St. Johns River
Overview
 
The St. Johns River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and its most significant for commercial and recreational use. At 310 miles (498.9 km) long, it winds through or borders twelve counties, three of which are the state's largest. The drop in elevation from the headwaters to the mouth is less than 30 feet (9.1 m); like most Florida waterways, the St. Johns has a very slow flow rate at a third of a mile an hour (0.2 km/h), and is often described as "lazy".
Encyclopedia
The St. Johns River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and its most significant for commercial and recreational use. At 310 miles (498.9 km) long, it winds through or borders twelve counties, three of which are the state's largest. The drop in elevation from the headwaters to the mouth is less than 30 feet (9.1 m); like most Florida waterways, the St. Johns has a very slow flow rate at a third of a mile an hour (0.2 km/h), and is often described as "lazy". It is one of a small number of rivers in the United States to run north. Numerous lakes are formed by the river or flow into it, but as a river its widest point is 3 miles (4.8 km) across, spanning several miles between Palatka
Palatka, Florida
Palatka is a city in Putnam County, Florida, United States. The population was 10,033 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 10,796. It is the county seat of Putnam County and includes East Palatka. Palatka is the principal city of the Palatka...

 and Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

, the latter being the largest urban area on the river. The narrowest point is in the headwaters, an unnavigable marsh in Indian River County
Indian River County, Florida
Indian River County is a county located in the Treasure Coast region in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 112,947. The U.S. Census Bureau 2005 estimate for the county is 128,594...

. In all, 3.5 million people live within the various watersheds that feed into the St. Johns River.

With a drainage basin of 8840 square miles (22,895.5 km²), the St. Johns is one of the major interior wetlands of Florida. It is separated into three major basins and two associated watersheds for Lake George
Lake George (Florida)
Lake George or Lake Welaka is a broad and shallow brackish lake on the St. Johns River in the U.S. state of Florida.-Geography:Lake George is six miles wide and eleven miles long, with an average depth of 8 feet . The west side of the lake is encompassed in the Ocala National Forest...

 and the Ocklawaha River
Ocklawaha River
The Ocklawaha River flows north from central Florida until it joins the St. Johns River near Palatka. Its name is a corruption of ak-lowahe, Creek for "muddy"....

, all managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District
St. Johns River Water Management District
The St. Johns River Water Management District is one of five Florida water management districts that is responsible for managing groundwater and surface water resources in Florida. SJRWMD covers an 18-county region in northeast and east-central Florida...

. Like all waterways in Florida, the St. Johns is fed primarily by rainfall, most of which is immediately deposited into the river and its tributaries as stormwater runoff. Much of the water flowing into the St. Johns also comes from the Floridan Aquifer
Floridan Aquifer
The Floridan Aquifer is a portion of the principal artesian aquifer that extends into Florida and is composed of carbonate rock and located beneath the coastal regions of the Southeastern United States and is one of the world's most productive aquifers. It is under all of Florida as well as ...

, a natural underground reservoir that serves as the fresh water source for populations living north of St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. It is known as a vacation destination for both American and foreign tourists. As of 2008, the population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau is 245,314, making St...

. The St. Johns itself is being considered as a potential fresh water source for 2020 as populations continue to grow, taxing the Floridan Aquifer.

A vast variety of people have lived on or near the St. Johns, including Archaic people, Timucua
Timucua
The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people. The various groups of Timucua spoke several dialects of the...

, Mocama
Mocama
The Mocama were a Native American people who lived in the coastal areas of what are now northern Florida and southeastern Georgia. A Timucua group, they spoke the dialect known as Mocama, the best-attested dialect of the Timucua language. Their territory extended from about the Altamaha River in...

, French and Spanish settlers, Seminole
Seminole
The Seminole are a Native American people originally of Florida, who now reside primarily in that state and Oklahoma. The Seminole nation emerged in a process of ethnogenesis out of groups of Native Americans, most significantly Creeks from what is now Georgia and Alabama, who settled in Florida in...

s, slaves and freemen, Florida cracker
Florida cracker
Florida cracker refers to original colonial-era English and American pioneer settlers of what is now the U.S. state of Florida, and their descendants. The first Florida crackers arrived in 1763 when Spain traded Florida to Great Britain...

s, land developers, tourists, and retirees. It has been the subject of William Bartram
William Bartram
William Bartram was an American naturalist. The son of Ann and John Bartram, William Bartram and his twin sister Elizabeth were born in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. As a boy, he accompanied his father on many of his travels, to the Catskill Mountains, the New Jersey Pine Barrens,...

's journals, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was an American author who lived in rural Florida and wrote novels with rural themes and settings. Her best known work, The Yearling, about a boy who adopts an orphaned fawn, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was later made into a movie, also known as The...

' books, and Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom...

's letters home. Although Florida was the location of the first permanent European colony in what would become the United States, it was the last U.S. territory on the east coast to be developed, and it remained an undeveloped frontier into the 20th century. When attention was turned to the state, however, much of the land was rapidly overdeveloped in a national zeal for progress. The St. Johns, like many Florida rivers, was altered to make way for agricultural and residential centers. It suffered severe pollution and human interference that has diminished the natural order of life in and around the river. It was named one of 14 American Heritage Rivers in 1998 but was included on a list of America's Ten Most Endangered Rivers in 2008. Restoration efforts are underway for the basins around the St. Johns as Florida continues to deal with population increases in the river's vicinity.

Geography and ecology

Starting in Indian River County and meeting the Atlantic Ocean at Duval County
Duval County, Florida
Duval County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2010, the population was 864,263. Its county seat is Jacksonville, with which the Duval County government has been consolidated since 1968...

, the St. Johns is Florida's primary commercial and recreational waterway. It flows north from its headwaters from the direction of the Lake Wales Ridge, which is only slightly elevated at 30 feet (9.1 m) above sea level. Because of this low elevation drop, the river has a long backwater
Backwater (river)
A backwater is a part of a river in which there is little or no current. It refers either to a branch of a main river which lies alongside it and then rejoins it or to a body of water in a main river which is backed up by an obstruction such as the tide or a dam.-Alternative channel:If a river has...

. It ebbs and flows with tides that pass through the barrier islands and up the channel. Uniquely, it shares the same regional terrain as the parallel Kissimmee River
Kissimmee River
The Kissimmee River is a river in south-central Florida, United States.-Course:The Kissimmee River arises in Osceola County as the outflow from East Lake Tohopekaliga, passing through Lake Tohopekaliga, Lake Cypress, Lake Hatchineha and Lake Kissimmee...

, although the Kissimmee flows south.

Upper basin

The St. Johns River is separated into three basins and two associated watersheds managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District
St. Johns River Water Management District
The St. Johns River Water Management District is one of five Florida water management districts that is responsible for managing groundwater and surface water resources in Florida. SJRWMD covers an 18-county region in northeast and east-central Florida...

. Because the river flows in a northerly direction, the upper basin is located in the headwaters of the river at its southernmost point.The St. Johns is frequently cited as being a rare north-flowing river in North America,(Benke & Chusing, p. 100)(Randazzo, p. 12) though in fact most of Canada and parts of the United States also drain north. (Verdin, K.L. (March 19, 2010). "A System for Topologically Coding Global Drainage Basins and Stream Networks", ESRI.)(Gonzalez, M.A.(2003). "Continental Divides in North Dakota and North America", North Dakota Geological Survey Newsletter North Dakota Geological Survey 30 (1), pp. 1–7.) Indian River County is where the river begins as a network of marshes, at a point west of Vero Beach
Vero Beach, Florida
Vero Beach is a city in Indian River County, Florida, USA. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 estimates, the city had a population of 16,939. It is the county seat of Indian River County...

 aptly named the St. Johns Marsh in central Florida. The St. Johns River is a blackwater stream
Blackwater river
A blackwater river is a river with a deep, slow-moving channel that flows through forested swamps and wetlands. As vegetation decays in the water, tannins are leached out, resulting in transparent, acidic water that is darkly stained, resembling tea or coffee. Most major blackwater rivers are in...

, meaning it is fed primarily by swamps and marshes lying beneath it; water seeps through the sandy soil and collects in a slight valley. The upper basin measures approximately 2000 square miles (5,180 km²); the St. Johns transforms into a navigable waterway one county north of Indian River in Brevard County
Brevard County, Florida
Brevard County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida, along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. As of 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the population is 536,521, making it the 10th most populous county in the state. Influenced by the presence of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Brevard...

. The river touches on the borders of Osceola
Osceola County, Florida
Osceola County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 172,493. The U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimate for the county is 244,045, making it the 17th fastest-growing county in the United States. Its county seat is Kissimmee.- History :Osceola County was...

 and Orange Counties
Orange County, Florida
Orange County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida and is part of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Metropolitan Statistical Area . As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 1,145,956....

, and flows through the southeast tip of Seminole County
Seminole County, Florida
Seminole County is a county in the U.S. state of Florida. Located between Orlando to the south and Deland and Daytona Beach to the north, it is part of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. Its county seat and largest city is Sanford...

, transitioning into the middle basin a dozen miles (19 km) or so north of Titusville
Titusville, Florida
Titusville is a city in Brevard County, Florida in the United States. It is the county seat of Brevard County. Nicknamed Space City, USA, Titusville is on the Indian River, west of Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center and south-southwest of the Canaveral National Seashore...

. The length of the river through the upper basin measures about 75 miles (120.7 km).

The river is at its narrowest and most unpredictable in this basin. Channel flows are not apparent and usually unmarked. The most efficient way to travel on this part of the river is by airboat. Approximately 3,500 lakes lie within the overall St. Johns watershed and all of them are shallow, with maximum depths between 3 and 10 ft (0.9144 and 3 ). The river flows into many of them that further confuse navigation. Eight larger lakes and five smaller ones lie in the upper basin; one of the first is named Lake Hell 'n Blazes
Lake Hell 'n Blazes
Lake Hell 'n Blazes is on the upper reaches of the St. Johns River in Brevard County, Florida, United States, about ten miles southwest of Melbourne...

 (sometimes polished to read as Lake Helen or Hellen Blazes) referencing the oaths boatmen and fishermen at the beginning of the 19th century yelled, frustrated when trying to navigate through floating islands of macrophyte
Macrophyte
A macrophyte is an aquatic plant that grows in or near water and is either emergent, submergent, or floating. In lakes macrophytes provide cover for fish and substrate for aquatic invertebrates, produce oxygen, and act as food for some fish and wildlife....

s, or muck and weeds, as the islands moved with the creeping flow. Lakes Washington
Lake Washington (Florida)
Lake Washington is the largest lake in Brevard County, Florida at . The lake may have been named for the U.S. Deputy Surveyor Colonel Henry Washington, after he surveyed the area in 1844.- Hydrology :It is the 41st largest lake in the state of Florida...

, Winder
Lake Winder
Lake Winder is a lake in Brevard County and a small portion lies in Osceola County. The lake was named after U.S. Army Captain Edward Winder. Early in 1838 Winder was assigned to scout the area for Seminoles. He discovered Lake Poinsett. The smaller lake to the south was named after Winder. Lake...

, and Poinsett
Lake Poinsett
Lake Poinsett is a lake in Brevard County, Florida near Rockledge and Cocoa, with small portions in Orange County, and Osceola County. It is the second largest lake in Brevard County, after Lake Washington, though it is actually the smallest lake in Osceola County. It is the widest lake in Brevard...

—named for Joel Roberts Poinsett
Joel Roberts Poinsett
Joel Roberts Poinsett was a physician, botanist and American statesman. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives, the first United States Minister to Mexico , a U.S...

, a diplomat who brought the poinsettia
Poinsettia
Euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly known as Zack Wood or noche buena, is a species of flowering plant indigenous to Mexico and Central America. The name "poinsettia" is after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant into the US in 1825...

 to the United States—are also located further along this stretch of the river. The northernmost points of the upper basin contain the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, created in 1977 to assist with filtration of waters flowing into the larger St. Johns.
Wetlands in the upper and middle basin are fed by rainwater, trapped by the structure of the surrounding land. It is an oxygen and nutrient-poor environment; what grows usually does so in peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

 which is created by centuries of decaying plant material. Water levels fluctuate with the subtropical wet and dry seasons. Rain in central and north Florida occurs in seasons during the summer and winter, but farther south rain in winter is rare. All plants that live in these basins must be tolerant of water fluctuations, both flooding and drought. Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), cypress (Taxodium
Taxodium
Taxodium is a genus of one to three species of extremely flood-tolerant conifers in the cypress family, Cupressaceae...

), and swamp tupelo (Nyssa biflora) trees often find the greatest success in this region on raised land called hammocks
Hammock (ecology)
Hammocks are dense stands of hardwood trees that grow on natural rises of only a few inches higher than surrounding marshland that is otherwise too wet to support them. Hammocks are distinctive in that they are formed gradually over thousands of years rising in a wet area through the deposits of...

. Trees that live in water for long periods usually have buttressed trunks, tangled, braided roots, or protrusions like cypress knees to obtain oxygen when underwater, but the majority of plant life is aquatic. Wetland staples include the American white waterlily (Nymphaea odorata
Nymphaea odorata
Nymphaea odorata, also known as the Fragrant Water Lily and Beaver Root, is a flower belonging to the genus Nymphaea. It can commonly be found in lake shallows, ponds, and permanent slow moving waters throughout North America where it ranges from Central America to northern Canada...

), pitcher plant
Pitcher plant
Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap. It has been widely assumed that the various sorts of pitfall trap evolved from rolled leaves, with selection pressure favouring more deeply cupped leaves over...

s, and Virginia iris (Iris virginica). In the southernmost points of the river, Cladium
Cladium
Cladium is a genus of large sedges, with a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions...

, or sawgrass, grows in vast swaths of wet prairies that at one time extended into the Everglades
Everglades
The Everglades are subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee...

. These wetland flora are remarkably successful in filtering pollutants that may otherwise find their way into the river.

Middle basin

For 37 miles (59.5 km) the river passes through a 1200 square miles (3,108 km²) basin fed primarily by springs and stormwater runoff. This basin, spreading throughout Orange, Lake
Lake County, Florida
Lake County is a county located in the state of Florida, United States. As of the 2000 Census, the population was 210,528. The Census Bureau estimated the population in 2008 to be 307,243. Its county seat is Tavares...

, Volusia
Volusia County, Florida
Volusia County is a county located in the state of Florida. The U.S. Census Bureau 2010 official county's population was 494,593 . Its county seat is DeLand, and its most populous city is currently Deltona....

, and Seminole Counties, is home to the greater Orlando
Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County, and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. According to the 2010 US Census, the city had a population of 238,300, making Orlando the 79th largest city in the United States...

 metropolitan area, where 2 million people live and major tourist attractions are located. The topography of the middle basin varies between clearly distinguishable banks along the river and broad, shallow lakes. Two of the largest lakes in the middle basin are created by the river: Lake Harney
Lake Harney
Lake Harney, named for General William Selby Harney, is a lake located in Volusia and Seminole and Counties, Florida, and is part of the course of the St. Johns River....

 and Lake Monroe. The shallow 9 square miles (23.3 km²) Lake Harney is fed by the long narrow Puzzle Lake
Puzzle Lake
Puzzle Lake is a lake near Geneva in Seminole County, Florida. It forms the border of Volusia and Seminole counties. It is one of the lakes that make up the St. Johns River system. north of the lake is the mouth of the tributary, the Econlockhatchee River. It has a surface area of...

; immediately north is the Econlockhatchee River
Econlockhatchee River
The Econlockhatchee River is a north-flowing blackwater tributary of the St. Johns River that flows through Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties in Florida. Its name means "River of mounds"...

, which joins to increase the volume of the St. Johns where larger boat traffic navigation becomes easier. The river veers west, touching on Lake Jesup
Lake Jesup
Lake Jesup is one of the largest lakes in Central Florida, one of many that make up the St. Johns River. Located in the heart of Seminole County along the middle basin of the St. Johns, the lake encompasses an area of approximately 16,000 acres , including open water and floodplain...

 before it empties into Lake Monroe
Lake Monroe (Florida)
Lake Monroe is one of the lakes that make up the St. Johns River system. The port city of Sanford is situated along the southern shore, while DeBary and Deltona are located along the northern shore. Two major central Florida roadways that run near the lake are State Road 415 and Interstate 4...

, passing the town of Sanford
Sanford, Florida
Sanford is a city in, and the county seat of, Seminole County, Florida, United States. The population was 38,291 at the 2000 census. As of 2009, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 50,998...

. Lake Monroe is a large lake at 15 square miles (38.8 km²), with an average depth of 8 feet (2.4 m), draining a surrounding watershed of 2420 square miles (6,267.8 km²). Sanford has adapted to the lake by building some of its downtown area on the waterfront; citizens are able to use boat transportation and Sanford's public dock to commute into town.

Broadening more into an 8 feet (2.4 m) deep channel about 100 yards wide, after leaving Lake Monroe, the St. Johns meets its most significant tributary
Tributary
A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean...

 in the middle basin, the spring-fed Wekiva River
Wekiva River
The Wekiva River is a river starting in two separate fresh water springs in central Florida and ending in the St. Johns River. One of the springs is at Kelly Park, otherwise known as Rock Springs, and the other is in Wekiwa Springs State Park. Both springs border the Lower Wekiva River Preserve...

, discharging approximately 42000000 gallons (158,987,304 l) a day into the St. Johns. Near this confluence are the towns of DeBary
DeBary, Florida
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,559 people, 6,538 households, and 4,720 families residing in the city. The population density was 853.8 inhabitants per square mile . There were 7,001 housing units at an average density of 384.2 per square mile...

 and Deltona
Deltona, Florida
Deltona is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida and is the largest city in Volusia County. It is located east of DeBary and north of Lake Monroe. It is the twenty-ninth largest city in Florida, with a 2010 Census population of 85,182...

. The forests surrounding the Wekiva River are home to the largest black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) population in Florida, and several troops of Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) have adapted to the live near the river as well. The monkeys' introduction to Florida is unclear; they were reportedly brought to Florida either to serve in backdrop scenes of Tarzan
Tarzan
Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani "great apes"; he later experiences civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer...

 movies filmed around the Silver River in the 1930s, or to lend an air of authenticity to "jungle cruises", provided by an enterprising boat operator around the same time.

Of the most vital importance to marshes are invertebrate animals, which are the foundation of food webs. Amphibious invertebrates such as apple snails (Pomacea paludosa
Pomacea paludosa
Pomacea paludosa, common name the Florida applesnail, is a species of freshwater snail with an operculum, an aquatic gastropod mollusk in the family Ampullariidae, the apple snails.- Shell description :...

), crayfish
Crayfish
Crayfish, crawfish, or crawdads – members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea – are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related...

, and grass shrimp
Palaemonetes
The genus Palaemonetes includes a geographically diverse group of fresh and brackish-water shrimp. It includes the following species:*Palaemonetes africanus Balss, 1916*Palaemonetes antennarius The genus Palaemonetes includes a geographically diverse group of fresh and brackish-water shrimp. It...

 consume plant material, hastening its decomposition and acting as a food source for fish and birds. Insect larvae use water for breeding, feeding upon smaller copepod
Copepod
Copepods are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. Some species are planktonic , some are benthic , and some continental species may live in limno-terrestrial habitats and other wet terrestrial places, such as swamps, under leaf fall in wet forests,...

s and amphipods that live in microscopic algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

 and periphyton
Periphyton
Periphyton are a complex mixture of algae, cyanobacteria, heterotrophic microbes, and detritus that are attached to submerged surfaces in most aquatic ecosystems. It serves as an important food source for invertebrates, tadpoles, and some fish. It can also absorb contaminants; removing them from...

 formations. Mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

s are born in water; they are in turn the favorite food of 112 species of dragonflies and 44 species of damselflies in Florida. These animals are water hardy and adaptable to dry conditions when water levels fluctuate from one season to the next, or through drought and flood cycles.

Of vertebrates, numerous species of frogs, salamanders, snakes, and turtles, and alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) proliferate in marsh waters. Most of these animals are active at night. Choruses of frogs are overwhelming; during alligator mating season the grunts of bulls join in. The marshes around the St. Johns River upper basin are teeming with birds. A recent study counted 60,000 birds in one month nesting or feeding in the upper basin. Wading and water birds like the white ibis (Eudocimus albus), wood stork (Mycteria americana), and purple gallinule (Porphyrio martinica) depend on the water for raising their young: they prey upon small fish and tadpoles in shallow water and puddles in the dry season. In successful seasons, their colonies can number in the thousands, creating a cacophony of calls and fertilizing trees with their droppings.


Lake George

The river turns north again as it rolls through a 46000 acres (186.2 km²) basin spreading across Putnam
Putnam County, Florida
Putnam County is a county located in the state of Florida. The entire county makes up the Palatka Micropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2000, the population was 70,423. The U.S. Census Bureau 2009 estimate for the county was 72,893 . Its county seat is Palatka, Florida. The county is centrally...

, Lake, and Marion Counties
Marion County, Florida
Marion County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. The U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimate for the county is 316,183. Its county seat is Ocala....

, and the western part of Volusia County. Slightly north of the Wekiva River is Blue Spring, the largest spring
Spring (hydrosphere)
A spring—also known as a rising or resurgence—is a component of the hydrosphere. Specifically, it is any natural situation where water flows to the surface of the earth from underground...

 on the St. Johns, producing over 64000000 gallons (242,266,368 l) a day. Florida springs stay at an even temperature of 72 °F (22.2 °C) throughout the year. Because of this, Blue Spring is the winter home for West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris), and they are protected within Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is a state park located west of Orange City, Florida in the United States. The park is a popular tourist destination; available activities include canoeing, SCUBA diving, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, wildlife watching, and swimming. The spring is the largest on the St....

. Manatees are large, slow-moving herbivorous aquatic mammals whose primary threats are human development and collisions with swiftly moving watercraft. Many parts of the St. Johns and its tributaries are no-wake zones
Wake
A wake is the region of recirculating flow immediately behind a moving or stationary solid body, caused by the flow of surrounding fluid around the body.-Fluid dynamics:...

 to protect manatees from being critically or fatally injured by boat propellers. Human interaction with manatees in Blue Spring State Park is forbidden.

Bordering to the north of Blue Spring State Park is Hontoon Island State Park
Hontoon Island State Park
Hontoon Island State Park is a Florida State Park located on Hontoon Island between the St. Johns River and the Hontoon Dead River in Volusia County. It is six miles west of DeLand, off SR 44, and can only be reached by boat or park operated ferry. The island has pine flatwoods, palm and oak...

, accessible only by boat. In 1955 an extremely rare Timucua
Timucua
The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people. The various groups of Timucua spoke several dialects of the...

 totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

 representing an owl was found buried and preserved in the St. Johns muck off of Hontoon Island. The figure may signify that its creators were part of the owl clan. Representing different clans of the Timucua, two more totems—in all, the only totems in North America to have been found outside of the Pacific Northwest—shaped like a pelican and otter were found in 1978 after being snagged by a barge at the bottom of the river. River otters (Lutra canadensis) can be found through the length of the St. Johns and its tributaries, living in burrows or in the roots of trees bordering waterways. They eat crayfish, turtles, and small fish, and are active usually at night, playful but shy of human contact.
The St. Johns creeps into the southern tip of Lake George
Lake George (Florida)
Lake George or Lake Welaka is a broad and shallow brackish lake on the St. Johns River in the U.S. state of Florida.-Geography:Lake George is six miles wide and eleven miles long, with an average depth of 8 feet . The west side of the lake is encompassed in the Ocala National Forest...

, the second largest lake in Florida at 72 square miles (186.5 km²), 6 miles (9.7 km) wide and 12 miles (19.3 km) long. The watershed surrounding Lake George expands through 3590 square miles (9,298.1 km²), lying within Ocala National Forest
Ocala National Forest
The Ocala National Forest is the second largest National Forest in the U.S. state of Florida and covers approximately of Central Florida. It is located three miles east of Ocala and southeast of Gainesville...

 and Lake George State Forest
Lake George State Forest
The Lake George State Forest is a designated protected area and state forest in the U.S. state of Florida. The forest is located in northwestern Volusia County, Florida, near Lake George and the communities of Pierson, Barberville, and Volusia...

, that protect an ecosystem dominated by pine and scrub more than 380000 acres (1,537.8 km²) and 21000 acres (85 km²) in size, respectively. Flatwoods forests dominate the Lake George watershed, with slash pines (Pinus elliottii), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and over 100 species of groundcover or herbal plants that grow in poor, sandy soil. Flatwoods pine forests stay relatively dry, but can withstand short periods of flooding. Larger land animals such as wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), and the largest population of southern bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus) in the contiguous U.S, find it easier to live in the flatwoods. Typical mammals that live in these ecosystems, such as raccoons (Procyon lotor), opossums (Didelphis virginiana), bobcats (Lynx rufus), and white tailed-deer (Odocoileus virginianus), are ones that prefer dry, flat areas with good ground cover and available nesting sites.

Ocklawaha River

The Ocklawaha River
Ocklawaha River
The Ocklawaha River flows north from central Florida until it joins the St. Johns River near Palatka. Its name is a corruption of ak-lowahe, Creek for "muddy"....

 joins the St. Johns as the largest tributary, and one of significant historical importance. The Ocklawaha (also printed as Oklawaha) drainage basin expands through Orange, Lake, Marion, and Alachua
Alachua County, Florida
Alachua County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. The U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimate for the county is 227,120. Its county seat is Gainesville, Florida. Alachua County is the home of the University of Florida and is also known for its diverse culture, local music, and artisans...

 Counties, comprising a total of 2769 square miles (7,171.7 km²). Ocala
Ocala, Florida
Ocala is a city in Marion County, Florida. As of 2007, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 53,491. It is the county seat of Marion County, and the principal city of the Ocala, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated 2007 population of 324,857.-History:Ocala...

, Gainesville
Gainesville, Florida
Gainesville is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Alachua County, Florida, United States as well as the principal city of the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area . The preliminary 2010 Census population count for Gainesville is 124,354. Gainesville is home to the sixth...

, and the northern suburbs of the Orlando metropolitan area are included in this basin. There are two headwaters for the Ocklawaha: a chain of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Apopka
Lake Apopka
Lake Apopka is the third largest lake in the U.S. state of Florida. It is located northwest of Orlando, mostly within the bounds of Orange County, although the western part is in Lake County. Fed by a natural spring, rainfall and stormwater runoff, water from Lake Apopka flows through the...

 in Lake County, and the Green Swamp
Green Swamp (Florida)
The Green Swamp is a swamp in Florida. It lies west of Highway 27 in Polk, Lake, Sumter, Hernando and Pasco Counties. The headwaters of the Peace River, Withlacoochee River, Ocklawaha River, and Hillsborough River are located here....

 near Haines City
Haines City, Florida
Haines City is a city in Polk County, Florida, United States. The population was 13,174 at the 2000 census. As of 2010, the population estimated by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida is 18,762. Haines City is the third most populous city in Polk County, Florida...

 in Polk County
Polk County, Florida
Polk County is located in central Florida between the Tampa Bay and Greater Orlando metropolitan areas. The county was established by the state government in 1861 on the eve of the American Civil War and named after former United States president James K. Polk. The county seat is Bartow and its...

. The Silver River, fed by one of Florida's most productive springs expelling 54000000 gallons (204,412,248 l) daily, is located about midway along the 96 miles (154.5 km) Ocklawaha. Like the St. Johns, the Ocklawaha also flows north.

Paddlewheel boats made the journey from the mouth of the river at Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

 to Silver Springs
Silver Springs, Florida
Silver Springs is a U.S. populated place and spring in Marion County, Florida, just to the east of the city of Ocala. It is part of the Ocala Metropolitan Statistical Area....

—the source of the Silver River—at the turn of the 20th century, popularizing the Ocklawaha. Georgia-born poet Sidney Lanier
Sidney Lanier
Sidney Lanier was an American musician and poet.-Biography:Sidney Lanier was born February 3, 1842, in Macon, Georgia, to parents Robert Sampson Lanier and Mary Jane Anderson; he was mostly of English ancestry. His distant French Huguenot ancestors immigrated to England in the 16th century...

 called it "the sweetest waterlane in the world" in a travel guide he published in 1876. The river gave Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was an American author who lived in rural Florida and wrote novels with rural themes and settings. Her best known work, The Yearling, about a boy who adopts an orphaned fawn, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was later made into a movie, also known as The...

 access to the St. Johns from her homestead at Orange Lake
Orange Lake, Florida
Orange Lake is an unincorporated community in Marion County, Florida, United States. It is located on US 441, on Orange Lake south of McIntosh....

. The region served as a major fishing attraction until a decline in water quality occurred in the 1940s, and since then further degradation of the river and its sources have occurred. In particular, Lake Apopka earned the designation of Florida's most polluted lake following a chemical spill in 1980 that dumped DDT
DDT
DDT is one of the most well-known synthetic insecticides. It is a chemical with a long, unique, and controversial history....

 in it. It has experienced chronic algal bloom
Algal bloom
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically, only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved, and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration...

s caused by citrus farm fertilizer and wastewater runoff from nearby farms.

The proliferation of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) in central Florida is a major attraction for fishermen from all over the country. The St. Johns is home to 183 species of fish, 55 of which appear in the main stem of the river. One, the southern tessellated darter (Etheostoma olmstedi) is found only in the Ocklawaha. Some are marine species that either migrate upriver to spawn or have found spring-fed habitats that are high in salinity, such as a colony of Atlantic stingrays (Dasyatis sabina) that live in Lake Washington in the upper basin. Ocean worms, snails, and white-fingered mud crabs (Rhithropanopeus harrisii) have also been found far upriver where tidal influences are rare. In contrast, American eels (Anguilla rostrata) live in the St. Johns and Ocklawaha and spawn in the Sargasso Sea
Sargasso Sea
The Sargasso Sea is a region in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ocean currents. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream; on the north, by the North Atlantic Current; on the east, by the Canary Current; and on the south, by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. This...

 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. After a year living in the ocean, many of them find their way back
Fish migration
Many types of fish migrate on a regular basis, on time scales ranging from daily to annually or longer, and over distances ranging from a few metres to thousands of kilometres...

 to the St. Johns to live, then, prompted by the phases of the moon, make the return journey to spawn and die.

Lower basin

From the intersection of the Ocklawaha River, 101 miles (162.5 km) to the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Johns lies within the lower basin, draining a total area of 2600 square miles (6,734 km²) in Putnam, St. Johns
St. Johns County, Florida
St. Johns County is a county located in northeastern Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 190,039. The county seat is St. Augustine. Due to the inclusion of Ponte Vedra Beach, it is one of the highest-income counties in the United States....

, Clay
Clay County, Florida
Clay County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2010, the population was 190,895. Its county seat is Green Cove Springs, Florida. Clay County is part of the Greater Jacksonville Metropolitan area.- History :...

, and Duval Counties. Twelve tributaries empty into the river in the lower basin. The St. Johns River widens considerably on the north end of Lake George; between Lake George and Palatka the river ranges between 600 and 2640 ft (182.9 and 804.7 m) wide. Between Palatka and Jacksonville, that widens further to between 1 and 3 mi (1.6 and 4.8 km). This portion of the river is the most navigable and shipping is its primary use. The Army Corps of Engineers maintains shipping channels at least 12 feet (3.7 m) deep and 100 feet (30.5 m) wide. North of Palatka, the channels are expanded to 40 feet (12.2 m) deep and between 400 and 900 ft (121.9 and 274.3 m) wide.

The towns and cities along the lower basin of the river are some of the oldest in Florida, and their histories have centered on the river. Both Palatka and Green Cove Springs have been popular tourist destinations in the past. Several smaller locations along the river sprang up around ferry landings, but when rail lines and then Interstate highways
Interstate Highway System
The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, , is a network of limited-access roads including freeways, highways, and expressways forming part of the National Highway System of the United States of America...

 were constructed closer to the Atlantic Coast, many of the towns experienced significant economic decline, and ferry landings were forgotten.

The final 35 miles (56.3 km) of the river's course runs through Jacksonville, the largest city by area in the state of Florida, with a population of more than a million. Much of the economic base of Jacksonville depends on the river: 18000000 short tons (16,329,325.3 MT) of goods are shipped in and out of Jacksonville annually. Exports include paper, phosphate, fertilizers, and citrus, while major imports include oil, coffee, limestone, cars, and lumber. The Port of Jacksonville produces $1.38 billion in the local economy and supports 10,000 jobs. The U.S. Navy has two bases in the Jacksonville area: Naval Station Mayport
Naval Station Mayport
Naval Station Mayport is a major United States Navy base in Jacksonville, Florida. It contains a military airfield with one asphalt paved runway measuring 8,001 x 200 ft. ....

, at the mouth of the river, serves as the second largest Atlantic fleet operation in the country. Naval Air Station Jacksonville
Naval Air Station Jacksonville
Naval Air Station Jacksonville or NAS Jacksonville is a military airport located four miles south of the central business district of Jacksonville...

 is primarily a Naval airport.
Using an unofficial nickname of "The River City", Jacksonville has a culture centered on the St. Johns. An annual footrace named the Gate River Run
Gate River Run
The Gate River Run , formerly known as the Jacksonville River Run, is an annual 15 kilometer road race in Jacksonville, Florida that attracts both competitive and recreational runners. It has been the US National Championship 15K since 1994 and in 2007 became the largest 15K race in the country...

 accepts 18,000 participants who travel a course along and over the river twice. The largest kingfishing tournament in the U.S.
Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament
The AT&T Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament is a contest fishing for King mackerel that spans six days every July in Jacksonville, Florida. The tournament is the largest kingfish tournament. According to Rick Ryals, a local boat captain, the GJKT is "true competition in its purest form. It...

 is held on a St. Johns tributary, where sport fishers concentrate on king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), cobia (Rachycentron canadum), dolphin (Coryphaena hippurus) and Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri). The home stadium for the Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a professional American football team based in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. They are currently members of the South Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 faces the river, as does most of the commercial center of downtown. Eight bridges span the St. Johns at Jacksonville; all of them allow tall ships to pass, although some restrict passing times when train or automobile traffic is heavy.

Tides cause seawater to enter the mouth of the St. Johns River and can affect the river's level into the middle basin. As a result, much of the river in Jacksonville is part seawater, making it an estuarine ecosystem. The animals and plants in these systems can tolerate both fresh and salt water, and the fluctuations in saline content and temperatures associated with tidal surges and heavy rainfall discharge. Marine animals such as dolphins and sharks can be spotted at times in the St. Johns at Jacksonville as can manatees. Fish such as mullet (Mullidae), flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma
Paralichthys lethostigma
Paralichthys lethostigma is a popular sports fish and is the largest and most commercially valuable flounder in the western north Atlantic ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Its range is North Carolina to the Yucatan peninsula...

), shad (Alosa sapidissima), and blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) migrate from the ocean to freshwater springs upriver to spawn.

Although freshwater invertebrates inhabiting and comprising algae and periphyton make the foundation of food webs in the middle and lower basin, zooplankton
Zooplankton
Zooplankton are heterotrophic plankton. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon , meaning "animal", and , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter"...

 and phytoplankton
Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

 take that role in the estuarine habitat. Mollusks gather at the St. Johns estuary in large numbers, feeding on the bottom of the river and ocean floors. The abundance and importance of oysters (Crassostrea virginica) is apparent in the many midden
Midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

s left by the Timucua in mounds many feet high. Oysters and other mollusks serve as the primary food source of shorebirds. The large trees that line the river from its source to south of Jacksonville begin to transition into salt marshes east of the city. Mayport is home to approximately 20 shrimping vessels that use the mouth of the St. Johns to access the Atlantic Ocean.

Formation and hydrology

Geologic history

Lying within a coastal plain
Coastal plain
A coastal plain is an area of flat, low-lying land adjacent to a seacoast and separated from the interior by other features. One of the world's longest coastal plains is located in eastern South America. The southwestern coastal plain of North America is notable for its species diversity...

, the St. Johns River passes through an area that was at one time barrier islands, coastal dunes, and estuary marshes. The Florida Peninsula was created primarily by forces and minerals from the ocean. It lies so low that minor fluctuations in sea levels can have a dramatic effect on its geomorphology. Florida was once part of the supercontinent Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

. Lying underneath the visible rock formations is a basement
Basement Rock
Basement or Basement Rock music was a sub-genre coined in 2006 in an article by music magazine TGR. This was first in relation to the existence of underground record label Criminal Records but more for the independent bands they represent. The roots of the sub-genre are noted to be as far back as...

 of igneous granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 and volcanic composition under a sedimentary layer formed during the Paleozoic era 542 to 251 million years ago. During the Cretaceous period (145 to 65 million years ago), the basement and its sedimentary overlay were further covered by calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 and formations left by the evaporation of water called evaporites. What covers the peninsula is the result of simultaneous processes of deposits of sands, shells, and coral, and erosion from water and weather. As ocean water has retreated and progressed, the peninsula has been covered with sea water at least seven times. Waves compressed sands, calcium carbonate, and shells into limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

; at the ocean's edge, beach ridges were created by this depositional forming. North-south axis rivers, such as the St. Johns, were created by past beach ridges which were often divided by swales
Swale (geographical feature)
A swale is a low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy. The term can refer to a natural landscape feature or a human-created one...

. As ocean water retreated, lagoon
Lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

s formed in the swales, which were further eroded by acidic water. Barrier island
Barrier island
Barrier islands, a coastal landform and a type of barrier system, are relatively narrow strips of sand that parallel the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen...

s, furthermore, formed along the Atlantic Coast, surrounding the lagoon with land and forming a freshwater river.

From its origins to approximately the area of Sanford, the St. Johns flows north. It takes a sharp turn west near Sanford for a few miles—which is referred to as the St. Johns River offset, but shortly changes direction to flow north again. Geologists hypothesize that the west-flowing offset may have formed earlier than the north flowing portions, possibly during the late Tertiary
Tertiary
The Tertiary is a deprecated term for a geologic period 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. The Tertiary covered the time span between the superseded Secondary period and the Quaternary...

 or early Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 era 65 to 12 million years ago. Some fracturing and faulting may also be responsible for the offset. Although seismic activity in Florida is mostly insignificant, several minor earthquakes have occurred near the St. Johns River, caused by the trough created by Pangaea
Pangaea
Pangaea, Pangæa, or Pangea is hypothesized as a supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, before the component continents were separated into their current configuration....

n rifting.

Springs and aquifers

All of Florida's abundant fresh water is the result of precipitation that returns to the atmosphere in a process called evapotranspiration
Evapotranspiration
Evapotranspiration is a term used to describe the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land surface to atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and waterbodies...

 that involves evaporation and transpiration of moisture from plants. As rains fall, most of the water is directed to lakes, streams, and rivers. However, a significant amount of fresh water is held underground but close to the surface in aquifers. A surficial aquifer
Surficial aquifer
Surficial aquifers are shallow aquifers typically less than 50 feet , but thicknesses of about have been mapped.- Composition :Surficial aquifers system consists mostly of beds of unconsolidated sand, cavity-riddled limestone and shells, sandstone, sand, and clay sand with minor clay or silt from...

 consisting mostly of clay, shells, and sand is over a confining layer of denser materials. Wells are drilled in the surficial aquifer, which supplies better quality water in areas where the deepest aquifer has a high mineral content. Occasionally the confining layer is fractured to allow breaches of water to percolate down to recharge the layer below. The Floridan Aquifer
Floridan Aquifer
The Floridan Aquifer is a portion of the principal artesian aquifer that extends into Florida and is composed of carbonate rock and located beneath the coastal regions of the Southeastern United States and is one of the world's most productive aquifers. It is under all of Florida as well as ...

, underneath the confining layer, underlies the entire state and portions of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. It is particularly accessible in the northern part of Florida, serving as the fresh water source of metropolitan areas from St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. It is known as a vacation destination for both American and foreign tourists. As of 2008, the population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau is 245,314, making St...

 north to Jacksonville and Tallahassee
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

.

Acidic rainwater erodes the limestone and can form underground caverns. When the overlay of these caverns is particularly thin—less than 100 feet (30.5 m)—sinkhole
Sinkhole
A sinkhole, also known as a sink, shake hole, swallow hole, swallet, doline or cenote, is a natural depression or hole in the Earth's surface caused by karst processes — the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes for example in sandstone...

s can form. Where the limestone or sand/clay overlay dissolves over the aquifer and the pressure of the water pushes out, springs form. The upper and middle basins of the St. Johns River are located in a portion of the peninsula where the aquifer system is thinly confined, meaning springs and sinkholes are abundant. Springs are measured in magnitude of how much water is discharged, which is dependent upon season and rainfall. The greatest discharge is from first magnitude springs that emit at least 100 cubic feet (2.8 m³) of water per second. There are four first magnitude springs that feed the St. Johns River: Silver Springs
Silver Springs, Florida
Silver Springs is a U.S. populated place and spring in Marion County, Florida, just to the east of the city of Ocala. It is part of the Ocala Metropolitan Statistical Area....

 in Marion County, emitting between 250 and 1290 cu ft (7.1 and 36.5 m3)/second; Silver Glen Spring straddling Marion and Lake Counties, emitting between 38 and 245 cu ft (1.1 and 6.9 m3)/second; Alexander Springs in Lake County, emitting between 56 and 202 cu ft (1.6 and 5.7 m3)/second; and Blue Spring in Volusia County, emitting between 87 and 218 cu ft (2.5 and 6.2 m3)/second.

Rainfall and climate

The St. Johns River lies within a humid subtropical zone. In summer months, the temperature ranges from 74 and 92 °F (23.3 and 33.3 C), and between 50 and 72 °F (10 and 22.2 C) in the winter, although drops may occur in winter months to below freezing approximately a dozen times. Water temperatures in the river correlate to the air temperatures. The average range of water temperatures is between 50 and 95 °F (10 and 35 C), rising in the summer months. Where the river widens between Palatka and Jacksonville, wind becomes a significant factor in navigation, and both whitecap waves and calm surface waters are common.

Rain occurs more frequently in late summer and early fall. Tropical storms and nor'easter
Nor'easter
A nor'easter is a type of macro-scale storm along the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada, so named because the storm travels to the northeast from the south and the winds come from the northeast, especially in the coastal areas of the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada...

s are common occurrences along the Atlantic coast of Florida; the St. Johns River lies between 10 and 30 mi (16.1 and 48.3 km) inland, so any storm striking the counties of Indian River north to Duval produces rain that is drained by the St. Johns River. Tropical Storm Fay
Tropical Storm Fay (2008)
Tropical Storm Fay was a tropical storm and the sixth named storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Fay formed from a vigorous tropical wave on August 15 over the Dominican Republic...

 in 2008 deposited 16 inches (40.6 cm) of rain in a 5-day period, most of it located near Melbourne
Melbourne, Florida
Melbourne is a city in Brevard County, Florida, United States. As of 2009, the population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau is 78,323. The municipal area is the second largest by size and by population in the county. Melbourne is a principal city of the Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville, Florida...

. The St. Johns near Geneva
Geneva, Florida
Geneva is a community, census-designated place, and an unincorporated area in Seminole County, Florida, United States. The population was 2,940 at the 2010 Census...

 in Seminole County rose 7 feet (2.1 m) in four days, setting a record. The river near Sanford rose 3 foot (0.9144 m) in 36 hours. Fay caused severe flooding in the middle basin due not only to the deluge but the flat slopes of the river. Typically, however, the St. Johns basin receives between 50 and 54 in (127 and 137.2 cm) of rain annually, half of it in summer months. The rate of evapotranspiration corresponds to rainfall, ranging between 27 and 57 in (68.6 and 144.8 cm) a year, most of it occurring in the summer.



Flow rates and water quality

The entire river lies within the nearly flat Pamlico terrace, giving it an overall gradient of 0.8 inches (2 cm) per mile (km); it is one of the flattest major rivers on the continent. Its proximity to the ocean in the lower basin affects its rise and fall with tides and salinity. Tides regularly affect water levels as far south as Lake George; when combined with extreme winds, the river's tidal effects can extend to Lake Monroe 161 miles (259.1 km) away and have on occasion reached Lake Harney. Tides typically raise the river level about 1.2 foot (0.36576 m) at Jacksonville, decreasing some to 0.7 foot (0.21336 m) at Orange Park
Orange Park, Florida
Orange Park is a town in Clay County, Florida, USA, and a suburb of Jacksonville. The population was 8,412 at the 2010 census. The name "Orange Park" is additionally applied to a wider area of northern Clay County outside the town limits, covering such communities as Fleming Island, Lakeside, and...

 where the river widens, and increasing back to 1.2 foot (0.36576 m) at Palatka as it narrows. As a result of tidal effects, discharge measurements in the lower basin are often inaccurate. However, the estimated rate of discharge between the Ocklawaha River and the center of Jacksonville ranges from 4000 to 8300 cu ft (113.3 to 235 m3) per second. The nontidal discharge at the mouth at Mayport averages 15000 cubic feet (424.8 m³) per second, but with tides it exceeds 50000 cubic feet (1,415.8 m³) per second, and following heavy rains combined with tides can top 150000 cubic feet (4,247.5 m³) per second. Farther upriver, the discharge rate ranges from 1030 cubic feet (29.2 m³) per second near Lake Poinsett to 2850 cubic feet (80.7 m³) per second near DeLand. The confluence of numerous springs, the Econlockhatchee River, and the Wekiva River causes the average discharge to increase by 940 cubic feet (26.6 m³) per second between Lake Harney and DeLand, representing the greatest annual average increase of streamflow along the St. Johns.

As distance between the mouth of the St. Johns and the middle and upper basins increases, the salinity
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

 in the river gradually decreases. Marine water measures at 35 parts per thousand (ppt) or more while fresh water measures below 2 ppt. What ranges in between is characterized as brackish water. Near the center of Jacksonville, average measures have been collected at 11.40 ppt. Farther south at the Buckman Bridge, joining the south side of Jacksonville to Orange Park, it decreases to 2.9 ppt and falls again to 0.81 ppt at the Shands Bridge
Shands Bridge
The Shands Bridge is a highway bridge over the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida. The span was first opened in 1929. It was located just north of the current span, crossing from Orangedale to the present Shands pier on the west side of the river....

 near Green Cove Springs
Green Cove Springs, Florida
Green Cove Springs is a city in Clay County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,378 at the 2000 census. As of 2010, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 6,908. It is the county seat of Clay County....

.

Dissolved oxygen
Oxygen saturation
Oxygen saturation or dissolved oxygen is a relative measure of the amount of oxygen that is dissolved or carried in a given medium. It can be measured with a dissolved oxygen probe such as an oxygen sensor or an optode in liquid media, usually water.It has particular significance in medicine and...

 in fresh water is measured to indicate the health of plant and animal life. It enters water through the atmosphere and from aquatic plant photosynthesis, and is affected by water pressure and temperature. Rapid decomposition of organic materials will decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen in the river, as will nutrients added to the water artificially by wastewater treatment runoff or drainage from fertilized agricultural fields. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Florida recommend no less than 5 mg of oxygen per liter. Several locations on the St. Johns or its tributaries reported at or below these minimums in the 1990s, including the mouth of the Wekiva River, the St. Johns at the town of Christmas
Christmas, Florida
Christmas is a census-designated place and an unincorporated area in Orange County, Florida, United States. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,162 at the 2000 census. Christmas is home to the world's largest alligator shaped building,...

, and in the early 2000s at Blue Spring and Blackwater Creek. Sustained low levels of dissolved oxygen may create algal blooms, which may also cause a further decrease in dissolved oxygen.

Like all blackwater streams in Florida, the color of most of the St. Johns is black, owing to the tannins in leaf litter and decaying aquatic plants. Spring fed streams, on the other hand, are remarkably clear and visibility is very high, even when the river bottom is dozens of feet below.

Pre-Columbian people

Humans arrived on the Florida Peninsula about 12,000 years ago when the ocean was about 350 feet (106.7 m) lower than today, and the peninsula was double its current size. These earliest people are called Paleo-Indians. They were primarily hunter–gatherers who followed large game, such as mastodon
Mastodon
Mastodons were large tusked mammal species of the extinct genus Mammut which inhabited Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Central America from the Oligocene through Pleistocene, 33.9 mya to 11,000 years ago. The American mastodon is the most recent and best known species of the group...

s, horses, camels, and bison. Much of the land was far from water—most fresh water was contained in glaciers and polar ice caps. As a result, Florida was an arid landscape with few trees, dominated by grasslands and scrub vegetation. Around 9,000 years ago, the climate warmed, melting many of the polar ice caps and glaciers, creating a wetter environment and submerging half the peninsular shelf. As Paleo-Indians did not have to travel as far to find water, their camps became more permanent, turning into villages. With evidence of a wide variety of tools constructed around this time, archeologists note the transition into Archaic people.

The Archaic people made tools from bone, animal teeth, and antlers. They wove fibers from plants such as cabbage palms and saw palmettos. A few burial sites have been excavated—including the Windover Archaeological Site
Windover archaeological site
The Windover Archaeological Site is an Early Archaic archaeological site found in Brevard County near Titusville, Florida, USA, on the central east coast of the state. Windover is a muck pond where skeletal remains of 168 individuals were found buried in the peat at the bottom of the pond. The...

 in Brevard County near Titusville
Titusville, Florida
Titusville is a city in Brevard County, Florida in the United States. It is the county seat of Brevard County. Nicknamed Space City, USA, Titusville is on the Indian River, west of Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center and south-southwest of the Canaveral National Seashore...

—that provide evidence of burial rituals. Archaic peoples interred their dead in shallow peat marshes, which preserved much of the human tissue. Further climate change between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago led to the Middle Archaic period; evidence suggests that human habitation near the St. Johns River first occurred during this era. Populations of indigenous people increased significantly at this time, and numerous settlements near the St. Johns have been recorded from this era; the banks of the St. Johns and its arteries are dotted with midden
Midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

s filled with thousands of shells, primarily those of Viviparus georgianus
Viviparus georgianus
Viviparus georgianus, common name the banded mystery snail, is a species of large freshwater snail with gills and an operculum, an aquatic gastropod mollusk in the family Viviparidae.This snail is native to North America...

—a freshwater snail—and oysters.

The advent of regional types of pottery and stone tools made of flint or limestone marked further advancements around 500 BCE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

. The Archaic people transitioned into settled groups around Florida. From the central part of the state north, along the Atlantic Coast lived people in the St. Johns culture
St. Johns culture
The St. Johns culture was an archaeological culture in northeastern Florida, USA that lasted from about 500 BCE until shortly after European contact in the 17th century. The St. Johns culture was present along the St. Johns River and its tributaries The St. Johns culture was an archaeological...

, named for the most significant nearby natural formation. Around 750 CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

, the St. Johns culture learned to cultivate corn, adding to their diet of fish, game, and gourds. Archeologists and anthropologists date this agricultural advancement to coincide with a spread of archeological sites, suggesting that a population increase followed. When European explorers arrived in north Florida, they met a tribe speaking Timucua
Timucua
The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people. The various groups of Timucua spoke several dialects of the...

n, numbering about 14,000, the largest group of indigenous people in the region. The Timucua people called the river Welaka (or Ylacco), meaning "chain of lakes", referring not only the numerous lakes that border or are formed by the river, but the slow discharge and tidal effects on it.

Colonial era

Though the first European contact in Florida came in 1513 when Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named...

 arrived near Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral, from the Spanish Cabo Cañaveral, is a headland in Brevard County, Florida, United States, near the center of the state's Atlantic coast. Known as Cape Kennedy from 1963 to 1973, it lies east of Merritt Island, separated from it by the Banana River.It is part of a region known as the...

, not until 1562 was the north Atlantic coast of the peninsula settled. Early Spanish explorers named the river Rio de Corientes (River of Currents). The St. Johns River became the first place colonized and the first battleground: when French explorer Jean Ribault
Jean Ribault
Jean Ribault was a French naval officer, navigator, and a colonizer of what would become the southeastern United States. He was a major figure in the French attempts to colonize Florida...

 erected a monument south of the river's mouth to make French presence known, it alarmed the Spanish who had been exploring the southern and western coast of the peninsula for decades. Ribault was detained after he returned to Europe; in 1564 René Goulaine de Laudonnière
René Goulaine de Laudonnière
René Goulaine de Laudonnière was a French Huguenot explorer and the founder of the French colony of Fort Caroline in what is now Jacksonville, Florida...

 arrived to build Fort Caroline
Fort Caroline
Fort Caroline was the first French colony in the present-day United States. Established in what is now Jacksonville, Florida, on June 22, 1564, under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière, it was intended as a refuge for the Huguenots. It lasted one year before being obliterated by the...

 at the mouth of the St. Johns River; they called the river Rivière de Mai because they settled it on May 1. An artist named Jacques LeMoyne documented what he saw among the Timucuan people in 1564, portraying them as physically powerful and not lacking for provisions. Fort Caroline did not last long; though relations with the local Timucua
Timucua
The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people. The various groups of Timucua spoke several dialects of the...

 and Mocama
Mocama
The Mocama were a Native American people who lived in the coastal areas of what are now northern Florida and southeastern Georgia. A Timucua group, they spoke the dialect known as Mocama, the best-attested dialect of the Timucua language. Their territory extended from about the Altamaha River in...

s were friendly, the colony was unable to support itself. Some of the French deserted. Those who remained were killed by the Spanish in 1565.

The French and Spanish continued to spar over who would control the natural resources and native peoples of the colony, foreshadowing a history during which eight different countries would control the river. The Timucua, who had initially befriended the French, were not encouraged to make the Spanish allies because of colonial governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was a Spanish admiral and explorer, best remembered for founding St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. This was the first successful Spanish foothold in La Florida and remained the most significant city in the region for several hundred years. St...

' distaste of French Protestantism
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 and his view that the Timucuan beliefs were "Satanic". By 1573, the Timucua were in outright rebellion, testing the governor's patience and forcing Spanish settlers to abandon farms and garrisons in more interior parts of Florida; the Spanish could not persuade the Timucua to keep from attacking them. Over a hundred years later, missionaries had more success, setting up posts along the river. Spanish Franciscan missionaries gave the river its current name based on San Juan del Puerto (St. John of the door or harbor), the mission established at the river's mouth following the demise of the French fort. The name first appeared on a Spanish map created between 1680 and 1700.

The Timucua, as other groups of indigenous people in Florida, began to lose cohesion and numbers by the 18th century.In 1717, some of the groups were reorganized by the colonial governor; 248 Timucua were counted. The restructuring also included Yamasee
Yamasee
The Yamasee were a multiethnic confederation of Native Americans that lived in the coastal region of present-day northern coastal Georgia near the Savannah River and later in northeastern Florida.-History:...

, Mocama, Apalachee
Apalachee
The Apalachee are a Native American people who historically lived in the Florida Panhandle, and now live primarily in the U.S. state of Louisiana. Their historical territory was known to the Spanish colonists as the Apalachee Province...

, and Guale
Guale
Guale was an historic Native American chiefdom along the coast of present-day Georgia and the Sea Islands. Spanish Florida established its Roman Catholic missionary system in the chiefdom in the late 16th century. During the late 17th century and early 18th century, Guale society was shattered...

: in total no more than 1,500 Indians remained in north Florida. Disease and violent conflicts with the Spanish and other tribes continued to decrease their numbers, and by 1763, 100 of the last remaining indigenous people of Florida chose to be relocated to Cuba with the Spanish. (Gannon, p. 94.)
A tribe located in modern-day Georgia and Alabama called the Creeks assisted with this; in 1702, they joined with the Yamasee and attacked some of the Timucua, forcing them to seek protection from the Spanish who forced them into slavery. The Creeks began assimilating other people and spread farther south until they were known by 1765 as Seminole
Seminole
The Seminole are a Native American people originally of Florida, who now reside primarily in that state and Oklahoma. The Seminole nation emerged in a process of ethnogenesis out of groups of Native Americans, most significantly Creeks from what is now Georgia and Alabama, who settled in Florida in...

s by the British, a term adapted from cimarrones that meant "runaways" or "wild ones". The Seminoles employed a variety of languages from the peoples the Creeks had assimilated: Hitchiti
Hitchiti
The Hitchiti were a Muskogean-speaking tribe formerly residing chiefly in a town of the same name on the east bank of the Chattahoochee River, 4 miles below Chiaha, in west Georgia. They spoke the Hitchiti language, which was mutually intelligible with Mikasuki; both tribes were part of the loose...

, Muskogee, as well as Timucua. Between 1716 and 1767, the Seminoles gradually moved into Florida and began to break ties with the Creeks to become a cohesive tribe of their own. The St. Johns provided a natural boundary to separate European colonies on the east bank and indigenous lands west of the river.

After Florida came under the United Kingdom's jurisdiction in 1763, Quaker father and son naturalists John
John Bartram
*Hoffmann, Nancy E. and John C. Van Horne, eds., America’s Curious Botanist: A Tercentennial Reappraisal of John Bartram 1699-1777. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 243. ....

 and William Bartram
William Bartram
William Bartram was an American naturalist. The son of Ann and John Bartram, William Bartram and his twin sister Elizabeth were born in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. As a boy, he accompanied his father on many of his travels, to the Catskill Mountains, the New Jersey Pine Barrens,...

 explored the length of the river while visiting the southeastern United States from 1765 to 1766. They published journals describing their experiences and the plants and animals they observed. They were charged by King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 to find the source of the river they called the Picolata or San Juan, and measured its widths and depths, taking soil samples as they traveled southward. William returned to Florida from 1773 to 1777 and wrote another journal about his travels, while he collected plants and befriended the Seminoles who called him "Puc Puggy" (flower hunter). William's visit took him as far south as Blue Spring, where he remarked on the crystal clear views offered by the spring water: "The water is perfectly diaphanous, and here are continually a prodigious number and variety of fish; they appear as plain as though lying on a table before your eyes, although many feet deep in the water." Bartram's journals attracted the attention of such prominent Americans as James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

. The success of these journals inspired other naturalists such as André Michaux
André Michaux
André Michaux was a French botanist and explorer.-Biography:Michaux was born in Satory, now part of Versailles, Yvelines. After the death of his wife within a year of their marriage he took up the study of botany and was a student of Bernard de Jussieu...

 to further explore the St. Johns, as he did in 1788, sailing from Palatka south to Lake Monroe, and gave names to some of the plants described by the Bartrams' journals. Michaux was followed by William Baldwin
William Baldwin (botanist)
William Baldwin was an American physician and botanist who is today remembered for his significant contributions to botany. He lived in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Georgia, and served as a ship's surgeon on two voyages overseas...

 between 1811 and 1817. Subsequent explorers, including John James Audubon
John James Audubon
John James Audubon was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats...

, have carried William's Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida with them as a guide.

In 1795, Florida was transferred back to Spain which lured Americans with cheap land. A former loyalist to Britain who left South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, a planter and slave trader named Zephaniah Kingsley
Zephaniah Kingsley
Zephaniah Kingsley, Jr. was a plantation owner, slave trader, and merchant who built several plantations in the Spanish colony of Florida in what is now Jacksonville...

 seized the opportunity and built a plantation named Laurel Grove near what is now Doctors Lake
Doctors Lake
Doctors Lake is a body of water located off the St. Johns River in Clay County, Florida. Despite its name, it is not a true lake, as it is actually an inlet, openly connected to the St. Johns. Because of the estuarine nature of the St. Johns, Doctor's Lake is itself somewhat brackish.Many docks...

, close to the west bank of the St. Johns River, south of where Orange Park
Orange Park, Florida
Orange Park is a town in Clay County, Florida, USA, and a suburb of Jacksonville. The population was 8,412 at the 2010 census. The name "Orange Park" is additionally applied to a wider area of northern Clay County outside the town limits, covering such communities as Fleming Island, Lakeside, and...

 is today. Three years later, Kingsley took a trip to Cuba and purchased a 13-year-old Wolof
Wolof people
The Wolof are an ethnic group found in Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania.In Senegal, the Wolof form an ethnic plurality with about 43.3% of the population are Wolofs...

 girl named Anna Madgigine Jai
Anna Kingsley
Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley was a West African slave turned slaveholder and plantation owner in early 19th century Florida. At 13 years old, she was captured and sent to Cuba where she was purchased by and married to Zephaniah Kingsley, a slave trader and plantation owner. They had four children...

. She became his common-law wife, and managed Laurel Grove while Kingsley traveled and conducted business. The plantation grew citrus and sea island cotton (Gossypium barbadense
Gossypium barbadense
Gossypium barbadense, also known as extra long staple cotton as it generally has a staple of at least 1 3/8" or longer, is a species of cotton plant. Some types of ELS cotton are American Pima, Egyptian Giza, Indian Suvin, Chinese Xiniang, Sudanese Barakat, and Russian Tonkovoloknistyi...

). In 1814, they moved to a larger plantation
Kingsley Plantation
Kingsley Plantation is the site of a former estate in Jacksonville, Florida, that was named for an early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who spent 25 years there. It is located at the northern tip of Fort George Island at Fort George Inlet, and is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve...

 on Fort George Island, where they lived for 25 years, and owned several other plantations and homesteads in what is today Jacksonville and another on Drayton Island
Drayton Island
Drayton Island is a privately owned heavily wooded island at the northern end of Lake George on the west side of the Saint Johns River's main channel in Putnam County, Florida, United States....

 at the north end of Lake George. Kingsley later married three other freed women in a polygamous relationship; Spanish-controlled Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

 allowed interracial marriages, and white landowners such as James Erwin, George Clarke, Francisco Sánchez, John Fraser, and Francis Richard, Jr.—early settlers along the river—all were married to or in extramarital relationships with African women.

Territorial Florida and statehood

The first years following Florida's annexation to the United States in 1821 were marked with violent conflicts between white settlers and Seminoles, whose bands often included runaway African slaves. The clashes between American and Seminole forces during the establishment of the Florida territory are reflected in the towns and landmarks along the St. Johns named for those who were directly involved. Even before Florida was under U.S. jurisdiction, Major General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 was responsible for removing the Alachua Seminoles west of the Suwannee River
Suwannee River
The Suwannee River is a major river of southern Georgia and northern Florida in the United States. It is a wild blackwater river, about long. The Suwannee River is the site of the prehistoric Suwannee Straits which separated peninsular Florida from the panhandle.-Geography:The river rises in the...

, either killing them or forcing them farther south towards Lake County, in 1818. Jackson's efforts became the First Seminole War, and were rewarded by the naming of a cattle crossing across a wide portion of the St. Johns near the Georgia border—previously named Cowford—to Jacksonville. The result of Jackson's offensive was the transfer of Florida to the U.S.Lake Monroe on the St. Johns was named for President James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

, who persuaded the U.S. government to finance the First Seminole War. As American settlers trickled in to farms and homesteads in north and central Florida, they came into increased conflict with several Seminole bands for food and sometimes to take the Seminoles as slaves. The Treaty of Moultrie Creek
Treaty of Moultrie Creek
The Treaty of Moultrie Creek was an agreement signed in 1823 between the government of the United States and several chiefs of the Seminole Indians in the present-day state of Florida. The United States had acquired Florida from Spain in 1821 by means of the Adams-Onís Treaty. In 1823 the...

 in 1823 placed Seminoles on a reservation near Lake Okeechobee, but further U.S. policy strongly encouraged them to leave Florida for Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

 in what would become Oklahoma. (Tebeau, p. 156.) by 1835, the Seminoles rebelled, inspired and led by Osceola
Osceola
Osceola, also known as Billy Powell , became an influential leader with the Seminole in Florida. He was of Creek, Scots-Irish and English parentage, and had migrated to Florida with his mother after the defeat of the Creek in 1814.Osceola led a small band of warriors in the Seminole resistance...

, whose name is one of the most widely used for landmarks and structures in the state. (McCarthy, p. 17.) Lake Jesup's namesake is the American military leader in Florida, Major General Thomas Jesup
Thomas Jesup
Brigadier General Thomas Sidney Jesup, USA was an American military officer known as the "Father of the Modern Quartermaster Corps". He was born in Berkeley County, West Virginia. He began his military career in 1808, and served in the War of 1812, seeing action in the battles of Chippewa and...

, who captured Osceola in 1837. Lake Harney was named for Brigadier General William S. Harney
William S. Harney
William Selby Harney was a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War and the Indian Wars. He was born in what is today part of Nashville, Tennessee but at the time was known as Haysborough....

, who led several raids against Seminoles in west and south Florida. (McCarthy, p. 12.)
Following the Seminole Wars, a gradual increase in commerce and population occurred on the St. Johns, made possible by steamship travel. Steamboat
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

s heralded a heyday for the river, and preceding railroads they were the only way to reach interior portions of the state. They also afforded the citizens of Jacksonville a pastime to watch competing races. By the 1860s, weekly trips between Jacksonville, Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, and Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

 were made to transport tourists, lumber, cotton, and citrus. The soil along the St. Johns was considered especially successful for producing sweeter oranges.

Florida's involvement in the U.S. Civil War was limited compared to other Confederate states
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 because it had a fraction of the populations of states that had been developed. Florida provided materials to the Confederacy by way of steamboats on the St. Johns, although the river and the Atlantic coasts were blockaded by the U.S. Navy. One action in Florida's role in the Civil War was the sinking of the USS Columbine
USS Columbine (1862)
USS Columbine was a side-wheel steamer originally built as a tugboat. The vessel was built in New York City in 1850 as A. H. Schultz, purchased by the Navy on 12 December 1862, outfitted by Howe & Cope-\land, New York City, and placed under the command of Acting Master J. S...

, a Union paddle steamer
Paddle steamer
A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat, powered by a steam engine, using paddle wheels to propel it through the water. In antiquity, Paddle wheelers followed the development of poles, oars and sails, where the first uses were wheelers driven by animals or humans...

 used for patrolling the St. Johns to keep materials from reaching the Confederate Army. In 1864, near Palatka, Confederate forces under the command of Capt. John Jackson Dickison
John Jackson Dickison
Colonel John Jackson Dickison , known as "The Swamp Fox", was an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. Dickison is remembered as being the person who led the attack which resulted in the capture of the USS Columbine, Union warship in the "Battle of Horse Landing"...

 captured and then burned the USS Columbine and sank her, making it perhaps the only ship commandeered by the Confederacy. The same year and farther downriver, Confederates again sunk a Union boat named the Maple Leaf
Maple Leaf (shipwreck)
The Maple Leaf is a historic shipwreck in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. The Maple Leaf was first launched as a freight and passenger vessel from the Marine Railway Yard in Kingston, Ontario in 1851...

, that struck a floating keg filled with explosives and settled into the muck near Julington Creek, south of Jacksonville. Part of the shipwreck was recovered in 1994, when it was discovered that many Civil War era artifacts, including daguerreotype
Daguerreotype
The daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photographic process. The image is a direct positive made in the camera on a silvered copper plate....

s and wooden matches, had been preserved in the river muck.

Although the Spanish had colonized Florida for two centuries, the state remained the last part of the east coast of the United States to be developed and explored. Following the Civil War, the State of Florida was too far in debt to build roads and rail lines to further its progress. Florida Governor William Bloxham in 1881 appealed directly to a Pennsylvania-based industrialist named Hamilton Disston
Hamilton Disston
Hamilton Disston , was an industrialist and real-estate developer who purchased four million acres of Florida land in 1881, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, and reportedly the most land ever purchased by a single person in world history...

, initially to build canals to improve steamboat passage through the Caloosahatchee River
Caloosahatchee River
The Caloosahatchee River is a river on the southwest Gulf Coast of Florida in the United States, approximately long. It drains rural areas on the northern edge of the Everglades northwest of Miami...

, and drain lands in the central part of the state to turn into agriculturally productive tracts. Disston was furthermore persuaded to purchase 4000000 acres (16,187.4 km²) of land in central Florida for $1 million, which at the time was reported to be the largest purchase of land in human history. Disston was ultimately unsuccessful in his drainage attempts, but his investment sparked the tourist industry and made it possible for railroad magnates Henry Morrison Flagler
Henry Morrison Flagler
Henry Morrison Flagler was an American tycoon, real estate promoter, railroad developer and partner of John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil. He was a key figure in the development of the eastern coast of Florida along the Atlantic Ocean and was founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway...

 and Henry Bradley Plant to construct rail lines down the east coast of Florida, and another connecting Sanford to Tampa. Disston was responsible for creating the towns of Kissimmee, St. Cloud, and several others on the west coast of Florida.

A New York Times story reporting on Disston's progress in 1883 stated that before Disston's purchase and the subsequent development, the only places worth seeing in Florida were Jacksonville and St. Augustine, with perhaps an overnight trip on the St. Johns River to Palatka; by 1883 tourist attractions had extended 250 miles (402.3 km) south. More attention was paid to the St. Johns with the increasing population. Florida was portrayed as an exotic wonderland able to cure failing health with its water and citrus, and the region began to be highlighted in travel writings. To relieve his bronchitis, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

 stayed briefly in St. Augustine, calling north Florida "a grotesque region" that was being swarmed by land speculators. Emerson poignantly disliked the public sale of slaves, adding to his overall distaste. Following the Civil War, however, famed author Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom...

 lived near Jacksonville and traveled up the St. Johns, writing about it with affection: "The entrance of the St. Johns from the ocean is one of the most singular and impressive passages of scenery that we ever passed through: in fine weather the sight is magnificent." Her memoir Palmetto Leaves
Palmetto Leaves
Palmetto Leaves is a memoir and travel guide written by Harriet Beecher Stowe about her winters in the town of Mandarin, Florida, published in 1873. Already famous for having written Uncle Tom's Cabin , Stowe came to Florida following the U.S. Civil War...

, published in 1873 as a series of her letters home, was very influential in luring northern residents to the state.

One unforeseen aspect of more people coming to Florida proved to be an overwhelming problem. A woman living in a winter home near Palatka introduced water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes
Eichhornia crassipes
Eichhornia crassipes, commonly known as Common Water Hyacinth, is an aquatic plant native to the Amazon basin, and is often considered a highly problematic invasive species outside its native range.-Ecology:...

) to the St. Johns in an attempt to beautify her backyard. Ten years later, the purple-flowered hyacinths had grown to reside in 50000000 acres (202,343 km²) of the river and its arteries, becoming a serious invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

. Hyacinths grow so densely that they prevent the navigation of watercraft, fishing, and sunlight from reaching the depths of the river, affecting both plant and animal life. Domestic cattle ate the plants and began wasting away; only later was it discovered the hyacinth has no nutritional value. The government of Florida found the plants to be so vexing that they spent almost $600,000 between 1890 and 1930 to rid the creeks and rivers of north Florida of them, but they were unsuccessful.

Land boom

An Englishman named Nelson Fell, persuaded by Disston's advertisements to make his fortunes in Florida, arrived in the 1880s. An engineer by trade, Fell purchased 12000 acres (48.6 km²) near Lake Tohopekaliga
Lake Tohopekaliga
Lake Tohopekaliga Tohopeka ; Tohopekaliga [from tohopke /to-hó:pk-i/ fence, fort + likv /léyk-a/ site] Lake Toho, West Lake, or simply Toho for short, native name meaning "we will gather together here", is a lake in Osceola County, Florida, United States. It is the primary inflow of Shingle Creek,...

 to create a town named Narcoossee
Narcoossee, Florida
Narcoossee is a small unincorporated community in eastern Osceola County, Florida, United States. It is located on the east side of East Lake Tohopekaliga. The only major road which runs through Narcoossee is State Road 15, commonly referred to as Narcoossee Road, which connects to U.S. Route 192...

, which had a population of more than 200 English immigrants by 1888. A spate of poor luck and tense British-American relations followed, prompting Fell to spend some years investing in infrastructure in Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, but he returned in 1909 with ideas of developing wetlands in central Florida. He was further encouraged by the political promises of Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward to drain the Everglades
Draining and development of the Everglades
The history of draining and development of the Everglades dates back to the 19th century. During the Second Seminole War beginning in 1836, the United States military's mission was to seek out Seminole people in the Everglades and capture or kill them. Those missions gave the military the...

 during his 1904 campaign. In 1910 Fell purchased 118000 acres (477.5 km²) of land for $1.35 an acre and started the Fellsmere Farms Company to drain the St. Johns Marsh in 1911 and send water into the Indian River Lagoon
Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon is a grouping of three lagoons: Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River, and the Indian River, on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. It was originally named Rio de Ais after the Ais Indian tribe, who lived along the east coast of Florida....

, promoting the engineered canals and other structures as wondrously efficient in providing land to build a massive metropolis. Some progress was made initially, including the establishment of the town of Fellsmere
Fellsmere, Florida
Fellsmere is a city in Indian River County, Florida, United States. The population was 3,813 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 4,658...

 in which land was sold for $100 an acre, but sales lagged because of a scandal regarding land sale fraud and faulty draining reports from the Everglades. The company then found itself short of funds due to mismanagement. Torrential rains ruptured the newly constructed levees and dikes and forced the company by 1916 to go into receivership. Fell left Florida for Virginia in 1917.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was an American author who lived in rural Florida and wrote novels with rural themes and settings. Her best known work, The Yearling, about a boy who adopts an orphaned fawn, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was later made into a movie, also known as The...

 used the St. Johns as a backdrop in her books South Moon Under and The Yearling
The Yearling
The Yearling is a 1946 Technicolor family film drama made by MGM. It was directed by Clarence Brown and produced by Sidney Franklin. The screenplay was by Paul Osborn and John Lee Mahin , adapted from the novel of the same name by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings...

, and several short stories. In 1933 she took a boat trip along the St. Johns with a friend. In the upper basin, she remarked on the difficulty of determining direction due to the river's ambiguous flow, and wrote in a chapter titled "Hyacinth Drift" in her memoir Cross Creek that she had the best luck in watching the way the hyacinths floated. Rawlings wrote, "If I could have, to hold forever, one brief place and time of beauty, I think I might choose the night on that high lonely bank above the St. Johns River."When Rawlings and her friend stopped in Sanford to purchase gasoline, a yacht owner offered to have his crew take her to town to buy it, but he was interrupted when his wife, resplendent in a "pink spectator sports costume", demanded he take her to church instead. As Rawlings left the dock at Sanford, her friend remarked, "The poor b—. I bet he'd give his silk shirt to go down the river with us instead of Pink Petticoats". (Rawlings, p. 366.)

Florida in the 20th century experienced a massive migration into the state. Undeveloped land sold well and draining to reclaim wetlands has often gone unchecked, and often encouraged by government. The St. Johns headwaters decreased in size from 30 square miles (77.7 km²) to one between 1900 and 1972. Much of the land was reclaimed for urban use, but agricultural needs took their toll as fertilizers and runoff from cattle ranching washed into the St. Johns. Without wetlands to filter the pollutants, the chemicals stayed in the river and flushed into the Atlantic Ocean. Boaters destroyed the floating islands of muck and weeds in the upper basin with dynamite, causing the lakes to drain completely.
What could have been the most serious human impact on nature in central Florida was the Cross Florida Barge Canal
Cross Florida Barge Canal
The Cross Florida Barge Canal was a canal project to connect the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean across Florida for barge traffic. Two sections were built but the project was cancelled, mainly for environmental reasons. It is now a protected green belt corridor, one mile wide...

, an attempt to connect the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the state by channeling the Ocklawaha River, first authorized in 1933.Author and University of Florida professor Kevin McCarthy characterized the Cross Florida Barge Canal as "probably the single most dangerous threat to the water resources of the state in the twentieth century". (McCarthy, p. 76.) The canal was intended to be 171 miles (275.2 km) long, 250 feet (76.2 m) wide, and 30 feet (9.1 m) deep. Canal construction was top among the engineering priorities in the state, and by 1964 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Flood control was the primary impetus behind its construction, though the broader reasoning and feasibility of the project remained unclear. The Army Corps of Engineers was also constructing hundreds of miles of canals in the Everglades at the same time and by the 1960s was being accused of wasting tax money through its unnecessary construction projects. In 1969 the Environmental Defense Fund filed suit in federal court to stop construction on the canal, citing irreparable harm that would be done to Florida waterways and the Floridan Aquifer, central and north Florida's fresh water source.

A separate canal, the St. Johns-Indian River Barge Canal
St. Johns-Indian River Barge Canal
The St. Johns-Indian River Barge Canal was a planned canal in the state of Florida, in length and linking the Intracoastal Waterway and the Indian River south of Oak Hill with the St. Johns River, originally intended to be just south of Lake Harney, but later shifted to be near Lake Monroe, with...

, was planned to link the river with the Intracoastal Waterway
Intracoastal Waterway
The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some lengths consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds; others are artificial canals...

, and was canceled soon after the Cross Florida Barge Canal was suspended.

Restoration

When steamboats were phased out for railroads, that were in turn replaced by Interstate 95
Interstate 95 in Florida
Interstate 95 is the main Interstate Highway on the east coast of the United States; it serves the Atlantic coast of Florida. It begins at a partial interchange with U.S. Highway 1 just south of downtown Miami, and heads north past Daytona Beach and Jacksonville to the Georgia state line at the St...

 that meets the St. Johns once in Jacksonville, the river lost much of its significance to the state. The influx of immigrants to Florida settled primarily south of Orlando, adversely affecting the natural order of wetlands there. Yet the call to save the Everglades
Restoration of the Everglades
The restoration of the Everglades is an ongoing effort to remedy damage inflicted on the environment of southern Florida during the 20th century. It is the most expensive and comprehensive environmental repair attempt in history. The degradation of the Everglades became an issue in the United...

 has been celebrated much more than restoration to the St. Johns River. Within the past 50 years, however, urban areas in the northern and central parts of the state have grown considerably. In the upper basin, population increased by 700 percent between 1950 and 2000, and is expected to rise another 1.5 million by 2020.

Nitrates and phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

 used as lawn and crop fertilizers wash into the St. Johns. Broken septic systems and seepage from cattle grazing lands create pollution that also finds its way into the river. Storm water washes from street drains directly to the river and its tributaries: in the 1970s, the Econlockhatchee River received 8000000 gallons (30,283,296 l) of treated wastewater every day. Wetlands were drained and paved, unable to filter pollutants from the water, made worse by the river's own slow discharge. Algal blooms, fish kills, and deformations and lesions on fish occur regularly in the river from Palatka to Jacksonville. Although most of the pollutants in the river are washed from the southern parts of the river, the Jacksonville area produces approximately 36 percent of them found in the lower basin.

The State of Florida implemented a program named Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) in 1987 to assist with river cleanups, particularly with nonpoint source pollution
Nonpoint source pollution
Nonpoint source pollution refers to both water and air pollution from diffuse sources. Nonpoint source water pollution affects a water body from sources such as polluted runoff from agricultural areas draining into a river, or wind-borne debris blowing out to sea. Nonpoint source air pollution...

, or chemicals that enter the river by soaking into the ground, as opposed to direct piped dumping. SWIM assists local jurisdictions with purchasing land for wetlands restoration. The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) is charged by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the Florida government agency charged with environmental protection.-History:...

 (DEP) with restoring the river. The first step in restoration, particularly in the upper basin, is the purchase of public lands bordering the river; ten different reserves and conservation areas have been implemented for such use around the St. Johns headwaters. Around Lake Griffin in the Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes, the SJRWMD has purchased 6500 acres (26.3 km²) of land that was previously used for muck farming. More than 19000 acres (76.9 km²) have been purchased along Lake Apopka to restore its wetlands, and the SJRWMD has removed nearly 15000000 lbs of gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), a fish species that stores phosphorus and adds to algae problems. The SJRWMD has also set minimum levels for the lakes and tributaries in the St. Johns watersheds to monitor permitted water withdrawals and declare water shortages when necessary.

To assist with river cleanup and the associated funds for improving water quality in the St. Johns, Mayor John Delaney
John Delaney
John Adrian Delaney is an American lawyer, politician and university administrator. He currently serves as the president of the University of North Florida. A member of the Republican Party, he served as mayor of Jacksonville, Florida from 1995 to 2003...

 of Jacksonville waged a campaign to get it named as an American Heritage River, beginning in 1997. The designation by the Environmental Protection Agency is intended to coordinate efforts among federal agencies to improve natural resource and environmental protection, economic revitalization, and historic and cultural preservation. The campaign was controversial as the Republican mayor defended asking for federal government assistance, writing "Other rivers have relied heavily on federal help for massive environmental clean-ups. It's the St. Johns' turn now." Twenty-two towns along the St. Johns and environmental, sporting, recreation, boating, and educational organizations also supported its designation, but several prominent Republican politicians expressed concerns over increased federal regulations and restrictions on private property ownership along the river; the Florida House of Representatives
Florida House of Representatives
The Florida House of Representatives is the lower house of the Florida Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Florida. The House is composed of 120 members representing an equal number of districts, with each district having an average population of 156,677.The House convenes at...

 passed a resolution asking President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 not to include the St. Johns. Despite this, Clinton designated the St. Johns as one of only 14 American Heritage Rivers out of 126 nominated in 1998 for its ecological, historic, economic and cultural significance.

The continuing increase of population in Florida has caused urban planners to forecast that the Floridan Aquifer will no longer be able to sustain the people living in north Florida. By 2020, 7 million people are predicted to live in the St. Johns basins, double the number living there in 2008. Proposals to use 155000000 gallons (586,738,860 l) a day from the St. Johns, and another 100000000 gallons (378,541,200 l) from the Ocklawaha River for fresh water are controversial, prompting a private organization named St. Johns Riverkeeper to nominate it to the list of the Ten Most Endangered Rivers by an environmental watchdog group named American Rivers. In 2008, it was listed as #6, which was met with approval from Jacksonville's newspaper, The Florida Times-Union
The Florida Times-Union
The Florida Times-Union is a major daily newspaper in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Widely known as the oldest newspaper in the state, it began publication as the Florida Union in 1864. Its current incarnation started in 1883, when the Florida Union merged with another Jacksonville paper, the...

, and skepticism from the SJRWMD.

See also


External links

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