Suwannee River, Florida
|- left||Santa Fe River|
|- right||Alapaha River, Withlacoochee River|
|Cities||Fargo, Georgia, White Springs, Florida, Branford, Florida|
|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, Florida, then southeast near Luraville, Florida, receives the Santa Fe River from the east just below Branford, then south again to the Gulf of Mexico near the town of Suwannee.
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.
Several theories exist about the origin of the name "Suwannee":
- 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".
- A University of South Florida web site states the "Timucuan Indian word Suwani means Echo River ... River of Reeds, Deep Water, or Crooked Black Water".
- William Bright says the name "Suwanee" comes from the name of a Cherokee village, Sawani.
The Suwannee River area has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. During the first millennium CE, it was inhabited by the people of the Weedon Island archaeological culture, and around 900 CE, 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 language-speaking peoples: the Yustaga, who lived on the west side of the river; and the Northern Utina, who lived on the east side.
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 Ribber. Foster had named the Pedee River of South Carolina in his first lyrics. It has been called Swanee River because Foster had used an alternative contemporary spelling of the name. Foster never actually 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 of these songs feature banjo-strumming and reminiscences of a plantation life more typical of 19th-century South Carolina than of among the swamps and small farms in the coastal plain of south Georgia and north Florida.
When approaching the Suwannee River via several major highways, motorists are greeted with a sign which announces they are crossing the Historic Suwannee River, complete with the first line of sheet music from "Old Folks at Home". This is Florida's state song, designated as such in 1935.
In 2008, its original lyrics were replaced with a politically correct version. There is a Foster museum and carillon tower at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs. The spring itself is called White Sulphur Springs because of its high sulphur content. Since there was 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 Suwannee River Basin region. The boating route encompasses 170 river miles (274 river kilometers), from Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Florida National Scenic Trail runs along the Suwannee River's western banks for approximately 60 miles (97 km), from Deep Creek Conservation Area in Columbia County to Twin Rivers State Forest in Madison County.
The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge offers bird and wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, canoeing, hunting, and interpretive walks. A driving tour is under construction, and several boardwalks and observation towers offer views of wildlife and habitat.
In recent years, the Suwannee River has been the site of many 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 have included Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Allman Brothers Band, and the String Cheese Incident.
|Suwannee River Sill||Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge|
|Norfolk Southern Railway
Line formerly known as Atlantic, Valdosta and Western Railway
| US 441
|Edith, Georgia to Fargo, Georgia|
|Turner Bridge||NE 38th Trail (Closed late 1950s, defunct)|
|Cone Bridge||Cone Bridge Road (Closed late 1960s, defunct)|
|Godwin Bridge||Godwin Bridge Road (Closed late 1950s, defunct)||Big Shoals State Park|
|Norfolk Southern Railway
Line formerly known as Georgia Southern and Florida Railway
|Ed Scott Bridge||US 41||White Springs, Florida||290083|
|J. Graham Black-Joseph W. McAlpin Bridge||SR 136||White Springs, Florida||290030|
|Old Suwanee Springs Bridge||91st Drive (Closed 1930s, defunct)||Suwannee Springs, Florida|
|Old US 129 Bridge||93rd Drive (Closed 1974)||Suwannee Springs, Florida|
| US 129
|Suwannee Springs, Florida||320019|
|Savannah, Florida & Western Railway (Closed 1988, now defunct)|
|Nobels Ferry Bridge||CR 249||320052|
|Old Nobels Ferry Bridge||(Defunct)|
|Rail Bridge||CSX Transportation
Line was formerly known as Seaboard Air Line Railroad
|Hillman Bridge(a.k.a.; Old Ellaville Bridge)||Old US 90
|US 90||Ellaville, Florida||350062|
| Interstate 10
|Suwannee River State Park|
|County Road 250||Dowling Park, Florida||370018|
|Live Oak, Perry and Gulf Railroad (Closed)|
|Hal W. Adams Bridge||SR 51||Mayo to Luraville, Florida||330009|
|Drew Bridge||Suwannee & San Pedro Railroad (Closed 1918)|
|Frank R. Norris Bridge||US 27||Branford, Florida|
|W. O. Cannon - D. W. McCollister Bridge||County Road 340
Former SR 340
|Nature Coast State Trail
Formerly a rail bridge.
|Old Town, Florida|
|Joe H. Anderson Sr. Bridge|| US 19
Alternate US 27
|Fanning Springs, Florida||300031, 300061|
- U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 18, 2011
- "The Suwannee River, Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers". College of Education, University of South Florida. 2002. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Bright, William (2004). Native American placenames of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 466–467. ISBN 978-0-8061-3598-4. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- Worth vol. I, pp. 28–29.
- "Summary of Bills Related to Arts, Cultural, Arts Education. Or Historical Resources That Passed the 2008 Florida Legislature May 5, 2008", Retrieved on 2011-12-14 from http://www.flca.net/images/50508_Status_of_Bills.pdf.
- Center for American Music. "Old Folks at Home". Center for American Music Library. Archived from the original on 2009-03-13. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- 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>
- 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.