White Springs is a town that ambles in all directions but has at its heart a downtown with a sandwich shop, the headquarters of a cycling organization, a country store and antiques shop, and American Canoe Outfitters (www.aca1.com), which organizes journeys down the Suwannee River and provides put-in and pick-up services. (See my story and link on kayaking the Suwannee here.
Jill Zima Borski
Historic and ornate buildings harken back to the glory days of the White Sulphur Spring which cured ailments from nonfunctional limbs to blindness. Incorporated in 1831 as the town of Jackson Spring, on Christmas Day 1885 town fathers incorporated as White Springs, known for its medicinal spring. By the late 1800s, White Springs boasted 14 luxury hotels and many more boarding houses for those who came by stagecoaches, horse and buggy or on foot to bathe in the medicinal spring.
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, which opened in 1950, is reason enough to visit White Springs. Visitors can learn the legacy of the author of “Old Folks at Home (Way down upon the Suwannee)” which is Florida’s State Song. An antebellum mansion onsite houses dioramas related to Foster’s songs, and a carillon built in 1957 plays his tunes every quarter hour or so. Both buildings feature historic displays about the songwriter and the park, and several monthly events featuring music and art keep the park and campground hopping.
Naturally, White Springs is great for outdoor pursuits such as paddling or fishing the Suwannee. Two outfitters can help visitors with their needs. American Canoe Adventures sells and rents kayaks and canoes and can plan trips, and Roosters Bait and Tackle a few miles from downtown off CR 25A has bait, tackle, flies, rods and advice! From Rooster’s, you can embark on the 170-mile River Wilderness Trail which enables birdwatching, picnicking and wildlife sightings. Angie’s Campground is located at Rooster’s.
White Springs natives and friends formed the White Springs Historic Preservation Society, and in 1997, 110 significant structures were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among those spots is Adams Brothers store, which is now the downtown country and antiques shop. Made of wood from floor to ceiling and completed in 1892, it is one of Florida’s oldest mercantile stores still standing in its original location. It is open Thursday through Sunday. Another must-see is the exterior of the Telford Hotel, built in 1903, the only luxury hotel dating to the springs heyday not lost to fire or decay.
For more information on White Springs and the surrounding area, visit www.SpringsRUs.com.