Photo Friday – Cicada shells at Fanning Spring State Park

Cicada shells line the trees and boardwalk at Fanning Springs State Park.  Cicadas molt their skins as the last step before they reach adulthood.  Just like human teenagers, they don’t bother to clean up after themselves.

Swim the crystal waters of Fanning Springs State Park

Like Otter and Hart Springs just to the north, Fanning Springs is a second-magnitude spring that empties into the Suwannee River.  Unlike those two, though, the park is part of the state park system and isn’t managed by the county or a private company.  Personally,  I think that state parks do a better job of managing these natural resources than other entities – and I imagine it’s not easy to balance human recreation with natural preservation.

But Fanning Springs is really a lovely place to spend the afternoon.  It’s a small park, but the spring is beautiful.  The water is crystal clear and the spring itself is pretty deep (maybe 30 or 40 feet to the lowest point you can see from the surface).  The park service has built a boardwalk that surrounds the spring on three sides, allowing people to sunbathe near the water and preventing boats form the river from getting all the way into the spring.

The spring vent is located under the far trees.

The park service has also constructed a short boardwalk system (less than 1/4 mile) that takes visitors out to the river.  Looking out at the river, you’d have no idea that below the surface, about 100 yards from the Old Town bridge, the sunken remains of a 100-year-old steamship have sat relatively undisturbed since the early 1920s.  There’s lots of false information about the wreck – many claim it was a Union gunboat – but the truth isn’t any less interesting.  The boat, The City of Hawkinsville (that’s its name), was a turn-of-the-century steamboat that hauled lumber and naval supplies up to the Gulf Coast and into north Florida.

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