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A Hotbed for Machine and Mammal

By Linda Tancs

In the 1800s, Florida’s Blue Spring Landing was a hotbed of activity for steamboat owners. It was owned by gold prospector-turned-orange grower Louis Thursby, who purchased Blue Spring (a first magnitude spring on the St. John’s River) in 1856. In the 20th century, the site even hosted an episode of the Underwater World of Jacques Cousteau. The documentary highlighted Blue Spring as a winter refuge for the manatee, Florida’s state marine mammal. As a result, the state ultimately purchased the land, creating Blue Spring State Park in Orange City. Manatee season runs from mid-November throughout March, and the park fills to capacity quickly. A self-guided tour of the Thursby house is also available.

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