Florida: Columbia County

Columbia County (pop. 67,531) is north of Gilchrist County, on the border with Georgia. Its population has grown from 20,077 in 1960.

One of eight Columbia counties

With its rivers and natural springs, Columbia County calls itself “The Freshwater Capital of America.” The Santa Fe River is in the south, and the Suwannee River is in the north.

Santa Fe River

The county seat of Columbia County is the city of Lake City (pop. 12,046), which was originally known as Alligator Town.

Columbia County Courthouse (1905)

Lake City has several lakes within the city limits, including Alligator Lake. This alligator was photographed at Lake DeSoto – not Alligator Lake.

Only about 3.5 feet long

Lake City is located near the intersection of Interstate 75 (the major route to Florida from Michigan, Ohio, and Atlanta) and Interstate 10 (the major route to Florida from California and Texas).

The former Columbia County High School, built in 1921, now contains administrative offices for the school district.

On the National Register of Historic Places

George Allen “Pat” Summerall (1930-2013), NFL player and TV sportscaster, was born in Lake City and played football, basketball, baseball, and tennis at Columbia County High School.

There are about 100 natural springs within 50 miles of Lake City.

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

The six-mile Ichetucknee River is extremely popular for innertubing. Seasonal shuttle service is available for riders.

Year-round (water) temperature of 72 degrees

A few miles east, at O’Leno State Park, the Santa Fe River disappears into a sinkhole – and reappears 3.5 miles away at River Rise Preserve State Park.

O’Leno

NEXT: BAKER COUNTY

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