The first time I read about the Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth, I was in grammar school and I was intrigued. As with the many other stories of explorers and interesting places around the country, I wanted to visit historical St. Augustine. It was not until recently when I was roaming northern Florida with my Aunt, who lives in the area, that I finally had my chance to visit the ‘Fountain of Youth’, and America’s first colony.
Located along the eastern coastline of Florida in St. Augustine, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places (2016), and is a privately owned park. It is a historical site that is noted as the original location of the Nation’s oldest city.
The area of the park was first explored by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513, then settled in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles. The historic city of St. Augustine is the oldest successful European settlement of the United States, more than 50 years before the Pilgrims had landed on Plymouth Rock.
The freshwater well in the park was referred to by Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas’, Historia general de los hechos de los castellanos en las Islas y Tierra Firme del mar Océano. This water source was supposedly sought by Ponce de Leon, but there is no real supporting evidence. Although in the 1990s there have been archaeological excavations made by Dr. Kathleen Deagan on the park’s grounds, which uncovered remains of the first Spanish settlement, and its fortifications in St. Augustine.
The park began in the 1860s with a series of attractions on the current grounds that showcased a “spring”, and the beautiful grounds. The park enlarged in 1904 by Luella Day McConnell, “Diamond Lil”, who fabricated stories to entertain those who visited.
Dock and waterways in park
The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is one of those toruisty places that you should see, especially if you enjoy archaeology and history. Some people have called this a tourist trap and I can see what they mean, but it is what it is. I honestly found the park quite enjoyable, entertaining, and informative for all ages.
If you are wondering if I drank from the Fountain of Youth, I can assure that I took a sip. The water was very minerally, and reminded me of the miracle water in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. It was very hard and smelled like rocks, but you can drink it. The water is alkaline and healthy for you, I just could not stomach it past one sip!
Today the park’s’ garden grounds are lovely with strolling and resting peacocks. There are also many educational points like a planetarium, recreated living quarters, a Spanish watch tower, cannons, a ship, and much more.
For more information, please visit their website- Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Live your life by a compass, not a clock…– Stephen Covey
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