At Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, Florida, there is a gift shop and snack bar. There is a terrace with some tables and chairs where you can overlook the very beginning (headsprings) of the Rainbow River. If you were to look closely in the water here, you would see the water bubbling up through the sand.
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FROM THE FLORIDA ONLINE PARK GUIDE:
Rainbow Springs State Park History
The crystalline waters of Rainbow Springs and Rainbow River have undergone many name changes throughout its history. Wekiwa Creek, Blue Spring, and Blue Run are just some of the names we have assigned this magical body of water. Since this place has attracted and sustained human inhabitants for over 15,000 years, it is very likely that many other names we will never know once described these waters in terms equally attractive. The crystal clear water, abundant fish, wildlife and vegetation has attracted a number of activities.
The springs became popular in the late 1880’s when hard rock phosphate was discovered in the area. A small community called Juliette flourished near the springs during this “boomtown” era. In the 1930s the spring was developed as a tourist attraction. Sea walls, a lodge, gift shop, the waterfalls, and a reptile exhibit were developed. It was during this time that the name was changed to Rainbow Springs and Rainbow River because of the prism of colors visible when the sun’s rays shot through the sparkling water. It was also due to the fact that there were some 30 different “Blue Holes” in Florida and this would help visitors find their way!
Under new ownership, the real heyday for the attraction occurred in the 1960s. During that time, activity greatly increased with glass-bottomed boat rides, riverboat rides, a log raft ride, a gift shop and cafe, an aviary, a leaf-shaped gondola/ monorail system, a rodeo, and submarine boat tours. When I-75 was built however, traffic was diverted away from this area and tourists began heading to a new attraction called Disney World. Rainbow Springs Attraction closed in 1974.
The entire Rainbow River was designated as a Registered Natural Landmark in 1972, an Aquatic Preserve in 1986, and an “Outstanding Florida Waterway” in 1987. The state purchased the original area that was the Rainbow Springs Attraction in 1990. Volunteers cleared the overgrown park and opened the park on weekends to the public in 1993. The Florida Park Service officially opened Rainbow Springs State Park on a full time basis on March 9, 1995.