The Wakulla Volcano Archive

From Handbook of Florida

C. L. Norton (1892)



The Wakulla Volcano.---To the southeast and south of Tal-
lahassee there extends a vast belt of flat woods, merging
into an almost impenetrable tangle of undergrowth and
swamp. It is a famous hunting-ground, and somewhere
within its shades is the alleged Wakulla volcano. The cu-
rious inquirer is sure to hear the most contradictory state-
ments regarding this mystery. He will be told by some
that it can be seen from any high observatory in the vi-
cinity, and by others that it cannot be seen from any save the
most southerly uplands. He will meet people who have
seen the smoke almost every day of their lives, others who de-
clare that there is no such smoke, and still others who say
that they never heard of it. It seems to be pretty well estab-
lished, however, that ever since the country was settled
and, according to Indian tradition, long prior to that, a col-
umn of smoke or vapor has been visible in favorable
weather, rising from a fixed point far within the jungle, to
which no man has yet been able to penetrate. Several ex-
peditions have been organized to solve the mystery, but
none of them have penetrated more than twelve or fifteen
miles into the morass. Once or twice New York newspapers
have sent representatives with orders to solve the prob-
lem, but, according to the local version, they have always
proved recreant to their duty as soon as the difficulties in
the way become apparent. The "volcano," therefore, bids
fair to remain a mystery until some well-equipped expedition
undertakes its discovery.*

* A column of smoke was pointed out to the author as the alleged "volcano"
and on several successive days bearings were taken with a pocket compass from
the cupola of the Court-house at Tallahassee. The smoke in favorable weather
was always visible in the same place, rolling up in strong volume, usually
dense and dark like the smoke from a furnace chimney. The author was as-
sured by a Northern gentleman, long resident in Tallahassee, that it was often
lighted with a faint glow at night. It is believed by many to be vapor from a
boiling spring, possibly intermingled with inflammable gas that occasionally
ignites. In March, 1891, the author with J. H. Staley, of Tallahassee, as guide,

tried to reach the "volcano" and nearly lost his life in the attempt. Later in
the same season, Messrs. Castleman and Barbour, with Staley as guide, spent
two weeks in the search, but with no better success.

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