We took a very short drive to see a very old Florida attraction. Both of us remember visiting Silver Springs as children.
Ok the teacher in me is breaking out so be patient...
The park was opened in the 1870's and started using glass bottomed boats soon after. For the next 140 plus years, it was a commercial attraction. At times there was a small zoo, bird shows, and amusement rides.
Until the 1960's several tv shows and movies were filmed at the springs. Hollywood loved the jungle look and clear waters of the spring which allowed very good underwater photography. Six of the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies filmed around and in the spring. The Creature from the Black Lagoon and James Bond movies "Thunderball" "Moonraker" and "Never Say Never Again" used the spring. Most of the underwater scenes in the TV show Sea Hunt were filmed here along with some scenes in Lassie.
The state took over operations in 2013 so now is returning the focus to nature, as it should be.
So this was a bit scary.
The monkeys were brought to the park in the 1930s but the man who owned the attraction did not know that these monkeys can swim. That is a bit of a problem since he thought they would not leave the island in the river. Wrong! They moved off into the surrounding forest and have now split into several troops. We did not see any of the monkeys but most have move further into the less populated parts of the park.
The raised walkways and trails were great. The walkway took us over the swamp and along the edge of the river.
We had a wonderful time and a great hike. The springs are so clear it was deceptive at how deep we were seeing to the bottom.
I remember enjoying another attraction that used to be nearby. When I was a child we visited "Six Gun Territory". It was a "Western" town that opened in 1963. No kidding! It was an attraction one mile down the road from Silver Springs sitting in the middle of 200 acres.
From its opening until the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando in the 70's, it was the most popular attraction in Florida that was not nature related. It happens that Walt Disney had looked at the Ocala area but in the end decided on Orlando to build his new park. Part of the popularity was that the "town" was made up of 40 real buildings with an effort to make them as authentic as money would allow. In its heyday, Six Gun Territory had a western town with a courthouse, saloons, the Frontier Hotel (where visiting stars from the old western TV shows and movies stayed who came in for special appearances), a jail, a Morrison’s cafeteria, a schoolhouse and a Church. The saloons included can-can girls. There were lots of people in costume and character some even on horseback and a horse drawn wagon. There were regularly scheduled shootouts in the main street, a stage coach ride, a steam train that ran from the entrance to the town and was frequently part of an attempted armed robbery.
Can you tell that I have fond memories of visiting Six Gun Territory?
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