Florida State Park Historic Sites Earn National Recognition
Silver Springs State Park, a popular destination for visitors who enjoy glass-bottom boat rides with a storied past, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The register is the official list of the nation's historic places that are worthy of preservation and embody our unique spirit, character and identity. Silver Springs is one of many places in Florida State Parks where you can experience history up-close.
The experience of visiting Silver Springs and taking a boat tour today remains largely unchanged since the 19th century. We don’t know who the first person was to gaze into this crystal-clear Florida spring, but we do know that the beauty of Silver Springs inspired innovation to get a better view. The first glass-bottom tour boats at the spring were simple rowboats. By the 1920s, tours at Silver Springs were in such high demand that new boats resembling today’s large tour boats came into use.
Into the 20th century, Silver Springs became a nationally famous destination and a symbol of Florida’s natural beauty. Renowned architect Victor Lundy designed facilities at the privately owned park, some of which survive to this day. Photographer Bruce Mozert’s fantastical underwater photography at Silver Springs received national attention. Additionally, at a time when segregation was strictly enforced, Paradise Park operated at Silver Springs as one of the few places where African Americans could enjoy Florida’s spring waters.
Silver Springs State Park was added to the National Register because it preserves structures and landscapes that tell the story of America. You can see these places by visiting the park and going to the Silver River Museum to learn more. National Register sites become eligible when they are more than 50 years old and are evaluated based on factors like their cultural and architectural significance. The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
There are almost 70 sites in Florida State Parks listed on the National Register. Some are grand and dramatic sites, like Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West, while others, such as Fort Mose Historic State Park in St. Augustine, are buried remnants where museums and living history interpreters tell the story. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, home of the world-famous Weeki Wachee mermaids, and Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, one of Florida’s first state parks, are also in the process of being nominated for National Register Status.
This article was published in the Real Florida ℠ Connection, the Florida State Parks e-newsletter. Sign-up to get updates and stories from your state parks the first week of every month.