WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

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Welcome to Falling Waters State Park

 

Nature

Nestled in the rolling hills of Washington County is Falling Waters State Park. Within this park you will experience one of Florida's most unique and breath taking, geological features along with the opportunity to experience the "Real Florida" with all it's natural and cultural splender.

At Falling Waters State Park, you will find one of the most significant geological features in Florida. Climb down the wooden stairway into the mouth of a 100 foot deep, 20 foot wide cylindrical sinkhole and gaze up. You will see a waterfall cascade 73 feet and disappear into a cave at the bottom of the sinkhole. As you explore the park, you will find several seemingly bottomless sinkholes.

Within the 168 acre park are many diverse habitats including upland pine forest, hardwood hammocks and seepage slopes. The upland pine community is easily identified by widely spaced longleaf pines, with a few understory shrubs and a dense groundcover of wireglass and other herbaceous plants. If you are quiet and alert you may see a gopher tortoise, fox squirrel or a redheaded woodpecker among the pines.

With its dense canopy, little sunlight finds its way to the forest floor of the hardwood hammock community. Trees found within this habitat include magnolias, hickory, sweetgum, oaks and many others.

Carnivorous pitcherplants, yellow fringed orchids and other wildflowers seasonally appear on the seepage slopes throughout the park.

 

HISTORY

Native Americans called these lands home long before this place became a park in Wahington County, in the sunshine state of Florida. A recent archaeological survey turned up artifacts dating back thousands of years with some of the richest deposits being in the middle of the Pine Ridge campground, on top of Falling Waters Hill.

Two industries operated near the waterfall. A gristmill powered by the waterfall, ground corn into grits and cornmeal during the Civil War period. In 1891 a legal whiskey distillery furnished spirits to a wine shop established to meet the demands of men working at the frontier railway construction site, that would become Chipley, Florida.

In 1919, one of Florida's first oil wells was drilled at Falling Waters. Indian legends and a wildcat stock promoter's claims of oil helped get the project going. A tall wooded derrick and a steam driven rig were used to drill for oil but drillers had little luck. When a depth of 3900 feet was reached, a blow of gas released from the drill site temporarily excited area residents with a false report of a gusher. They continued to drill to a final depth of 4912 feet. When it was all said and done, no oil of any commercial quantity was ever found and the well was capped in 1921.

Because of Florida's climate, nurseries and groves were popping up all over the state. Part of the land that would later become Falling Waters State Park, became part of a 400 acre nursery, owned by the Glen St. Mary Nursery near Jacksonville , Florida. They operated the nursery from 1924 until 1930. They planted pears, satsuma oranges and pecan trees. Because of the economic environment of the time the nursery closed it's gate in 1930.

While in Washington County, Florida stop by the park and experience "the Real Florida" and all it's history.

www.floridastateparks.org/fallingwaters

www.friendsoffallingwaters.org