Florida Guide > Other Florida
Wekiwa (or Wekiva) State Park is less than an hour from the hustle and bustle of the Theme Parks but a million miles away in its ' Old Florida' beauty.
It is located in Apopka (exit 94 off Interstate 4) in Seminole County.
Just like many of the State Parks this area was once inhabited by the Native Americans. This can be proved by examing the mounds. Mounds were the middens(or rubbish tips) which could sometimes reach dizzy heights. You can still see the evidence of the mounds at the park today.
The Native American era lasted from 8500 B. C. right up to the 19th century when they were dispossessed. This area with its rich pickings for the hunter gatherer was an ideal spot for the Indians.
By the mid ninteenth century Wekiva was a farming and milling place. Then came the Civil War which caused a hiatus and after then the area was developed by the tourist industry.
A hotel was constructed and various holiday amusements were provided for the vacationers to enjoy along with its natural properties.
The next era for this changing place was the turps industry which was a valuable part of the economy of Florida.
Florida has produced more than seven million gallons of turps from its three million pine trees. This industry was worth over seven million dollars and at one point employed 15000 men.
Nowadays turps is used in the pharmacy industry and for paints and plastics; in the past ship building relied very heavily on both turpentine and rosin.
After the turps are extracted they use the wood of the tree for veneer and pulp wood
You can still see the typical so called ' cats eyes' on the trees at this park. These were cut by the turpentiners to free the fluid and it was then caught in a cup. Nowadays they use a more sophisticated method to extract the turps that takes fewer man hours. This is vital in these times when there is no longer the slave labour
After the turps era the Apopka Sportsmans Club then bought the land from the Wilson Cypress Company in 1941 and used it for their various activities until the 1960s when it eventually found its rightful place as a State Park.
Wekiwa (or Wekiva) is the Creek Indian name for bubbling water (or spring) Springs are a common feature on either side of the central ridge of Florida.
Wekiwa Spring Run and Rock Springs join together to form Wekiwa River which eventually runs into St John River.
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