The Springs of the Ocklawaha River, Florida:
From Rodman Dam Upstream to Eureka Dam
(River Miles 12 to 33)
An Information, Opinion, Photos, & Sources Report
Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
With the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter, Karen Ahlers, Captain Karen Chadwick, Sandra Kokernoot,
Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III, & K. Alwine
Photos by Captain Erika Ritter & Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
Created: 26 February 2012
Last Revised: 01 May 2016
Click-on individual photos to enlarge them!
Many natural springs contribute to the flow of the Ocklawaha River between Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam & Eureka Dam. Construction began on both dams in the 1960's for the sole purpose of creating a navigation pool deep enough to allow barge traffic as part of the defunct (since 1991) Cross Florida Barge Canal project--the crucial needs for springs & long, swift-flowing streams of St. Johns River basin natives like manatees, striped bass & sturgeon were not deemed important enough back then to halt the work. The springs that feed the original serpentine Ocklawaha channel in those backwater-impacted 21 river miles are mostly of the artesian (karst) type but there are also some "surficial" (water-table) examples present. This freely-available report sincerely attempts to consolidate previously published information about the geographical locations of this river segment's springs (representing the excellent research of other dedicated individuals & groups, both public & private) along with our own independent field work conducted primarily during the 2011-2012 & 2015-2016 draw-downs of Rodman Pool (also known as Rodman Reservoir or Lake Ocklawaha) to expand the general public's knowledge about these "Real Florida" clear-water "gems" of the Ocklawaha River.
FIVE SPECIAL NOTES
(1) All river mile numbers & latitude/longitude coordinates (displayed as degrees DD.dddd) are approximate.
(2) Endeavoring for both accuracy & honesty, this earnest report may be revised whenever more accurate or pertinent data becomes available.
(3) There are possibly up to another ten small unnamed spring runs--not listed on this report--that enter from both the east & west sides of the river between Eureka & Orange Creek.
(4) Rodman Reservoir's earthen dam was constructed across the historic Ocklawaha River channel at river mile 12 (upstream from the St. Johns River). The concrete & metal Rodman Spillway (with its four 40-foot wide floodgates) is part of that earthen dam. At the usual "full-pool" of Rodman the stage of the water behind Rodman Dam is maintained at 18 to 20 feet above sea level (9,200 to 13,000 surface acres). When Rodman Pool is manipulated to "draw-down" (every 3 years or so) the stage of the water behind the dam will usually be lowered to a minimum of about 11 feet above sea level (4,300 surface acres). The "crest" of Rodman Spillway plus the upstream "sill" of Buckman Lock, that the released water flows over, were built with summits of 6 feet above sea level. Historically the "normal" stage of the natural Ocklawaha River at river mile 12 would have been only about 5 to 6 feet above sea level. Therefore even at a draw-down stage of 11 feet above sea level, the Ocklawaha's artesian springs in Rodman Pool that are closest to Rodman Dam are still "drowned" under 5 to 6 feet of backwater.
(5) Some of the credible written works by others that are referenced in this report would not be considered "peer-reviewed" scientific documentation.
THE SPRINGS BETWEEN RODMAN DAM & EUREKA DAM
BLUE SPRING (S of river mile 16 at 29.5141 N; 81.8569 W)
"No. 1...South of river near Dutchman's Reach."
St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) (2012):
"Blue Spring in Marion County is located within the Ocala National Forest about 0.7 mile northeast of Cedar Landing. The spring is submerged along the south bank of the Rodman Reservoir and can only be visited by boat."
Looking NW towards Blue Spring (only "drowned" by about 5 feet of backwater) during Rodman Pool "draw-down"
Looking NW towards Blue Spring ("drowned" by about 14 feet of backwater) during Rodman "full-pool"
Looking NW towards Blue Spring ("drowned" by about 13 feet of backwater) during Rodman "full-pool"
BRIGHT ANGEL (or Log) SPRING (N of river mile 17 at 29.5166? N; 81.8619? W)
"Bright Angel Springs, north of the River, had two runs, both about the same size. One emptied into Horseshoe Creek which arched to the north before joining the river. The other was very short and followed a direct route. Because of a huge cypress log in the water, this pool was sometimes called Log Springs. It was a favorite camping site." "No. 2...North of river almost opposite of Catfish Spring."
CATFISH SPRINGS (S of river mile 17 at 29.5152 N; 81.8617 W)
"Between Bright Angel and Cedar Landing was a large turbulent spring walled with cabbage palm logs. This was Catfish Springs, comparable in volume with Blue Spring. Huge fish like black torpedoes would circle the boil. There were also mullet and striped bass in the turbulent water." "No. 3...South of river below Cedar Landing."
"Catfish Springs is located about 0.3 mile northeast of Cedar Landing. The spring is situated along the south bank of the Rodman Reservoir and can only be visited by boat."
GPS near Catfish Spring
CEDAR LANDING SPRING (S of river mile 17 at 29.5130? N; 81.8638? W)
"There was a small spring only about twenty-five feet in circumference at Cedar Landing. It was easily possible to walk all the way around this one, stepping over the narrow run." "No. 4...South of river at Cedar Landing."
UNNAMED (Agnew's Landing) SPRING (N-side river mile 17 at 29.5151? N; 81.8736? W)
"Near Agnew's Landing, upriver from Cedar Landing was an unnamed spring, No. 5 on the map. This spring was located almost in the river itself and was often flooded by high water. It was located between two huge cypress trees at the river's edge. When fishermen passed by at night, or during 'high water', they could discern its location by its distinctive smell!" "No. 5...On bank directly on river near Agnew's Landing."
NOTE: So far it has been difficult to precisely pinpoint the exact location of Agnew Landing from the historic maps, mileage charts, & photos that are available.
UNNAMED "CLUSTER" OF SPRINGS (N of river mile 17 at 29.5139? N; 81.8708? W)
"No. 6 on the map represents a cluster of boils at the confluence of two creeks close to where they emptied into the river. The rocky springs made an unusually wide main trunk of Therman Creek. This stream was the location of a saw mill whose boilers remained at the site until only a few years ago." "No. 6...At confluence of Therman Creek and another stream."
ALCORN (or Sims) SPRING (S of river mile 18 at 29.5082 N; 81.8921 W)
"Sim's Spring flows out of a cleft in the rocky hillside below high land belonging to George Alcorn. This spring was developed many years ago and water was pumped to the top of the bluff by a steam pump. It was used for irrigation of an orange grove. This spring, protected by a coffer dam, is present today." "No. 7...At George Alcorn's out of cleft in rock bluff."
"Sims Springs is located about 0.25 mile west of Cedar Landing. The spring is situated at the base of a large bluff on the south shore of Rodman Reservoir. Areas of seepage from the shore and lake bottom were observed. It appears that Sims Spring may be a surficial aquifer seep."
NOTE: A "Sims Landing" is listed at river mile 18.2 in the 1891 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers survey of the Ocklawaha River.
FISH HOOK SPRING 1 (S of river mile 21 at 29.5094 N; 81.9015 W)
"No. 8 marks a 'large' spring with a circular pool described also as being 'between Sim's and Bud Springs'." "No. 8...Large spring between Sim's and Bud Spring."
"Fish Hook Spring 1 is a submerged spring in the Rodman Reservoir and can only be visited by boat. Fish Hook Spring 1 is a third-magnitude spring."
(BUD or) FISH HOOK SPRING 2 (S of river mile 21 at 29.5090 N; 81.9023 W)
"No. 9 is Bud Springs, not too far downstream from the Orange Creek ferry site. This spring had a large deep pool with the water spilling over a shelf and spreading into a wide shallow run to the river." "No. 9...East of river nearly opposite mouth of Orange Creek."
"Fish Hook Spring 2 is a submerged spring in the Rodman Reservoir and is accessible only by boat. Fish Hook Spring 2 is a third-magnitude spring."
MULLET COVE SPRING (E-side river mile 21? at 29.5057? N; 81.9082? W)
"No. 10...East bank close to Wells Landing."
NOTE: So far it has been difficult to precisely pinpoint the location of Mullet Cove Spring from the historic maps that are available & because there are several different "Wells" (or "Will") Landings mentioned in various writings as being downstream from Eureka.
ORANGE SPRING (flows into Orange Creek W of river mile 22 at 29.5106 N; 81.9440 W)
"Orange Spring is located at the north edge of the town of Orange Springs. From the intersection of State Road (SR) 21 and County Road 315 in Orange Springs, drive north on SR 21 for about 0.2 mile. The spring is located on the property of a water bottling facility and is not open to the public."
CAMP SEMINOLE SPRING (flows into Orange Creek W of river mile 22 at 29.5060 N; 81.9514 W)
"Camp Seminole Spring is located about 0.75 mile west of the town of Orange Springs. From the intersection of County Road (CR) 21 and CR 315 in Orange Springs, drive about 0.75 mile to the entrance to Camp Seminole Springs on the left side of the road. The spring is located on private property, and permission must be obtained before visiting the spring."
VAUSE SPRING/WELL (W of river mile 23 at 29.4919 N; 81.9183 W)
"No. X...Also there is a "drilled" spring in Collin's Slough between the McRae farm and the Oklawaha River. The artesian well nearby has existed for decades and has been used regularly for data-recording by the Geological Survey."
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) & Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) (2008):
"Vause spring is not likely to provide much warm water habitat for manatees, as it is an old flowing well adjacent to an old submerged dock."
INDIAN BLUFF to CRACKER LANDING SPRINGS (river mile 26 at 29.4645 N; 81.9170 W)
"No. 11...East bank, above [north of?] Tobacco Patch Landing."
USFWS & FWC (2008):
"Cracker springs are two spring boils along the side of the river channel about 25’ apart, and the spring water mixes directly with the river water at these sites."
2012-02-20 (there are perhaps 5-8 springs [or spring vents] in this Indian Bluff to Cracker Landing area)
HASTY GREENE (or Garfish) SPRING (E of river mile 26 at 29.4527 N; 81.9214 W)
USFWS & FWC (2008):
"Hasty Greene spring lies on the south shoreline of the Ocklawaha River bank on the south side of a rise in the bank forming a peninsula between the spring run and the river. The run is wide, averages 4-6 feet deep, and is an estimated 60-70 feet long."
Entrance from Ocklawaha River channel into canal that contains Hasty Greene Spring 2012-02-20
RIVERSITES SPRINGS (E of river mile 27 at 29.4413 N; 81.9236 W)
"Riversites Springs is located along the Ocklawaha River on the western edge of the Ocala National Forest, about 1 mile north of the town of Tobacco Patch Landing."
BIG RACK ROAD SPRINGS (E of river mile 27 at 29.4393 N; 81.9242 W)
USFWS & FWC (2008):
"At least 1, but perhaps 3 small springs flow to a confluence approximately 100 feet west of the Big Rack Road boat ramp."
TOBACCO PATCH LANDING (or Strange) SPRINGS (E of river mile 28 at 29.4285 N; 81.9239 W)
"No. 12...East bank at Tobacco Patch Landing."
"Tobacco Patch Landing Springs is located about 5 miles north of Eureka. The spring is submerged in Rodman Reservoir and can best be reached by boat. From the Eureka Dam boat ramp, go north (downriver) about 4 miles and the spring is near the east bank."
Tobacco Patch Landing Springs "fish-bowl"
CANNON (or Sparks/Wells Landing) SPRINGS (E of river mile 29 at 29.4210 N; 81.9196 W)
"Cannon Springs , Numbers 13-18, are found at Couse Landing between Tobacco Patch Landing and Eureka. Signs call them 'Sparks Springs', but the old name more often used is Cannon. There are at least six springs of varying sizes remaining. They are arranged in a rough line forming a slough resembling a meander cutoff in the river." "No. 13-18...East bank, several pools in a line."
"Cannon Springs is located about 4 miles north of Eureka. From Eureka, drive east on County Road 316 for 1.2 miles, turn north (left) on 160th Avenue, and drive about 3.4 miles to 187th Lane. Turn west (left) on 187th Lane, and travel 0.4 miles to the end of the road. The spring is located directly off the shoreline in the Rodman Reservoir. Cannon Springs was formerly called Wells Landing Spring."
NOTE: The Florida Defenders of the Environment & its efforts to stop the permanent destruction of the Ocklawaha River by any further construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal had its beginnings at Cannon Springs (which was being "improved" for mosquito control access by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 300-ton crusher-crawler machine also known as "The Monster").
Cannon Springs during 2011-2012 draw-down 2012-02-24
UNNAMED SPRING INFLOW E (river mile 29 at 29.4194 N; 81.9209 W)
UNNAMED SPRING INFLOW W (river mile 30 at 29.4161 N; 81.9196 W)
FORTY-FOOT BLUFF (or Fiddia's Landing) SPRING INFLOW E (river mile 30 at 29.4081 N; 81.9104 W)
"Several small springs are reported near the farm of Elmer Fiddia, upriver from Cannon Springs." "No. 19 (un-named)...East bank near mouth of Mill Creek."
MOORE CREEK SPRINGS INFLOW E (river mile 32 at 29.3942 N; 81.9021 W)
UNNAMED SPRING POOL (E of river mile 32 in swamp at 29.3929 N; 81.8999 W)
UNNAMED SPRING INFLOW E (river mile 32 at 29.3921 N; 81.9006 W)
DUDLEY SPRING (E of river mile 33 at 29.3833 N; 81.8923 W)
"Also there is at least one more spring, nearer Eureka than the rest. This one is called Dudley Spring, named for its most recent owner. It is reported to be near in size to the largest of the Cannon Springs pools." "No. 20...East bank, nearest Eureka."
No flow through its spillway structure when visited on 2012-01-14. When Captain Erika Ritter visited this same site in the 1980's it consisted of an impounded fairly deep spring pool with an overflow concrete spillway.
Dudley Spring water control structure (no outflow)
Abbott, E. F. 1971. Twenty Springs of the Oklawaha. Florida Defenders of the Environment, Gainesville, FL. 13 pp. Available as a PDF.
Bacon, J. H. and W. M. Black. 1891. "Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army; Appendix O - Report of Captain Black (pages 1620-1627); Improvement of the Ocklawaha
River, Florida; Report of Mr. J. H. Bacon, Assistant Engineer, United States Engineer Department, St. Augustine, Fla., May 11, 1891." U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mueller, E. A. 1983. Ocklawaha River Steamboats. Mendelson Printing Company, Jacksonville, FL. 135 pp. Contains the 1935 edition of USACOE official Ocklawaha River mileages. Available as a hardcopy.
Rosenau, J. C.; G. L. Faulkner, C. W. Hendry, Jr.; & R. W. Hull. 1977. Springs of Florida. Florida Geological Survey: Bulletin No. 31 Revised, Florida Department of Natural Resources, Tallahassee (TAL), FL. 461 pp. Available as a hardcopy.
Scott, T. M. (PG #99); G. H. Means, R. P. Meegan, R. C. Means, S. B. Upchurch, R. E. Copeland, J. Jones, T. Roberts & A. Willet. 2004. Springs of Florida. Florida Geological Survey: Bulletin No. 66, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, TAL, FL. 677 pp.
St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD). 2012. "Springs of the St. Johns River Water Management District" webpage. SJRWMD, Palatka (PAL), FL. http://www.sjrwmd.com/springs/ http://www.sjrwmd.com/springs/marion/
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) & Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 2008. Survey of Rodman Reservoir and middle-Ocklawaha River springs during spring 2008 draw-down conditions: FWC & FWS. USFWS. FWC, TAL, FL.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). 1984. "Keuka, Fla." 7.5 minute series; 1:24,000 scale; 1984 photo inspected, 1981 photo revised edition of 1949 topographic map. USGS, Reston, VA. This map displays all or part of Ocklawaha River miles 18 to 22 (but identifies only a few of the historic landings). Available as a hardcopy.
USGS. 1981. "Eureka Dam, Fla." 7.5 minute series; 1:24,000 scale; 1981 photo revised edition of 1970 topographic map. USGS, Reston, VA. This map displays all or part of Ocklawaha River miles 22 to 33 (but identifies only a few of the historic landings). Available as a hardcopy.
USGS. 1970. "Rodman, Fla." 7.5 minute series; 1:24,000 scale; 1970 photo revised edition of 1949 topographic map. USGS, Reston, VA. This map displays all or part of Ocklawaha River miles 11 to 18 (but identifies only a few of the historic landings). Available as a hardcopy.
USGS. 1949. "Rodman, Fla." 7.5 minute series; 1:24,000 scale; 1949 topographic map. USGS, Washington, D.C. This map displays all or part of Ocklawaha River miles 11 to 18 (but identifies only a few of the historic landings). Available as a hardcopy.
Wycoff, R. L. 2010. Lower Ocklawaha River Basin Hydrologic Data Review and Discharge Analysis. Special Publication SJ2010-SP10. SJRWMD, PAL, FL.
Technical Publication SJ2016-1
Effects on Lower St. Johns River Nutrient Supply and TMDL Target Compliance from the Restoration of a Free-Flowing Ocklawaha River
2016 by John Hendrickson of SJRWMD
The following 2 paragraphs are excerpted from it:
"In his groundwater modeling analysis, Tibbals (1989) predicted that the impoundment of Rodman Reservoir elevated the regional Florida aquifer potentiometric surface by up to 2 ft, extending a distance of 10 – 15 miles, and increased regional artesian spring discharge by 14 ft3/s. If this is the case, then conversely, one might expect that removal of the reservoir would result in a reduction in the discharge of artesian springs in the region. Such a regional groundwater change would likely have some bearing on the free-flowing river effects on the LSJR, as it indicates that increased LOR flow (and load) would be compensated to some degree by artesian spring discharge reduction in other St. Johns River springs. Examination of the local upper Floridan monitoring well water level data during reservoir drawdowns suggests that changes in reservoir stage are communicated to the regional potentiometric surface through the changes in head pressure over the submerged springs. Abrupt reductions in the upper Floridan water level in the Forest Road No. 77 well, located adjacent and just to the south of the reservoir, can be seen coincident with reservoir drawdowns (Figure A-4). Delayed and less abrupt reductions in water level in the Frontier Dance Hall well, located 9.3 miles southeast of the reservoir are also discernible during reservoir drawdowns. Temporary reductions in artesian spring discharge are also apparent in the discharge time series for Silver Glen Springs, and in the intermittent discharge measurements made for Salt Springs and Croaker Hole. These transient changes in Florida Aquifer water level and artesian spring discharge could also occur from normal seasonal changes in aquifer recharge."
"The relationship between reservoir stage, upper Floridan aquifer water level and artesian spring discharge are not well known as of this writing, and will need to be verified with additional data collection, analysis and groundwater modeling. For the purpose of this analysis, an operational presumption is followed such that any increases in discharge contributed by artesian springs submerged in Rodman Reservoir will be offset by decreases in artesian spring discharge elsewhere to the St. Johns River. As Rodman Reservoir submerged springs, based on limited sampling data, exhibit chemical constituent makeup similar to that of the St. Johns River springs group, the presumption in this analysis is that the reallocation of artesian spring would result in no net nutrient load change to the St. Johns. Hence, the submerged spring load is omitted from the free-flowing river load estimate. This presumption is incorporated in part because it imparts another conservative assumption into the analysis, as the omission of low concentration artesian spring flows increases downstream concentrations by omitting their dilution effect."
"The Springs of the Ocklawaha River, Florida:
From Eureka Dam upstream to the Silver River inflow (River Miles 33 to 51)"
"September 30, 1968 An INFAMOUS Date for Florida's Ocklawaha River"
"Let us leave no bit of useful information uncollected, unstudied, or unused in our shared work
for the restoration to free-flowing again of Florida's 56-mile Silver and Ocklawaha River system."
REFERENCE AS: Nosca, P. 2016. "The springs of the Ocklawaha River, Florida: Rodman Dam to Eureka Dam" webpage report. "Ocklawahaman" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL.