Book review: ‘Remembering Florida Springs’ is full of nostalgia for state treasures

“Remembering Florida Springs” by Tim Hollis is a treasure trove of nostalgic postcards, advertisements, brochures, signs, flyers and souvenirs from the early days of the “big five” commercial springs: Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs, Rainbow Springs, Weeki Wachee Spring and Homosassa Springs. Here are a few fun facts about each spring.

 

Silver Springs

1. The first tourists had to be transported by boat since there were no roads.

2. The glass-bottom boats were the main attraction.

3. After 75 years, there are still descendants of the original rhesus monkeys living there.

4. In 1962, the ABC television network bought Silver Springs.

5. In 2013, Silver Springs became a Florida State Park.

Wakulla Springs

1. Wakulla Springs is only 15 miles south of Tallahassee.

2. Edward Ball, the owner of the Florida East Coast Railroad, built the Wakulla Springs Lodge in 1934.

3. Wakulla Springs is one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs.

4. After Ball died in 1981, Wakulla Springs became a Florida State Park.

Rainbow Springs

1. The passengers in the Submarine Boats could see underwater through the boats’ portholes.

2. Rainbow Springs had a monorail ride with cars shaped liked giant leaves.

3. In the 1960’s, Rainbow Springs was owned by S&H Green Stamps and Holiday Inn.

4. The attraction closed in 1974 and became the Rainbow Springs State Park in 1995.

Weeki Wachee Spring

1. Weeki Wachee was opened in 1947 with an underwater show that visitors could watch from a submerged theater.

2. “Weeki Wachee” means “Little Spring or Winding River” in the Seminole language.

3. After the movie “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid” was filmed there in 1948 (with William Powell and Ann Blyth), mermaids became the main attraction.

4. ABC bought Weeki Wachee in 1959 and there was cross-promotion with Silver Springs, which it also owned.

5. Weeki Wachee Spring became a Florida State Park in 2008 and there are still mermaids performing.

Homosassa Springs

1. The park was opened in 1940 and was first called Nature’s Giant Fish Bowl.

2. Its most famous resident is Lucifer the Hippo.

3. The State of Florida took over Homosassa Springs as a state park in 1989.

4. It is one of the best places to view manatees and serves as a rehabilitation center and refuge for orphaned or injured manatees.

Tim Hollis is the author of several books, including “Selling the Sunshine State: A Celebration of Florida Tourism Advertising” and “Wish You were Here: Classic Florida Motel and Restaurant Advertising.”

Whether you remember the Florida springs from your youth or you are seeing pictures of them for the first time, you will want to visit or revisit them after reading “Remembering Florida Springs.”

Q&A With Author Tim Hollis

What is your favorite memory of the springs?

There are so many, but I must say the fondest would probably be my family’s first visit to Silver Springs in the summer of 1967. It was only our third family vacation ever. I never saw Wakulla Springs until about 12 years ago.

When did you first start collecting memorabilia and what was one of the first items you saved purely for its sentimental value?

I have quite a few souvenirs, brochures and postcards dating back to those 1967-69 trips, but it was the 1980s before I started actually going out and looking for such items in antique shops. My family, especially my dad, was very keen on saving everything we could, so I guesss it all falls under the “sentimental value” label.

How do you know what will be worth saving?

We originally saved them just because they were keepsakes of our own vacations, but later I came to realize how valuable they were in documenting a largely lost era of tourism history. I had already begun collecting vintage toys in 1981, so it did not take long before I expanded the search to include tourism memorabilia as well.

What do you think the collection you’ve presented in your book says about Florida’s famous springs that visiting them might not?

The material in the book shows how these attractions were once marketed and experienced, and not so much how a visitor will find them today. Some, such as Weeki Wachee and Wakulla, are virtually the same, but Homosassa, Rainbow and Silver Springs were once far more commercial than in their current State Park status.

 

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Sat, 10/21/2017 - 13:33

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