If I could have, to hold forever, one brief place and time of beauty, I think I might choose the night on that high lonely bank above the St. Johns River —Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek
St Johns River Natural Habitat
The northward flowing St. Johns River is the longest in Florida measuring 310 miles; making it the longest river in Florida. Manatees, dolphins and sharks are frequently seen while boating on the slow moving St. Johns River. The St. Johns River basin is a bird-watchers paradise. Cormorants, egrets, anhingas, woodstorks, ibis, barred owls, limpkins, hawks and herons are common. Fishing is excellent with mullet, flounder, shad, and blue crab available. Sweetbay, cypress, and swamp tupelo trees grow on raised land called hammocks. Trees draped with Spanish Moss give the river a distinct Southern feel.
The St. Johns River begins in a marshland called the St. Johns Marsh located in Indian River County and flows north to ultimately empty into the Atlantic near Jacksonville, Florida. The river begins its flow and assembling together into what is recognized as a river in Brevard County. The river is estuarine meaning tides cause seawater to enter the mouth of the river at Jacksonville. Plants and animals near the mouth of the river must be able to tolerate salt and fresh water in varying salt content and temperature.
St Johns River History
The St. Johns River has always been a significant part of Florida’s History. The Timucua (tee-MOO-qua) Indians used the river for transportation and as a source for food for centuries before Europeans arrived. A battle for control over the waterway between the French and Spanish ensued in time of early settlement in the 1500s. Naturalist William Bartram referred to a portion of the river as a “true garden of Eden.” In the late 1800s and early 1900s tourism of the St Johns River grew as steamboats would ferry tourists and goods to towns along the shore.