The Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail is a half-day driving tour that covers 150 miles of beautiful Northwest Florida scenery while taking you to 11 sites important to our county’s Spanish Colonial history! Tour information is available at the historic Russ House and Visitor Center at 4318 Lafayette Street, Marianna, Florida.
The tour consists of the following fascinating stops:
Blue Springs Recreational Area (5461 CR 164, Marianna, FL) – The only first magnitude spring in the Chipola River Basin, beautiful Blue Springs was called Calistoble Spring by the Spanish who camped here many times in 1674-1693. It is described in their journals and reports as a beautiful clear spring surrounded by hills on which herds of buffalo grazed! Now a popular park operated by Jackson County, the spring is a noted destination for swimming, hiking, picnicking and scuba diving (the latter requires a county permit).
Real Old Spanish Trail (Kiosk is inside Blue Springs Recreational Area) – A section of the original road followed across Northwest Florida by Spanish explorers, missionaries and soldiers can be seen at Blue Springs. This trail was first described in Spanish reports dating from the 1600s and appeared on a British map drawn during the American Revolution! A portion of the original Old Spanish Trail can be followed by driving Reddoch Road which connects Blue Springs with State Highway 69 near Grand Ridge.
Mission San Carlos (West Bank Overlook off US 90, Sneads, FL) – This beautiful park on the shore of Lake Seminole was the site of Mission San Carlos, a Franciscan mission occupied in 1680-1696. Established by Spanish priests to serve a village of Christian Chacato (Chatot) Indians, the church complex was then the westernmost Spanish settlement in Florida. It was destroyed by Creek Indian raiders in 1696 and many of the inhabitants carried away as slaves to be sold to the English.
Ekanachatte or “Red Ground” (Neal’s Landing Park where State Highway 2 intersects with the Georgia line) – Neal’s Landing Park was the site of the important Creek Indian village of Ekanachatte or “Red Ground). Established in the 1760s, this town was visited by British soldiers during the American Revolution and its chief, called “The Bully” by the British because of his trading abilities, committed his warriors to serve as British soldiers against the American Patriots in Georgia. The town remained occupied until 1818, when it was burned by U.S. allied Creek warriors.
Pensacola-St. Augustine Road (City Park on State Highway 71 in downtown Malone, FL) – Today’s State Highway 2 follows much of the route of the historic Pensacola-St. Augustine Road as it carries travelers through northern Jackson County. This trail was first mapped in 1778 and over its history carried American Indian hunters, British and Spanish soldiers, traders and early settlers. In 1818, during the Second Spanish Era, the U.S. allied Creek force of Brig. Gen. William McIntosh followed this road on its way to the Battle of the Upper Chipola.
Campbellton/Spring Creek Settlement (Campbellton Baptist Church, State Highway 2, Campbellton, FL) – Historic Campbellton was founded as the Spring Creek Settlement in 1819-1820 by American settlers when Florida was still a Spanish colony. A part-time Spanish church called San Antonio was located in this area in 1674-1675 and in 1778 the vicinity was occupied by the Pucknawhitla band of Creek Indians who lived on the old fields of the earlier settlement. American settlers came here in 1819 after the First Seminole War. Campbellton Baptist Church, founded in the 1820s, is the oldest Baptist church in continuous operation in Florida.
Chacato Rebellion (Heritage Village at Baptist College of Florida, Sanders Ave. between Ezell and College, Graceville, FL) – This stop interprets the uprising staged against the Spanish by the Chacato (Chatot) Indians in 1675. Led by a chief named Dioscale, the rebellion drove Spanish missionaries from the Florida Panhandle. The kiosk is located on the grounds of Heritage Village, a historic preservation project of Baptist College of Florida. The grounds included restored churches, homes and other structures important to the history of Florida!
Marcos Delgado at Bellamy Bridge (Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail, 4057 County Road 162, Marianna, FL) – The Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail is a one-half mile walking trail that leads through the beautiful floodplain forests of the Chipola River to historic Bellamy Bridge. The Spanish explorer Marcos Delgado crossed the Chipola River in this vicinity in 1686 and described seeing herds of buffalo in the area. The Battle of the Upper Chipola was fought in this area in 1818 during the First Seminole War. Bellamy Bridge is Florida’s “most haunted” bridge thanks to a unique ghost story! Kiosks at the trail entrance and at the bridge tell about Delgado, the battle, the ghost and more!
Natural Bridge of the Chipola River (Florida Caverns State Park, 3345 Caverns Rd., Marianna, FL) – Located inside Florida Caverns State Park ($5 per vehicle entry fee), the Natural Bridge is a place where the pristine Chipola River drops into a deep cave and flows under ground for 1/4 mile. The historic Old Spanish Trail crossed the river here and the Natural Bridge was used by Spanish explorers in 1674-1693. Gen. Andrew Jackson later crossed here with his troops during the First Seminole War. The park also features Florida’s only public tour cave, Blue Hole spring, campgrounds, picnic areas, nature trails and more!
Mission San Nicolas (intersection of State Highway 73 and Union Rd. north of Cottondale, FL) – The first Christian services in Jackson County history were held in this vicinity in 1674 to dedicate the new mission church of San Nicolas de Tolentino. This mission was occupied by Franciscan friars in 1674-1675 and stood near the mouth of a large cave. It was destroyed during the Chacato (Chatot) Rebellion of 1675. The exact site of Mission San Nicolas has not been found, but it stood somewhere in this area.
Fernandez de Florencia Raid (behind Cottondale City Hall, intersection of Front St. and US 231, Cottondale, FL) – This kiosk interprets the 1677 raid carried out by Christian Apalachee Militia against the Chisca Indians who lived to the west in Walton or Okaloosa County. Authorized and supplied by Captain Juan Fernandez de Florencia, the raid ended the threat of Chisca raids against the Spanish missions around present-day Tallahassee. The route of the raid passed through the Cottondale vicinity.