Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blue Springs Recreational Area - Marianna, Florida

Because they were sources of cool, clear water, history often revolved around Florida's beautiful natural springs. Blue Springs near Marianna, for example, have a documented history dating back more than 300 years.

Archaeologically, the spring area was occupied even earlier than that. Early Native American hunters frequented the area around Blue Springs because it was a rich habitat for wildlife, fish and plants. The numerous caves in the vicinity have revealed evidence of having been used as campsites for early hunting parties.

The first written references to the spring date from the 1600s. Spanish missionaries passed what they called Calistoble or Calutoble Spring on their way to establish missions among the Chacato Indians (not to be confused with the Choctaw), who lived in western Jackson and eastern Washington and Holmes Counties. The missions lasted only for a year until the Franciscan friars were driven out in an uprising in 1675. The Spanish sent a military force into the area in 1676 to punish those responsible for the rebellion and to burn the homes and fields of the warring faction of the Chacato.

The spring was visited again in 1693 when it was a campsite on the overland journey of Governor-Designate Don Laureano de Torres de Ayala, who completed the first recorded crossing of the Florida Panhandle from the Apalachicola River to Pensacola Bay. Journals from that expedition describe the crystal clear water of the spring and buffalo grazing in the surrounding area.

In 1818, the spring was a stop on General Andrew Jackson's march from Fort Gadsden on the Apalachicola River to Pensacola. The First Seminole War was then underway, but Jackson's soldiers took time to marvel at the beautiful natural fountain that was by then called "Big Spring" in the account written by the army's topographer.

The first settlers arrived in the area just two years later and the spring became one of the early court sites for Jackson County. William Robinson operated a large plantation there, but in 1845 the property passed into the ownership of his nephew, John Milton, who renamed the farm "Sylvania" and gave the spring the name it bears today.

Milton served as Governor of Florida during the Civil War and a camp for Confederate cavalry was established at the spring. Civil War documents indicate it was occupied for three years.

Blue Springs is today the center of a beautiful recreational area operated by Jackson County. To learn more, please visit

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