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Parks and Museums: Wakulla Springs

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs is a state park about 20 miles south of Tallahassee, where some of our very first Floridians called home about 15,000 years ago.

During the Ice Age, sea levels dramatically rose and fell as ice formed and melted in the northern hemisphere. When people arrived, the sea level was about 300 feet lower than today, the Gulf shore was 115 miles away, and the landscape was very dry. Giant animals such as elephants, tigers, and wolves roamed the region, along with humans, and all were drawn to the deep spring we call Wakulla.

Remains of the now-extinct large animals lie in and around the spring cave along with several sites in the Big Bend of Florida. The earliest people, called Paleoindians, camped around Wakulla Spring and archaeologists have found their stone tools including the oldest spear points in the Southeast, stone scrapers, and even a stone bead.

Exhibits of Wakulla Springs archaeology are in the historic lodge at the Springs and the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee, which has a fully reconstructed skeleton of a giant mammoth.

Note: The Museum is temporarily closed as part of ongoing renovations at the R. A. Gray Building.

Mammoth skeleton from Wakulla Springs.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Mammoth skeleton from Wakulla Springs.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

Unearthing Florida is a project of WUWF Public Media, the Florida Public Archaeology Network(FPAN), and its founder, Dr. Judith Bense, since 1998. FPAN's Michael Thomin is a contributor to the program. WUWF's Sandra Averhart is the executive producer.

Dr. Judy Bense is President Emeritus and Professor of Anthropology/Archaeology at UWF.