42 Responses

  1. clair brown

    The one thing that makes a tall tale worth telling is the many variations ofthe number of times it is told. The original story of the Fountain of Youth makes a lot of since. I’m sure that the warm climate of La Florida was appealing to southern North American travelers to know that if they could only make it to the fountain, they would never grow old. This is much like today where you can come and experience the magical moment at Disney, the excitement of Epcot and the animal kingdom at Bush Gardens. Then there are the Florida beaches.

    European travelers often stumbled onto new or existing lands with one goal only to find another. It is amazing the Ponce De Leon was able to reach a destination in Florida and to admire the natural beauty unique to the state. Hernando De Soto made a similar voyage and also encountered Native Americans who were already established in north central Florida. De Soto, like De Leon was also searching for his fame and fortune to find gold. Tourist alike, have followed that tradition for decades. They may not “look for gold” but they are in search of one-of-a-kind enjoyment that Florida has to offer. Floridians not only enjoy the weather and indigenous plants, year round, but also no state income tax because of the tourism industry. Entertainers and Interior Designers have a variety of options within the industry due to the demand for new coming attractions and to think it all started with a myth or an explorer that just so happen to land on our shores.

    1. Amber Maiwald

      I have never heard about Ponce de León or the legend of the Fountain of Youth before. I think that it’s funny how the area that someone grows up in determines what historical events, tales, and legends that person is exposed to. I grew up being exposed to historical events that related to Native Americans, Lake Superior, and French Settlers because that was the most relevant historical events to the area that I grew up in. Sure, I was also exposed to other historical events, but these ones were more emphasized. I also didn’t know that Admiral Pedro Menendez and settlers in St. Augustine had shared a meal with Florida Native Americans before the English Pilgrims did. The fact that Ponce de León likely wasn’t searching for a fountain of youth and that historians started associating him with that journey after he died was really interesting. This shows how legends, myths, and tales are actually derived. One day someone just decides to make something up that could have happened and a legend, myth, or tale is born.
      The fact that the Fountain of Youth was supposed to be in Florida is really interesting also. To most people, Florida is a wonderful place full of sunshine, blue skies, and great weather. It is a place where people can come to enjoy themselves and to let go of their problems and hardships for a little while. Florida is filled with amusement parks, water parks, and other fun activity establishments. At these types of establishments, people young and old revert back to their childhood for a while and therefore they have found the Fountain of Youth.

    2. Kara Vonada

      This post was very interesting to me, it contradicts the tale of the Fountain of Youth, which makes me question what really happened. I have been to St. Augustine and toured the area that Ponce de Leon landed on. The people of St. Augustine tell a wonderful story of Leon and other conquistadors. Lesa states that Leon had “no evidence that he knew of a spring with powers to rejuvenate youth”, I wonder, where did this tale come from. Honestly it makes you question everything you have ever learned in school about history. What is actually valid, and what is simply just made up? Apparently Ponce de Leon arrived in Florida in an effort to look for fame and fortune. Whether that is true or not, or if he had knowledge of the fountain is still up for debate. However, it is understandable that he would want to settle down in such a beautiful area. Florida is a place where the weather is mostly calm and relaxing, the beaches are beautiful, and the landscape is heavy enough for protection. Why wouldn’t you want to settle down here? It is a perfect place to marry architecture with the environment. They built amazing structures in the days of Ponce de Leon, which you can see if you travel to the area he first settled. Architects and designers are still using this basic idea of working off the land and creating spaces, which play off of the strengths of the wonderful state of Florida. Whether people travel to Florida to search for the Fountain of Youth, or to reinvent themselves, it appears that Florida has something to offer everyone. This is why tourism fuels our state.

  2. Coral Moyle

    Since living in St. Augustine for over ten years I had always know that the fountain of youth was a myth but I did not know that Ponce De Leon wasn’t in search for it and that it was basically all made up. There is so much history and myths in this little town. When walking on the famous St. George Street, it’s like you are walking back in time. The old stores now with up to date souvenirs and hidden treasures along with amazing ice cream stores you can’t help but try. St. Augustine is defiantly a tourism town that’s how the town stays alive. Just walking by the Casa Monica hotel and Flagler College, you can get drawn in to all the details of the architecture without ever stepping inside. There is a bridge that leads the downtown area to the beach side (Anastasia Island) this bridge is called The Bridge of Lions. The Bridge has recently been renovated / reconstructed. It is still the same design but there are a few changes but not incredible noticeable. In 2010, The Roads & Bridges magazine named the Bridge of Lions as fourth in the nation’s top 10 bridges. With all the historical sites to see and visits along with the unique restraints and to die for restraints. Like our reading this week, this city provides tones of jobs to the college kids and others of course. If you have never been to this great city, it is defiantly a place you need to make a stop in. There are so many historical sites to see such as the fountain of youth, the bridge of lions, the fort, just to name a few.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_of_Lions

  3. j sartori

    While searching through information about the Fountain of Youth Park, I found an interesting blog about the partnership with the St Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation. I thought it was really beneficial to all organizations, that they are working together to compliment one another’s field of study. I have recently become interested in boating activities and have also had the opportunity to visit Horseshoe Bend Military Park in Alabama, a site that displays Native American canoes along it’s walking and/or driving tour. Here is the write up about the partnership:
    “The St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation is dedicated to showcasing the important maritime history of St. Augustine, Florida and works extensively with Dr. Sam Turner at the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program to ensure authenticity. Plans are to begin construction of a traditional 16th Century Landing Craft called a “Chalupa” prior to building a much larger ship known as a “Caravel”.
    “This will be a great partnership” states Maritime Heritage President Maury Keiser. “We want community involvement in this historic project leading up to the important 2013, 500th Anniversary of Spanish Explorer Ponce De Leon’s arrival in Florida and the 2015, 450th Anniversary of the Founding of St. Augustine at this site.”
    The completion of this project and others in the future will add to the enjoyment and knowledge that can be found while visiting this attraction.



  4. Lana

    Poor Ponce de León, he makes a huge discovery for Spain by landing on the shores of Florida but is most remembered for wanting to discover of the Fountain of Youth. I didn’t know this wasn’t true and I likely would have been one of those tourists who got suckered into paying money for a site that had no basis. There are other places in Florida that I would consider shams. The Stephen Foster Suwannee River Museum and Park used to be advertised as the song’s inspiration, while simultaneously misleading the consumer to think he lived there. However, Foster never set foot in Florida. He looked on a map to find a river name with three syllables. The beautiful southern plantation home pictured in the advertisements was nothing more than a shell of a building housing dioramas of the Cival War. Another sham and one of my biggest disappointments as a kid was seeing Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyworld. In 1981 it housed gift stores. There has been more added since then but still, disappointing.

    The Fountain of Youth was probably perpetuated by visitors who saw the benefits of increased water intake. As a Lifetime Weightwatcher member I can tell you that by replacing coffee, sodas and other sugary drinks with water fine wrinkles soften and skin just looks healthier. Increasing water also helps your circulatory system and lubricates your brain helping you think better.

    So why do people come to Florida? Having grown up in a snowy region I longed to go anywhere warm. On my first visit to Florida in the winter of 1981 there was a hard freeze and I thought warm winter months must also be a sham. No bathing suit for me that year. Later I discovered that bitter cold only lasts two weeks in Florida. As an adult returning to Florida, like Ponce de León the first thing I noticed were the flowers and they drew me in. Nowhere else east of the Mississippi can a garden grow year round. People come for many reasons but for me warm winter months will keep me here.

  5. Saidee

    Great Blog this week, you had me at the Fountain of Youth! It is true that there are many tales to Florida and what adult won’t be entertained by those tales to keep their life line to their long lost youth at bay. Take the tale of the Spanish moss, something that may seem so unpleasant but once you hear the tail of the love story behind it, it makes you admire it as a piece of southern garland on the trees.

    Maybe Ponce de Leon was not in search of the fountain of youth; maybe it was his bruised ego that made him want to start a perception of his newly found land, that he had something better than what he left behind. Then again 20 yrs later for it to become so well known makes you wonder maybe it was never intended by him to get out at all. Maybe he did discover such a fountain and never intended to broadcast it. Who can blame him if that was the case and let’s face it what child really wants to share their prized toys? Florida has some beautiful waters and if I found a spring that made me feel as a child I would not want to share it either, it would be my own little fountain of youth.

    I enjoyed your incorporation of the metaphysical fedoras, Spielberg and Indiana Jones, they could all play a part in this tale, I can see it now in big Hollywood lights: The Mystical Fountain of Youth starring Harrison Ford. Like Hollywood I think we all want to believe in good myths weather they prove fact or fiction, because as you said, one of the most exciting things about history, it is always changing.

  6. Stephany Jones

    I like exploring out state’s history and the Fountain of Youth is one of the most important historical places in Florida. And as many times as I have been around the state and to St. Augustine I have not yet been to the Fountain of Youth. It’s story is interesting. The search for Eternal life. Many of searched for something like this and of course none have ever found it but it makes you think about what could be or could have been if the fountain had actually been one like that. And when he was looking for it he found Florida so of course it is very important. Of course I don’t know if I would have ever taken a drink from it considering living forever can make your life very lonely and depressing considering everyone you know would eventually die.

  7. maritzaq rodriguez



  8. Bryan Mozo

    It’s kind of funny how many of the things that you grow up learning in school, especially elementary, are complete fallacies. I understand that it makes learning about history a lot more interesting and exciting but it’s still just a tall tale. It should be fictionalized away from classes and in stories. I guess it’s been a really good thing for this state where most of our economy is run on tourism.
    I have to say that dipping into the cold waters of a fresh spring on a hot summer’s day is probably one of the most rejuvenating things in life. I just love floating down the winding stream and taking in all of the vegetation and wildlife that exist in and around the springs around Florida.
    One of my all time favorite places to go see in Florida is Wakulla Springs in Tallahassee. There is a Lodge there that is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places and it’s such a beautiful hotel that many of the Old Hollywood film stars spent their summers. Many classic movies were filmed there as well Creature From the Black Lagoon was shot here and there’s an amazing Boat Tour that is a great way to see a ton of beautiful sites along the springs.

  9. Kathleen Miron

    I can see why it is great commerce for Florida of a tall tale. Ever since I was a child and my parents vacationed in Florida I heard stories including Ponce de Leons fountain of youth. I would get so excited as my parents prepared for their trip hoping they would find that fountain of youth. When they returned home tanned and wearing their tropical clothing I thought they found it and I asked if they did, they would tell me every time,”Not this time but we were close, maybe next time.” They showed me pictures at the beach and everyone was tan and happy having a good time, since they were at the water I knew it had to be close. Well now you know my parents didn’t feel guilty for vacationing without me.
    I didn’t know about Ponce de Leon and his troubles in Puerto Rico but, that helps explain why the stories I heard were of him landing in different areas of Florida. The”Fountain of Youth”,was everything from the beach to a trickling stream to a fountain in the middle of a village.
    Personally I thought it were the springs in Florida but now that I know about Puerto Rico I think It was intended to be a metaphor, a new start for Ponce de Leon.
    If you mention Ponce de Leon in a group of people at least one person stresses their opinion. History has really got us guessing and lucky for us (floridians) it keeps tourism intrigued.

  10. Jamie Goodwin

    So I’m taking it that Ponce De Leon started the snowbird mentality. He longed for some place warm where his bones would not hurt from a long bitter cold season. I am guessing this is way he was looking for the Fountain of Youth after all and not a lot has changed with Florida since. Well, I have to say he could have been considered a marketing genius now-a-days. Think about it, nobody likes getting old and if you wanted people to come to your area and said it held the fountain of youth I’m pretty certain it would intrigue a ton of people.
    I have actually been to this tourist trap when I was coming home from a Jacksonville Jaguars game several years ago. I didn’t really know anything about, so my husband and I had stumbled in unaware that it was a myth. All I can remember was that it was pretty darn lame and we got to drink well water out of a Dixie cup (this is what they claimed was the fountain of youth). Although our experience was far from memorable or cool I can understand why surfer water can be considered a youthful drink. Small amounts of surfer are actually good for our digestive system as well as our skin. It helps to flush the body out despite the horrid smell.

  11. Catherine Biegler

    I find it interesting how for generations the story of the Fountain of Youth is put off as fact when in reality it is a myth. Even more interesting is that Ponce de Leon was not even looking for it nor is there anything to conclude that he even found any such spring. But of course it does make it more interesting to associate him with the famous spring (albeit mythical).

    I think that utilizing the myth of the Fountain of Youth originally helped to bring in tourists. In addition to this I feel that with so many theme parks and famous beaches Florida has created a very desirable destination spot for tourism. This in turn brings up the economy and increases the visibility of its historic downtown areas (of which there are many across the state).

    This tourism has given those who live in Florida an advantage over some other states; it has given its residents the added benefit of not having to pay state taxes. Another aspect that assists in increasing the appeal of Florida is the assorted landscapes of topical, sub-tropical, and arid. All these put together with the warmer year-round temperatures aid in bringing up tourism and flooding our tourist areas with increased visitors.

    I have found that with each trip my family makes to a new area we enjoy visiting the historical locations and learning the history that goes with it. We do not always like to stay in the tourist spots due to the fact that it may not always be “authentic”, so we venture outside the area in search of interesting architecture.

    While not everyone may like the increase in tourism, most would agree that the benefits are wonderful.

  12. Jan C Reed

    It would be amusing to find out who actually started the legend of Ponce de Leon seeking the Fountain of Youth. As you appropriately stated when you said the legend must have been repeated so many times that it eventually grew legs and walked right into textbooks as historical fact” (love the way you put it). It makes you wonder how many of the historical “facts” we have been taught over the years are actually 100% true. But, it is true that history is always changing and whether it was de Leon or someone else who was actually the first European to step foot on “La Florida”, I am glad he did! Florida is a great place to live with our wonderful climate, beautiful beaches and waterways enjoyable tourist destinations and many quaint towns.
    Being a native Floridian, I have been to St. Augustine several times; first as a child, many times as just as a fun day trip, as a chaperone with my children on field trips and the last time as an Interior Design student. While during most of my visits the Fountain of Youth was not a stop, I have been there once or twice. What stands out most in my memory is that the Fountain of Youth was not at all impressive, especially considering all the lovely architecture, the fort and other historical sites located in St. Augustine. I remember it as just a very small pond like area that is touted as the fountain that can mystically rejuvenate youth. Today if there actually were waters that guaranteed rejuvenation and especially a youthful appearance, whoever discovered this would make a fortune, but it seems in the 1500s life was a lot more difficult and explorers would have bigger issues to concern them. This leads me to believe that the legend of the Fountain of Youth is Florida’s first “tall tale.”

  13. Drew Lacy

    It’s a little embarrassing to admit that, even as a fairly educated young adult, I still believed the myth that Juan Ponce de Leon came to what become Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth. It’s one of those misconceptions taught routinely in elementary school and left uncorrected in higher grades so that it remains as a relatively unfounded truth in the back of my mind. While we like to picture these old-fashioned explorers as gullible, almost primitive peoples compared to us tech savvy modernists, we’re the gullible ones, effortlessly buying in to silly myths like this one. (And in this case, quite literally buying into them, given the millions of tourist dollars flooding our state stemming from this tall tale.)

    Florida’s reputation as the location of the Fountain of Youth, however mythical, is an interesting one when you consider the types of people who frequently flock here. The young, to see the sights and sounds of giddy theme parks and tourist attractions, and the old, to retire in a comfortable and mild climate.

    Florida’s culture is definitely one of both youthfulness and aging, both in our population and our buildings. From the slowly weathering structures of St. Augustine to the glimmering rides of Disney World’s Tomorrowland, Florida is a state with a timeline stretching in both directions. (Of course, in the grandest scale of time, Florida is new land, only recently having risen out of sea level.)

    So, while the myth of Juan Ponce de Leon’s search of the Fountain of Youth is just that, modern day Florida has taken the fountain myth to a totally new level.

  14. Emily Windsor

    The legend of the fountain of youth is a fascinating legend, but one I would never drink from myself. In my adult development and aging class that I am currently taking we had to discuss what would happen if people could live forever and the answer that everyone stated was that there would be no change; our world would remain stagnant, and that would be a problem. Sorry for the rant, we just discussed it in my class yesterday; now onto the article 😀

    However this article is fascinating. I didn’t know that the legend of the fountain of youth was originally from Florida; I had heard about the legend of the fountain of youth and how the Spanish found it in school, but I was never told, nor did I research, where the story originated from, so thank you for that little tidbit. I really loved how you put that it was just a tale and that the real reason he set sail was because of a bruised ego; it made me laugh.

    I knew that Florida was big on tourism because well let’s face it Mickey Mouse, Tampa, Miami, and so much more are here, but I never would have guessed that it was 84.5 million visitors. I also did not know that the tale of the fountain of youth even had an impact on Florida’s tourism rate, which is intriguing to say the least; I wonder how many people come to Florida for the specific reason of being the one to find such a fountain?

    Your articles are entertaining and informative, thank you.

  15. Melanie McAboy

    I’m a little disappointed to read that Ponce De Leon wasn’t actually looking for his fountain of youth (and this isn’t just because I’m still hoping to stumble upon it). In fifth grade, I remember doing a report on him. I’ve never forgotten his story as I’ve always found it fascinating. The story you mention in your article isn’t as glamorous as the story I grew up with. I am much happier forgetting this “ever happened” and returning to my hunt for Ponce De Leon’s fountain of youth.
    I am very aware that Florida is a popular travel destination. It is warm all year round; while people up north spend have the year freezing their toes off. The number of travelers you mentioned is a much larger number then I would have guest. I’m sure many of them went to Disney, but I know there are plenty of nice areas in Florida to visit other than Disney. I like the idea that is brought up in the article that suggests Florida, in a sense, represents the fountain of youth in how it has “rejuvenating” qualities. Many people travel here for the rejuvenating properties of the sun and ocean. I actually, over time have forgotten that Ponce De Leon’s story took place in Florida. It wasn’t until I moved here that I truly made the connection. I can see how this story mixed with the great weather and beaches would draw in a lot of visitors subsequently increasing our travel numbers.

  16. Gregory Wostrel

    These stories and myths are always entertaining, but frequently they arise from a darker origin. Possibly they are perpetuated as a way to sanitize the reality? For example, it is quite likely that Ponce De Leon was actually a savage, opportunistic invader who directed the butchering and enslavement of the native people he found from Hispaniola to Florida. It is almost certain that he, like many of his kind at that time, made liberal use of the infamous “Requerimiento” to place some vague moral rational to his actions and assume carte Blanche to perform horrific crimes.
    History, and possibly myths, are written by the survivors.

  17. Loriann DeMello

    I have vaguely heard this tall tale, but never was taught the depths of it. I find that funny considering I have been in Florida since I was 13. It really is funny how you grow up hearing tales like this, unsure if they are true. I am from Massachusetts, and we hear a lot of ‘history’ as kids there. We heard a million things from Lizzie Borden’s forty wacks to her father to witch hunt stories originating in Salem. Fortunately the youth of Florida have some brighter tales to hear and question!
    I now feel like I should stop by one of these sites. I have been meaning to explore St. Augustine and have never made the trip. The most Florida history I have seen is the local places I probably am unaware of paired with the Florida Keys, Ybor city in Tampa and Disney eduentertainment. It is a little weird to hear an American founding story by someone other than the English. Of course I always knew the Spanish settled here in Florida…but seriously? No one could have eaten with the Native Americans before Thanksgiving! I’m sure other New Englanders would say the same. Looks like I will definitely have to go and dig through these historical sites seeing as I have been here almost as long as I was in New England.

  18. Jessica Hook

    It is amazing how much history that florida holds. It truly is a wonderful place that has many things to offer. I think it is funny how Ponce de Leon was never looking for the fountain of youth at all. Its hilarious that Ponce de Leon never knew about such a spring at all in florida. I do not understand how such an outrageous observation can be made if it was way after his voyage and years after his death. I am sure that this changes many peoples ideas on what really happened back in the 16th century. I guess they really did want to make the Spanish explorers look as gullible as they possibly could. It is amazing that such an acquisition can change peoples perspective of history. It is just one simple change to history and it changes all the stories that you heard in school and while growing up. I wish that the truth was kept unchanged so that people in the future would know the truth about what had happened. although, it is a great story to tell and to learn about, i just wish that it was true. nobody likes being lied to no matter what the circumstances are.

    I find it so amazing that Florida has so much history to offer yet has become so commercialized all over the state except for certain historical parts. St. Augustine really is an amazing place to visit and holds so much history. i just hope that the history and the stories that are told are truthful and not made up like the fountain of youth. The tales of the history in Florida are very interesting, i just hope that it did actually happened many years ago.

  19. Joseph Hemler

    The fact that such little research is done before a story is put in a history book is very interesting. This makes one wonder what is true about history that we have learned and what was just a tale made up by a credible source. The fact that the Fountain of Youth has been integrated into Floridian culture even though it is a well-known myth shows you how a story can be almost perceived as a true event in the past. The fact that Caucasian explorers wrote about how the Spanish explorers chased a mythological water fountain that made one stay young forever definitely seems like they were poking fun at the Spanish. This seems like a tactic to make the Spanish seem like foolish explorers that will chase after whatever someone tells them is out there, which was not the case at all. In my opinion a large amount of human history as been made up and exaggerated. Most of what we known today is probably not 100% accurate. How battles are told and how people are represented by different sources are not how things really were. Each persons point of view and opinions are different and as a story gets passed down from person to person they each add a small bit. History is by far one of the most unsure studies we as humans are interested in. There is no way to ever know definitely what happened in the past, but even knowing that we still try.

  20. Abdulaziz ALQahtani

    “The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and the stories of Prester John. Stories of a similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoplesof the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration, who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.” The fountain of youth surprises me by its tales and how it’s been recorded for thousands of years. Its been told that the fountain of youth has been recorded for more than a thousand years and what’s interesting that its been mentioned on the Quran and the Holy Quran only came down about 1400 years ago. “Herodotus mentions a fountain containing a very special kind of water located in the land of the Ethiopians, which gives the Ethiopians their exceptional longevity.[1] A story of the “Water of Life” appears in the Eastern versions of the Alexander romance, which describes Alexander the Great and his servant crossing the Land of Darkness to find the restorative spring. The servant in that story is in turn derived from Middle Eastern legends of Al-Khidr, a sage who appears also in the Qur’an. Arabic and Aljamiado versions of the Alexander Romance were very popular in Spain during and after the period of Moorish rule, and would have been known to the explorers who journeyed to America.”


  21. ahmed almaz

    Actually, I can see why it is great commerce for Florida of a tall tale. Ever since I was a child and my parents vacationed in Florida I heard stories including Ponce de Leons fountain of youth. I would get so excited as my parents prepared for their trip hoping they would find that fountain of youth. When they returned home tanned and wearing their tropical clothing I thought they found it and I asked if they did, they would tell me every time,”Not this time but we were close, maybe next time.” They showed me pictures at the beach and everyone was tan and happy having a good time, since they were at the water I knew it had to be close. Well now you know my parents didn’t feel guilty for vacationing without me.This tourism has given those who live in Florida an advantage over some other states; it has given its residents the added benefit of not having to pay state taxes. Another aspect that assists in increasing the appeal of Florida is the assorted landscapes of topical, sub-tropical, and arid. All these put together with the warmer year-round temperatures aid in bringing up tourism and flooding our tourist areas with increased visitors. The Fountain of Youth was probably perpetuated by visitors who saw the benefits of increased water intake. As a Lifetime Weightwatcher member I can tell you that by replacing coffee, sodas and other sugary drinks with water fine wrinkles soften and skin just looks healthier. Increasing water also helps your circulatory system and lubricates your brain helping you think better.

  22. Giovana Soares

    I had never heard about the Fountain of Youth, but I must say that Ponce De Leon maybe wasn’t too wrong about it being in Florida. Firstly, Florida is a place where people from the North come because of the warmer weather. But once they come here, what do they do? They have fun, they enjoy, they relax, and they take time for themselves… When you are young, you are stress free, and for me this is the true fountain of youth.
    Secondly, Florida is the magical place, especially with Disney in here. Disney is where people go to experience magical moments. Even if parents come to Disney with their children, they will most likely have a good time because their kids are having a good time. That means = they will feel younger! One more time, the Fountain of Youth is again present in Florida.
    Pretty much Florida is a getaway for everyone. As I was growing up back home in Brazil, everyone would tell me about this great place called “Florida” where people have fun and they can have magical experiences. Of course I had no idea where it was on the map but I dreamed of it for years and finally was able to come here 4 years ago.
    I was feeling inspired and decided to write a small poem about Florida and being young. Hope you like it:

    I’m looking to rejuvenate
    Maybe go back a couple decades
    I might go look for an old classmate
    And contemplate at our bad grades
    But who cares about this game
    Now I want an upgrade
    I’m going down the everglades
    And getting old will be delayed

  23. Brandon Bourne

    I really enjoyed this article. Have you ever been in a big group of people and done the test where one person whispers and says a sentence into another person’s ear and then it continues all the way until you reach the last person in the room, only to find out that the sentence they received is completely different than the original sentence that was started. This is what I thought of as a read this article because of how the myth of the fountain of youth has changed over the years into this overly exaggerated story. While this was all myth and had absolutely nothing to do with the actual reasons why Ponce de Leon started traveling towards Florida I can absolutely see how it has helped towards the economy. In a class we talked about this and we determined that this is something that helps out with the experience economy. It’s all about the experiences you will get from coming to Florida as a tourist. This story is something that most people know is not true but would love to believe was true. I find it similar to the lottery actually. Most people buy a lottery ticket in hopes to win the mega millions and instantaneously become rich. Not most people already know that the possibilities of this actually happening are nothing. But because people always want to believe that maybe they could be that lucky person, it will continue to generate money. Now the lottery on the other hand people do know is real. But as far as chances go for winning, I would say the chances are just as good as finding a real fountain of youth, hence the experience economy of Florida will continue to be booming for many years to come.

  24. carl easterling

    i was at deleon springs and everyone believes that is really the original fountain of youth, its in a state park and the water is exceptionally clear and real nice, i think that one should be it, and it seems like ponce thought the same, th y, carl

  25. Jessica Derrick

    I had never heard about Ponce de Leon’s search for the fountain of youth, or really about any of Florida’s history in general, so I found this article very interesting and informative. Even though the story about the Fountain of Youth is not true, Florida does offer a different feeling than many other states I have visited; especially Southern Florida around the Miami area and the Florida Keys, there is a sense that you are not even in the United States anymore. The amazing weather, beaches, and ocean not only draws many tourists that are in search of family vacation and adventure, but also draws many older people from other states that come to Florida to spend their retirement. Florida offers retired people the chance to re-experience life in a different environment then they spent the early parts of their life; in some ways they seem to find their youth again. Has Florida become a symbol as a fountain of youth? I think it may because people come to visit and live to revitalize. Along the Florida coast is the closest to a tropical destination without having to leave the United States; especially in terms of Southern Miami and the Florida Keys, they offer many of the same amenities as other top tourist tropical destinations, specifically the beautiful beaches. Overall I think it is important to remember the strong Spanish history Florida has always had and continues to have to this day. Many communities throughout the state continue to celebrate Spanish roots.

  26. Chelsea Pushman

    I grew up in Florida and yes, I have heard the stories of the Fountain of Youth since I was younger. However, I did not really believe them. I knew he was the leader of an expedition to Florida and settled in St. Augustine. I am actually surprised that the Pilgrims were not the first settlers to mingle with the Native Americans. I find it hard to believe, considering educational institutions have told us for many years that the pilgrims were the first to be here.

    I have had the pleasure of going to St. Augustine for field trips. I thought it was the coolest thing when I was younger. Juan Ponce De Leon has stayed with me for years because his name is catchy. I may not know my history very well but I never will forget his darn name. I associate that field trip with the candy shop located right in the middle of St. Augustine’s town near the school house. I specifically remember getting rock candy. Haha

    I think it is crazy how the myth of the Fountain of Youth has created major tourist sites that bring in countless of dollars. I guess the northerners are obsessed with site seeing and will see anything. People not from Florida want to be in Florida. It is the #1 vacation spot during Winter. I see plenty of Snow birds every year. They bring in all the money for businesses. Of course Walt Disney world is here. So who wouldn’t want to come to Florida.

  27. Ray Hodges

    De Leon may have the last laugh on us all. There may be something to unique about some spring possessing essential minerals to human health and well being. Surely their are some springs with better nutrient content than others. An entire disipline of biological farming exists suggesting De Leon had the right idea just inadequate means of determing when he found what he was looking for. After even if you found such a spring how would you know you were in it or drinking from it until considerable time had gone by to gain any appreciation for its benefits. Our youth may be found in how well we protect our environment.

  28. Jennifer Scites

    It is hard to believe that Florida has already celebrated the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon landing in Florida. I truly enjoyed this blog, as it helped to open my eyes to many things I previously believed to be true about De Leon’s findings in Florida. There are so many fascinating stories about the Fountain of Youth. I recall in elementary school our teacher speaking of this, and now it makes me wonder how many other stories we learned of Florida’s history that were also just myths. Even as an adult I was in belief that Juan Ponce de Leon came to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth. Until reading this blog I did not realize the true nature of De Leon’s journey was to find fame and fortune because of a bruised ego. I do however feel the story that follows De Leon to this day is a much more exciting tale to hear. This tale and many other myths that follow Florida help to bring in an abundance of tourists every year, leading to countless dollars for our state. This helps with Florida’s economy, as it is definitely more appealing to those that do not reside in Florida to visit in hopes of enjoying places such as the Fountain of Youth.

    A few summers ago my mom and I took my son to De Leon Springs State Park for a little get away. We started by making breakfast at the Old Sugar Mill Restaurant, where you make your own pancakes. The remainder of the day was spent in the Springs. It is truly a beautiful spring, with exceptionally clear water. I remember it being very cold, so my son and I had to jump in. As we looked around the spring we could see many people snorkeling and just enjoying the beauty of it. To this day my son speaks highly of De Leon Springs, so though the Fountain is a myth, I know our family will continue to go back to enjoy this Florida State Park.

  29. The American Caribbean - Puerto Rico

    […] while later…. through the efforts of our friend Ponce De Leon, of the fountain of youth fame, “Rich Port” quickly became Spain’s most important […]

  30. Jennifer Garcia

    I myself have never heard of the legend of Ponce de Leon at school or through books, it wasn’t until my parents and I drove by the St. Augustine park that I knew about him. I can say the park was pretty run down and lonely. There wasn’t much there to really excite you other then wild birds and a few artifacts in a cave. The park was located right off the beach, and if I remember correctly I remember seeing a sign talking about the park being a national or private park. I did come upon the “fountain of youth” but there was no water in it. It looked as if it had been there for years and was almost black from all the elements of nature. The park had many signs talking about the legend of Mr. de Leon and him looking for a fountain of youth and how he sailed there. I think it’s kinda silly that they did not credit him as he should have been. Not only for finding the Americas before the pilgrims but also for his actual reason of travel instead of the myth it has become.

    It’s pretty incredible how much money the travelers bring to the state of Florida. I would say Florida is on top of everyone’s mind as a vacation destination. It offers great warm weather, night life, family destinations and plenty of shops in almost every kind. I would love to see some of that money revenue go towards some cities that truly do need it to better the community in Florida, maybe even the parks!

  31. Sandra Fox

    On April 2013 America celebrated the 500 year anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing on the coast of Florida. Florida was originally named La Florida for the time of the season that de Leon landed. The literal translation is, Easter of the Flowers in Spanish. A little known fact is that Admiral Pedro Menendez and settlers in St Augustine were already having the first Thanksgiving with Native Americans 58 years prior to the famous Massachusetts Thanksgiving that is in all the history text books. Another not so factual story that has found its way in all elementary school text books is that Ponce de Leon was looking for the fountain of youth when he landed on the east coast of Florida. Come to find out the fountain of youth as investigated by historian J Michael Francis, professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of North Florida, is the equivalent of an urban myth. That even though this story has permeated history text books all through the elementary grades not only in North America but also in Europe, Middle East and Asia, it is just that, a story. There is no evidence that Ponce de Leon even knew about the fountain of youth let alone went exploring to find it. J Michael Francis states it was more than 10 years after his death that this story even came about. Apparently it started as idol gossip to discredit and embarrassed de Leon for his vain behavior. The actual story is more out of today’s political headlines. After being forced to surrender the governorship of Puerto Rico he set sail for the Bimini Islands. Unfortunately Ponce de Leon couldn’t even get there without getting lost. He landed on the east coast of Florida. Somehow that actually makes me feel better about navigating or the inability to navigate Florida’s highways.
    Word Count: 313

  32. Danielle Elkins

    Florida truly is so rich in history and interesting stories and places. Every era and time period has a place in our state- from Ponce de Leon, to the significance of the space program; and we have such rich architectural history, from the mid-century gems in Sarasota, to the Art Deco beauties in South Beach. I have never been to De Leon Springs State Park- but the pictures of it remind me a lot of Weekie Watchee Park which is also a pretty little piece of history in our state that I loved when I visited. Ponce De Leon may not have really been searching for a literal “fountain of youth” but he was looking to re-invent himself, and really isn’t that what youth is- being “new”. So in a sense, I think the fountain of youth is perhaps what he was searching for although perhaps in an abstract way, Florida definately has so much to offer and such a wide variety. From the desolate peaceful swamp lands and marshes, to the lively and loud culture of Miami and South Beach. There are quaint sleepy seaside towns not far from large fast paced big cities. Add sunny skies and warm air, throw in some majestic swaying palms, and waves lapping the sand and it really is no wonder that so many people are and have always been drawn to this paradise we are lucky enough to call home.

  33. Bradley Hoe

    Early American history and the settlers who first visited our shores centuries ago have always fascinated me. Growing up in Massachusetts, I became very familiar with the stories of Pilgrims, The Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. It was not until I got older that I realized most of these stories were not historically accurate. As my fascination for history grew the more I realized that history is not stagnant, it is always changing. I love hearing about the work of historians like J. Michael Francis and how it is changing the way we view certain historical events. Having only lived in Florida for a few years I have not had the opportunity to visit this state’s historical sites and cities. I have heard so many wonderful things about St. Augustine and would love to learn about the area. It is amazing to think that only five hundred years ago Florida was an area unknown to the rest of the world. It also puts into perspective how young America is compared to other countries around the world.
    Having been a Florida tourist for most of my life, I first visited Florida when I was six months old. It is amazing to see how much the tourism industry, and state have grown in just the past twenty years. My father still reminds me about the times he used to visit Florida when he was kid and Orlando only had thirty thousand residents. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Florida.

  34. Sarah Blackburn

    Ponce de Leon was looking for another term in office, not eternal youth. First of all, this article is making me question everything my 4th grade history class ever taught me. Not that I really spend a lot of time thinking about it in the first place, we just spent so long specifically studying the history of Florida and then traveled to St. Augustine for a field trip. To think so much of Ponce de Leon and the majority of the information I learned about him is incorrect is surprising. I know that history books are written by men that won the war and stories are embellished, but this has actually set me aback. I guess history is always changing and once you think you have the real story, someone new pops up with a previously overlooked fact, all the sudden you find yourself wondering why your education so heavily emphasized something that is so blatantly wrong. One of my favorite influential people is Nikola Tesla. He is the real grandfather of electricity, but all you are taught in school is how Edison brought upon the age of electricity. In reality, Tesla is responsible for more than just that, he pioneered the technology in radio, radar, x-ray, hydroelectric power creation, the modern electric motor, and many other things. So in short, it was surprising, but not unexpected to learn that the heavily pushed story of Ponce de Leon’s unfruitful search for the fountain of youth was just that, a story. I wish that teaching criteria put more emphasis on facts like this than stories to make you feel good (or occasionally feel guilty for something, too). Hopefully I am not the only one to feel this way and wants change, who knows, maybe we can make adjustments for the future.

  35. Tanya Flynn

    I have been wanting to go to this fountain with my mother for the longest time, and we just never have made it, I think if I show her this article, we might get another inkling and go. I know she read an article in the paper once about the minerals in the water having a healing effect on certain ailments and we both have arthritis and body aches and scoliosis and were wanting to see if it would help. Anyways it may not be the fountain of youth, but I know that if helps my body aches and pains it probably would feel like the fountain of youth and that is probably where the tale came from, the early discoverers may not have realized that it helped with the aches and pains and just assumed that it made them younger since they felt younger.
    I love the wagon wheel construction and the aged wood that the buildings are constructed of, it kind of makes me feel like I’m in the old west exploring the new world. The bridge to the mill fits in with the mill, although it probably has been updated to be up to code, at least they kept in the same style. And I think that is what historical preservation means to me, is to keep as much as the original as safe and to stay in style with the original when remodeling while also making up to date additions that can be more efficient and include today’s modern amenities.

  36. Noelle Garrison

    That’s so interesting to find out that this tale was just fiction! I know the fountain of youth doesn’t exist, but I thought he was really searching for it. This is definitely some cool info. I’m so glad Florida was discovered and is part of America! It really is an amazing and beautiful place, and it makes sense that there would be so many tourists.

  37. Michelle Musick

    De Leon may have the last laugh on us all. There may be something to unique about some spring possessing essential minerals to human health and well being. Surely their are some springs with better nutrient content than others. An entire disipline of biological farming exists suggesting De Leon had the right idea just inadequate means of determing when he found what he was looking for. After even if you found such a spring how would you know you were in it or drinking from it until considerable time had gone by to gain any appreciation for its benefits. Our youth may be found in how well we protect our environment.

  38. Doreen Muller

    One of the main reasons why my husband and I moved to Florida from Long Island, NY was an affordable lifestyle, and my husband did not want a long commute to the city for work on a daily bases. We were able to purchase a newly constructed, custom built home in our early 20’s with little to no stress at all and my husband found a job twenty minutes from home and still works there today. I would say it was a successful plan. Much to our surprise, after exploring the area all these years, it turns out that Florida is an ideal location to vacate without ever leaving the state!
    My family and I go on, what we call a “mini vacation” once a year. We stay in a hotel, always in a different location than the previous one for a weekend and explore that area. It is cheap too, because there is no airfare involved. There is so much to do here. I’m not just talking about the well-known places that are most commonly visited like Disney World, but the hidden treasures as well. Like the Florida springs.
    I have never been to fountain of youth, and I will absolutely make a point to do so, but I have been to a few springs in Florida and I love jumping into the very cold, crystal clear water. It is a unique experience in and of itself. I love the idea of the fairytale! To imagine that I am jumping into magical water that has the power to rejuvenate youth is a great concept. At the very least, it feels very refreshing.

  39. Tiffiny Ruehman

    Last year during the 500 year anniversary, Spain lent a ship to Port Canaveral for an exhibit. It was very interesting to see and imagine how these people lived onboard this ship. I could understand the excitement of finding land after living on a ship for many months or years. While I don’t remember the exact name of the ship, I did take many pictures of the exterior and especially the interior. It reminded me of a small 1500’s house complete with furnishings (mostly wood).
    While reading this blog, I can completely understand the “myths and legends” aspect of our heritage. I grew up in Massachusetts with the whole Thanksgiving Pilgrim thing. There are some facts to the story, there is also debates as to actual events and times they took place. I also remember hearing the stories of “The Fountain of Youth”, but in a sense, it isn’t that what he found. Maybe not then, but as Florida has developed it has certainly become the “Fountain of Youth”. We have many theme parks like Disney, Universal, and Bush Gardens that really do transform most people into kids again. We also have beaches, golf, and any other thing that is desired to entertain us or relax us.
    Whether it is fact or fiction, Ponce de Leon made a considerable mark on the state of Florida. I agree that “tourism/recreation” is definately what keeps money coming to Florida. Yearly, we have “snowbirds” and retirees coming to Florida for sunshine and escape from the cold and harsh winters of the North. My belief is that Florida is the “Fountain of Youth”. When you consider how many people from all over the world flock here to experience what we have to offer. I am thankful that we as Floridians can enjoy what we have and thanks to Ponce de Leon, Henry Flagler, and other people like them, that make us what we are “The Sunshine State”.

Leave a Reply