Bicycling through History

BICYCLING THROUGH HISTORY

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Pirates !!

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Sunken Treasure !!

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This clip is about scuba diving a fresh water spring in northern Florida.



5 minutes long - 33.5 MB - Dimensions 480 x 270 - Attributable to Bicycling Through History.com 2011

The video clip above includes the remains of a steamboat named "Madison" that was sunk during the Civil War. From the video it is apparent that even after the steamboat sank, some of it was above the river surface as the bottom was submerged. Stories and legends reveal that people got on the boat and took everything of value. Perhaps they missed something and it fell underwater. That was why we went looking.

The spring is located along the Suwanee River. This river flows from the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. It winds for almost 266 miles through swamps, high limestone banks, hammocks of hardwood, and salt marshes. It also has fifty-five springs along the way. The river’s limestone outcroppings contribute to an extremely scenic landscape. The river was major route of travel for native Americans long before the arrival of European explorers. Timucuan Indians were living on the banks of the Suwannee River when the Spanish explorers came to what is now north Florida in the 1530s. The Suwannee River formed the boundary between the Timucuan on the east and the Apalachee Indians on the west. To the Timucuan of north central Florida, the Suwannee was a river sacred to their Sun God. To them, the Moon of the Suwannee put the colors of the rainbow into the earth. The Sun drew the colors out in flowers. The Timucuan Indian word Suwani means Echo River. Some think that is the origin of the Suwannee River’s name. Others say Suwannee means River of Reeds, Deep Water, or Crooked Black Water. Tannic acid from decaying palmetto roots and vegetation causes the blackness of the water. In the 1700s the Seminole Indians, or “wanderers” from the Creek tribe of Georgia were on the Suwannee. Old logs buried deep in the river were perhaps once parts of rafts on which they drifted down from Georgia. White Sulphur Springs on the Suwannee was considered to be a sacred healing ground. Warring tribes could come to bathe in and drink the mineral waters while putting aside their disagreements.

Pirates were an integral part of American Culture and their quest for treasure remains a fascination even today. History books cannot possibly describe all the sordid details of explorers and pirates. The same could be said for interactions between settlers and Indians. Many stories are simply lost.

At Bicycling Through History, we try to seek out those lost stories.

The steamboat Madison was a floating country store. It served customers on the Suwannee before the Civil War. Captain James Tucker owned and operated the sternwheeler. He carried items that he traded for money, cowhides, beef, tallow, chickens, eggs, hogs, deerskins, venison, beeswax, honey, gum resin, lumber, cotton, or whatever else came his way. The Madison wasn’t large, but her whistle was loud and could be heard for miles along the river. It called farmers, woodsmen, and planters to come to the boat landing on the run with their goods. Sometimes the Captain would throw out nickels as they docked. There was a wild scramble on shore. A nickel was worth a lot back then. When the Civil War began, Captain Tucker raised a company of Confederate soldiers. He took them aboard the Madison. One night they slipped out from the Suwannee and captured a federal gunboat. He knew that could prove to be risky if northern forces were to prevail in that area.

When Captain Tucker and his company received orders to report to Virginia, some folks asked for the Madison to help deliver corn. Times were bad and people were starving. Captain Tucker said yes, if the people would sink the Madison in the Suwannee when they were finished with her. That is where the steamboat has remained for over 148 years.

After the Civil War, steamboats were built to be much larger than the Madison. They were flat-bottomed and had two decks. Most were wood-fired and had two stacks. There was a pilothouse on top. Some were only for freight. Others had accommodations on the top deck for passengers. The steamboats traveled down the Suwannee River to the Gulf. Then they went on to Cedar Key, a thriving port fifteen miles south of the mouth of the Suwannee. Some of the steamboats were the Louisa, the David Yulee, the Belle of the Suwannee, and The Three States. The last boat to operate on the river was The City of Hawkinsville. She tied up for the last time on the bank of Old Town not far from the mouth of the river in 1923.

When people think of the Suwanee River, they might recall a famous old song. Stephen Foster became America’s first professional songwriter in the 1800s. He wrote more than 200 songs with tunes and lyrics that captured the heart and spirit of the nation. While writing “Old Folks at Home,” Foster had difficulty finding the right words to complete a verse joining his image of a beautiful river and longings for family and home. According to legend, his brother suggested the Suwannee River after consulting a world atlas. The words fit, and “Way down upon the Suwannee River” was on its way to making the Suwannee River famous around the world. Foster never visited Florida and he never saw the Suwannee River. For those who know the dark waters and white limestone banks of the Suwannee, the song is a fitting tribute to their own sense of home. Since 1935, it has also been Florida’s state song.

We do not limit ourselves to bicycle trails to find compelling video and photography that demonstrates the search for answers about our heritage. We may not always find exactly what we are looking for, but the adventure needs to be shown. For this online video clip, we had to be very careful because our lives are truly at stake. These dives searching for treasure do have risks. No creatures were harmed during this production. This clip may be downloaded to mobile devices and used for educational purposes. All rights reserved for any broadcast usage.



6 minutes 31 seconds - 17.3 MB - Dimensions 354 x 300 - Attributable to Bicycling Through History.com 2010

The video clip above shows a dive off the coast of the Florida Keys. This area is where many Spanish Galleons laden with gold and silver sank on their way back to Spain. While we did not find any treasure on this particular trip, we were able to test a new underwater video camera. That accounts for awkward movements.


6 minutes 31 seconds - 17.3 MB - Dimensions 354 x 300 - Attributable to Bicycling Through History.com 2010


A Dive off West Palm Beach: The first of our online underwater videos.


Pirates in Paradise: Our favorite introduction to Pirate Culture.


Pirates in Paradise: The 3rd Annual Walk the Plank Championships.


Pirates in Paradise: Our favorite introduction to Pirate Culture.


Power Boat Races: An exciting Race from unique perspective.


Save the Manatee: A volunteer effort to Save a Manatee.



Ode 2 Sea: taken from The Pirates in Paradise Festival 2004.


Schooner America 1: is Part 1 of the classic story.

We have recently begun to post dive videos on YouTube. The links are shown below.

Manatee Springs Florida State Park

Devil's Den near Williston, FL


Come back to visit this site again to see when we add more.


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American History from the perspective of a Casual Cyclist.


Bicycling Through History
P.O. Box 893
College Park, MD 20741
Copyright 2002 - 2012