What Is Unique About The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park?

The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is thought to be the landing site of Ponce de Leon in his search for the Fountain of Youth in Florida. Editorial credit: Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com

What and Where Is The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park?

The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is located in Saint Augustine, Florida. The park is privately owned and covers an area of 15 acres. The park is thought to be the site where Ponce de Leon first landed in America, although the claim has no substantial evidence to back it. An artesian well in the park is also thought to be the well Ponce de Leon was searching for, but no evidence back the theory. In the 1990s archeologist, Kathleen Deagan excavated the remains of the first Spanish settlements in St. Augustine. In the 1860s, several small attractions were found where the park is located today. Among the attractions was a spring surrounded a beautiful environment. In 1904, Luella Day McConnell promoted the park by creating amusing tales and stories that attracted thousands of residents and tourists. In 1927, Walter Fraser bought the park, and three years later he organized a restoration movement that was later transformed to St. Augustine Preservation Board.

History of the Fountain of Youth

Since the 5th century BCE, tales were told of a spring that restored the youth of that bath or drinks its water. The Fountain of Youth as the spring came to be known was alleged to in Bimini; a mythical land. The tales of the myth were told over a series of generations, and by the early 16th century, the aboriginal people of the Caribbean believed its existence.

Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth

In 1513, the first governor of present-day Puerto Rico, Ponce de Leon, led an expedition of three ships in an exploration. He landed on the east coast of Florida and headed inland. He skirmished with the Native Americans and was forced back to Puerto Rico. Eight years later he went back to Florida with the aim of establishing a colony.

There are no records to support the theory that Ponce de Leon was searching for the Fountain of Youth, nevertheless historians linked him with the spring as soon as he died. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés claimed that Pounce de Leon was seeking the spring to cure his impotence, although the claim was proved to be untrue since he had fathered several children before the age of forty.

The legend of the Fountain of Youth was unheard of in the US until the Spanish surrendered Florida. Historical writers including Washington Irving began describing Ponce de Leon as miserable and vain. In the early 20th century a statue of Ponce de Leon was erected in St. Augustine. A local park with a well is linked to the explorer’s expeditions. To date, thousands of people stream to the park to have a taste of the water. In 2013, Melbourne Beach and St. Augustine marked the 500th anniversary of the landing.


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