Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Recreation & Parks
601 Ponce De Leon
De Leon Springs, FL 32130
For tourists in the 1880s, Florida was a tropical frontier still rich in mystery and
romance. At De Leon Springs, the legends of early explorers were still potent - a 1889
advertisement promised a "fountain of youth :impregnated with a deliciously healthy
combination of soda and sulfur."
Whatever the purported health benefits, the springs were indeed a natural wonder. De Leon
Springs still is a place for healthful outdoor recreation in a beautiful, natural setting.
Native Americans occupied the area from as early as 6,000 years ago. A
6,000-year-old dugout canoe, one of the oldest ever found in America, was discovered here.
Florida belonged to Spain
until 1763, then was ceded to England. Seminole Indians began settling in the area.
England gave this land to a company that traded European goods for the Indians' furs and
In 1783 Spain returned to power and granted this land for plantations. A long line of
planters cultivated cotton, corn and sugar cane on the plantation known as Spring Garden.
In 1821 Florida became U.S. territory. In 1831 the American artist John James Audubon
visited Spring Garden, then owned by Col. Orlando Rees. Rees built a waterwheel that
harnessed the spring flow to grind his sugar cane.
The plantation was burned during the Second Seminole War in 1835. Gen. Zachary Taylor's US Army troops retook the spring from the Seminoles in 1838.
During the Civil War, the spring-powered mill was used to provide grain and other stores
for Confederate forces. Union troops captured it in 1864 and most of the facilities
were destroyed. A winter resort lured Northern tourists during the late 1800's. A hotel and casino were built in the 1920s, followed by the Ponce de Leon Springs attraction in the 1950s.
In 1982, the state of Florida acquired the area for use as a state park. A unique dining experience is found at the Old
Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House located in the park. The specialty,
grill-your-own pancakes, are made from grain stone-ground on site with French buhr
See the Sugar Mill page for additional history.
Boat Rental Agreement (.pdf) - General Release (.pdf)
For more information on the evolution of this area please visit:
WEST VOLUSIA AND THE ST. JOHNS RIVER
- A 15,000-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR -
For more information about other
state parks please visit:
Other West Volusia State
De Leon Springs I
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