Monday, January 12, 2009

Discovering more than Fountains of Youth

I came across this post card and was reminded of another Florida spring linked to the legend of the fountain of youth, De Leon Springs in Volusia County. The Florida State Parks website quotes an early advertisement: "tourists were promised a fountain of youth impregnated with a deliciously healthy combination of soda and sulphur." Doesn't sound too delicious to me!

There is also a town in the panhandle named Ponce de Leon Florida, in Holmes County. There you can find Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, where on the same state website it says: "Visitors might well regain their fountain of youth by taking a dip in cool, clear waters" of the spring. 

I also ran across an image of this sculpture, which I have yet to see in person, at Tomoka State Park near Ormond Beach. I was attracted by its kitschy qualities, which once again illustrates a legend of sacred waters flowing from Florida's aquifer as interpreted by a sculptor in the mid-twentieth century.

The earliest humans living on this peninsula found Florida's many bubbling spring to be a gift from the gods. The Europeans who first came here must have been awed by these springs and a whole mythology was created around Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth.  Early settlers established towns nearby these sources of clean, pure water. And in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the myth of life sustaining waters flowing from beneath the earth was used to draw tourists from other parts of the country. The tourism aspect is what has garnered my attention, but what I'm discovering is that the battle for the sacred water in our state is shaping up to be one of the most important issues we face today. 

Finding this place where Florida history and environmental concerns co-exist, has led me to the conclusion that the resource that caused this state to be attractive to so many people for hundreds of years, is at great risk. In today's local paper is an article about the battle for Florida's water in the panhandle. And a second article in the Jacksonville paper brings to light the struggle for water in Florida's biggest river, the spring-fed St. Johns. I find it fascinating that my interest in the past, has led me to this issue about our future.

No comments:

Post a Comment