Seven Noll


In 1882, George Barbour thusly described Florida's Ocklawaha River in his guidebook to the state. This river, whose name is variously spelled in the promotional literature, tourist pamphlets, and magazine articles of the late nineteenth century, enticed northern visitors and entrepreneurs alike in the years following the Civil War. Its exotic subtropical landscape, heavily forested and swampy banks, bizarre and atavistic wildlife, and otherworldly springs made it seem like something out of Africa rather than the United States. That a trip up the river by steamboat led to the remarkable fishbowl of Silver Springs only added to its appeal. From the end of the Civil War through the second decade of the twentieth century, the Ocklawaha River wove a mystical spell on its visitors. An 1898 article in the children's magazine St. Nicholas summarized this impression: "Every strange fowl and every hideous reptile, every singular paint and every tangled jungle, will tell the American boy how far he is to the south.