Blue Springs Recreational Area - Marianna, Florida
Blue Springs, Florida
Also called Jackson Blue
Spring, the first magnitude
spring is both beautiful and
historic.
Blue Springs Recreational Area
The beautiful first magnitude spring is located near
Marianna, Florida, and flows at an average rate of
76 million gallons of water per day.
Merritts Mill Pond
The pond is a major scenic
and recreational resource in
Jackson County, Florida. Its
primary source is Blue
Springs.
Divers at Blue Springs
The vast system of
underwater caves at Blue
Springs is a major attraction
for scuba divers. Two can be
seen here surfacing after an
exploration of the main spring.
Blue Springs Recreational Area - Marianna, Florida
A Landmark of Florida History
A magnificent first magnitude spring noted
for its crystal clear water and spectacular
underwater caves, Blue Springs near
Marianna holds a major place in Florida
history.

The Northwest Florida Water Management
District, which calls it Jackson Blue Spring to
differentiate it from other Blue Springs in
Florida, reports that the spring flows at an
average rate of 76 million gallons of water a
day. With five other smaller springs, Blue
Springs feeds Merritts Mill Pond, a major
scenic and recreational resource in Jackson
County, Florida.

The head spring, which is the focal point of a
park maintained by the Jackson County
Parks & Recycling Department, has long
been a key landmark in Northwest Florida.

Archaeological evidence from the vicinity
indicates that Blue Springs was well known
in prehistoric times. Early Native American
hunters frequented the forests and prairies
that surrounded the magnificent fountain
centuries before the arrival of white settlers.
An important Indian trail led from the Natural
Bridge of the Chipola River to the head of the
Apalachicola River by way of Blue Springs.

The first Spanish explorers to enter the area
followed this trail and marveled at the head
spring as they passed by on their way to the
Chacato Indian villages west of the Chipola.
The first recorded such expedition to pass
Blue Springs consisted of Fray Alonso del
Moral, the provincial minister, with three of
his Franciscan priests as well as Lieutenant
Andres Peres and three Spanish soldiers.

The expedition passed the spring, which they
called Calistoble or Calutoble, in June of
1674. One of the Franciscan priests, Fray
Rodrigo de la Barreda, described Blue
Springs in his journal a few years later:

...The spring is entirely surrounded by woods,
with many walnut, evergreen oak, laurel,
common oak, sassafras and some pine
trees; around it are numerous huge rocks
and habitable caves frequented by the
Indians on their hunting trips for bear, deer
and buffalo, of which there is an abundance.

Barreda's description of buffalo in Northwest
Florida is remarkable. The legendary
American Bison once ranged across much of
Florida, but was exterminated through over-
hunting.

The Spanish visited the spring often,
mentioning it in journals and reports of
expeditions that passed through in 1674,
1676, 1686 and 1693. When the British
assumed control of Florida in 1763, one of
their earliest reports of road conditions in
Northwest Florida mentioned the trail that
passed by Blue Springs.

Blue Springs Recreational Area is the
location of two stops on the new Jackson
County Spanish Heritage Trail.
Please click
here for more information.

The head spring was visited in 1818 by a
future President of the United States, Major
General Andrew Jackson. The U.S. Army was
then engaged in a conflict with the Red Stick
Creeks and Seminoles that is remembered
today as the First Seminole War.

Jackson reached Blue Springs, which by
then was called "Big Spring," on the evening
of May 10, 1818, with an army of 1,092 men.
He camped at the spring that night and his
topographer, Major Hugh Young, described it
as being "forty yards in diameter and of a
considerable depth with a rock bottom and
clean rapid current." Many of the soldiers in
Jackson's army would soon return to
become Jackson County's first American
settlers.

The first settler to establish a home at Blue
Springs was William Pyles, who later filed a
land claim indicating that he had settled
there before 1821, when Florida was still a
Spanish colony. His land was soon acquired
by Major William Robinson, who arrived from
Georgia to establish a 3,100 acre cotton
plantation in the rich lands surrounding Blue
Springs.

Robinson built his plantation manor on the
hill overlooking the head spring and even
devised a unique system of buckets and
pulleys to bring water up from the spring. His
presence at the spring led local settlers to
begin calling the place "Robinson's Big
Spring," a name it would hold for a number of
years.
In 1845-1847, the Robinson plantation was
transferred to the ownership of John Milton,
who was connected by marriage to the
original owner. Milton eventually acquired
more than 6,000 acres surrounding Blue
Springs and the farm was renamed
Sylvania
Plantation.

John Milton was elected Governor of Florida
in 1860. By the time he took officer in the fall
of 1861, Florida had seceded from the Union
and the Civil War was underway. Sylvania
became a place of refuge for the governor's
family and friends, even taking in refugee
slaves from as far away as South Carolina.

A permanent Confederate camp was
established at the main spring, which by now
had acquired its Blue Springs name, in 1862.
The camp included permanent buildings, a
parade ground and other necessary facilities.
In September of 1864, it was from here that
Captain Robert Chisolm's cavalry company
of the Alabama State Militia rode to fight in the
Battle of Marianna.

In the years after the Civil War, Blue Springs
became a popular spot for picnics and old
fashioned Baptizings. The cold clear water
and beautiful surroundings made it an ideal
recreational spot.

The spring today is part of Blue Springs
Recreational Area, a park operated by
Jackson County. The park is currently open
on weekends until M
ay 29 then seven days a
week through Labor Day. The admission
price is $2 per person. Season passes are
available.

Blue Springs is also a major destination for
scuba divers. The magnificent but often
dangerous underwater caves draw divers
from around the world.

To learn more, please click here to visit the
Cave Adventurers site.

The firm holds a year-round concession to
assist divers interested in exploring the
spring.

To reach Blue Springs from downtown
Marianna, follow U.S. 90 East for 1.4 miles
and then turn left (North) on State Highway
71. Follow Highway 71 for 1.1 miles and turn
right on Blue Springs Road (County Road
164). The entrance to the park will be 3.3
miles ahead on your right.

Other points of interest in the Marianna area
include the city's numerous historic homes,
St. Luke's Episcopal Church and the scene
of the
Battle of Marianna, the "haunted" Russ
House, which is open to the public, Florida
Caverns State Park and the unique little
community of
Two Egg, Florida.

Jackson County is also home to more than
60 natural springs as well as the beautiful
Chipola River, a state paddling trail.

Please click here to visit Jackson County's
official Blue Springs page.
Blue Springs from the Air
The spring is a remarkable
sight when viewed from the
air. The crystal clear water
allows a perfect view all the
way to the bottom.
Rich in Southern History
Spanish moss frames the
historic spring. Over the
centuries, Indian hunters,
Spanish explorers, British
traders, General Andrew
Jacskon and Florida's
Confederate governor have all
tasted its waters.
Blue Springs Recreational Area
Schedule for 2014
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Copyright 2012, 2013 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated:
May 22, 2014
BLUE SPRINGS
OPEN MAY 24-26
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

OPEN SEVEN DAYS PER WEEK
May 31 through Labor Day

Gates open 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Water open 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Pavilion Rental Info:
850-482-2114 or 850-718-0437
Blue Springs Mini-Documentary!