ALACHUA ‒ A little-known spring located near U.S. Highway 441 and Turkey Creek in the city of Alachua was the center of a presentation May 20 during a joint City of Alachua, Alachua County commission meeting.

Pinkoson Trades Union Picnic PoolSeeking a partnership with the County, City Manager Mike DaRoza said the City embarked on the Pinkoson Spring project after completing the Mill Creek Wetland Park project behind Sonny’s near I-75.

Assistant City Manager Rodolfo Valladares and Economic Development Manager David Wisener presented the joint commissions with the findings of a report by Water & Air Research, Inc. commissioned by the City of Alachua.

Analysts reviewed several metrics in concluding that the site known as Pinkoson Spring is indeed a spring and not just stream from overland flows. The report contains an analysis of water temperature, depth of stream, specific conductivity, dissolved oxygen and pH and compares those values to five other Florida spring runs.

Analysts found the Pinkoson Spring measurements to be consistent with ranges of others. Water & Air Research, Inc. also measured several other downstream components of Pinkoson Spring’s water chemistry, including alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, sodium, and sulfates.

While flowing an average of just 140 gallons per minute in recent months, analysts stated that the flow rate would fluctuate seasonally and was similar to those flow rates of Boulware Springs and Glen Springs, in Gainesville. The report states that both Boulware Springs and Glen Springs have experienced reductions in discharge rates.

These discharge rates would classify Pinkoson Spring as a 4th magnitude spring in 2024 and 5th magnitude in Spring 2023,” the report states.

Pinkoson Spring also shares with Boulware Springs and Glen Springs a history of being a swimming area. Pinkoson Spring was not always so obscure.

In the 1920s, it appeared to be a popular picnic location. Historic photographs dated for Sept. 5, 1927, Labor Day, show hundreds of people gathered around a large swimming area for a “Trades-Union Picnic.”

By the 1940s, the name of the site had been changed to Milwaukee Springs and was marketed as a “colored only” swimming area. According to Wisner, who is also a local history buff, in the 1940s, it had been hoped that the site would garner attention and be a rest and relaxation destination for African-American soldiers stationed at Camp Blanding. That endeavor did not seem to have gained momentum, although at least one picture shows what appears to be a building with a ticket booth and possibly a restaurant. Historic newspaper advertisements also refer to a restaurant at the site and at times, called it “Mineral Springs Park,” and featured swimming, dancing, and roller skating.

Historical knowledge of the spring together with the few photographs known to exist depict a large pool with concrete fortified walls creating a substantial swimming area, which was built by Charles Pinkoson, Sr. Feirmon E. Welch, now deceased, said in an oral history interview in 1999 that Pinkoson Spring was popular and there was even a bus running from High Springs through Alachua to take people to the park.

Wisener said it was not known when the site ceased operations, but he speculated that a redesign of U.S. Highway 441 might have been the cause of the spring’s decline. Wisener based this on aerial photographs between 1949 and 1955, which depict a new layout for the highway, bringing it significantly closer to the spring. Wisner also alluded to the site’s archaeological significance, referencing 1962 and 1977 limited surveys in which the site was recorded as a prehistoric one where a projectile point and a projectile point base had been recovered.

Valladares said the City hopes to establish partnerships with Alachua County, Suwannee River Water Management District, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Among the City’s objectives are to restore and protect habitat, community engagement and education, and water quality monitoring and management, among others.

Valladares envisions tying the Pinkoson Spring site to the Mill Creek Sink site for an educational demonstration of aquifer outflow and inflow.

Commissioners from both boards received the presentation with great anticipation, with several commissioners expressing excitement about this largely unknown site. City of Alachua Commissioner Shirley Green Brown described the news as “extraordinary,” adding, “It is an incredible opportunity for the City of Alachua and the County.”

Commissioners expressed their unanimous support for moving forward in partnership to explore possibilities for the site.

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