Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Revisiting Sanlando Springs

My original post about Sanlando Springs, made almost exactly four years ago, has proven to be one of my most popular. Since I originally wrote about the beloved Central Florida swimmin' hole, I have spent a good deal of time doing research about Florida springs for my book, "Finding the Fountain of Youth", and I have come across more great vintage ephemera for the spring, so I thought the subject worthy of a second post.

According to an article written by historian Jim Robison in the Summer 2012 edition of Reflections from Central Florida, the spring, originally called Hoosier Springs was first used as a recreational location as far back as the 1880s. According to Robison, former Altamonte Springs Mayor James Franklin Haithcox changed the name to Sanlando when he developed it as an amusement park in the 1920s.

Robison fills the rest of the spring's history:
"At least three generations enjoyed Sanlando Springs and its giant slide into cool, clear water. Landscaped with tropical plants, the park had the area’s first in-ground pool. Moses Overstreet, who owned timber and turpentine companies that controlled thousands of acres along the Wekiva, repossessed Sanlando Springs Tropical Park after the 1920s boom busted. The parkland reopened in 1935. The Marchand family put on professional log-rolling contests and demonstrations in 1941. After dark, the pavilion opened for dances that drew many young people in the 1940s. J.E. Robinson owned and ran the park from about 1950 until 1970, when it was one of the most popular spots in Central Florida during the summer."

The marketing of Florida's spring has always been of interest to me. The old advertising axiom "sex sells" seems to be the approach taken in early promotional brochures. With the headline "Maidens Fair and Nature's Glory" the natural wonders of the spring play second fiddle to the lovely ladies.

State Archives of Florida

One way to keep an ample supply of beautiful women on hand is to host a beauty contest, which Sanlando Springs did in 1951 according to these images from the state archives.

Beauty contestants of the Mrs. Sanlando Springs contest, 1951 
State Archives of Florida
Peggy Creel being crowned Mrs. Sanlando Springs, 1951
State Archives of Florida

This lovely brochure with a map has come up on Ebay several times
and I have yet to be able to add it to my collection

Here's a letter home, already written for you, simply add an addressee and a signature!

USF Digital Archives

While researching my book, I came across a small ad for Sanlando Spring in a vintage publication with a cute little faerie I thought would make a great t-shirt.  I contacted my friends at Vintage Roadside in Portland, OR and we collaborated on the design. VR's mission is to keep the memories of mom and pop roadside businesses alive. From the amount of comments on my last post about Sanlando, it is apparent that many people have fond memories of the spring.

This small ad in a vintage Orlando magazine was the inspiration
for the Sanlando T-shirt I created with Vintage Roadside
The T-shirts can be purchased online or at the Orange County Regional History Center.

Today only the residents of the gated subdivision known simply as "The Springs" can use Sanlando Springs. One of the the few times the public is allowed entry is for the Orlando Philharmonic's annual outdoor concert. Nature photographer John Moran from Gainesville recently attended and added these photos from the concert to his collection of other contemporary images of Sanlando.


  1. Fabulous. I'd love to revisit Sanlando for that concert! I was last there when I was about 13; it's been a while. :-)

  2. I'm so glad I found your blog and facebook page. I hope we continue to broaden our idea of what is historic here in Florida. There is so much worth preserving, and it saddens me to think of what's already been lost. Will I find your book locally in the Sarasota area?

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  4. Yes, I'll be doing a book signing in Sarasota at Barnes and Noble on Saturday, June 15th. (corrected)

  5. For me seeing this evokes feelings of joy....pure JOY...the memories of happy times in the mid sixties when I was a little girl..so cold...but one trip down the sliding board solved that issue...fun...fun...fun!

  6. I remember taking my children there in the late 1960s. They are wonderful memories of clear cold water and going down the slide. It was a wonderful place for the family.

  7. Nice article. Sanlando Springs was a special place for my family. My brother was a life guard there, met his wife there. Definitely remember going down the slide. One of my sisters had her wedding there at the gazebo and club house, when it was known as The Springs and her son now lives in the subdivision. I am a true lover of Old Florida...a Florida Cracker myself.