Sunday, June 19, 2016

Luraville and Peacock Springs

Luraville, FL of today is little more than a crossroads with a flashing light, roughly twenty miles southwest of Live Oak, FL in the north Florida county of Suwannee, just north of the Suwannee River. Information about Luraville is limited to say the least. Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together.

While the town of Luraville does not seem to have been founded by Dr. John Calvin Peacock, he appears to have been one of the town’s earliest prominent citizens. He moved there in 1875 (or possibly 1857, as per one of the signs at the Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park), where he bought a large tract of land which included the springs now known as Peacock Springs. Peacock was not only a cattle farmer, but also served as a local doctor and preacher. Luraville grew to a population of 75 by 1886, and had both a saw and a grist mill, as well as two churches and four stores. During that time, the springs on the Peacock property became a popular site for locals to relax, and were used as both the location of baptisms and a source of drinking water for the community.

By the 1890s, the town saw a new source of income: phosphate. In order to move the vast quantities of phosphate being quarried from the Mutual Phosphate Mining Company’s mine at Luraville, the Florida Railway extended what became known as the Luraville Branch into the town.

Downtown Luraville, 1890s (source)

Interior of the Luraville General Store, 1890s (source)

Luraville Phosphate Mine, 1892 (source)

Luraville Phosphate Mine, 1908 (source)

Here information on the Peacocks and Luraville pretty much runs dry until the 1950s, when cave divers began exploring the extensive cave system connecting the springs on the Peacock property. In 1985 the property was purchased by the Nature Conservancy. It was later sold to the state of Florida, and opened as a State Park in 1993. The park was initially named Peacock Springs State Park, but the name was changed to Wes Skiles Peacock SpringsState Park to honor cave diver, filmmaker, and springs advocate, Wes Skiles, who died in 2010.

While Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park does offer hiking trails, picnicking facilities, and swimming, its main attraction is cave diving. When I was there, I am fairly certain that I was the only person not diving. There is no park staff on site, and the entrance fee is to be paid in accordance with the honor system ($4/car; bring exact change). The only map of the hiking trail is located at the park entrance (which I didn’t realize until I was driving out). There are at least two signs bearing maps of the park’s cave system, although I expect that cave divers need to arrive with far more detailed information. There are two different dive shops in Luraville, which should be able to accommodate cave diver’s needs in that respect.

The roads in the park are not paved.

Peacock Springs

Cave Divers in Peacock Springs

While it was gorgeous, there was a high level of algae growth.

Just down the run from Peacock Springs

Just down the run from Peacock Springs

Orange Grove sink, one of the other springs on the park grounds, is nearly entirely covered with duckweed, except for the areas from which water upwells.

Other than the two dive shops, there is not much to modern day Luraville: one convenience store, a church, a flashing light, a community center, and a handful of homes. Several of the homes clearly date back to Luraville’s heyday, although I would guess that its modern population is somewhere in the vicinity of the community’s 1886 population of 75, if not smaller.

This house dates to the 1930s, and is currently for sale.

I was unable to find any information on this house.

Luraville Community Center and Voting Precinct. The red building in the rear is the Luraville Volunteer Fire Department.

Here's a closeup of the Luraville Community Center. If you scroll up to the picture of downtown Luraville in the 1890s, you will see similar buildings, one of which may very well be this structure. If this is the site of the original downtown Luraville, this is all that remains.
Another old house of Luraville

For more information, check out the following:
Wesley C. Skiles (Wikipedia)


  1. The plantation looking house was Dr.McIntosh's houe

  2. My mother-in-law grew up in the plantation house. And her father is credited with pulling a train from the bottom of the suwannee. They also owed the building now serving as the dive shop which was a restuarant back then. :)

    1. As I can remember the Lancaster's also owned the store at the corner known as Luraville store, along with the resturant where the dive shop is now. They lived in the Plantation house which is now owned by a Dentist. . Everything is still here but owned by other people. I've ate at the resturant many times when the landcasters owned it. Still visit the store, but nothing is the same as the good ole times and hospitality as when they owned it. They were all very friendly and made you feel at home. This was back in 1978 when I moved here, I still live 1.5 miles from the store. Good times!

    2. I remember when that locomotive was pulled out of the river there. I was 7 or 8 and went with my dad who was helping. Or maybe just watching!

  3. My father and I bought property in Peacock Hideaway back in 1979. Just a beautiful area, friendly people and quiet calm there. Been to that little country store plenty as well as the dive shops. There used to be an old Locomotive engine there across from that little store that had been pulled out of the Suwannee river which I believe, was moved to a museum in Tallahassee. It was huge and black. Love being there.

  4. Spent a lot of time in the area when I was cave diving in the area through the 1990s. Would stop at that General Store and have a burger after the dive and they did taste good. An odd thing about that store -- there was a back room, with racks of magazines that I can only describe as pulp snuff mags -- pics of firing squads, and drowning victims, dog attacks -- dozens of them. All from South of the Border.

  5. My Daddy is buried there. In Luraville, he was born there in 1908. My Uncle Ed Chauncey, used to raise peanuts and watermelon and tobacco. My Daddy is Marvin Chauncey. But however I was born in Jacksonville. But we would go there to visit my Uncle Ed and my aunt Abby. we used to go fishing on the Suwannee River and we go swimming in the Telford springs which are freezing by the way. I'd really like to go visit there again sometime.

    1. Your dad, Marvin, had a sister, Ollie, my grandma, Ollie Chauncey Brinson, I remember uncle Ed. I'm TJ Brinson..

    2. have you ever been to our grandparents' Graves at Philadelphia Baptist Church they're outside of luraville?

  6. The locomotive is on the Department of Agriculture property on Connor Blvd. in Tallahassee near Capital Circle. I have pictures of the train with the sign explaining the whole story, but couldn't figure out how to paste pictures on this comment.