(39:29, 36.1MB; S1576 T81-12, T81-37, T83-142)
Boat tours in Wakulla Springs date back to the late 1800s. Their chants, jokes and stories have been passed down through the generations.
Alligators, snakes, rare birds and Native exoticism are all pinnacles of Florida’s tourism industry. Wakulla Springs State Park offers visitors the chance to experience all of these things and more under the guidance of clever and knowledgeable guides. Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection Podcast Series from the Florida Department of State’s State Library and Archives of Florida. In this month’s podcast we’ll examine the oral traditions of the Wakulla Springs boat drivers.
Glass-bottom boat tours are certainly not exclusive to Wakulla Springs. They have been a long-standing attraction in Silver Springs, Homosassa Springs and Rainbow Springs, among others. Boat tours in Wakulla Springs date back to the late 1800s. Right up through recent history, descendants of the first boatmen of the Springs have followed in the footsteps of their forefathers, and their chants, jokes and stories have been passed down through the generations.
The first portion of this podcast features a jungle boat tour by Wilbert Gavin. Gavin masterfully calls out the surrounding plants and wildlife he sees during the three-mile loop down the river, pointing out the rare limpkin and finding some snakes for the ladies.
Next, we hear a retired Luke Smith recite his glass-bottom boat chant at the Florida Folk Festival. The way he sings about the underwater fauna and summons the fish to the boat is reminiscent of African-American spirituals and field hollers. Following his boat tour demonstration, Smith discusses his history at the Springs in an interview, recalling the days of giving tours in row boats.
Now keep your hands and arms inside the boat, and enjoy the mysterious waters of Wakulla Springs!