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Silver Springs, Florida facts for kids

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Silver Springs
Unincorporated community
Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs State Park
Location of Silver Springs, Florida
Location of Silver Springs, Florida
Country United States
State Florida
County Marion County
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 34488-34489

Silver Springs is an unincorporated community in Marion County, Florida, United States. It is the site of Silver Springs, a group of artesian springs and a historic tourist attraction that is now part of Silver Springs State Park. The community is part of the Ocala metropolitan area.

One of Florida's first tourist attractions, the springs drew visitors even before the U.S. Civil War. Glass-bottom boats have been a popular way to see the 242-acre (98 ha) complex. A small amusement park with various animals, a concert stage, a carousel, and exhibits also developed.

History

Steamboat approaching Silver Springs FL George Barker
Steamboat and railroad at Silver Springs in 1886.

Silver Springs was founded in 1852.

Since the mid-19th century, the natural environment of Silver Springs has attracted visitors from throughout the United States. Glass-bottom boat tours of the springs began in the late 1870s. In the 1920s, W. Carl Ray and W.M. "Shorty" Davidson, after leasing the land from Ed Carmichael (upon whose death the springs were left to the University of Florida), developed the land around the headwaters of the Silver River into an attraction that eventually became known as Silver Springs Nature Theme Park. The attraction featured native animal exhibits, amusement rides, and 30 or 90-minute glass-bottom boat tours of the springs. The 1934 'Princess Donna' is the oldest and only remaining operational boat from this by gone era. The "Princess Donna" currently operates on Jug Creek in Bokeelia Florida. In 2013, the State of Florida took over operations of Silver Springs and combined it with the adjacent Silver River State Park to form the new Silver Springs State Park. The T. W. Randall House on the National Register of Historic Places is located to the northeast.

Princess donna
Princess Donna

Several defunct tourist attractions were once located near Silver Springs. The Western-themed Six Gun Territory theme park, which included several attractions such as the Southern Railway & Six Gun 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad, operated from 1963 to 1984. The Wild Waters water park also existed in Silver Springs and operated from 1978 to 2016.

Silver Springs was "whites only" until 1967. From 1949 to 1969, African Americans were served by nearby Paradise Park, Florida, which closed when Silver Springs integrated racially.

Cattle ranch development

Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach has been building the Adena Springs Ranch for cattle, an abattoir, residential property development, and a thoroughbred horse farm in the area, stirring concern over plans for water use and how groundwater draw will affect the springs.

Notable people

Transportation

The main road through Silver Springs is State Road 40 which runs east and west from Rainbow Lakes Estates to Ormond Beach in Volusia County. State Road 326 terminates at SR 40, as does State Road 35, which becomes County Road 35 north of SR 40 before terminating at SR 326. County Roads 314 and 314A are also important north-south county roads that run west and into the Ocala National Forest.

Six Gun Territory

Six Gun Territory was a Western-themed theme park in Silver Springs. It opened on February 2, 1963 and closed on January 1, 1984.

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