Who are the Vacationers?

See Also: Vacationers Travel Guide, Trip Planning


William Carl Ray & W.C. Davidson – Amusement Park Creators

In 1924, this team brought together a vision for Silver Springs. They featured the glass-bottom boats which gave visitors a clear view deep into the crystal waters. These unique boats helped Silver Springs become a popular pre-Disney Florida attraction. Its fame was increased by the many films and T.V. shows produced there, including Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and over 100 episodes of the T.V. Classic Sea Hunt (1958-61).


Silver Springs Nature Park
YouTube: Silver Springs


Harriet Beecher Stowe – Author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Early Travel Writer

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote one of the first “tourism” articles about Ocala and the St. Johns River area in 1879. Her writing was the first to inspire Northerners to think of Florida as a vacation spot. She wrote that she and her fellow travelers were “wild with inherent raptures” on the river, after she overcame her wariness of a steamboat trip.


Harriet Beecher Stowe Center


The Astors – Developing Steamboat Culture Along the St. Johns River

The wealthy Astor family of New York was interested in developing the area which is Astor today, and bought 12,000 acres in 1874. William Backhouse Astor, Jr. first called the town Manhattan and tourists visited his hotel on the St. Johns River by steamboat.

Just up SR 40, Astor Park grew up along the shores of Lake Schermerhorn, which was named for Astor’s wife, Caroline Schermerhorn Astor. After William died, the town was renamed Astor.

William’s son, John Jacob Astor IV, inherited his father’s estate and continued to promote the area. Sadly, he died on the sinking Titanic in 1912, and his descendants sold off family interests, as the steamboat industry was then in decline.


More about William Backhouse Astor, Jr.