Sarasota News Leader

01/17/2014

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BARTRAM'S GHOST THE MAGIC OF AN 18TH CENTURY NATURALIST'S EXPERIENCES REMAINS EVEN NOW IN THE FLORIDA LANDSCAPE Story and Photos By Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer On a bone-chilling day in January, I stop by Alpine Groves Park on the St. Johns River in Switzerland, FL. Off Route 13, it is part of the 200-mile long Bartram Trail that runs from the Carolinas to Florida. North Florida is William Bartram country, but today, probably the only aspect the Philadelphia naturalist would recognize is the river he called the San Juan. Still, I am thinking that sailing by here in his little boat in the 1770s, he would have seen huge live oaks and magnolias similar to those that grace this small park. For years, I have been on William Bartram's trail. But actually, like some delightful ghost, he has been following me. He is at my elbow at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park showing off the Alachua Savanna. At Blue Spring (Above) Little River Springs flows through a quiet wooded setting.

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