White Springs, FL


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White Springs is a town in Hamilton County, Florida, on the Suwannee River. The population was 819 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2004 estimates, the town had a population of 828. Home of the annual Florida Folk Festival, it is a tourist destination noted for historic charm, antique shops and river recreation.
The Suwannee River was once the boundary between the Timucuan tribe to the east and Apalachee tribe to the west. When Spanish explorers visited the area in the 1530s, it was inhabited by the former, who believed its springs possessed healing powers. The first purchases of land date from 1835, when Bryant and Elizabeth Sheffield bought tracts for a cotton plantation. Mr. Sheffield became an advocate of sampling the waters, proclaiming their curative benefit for such ailments as rheumatism, kidney trouble and nervousness.
Consequently, White Sulphur Springs in the 19th century became Florida's first tourist destination. Crowds of health seekers arrived, first by stagecoach and then railroad, and hotels were built near the springs to accommodate them. With additional wealth derived from cotton and lumber, the town grew and was incorporated in 1885. Today, many of the original Victorian buildings survive, particularly within the White Springs Historic District, established in 1997 by the National Register of Historic Places.