River of Lakes Heritage Corridor was excited to unveil its third kiosk at Blue Spring State Park on Friday, October 11. The kiosk is situated at a high-traffic entry area to the popular park, and visitors were already congregating there to clarify questions about the spring, where to paddle, and local history.
This kiosk was sponsored by Stetson University’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. Recently retired Executive Director Clay Henderson worked to procure funding to support this project.
Dr. Abbott and Dr. Evans speak to the connection and sponsorship of Stetson University’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience.
This kiosk features a simplified map of the byway with listed highlight attractions. Many who live in the region are unaware of the byway flowing through the community, and were learning about it immediately. There were also foreign visitors checking it out within minutes of the unveiling. Blue Spring is popular worldwide with those who want to see the magnificent first-magnitude spring or spot manatees in a natural habitat, so this is a perfect place to let people know more about the rest of what this historic byway has to offer.
The Stetson content side of the kiosk features relevant history about William Bartram at this location. Bartram and his father visited Florida in the late 1700s, and William’s classic book, Travels, was published in 1791. This book is justly famous for:
• Magical and stunning illustrations of flora and fauna, with the Alligators he captured in Volusia County one of the major highlights, particularly to Europeans who had never seen one previous to reading Travels
• Detailed naturalistic accounts, many of which are now outdated, but which were of great importance in early years of research and study
• Poetic and mystical passages which are paeans to the beauty of nature. The passages along the St. Johns River are particularly moving for those of us who know this “River of Lakes” this byway was named for.
The Bartram Trail has begun to have strong interpretation in Florida, starting in 2014 with the birth of the Bartram Trail in Putnam County, Designated in 2015 as a National Recreational Trail.
Dr. Tony Abbott, chair of Geography and Environmental Science at Stetson in DeLand, attended the Bartram Frolic (a yearly festival in Palatka, FL) and Bartram lectures there. Both he and Clay Henderson were already passionate Bartram scholars. This interpretive panel is a continuation of cross-promotion of the Bartram Trail in Florida and River of Lakes Heritage Corridor. In 2017, Dr. Abbott procured funding from Stetson for a ROLHC byway Brochure which highlighted the Bartram Sites alongside the more accessible byway locations to guide those who wanted to explore Bartram history on this historic corridor. Dr. Abbott acted as the author and subject-matter expert on this brochure and the ensuing interpretive panel, with input from his peers in the Stetson Environmental Science dept.
The Blue Spring Kiosk pares down some of those key Bartram locations from the map brochure in Volusia near Blue spring, and shows a “Long Lake Paddling Trail” to follow in Bartram’s wake.
Darrell Thomas at Blue Spring State Park headed up the physical installation of the kiosk. Cindy Sullivan, Bill Crippen, Michael Watkins, Dr. Abbot, Dr. Evans, Gary Blair, Mayor of Orange City, and Stephanie Liskey of Sailforth Productions all said a few words about what the kiosk meant to them.
In attendance were Members of Orange City and Debary government, Dr. Abbott, Dr. Jason Evans, the current chair of the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, William Crippen of Orange City Government/River of Lakes Board, Cindy Sullivan -ROLHC Chair, Darrell Thomas – Blue Spring Ranger, Michael Watkins- Park Manager, Phil Davis of Sailforth, Scott Davis of Sailforth, and Stephanie Liskey of Sailforth Productions (designer of the kiosk.)
River of Lakes has other kiosks lining up, and has worked hard to build relationships and partnerships in the region to the benefit of all parties. Each kiosk finds a new partner along the byway.