Sunday, August 28, 2016

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON

Movie Poster of "THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON"

Do you remember "The Creature From The Black Lagoon"(1954)?   Or the early Tarzan movies "Tarzan's Secret Treasure" (1941), starring Johnny Weissmuller,  or "Airport '77" or  "Joe Panther", (starring Brian Keith and Ricardo Montalban (O.K., maybe you saw reruns)?  All these movies were filmed on location at beautiful Wakulla Springs, FL from the 1940s through the 1970s!

Entrance to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
1967 - Recognized by National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark
Wakulla Springs produces 150,000 - 600,000 gallons of water per minute
Ol' Us visited the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park and Lodge, opened in September, 1937,  and while walking through the old lodge we noticed many memorable and historical pictures.

The Wakulla Lodge - Wakulla Springs, FL
One photograph in particular was taken in the 1940's and it shows a 3 level diving platform in the ancient Spring (definitely before lawyers got involved).  Several weeks ago we posted the old picture on Facebook on an Old Florida page.   Many others also remembered the platform - people are still "SHARING" this photo - now over 800 SHARES!  So if you ever lived or visited this part of Florida - and drove 14 miles south of Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL, you swam in this crystal clear spring with manatees, alligators, turtles and wild birds VERY closeby and you probably jumped from diving platform #3 with your pals.

Wakulla Springs Diving Platform - 3 levels in the 1940's 
There have been changes since the Florida State Park System purchased the 2,860 acres park and river from industrialist Edward Gresham Ball in 1986 for $7.15 million, and it is still as beautiful as it was when RV and I visited  in the 60's, maybe more so (In 2000 another 3,000 acres was added to the original park acreage).  To get an up close glimpse of the area we enjoyed a narrated boat tour that lasted almost an hour and witnessed how natural habitats are being preserved for future generations to enjoy. 
Wakulla Springs State Park and Lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
and is designated as a National Natural Landmark
Ibis and other wild birds make most of the sounds throughout the Park
Many alligators are seen enjoying a peaceful habitat.
We remembered there used to be glass bottom boats for many years, but now you can't see the bottom of the river/springs because of tannin and a mix of  the same toxic chemicals and pesticide issues seen in other areas of our State.  The Wakulla River is off limits to everyone now - no one is allowed past a certain point for any reason because it is a sensitive protected wildlife habitat.

This alligator didn't let us interrupt his plans for lunch!
After our tour we enjoyed lunch in the Edward Ball Dining Room of the Lodge which took us through the beautiful, almost unchanged lobby.  The Lodge's architecture is Mediterranean Revival and has been carefully maintained for many years.

 Wakulla Lodge Lobby
Our admission into the Park ($6.00) was credited toward the reasonable cost of our lunch in their full service dining room which overlooks the spring.  Sometime in the future we would like to return for the delicious menu offerings for lunch and dinner which usually includes local seafood, frog legs and local oyster dishes.  The Wakulla Lodge is used for meetings retreats, weddings and other special family and business occasions.  Guests can request lodging in one of the 27 guest rooms at most reasonable prices. 

We noticed many positive updates, such as improvements in comfort and safety,  but there are still many recognizable historical items which were left from the early days.


 The original exposed painted ceiling has been restored and repainted by master artisans and is stunning.   In 1966 "Old Joe", a huge American alligator (650 lbs, over 11 feet, and around 200 years old), the unofficial mascot of Wakulla Springs, was senselessly killed and is now stuffed, memorialized and encased in a glass casket in the lobby.

"OLD JOE"
 The world's longest marble soda fountain and gift shop is on the opposite side of the lobby.  Oh yes, there is only one television in the hotel which is in the lobby.

The World's Longest Marble Soda Fountain and Gift Shop in The Lodge
Even though Wakulla Springs and Lodge takes you back to a bygone era, it is visited by about 200,000 people a year.  The Spring is always a chilly 70 degrees year round,  and provides relief from the heat, or it will take your breath away.  The Wakulla Lodge at Wakulla Springs offers visitors a timeless glimpse into Florida's pristine and elegant past.  I wonder if The Creature From The Black Lagoon or Tarzan would be surprised to see what the springs look like today?



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