Categorized | River Stories

Ocklawaha River History, Poetry and Scenery

Ocklawaha River History, Poetry and Scenery

…..Is it the OCKLAWAHA RIVER or the “Oklawaha” River?
The “U.S. Board on Geographic Names” in 1992 changed the OFFICIAL spelling back to OCKLAWAHA, which WAS the ORIGINAL traditional spelling from 1824 until 1892. From 1892 until 1992 the official Federal spelling had been “Oklawaha”. OCKLAWAHA (Native American for “crooked” or “great” water) is the CORRECT way to spell its name.


The Ocklawaha River Basin, also known as Florida’s “Central Valley”, contains one of the state’s most ancient rivers at some 17,000 years old. It is possible to navigate the north-flowing Ocklawaha Basin for about 120 miles upstream from its mouth at the St. Johns River to its most southern navigational headwaters in either Lake Apopka (its EAST aka Ocklawaha Chain or Harris Chain PRONG) using locks or Lake Louisa (its WEST aka Green Swamp or Palatlakaha Chain or Clermont Chain PRONG) with portages. By far, the Ocklawaha River is the longest and largest streamflow volume tributary of the St. Johns River. The Ocklawaha receives most of its water (some years more than 80%) from world famous SILVER SPRINGS (Florida’s original tourist attraction since just after “The War Between The States”) located 56 river miles upstream from the St. Johns. From Silver River to the St. Johns River, the Ocklawaha meanders for approximately 51 river miles through a 0.5 to 1-mile wid  e forested floodplain (except where damaged by Rodman Dam). For many of those river miles the Ocklawaha has secondary channels or side-creeks making it a BRAIDED STREAM–with many additional miles of flowing streams (some “canoe-navigable”). As an example of this, between Rodman Dam and the St. Johns River, the MAIN Ocklawaha River channel is about 12 RIVER MILES long–but there are actually an amazing 52 MILES total (approximately) of FLOWING STREAM CHANNELS (just here) between Rodman Dam and the St. Johns River!

The 19,000 acre “Eureka Reach” that President Richard Nixon rescued in 1971 from becoming “Eureka Pool”, when he ordered a HALT to further construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal (CFBC) project. This mostly natural ecosystem (with only minor CFBC damage) features the 50 to 100-foot wide Ocklawaha flowing swiftly about 18 crooked river miles thru magnificent swamp and hammock forests of mature, tall, mixed-species trees including isolated living-giant virgin cypress and oaks that are 500 to 1000 years old. Perhaps 12 artesian springs exist in this reach. Water temperature in this section of the river usually ranges between 60 and 80 degrees F all year long, influenced very strongly by the 73 F inflow from Silver Springs. Almost all of “Eureka Reach” can be “seen” (scale 1:24000) using these two U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Florida 7.5 minute topographic quad maps: “FORT MC COY” and “LYNNE”.

I’m probably not a poet–but don’t know it!

“Ocklawahaman’s Last Stand”

Ocklawahaman shall make his Last Stand
At Crooked River flowing through sugar-sand.
Old Glory flies, but Stars and Bars you’ll also see,
Way down South in Florida Dixie.

Virgin cypress, sweetgum, and tall tupelo grows;
Amid clear-water springs and canopied stream-flows.
Gator, bobcat, bear, and panther prowl.
So who cooks for you, Mr. Barred Owl?

Aster, bonnet, iris, lily, and rose in bloom.
In the hammock feeding there’s deer, turkey, and coon.
Huge acorns dropping, swamp chestnut oak.
Come dusk, pigfrogs grunt and bullfrogs croak.

Stalks of wild rice sway, while playful otters play.
Softshells and cooters, on a sunny log, bask;
Below them lurks those largemouth bass.

Drifting downstream swiftly, bass fishing from my canoe;
Also catching redbreasts, specks–wishing for stripers too!

A diamondback’s rattles shake, don’t go stepping on no cottonmouth snake! Loblolly hundred-foot pines, see those diggings–they’re armadillo sign.

Whitetail bucks and drake wood ducks,
Razorbacks, limpkins, and sandhill cranes;
Reckon river water runs through my veins!

Swamp Fox of Marion, my Erika Sue,
Sure do love the Ocklawaha and you!
Now I’m in no itching hurry, but when I do,
A final request of my Captain for true.

Darling dearest, please honor this wish for it’s my own last will, Scatter my ashes on this valley–HAUNT of the IVORYBILL.

Author: “Ocklawahaman” Paul Roger Nosca (11 November 2010).

One Response to “Ocklawaha River History, Poetry and Scenery”

  1. "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca says:

    Ocklawaha River History, Poetry and Scenery

    Author: “Ocklawahaman” Paul Nosca with the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter.


Leave a Reply

Become a fan of on Facebook! Become a Fan on! Follow RiverBassin on!

Help keep the lights on, make a donation!

$1.00, $2.00 every little bit helps! The ocean is made up of many small drops of water and we appreciate your contribution however small, which gets put toward our site operations cost as well as upgrades throughout the year.

Subscribe to the Newsletter!

Articles by Keyword

Archived Articles