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The treasure of Sulphur Springs

Sulphur Springs are located in Florida and now annexed to the city of Tampa. In the early 20th century, they were an example of resort expansion. Indeed, in the 1920s, thanks to the will of one man, Tampa’s mineral springs became a national tourist attraction that attracted the middle and working classes. The place fell into decline, but left behind a treasure buried in the ground that was named Sulphur Springs.

Sulphur Springs: One Man’s Project

These Florida sulphur springs had been renowned for decades for their therapeutic and medicinal properties. As far back as the 1800s, Native Americans would go there to heal their wounds.

In the late 1800s, the area became increasingly popular with settlers. In 1898, a businessman named John Mills bought a 40-hectare plot of land on the Hillsborough River, which contained the sulphur spring. A small complex developed around the spring and river with a hotel, baths, restaurant and swimming pool. At the time, the only way to get to the resort was by horse and carriage, or by boat up the river. For middle-class white families, the rural, authentic vacation was ideal.

In 1906, Josiah Richardson decided to take advantage of this magical place. He moved there with his family and bought the land from Dr. Mills with the Tampa Sulfur Springs for $10,000. He began to imagine a much larger resort to accommodate travelers. It will be the project of a lifetime.

©flickr by Ashley Van Haeften

Sulphur Springs: a sulphur treasure

In 1908, a tramway line was built to bring tourists from downtown Tampa.

In 1926, he built a classic-style hotel and installed an arcade on the ground floor that became the first indoor shopping center in Florida. Other recreational facilities were installed such as a water slide and an alligator farm. Sulphur Springs became a national tourist attraction.

To obtain the necessary pressure for all his attractions, he started building a water tower, a gigantic white tower that became the symbol of this area of Tampa. The Sulphur Springs water tower was built in only eight days in 1927. Josiah Richardson borrowed a lot of money and mortgaged all his property to build this tower. It provided water to what had become a real town.

In 1933, a hurricane flooded the Hillsborough River, causing damage to Sulphur Springs. According to a September 3, 1933 news article, the river flooded approximately 50 to 100 homes and damaged the amusement park. This was the beginning of several unfortunate events that eventually led to the city’s economic downturn. In the context of the Great Depression, Richardson eventually went bankrupt.

In 1974, the arcade was demolished to make way for a parking lot, but residents fought to keep the water tower. It was during this development that the Sulphur Springs treasure trove of coins and artifacts was discovered. The coins are all minted between 1898 and 1904, and are mainly Liberty silver dollars, Barber half dollars and Barber quarter dollars. The coins show significant corrosion due to contact with sulfur.

Check out the Sulphur Springs treasure coins for sale at the Thomas Numismatics store.

Sources :
Musée de Sulphur Springs
Étude sur le site Esri

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