ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Ocala, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Ocala, Florida
Ocala, Florida
A glass-bottomed boat glides across beautiful Silver
Springs, the most famous of the many points of
interest in Ocala, Florida.
Silver River Museum
A massive prehistoric beast
welcomes visitors to the
stunning Silver River Museum
in Ocala, Florida.
Site of Fort King
The log stockade was a key
point of the Second Seminole
War and Osceola drew first
blood within sight of its walls.
Fort King Historic District
A stunning array of unique
and charming old homes give
Ocala one of the most special
historic districts in Florida.
Ocala, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
A Crossroads of Florida Heritage
Silver River
The beautiful Silver River,
which rises at Silver Springs
in Ocala, is one of Florida's
most impressive natural
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
For as long as human beings have walked to
sandy soil of Florida, the area that is now
Ocala has been a crossroads of history.

The beautiful natural springs and wildlife rich
ecosystems of the area made it a natural
center of activity for prehistoric Indians, who
left rich traces of their presence throughout
the area. In fact, the name Ocala itself comes
from a Native American origin.

When the Spanish explorer Hernando de
Soto began his march up the peninsula of
Florida in 1539, one of the first major Indian
towns he encountered was Ocale. His visit
was brief and harsh, with many residents of
the Ocale chiefdom being marched away in
chains to serve as slaves to de Soto's men.

Future Spanish influence in the region was
much different. Franciscan missionaries
came here during the 1600s to witness to the
local Indians. Many of them converted to
Christianity. Like most other Florida Indian
groups, however, they were wiped out,
enslaved and scattered during the early
1700s when English led Creek raiders
entered the Spanish colony and destroyed its
famed mission chain.

For many years the Ocala area was almost
completely depopulated, but during the mid-
1700s groups of Creek Indians from Georgia
and Alabama made their way south to occupy
the former Ocale lands. The Spanish called
Cimmerons or "wild ones."  The Creek
languages do not include the letter "R," so
they adapted the term to "Simmelons." Over
time it became the word Seminoles that we
know today.

The Treaty of Moultrie Creek, signed in 1823,
established the Ocala area as the center of a
vast reservation for the Seminole people.
White plans called for the eventual removal of
the entire nation to new homes west of the
Mississippi, but the Seminoles resisted.
King was established at Ocala to assert the
power of the United States.

In December of 1835, resistance turned to
open conflict when a party of warriors led by
Osceola killed Indian agent Wiley Thompson
at Ocala. The attack took place almost under
the walls of Fort King and, combined with the
Dade Battle at what is now Bushnell, ignited
the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).

Much of the combat of the early years of the
war took place in the region around today's
city of Ocala and Fort King took on great
importance as a U.S. Army post. Thousands
of Seminoles were taken away at bayonet
point and moved to what is now Oklahoma in
what became one of the longest wars in
American history.
In 1846 steps were taken to organize a town
at the little frontier settlement that had grown
around Fort King. The railroad arrived in 1881
and brought with it tourists who came to
Florida seeking better health and winter
warmth. Word of the beautiful natural springs
in the vicinity spread and Ocala became a
major destination.

The most popular attraction visited by these
early tourists was
Silver Springs, which
boasted glass-bottomed boats as early as
the 1870s. President Ulysses S. Grant visited
in the 1880s, followed by President Calvin
Coolidge in the 1920s. Silver Springs is a
stunning and popular attraction to this day,
offering visitors the chance to gaze down into
the depths of one of the true natural wonders
of the world.

Ocala is also the center of Florida's famed
thoroughbred horse country. From 1943,
when the first thoroughbred horse farm was
established in Marion County, Ocala has
become the Horse Capital of the World. The
industry creates 44,000 jobs and generates
over $2 billion dollars for the local economy.

Please click here to visit the Ocala Marion
County Chamber of Commerce for more
information on this beautiful area of Florida.