Silver Springs in Marion County in central Florida is the largest and one of the most well known of Florida’s first magnitude springs, with average discharge of over 550 million gallons per day. The Silver River is a 5 mile stream that flows east from the springs to the Ocklawaha River. Silver Springs State Park combines the charm of a historic Florida attraction with the crystal clear beauty of one of the last uninhabited spring runs in the state.
Silver Springs offers one of Florida’s premier views of clear groundwater flowing to land surface and an excellent example of the connection between rocks and water over geologic time. More than 30 springs have been documented in the upper part of the Silver River. These springs emerge from ancient limestone formations that frame the upper part of Floridan aquifer system, which underlies the entire state of Florida. This aquifer system provides water to hundreds of springs around the state, including some of the largest and deepest springs in the world.
Mammoth Spring is the largest spring in the park and exhibits a rocky ledge above a vast cavern. The rock formation exposed is called the Ocala limestone, and is a white, chalky, highly fossiliferous limestone that was deposited in a warm, shallow marine environment more than 35 million years ago.
Humans have lived in the Silver River and Springs area for at least 12,000 years. These ancient peoples left behind artifacts showing their hunter-gatherer lifestyle, including knives, scrapers and projectile points. In times just before the European colonization of Florida, this area was part of the Timucuan cultural region. This culture was a trade-based chiefdom which utilized the waterways of north central and northeast Florida. Several ancient dugout canoes can be observed at the bottom of the river and spring.
page information credit: Florida State Parks, Florida Memory Project, Ocala/Marion County Visitors & Convention Bureau, SilverSprings.com, Wikipedia
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors