Posts tagged “Silver Springs

Wild West Gunslingers – in Florida

Posted on June 7, 2012

Tombstone, Arizona, the subject of Kevin Britz’s essay in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, was hardly the only place that staged Wild West gunfights for tourist audiences. In addition to other “real” western “ghost towns,” specially contrived ghost-town tourist traps opened all across the United States in the 1960s at the height of the TV-western craze. At least three of the most notable examples were about as far from the West as you could get in the U.S.: Florida! Osprey (between Sarasota and Venice), Panama City Beach, and Silver Springs enthralled tourists with daily gun battles on sandy streets against a backdrop of mock storefronts and saloons. The following images, drawn from the State Archives of Florida, depict these long lost attractions. As…

The Scenic Submarine

Posted on June 2, 2012

Silver Springs once had direct, nearby competitors, one of which distinguished itself with its “Scenic Submarine,” “America’s Most Unusual Boat Ride.”  Until 1974, Rainbow Springs competed for the same tourists as its more famous counterpart thirty miles east in the same county in north-central Florida, as detailed in Tim Hollis’s Glass Bottom Boats and Mermaid Tails: Florida’s Tourist Springs. Originally called Blue Spring, Rainbow Springs got its name in the 1930s as part of an effort to attract tourists. The destination grew into the postwar years as the attraction added glass-bottomed boats and even submarine rides and staged underwater tableaux in much the same fashion as Silver Springs, historian Tom Berson’s “stop” on the “itinerary” of American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, due out…

A Fisheye View of Silver Springs

Posted on April 28, 2012

Silver Springs, located just east of Ocala in north-central Florida, is internationally known for its crystalline waters teeming with fish. As American Tourism contributor and Silver Springs historian Tom Berson demonstrates, visionary leaders, transportation innovations, and depictions in popular culture spread the attraction’s name far and wide. Apart from the famed theme park where glass-bottom boats glide atop the shimmering natural pool, the springs afforded ideal conditions for underwater filming. Silver Springs has served as a stand-in for the Everglades, the Amazon River, the Bahamas, and even Africa. Several early Tarzan movies starring Johnny Weissmuller were filmed at Silver Springs in the 1930s, and the popular late ’50s TV show Sea Hunt featured numerous underwater sequences shot at the Florida attraction. A fish-gilled monster man…

Drawing Water, Drawing Tourists

Posted on April 21, 2012

It’s almost Earth Day again. Each year, on the appointed day, thousands of Americans make a ritual of caring for the planet: planting a tree, picking up litter, or simply stopping to smell the roses. Yet the interest, of course, goes far beyond that for many, even reshaping leisure pursuits. Growing trends in ecotourism and agritourism do not necessarily signal a transformative new mindset about the environment, but the surging popularity of visiting working farms, farmers’ co-ops, and public markets and patronizing farm-to-table-minded restaurants suggest more than a passing fancy for seeking bonds to the natural world around us. Traditional tourist destinations seldom figure prominently in any discussion of environmental tourism, but they should. Take water, for instance. Near- and long-term concerns about water…