Help restore historic waterfalls

Friends group is seeking donations to restore Rainbow Falls and Seminole Falls at Rainbow Springs State Park.

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Posted March 15, 2023 | By Stasha McKnight, Special to the Ocala Gazette

The Friends of Rainbow Springs State Park are working to raise funds to restore and maintain the historic waterfalls at Rainbow Springs State Park.

Rainbow Springs has an extensive history here in Marion County, all the way back to the 1800s, and then as a roadside attraction and then this beautiful state park. Rainbow Springs man-made waterfalls are a unique part of Florida and the Florida State Parks system and, unfortunately, they have not been flowing for a few years. They had been flowing since the 1930s.

Rainbow Falls was Florida’s highest cascade, at 60 feet. It was finished in 1936. Seminole Falls, the second tallest, shares a pump house with Rainbow Falls.

Both of these waterfalls are man-made, with the water being pumped up from the river and returned directly back through short streams and smaller waterfalls, which can be seen flowing under several small bridges along your walk through the park.

Thousands of visitors have stood in awe and have photographed these beautiful, magnificent waterfalls and many of you come to Rainbow Springs to see the waterfalls. Some of you have many memories of them or have been told stories about them. They are an important part of the history of this park.

The caption of a black and white photo from the dedication of the Rainbow Springs Waterfalls on March 14, 1937, notes that the celebration included a “Timucua Indian Pageant with a Sun Dance and Water God ritual and there was a water carnival with movie mermaid revue, exhibition swimming, fancy diving by Newt Perry’s aquatic stars, life-saving demos, canoe tilting, clown diving, alligator wrestling by Harold Williams and a 10-foot gator. There was Pee-Wee the circus clown and his dog Rex, University of Florida swim team, Billy chase, Bill Collin, Bob Barry, W . Liddell, Bob Quixley, L.G. Haskell, R. Albertson, H. Skipper, Tom Knotts and demos. They celebrated 50th anniversary of discovery of phosphate. It featured dancers from Dunnellon dance classes. There was lunch, soft drink stands, facilities for dancing, all free admission and parking.”

The Friends of Rainbow Springs State Park are raising funds to restore and maintain the waterfalls to preserve their history and for the visitors of Rainbow Springs State Park and for generations to come to enjoy. Your generous donation to help with this special project is greatly appreciated. You can donate on our website, in our gift shop or by mailing your donation to Friends of Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, Florida 34432.

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