Suwannee River, Florida
|Name origin: Timucuan Native Americans|
|States||Florida, Georgia (U.S. state)|
|- left||Santa Fe River|
|- right||Alapaha River, Withlacoochee River|
|Cities||Fargo, Georgia, White Springs, FL, Branford, FL|
|Source||Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge|
|- location||Fargo, GA|
|Mouth||Gulf of Mexico|
|- location||Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Suwannee, FL|
|- elevation||0 ft (0 m)|
|Length||246 mi (396 km)|
The Suwannee River (also spelled Suwanee River) is a major river of southern Georgia and northern Florida in the United States. It is a wild blackwater river, about 246 miles (396 km) long. The Suwannee River is the site of the prehistoric Suwanee Straits which separated peninsular Florida from the panhandle.
The river rises in the Okefenokee Swamp, emerging at Fargo, Georgia. The river then runs southwest into Florida, dropping in elevation through limestone layers resulting in a rare Florida whitewater rapid. It then turns west near White Springs, Florida, receiving the waters of the Alapaha and Withlacoochee rivers, which together drain much of south-central Georgia. This meandering forms the southern border of Hamilton County, Florida. It then bends south near Ellaville, then southeast near Luraville, receives the Santa Fe River from the east just below Branford, then south again to the Gulf of Mexico near the town of Suwannee.
 Suwannee Valley
As the river turns north-northwest near White Springs, Florida, it begins to border the Suwannee Valley and Suwannee County. This continues to form a "C"-shaped curve as it drops southeast, and south again.
The Suwannee River area has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. During the first millennium AD it was inhabited by the people of the Weedon Island archaeological culture, and around 900 a derivative local culture, known as the Suwanee River Valley culture, developed. By the 16th century the river was inhabited by two closely related Timucua tribes: the Yustaga, who lived on the west side of the river, and the Northern Utina, who lived on the east side. The name "Suwanee" developed around this time. A University of South Florida website states the "Timucuan Indian word Suwani means Echo River ... River of Reeds, Deep Water, or Crooked Black Water." Jerald Milanovich states that "Suwannee" developed through "San Juan-ee" from the 17th-century Spanish mission of San Juan de Guacara, located on the river known to the Spanish as "Guacara". William Bright says the name "Suwanee" comes from the name of a Cherokee village, <Sawani>.
In the 18th century, Seminoles lived by the river. The steamboat Madison operated on the river before the Civil War, and the sulphur springs at White Springs became popular as a health resort, with 14 hotels in operation in the late 19th century.
This river is the subject of the Stephen Foster song "Old Folks at Home," in which he calls it the Swanee River. Foster had named the Pedee River of South Carolina in his first lyrics. It was called Swanee River because Foster had misspelled the name. Foster never saw the river he made world famous. George Gershwin's song, with lyrics by Irving Caesar, and made popular by Al Jolson, is also spelled "Swanee," and boasts that "the folks up North will see me no more when I get to that Swanee shore."
Both these songs feature strumming banjos and reminiscences of a plantation life more typical of 19th century South Carolina along the Peedee than among the swamps and small farms of the coastal plain of Georgia and Florida.
When crossing the river by car today, the sign greeting visitors announces that they are crossing the Historic Suwannee River, complete with the first line of sheet music from the song. "Old Folks at Home" is the state song of Florida, designated as such in 1935. There is a Foster Museum and Carillon Tower at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park at White Springs. The spring itself is called White Sulphur Springs because of its high sulphur content. Because of a belief in the healing qualities of its waters, the Springs were long popular as a health resort.
A unique aspect of the Suwannee River is the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, a cooperative effort by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Suwannee River Water Management District, and the cities, businesses and citizens of the eight-county region of the Suwannee River Basin. The Trail encompasses 170 river miles from Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge offers bird and wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, canoeing, hunting, and interpretive walks. A wildlife driving tour is under construction and several boardwalks and observation towers offer views of refuge wildlife and habitat.
In recent years, the Suwannee River has been the site of music gatherings. Magnolia Festival, SpringFest, and Wanee have been held annually in Live Oak, Florida at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, adjacent to the river. Performing artists include Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Allman Brothers Band, and the String Cheese Incident.
|Suwannee River Sill||Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge|
| US 441
|Edith, Georgia to Fargo, Georgia|
|Ed Scott Bridge||US 41||White Springs, Florida||290083|
|SR 136||White Springs, Florida||290030|
|Old US 129 Bridge||93rd Drive
|Suwannee Springs, Florida|
|US 129||Suwannee Springs, Florida||320019|
|CSX Rail Bridge||Tallahassee Subdivision||Ellaville, Florida|
|Hillman Bridge(a.k.a.; Old Ellaville Bridge)||Old US 90
|US 90||Ellaville, Florida||350062|
|Interstate 10||Suwannee River State Park|
|CR 250||Dowling Park, Florida||370018|
|Hal W. Adams Bridge||SR 51||Mayo to Luraville, Florida||330009|
|Drew Bridge||Suwannee & San Pedro Railroad|
|Frank R. Norris Bridge||US 27||Branford, Florida|
|W. O. Cannon - D. W. McCollister Bridge||CR 340||Bell, Florida||310002|
|Nature Coast State Trail||Old Town, Florida|
|Joe H. Anderson Sr. Bridge|| US 19
Alternate US 27
|Fanning Springs, Florida||300031, 300061|
 See also
- U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 18, 2011
- Worth vol. I, pp. 28–29.
- "The Suwannee River,Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers". College of Education, University of South Florida. 2002. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
- Bright, William (2004). Native American placenames of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 466. ISBN 978-0-8061-3598-4. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
- Milanich, Jerald T. (2006). Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and Southeastern Indians. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2966-X
- Worth, John E. (1998). Timucua Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida. Volume 1: Assimilation. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1574-X. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Suwannee River|
- Suwannee Online
- USF page with history
- EPA info on Suwannee basin
- Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
- Info on the Suwannee River and surrounding areas from SRWMD
- Suwanee River Watershed - Florida DEP
- Recording of "Old Folks at Home" at the 1955 Florida Folk Festival; made available for public use by the State Archives of Florida
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Suwannee River
- Where it's SpringTime year round <http://www.springsrus.com>
 Further reading
- Light, H.M., et al. (2002). Hydrology, vegetation, and soils of riverine and tidal floodplain forests of the lower Suwannee River, Florida, and potential impacts of flow reductions [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1656A]. Denver: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.