Rick Kilby: From Mesmerizing Mermaids to Water-skiing Elephants: Roadside Attractions at Florida Springs

Recorded Wednesday, November 11, 2020

In the twentieth century, tourists poured into the Sunshine State looking for sun and fun, and a competitive environment of roadside entertainment evolved to try to separate these visitors from their wallets. In the previous century, many of the state’s smaller springs were marketed as having miraculous healing powers. But in the age of the automobile, entrepreneurs took advantage of the crystal clear waters of larger springs, and embellished their natural beauty with boat rides, animal acts, and every type of side attraction imaginable. In the pre-Disney era, places like Rainbow, Silver, and Weeki Wachee Springs were primary destinations, and they all developed as unique roadside attractions.


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