No doubt Native Americans took advantage of the natural bounty of the Suwannee and the neighboring forest. By around 7500 BC the Native American population increased, and people began to settle, at least for a time, along rivers and lakes. They fished, gathered freshwater snails, and hunted deer. Within Andrews on the bluff above the Suwannee are the remains of an ancient hunting and fishing camp. When Spanish explorer Narvarez crossed the Suwannee thousands of years later, his men called it "River of the Deer." Later, Indians escaping to Florida from other parts of the Southeast named it "Suwani," meaning "echo river" in Creek. Sound echoes from the river's limestone bluffs, especially when the water is low.

1936 Andrews Postcard
Postcard, 1936 - Florida Photo Archives

ca 1882 Ferry on the Suwannee River
Ferry on the Suwannee ca 1882 - Florida Photo Archives

By the 1830s the tranquil, tree-lined Suwannee became an important navigation route. Steamboats carried lumber to Cedar Key for transport by steamship to Europe and the Northeast. Much of the virgin cypress in the Suwannee floodplain was harvested in the early 1900s. Furrows created by "snaking" huge cypress logs are still visible along the banks of the Suwannee.

In the early part of the 1900s what was later to become Andrews was subject to a wide range of uncontrolled uses, including open range livestock grazing. Range hogs readily adapted to the habitat and are still present on Andrews today as hunters rediscover each fall.

In 1945 the Andrews family purchased the area. They managed the land for outdoor recreation and were careful to protect natural resources. Limited weekend hunts were held for deer, turkey, and squirrel, and no mining or significant timber harvest occurred. The Andrews family created four, five-acre clearings in the upland hardwoods and scattered roadside openings.

In the late 1970s the deer density approached one deer per ten acres, which resulted in severe over-browsing of understory vegetation and a decline in the physical condition of the deer. Doe harvest was initiated in the early 1980s to reduce the population and to achieve a more balanced sex ratio.

The state purchased the land in 1985 through the Save Our Rivers and Conservation and Recreation Lands programs.



FWC Facts:
Whooping cranes mate for life, but they will take a new mate after the loss of the original. The pair will return to use and defend the same nesting and wintering territory year after year.

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