Green Cove Spring
Summary of Features
- Scale--3rd magnitude
- Scenery--very good
- How Pristine?--encircled by concrete, in urban park setting
- Swimming--none in spring, good in adjacent spring-fed pool
- Protection--good Crowds--in well-used park that can be crowded
- Cost--free to see spring; $4 for adults and $2 for children to swim in adjacent pool
In the center of Green Cove Springs. From the intersection of U.S. 16 and SR 17 in Green Cove Spring, go one block north on U.S. 17 and turn east onto Spring Street and continue one block to the spring and Spring Park.
The spring appearance has not changed since it was described in detail by Rosenau et al. in Springs of Florida (1977). The authors of this Guide cannot add to or detract anything from Rosenau's excellent physical description of this spring:
The spring is in a city park amid oak and palm trees on the westbank of the St. Johns River. The spring pool, about 20 feet in diameter at land surface, is bounded by a 2-ft.-high decorative concrete railing. The pool tapers downward in soft marl like an irregularly shaped funnel to a 2-ft. diameter cavern opening in its bottom, 31.5 feet below water surface. The 2-ft. opening then opens into a cavern 25 feet wide trending in a NE direction toward the St. Johns River. The roof of the cavern descends to a depth of 50 ft. and the bottom of the cavern falls to 150 feet. Some of the flow in this cavern is toward the St. Johns River, and it is possible that the spring does discharge water into the river bed. Most of the flow appears to emanate from the 2-ft. opening in the bottom of the pool. Discharge from the pool is through a 4-ft.-wide weir opening in the NE side to a 50-ft. by 100-ft. swimming pool. The swimming pool overflows through a weir on its east end to a spring run that is tributary to the St. Johns River about 300 ft. farther east. Some or all of the flow from the spring can be directed from a flume to bypass the swimming pool. The water is clean and clear and has a hydrogen sulfide odor (pp. 169-170).
On dates of visit (1995-2001), JF has observed coins, a golf ball, a brick, and other debris that had been thrown into the spring. There is algae growing on the rocks in the spring, and there are whitish deposits in the run. The spring run below the pool winds through the city park surrounding the spring and is clear, a few inches deep, and 8-10 feet wide. Banana and other trees have been planted along the spring run. A sign next to the spring says it is 28 feet deep and provides 1990 measurements of its flow and water content/quality characteristics.
- No admittance is allowed in the spring itself, but as noted above the flow from the spring fills the municipal pool of Green Cove Springs. This pool underwent a multi-million dollar restoration and re-opened in 2017--see story at http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/clay/2017-06-20/historic-spring-park-pool-reopens-splash-green-cove-springs. To prevent pollution from the pool to the spring run to the St. Johns River, no chemicals are used in the pool. Pool staff brush down the sides of the pool on a regular basis to prevent algae build-up.
- The excellent city park around the spring (the park is also on the St.Johns River) includes a picnic pavilion, changing facilities, bathrooms, a large playground, a gazebo, a large dock/pier, and walking areas. More local information is available at www.greencovesprings.com/departments/city_pool.php
- The spring is in the historic district of Green Cove Springs.
Of all the developed springs the authors have seen, Green Cove is perhaps the nicest and most pleasant. The system for filling the city pool is as simple as it is ingenious. While the wall around the pool is not natural, it does seem to keep most people out of the spring if not from occasionally tossing things into it.
The town of Green Cove Springs, which is now a bedroom community for Jacksonville, is named for the spring. The spring was originally a water source for the community. There are a number of historic buildings near the spring, including a hotel where people stayed while seeking "cure" at the spring. In his 1869 book describinga winter in Florida, Ledyard Bill provided an excellent description of Green Cove Spring and its utilization at that time:
The spring is the attraction at Green Cove, distant not over ten ods from the river, and double that from the principal hotel. It is owned, as are most of the village lots, by two parties--Mrs. Ferris and a Mr. Palmer at Jacksonville; who being opposed to improvements, and seemingly to every enterprise as well as to their own interests, suffer the spring to remain surrounded by a clump of wild trees, which, however, serves a good purpose in screening bathers; yet it is not to the interest of the villagers to have affairs continue in their present unimproved state. The spring has scooped for itself a bed, twenty by fifty feet, and lies some ten feet below the surrounding level. It flows freely from its fountainhead into this spactious reservoir, of an average of five feet in depth, and then runs rapidly off to the river. The water is at a temperature of, we should judge, about seventy-five degrees, very pleasant, and thoroughly unharmful to drink. It bursts up with considerable force, and clear as crystal. It has a slight sulphurous taste, and leaves slight traces of the same mineral on the sides of the spring. Both magnesia and iron are, we think, held in solution. Every one spoke in high praise of this spring-water, both as a drink and for bathing uses; for the latter of which, regular hours are assigned to the different sexes. A dozen or more rude yet convenient dressing-houses surround it. (pp. 99-100)
Bill goes on in a later chapter to sing more praises of the spring:
Though we have spoken in a previous chapter of the spring at Green Cove, yet to omit mention of it here would be an injustice, not for anything remarkable about it as seen by the beholder, but for its high valueas a curative agent. In this particular, it excels all others with which we are acquainted. Its water is pure and pleasant, and has the credit of having cured some invalids and greatly benefited many others. Its depth is such that any one may bathe in it without fear, and the use of the water increases the appetite and strengthens the system. Indeed, it is the only spring with which we are familiar in this State that has any reputationas a curative agent (p. 140).
Another account from this period was written by George Walton in his 1876 chronicle of mineral springs in the U.S. He noted that "a partial analysis showed the water to contain sulphate of magnesia, sulphate of lime, chloride of sodium, iron, and considerable sulphuretted hydrogen.. . . Temperature, 76 degrees Fahr. the flow is exceedingly large" (p.185).
- Heilbronn Springs
- Wadesboro Spring
- Whitewater Springs
- Kingsley Lake
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Ravine State Gardens
- Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area
- Anastasia State Recreation Area
- Guana River State Park
- Gold Head Branch State Park