It’s Better in the Daylight

It’s happening again. All over the United States, Americans are waking up groggy, mumbling curses at the inventors of Daylight Savings Time. Here at Florida Memory, our coping strategy has been to gulp an extra cup of coffee and think about all the reasons daylight is important to the Sunshine State. After all, Florida didn’t get that nickname for nothing!

Having an adequate daily dose of daylight was particularly critical to the Silver Springs Transportation Company, which operated river cruises between Ocala and Palatka in the early 20th century. One of the company’s most popular cruises was called the “daylight route,” so called because it could get passengers between Ocala and Palatka all before dark in a single day. The route included parts of the Silver, Ocklawaha, and St. Johns rivers.

Map from a brochure advertising the "Silver Springs Daylight Route" (1925).

Map from a brochure advertising the “Silver Springs Daylight Route” (1925).

As of 1925, the boats left Ocala at 8:00 every morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and left Palatka at the same time every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Passengers were able to enjoy the entire 135-mile journey with the benefit of natural sunlight, which illuminated the many natural wonders along the way. Owing to the weather, these cruises were only offered from January to April annually.

An illustration of one of the Silver Springs Transportation Company's river cruisers, from a brochure advertising the Silver Springs  Daylight Route (1925).

An illustration of one of the Silver Springs Transportation Company’s river cruisers, from a brochure advertising the Silver Springs Daylight Route (1925).

The boats were equipped for luxury. Both the upper and lower decks of the river cruisers were lined with comfortable chairs. Dinner was served at 12 o’clock noon, and a la carte service was available at all hours on board. One-way tickets in either direction cost $10.00, while a round-trip ticket would set you back $19.00. The ticket price covered the cruise, plus transportation by automobile between Ocala and Silver Springs, a glass-bottomed boat tour, and the noontime “dinner” served during the cruise.

View of the Silver River and the

View of the Silver River and the “City of Ocala,” one of the excursion boats that traveled between Ocala and Palatka (circa 1920s).

Visitors raved about their experiences touring these majestic Central Florida waterways. Just as every day comes to an end, however, the sun eventually set on the magnificent “daylight route” cruises. Automobile transportation was becoming the preferred method of travel, and the arrival of the Great Depression suppressed demand for luxury boat transportation.

Glass-bottomed boat tours are still popular at Silver Springs, although they are confined to the Silver River. Luxury trips from Ocala to Palatka and Welaka are now the stuff of memory, captured in photographs and bits of ephemera like passenger tickets and brochures. The map and boat illustration from this post, for example, come from a 1925 brochure advertising the Silver Springs Daylight Route, part of the Florida Collection at the State Library.

If these kinds of historical resources interest you, consider visiting the State Library and Archives to learn more about our collections. The State Library’s Florida Collection and Ephemera File contain historic brochures for tourist attractions and railroad lines dating back to the 19th century. In addition, the State Archives holds several collections from Hubbard Hart and other steamboat line operators. Whatever your Florida research question may be, the State Library and Archives likely have the materials to help. Visit info.florida.gov to search the catalogs of the State Library and Archives, and search Florida Memory to discover digitized historic photos and documents.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Released (March 5, 1954)

On March 5, 1954, Universal International Pictures released Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Still from Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The creature emerges from Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The film’s plot centered around an Amazonian expedition gone awry when a scientific team encountered the mysterious “Gill Man.” The creature became enamored with a member of the team, played by Julie Adams, and kidnapped her after escaping from the scientists’ grasp.

Film crew at Wakulla Springs, October 18, 1953

Film crew with 3-D camera at Wakulla Springs, October 18, 1953

The filmmakers visited Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahassee, while scouting locations for the film. They were introduced to a young FSU student and part-time lifeguard at the springs named Ricou Browning. Director Jack Arnold eventually cast Browning to play the part of the creature during underwater scenes. Browning parlayed this experience into a subsequent career in film and television.

Ricou Browning becoming the Creature, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

Ricou Browning becoming the creature, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The filmmakers used Florida’s natural beauty again as a backdrop while filming the sequel, Revenge of the Creature (1955). Revenge featured footage shot at Silver Springs, Marineland, and along the St. Johns River. Scenes from the third and final installment in the series, The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), were also filmed in the Sunshine State.

Ginger Stanley in the grip of the creature, Silver Springs, ca. 1955

Ginger Stanley in the grip of the creature, Silver Springs, ca. 1955

Share Your Silver Springs Memories

Have you ever taken a ride on the famous glass bottom boats at Silver Springs?

David Lee McMullen with classmates from Terry Parker High School on their senior trip, 1964

David Lee McMullen with classmates from Terry Parker High School (Jacksonville) on their senior trip, 1964

Facebook fans David Lee McMullen and Patricia Wiggins Austin shared these photos with us and we want to see yours too!

Patricia Wiggins Austin (age 7) with her Mom, Dad, sister, June 1954

Patricia Wiggins Austin (age 7) with her Mom, Dad, and sister, June 1954

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