Water in Florida

From the Fountain of Youth to our dropping aquifer levels, Florida's history has been driven by what happens with its water. Follow some of the major events that have shaped the Sunshine State.

This timeline is part of State of Water, a collaborative effort of students in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida ;xNLx;;xNLx;Background photo by Hannah Winston

Fountain of Youth

Ponce de Leon reaches Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth

The 27th State

Florida becomes a state

Exploring the Wetlands

St. Augustine lawyer Buckingham Smith sent by the government to investigate the marsh in Florida

Gold in the Water

The California gold rush lowers the already low value for Florida land

Draining the Wetlands

Swamp Overflowed Lands Act turns wetlands over to states to drain for development.

Slow and Steady

Florida's population is 140,423

Florida to Floridians

“From what I have observed, I should think Florida was nine-tenths water, and the other tenth swamp,” journal entry

Drain Baby, Drain

Ditch-and-Drain Law - The first water law for Florida. It allowed counties to drain or build water courses so the land could be developed for landowners to use.

Let the Refugees Begin

President Theodore Roosevelt establishes the first U.S. wildlife refugee in Florida, Pelican Island in Indian River Lagoon.

Population Boom

Population grows to 2.5 million with easier access to trains and cars.

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