Stephen Collins Foster's famous song, “Way Down Upon the Suwannee River,” has probably done more than anything else to elevate this relatively minor Florida river to a position of fame that it otherwise would not have achieved. Now the official state song of Florida, it was written in 1851 while Foster was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He had originally decided to title it, “Way Down Upon The Pee Dee River,” but fortunately he changed his mind, and, as the story goes, examined a map and discovered the name of the little-known Florida river. Foster had certainly not seen the Suwannee when he wrote the song, and it is not known whether he ever viewed the river that he made famous. It is possible that he came to Florida from Charleston in 1852, or perhaps later when he was visiting in New Orleans. Positive proof appears to be lacking, however, although speculation goes on.
Mueller, E. A.
"Suwannee River Steamboating,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 45:
3, Article 6.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol45/iss3/6