Suwannee River State Park
A bench overlooks a peaceful
bend of the river at Suwannee
River State Park near Live
Oak.
The Upper Suwannee River
The river flows down from
Georgia's Okefenokee
Swamp.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites on the Suwannee River
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites on the Suwannee River
Suwannee River - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
The Suwannee River at White Springs
A view of the Suwannee River taken from the
grounds of the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center
State Park in White Springs, Florida.
Florida's Famed Suwannee River
Since Stephen Foster wrote his famed song
Suwannee River in the years before the Civil
War, Florida's Suwannee River has captured
the imagination of millions of people around
the world.

Foster never actually saw the stream that he
immortalized in verse, but generations of
other Americans have admired the beautiful
river. Drawn by the composer's haunting
melody, they have left with an appreciation for
the natural beauty and rich history of the
Suwannee.

It is a bit appropriate that the river rises deep
in Georgia's mysterious Okefenokee Swamp.
From there it winds its way south into Florida
to end at the Gulf of Mexico. Its total length is
estimated to be about 266 miles.

The water of the Suwannee, especially along
its upper reaches, is dark and closely
resembles tea. This is because it is colored
by the harmless tannins leached from
decaying leaves along its course. The color
diminishes as the river flows to the Gulf,
thanks to numerous spectacular springs that
add to its volume.

There are various theories as to the source
of the name "Suwannee." There are no
swans on the Suwannee River. Some
believe the name is of Native American
origin, although there are different theories
as to which nation and what it means.

Another intriguing theory is that it "Suwannee"
is actually a corruption of the Spanish words
San Juan. Early Spanish explorers and
missionaries referred to the river as the
"Little San Juan," a name that remained in
use until around 1800.

The Suwannee is rich in history. Native
Americans lived along its banks for
thousands of years before the arrival of
Europeans in North America. Some of the
oldest artifacts ever found in Florida have
come from the Suwannee Valley.

Hernando de Soto built a bridge to cross the
river in 1539 and in later years Franciscan
missionaries became quite familiar with the
stream as they made their way back and forth
along the "Old Spanish Trail" to the
missions
built among the Apalachee Indians that lived
around present-day Tallahassee.
Mission
San Luis was the primary of these and has
been beautifully reconstructed.

By the early 1800s the Suwannee was the
location of Old Town, one of the principal
villages of the Seminole Indians. Andrew
Jackson attacked and destroyed the town
during the First Seminole War of 1817-1818.
The early 19th century saw a rise of
commerce on the river. Paddlewheel boats
made their way up and down the Suwannee,
moving people and commerce. Towns such
as the now vanished village of
Columbus
grew along its banks.

The railroad bridge over the Suwannee River
at Columbus was one of the targets of the
Olustee Campaign during the Civil War and
the Confederates built forts there to protect
the crossing.

The Suwannee River is now a major
destination for eco-tourism. People canoe
and boat on the pristine waters or hike along
its banks. Parks and historic sites abound
along the entire length of the river from its
source in the Okefenokee Swamp to its
mouth at the Gulf of Mexico.

To learn more about historic sites and points
of interest along the Suwannee, please
follow the links below.
Stephen Foster Memorial
A beautiful carillon tower
soars over the Suwannee at
the Stephen Foster Folk
Culture Center.
White Springs
The remains of an old spring
house can still be seen at
White Springs, once a major
health resort on the banks of
the Suwannee River.
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Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: June 12, 2012