While the campground resembles most Florida State Parks, just a short walk up the road and I felt like I was on a small prep school campus. There's a 200 foot high, 97-bell carillon tower that houses a small history museum, rings each quarter-hour for the time of day, and also plays a variety of Stephen Foster tunes (there are 201). As a camper, I was pleased that this only occurs in the day time, but I will never get the tune of Beautiful Dreamer out of my head.
The museum, which houses exhibits and dioramas depicting scenes from some of Foster's most popular songs, is a little hokey. I just loved it! Artists also demonstrate old and new crafts, and there's a variety of special musical and other events throughout the year. My next visit will be to attend The Florida Folk Festival held every Memorial Day weekend, and now in its 65th year.
Outside the gates of the Park is the town of White Springs, once a "spa village" of grand hotels and resorts. Now half the population it was in the mid-19th century, it relies on agriculture, timber and tourism along the Suwannee River. I enjoyed my four days in this uniquely historical setting.
A little bit of Stephen Foster trivia
- There is a one-cent Stephen Foster stamp.
- Four of his songs are used in Gone With the Wind
- There's a dahlia, a rose, an orchid, and a camellia named for him.
- He never visited Florida, and never saw the Suwannee River. What river's name was used in his original draft of the song?
- Foster wrote two songs that were adopted as State Songs --- Florida's "Old Folks at Home" and Kentucky's "My Old Kentucky Home".