Florida: Marion County

Marion County is south of Alachua County. It’s one of 16 Marion counties and one of the many named for Revolutionary War General Francis Marion of South Carolina.

As portrayed by Leslie Nielsen

The county’s population has grown from 69,030 in 1970 to 331,298 in 2010.

The rolling hills of Marion County are best-known today for their thoroughbred horse farms, with more than 1,200 farms in the county. Affirmed, the 1978 Triple Crown winner, was bred and raised in Marion County.

The thoroughbred industry began there in the 1940s.

The county seat of Marion County is Ocala (pop. 57,468).

Lexington, Kentucky, also claims this title.

The Marion Theatre in downtown Ocala dates from 1941 and still shows first-run movies.

Streamline Moderne style

Ocala Union Station was built in 1917. Its only passenger service today is bus service.

Including Amtrak buses

Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, the “Father of Drag Racing,” has his Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala.

Almost 300 cars

The Royal Guardsmen, an Ocala-based band, had a hit in 1966 with “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.”

Silver Springs was one of Florida’s first tourist attractions, beginning in the late 1800s, with glass-bottom boats, a “Jungle Cruise” ride, and an amusement park.

Now part of the state park system.

NEXT: PUTNAM COUNTY

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South Carolina: Marion County

Marion County (pop. 33,062) is south of Dillon County. It’s one of 17 Marion counties in the U.S. – most of them named for Francis Marion (1732-1795), a South Carolinian and hero of the Revolutionary War.

It’s shaped something like Laos.

Leslie Nielsen played the role of Gen. Marion in the 1959-61 Walt Disney TV series “The Swamp Fox.”

Years before “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun”

The county seat of Marion County is Marion (pop. 6,939).

Statue of Francis Marion

Marion has an annual Fox Trot Festival.

Marion High School Marching Band

The Marion County Courthouse was built in 1853.

Restored in 1970

The city of Mullins (pop. 4,663) is the home of the South Carolina Tobacco Museum.

It opened in 1998.

NEXT: FLORENCE COUNTY

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