The Florida State Park Plein Air Painting Tour – Painting each of Florida's State Parks on location
I painted at near the springs all morning, then in the afternoon I packed up and drove over to a separate entrance of the park. This section of the park is mostly pine forest and oak hammocks with the river about a 1/2 mile hike from the parking area. On the winding drive to the museum I saw a tortoise and a few wildflowers on the roadside. At the furthest parking area is a museum where I took some photos of restored cracker cottages, a one room school house and an original glass bottom boat. Then I walked down the trail towards the river, but the sky was looking ominous, so I walked back to the car before reaching the river. Good thing I cut short my hike, as on the drive home I was stuck in the heaviest rain storm I’ve ever been in.
Recently at a flea market I was lucky enough to have found an old article written by an artist traveling, sketching the scenery and writing stories about Florida, much the way I am today! He traveled down the Ocklawaha River in a steamboat and visited Silver Springs way back in 1870. Here is Harry Fenn’s perfect description and illustration of Silver Springs: “we saw a a sight which caused us to rub our eyes and gather up our senses in order to be certain that we were awake. The steamer lay in a basin, possibly a quarter of a mile in diameter, entirely surrounded by gigantic forest trees which repeated themselves with the most minute fidelity in the perfectly translucent water. For 60 feet downward we could look, and at this great depth see duplicated the scene of the upper world, the clearness of the water assisting rather than interfering with the vision. The bottom of this basin was silver sand, studded with eccentric formations of lime-crystals of a pale-emerald tint. This we soon learned was the wonderful Silver Spring, of which we had heard so much, which every moment throws out thousands of gallons of water without making a bubble on the surface. The transparency of the water was marvelous. A little pearly white shell, dropped from our hand, worked its zigzag way downward, deepening in its descent from a pale green to a rich emerald, until, finding the bottom, it seemed a gem destined forever to glisten in its silver setting.”
Silver Springs has been an attraction for many many years, and most families seem to have a photo like this one below. This is my dad and grandparents on the glass bottom boats sometime around 1949. It’s pretty cool to see that glass bottom boats are still crusing today over a 100 years later!