Salt Springs Recreation Area - Ocala National Forest, Florida
Salt Springs Recreation Area - Ocala National Forest, Florida
Salt Springs Recreation Area
The second magnitude spring is a major
archaeological site and a popular recreational spot
in the Ocala National Forest.
Salt Springs Recreation Area
The water has a salty taste
thanks to the presence of
potassium, magnesium and
Archaeology at Salt Springs
The spring is one of Florida's
most significant prehistoric
sites. Archaeologists believe
man visited and lived here for
thousands of years.
Salt Springs Recreation Area - Salt Springs, Florida
Florida's "Oasis of the Ancients"
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: April 23, 2013
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Second Magnitude Spring
The water rises from fissures
or cracks in the natural karst
topography of Central Florida
and feeds nearby Lake
Bartram in Florida
Salt Springs were visited by
naturalist William Bartram in
August 1774. He marveled at
the scenic beauty of the spot.
Located in the charming resort community of
Salt Springs, the stunningly beautiful Salt
Springs Recreation Area is home to one of
Florida's most unique natural springs.

The park takes its name from Salt Springs, a
remarkable natural spring that rises from a
series of deep vertical fissures or cracks in
the karst topography that underlies the
region. The water includes potassium,
sodium and magnesium, elements that
combine to give it a distinctly saline or "salty"

Salt Springs is the location of one of Florida's
most significant and unique archaeological

Recent research there by archaeologists
from the University of Florida suggests that
humans first made use of the springs more
than 5,800 years ago. In trenches dug into
the midden areas of the site, they found shell
deposits that contained artifacts as well as
animal bones and plant remains.

The midden was formed from the refuse of
untold thousands of meals ate around the
springs by prehistoric people. Among the
evidence uncovered during their excavations,
archaeologists found squash seeds, deer
bones and antlers, fragments of squash and
gourd rinds and shells from hickory nuts.

These findings show that the people who
lived at the site enjoyed meals of shellfish,
deer, wild and domesticated plants and a
variety of small animals and fish.

Archaeologists also found numbers of
elderberry seeds in their excavations and
have suggested that the inhabitants of Salt
Springs may have used elderberry in brewing
a black tea similar to the ritual "Black Drink"
later used by the Seminole and Creek

Consumed at the Busk or Green Corn
Festival, this drink would cause those who
consumed it to vomit and have visions. It was
an important part of Seminole and Creek life
and the findings at Salt Springs suggests
that the consumption of a similar ritual drink
may have long predated those nations.

The site at Salt Springs Recreation Area was
occupied for thousands of years and by
around 4,500 years ago, archaeologists
believe the people who lived there had trade
connections with other prehistoric groups
living as far away as Mississippi, South
Carolina and the southern tip of Florida.

Beads from Mississippi and bannerstones
from South Carolina were among the
artifacts found at the site, both indicative of a
far flung trade network. Curiously, however,
archaeologists found no beads of local
manufacture at the site.

The archaic occupation of Salt Springs
ended thousands of years ago, but the
unique springs continued to attract attention
and visitors well into the historic era. The
naturalist William Bartram, for example,
visited and described the springs in August
1774, less than one year before the start of
the American Revolution:
Behold, for instance, a vast circular expanse
before you, the waters of which are so
extremely clear as to be diaphanous or
transparent as the ether; the margin of the
basin ornamented with a great variety of
fruitful and floriferous trees, shrubs, and
plants, the pendant golden Orange dancing
on the surface of the pullicid waters, the
balmy air vibrating with the melody of the
merry birds, tenants of the encircling
aromatic grove.

Bartram's description stands very well today,
although the margins of the spring are now
protected by decorative concrete walls.

It is a place of spectacular beauty. The water
is crystal clear and it is possible to look down
into it to see the unique vents or cracks from
which it flows. Salt Springs is a second
magnitude spring, producing 55 million
gallons of water per day.

One of the most popular spots in the Ocala
National Forest, the springs today are part of
a large recreation area that offers swimming,
hiking, picnicking, camping and more. The
beautiful Bear Swamp Trail takes visitors
past cypress trees so old that they were living
when William Bartram visited in 1774.

Please click here for more information on the

Salt Springs Recreation Area is open daily
from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The admission fee is
$5.50 per person.

The recreation area is located on SR 19,
one-half mile north of its intersection with CR
314 in Salt Springs, Florida.

Please click here for more information.
Florida Springs & Waterfalls