I propose to notice the Rivers, Streams of water, Spring runs, etc., in and near the section of country to which I have before called attention to wit: Levy and Benton counties. The Suwannee River being the largest and most navigated, of course is best known, but as its importance might be more extensively known, I will give my personal knowledge of it.
This river may be said to be navigable at all seasons of the year for Steamers to Troy, 15 miles above the Santa Fe, and up the Santa Fe ten miles, or to within 20 miles of Aligator, Columbia, County. About one half of the year or during high water, steamers can run up the river to Columbus 180 miles from its mouth, but the balance of the year it is usually navigated thus far by Barges.
From Columbus barges ascend to the lower Mineral Springs; and up the Withlacoochee River, at times to Troupville, (Ga.)
The Suwannee runs mostly through pine country (until it reaches Suwannee Old Town) a country abounding in good yellow pine timber, and it is believed well adapted to the lumber and turpentine business. The same may be said too of the river Santa Fe, as its course is through a pine country, with the exception of Log Hammock, Itchtucknee Hammock, a few other small Hammocks and swamps, and on is banks, it is said, there are as find turpentine lands as any in the State. It is believed that the Itchtucknee ( a spring river)and the Santa Fee below the Natural Bridge afford good mill sites, not only for lumber, but all purposes to which it might be necessary to apply water power for the wants of the country. Near Charles’ Ferry, on the Suwannee, there is one good water saw mill and one extensive turpentine plantation.
There is a Spring run at Fort Fanning that is thought to run a mill and the Big Manatee Spring below Clay Landing deserves notice, and perhaps a trial in this regard. What strikes the explorer on the Suwannee from Fort Fanning down to its mouth, is the immense quantity of Cypress on and near its banks. Steam mills at its mouth; or at Cedar Keys would find employment for years in sawing it up. It appears to me that this would be much more profitable than sawing the pine lumber, but the two would have to be united as a raft of Cypress cannot be made to float of itself. Texas being most of it destitute of timber is becoming a good market for lumber, so also is New Orleans.
The Cypress commands a much higher price to market than pine and it seems strange so little of it has been manufactured from Florida.
If this river was in the older States, the Cypress would soon be removed and the land (much of it at least) cultivated to yield rice. It is probable there may be 20,000 acres that might be redeemed and cultivated, providing the rise and fall of the tide is sufficient or that water could be brought by canal to flow it when required.
The timber however, is a certainty and it is to be hoped that the sale of that in lumber may introduce the capitalists to try what some would never call visionary schemes. There is some difficulty about shipping lumber from the Suwannee itself, but it is believed the extra expense of rafting the longs would be ???tling. It is to be hoped that these resources of the country will not long be undeveloped, and that especially where there are mill sites, the water may not long be allowed to waste its strength in the desert soil.
Signed…An Actual Settler
Fort Fanning, 28th, May, 1850