"Way Down Upon the Suwannee River..."
The Suwannee River is the quintessential southern river. In fact, it is one of the major undammed rivers in the southeastern United States. Stephen F. Foster immortalized the river with what is now the State Song of Florida. With its formation in the Okefenokee National Refuge, just 20 miles north of the plantation, and free flowing through a myriad of ecosystems for over 260 miles to Cedar Key, this is also one of the purest rivers in the southeast. As such, its preservation is one of the major interests of conservation groups and federal and state governments. Today, this area of the Suwannee River is one of the most protected natural areas in the southeast and this area has one of the largest concentrations of conservation areas, parks, National Forests and preserved lands in the country.
One of the river's most famous features, Big Shoals, is located along the southwestern property line of the Plantation at Deep Creek. This is one of the most photographed sites on the Suwannee and is Florida's only class III whitewater rapids, the largest whitewater in the entire state. This is a very special place. The Suwannee's tea-like waters act as a natural purifier and its high banks and clean edges are park-like. Just upstream, views from the high bluff at the plantation's "campsite" are unlike anything seen in Florida. Live oaks, beech trees, and palms strain to reach across the river but fail to make it even a quarter of the way across this wide stretch of water. Above the Shoals, at the plantation itself, the water is very deep with the rapids acting like a natural dam backing the river for miles resulting in a unique lake effect. The result is excellent boating recreation for the owner and guests.
The fishing is excellent and due to limited public access, others are rarely seen. The entire adjacent river frontage from Deep Creek is either Big Shoals State Park or Big Shoals State Forest. Almost all signs of civilization are completely absent. The only local landing is the historic private landing on the plantation itself, Brown's Landing. From this site, outboards are easily launched or canoes picked up from a float down Deep Creek itself or down the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. The Florida National Scenic Trail runs along the property's south boundary. This trail is Florida's version of the Appalachian Trail and runs some 1,400 miles through the state.
Florida's first tourist attraction was located just downstream from the plantation at White Sulphur Springs. Between the purifying spring and the shoals, the area was the epicenter for ecotourism and by the late 1800's there were 14 hotels and a private train taking such notable tourists as Henry Ford and Theodore Roosevelt to enjoy the area's natural resources. Today, the hotels are gone and the bathing tourists have been replaced by nature lovers and those on canoes and kayaks. Signs of the era are still seen on the plantation with the historic Brown's Ferry Crossing, Brown's Landing, and even the ruins of Godwin Bridge. Today, with both the ferry and bridge long gone and with the famous Shoals impossible to navigate upstream, this stretch of river is as protected from human disturbance now as it was when it was a part of the Timucuan Indian Nation over 400 year ago. Certainly there is nowhere else in Florida that can make the same claim.