Suwannee County, the thirty-seventh county created in the State of Florida, was formed on December 21, 1858 out of the western portion of Columbia County. Named for the river immortalized by Stephen Foster (who never visited it, but used the name because it sounded better than other river names), the word “Suwannee” is sometimes thought to originate from the Indian word for “Echo River,” “Muddy Waters,” or something similar.
Suwannee County is full of natural wonders. The Suwannee River is one of eight magnificent waterways in North Central Florida. It proudly boasts to be the “diving capital of the world;” over 70 clear, fresh springs stand in stark contrast to the tannin-colored river water. There are many types of fish that thrive in its waters, including sturgeon, and the river provides a habitat for many species of wildlife. The river originates in the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia, meanders some 240 miles through North Central Florida, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s western shore.
The twentieth century began with industries flourishing. Live Oak and Dowling Park were the sites of the two largest sawmills in Florida, and Live Oak was the fifth-largest city in the state. Now Suwannee County will be home to the largest sawmill in the southeast. An immense amount of lumber was shipped on the Suwannee River. Brick manufacturing, wholesaling, and farming were also thriving business.
A number of large springs are found in the county, among them Newland (Falmouth) Springs near Falmouth; Branford, Little River, Royal, Peacock, Suwannee Springs, and Sulfur Springs near the Suwannee River.
With steady population growth since 1960, and constant improvements in economic development, Suwannee County has become a desirable place to live and do business. The charm of the area derived from its people and the fact that it has one of Florida’s longest and best loved rivers, the Suwannee. Suwannee County does today, and will continue to bring additional property and opportunity to its citizens.
Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park is famous for its music concerts and festivals. This private park also offers RV, tent and primitive camping and cabins. Many enjoy the restaurant and country store. A full service stable and horse camping are available.
Suwannee River State Park is a perfect place for spending time on the Suwannee River. Just inside the park you’ll find a high bluff that overlooks the spot where the Withlacoochee River joins the Suwannee on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Fishing, hiking and picnicking are favorite activities in this park.
At Dowling Park, visitors find the Advent Christian Village, a retirement community on 1,000 acres on the historic Suwannee River. One can shop at the grocery store or visit the cafe. Medical facilities are available. Birdwatching, hiking and fishing are popular.
The river widens along the lower Suwannee near Branford. Sandy banks become lower and slope gently toward the river. Located in the heart of Florida’s spring and river country, Branford is 20 minutes from High Springs, Live Oak and Mayo-towns along the “Antique Trail.” Branford features many businesses including motels, convenience stores, restaurants and many others. Ivey Memorial Park provides a parking lot and boat ramp at the river’s edge in the heart of town.
For more detailed information on Suwannee County visit the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce.