Parks are now
toll free, at
STEPHEN FOSTER STATE FOLK CULTURE
Located only a short distance
from the boundary separating Florida and Georgia, Stephen Foster State Folk
Culture Center fulfills two purposes. Appropriately situated on the Suwannee
River, the 247-acre center honors the memory of Foster, whose song "Old
Folks at Home," memorialized the picturesque stream. It also serves
as a gathering place for those who perpetuate the crafts, music and legends
of early and contemporary Floridians.
Stephen Collins Foster was born outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July
4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
He demonstrated his musical talent early in life by playing th e flute at
the age of four. His first composition, "The Tioga Waltz," was
completed when he was a fifteen year-old student. In the years that followed,
Foster wrote more than 200 songs, including "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown
Races," "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair," "My Old
Kentucky Home," "Beautiful Dreamer," and many others familiar
Foster apparently never saw the
Suwannee River, but he made it famous nevertheless. The river begins its
course in the Okefenokee Swamp of southeastern Georgia and meanders southwesterly
for a distance of approximately 250 miles before it empties into the Gulf
of Mexico. The 1935 Florida Legislature designated "Old Folks At Home"
also known as "Suwannee River" the official state song.
The Suwannee River has a unique and diverse history. White Sulphur Springs,
located on the banks of the river at Stephen Foster Center, dates at least
to the 1700s. The Native Americans regarded the sulphur spring as sacred
ground for its curative powers. White Sulphur Springs was promoted as a
health resort and the spring water advertised as a cure for almost any ailment.
In 1906, the spring was enclosed with a high concrete wall and gates to
keep the river out. Buildings on either side of the spring contained shops,
dressing rooms, and clincial examination rooms. One of the resort's many
famous visitors was Teddy Roosevelt. The springhouse still attracted some
visitors into the 1950s. Today, the original concrete wall and gate still
exist; and the surrounding area retains much of the culture of that early
Dioramas which depict scenes described in some of Stephen Foster's most
famous songs are housed in the Stephen Foster Museum and Carillon Tower
along with rare pianos and priceless musical instruments. Guided
tours of the exhibits are given daily.
The Carillon Tower is also home to the world's largest tubular bell instrument
constructed and installed by the J.C. Deagan Company in 1957. the bells
of the Stephen Foster Memorial Carillon are of unique design originated
by Deagan in 1916. The company installed more than 500 carillons in this
country and abroad for nearly 42 years. The carillon at White Springs, the
largest and the last system to be installed by Deagan, consists of three
full sets of 32 bells with a scale range of C to G, chromatic, plus a fourth
high G bell. Three bells sound in perfect unison for each note to produce
a strong, resonant tone response.
of many of Stephen Foster's compositions, which number more than 200, are
played by specially trained carillonneurs and at other times from the automatic
electric player installed with the carillon.
Camping, hiking, bicycling, canoeing, and wildlife observation are popular
recreational activities at the Stephen Foster Center. Twenty-two campsites
are available by reservation or on a first come basis. Facilities include
restrooms with hot showers, dump station, water and electric. Campsites
with electricity are available on a first come basis only. For camping reservations,
telephone (386) 397-4331. Pets and fire arms are prohibited in the camping
On-road and off-road bicycling
are extremely popular in the White Springs area. Miles of trails are available
for your enjoyment through some of the most beautiful country in the Suwannee
Valley. Maps of trails and routes are available in the local community.
Canoe facilities and liveries
are also available in the community.
Complete your adventure at Stephen Foster Center with a visit to the Craft
Square where skilled workers create crafts from raw materials. Items produced
in the Craft Square may be purchased from the crafter or in the craft shop.
A schedule of demonstrations is available by calling (386) 397-1920.
Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center is located in White Springs, off U.S. 41 North.
Stephen Foster State Folk Culture
Post Office Drawer G
White Springs, FL 32096
View Larger Map