< Points of Interest

Wakulla Springs

Wakulla Springs State Park is located in Wakulla County in north Florida, 14 miles south of Tallahassee, the State capital. It is located on State Road 267 at State Road 61. Wakulla County, which includes Wakulla Springs, was established from a portion of Leon County in 1843. Wakulla is probably of Indian derivation. It may contain the word kala, meaning "spring of water" in some Indian dialects or wahkola, meaning "loon" in Hitchiti, a language of the Creek Indians. Another reported origin of the spring's name is that it comes from a Seminole word that most likely means "Mysteries of Strange Water."

Wakulla Springs State Park, as we know it today, started taking form when financier Edward Ball built a Spanish-style lodge and resort in 1937, and eventually the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks, took over control and maintenance of the park.

The Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park spans 2,860 acres, with the bowl of the spring covering approximately three acres. This is one of the world's largest and deepest freshwater springs. The water temperature remains relatively constant year-round at about 70 degrees. The spring forms the head of the Wakulla River, which flows through old-growth cypress swamps. In the upland portion of the park, floodplain and hardwood forests are present. The spring recorded a record peak flow on April 11, 1973. The flow was measured at 14,325 gallons per second; this is equal to 1.2 billion gallons per day. The network of caves and the spring cavern have been explored to depths of 300 feet and a distance of 1200 feet. Professional dive teams have found that the cavern branches into four conduits, but the source of the spring still remains a mystery. Fossilized mastodon bones can be seen in the spring depths from glassbottom boats. These fossilized remains were reported in 1850 by Sarah Smith, and scientific interest in the springs has dramatically increased since then. Scientists have identified the remains of at least nine other extinct Ice Age mammals.

Copyright © 2010 The Florida Geographic Alliance