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Welcome to Dunnellon and Ocala in Marion County Florida

Marion County has a rich and colorful history revolving around phosphate mining, horse farms, natural springs and the movie industry.

Phosphate in them there hills
Five to fifteen million years ago when the sea covered the state, phosphate rock deposits were formed in Central Florida.

In 1881 Captain Francis LeBaron discovered these phosphate deposits while exploring the Florida wilderness. Dunnellon Florida became the hub of activity for phosphate mining.

Early miners used picks, shovels, mules and wagons. Today historic downtown Dunnellon celebrates its past with "Boomtown Days" which recalls the explosive growth to the area and brings many visitors to the quaint shops and bed and breakfasts that occupy the restored homes along Pennsylvania Ave.

Nature Lovers Paradise

Considered part of the "Nature Coast" Marion county has many crystal clear springs one of which is responsible for the Rainbow River, one of the most pristine and beautiful rivers in Florida.



Native wildlife and vegetation thrives all around this popular waterway often populated with people floating by on inner tubes and the fishing is great. There are many nature trails and hiking trails as well as aquatic trails accessible by kayak.

The Rainbow Springs Park is a botanical wonderland and the relics of the old zoo are still visible.

There is also the Withlacoochee River, one of only a handful of rivers in North America that flows north.

Hooray For Hollywood

The moderate climate and lush vegetation of Ocala and Marin County eventually brought Hollywood to area. The Creature From the Black Lagoon was shot in Ocala at Silver Springs, still one of the largest attractions in the county.

Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame came and filmed many of the underwater and vine swinging scenes in his movies at Silver Springs. In 1945 "The Yearling" was filmed in Ocala and in 1963 Elvis made the area famous with his movie "Follow That Dream".

One of the most infamous gangs of the 1930's, the Ma Barker Gang met their end in the longest FBI shootout ever at a home on Lake Weir in Marion County.

A Horse History

The Paddock Mall and Central Florida community College now occupy the land that was the Carl G. Rose's Rosemere Farm, the first horse farm in Marion County.

In 1939 Rose produced the first Marion County foal on the sprawling 3,000 acre horse farm.

With the soils rich grazing nutrients and warn climate Marion County made the perfect location for horse and livestock breeding.

In 1956, Ocala-raised Needles became the first Florida-bred Triple Crown winner, taking first in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.

Later Needles offspring brought credibility to the local stallion business.

Other horse farms like the Ocala Stud farm under the leadership of the famous Joe O'Farrell turned out its first foals in 1958.

By 1963 it was considered the number one commercial breeding farm in America.

Managed by the legendary Joe O'Farrell, Ocala Stud had its first racing crop by 1958, and just a scant two years later was America's leading commercial breeder -- a status the farm matched again in 1963.

Horse farms numbered about 28 in 1958, today they number over 1,200 with 40 plus breeds representing an estimated 20,000 horses countywide.

A Great Place to Visit Even Better to Stay

Today the area of Ocala is one of the most desirable places to live in Florida.

Palatial estates and horse farms surrounded by rolling-meadows and pastures are just down the road from the many on the active lifestyle retirement communities.

With upscale entrances and pristine lawns these homes communities appeal to the retiree ready to live life to the fullest.

Golf, tennis, gardening, boating, fishing and shopping occupy the lifestyle of these residents. There is plenty of land for sale here and good buys on resales for anyone's budget.

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