History and Culture
During 1818 Andrew Jackson lead American forces through this area searching for Indian strongholds, believed responsible for raiding settlers. Vestiges of history in the park show how important the Suwannee River was to Florida history. One can find an earthworks mound built during the Civil War to defend the railroad crossing that supplied confederate troops. The town of Columbus, established in 1841, was also located here. This town once prospered from river steamboat traffic carrying passengers and freight. The Columbus Cemetery, one of the state's oldest, and old stagecoach road, a major 1800s route of travel from Pensacola to Jacksonville, can still be visited in the park's sandhills. Initial acquisition of the park took place in 1936 and was formally opened in 1951.
In 1863, Confederate soldiers built earthworks to protect the railroad bridge located at what was once the town of Columbus. Union troops were marching west from Jacksonville to destroy the railroad bridge when Confederate reinforcements, having traveled by rail across the Suwannee River, helped defeat and turn them back at the Battle of Olustee in February 1864.
A 20-foot tower of limestone once stood in the park, seen by either canoe on the river or by land on the park trail. Balanced Rock formed over millions of years. Mild acid and sediments in the river water slowly dissolved and cut away the softer parts of the rock, leaving a magnificent formation standing here at the river's edge. The ongoing process finally weakened its foundation and in 2015 the familiar landmark finally lost its balance and fell into the river. Erosion created Balanced Rock and erosion caused its demise.
The Columbus Cemetery, established in 1860 consists of 23 graves -- the earliest recorded in it is 1862. The stones in the cemetery are made of various materials, including granite, marble and metal, and are in different conditions of repair. The last known burial in the cemetery was 1973.
These pieces of machinery belonged to a sawmill that operated on the Suwannee River in the 1800s. This area was a thriving part of the lumber business founded by former Florida Governor George Drew.
Old Swimming Hole
The park began building a swimming area in Lime Sink Run during the 1950s. Due to the effects of flooding, the swimming hole did not last long and does not exist today.