Friday, November 16, 2007

Blue Spring - A Jackson County historic landmark

Located off Blue Springs Road northeast of Marianna, Blue Spring (or Blue Springs, as some prefer) is one of the largest springs in Florida. The submerged cave system below the spring, in fact, is one of the deepest in the world.

Now a popular recreation area that is open during the spring and summer, Blue Spring is one of the most historic spots in Jackson County. The spring was on the primary trail connecting the Apalachicola River with the Chatot or Chacato (sometimes incorrectly confused with the Chatot) Indian villages of the Chipola River valley. Spanish missionaries followed this trail in 1674 when they passed through the area on their way to establish the missions of San Nicolas and San Carlos west of the Chipola. One of the priests, Fray Rodrigo de la Barreda, left an account of Blue or Calistoble Spring, which he described as being of great depth and located in the center of a vast forest. He reported seeing buffalo in the area and noted that the stream coming from the spring was large enough that the Indians sailed on it in canoes. He also mentioned that caves in the area were used as shelters by Chatot hunters.

The Robinson family settled around Blue Spring at the time of Florida's transfer from Spain to the United States and it became the center of a large plantation. The Robinson home stood on the hill overlooking the spring and was the first home in Jackson County with running water. The owner, Col. Robinson, devised a unique apparatus to move water up from the spring to a holding tank at his house. By 1825, the spring was known as "Robinson's Big Spring" or the "Big Spring of the Chipola."

By the time of the War Between the States, the land had passed into the ownership of Florida's Confederate governor, John Milton. Milton's home, Sylvania, stood a little more than one mile from the spring, but according to one antebellum diarist, he often fished there. A camp of Confederate cavalry was maintained at the spring during much of the war and Captain Robert Chisolm's company of cavalry from the Alabama Militia was stationed at Blue Spring during the days leading up to the Battle of Marianna.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Blue Spring was developed as a popular resort. Guests from the Chipola Hotel in downtown Marianna were carried out in carriages to bathe in the waters, which were believed to have healing properties.

Today, it is a popular swimming area maintained by Jackson County.

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