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Friday, May 02, 2008

Wacissa River's friends try to keep it flowing

Published May 2, 2008
Best guess is that the Wacissa River is 1.8 million years old. "Sixteen springs in the upper stretch" feed the river, according to Tom Greenhalgh, a researcher with the Florida Geological Survey, which is part of Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The pristine river is home to a "tremendous concentration of wading birds," says Greenhalgh. Local residents and the occasional visitor know the river as a gentle meandering canoeist's delight, a quiet fishing paradise and a meeting spot for teens daring enough to use the big rope swing.

The river was free-flowing until 1850, when entrepreneurs built the historic Slave Canal. Then, in the 1930s, loggers and turpentiners erected a tram across the river, five miles downstream from the headwaters. The tram hauled logs and supplies for turpentine operations across the river. Loggers and turpentiners made their living there, until the timber they wanted was gone. The tram did not block the water of the river from flowing downstream, so local people left it in place.
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