Current projects and significant accomplishments for the partnership between Park Management and the Friends of Wakulla Springs State Park Organization
As a citizen support organization for Wakulla Springs State Park, our efforts and the assistance of many volunteers keep the park going. This partnership between park management and the Friends of Wakulla Springs organization results in identifying projects that do not receive adequate or any funding from the state.
ARCHAEOLOGY AT WAKULLA SPRINGS STATE PARK
Now’s the time to sign up to help!
The Wakulla Springs Archaeological and Historic District is revealing the presence of human beings since at least 15,000 years ago. How? With support from the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, State of Florida, the Aucilla Research Institute, and hardy volunteers we are able to conduct extensive surveys. More help is needed. No expertise needed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Why is this important? Archaeological evidence will support new chapters that are being written about the history of the park and the Wakulla River. Grant helps resurrect Spanish history – Tally Dem 8 Sept 17
Continue historic tour boats maintenance.
We are forever grateful to all the park employees for their tireless efforts to keep these historic boats going.
The Friends have raised $200,000 to upgrade the tour boats.
Please help by donating a gift for the tour boat upgrades
Completed Projects and Fundraisers
Sally Ward Springs Bridge
The new bridge will allow visitors easier access to a seldom seen portion of the park. A new trail segment extends beyond the bridge and boardwalks to a beautiful hardwood forest with an open understory. This will allow park visitors to experience more natural plant and animal communities, farther from the traffic noise of highways 267 and 61.
[ Listen to Ranger Bob Thompson talk about Sally Ward Bridge]
North Forest Hiking Trail
We received a grant for this project from the Florida Greenways and Trails program. Hikers can walk for miles and miles through a typical North Florida forest. A variety of habitats are part of this environment.
Volunteers from the Friends assisted the State’s Bureau of Archaeological Research, under the direction of Dr. Jim Dunbar, conduct an archaeological dig at Wakulla Springs. The project received funding from The National Geographic Society.
Park Interpretive Plan
With a historic lodge, a historic waterfront and other cultural resources at Wakulla Springs State Park, the first item that our group became involved with was to make sure that the park’s unit management plan had included in it an interpretive section. We paid for the creation of a park interpretive plan. Most of this plan has been accomplished.
The Grand Auction
A Grand Auction of Ed Ball’s collectibles had to be held over an entire weekend. The two-week preparation of all items, the press coverage and local enthusiasm over the items that could be previewed under tents generated the beginning of our funding efforts. Dealers and collectors of Wakulla Springs Ed Ball era memorabilia came from all over the southeast in 1997. We netted more than $46,000, most of it thanks to our late honorary member and champion auctioneer Jack Ridner.
Clean and restore the lodge lobby ceiling
A large conservation grant was received to clean and restore the lodge lobby ceiling. Most historic preservation grant funds were made available through the generosity of the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Historic Resources, Historic Preservation Board.
View more information and photos.
Redesign waterfront/ticket office building exterior
Take a look at the redesigned waterfront/ticket office building. It offers an impressive “first” glimpse of what the park is about. A functional but not very aesthetic chain link fence around the boatdocks was taken away. Today, a more modern and pleasing fence encloses this area. Visitors here can relax under awnings, shaded from the summer heat and afternoon showers.
For many years our river became a floating house of spooks at the end of October. Spooky Springs involved more than 100 volunteers who built floats for the grim reaper, pirates, bone man and even the Creature from the Black Lagoon. After the haunted trail became too treacherous for the actors, a haunted maze was erected on the beach with an awesome prop from FSU’s theater department. Folks entered through this mouth to howling ghouls and left walking through the graveyard of endangered species. Thanks to everyone from the community who got into the ghostly spirit. Some of the ghosts appeared to guests riding the boats, floating from the dive tower. The event was discontinued when children grew up and left, and adults (finally) grew up as well.
Restoration of roofs
When you’re out on the tour boats gliding over the spring, look up the hill at the historic lodge. A grant paid for the restoration of that roof from a dingy black asphalt tile to what it looked like originally: A tin barrel–style Mediterranean roof. While that was in progress, the park agreed to change the original power building (in the woods) and add the same roof to the waterfront/ticket office building as part of a Partnership in Parks (PIP) program authorized by Florida Statute.
Celebrate Wakulla Springs
The first — and hugely successful — concert at Wakulla Springs in November 2005 featured Dale Crider, Carrie Hamby, Jeannie Fichten, and Velma Frye. After weeks of drought, the Sunday afternoon affair was held outside overlooking the spring. Of course, the dark skies were ominous and sure enough, it poured just as we got going. Everyone moved inside the lobby. What fun. The rain ended, the clouds stayed, the music moved outside into a cool afternoon with white ibis flying back and forth to the music. Following dinner on the terrace, nature photographer John Moran narrated a sensuous look at Florida’s ecology. We raised several thousand dollars thanks to the help of our co-sponsors Heart of the Earth and the many contributors, including Wakulla Bank. We also raised awareness about the dying river where the cry of the limpkin has been quieted. But all sang in harmony: “We will never forget you, we will always protect you,” promising to restore Wakulla Springs with the money that we are raising.
Redesign waterfront/ticket office building interior
Back at that waterfront, we also received money through PIP to gut the building and install interpretive exhibits with a generous discount from Wakulla county residents Lee and Marvin Cook, owners of Wilderness Graphics in Tallahassee. They are well-known for their quality exhibits througout the U.S. and the Caribbean, and we’re grateful to count Lee and Marvin among our friends.
Sunday Afternoon Talks
A series of Sunday afternoon talks was held featuring a varied program. One of the most successful was the return to the lodge of former cooks, waitresses, boat drivers, and housekeepers who Ed Ball employed during the highly segregated era of the 1950s and 1960s. Their reminiscences were eye opening, and fun. Who would have thought that millionaire Ed Ball was as stingy as they described? They all proudly entered and left through the same door as everyone else!
Publish a history of Wakulla Springs, “Watery Eden”
We paid to publish the history of Wakulla Springs that Tracey Revels, history professor at Wofford College, South Carolina wrote. The book has photographs and draws on the rich iconography and poetry this area has invoked. Called “Watery Eden,” the book is available through Friends of Wakulla Springs.