A long time ago - before DisneyWorld corrupted central Florida - there were some wonderful tourist attractions. Silver Springs was one of them. Ever since Hullam Jones put a window in a canoe in 1878, people have been marveling at what they could see in the crystal clear water there.
Phillip Morell built a glass-bottomed rowboat and sold rides above the springs. In the 1890s, commercial glass bottom boats were developed and the comfort of the glass bottom boats was improved by installing cushioned seats and canopies. In 1925 they were equipped with gasoline engines and then later with electric motors.
According to their website timeline:
"Early in the 1930s, Ross Allen, noted herpetologist, founded the Silver Springs Reptile Institute. Allen pioneered many forms of snake anti venom, including a dried variety. He also imported and supplied venoms for medical purposes and biochemical research. Colonel Tooey, a concessionaire who operated the Jungle Cruise boat ride, established the first troop of wild rhesus monkeys on an island in the Silver River. Tooey established the colony to attract visitors to his ride. He did not realize the rhesus monkeys were excellent swimmers. They quickly escaped, forming wild troops along the river."
1932-1942 Six of the original Tarzan movies, starring Johnny Weissmuller, were filmed on location at Silver Springs. Also the American Red Cross did the photographs for their life saving and WSI textbooks here.
1958-1961 More than 100 episodes of "Sea Hunt," starring Lloyd Bridges, were filmed at Silver Springs. We visited the springs in 1954 when I was 16, and rode the glass bottomed boats. We also visited again when we lived in Key West. I took some slides with my film camera. I really wanted to see the springs again and see if they lived up to my memories and maybe take some better pictures for VT. I was hoping I could get a ticket just for the glass bottomed boat trip for less than the $32 that was advertised in my AAA book.
But as we drove into the park, I was totally turned off by the $6 parking fee that would be assessed - I just wanted a boat trip, I didn't want a theme park experience or to go swimming or to do Wild Waters or anything else. So we turned around and left.