Knox Bagwell led nine Sierrans on a beautiful paddle down the twisting tree covered Ocklawaha from Gore’s Landing to Eureka. We experienced the eternal magic of the historically famous Ocklawaha River, one of the few remaining “Old Florida Rivers.” This river marks the western edge of a flat, sand pine scrub forest. Some stretches pass through high piney bluffs formed by uplift faults/earthquakes millions ago. Along the way we saw an eagle and a monkey. While everyone agreed the monkey was exotic and shouldn’t be there, it was still fun to see him at such close range on the banks of the river.
The Ocklawaha was part of a transportation network the early times of the former Acuera Indians. In the 19th century steamboats brought settlers and trade inland from St. Johns. The Ocklawaha was also targeted to be a link for the mis-guided Cross Florida Barge canal. We paddled the 10 mile stretch of the river from Gores Landing (13750 NE 98 St., Ft. McCoy 32134) to Eureka West Boat Ramp (15260 NE 152 Pl, Ft. McCoy 32134), which continues to enjoy a wonderful panorama of river forests, swamps, and menagerie of wildlife. When we pulled our canoes out of the water at the Route 316 Bridge, we were glad George Kirkpatrick had not been able to straighten it. Some battles have been worth winning.
Post and Photos by Dave Wilson