A bubbling fountain of mineral water pouring from a cavern on a hillside above the St. Johns River brought settlement to these shores early in human history. But it was a Spanish land grant that brought commerce in 1816, a sawmill around which the community of White Sulphur Springs grew. During the Civil War, the town was occupied by Union soldiers, and renamed Green Cove Springs soon after.
Health spas were all the rage in the late 1800s, and so Green Cove Springs became a destination for northern tourists arriving by steamboat. A trolley car met them at the end of the long dock and took them to one of a dozen hotels and boarding homes, where they would winter and bathe daily in the spring-fed swimming pool that is still a highlight of Spring Park today.
During World War II, a naval air complex along the river was joined by a military port where the Navy shuttled up to 600 ships for storage out of harm’s way. Decommissioned in the 1960s, these are now home to a large marina and an airfield with military museum near where one of the few bridges span the St. Johns River to the eastern shore.
Trails and Parks near Green Cove Springs
NEARBY: Keystone Heights, Middleburg, Orange Park, Palatka, St. Augustine | ALONG: St. Johns River | PART OF: North Florida