River History




The St. Mary's River is a stream of black-water that separates Florida & Georgia on the east coast..  It starts in the Okefenokee Swamp and winds along a 130 mile path leading to the Atlantic Ocean & the Cumberland Sound.  Total distance "as the crow flies" is about 40 miles.

The St. Mary's River Basin provided a home & food source to the Timucuan Indians prior to the 16th Century.  British and Spanish settlers brought commerce to the area in the 1600s and 1700s.  Some of the major crops were sugar cane, indigo, cotton, and rice; some of which were shipped to Europe.  The river provided a route for sloops* & schooners** to transport cargo.

Late in the 1800s the river introduced to Steamers carrying passengers, cargo, & mail.  Many lumber mills (Coleraine, Kings Ferry, & Crandell were a few) used the river for a means of a shipping route until the early 1900s due to a lack of timber.  With the closing of these mills, less use of the river allow nature to have the river back and return somewhat to it's natural condition.  This is the way you'll find it now.  Mostly quiet and peaceful.

The St. Mary's River has three different distinct physical changes between the beginning and end.  You can find white sandy beaches, deep & shallow water, narrow & wide river sections, sandy bluffs & swamps, fresh, salty, & brackish water.  Being connected to the ocean, the tide changes twice daily.

You can also see quite a selection of plants in this area.  Bald Cypress, Longleaf Pine, Black Gum, Southern Magnolia, Red Maple, American Holly, Poplar, Black Willow, River Birch, and several different types of Oak.  Wildlife that can be found in this general area included Osprey, Bald Eagles, Deer, Black Bear, Bobcat, Raccoon, Manatee, Otter, Beaver, Gopher Tortoise, Alligator, Indigo Snake, and many more.

Simply put, the St. Mary's River is a beautiful place to retreat for a "return to nature" visit!


* A single-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged sailing boat with a short standing bowsprit or none at all and a single headsail set from the forestay.

** A fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessel having at least two masts, with a foremast that is usually smaller than the other masts.

As defined by dictionary.com

NOTE: Some of the information contained on this page was obtained from publications from the St. Johns River Water Management District, Palatka, Florida. 



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