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One Tank Trips: Stephen Foster State Park

By: Sharon Tazewell
By: Sharon Tazewell

With this school year coming to an end, folks are making summer vacation plans, but the high price of gas may be getting in the way. That's why we decided to visit local attraction areas that you can make on one tank of gas.

In this One Tank Trip, we take you to Stephen Foster State park in White Springs, Florida.

While at Stephen Foster State Park, one can't help but start singing, "Suwannee River." In 1931 admirers of Foster’s music wanted a memorial to the man who made the Suwannee River world famous. In 1950 the park was opened "down upon the Suwannee."

While at the park laden with live Oak Trees, one can enjoy the Stephen Foster Museum, camping or purchase crafts made by locals, or visit the Carillon Tower, which boasts the world’s largest tubular bell.

While inside the museum you'll find eight of fosters 286 songs made into dioramas. Plus, the piano where foster tickled the ivories and composed Nelly Bly.

This may come as a surprise, but Foster, a native of Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, had never visited the Suwannee River.

"He started out "Upon the Plantation," way down upon the PD River and he didn't like the way the PD River rhymed."

So he pulled out an atlas on this very desk in search of a river name.

Patricia Cromer, museum guide, says, "He sat down and made the corrections using the Suwannee, spelling it S-W-A-N-E-E as he also needed a two syllable river name and he sold the song and it became famous all over the world."

And in 1935 Florida Legislature designated "old folks at home", also known as Suwannee River, as Florida's official state song.

For more information on the park or how to obtain tickets to the Florida Folk Festival, contact The State of Florida's Nature and Heritage Tourism Center at 877-635-3655 or www.FloridaStateParks.org


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