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De Leon Springs State Park
Mill house at De Leon Springs, FL. 1910
De Leon Springs State Park is one of Florida's State Parks, located in De Leon Springs, Volusia County, Florida.
The park covers 603 acres (2.4 km²) of Volusia County, built around a natural sulphur spring that remains 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and reaches a depth of 30 feet at the spring boil. Canoeing, kayaking, and fishing are permitted in the spring run; swimming is permitted in designated areas. There is a five-mile nature trail popular for birdwatching; alligators, Great Blue Herons, Ospreys, Limpkins, vultures, Anhingas, egrets, Belted Kingfishers, American White Ibis, and hawks are among the wildlife living in the park. The park's recreational facilities include pavilions, volleyball nets, a playground, and horseshoe pits.
DeLeon Springs was first occupied as early as 8000 BCE (a dugout canoe dating back to at least 6000 BCE was found on the site) by local Native American tribes. In the 1500s, Spanish forces, possibly including Juan Ponce de León, passed through. The Spanish would return in 1783 after regaining the land from England (who had held it since 1763), granting land near the springs to settlers to establish a plantation called "Spring Garden" where corn, cotton, and sugar cane were grown. Sometime around this time the Seminole began to settle in the area.
The area came under American ownership some time after Florida became a territory in 1821; Colonel Orlando Rees built a mill to grind the corn and sugar. Most of the facilities were destroyed by Union troops during the American Civil War; however, the waterwheel and building remain on the site to this day, now housing a pancake restaurant called "The Old Spanish Sugar Mill", owned and operated by local residents.
The Seminole tribe briefly regained the land during the Second Seminole War and sacked the plantation; General Zachary Taylor led the U.S. Army forces to gain control of it in 1838.
The area drew tourists in the 1880s, when it was touted as a winter resort for the springs' alleged rejuvenating powers; it was advertised as a fountain of youth.
In 1982 the State of Florida acquired the land for use as a recreational area.
Information found at:
Other links to Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge: