacked her. In the ensuing violence a white mob killed six black residents of the town. Today only the house of John Wright, one of the few white residents, and a man who tried to stop the attacking mob, still stands. In 1994 the Florida Legislature and Governor Chiles signed a bill to compensate the survivors and descendents of the massacre.

Resources: African American Sites in Florida by Kevin McCarthy

FLORIDA’S FIRST RAILROAD Train lines are a major feature in the 1884 engraving of Cedar Key, above, from the Florida State Archives. At right, photographer Bill Kilborn’s aerial photo shows traces of the old rail right-of-way in contemporary Cedar Key. Far right: the original train terminus in Fernandina, Florida, on the Atlantic coast.

One of the events that almost transformed Cedar Key into a major port was the completion of David Levy Yulee’s cross-Florida railroad from Fernandina in the northeastern part of the state to Cedar Key in 1861. He had incorporated the Florida Railroad Company in 1853 and began construction of a rail line two years later. The Florida Railroad ran for 155.5 miles, from Fernandina through Baldwin and Gainesville to the Gulf of Mexico. Such a line, which connected two deep-water ports on either side of the peninsula, would make unnecessary the long, dangerous and expensive trip around the Florida Keys. The timing of its completion, however, was disastrous. As U.S. senator, Yulee did much for the state of Florida and, of course, himself. For example, he succeeded in convincing Congress to pass an act in 1856 granting the state one and a quarter million acres of federal lands. Yulee’s railroad had a federal land grant of 290,000 acres and a Florida grant of 505,000 acres. . . . In 1855, Yulee had workers begin building the railroad on the eastern coast and by 1856 had completed the first ten miles. As more and more miles of track were added, train service began extending to inland towns. The financial panic of 1857 threatened the progress of track laying, and Yulee’s railroad company faced bankruptcy, but he was able to convince northern backers to pour more money into the enterprise. He argued effectively that to be able to move products from one side of the coast to the other in one day would greatly reduce the cost of transportation. For the western terminus of his railroad, Yulee acquired much of the land on Way Key and established what came to be known as a “company town,” a facility dedicated to the railroad. The 1859 town plan had a street grid for what would be the city of Cedar Key. Senator Yulee became chairman of the Senate Post Office Committee (1855-1861), a position that enabled him to win mail contracts for his railroad from shipping companies that delivered mail to Florida. His Florida Railroad received $500,000 each year for its services as part of

Cedar Key sunset, photo: by Sean Dowie.

a tri-weekly mail service between New York and New Orleans by way of Fernandina and Cedar Key. He helped establish mail links between Cedar Key and Havana, as well as daily steamer service between Fernandina and Charleston, South Carolina. Just as the railway line was finished in 1861, the Civil War threatened its destruction. In January 1862, federal troops from the USS Hatteras out of Key West occupied Cedar Key, captured three sloops and five schooners in the harbor, burned down the railroad station, destroyed the wharf and several boxcars of military supplies, demolished the turpentine storehouse and cut the telegraph wires. The town . . . had seen the removal of two companies of [Confederate] troops to Fernandina at the other end of the railroad to meet the anticipated Union attack there. When that attack did take place in March 1862, David Yulee fled on the last train out of Fernandina, headed for Gainesville and ordered the bridges behind him burned. Two years later another group of federal troops landed at Cedar Key, tore up more of the tracks, burned a bridge over the Waccasassa River and effectively took Florida out of the war.


COAST TO COAST IN A DAY A True Florida Experience The Florida peninsula offers the chance to watch the sun rise and the sun set over two different bodies of water. Experience two charming coastal towns in the bargain and a bit of history along the way. The trains still run all the way through Fernandina, down Centre Street and along the docks. Unlike most harbor towns, Fernandina exudes charm right alongside its working locomotives and dockside cranes. Enjoy any number of small shops and gourmet restaurants. Head over to the beach where you can watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. Follow the route of Florida’s original railway through Yulee and Baldwin. The old rail line is now SR 24, where you’ll find the beautiful Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Continuing west you’ll pass through Archer, Bronson, and Otter Creek. Be sure to stop at Shell Mound. The nature trail over this ancient Native American mound offers a rewarding view over the salt marshes. Coming in to Cedar Key the sky and sea open up in a vast panorama. Enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Gulf and a wonderful feast of fresh seafood.

This passage was taken from Cedar Key Florida, A History by Kevin McCarthy. A prolific writer on Floridiana, McCarthy is also author of The Book Lover’s Guide to Florida. In 1868 the Florida Railroad resumed operation. In 1886 and 1896 two events caused great changes: the opening of major railway and port services in Tampa and the 1896 hurricane which killed over 100 people, set fire to the town, destroyed the trees and the pencil mills. Cedar Key’s days as a major port were over, and it remains the quiet coastal village it is today. “A writer’s business is to tell the stories that are being lived around her, in her own time and place. Cedar Key was the model for my imaginary town, Palm Key, the setting of my second novel, Replacing Dad.” Replacing Dad was made into a Hallmark movie for television and played on CBS.


“I didn’t choose this place; it chose me. . . . Standing on a pier that jutted out into the Gulf, as though with one more step westward we would fall off the earth, George and I looked at the sky and the late afternoon sun. The tide was in, and the lap of water was all around under me. Two porpoises fed in the gray water just in front of us, breaking through the surface, then disappearing under it, in and out as if they were carved needles sewing the Gulf. As far as I could turn my head there was sky, all sky. As I moved my feet, turning more, hearing the gentle tap and scrape of my sandals on the gray weathered pier, still there was more sky. It was as though I was standing inside a glass bowl, slate blue, clear, and forever changing. . . . Simply. it was, I guess, a sky and place we could not say no to—or leave.”



5390 NE 180th Ave. 352-528-3344 Williston, FL 32696 Full dive shop, air fills, rentals, cabins, camping, fishing, heated pool, RV sites On cool mornings steam rises out of the dry cave that contains this underground spring, giving the site its name. The spring is one of North America’s premier prehistoric places, containing ancient fossil beds from the Pleistocene Age 10,000 to 2.5 million years ago. Beautiful rock formations, stalactites and fossils make this a stunning dive experience.


3852 NW 172 Court 352-528-5770 Williston, FL 32696 Hours: 8 - 6 daily Full dive shop, rentals, and bathhouse The largest clear water cavern open to the public, Blue Grotto offers dives to 100 feet, and a unique air bell at 30 feet. Words do not do justice to the array of fossils embedded in the walls of the cavern and the abundance of aquatic life. Only open water certification is required. photos, left to right (by Sean Dowie unless noted): Devil’s Den, Ivy House, Fossil’s in underwater spring (photo: Tom Hundley), Hot Air Balloons (stock photo); Williston Peanut Outlet, Inset: Rodeo 66

IVY HOUSE Restaurant, Gift Shop & Catering

106 NW Main Street, Williston, FL 32696 352-528-5410 Hours: Sun-Thurs: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., Fri, Sat: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Established in 1993, the Ivy House has earned a reputation for excellence. The themed dining rooms and upstairs gift shop are housed in a turn-of-the-century Victorian home built by Dr. Willis, the son of the founder of Williston, Florida. Marjorie “Mimi” Hale, her daughter and granddaughters, along with the Ivy House staff work diligently to make the restaurant a success. Delicious, yet simple meals using mostly family recipes with true Southern flair keep customers returning week after week. Dedication to good food and Southern hospitality earned the Ivy House the Florida Trend award as one of the “Top 400 Places to Eat” in the State of Florida. Be sure to pick up a copy of Mimi’s new cookbook, Gracefully Southern, featuring her special southern recipes and desserts.


Hwy 41, Williston, FL 32696 352-528-2388 Stock up while you’re in the Peanut Capital of Florida. The public is welcome to this factory outlet specializing in every kind of peanut preparation you could want: brittle, krunch, southern fried, peanut butter, roasted . . . delicious!

Williston Area Chamber of Commerce

607 SW 1st Avenue, Williston, FL 32696 Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. 352-528-5552 Meetings held 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month


Hwy 41, Williston, FL 32696 In addition to smaller events, the park hosts three major rodeos annually. The Pee Wee Mercer rodeo held in February was started as a benefit for Pee Wee Mercer, local bull rider and author of The Last Ride with noted Florida author Patrick Smith. The Florida High School Rodeo Association sponsors the April event with contestants from all over the state, with a grand parade, barrel racing, calf roping, riding and team roping. In October the PRCA rodeo draws participants from Florida and neighboring states. The Williston Horseman’s Association offers equestrian training and events throughout the year.

LEVY COUNTY FARMER’S MARKET: Every Saturday 7:30 am - 3 pm, 401 SE 6th Ave, Williston FESTIVALS: Spring: Airport Recreational Fest and Fly Market May: GRWC Williston Woman’s Club Art Fest, 352-528-3350 July 3rd: Independence Day Festivities

1st Saturday in October: Central Florida Fall Harvest & Peanut Festival October: Trail of Treats Dec: Light Up Williston, Parade, Tree Lighting

CALENDAR OF EVENTS: Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


9110 SE CR 337 352-465-8585 Dunnellon, FL 34431 MAPS: available at the Black Prong, Apex and Tidewater trailheads, all located along CR337, and as downloads from the Goethe forest website. An extensive trail system allows hikers, horse riders, and cyclists to experience over 53,000 acres of vital wildlife habitat. The Goethe State Forest contains 15 different natural communities, including one of the largest remaining long-leaf pine forests in Florida. This extensive oldgrowth forest has one of the largest redcockaded woodpecker populations on state lands in Florida. Other rare animal species include the Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, Shermanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fox squirrel and bald eagle. Rare plants include the hooded pitcher plant and coontie. Goethe forest is prized by horseback riders, birders and wildlife watchers. Fishing, hunting and overnight camping are allowed with permits; contact Forest staff to arrange details. 68

place to view hardwood-dwelling songbirds such as hooded warblers, parula warblers and red-eyed vireos. To catch a glimpse of wading birds and ducks such as herons, egrets, sandhill cranes and an occasional wood stork, visit Buck Island Pond, which is located in the Apex Tract west of CR 337 and at Deer Pen Pond, located off of CR 337 at the northern boundary of the forest. Swallow-tailed kites and bald eagles are frequently seen while driving or walking along the roads in the Apex Tract. Trailheads located off CR 337: BLACK PRONG trailhead is just north of CR 326. APEX trailhead is located on CR 337, just south of SR 121. TIDEWATER trailhead is on CR 337, just before you get to CR 336. The three trails above are for mixed use, including mountain biking and horses. Trailheads accommodate horse trailers. BUCK ISLAND POND is also on CR 337. It is not designed for horse trailers. The new hiking trail goes near the pond and an observation platform as well. The Black Prong (Orange Section) intersects this new loop and there is a horse trail connector there also. Additional Resources: Checklist of Birds: bird_list.pdf Friends of Nature-Based Equine Tourism:

photos: courtesy Goethe State Forest


Birding on the Big Cypress Trail BIG CYPRESS trailhead: follow SR 121 east from US 19, or west from CR 336, look for Cow Creek Road, a dirt road that is in fine shape for passenger vehicles. At the first fork stay right and drive 3.2 miles to the parking area. (Cow Creek Road connects with CR 326 if you continue 3 more miles north.) The Big Cypress Trail remains a littleknown, out of the way hike. The roundtrip is only a half mile but it leads to one of Floridaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s amazing botanical wonders: a towering cypress tree more than 900 years old. The trail is an excellent spot for viewing brown-headed nuthatches, red-cockaded woodpeckers, great crested flycatchers and eastern towhees in the pine flat woods running along Gasline Road and Cow Creek Road. Big Cypress Trail, accessible at the trailhead on Cow Creek Road (5 miles south of CR 326), is an excellent

DEVIL’S HAMMOCK Wildlife Management Area

Access at four points along State Road 24 southwest of Bronson, FL (352) 486-5218 Trail Map: Info and Regulations: More than 7,000 acres along the Waccasassa River and Otter Creek offer horseback riding, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting and two canoe launches. Bottomland hardwoods and cutover pine and cypress forests harbor kingfisher, wood stork, river otter, and black racer. Call for times and designated areas for camping.

Horseback Riding


450 SE CR 337, Bronson, FL 32621 352-486-1234

Ride, Train, and Drive Among Champions

Black Prong is a unique 250-acre facility meticulously developed for the sport and art of all things equestrian. Nestled in the heart of the 53,000-acre Goethe State Forest, Black Prong offers • On-site world-class trainers, or bring your own trainer • Nine regulation dressage arenas • Practice obstacles and marathon course • Acres of turnout • More than 150 miles of trails in the Goethe State Forest • Pets are welcome

The Ultimate Vacation

For a truly memorable vacation, stay at one of the variety of lodging options. Horse Illustrated named Black Prong in its TOP NINE “Ultimate Vacation” picks (July 2008 Issue).

RESOURCES: The Pure Water Wilderness offers horseback riders an extensive system of wellmaintained trails in a variety of settings and eco-systems. Fossil finds have revealed that horses roamed here over 2 million years ago. The horse was remarkably similar to today’s equine, although somewhat smaller. Its remains are very common in Florida rivers and streams. The Spaniards reintroduced the horse, along with large cattle ranches. The Florida tradition of ranching and “cow-catchers,” the original American cowboys, can be lived at the R.O. Ranch (page 16). Rodeo events are held regularly in Williston (page 66). Extensive trails can be enjoyed in the Goethe State Forest, Devil’s Hammock, and Withlacoochee Bay, all listed on these pages. The Nature Coast State Trail includes horseriding facilities (pages 26 - 27), as does Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve (page 92).


Cross Florida Greenway 352-447-1720 Office of Greenways & Trails 877-822-5208 Located south of Inglis and Yankeetown Map: trails/pdfs/Withlachoochee_Bay_Trail.pdf Felburn Park and Withlacoochee Bay Trail are the westernmost section of the 90,000-acre Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. The 12-foot-wide paved multi-use trail runs for 5 miles through maritime hammocks and salt marsh, offering wildlife watching, picnicking and bank fishing. The 740-acre Dixon Hammock offers a more rustic experience, with horse trailer parking and blazed equestrian trails.


Roberta A Cogswell 352-489-9848 9950 S.E. 125th Court, Dunnellon, FL 34431 Guided horse riding in Goethe Forest and other nearby trails. Ride your own horse, or let Roberta match you up with one of her quiet experienced mounts. Group discounts offered. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Bronson Enjoy pleasures as diverse as a roadside stand, a refreshing dip in pure spring water, or the high speed thrills of the Bronson Motor Speedway. It can all be found near The small rural community of Bronson, the Levy County seat. Nearby attractions include “Levy” or “Bronson” Blue Springs, Devil’s Hammock, and Goethe State Forest. Bronson is on SR 24, the route of Florida’s first railway line.


BRONSON MOTOR SPEEDWAY 9950 NE SR 24 Bronson, FL 32621 schedule.shtml For something different try Florida’s premier high-banked short track. All kinds of races. Current schedules online.

“Levy Blue”

4550 NE 94th Place 352-486-3303 Bronson, FL 32621 Open: Memorial Day to Labor Day This county park, also known as “Bronson Blue” is popular with families and features swimming in the main spring area, diving platform, artificial beach, playground and picnic facilities. The spring itself emerges from several flow points in the sandy bottom. The flow causes particles of wood, shell and detritus to churn and boil on the bottom. The number of boils is unusual and interesting to explore with a snorkel. The spring is shaded by a canopy of trees. The run feeds the Waccasassa River, which flows through the Waccasassa Bay State Preserve to the Gulf of Mexico.

DEVIL’S HAMMOCK Wildlife Management Area See Listing on Page 69

Greater Bronson Area Chamber of Commerce

P.O. Box 616, Bronson, FL 32621 352-486-1132

Blue Springs, top, near Bronson is popular with families. Hot boiled peanuts take hours to make, minutes to eat; Bronson Motor Speedway; below: Cabins at Devil’s Den. photos: Sean Dowie


AC K N OW L E D G M E N T S We are proud to offer you this locally produced Guide and audio CD. Pure Water Wilderness, the Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy Tourist Development Board has worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the area; we thank them for permission to use their name for the title of this publication. Progress Energy provided generous support of this Guide. This project is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. A massive effort like this happens with help from many devoted and creative people! While we can only thank a few by name, wonderful people in every town and business contributed to the knowledge and portrayal that have gone into the production of this regional Guide. We especially thank Carol McQueen, Director, Levy County Visitor’s Bureau; Donna Creamer, Executive Director, Pure Water Wilderness; Julie Harrison, Bill Kilborn, Brack Barker and Kay McCallister for their knowledge and assistance. We also are indebted to: Greater Bronson Area Chamber of Commerce, Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce, Chiefland Chamber of Commerce, Dixie County Chamber of Commerce, Fanning Springs Chamber of Commerce, Gilchrist Chamber of Commerce, Steinhatchee River Chamber of Commerce, Suwannee River Chamber of Commerce, Williston Chamber of Commerce, Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Gilchrist County Tourist Development Board . Cathy DeWitt shared her devotion to our musical heritage by curating the music for the audio CD. Thanks to all of the musicians and poets for permission to use their beautiful works. We are so grateful to WUFT-FM and WJUF, Nature

Coast 90 for permission to use news stories from their archives and for producing the CD in their studios. We are indebted to Bill Beckett and Donna Green Townsend for their professional expertise and friendship; special thanks to Bill Beckett for collecting and providing all of the CD’s nature sounds! Many writers, photographers and artists provided material for this guide; please read the full list of names on page 12, enjoy their creations, and look them up to read their books, see more photos, and experience their works of art. We owe much to the scientists, educators, community leaders and journalists for the content of the Water Awareness and Conservation Section. In particular we give thanks to: The Suwannee River Water Management District, David Flagg, Heath Davis, the Cedar Key Energy Advisory Panel, and the community leaders in Cedar Key, Wes Skiles, Jill Heinerth, Dr. Robert Knight, Ron Chandler, Annette Long and to Cynthia Barnett for her inspiration and wonderful book, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. We thank all of the chefs, restaurant owners, and food writers for permission to use the recipes included in the Guide: Jim Hunt and the staff at Fiddlers in Steinhatchee, Ragena Ransom at the Suwannee Rose Café, Janice Owens, Doc Lawrence, and Carol McQueen. Margaret Herrick, thank you for welcoming us and connecting us with Cedar Key. Special thanks to Pam Wessels, Audrey Switalski and Captain Steve Kroll in Steinhatchee, and Captain Tony Johns in Suwannee. To Doug Selvidge at Gator Moving & Storage, thank you for loading dock facilities for the many flats of guidebooks. Finally, I want to recognize the heroic efforts of our dream staff who contributed multiple levels of talent to bring you this portrayal of the Florida we all love. Annie W. Pais, Executive Director, Florida’s Eden Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



water. . . floridaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s treasure North Florida hosts the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest concentration of springs, with an estimated 10,000 bubbling forth from the limestone caverns of the Floridan Aquifer. Over 700 springs have been mapped, giving rise to pristine rivers, including the Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, Suwannee, Rainbow, Steinhatchee, Waccasassa, and Crystal. The Suwannee is one of the prime wilderness rivers of North America, unencumbered by dams or levees and flanked by conservation lands. The longest undeveloped coastline in the continental U.S. extends along Floridaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Big Bend on the western edge of the Pure Water Wilderness region. Coastal estuaries and salt marshes are rich nurseries of marine life and house significant bird rookeries. The protection of these resources provides vital benefits for all Floridians.

The Floridan Aquifer is the largest source of fresh water for the entire state of Florida. It extends under large parts of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. In North Florida, the aquifer is only 100 to 150 feet below your feet. Layers of clay protect the aquifer and keep it under pressure.

Florida First Magnitude Springs 72

Pressure on openings in the stone and clay layers forces large volumes of water to the surface. North Florida is home to the largest concentration and greatest outflow of fresh spring water in the world.

“Everything we know will be reinvented in the coming 20 years. It’s a whole new world for education. We envision green advisors guiding students in high schools and community colleges toward jobs on every education level and in every sector of Florida’s blue/green, innovative economy.” Annie Pais Executive Director, Florida’s Eden

“Our part of Florida has a clear path to water sustainability—that is, using and enjoying water today in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the ability of our children and grandchildren to use and enjoy water. Our water wealth, along with technological breakthroughs and a new interest in water sustainability among Florida’s businesses and residents, has opened up this new, blue path.” Cynthia Barnett Author, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. Diver, explorer, filmmaker and educator Jill Heinerth captures the beauty of Florida’s water in this photo.

“The Floridan Aquifer: one of the five cleanest sources of water on earth.” Ron Chandler Florida Water Atlas, USF Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide 73

In Florida, water is our stock in trade

The Blue Path to Prosperity

“On the blue path, Floridians reduce Florida has a prized environmental asset: clean, fresh water. water use, keep natural water systems 97% of all the earth’s water is salt. Another 2% is locked into icecaps and glaciers. Worldwide consumption of the remaining intact and become the economic center 1% is increasing at double the rate of population growth. for innovative water systems. In Florida, we are waking up to the fact that water is our prime economic asset. It is vital to maintaining the natural environment This is not only the ecologically ethical that sets Florida apart for quality of life, agriculture, aquaculture, path, but a more prosperous path for our and tourism. Water has the potential to support an even more region’s people and businesses.” prosperous economy if Florida decides to lead the way on water sink conservation, natural water systems management, and state-ofCynthia Barnett hole coastal wetlands surficial sands the-art water products and services. water table Within a very short time period, humans have dredged, clay confining layer sea water (salt) aquifer spring drained and pumped Florida from one of intermediate the wettest places on clay confining layer the planet, to a state grappling with water shortages, multi-billion “By choosing the Conservation Economy, we will eliminate the need floridan aquifer dollar water transfer proposals, and even (dolomite larger price tags for for big costly, infrastructure projects with their devastating, unintended and limestone) environmental fixes. Currently “the Floridan Aquifer, one of the consequences and become the innovation model. We’ll lead the nation by five cleanest sources of water on earth, isThe being lost at the rate is ademonstrating how conservation our only pathunderlying to prosperity”most says Annie Floridan Aquifer dynamic moving system ofisfresh water of the state. of approximately 46 billion gallons per year,” according to Ron Pais, Executive Director of Florida’s Eden. Chandler of the Florida Water Atlas. “Conservation is the only option we have for ensuring a prosperous economy while delivering a healthy water resource for all of Florida’s citizens. We have a chance to do things differently and derive enormous The country is awaiting the first state to become the model.” economic benefits by setting course on this new, blue path. “If we reduce wasted water resources by 25%, and actual consumption by 25% we will have medium and no need for the drastic and expensive water transfer projects being proposed.” Ron Chandler deep well water withdrawals

From North Carolina to New Mexico states are positioning themselves to use their environmental assets and human know-how to sea buildwater the (salt) prosperous “green” economies of the future. Florida fresh water can become the center of a clean, sustainable salt waterand high-profit in aquifer in aquifer “blue” economic sector focused on water conservation, marketing products and expertise to locales around the world eager to improve quality of life using less water. Salt Water Intrusion intowhile the Aquifer

y condensation

Florida’s natural water cycle




aquifer recharge area

rivers and wetlands spring


is a dynamic system that is unsurpassed at replenishing ground water, aquifer, springs, rivers and wetlands with fresh, highly purified water.

sea water (salt)

The Natural Water Cycle Replenishes and Filters Water throughout the System:

Aquifer, springs, rivers BLUE IN ACTION: UF’s Rinker Hall serves 1,000wetlands, people per day butand uses estuaries. less potable water than an average home.

Led by Coca Cola, the beverage industry has committed to recycling all water used in the beverage manufacturing process. Proposals to convert cow manure into methane gas would produce valuable fuel while reducing nitrate run-off into rivers and springs.


The methodology behind the triple conservation medium and of land, energy and water is the key to 21st century economic vitality. deep well water withdrawals

Most of our citizens assume we’re already protecting springs and the aquifer. They are shocked to learn that this isn’t exactly true. A great deal is spent to fix water problems we’ve caused by polluting or otherwise harming natural systems. On the new, blue path, Florida would spend its money on conservation up front rather than on costlier restoration later. So, why don’t we have adequate protection for our water? It turns out that we the people must command it. Annie Pais

“Water should be kept in its natural systems,” notes business journalist Cynthia Barnett. Behind this simple wisdom lies a profound approach that could help us avoid water wars, save billions of dollars in taxpayer money, and save Florida’s beloved rivers and springs. South and Central Florida are facing a water crisis. Salt water is intruding into coastal aquifers. With the destruction of coastal wetlands hurricanes cause much greater damage. The largest environmental budget in history will achieve only partial restoration of the natural ecology of the Florida Everglades. By contrast, intact natural systems deliver wide-ranging and cost-effective benefits. Since its inception the Suwannee River Water Management District has operated on the principle that conservation now is better than restoration later. Conserved lands along the Suwannee River, North Florida’s undeveloped Gulf coastline, and intact prairies and wetlands are recharge areas for the Floridan Aquifer, providing clean, fresh water for a majority of Florida’s residents and visitors. This natural system provides flood control, limits storm damage, maintains Florida’s springs, and supports healthy rivers and estuaries that are the basis for Florida’s recreational and commercial fisheries. Fresh water is a renewable resource, but unlike static petroleum or mineral deposits, water is part of a dynamic system. Sustainable water use must be consistent with the rate at which water is replenished. Florida’s natural water cycle is unmatched at keeping the aquifer filled with fresh, highly purified water. Compromising the system by draining wetlands, reducing vegetation cover, diverting rivers, or over-pumping results in a rapidly declining system that will devastate Florida’s water supply.

photo, above: Sean Dowie

Conservation vs. Restoration

About 13% of all energy generated in the United States is spent pumping and treating water and moving it around. Sattenspiel and Wilson, “The Carbon Footprint of Water” The River Network, 2009.

“State, regional and local governments are carrying out billions of dollars worth of mega-water infrastructure projects across Florida, including some that would tap Florida’s Eden rivers for water supply in sprawling areas of Central Florida. Such projects are the costliest options for taxpayers, and they always come with unintended consequences for future generations.” Cynthia Barnett

BLUE IN ACTION: Water efficiency in new buildings reduces operating costs by 12%.

Algae-based solar energy could turn ponds into power plants. Water conserving crops and farming methods developed in Florida can be marketed to tropical and subtropical areas around the world. Rooftop rain harvesting, cisterns and rain barrels can eliminate use of groundwater for urban landscaping.

The Blue Economy develops sustainable water knowledge, products and services.


What you can do AT HOME


Lawns account for the majority of home water use in Florida. Even Florida’s sod growers agree that lawns are being over-watered. Too much water wastes a precious resource, but also causes run-off of nutrients that is destroying the water quality of our springs, rivers and estuaries. Conserve 25% to 50% by following the recommended watering schedules for your type of lawn. Conserve 50% to 75% by changing over to Florida Friendly types of plants. Eliminate use of well and public supplied water by installing rain barrels to capture rainwater from your roof. Eliminate fertilizer use by using different plant varieties and recycling kitchen scraps. Fertilizers leach into the ground water and run off into springs and streams. Fertilizers are the single largest source of pollution dramatically reducing water quality in Florida’s springs and destroying the life cycle of Florida’s waterways.

Lawn & Garden






Showers & Baths 10% Dishes & Cleaning Leaks

Drinking Water STOP NITRATE RUN-OFF INTO FLORIDA’S SPRINGS AND RIVERS “Florida springs typically provide a purity of water unsurpassed by conventional water treatment technologies, in terms of water clarity, mineral content, and extremely low concentrations of trace metals and organic pollutants. This historical purity of springs is threatened by increasing pressures from human populations. Nitrate nitrogen is elevated throughout much of the state at concentrations that are from 25 to more than 100 times the natural background. While not toxic to humans at these levels, nitrate is a plant growth nutrient that results in severe alteration of the plant and animal communities in spring boils and spring runs.” Robert Knight, Ph.D. President, Wetland Solutions


7% 5% 1%

Conserve water and eliminate fertilizer run off using the tips above Conserve 43% by installing a more efficient toilet. Save even more with a new waterless fixture or composting toilet. Conserve 30% by setting correct water levels and waiting to wash larger loads. Conserve 18% by using low-flow showerheads and taking shorter showers. Conserve by turning off the tap when not in use. Recycle cleaning water to irrigate plants. Conserve 77% by identifying and repairing leaks. Only 1% of household consumption is used for this most valuable use of a limited commodity: fresh, clean water. Sources: EPA, Florida DEP, American Water Works Association Research Foundation




What you can do




All over North Florida people are taking part in One Region / One Book. It’s an easy and fun way to learn more about our water resources. There are activities for the whole family, community events, and education components for schools. • INCREDIBLE SPEAKERS • WORLD CLASS FILMS • FAMILY EVENTS Check our website for events and information for your: • BOOK CLUBS • HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATIONS • CHURCHES AND CIVIC GROUPS

Author Cynthia Barnett, photo: Gregg Matthews events • information • resources

Find copies of the One Region/One Book selection, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. in your local library or school. Copies of the book have been made available through donations to the OROB Fund of Florida’s Eden. To donate, volunteer, or include materials in your school curriculum, please go to our website, or contact us directly.

• TEACHERS Find curriculum tools and ideas on our website • VOLUNTEERS Contact Florida’s Eden • DONATE Books for your community Please contact Annie W. Pais Executive Director, Florida’s Eden 352-377-0777 Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. combines environmental history and investigative journalism to tell how one of the wettest places in the world has come to face water shortages. It explains key water issues, from economics to politics, in a clear, lively style. Its ultimate message is one of hope for the future. Mirage was the 2008 Gold medal winner for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards. Author Cynthia Barnett is senior writer at Florida Trend magazine, where she has worked for 10 years covering investigative, environmental, public policy and business stories. She’s won numerous journalism prizes, including eight Green Eye-shade Awards, which recognize out-standing journalism in 11 southeastern states.

One Region/One Book is the first phase of the Florida’s Eden Water Awareness Campaign to build citizen knowledge and encourage dialogue on our region’s most valuable economic and natural resource: Our Water. To learn more please visit online. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide 77

To learn more about the environmental treasures of the region, we invite you to contact the groups who are involved daily in the work of protecting, conserving and teaching about our water, land, habitats and wildlife. Links to these groups, and others, can also be found at

Conservation Trust for Florida

Contact: Busy Kislig-Shires Byerly 352-466-1178 P.O. Box 134, Micanopy, FL 32667 Our mission is to protect the rural landscapes of Florida. We focus on farms, ranches, working forests, and natural areas that provide landscape connections. CTF has successfully protected approximately 9,100 acres of rural landscapes and wildlife corridors through educational workshops, direct protection through voluntarily donated conservation easements, and acquisition by publicly funded land conservation programs.

Friends of Lower Suwannee & Cedar Key

Contact: Joan Stephens 352-463-1095 16450 NW 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32626 The mission of the Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges is to provide active advocacy and physical support for the successful stewardship of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuges. The Friends promotes awareness of the refuges, their habitats and their work, assists the scientific conservation and preservation efforts of the refuges, and advocates responsible habitat use. We provide education, volunteers and advocacy.

Our Santa Fe River, Inc.

Contact: Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, President 386-454-4446 460 SW Riverland Ct., Ft. White, FL 32038 Our mission is to collect and disseminate information with the goal of protecting the waters and lands supporting the aquifer, springs and rivers within the watershed of the Santa Fe River. Sign up for weekly email updates: Donations accepted at: Meetings held at various times; annual meeting in May

Save Our Suwannee

Contact: Joan Stephens 352-463-1095 P.O. Box 669, Bell, FL 32619 Save Our Suwannee is people dedicated to keeping the Suwannee River and its tributaries in their natural pristine state. Through education and action we work to preserve and protect the soil, flora, birds, animals, and water, including the underground aquifers, in the Suwannee River Basin. Heighten your appreciation of the Suwannee River through learning, activism and fellowship.




Suwannee-St. Johns Sierra Club Contact: Rob Brinkman PO Box 13951, Gainesville, FL 32604

The Suwannee-St. Johns Sierra Club supports the local environment through education, political advocacy and helping our members experience nature through our outings program. Monthly Meetings: 7:30 - 9:00 pm Nematology/Entomology Building

First Thursday of the Month UF Campus, Gainesville

Wetland Solutions, Inc.

Contact: Robert Knight 386-462-1003 2809 NW 161st Court, Gainesville, FL 32609 All Floridians share the same water â&#x20AC;&#x201D; groundwater for drinking and springs, and surface water for support of our natural ecosystems. Please contact your Water Management District governing board and ask them to provide their financial and regulatory support for cleaner and more water for the environment, above and below ground. top left: Rainbow River I 48 x 72 inches Original oil painting by Trish Beckham of Williston, Florida photo by Alan Cressler

To learn more about our water and its importance for Floridaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s environment, please look through the Water Awareness section starting on page 72. On pages 82 and 83, find out how Cedar Key is becoming a model for sustainable environmental practices that are reaping an enormously positive economic impact. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Cedar Key

Cedar Key is one of the largest producers of farmed clams in the United States. Thousands of years ago, ancient peoples also consumed large amounts of shellfish, and constructed large mounds throughout Florida using the discarded shells. Artifacts dating to 500 B.C. have been found in archaeological digs at the top of the 28 foot tall Shell Mound, nine miles north of Cedar Key. Twelve thousand-year-old arrow and spearheads can be seen at the Cedar Key State Museum. In the 1500s the Spanish, Seminole Indians, and pirates all frequented the Keys. The modern history of Cedar Key begins in 1839 with the occupation of Atsena Otie and the establishment of a post office there in 1845. With the growth of the lumber industry, the U.S. Congress financed the construction of the lighthouse on Seahorse Key. Standing 28 feet tall, on a 47-foot hill, it is the highest point on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Florida’s first railroad connected the port of Fernandina on the Atlantic with Cedar Key on the Gulf. David Levy Yulee established the railway and used his influence as a U.S. Senator to gain valuable mail contracts. Travelers and mail headed from New York City and other eastern ports, passed through Fernandina and Cedar Key on their way to New Orleans, Havana, and other Gulf destinations. In preparation for the railway, the present location of the town was laid out on Way Key in 1859. The Parsons and Hale General Store, now the Island Hotel, was built in the same year. On the eve of the Civil War the first train arrived. The war disrupted the railway and commerce while Union troops first raided, and then occupied, the town. In 1867, John Muir made a journey, later famous as his “1000 mile walk to the sea,” from Louisville, Kentucky to Cedar Key, crossing Florida along the railway tracks. In Cedar Key Muir contracted malaria and spent time there before sailing on to Cuba. Muir’s impressions of the area contributed to his later work as founder of the environmental organization, the Sierra Club. In 1865 the Eberhard Faber mill was built on Atsena Otie Key and the Eagle Pencil Company mill was built on Way Key. Both harvested and processed local juniper, known locally as cedar, for pencil production. In 1868 the Florida Railroad resumed operation.

photos: by Sean Dowie, bird carving photo at right courtesy Joni Hoffman


Joni Hoffman’s award-winning carved wooden birds, at right, can be found at the Cedar Keyhole.

Cedar Key Area Chamber of Commerce

618 Second Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-5600 Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri: 9 am-1 pm, Sun: 10 am-2 pm


FESTIVALS: Cedar Key Star Party (date to be announced) April: Old Florida Celebration of the Arts May: Small Boat Meet

July: Clamerica October: Cedar Key Seafood Festival December: A Cedar Key Christmas

Cedar Key’s history includes a great many setbacks, including storms, hurricanes, and loss of key natural resources. In 1886 and 1896 two events caused great changes: the opening of major railway and port services in Tampa and the 1896 hurricane which killed over 100 people, set fire to the town, destroyed the trees and the pencil mills. With new rail service and a larger port, Tampa went on to grow into the major metropolis it is today. The remaining structures on Atsena Otie Key were moved or abandoned and Cedar Key was to remain the small coastal village it is today. The remnants of the older town on Atsena Otie include stone water cisterns and a graveyard. Ask a guide to take you out by boat to explore the island, which is now protected as a preserve. Turpentine, sponge hooking, oystering and commercial fishing are all industries that have thrived and declined in Cedar Key. The Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge, established by President Hoover in 1923, along with other conserved lands, has attracted bird watchers, artists and vacationers to the area for many years. Most recently, clam farming has become a major success, reinvigorating the town’s economy as a working seacoast community. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



Hard Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) production was introduced in Cedar Key as a result of the state-wide ban on net fishing in the 1990s. Industrious clam farmers, exceptional water quality and the assistance of the Federal SeaGrant program (, FWC (below) and the University of Florida Extension Service have resulted in unqualified success for clam farming in Levy County. Cedar Key is now the leading producer in Florida, one of the top producers in the nation, and Tony’s in Cedar Key won national recognition for the “Best Clam Chowder in the World” (page 91). Hard clam production is carried out in three stages: hatchery, nursery, and grow out. The hatchery is where broodstock clams are raised through the post-set stage to 1mm juveniles, or seed clams. Broodstock are held in tanks and fed a diet of cultured algae. By exposing the stock to alternately chilled and warmed seawater with a suspension of hard clam sperm, the clams spawn. Eggs are sieved and collected and placed in growing tanks, where they develop into larvae. Larvae are also fed in tanks. The type and concentration of algae is important to the success of hatchery production. One of the challenges of clam production is producing large amounts of the appropriate algae in an economic fashion. The nursery stage provides an intermediate environment wherein seed clams can be fed using natural seawater, but are protected from the open environment of the ocean. When seed clams achieve sufficient size they are planted in the Gulf. Net covers are used to reduce predation and ease the harvesting of the fully grown clams.


12170 SR 24, Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-5980 Hours: Mon - Sat 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tours: Daily at 1 p.m. (not on holidays) People from around the world simply rave about the tour of Southern Cross. Learn how clams are hatched, raised in nurseries, fed, and transferred to the clean, sheltered waters of Cedar Key. You may also order clams to be shipped to your home. Southern Cross is one of the largest operations in this city of clams. They plant, harvest, process and ship daily to individual customers and restaurants around the country. Clams are specially packed in temperature controlled containers to guarantee freshness.

SENATOR GEORGE KIRKPATRICK MARINE LABORATORY Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Youth anglers practice catch and release during FWC’s Nature Coast Fishing for Youth in Cedar Key


11350 SW 153 Court, Cedar Key, FL 32625 Next to Number 4 Bridge, SR 24 Hours: Mon - Fri 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. 386-758-0525 The mission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and for the benefit of people. The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) and the Division of Marine Fisheries Management (DMFM) are housed in Cedar Key. At this field lab, FWRI performs research providing information and guidance to protect, conserve, and manage Florida’s marine resources. DMFM offers programs for youth and adults throughout the year to educate the public. Programs include seminars on habitat, fisheries, and marine conservation programs; summer youth fishing programs; field trips for school groups; adult clinics; and angler outreach. Check the website for current programs.

Returning to her home town after many years, Luz Kraujalis was struck by the significant loss of tree cover. The Cedar Key Heritage Tree Inventory was created with professional support from Levy County Forester, IFAS Extension, SRWMD, and Cedar Key agencies. Historical records were used to document which species of trees have survived the recurrent hurricanes and salt air. Volunteers donated over 2000 hours of time. The project has been recognized as a model for communities across Florida and is now the basis for future utility and street projects. Tree protection efforts are now joined with an extensive tree planting campaign based on the knowledge of what type of trees are best suited for the Cedar Key environment. Cedar Key Heritage Tree Inventory used historical photos of the town to identify surviving trees.

”Through government leadership and community participation, we will preserve these islands and become a model for energy awareness, conservation and sustainability.” Mission Statement, Cedar Key Energy Advisory Panel A hardy lot, Cedar Key residents have adapted to hurricanes, fire, wars, and changing patterns of commerce. Repeated dependence upon, and destruction of, key environmental resources have required continual searches for new means of livelihood. The switch from a small fishing village to a major producer of hard clams is a very recent achievement that is highly dependent upon clean water. Travellers who enjoy the area’s pristine surroundings provide an excellent complement to aquaculture. Cedar Key’s leaders are determined to maintain the environment that makes these businesses possible. In a story they are dubbing “Clamelot,” Cedar Key has reversed its fortunes with a comprehensive view to a sustainable future. Recent milestones include:

• Decommissioning of all septic systems on the islands • 300% increase in recycling • Installation of solar electric panels on the Community Center • Light shields to prevent light pollution of the sea coast The Advisory Board teamed up with the Suwannee River Water Management District to put every building in Cedar Key on municipal sewer lines, greatly increasing coastal water quality. There are now six “grid connected” solar panel sites in the Central Florida Electric Coop service area and four of those are in Cedar Key! The Advisory Panel is working with CFEC to expand solar capability. Cedar Key’s new recycling program includes recycle bins on every public trash can, new recycling center, and a door to door campaign to inform every resident. Visitors will find recycling information on magnets in Community Center solar panels feed every hotel and rental room on the island. into the electric grid.

7060 “C” Street, Cedar Key, Florida

“We are the bulldogs of the working waterfront and protecting our water as an environmental jewel.” Mayor Sue Colson Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Cedar Key


12231 SW 166th Ct. 352-543-5350 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Thur - Mon, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

The museum contains exhibits that portray Cedar Key’s colorful 19th century history as a thriving port city and railroad center. Seashells and Indian artifacts are on display that were collected by Saint Clair Whitman, the founder of the first museum in Cedar Key. Whitman’s house is located in the park and has been restored to reflect life in the 1920s. A short nature trail gives visitors the opportunity to see wildlife and birds, as well as native vegetation. Ospreys, red-belly woodpeckers, and green tree frogs can be seen on the museum grounds and along the walking trail.


609 Second Street 352-543-5549 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Sun - Fri, 1 - 4 p.m., Sat, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. The renovated Lutterloh Building, c. 1870s, and Andrews House, c. 1890s, house new exhibits that highlight the importance of Cedar Key in its long history. Originally a mill house on Atsena Otie Key, the Andrews House contains exhibits of the Florida Peninsula Railroad and the Standard Manufacturing Company. Owned by the Andrews family, the company produced Donax palm fiber brooms and brushes that supplied the entire U.S. prior to the introduction of synthetic fibers in the 1950s.

SEAHORSE KEY Accessible by boat, July 1 - Feb 28 Beach access only; interior of island closed at all times. Cedar Key Light Station, open 3rd weekend of Oct. and July 4th. Info: The lighthouse on Seahorse Key stands at the highest point on Florida’s Gulf coast and was in operation from 1854 to 1952. Today Seahorse Key supports one of the largest colonial bird rookeries in North Florida. During the nesting period, March 1 through June 30, the island and a 300-foot buffer zone around the island are closed to all public entry. Be sure to hire a guide in Cedar Key to take you out to Seahorse and ask for the story of the mystery of the island.


Historic vault doors, left, in the Drummond Community Bank feature vignettes of Cedar Key. Above, Cedar Key Light Station on Seahorse Key. photos: Sean Dowie, inset above, Florida State Archives.


4051 “D” Street (Highway 24 at 6th Street) 352-543-5198 800-729-0297 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm Cross the veranda of this picturesque old home and enjoy the quality canvas products produced on the premises since 1986. Individually cut and sewn duffles, totes, purses, backpacks and softside luggage are produced in heavy canvas and tapestries. Take home quality canvas from this seaside town: Handcrafted Purses, Totes, Duffles, Luggage and Backpacks


Second and D Street 352-543-6789 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Situated in the heart of Cedar Key, the Curmudgeon stocks a host of books that will inform your stay in Florida, and provide entertainment on your travels. Travel, nature, history, art, hiking trails, non-fiction are all covered. The store is delightfully organized with books easy to find. Games, puzzles and book-related gifts are also available. High speed internet access available on site.


598 2nd Street 352-543-0860 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Next door to the bookstore is this very popular local favorite. Stop by for great pizza and sandwiches before or after hitting the beach!


810 3rd Street 352-543-9000 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Built in 1880 by the Eagle Cedar Mill, this historic property features 7 rooms and 2 suites with distinctive personalities. Amenities include paddle fans, central air, private baths and the most comfortable beds this side of heaven. Sumptuous breakfast is served each morning. Enjoy Gulf views from the solitude of the property or take a short stroll 200 feet to the beach. Whether enjoying a honeymoon or a getaway the separate Honeymoon Cottage will bring out the bride in any woman! Butterfly gardens, brick paths and cedar trees are planted under the 350 to 400 year old live oak which graces the property.


360 Dock Street 352-543-5494 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Tues - Sat, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sun, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Online Info at Enjoy home cooking and a great view of the Gulf. Select from inside or outside dining perched high over the water on Dock Street. Ann’s Other Place has been a longtime favorite with residents and visitors alike.


July 4th Snoozer, Acrylic on Canvas, by Mike Segal


Presented annually in April by the Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce For dates and information: A colorful history and stunning setting has inspired artists to live and work in Cedar Key for decades. The annual Cedar Key Art Festival has been held for over 40 years. Now a juried art show, with booth awards and purchase prize money, it brings in talented artists from far and wide. The show is also a true â&#x20AC;&#x153;community affairâ&#x20AC;? with hard work put in by the Chamber of Commerce, citizens and artists committee, Cedar Key Art Center, and volunteers. Make a date with Cedar Key and enjoy sauntering down Main Street while enjoying fine art from a select group of incredibly talented artists. Enjoy all this while taking in tasty fresh local seafood from our seaside restaurants, and beautiful coastal scenery in this unforgettable Old Florida setting.


12720 SR 24 352-543-5999 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sun, noon - 8 p.m. Closed Tuesday Built in 1930 as the Holman Store, this historic building brings fond memories for residents as they come to pick up their order. Visitors as well as residents love the no charge delivery service. The menu offers a great selection of Island Favorite Pizza, pasta dinners, homemade bread, fresh wings and salad. Homemade desserts include chocolate pecan pie, cannolis, and the occasional special. Everything is made to order using the freshest ingredients.


Cedar Key

photos: Sean Dowie

CLAMERICA CELEBRATION annually on July 4th

Journal Page by artist Margaret Pulis Herrick

For dates and information: 352-543-6346 or 352-543-5057 It’s all things clam every 4th of July. Selected as a TOP 20 event by the Southeastern Tourism Society, Clamerica is Cedar Key’s celebration of its newfound status as one of the nation’s top clam producers. The town knows how to throw a party, and you’re invited! Community organizations serve up steamed clams, clams-on-the-half-shell, clam chowder, and clam fritters for all of you clam lovers. Other local seafood specialties include smoked mullet, crab cakes, and fried shrimp. Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn-on-thecob, watermelon, root beer floats, and ice cream round out the fare. For the kids there is the bicycle parade, sand sculpture, clam bag races, clam harvest-hunt, clam races, and the clam-lease (greased) pole climb. The annual Cultured Clam Cook-off showcases new and favorite recipes, along with clam cooking and shucking demonstrations. The Clam Challenge for restaurateurs is a popular event, during which the public is invited to taste and assist a panel of judges in selecting the best dish. Enjoy the kayak race, golf cart parade and clam farming exhibits. Continuous live music in the park is followed by fireworks over the water at dusk.

NATURE’S LANDING CONDOMINIUMS 7041 Depot Street Cedar Key, FL 32625 Have fun, experience nature, relax in luxury. Witness the changing tides, the eagles, ospreys and the colorful sky. Charter a boat and go deep sea fishing. Rent a golf cart and tour the island. Or . . .. just relax by pool side.

Pam Oakley, On Site Rental Manager Office Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily

352-543-9900 Toll Free 1-877-543-9966 Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide

Snoozer, Acrylic on Canvas, by Mike Segal


509 Second Street Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-6677 Hours: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily Thirty prominent local artists bring a distinct island flare to this cooperative gallery. Established in 1995, Island Arts has established a reputation for quality traditional and contemporary work in a variety of media, including painting, jewelry, fabric arts, stained glass, and pottery.

Late Summer Storm, Oil on Canvas, by Robert Goodlett


457 Second Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-5801 Hours: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily Cedar Key has been a haven for artists for decades. In 1977 the Keyhole was organized as an artist cooperative and has become a must stop for those visiting Cedar Key. The gallery offers a broad range of fine arts and handcrafted work created locally, ranging from paintings to pottery, glass, leather, jewelry, silk clothes and fabric, work in wood and metal, stepping stones, unusual birdhouses and the continuation of the Native American art of pine needle baskets. Newly created items are brought in daily, so there is always something new to discover at the Cedar Keyhole. CEDAR KEYHOLE GALLERY: WHERE THEREâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S AN ART SHOW EVERYDAY!

THE TURTLE SHELL 10 Old Mill Road, 10-D Cedar Key, FL 32625 800-767-8354

Occupying a top floor corner at the Old Fennimore Mill Condominiums, this lovely 2 bedroom, 2-bath vacation rental offers peace and quiet and a stunning panorama of Cedar Keyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s salt marshes and the Gulf. 88

photo above: Sean Dowie


Atelier Ten Tails 674 Second Street 352-543-6127 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Saturdays, Noon - 5 p.m. The Journey Daybook, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that is committed to teaching, learning, and sharing the practice of creating illustrated journals, called journey daybooks. This unique, lifeenhancing art form helps people of all ages and situations find and develop personal voice, vision, story, and spirit. The multi-layered journals that are produced by artists and non-artists, alike, include elements of collage, design, drawing, painting, and writing. The Journey Daybook Process is taught and practiced during travel experiences, often in and around Cedar Key.


674 Second Street 352-543-6127 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Saturdays, Noon - 5 p.m. Tour the home studio of painter, book artist, and teacher, Margaret Pulis Herrick. At the atelier, you will find artist’s books, original paintings, reproductions, blank journals, and art supplies, all for sale. The art has been made by Herrick as well as by other members of the Journey Daybook Inc, a non-profit learning cooperative which Peggy directs. The artist also teaches painting, watercolor, and journal techniques in the pristine landscape around Cedar Key.

The Cypress House on 1st Street, Cedar Key –VACATION RENTAL– Accommodates Family of 5 Great “Mom & Dad” Getaway! 2 Day Minimum Week • Month • Season Contact Maureen Nuzzi 856-287-3094 856-753-7259 Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Cedar Key

Hearts of Palm Salad at the Island Hotel, Thirty Clam Special at Coconuts, Key Lime Pie at Frog’s, Clam Chowder at Tony’s








“Live Music Every Weekend”

The Best View Over the Gulf of Mexico loaded with sizzling sunsets, succulent seafood, and of course the “Toadally Awesome” Shrimp Pie. 90

Frog’s Landing Restaurant 490 Dock Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-9243 Hours: Thurs - Sun 11 a.m until late


373 Second Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-5111 800-432-4640 Built in 1859, this old Florida style Inn features ten distinctive rooms with private baths. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this romantic getaway has been witness to 150 years of history and celebrities. Jimmie Buffet often serenaded passers-by from the upstairs veranda. The dining room features fresh local seafood, the Hotel’s original Heart of Palm Salad, delectable crab bisque and superb steak filet. Desserts, soups and dressings are made in house using only the freshest local ingredients. Perfect for courtyard weddings & dinner receptions.

< The famed Neptune Bar at the historic Island Hotel

Feast on the best clam chowder in the world, fresh Gulf seafood, and dishes unique to Cedar Key RECIPES TO TRY AT HOME ON PAGE 94


597 2nd Street 352-543-0022 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Sun - Thurs 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. Fri - Sat 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. On June 6, 2009 Tony’s competed at the 28th Annual Schweppes Great Chowder Cook-off in Newport, RI. Thousands of chowder lovers sampled chowders from all over the world. With all the votes counted, Tony’s Cedar Key Clam Chowder came in first and was crowned Clam Chowder World Champion. Tony’s makes its winning chowder fresh every day. Stop in and dine in the historic 1880s Hale Building, or call and order fresh chowder shipped in specialty containers to anywhere in the continental US.


590 Dock Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-6390 352-543-0668 Coconuts, “home of the 30 clam special” sports tavern with billiards, darts and seven TVs to keep you entertained. Walk through Cedar Key Cycles to The Rusty Rim perched right over the gulf. Both establishments are located on the dock with one of the best views in town. Throw your line over and fish on the private fishing deck, listen to live music, watch the dolphins and the sunsets. This is island life the way you imagined it!

Photos both pages: Sean Dowie Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Scrub Jay, Photo: Bob Blanchard


Supports all things Natural, Wild and Free

Gail MacLeod (heron)

A rare Birding & Wildlife Experience awaits you on our Pure Water Treasures

CEDAR KEY SCRUB State Reserve SR24, 5 miles east of Cedar Key Hours: 8 a.m. - sunset 352-543-5567

photos by Sean Dowie (background), Bill Kilborn (kayaks),


You can find us every day at the City Beach & Park, 1st and A Streets in the quaint fishing village of Cedar Key from 10 am to 6 pm daily


– Kayak Cedar Keys, 8085 A Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 –

Salt marshes on the Gulf of Mexico give way to a succession of swamps, hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, and scrub, providing splendid opportunities for nature study and wildlife observation. The endangered scrub jay (photo, above) makes its home here. The scrub is dominated by species such as sand live oak, myrtle oak, and Chapman’s oak, along with rusty lyonia and saw palmetto. Hikers, horseback riders and off-road bicyclists will experience a mosaic of Florida habitats on the miles of trails that wind through the park. Shallow waters and numerous creeks near the salt marshes are ideal for canoeing and kayaking (for rental in Cedar Key). The main trailhead parking area has picnic shelter, tables and grills.

WACCASASSA BAY Preserve State Park

Photo: Luz Kraujalis

Gulf of Mexico, Water Access Only 352-543-5567 Hours: 8 a.m. - sunset Accessible only by boat, this preserve is a favorite of anglers because it boasts both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Extensive salt marshes and tidal creeks create habitats for saltwater fish, crabs and shellfish. The park’s uplands protect a remnant of the Gulf Hammock that once spanned thousands of acres between the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers. Endangered and threatened species including West Indian manatees, bald eagles, American alligators and Florida black bears live or feed within the Preserve. Although there are no marked foot trails, nature enthusiasts can enjoy wildlife viewing from canoe or kayak. Four primitive campsites on the Preserve are accessible only by private boat and available on a first-come first-served basis. Boat access is from Cedar Key, CR 40 in Yankeetown, and CR 326 in Gulf Hammock.

Wild Florida Adventures Paddling/Hiking/Exploring Brack Barker Kayak Guide/Instructor PO Box 626 Williston, FL 32696 352-528-3984 (office) (ofc) 352-226-2251 (cell)

“Cedar Keys, October 23. To-day I reached the sea. While I was yet many miles back in the palmy woods, I caught the scent of the salt sea breeze which, although I had so many years lived far from sea breezes, suddenly conjured up Dunbar, its rocky coast, winds and waves; my whole childhood, that seemed to have utterly vanished in the New World, was now restored amid the Florida woods by that one breath from the sea. . . . For nineteen years my vision was bounded by forests, but today, emerging from a multitude of tropical plants, I beheld the Gulf of Mexico stretching away unbounded, except by the sky. What dreams and speculative matter for thought arose as I stood on the strand, gazing out on the burnished, treeless plain!” John Muir, Nature writings: the story of my boyhood and youth . . . essays, publ. 1913


Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge From Hwy. 347, travel west on Highway 326 for about 3 miles Hours: 8 a.m. - sunset

The mound was created by Archaic Period Eastern Woodland Indian cultures by discarding oyster and clam shells for at least 1,000 years from about 450 to 1,800 years ago. At one time shells were used for road construction, but the mound is now under protection. The park is ideal for bird-watching, serene nature trails, and kayak launching. The ocean here is shallow and calm. Enjoy the tranquility, or head five miles up coast to the Suwannee River or paddle an hour for wilderness camping on Clark Island. The adjacent county park offers 20 campsites with water and power hookups and 10 primitive camping sites. Restroom, shower facilities and RV dump station. Boat ramp and fish cleaning area. Volleyball, basketball. Camping Info: (352) 221-4466

The vista at Shell Mound.

Photo: Tomes Rabold


576 Dock Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-5904 Hours: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. with some seasonal variation Cedar Key’s original tour company provides scenic boat cruises and rentals. Island Hopper offers island drop off, sunset cruises, sand dollar trips, weddings, private parties, and spreading ashes. Tours include a visit to Atsena Otie Key, where the town was first settled, as well as viewing the lighthouse on Seahorse Key. Knowledgeable captains discuss the history and ecology of our unique community. Enjoy our plush new pontoon boat, “The Queen,” our unique tour boat that can carry 20 passengers in less than a foot of water -- ideal for the shallow waters off Cedar Key. Head over to “A” Street by the park, at the east end of Dock Street. Go Island Hopping! Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide



Getting Around Island Style

Small boat designers, sailors and enthusiasts have converged here for over 20 years. The boat meet has never had organization, except tides and weather. It’s an ardent but fanciful gathering of friends and their boats among the keys, channels and oyster bars the first weekend in May. There are no events, signups, or fees. But three congregation places have evolved. Friday evening, the Treats open their home to all in blatant hospitality. The best chance to see most of the boats and people together is Saturday morning, on Atsena Otie Key’s north beach. Saturday night, the West Coast Trailer Sailors’ Squadron has a barbecue. For paddlers and shoal draft sailors it’s endearing because it has a place for everyone, in almost any combination of tide and wind. So what’s better than a scamper in shallow draft nirvana, with old or new friends?

Park your car, slow down, and experience Cedar Key on island time. Electric scooters, bicycles and golf carts can be rented. On the water take a cruise, hire a boat and a guide, or head out on a kayak adventure.

Photos: Top left, Hugh Horton; all others, Sean Dowie

by Hugh Horton


Golf Cart Rental Tom Duggan:

1st and A Street 352-543-5300

Rustic Farms Historical Cedar Key Carriage Tours By appointment or at the dock on weekends. Contact Jeanne & James: 352-615-3961 or 352-486-6416 Cedar Key Rickshaw will pedal you around paradise 352-477-9012 Pick up from your room, Island Tours, Historical, Ghost and Eco Tours

Hearts of Palm Salad The Sabal Palm, also known as the Cabbage Palm, is the state tree of Florida. The palm grows in great abundance in the vicinity of Cedar Key and once provided masses of fiber for the Donax brushes shipped from the area for use across the United States. It is difficult to obtain fresh palm hearts outside of Florida and the canned version does not provide the full flavor and texture of the fresh hearts.

This is the traditional Cedar Key recipe. The Island Hotel serves the salad with fresh fruit according to the season Bed of Lettuce Peaches, Pineapple and Sugared Dates Fresh Hearts of Palm Top with a Dressing of: 1 part vanilla ice cream 1 part lime sherbet 1/8 part peanut butter 1/8 part mayonnaise Freeze dressing and dollop on top of lettuce, fruit and hearts of palm.

Unbaked pastry for 9-inch 2-crust pie (see step 1 below) Dash of ground cloves 1 3/4 lbs. green tomatoes, thinly sliced 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. grated lemon rind 1 1/4 cups sugar 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons water 1/2-teaspoon cinnamon 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/4-teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4-teaspoon salt 1. Roll out half the pastry; line a 9-inch pie plate; place in freezer until ready to use. Thanks to Carol McQueen, Levy County Visitors Bureau, 2. Place tomato slices in a shallow dish. Add boiling water to cover, let stand for 5 mins. Drain well, and set aside. 3. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves; stir well, and set aside. 4. Combine lemon rind, lemon juice, and water in a small bowl; set aside. 5. Place half of green tomato slices in pastry shell; sprinkle with half of sugar mixture. Drizzle evenly with half of the lemon juice mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Repeat one more layer with remaining ingredients. REAL ESTATE OFFICER • SALES & RENTALS 6. Roll remaining half of pastry to 1/8-inch-thickness; cut into 1/2-inch strips. Arrange pastry strips in a lattice 352-543-0809 design over green tomato mixture. Trim off excess pastry along edges. Fold edges under and crimp. 8030 “A” Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 7. Bake at 425*F (220*C) for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serves 6 - 8.

Green Tomato Pie

VISITCEDARKEY.COM SEASPRAY TOWNHOUSES AT CEDAR KEY 509 First Street 352-318-2311 P.O. Box 584 352-543-5556 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Stay in Cedar Key within convenient walking distance of all shops, restaurants and attractions. Enjoy an island getaway for a weekend, a week, a month or a season. Each spacious unit offers two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen with microwave and dishwasher, comfortable living room with TV/VCR/DVD, on site laundry, gas grill, 2 private parking spaces, and private balcony with sunrise views.

Seahorse Landing Condominiums of Cedar Key

daily weekly monthly rentals Luxury 2 bdr/2 bath condos on the gulf Large private balcony Fully equipped modern kitchen pool • jacuzzi • wifi pier & boat dock • exercise room 706-485-7586 Our website is open 24/7 — Condo is available by reservation offers information on boating, fishing, dining, day trips, and much more. Whether you’re planning a visit, or you’re already on the island relaxing, the site offers just the right amount of information. Tranquility and Serenity are your vacation 2 bedroom/2 bath condos, on the water and fully equipped for your comfort and convenience. Call or check the website to reserve your time on Cedar Key, where the hospitality and traditions of Old Florida are still alive and well. Experience the best eco-tourism Cedar Key has to offer while you enjoy the convenience of Tranquility and Serenity.

Over 40 Cedar Key vacation rentals • Waterfront • on the island • cottages efficiencies condos 877-514-5096

Natures Landing Management Co., inc. 7050 C Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625 877-832-9161 Pamela McCormick, Broker – J.D. & Pam McCormick, owners – Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide 95

Inglis & Yankeetown Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce

167 Hwy 40 West, Inglis, FL 34449



PINE LODGE Bed & Breakfast

649 Hwy 40 West 352-447-7463 Inglis, FL 34449 Let innkeepers Edwin and Lea share the breathtaking natural beauty of Inglis and Yankeetown as you enjoy an unmatched level of hospitality and service. Natives of England, they have established a delightful, green-certified bed and breakfast in a 1940s home and surrounding cottages. Together, they provide intimacy, privacy and luxury in which you can unwind in a warm and comfortable atmosphere. Gardens, screened pool, gazebo and gracious formal dining room add to your experience. Arrangements can be made for fishing, golfing, boating or snorkeling excursions, spa treatments, or all the details of a family reunion or destination wedding.


Photos: top: Sean Dowie; right: Original movie poster

April, Nature Coast Thunder Rally May, Withlacoochee Wilderness Challenge Canoe and Kayak Race November, Seafood Festival 352-564-0315 or 352-219-4578 November, Withlacoochee Blue Grass Festival 352-465-1842

The small towns of Inglis and Yankeetown hug the banks of the Withlacoochee River, a tidal river designated an “Outstanding Florida Waterway.” One of two rivers of the same name, the Withlacoochee (South) originates in Florida’s giant Green Swamp, and flows north and then east to the Gulf. Translated “little great river” or “little river runs deep,” this enchanting waterway completes its journey among innumerable side creeks, sloughs, islands and salt marshes. With few exceptions the area is under protection to preserve the abundance of artifacts from Native cultures, ancient mounds, native plants, wildlife and birds. This is a paradise for paddling, fishing, and birding. Swallowtail kites, bald eagles, hawks, wood storks, ospreys, roseate spoonbills and a variety of herons, egrets and shore birds abound.


Way back at “the end of the road” (Hwy 40 West at the Gulf ) Elvis Presley made the movie “Follow That Dream” in 1961. A lot of the movie was filmed at the bridge that goes over Bird Creek. Continue to the end to experience a magnificent sunset.

1001 Old Rock Road, Yankeetown, FL 34498 352-447-5439 Hours: 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. daily This 413-acre preserve features a museum, educational center, observation tower, and canoe/kayak dock. Purchased by the town of Yankeetown, the trails, kiosks, native gardens and other amenities have been created through the work of teachers and middle school students from the Yankeetown School. The preserve is an excellent opportunity to experience the beauty of Florida’s estuarine wild lands, including lakes, streams, pine and hardwood forests, wet lands and salt marshes.

SUNRISE OUTPOST 6027 Hwy 40 West 352-447-5655 352-447-5285 Yankeetown, FL 34498 Restaurant Hours: Thursday - Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. with seasonal variation Kayak Sales and Rentals: Tuesday - Sunday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Call Ahead for Kayak Reservations, Guided Fishing Trips, or Guided Eco-Tours Kayaks and BBQ—what a great combo! This is where you will find unusually fine BBQ where the locals meet and eat. Friendly folk and lots of good food. Two kayak guides are available, one for salt or freshwater fishing and one for touring rivers, creeks or islands. View aerial maps before setting out. Sunrise can make arrangements to deliver and pick up kayaks to the ramp of your choice in the area. Half and full day rentals are available. Single kayaks are 13 foot; one 16 foot tandem available. Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide


Great Egret, photo by Sean Dowie 98




Reframing the Nature of Education • • • • • •

Education is exciting Kids want to engage in relevant learning experiences Schools are natural centers for community activity Students want a civic voice; advocating for their communities and the environment There can be a bridge from campus and community, to higher education and jobs Everyone benefits when curriculum is “place based”

WE KNOW THIS IS POSSIBLE because it’s happening right here.

At Fort White Middle and High School in Columbia County, a dynamic partnership is creating a national education model. Administrators, faculty and students at Fort White, the Ichetucknee Springs State Park and Florida’s Eden are partnering with county and state agencies, the local business community, and environmental, civic and cultural organizations, pooling collective resources to pioneer an education model which is successfully tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time. Now in its fifth year, the outcomes are already amazing. When science students launch a canoe at the headwaters of the Ichetucknee to film the river for a virtual tour; or, when a math class meets to engineer a canoe-maran for the State Park; they aren’t thinking about making history or solving the country’s education dilemmas. They’re excited about the day ahead: being outdoors, working as a team, and just having fun. The river is their classroom—the Park their laboratory. It’s just an average day at school. WE NEED YOUR HELP Students at Fort White are making history every day. We need your help to take this program to schools throughout North Florida and the nation. Florida’s Eden is committed to the steps required to evaluate and replicate this education model. Your contribution will impact our environment, our education system and our economy. Invest in the future. INVEST IN THE FUTURE To learn more about making a contribution, please contact Annie Pais, Executive Director, Florida’s Eden: 352-377-0777 or Florida’s Eden is a non-profit 501c3 educational organization; Your donation is a tax deductible charitable contribution.

Top to bottom: Students on location at the Ichetucknee, producing the first virtual tour of a Florida State park; at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville; outdoor class at the Ichetucknee Springs State Park; student display, right: research canoe built by Fort White students. photos by Annie Pais




creative | krē’ātiv | noun

1. A resident of Florida’s Eden who contributes originality and innovation to community and profession 2. A species of human with multiple and original talents (found in unusually large numbers in thirty counties of North Florida) 3. An ambassador for North Florida’s heritage and environment


Atelier Ten Tails 674 Second Street 352-543-6127 Cedar Key, FL 32625 Hours: Saturdays, Noon - 5 p.m. This guide was produced by members of Florida’s Eden, who live here in North Florida. The writers, photographers, painters, and chefs who contributed material live The Journey Daybook, Inc. is and a non-work among the springs, rivers and forests of Florida’s Eden. What’s extraordinary profit corporation that is committed is that to teaching, learning, and sharing the these same creative people also explore our underground caves, calculate river flow practice of creating illustrated journals,levels, manage farms, and guide people along our wilderness waterways. The very called journey daybooks. This unique, life- folks are creating ground-breaking education systems, installing solar panels, same enhancing art form helps people of all ages and planting longleaf pines. Where can you find these incredible people? and situations find and develop personal They’re all in the Florida’s Eden SOURCE, Florida’s pre-eminent directory of voice, vision, story, and spirit. theareinnovation economy. The multi-layered journals that produced by artists and non-artists, alike, include elements of collage, design, drawing, painting, and writing. The Journey Daybook Process is taught and practiced during travel experiences, often in and around Cedar Key. SEARCH THE SOURCE BECOME A PART OF THE


Florida’s Eden Membership offers valuable benefits. In addition to your listing in the SOURCE, get your own web page, promotional tools, e-commerce, and tech support. Check our website to join or contact us. Jerry Benefield musician John Moran Photographer Adventure Outpost Guide & Outfitters

Herlong Mansion Bed & Breakfast Journey Daybook Arts Non-profit Ameena Khan Painter Calligrapher

Nancy Moskovitz Painter Don Geiger Woodworker Johnny Dame Artist & Musician

Diane Farris Photographer Cedar Keyhole Artists Cooperative Trish Beckham Painter

Steve Earl Author of Ichetucknee Jacquelyne Collett Glass Artist Patchwork Music Ensemble

Cookie Davis Sculptor Linda Blondheim Painter Crone’s Cradle Eco-Preserve & Farm

Kayak Cedar Keys Guides & Outfitters Lissa Friedman Painter Marion Hylton Painter

Levy County Quilt Museum Bettianne Ford Photographer Sam Saxon Painter

Florida's Eden Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide  
Florida's Eden Pure Water Wilderness Scenic Guide  

Your Inside Guide tothe Sparkling Springs, Pristine Rivers and Enchanting Gulf of Gilchrist, Levy and Dixie Counties, Florida