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1936 postcard

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 the Spanish explorer Narvarez crossed the Suwannee thousands of years later, his men called it River of the Deer. Later, Native Americans escaping to Florida from other parts of the Southeast named it Suwani, meaning “echo river” in Creek. Sounds echo from the river’s limestone bluffs, especially when the water is low.

Old Ferry photo

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 Wildlife Management Area was subject to a wide range of uses, including open range livestock grazing.

In 1945, the Andrews family purchased the area. They managed the land for outdoor recreation and were careful to protect its natural resources. Limited weekend hunts were held for deer, turkey and squirrel, and no mining or significant timber harvest occurred.

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