For hundreds of years, the Timacuan Indians made the spring area their home. The spring run, river, and surrounding swamps and uplands, provided food, clothing, shelter and materials for tools and weapons. Snails gathered from the sandbars were a staple food for these people. Over the centuries, the discarded shells formed a massive mound.
Three years after England acquired Florida from Spain, John Bartran, a prominent British botanist, explored the St. Johns in search of resources of value to the Crown. On January 4, 1766, he rowed his boat past sunning alligators into the clear water of Blue Spring. By the mid-1800s, most of the Indians had been killed or driven south and pioneer settlers took their place.
In 1972, Blue Spring became a State Park with the help of Jacques Cousteau after he filmed the episode called The Forgotten Mermaids. The same pristine beauty enjoyed by Florida’s earliest residents still can be seen today. A self-guided boardwalk leads visitors through a lush hammock to Blue Spring.
The spring is much more than a scenic area for canoeing and swimming; it’s a place that plays a vital role in the survival of one of Florida’s most beleaguered residents – the manatee. An observation platform provides a view of the endangered mammals that gather at the spring during the cooler months of the year. From November through March, the manatees leave the colder waters of the St. Johns River for the safety and comfort of the 72-degree spring.