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Silver Springs in Marion County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Steamboats at the Spring

 
 
Steamboats at the Spring Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, March 10, 2015
1. Steamboats at the Spring Marker
Inscription.  The first paddle-wheel steamboat to operate in northeast Florida was the Florida in 1834, running once a week from Savannah, Georgia to Picolata on the St. Johns River. After the Civil War, in late 1860s, travelers from northern states flocked to Jacksonville by train and ocean-going steamships originating in Boston and New York City. By the late 1800s, a network of steamboat lines, railroads and roads crisscrossed Florida. As steamboat traffic increased on the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers, Silver Springs became an important transportation hub and tourist destination.

In 1860, Hubbard L. Hart, who had operated stage coaches in central Florida in the 1850s, bought the steamboat, James Burt. He began running between Palatka and Silver Springs. The trip took about 24 hours but was faster and safer than traveling by road. During the Civil War, Hart, although from Vermont, transported supplies for the Confederacy. This was the beginning of the Hart Line, which at its peak had at least 10 steamboats. They were smaller than the St. Johns River boats, in order to navigate the narrow and winding Ocklawaha River.

Hart was instrumental
Marker detail: Ocklawaha Navigation Company - Hart Line Schedule image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Ocklawaha Navigation Company - Hart Line Schedule
in creating a tourist attraction at Silver Springs. A train depot was constructed next to the spring for easy transfer from his steamboats, and a hotel provided nice lodging for passengers enjoying the area or waiting for connecting trains. A passenger could travel just about anywhere in the country from Silver Springs, or take a train to Cedar Key for a steamship cruise to Havana, Cuba!

While on a business trip to Atlanta in 1895, Hart fell from a trolley and died. His family continued to operate the business, Ocklawaha Navigation Company, into the 1900s. By 1920, World War I and competition from railroads and automobiles forced Hart's family to close the business, bringing an end to the Hart Line and steamboats at Silver Springs.
 
Location. 29° 12.953′ N, 82° 3.053′ W. Marker is in Silver Springs, Florida, in Marion County. Marker can be reached from Northeast 29th Place half a mile south of East Silver Springs Boulevard. Touch for map. Marker is located along the River Trail in Silver Springs State Park, overlooking the Silver River, about 3/10 mile walk from the park entrance. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5656 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Silver Springs FL 34488, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Osceola (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); From Disaster to Award-Winning Design
Marker detail: Ocklawaha Navigation Company - Hart Line ticket image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Ocklawaha Navigation Company - Hart Line ticket
(about 800 feet away); Fort King (approx. 2.8 miles away); Fort King Burying Ground (approx. 2.9 miles away); Marion County Confederate Memorial Marker (approx. 3.7 miles away); Ocala (approx. 5.4 miles away); Ocala Demands (approx. 5˝ miles away); Evergreen Cemetery (approx. 5˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Silver Springs.
 
Also see . . .
1. Hart Set Steamboats on the River. No man played a greater role in the transportation history of Ocala and Marion County than Hubbard L. Hart of Palatka who, in the beginning, operated a stagecoach line, and later a fleet of paddle-wheel steamboats on the Ocklawaha River. Driving loaded stagecoaches over muddy roads in wet weather and miring down in soft sand when it was dry, turned the trip to Ocala into something of a nightmare for travelers. It may have been the lure of greater profits from hauling freight and a larger number of passengers on boats that steered this Vermont native into the steamboat trade. (Submitted on April 15, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Golden Era of Steamboats on Ocklawaha Ends
Marker detail: Silver Spring Hotel (<i>no longer exists</i>) image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Silver Spring Hotel (no longer exists)
. Those first boats following the Civil War in the 1870s were crude affairs. They did not inspire any feeling of safety and security in the tourists who crowded aboard them to experience the wonders of a wild, unknown water world. The tourists kept coming anyway, and the more some of them wrote about their unique adventure, the more they inspired others to try it. It soon became something of a sport for men to shoot alligators from the decks, as well as other creatures. (Submitted on April 15, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Principal Ocklawaha River Steamboats 1860-1920. (Submitted on April 15, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
 
Categories. Parks & Recreational AreasRailroads & StreetcarsWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels
 
Steamboats at the Spring Marker (<i>wide view; Silver River in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, March 10, 2015
5. Steamboats at the Spring Marker (wide view; Silver River in background)
Park Tour Boat on the Silver Spring River (<i>view from near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, March 10, 2015
6. Park Tour Boat on the Silver Spring River (view from near marker)
 
More. Search the internet for Steamboats at the Spring.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 15, 2019. This page originally submitted on April 15, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 45 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 15, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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