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"Hidden" Springs of the Ocklawaha

There are at least twenty springs hidden beneath the floodwaters behind the Rodman Dam, including Cannon Spring, a beautiful blue spring that is only visible when the dam is opened and the reservoir waters drawn down. The photo here by Joe Cruz is Cannon Spring during the 2019 drawdown, a time when the dam is opened every 3-4 years to flush the reservoir, and the springs reveal themselves for a short while.

You could visit some of them now, but you would find only brown flood water. That's if you could get to them past the masses of invasive water lettuce that builds up in the warmed and slowed flow of the dammed river.

The best way to learn about these springs, how the dam ever came to be and why it remains, over 50 years later, is this 40 minute film created by filmmaker Matt Keene.

The Ocklawaha River is a landscape scarred and abandoned by government failure. In this film, artist Margaret Tolbert must come to grips with the impending loss of her subject matter: a collection of majestic freshwater springs exposed only for a short time before being smothered and forgotten beneath waters held back by an aging and purposeless dam.

Watch below or on vimeo at

Learn more about the movement to remove the Rodman Dam and Free the Lost Springs of the Ocklawaha at


Matt Keene's "Lost Springs"

Matt Keene is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist based in St. Augustine. With a focus on Florida, his work sheds light on environmental and social justice issues. Keene’s River be dammed–a 17-minute mini-documentary and 10,000-word investigation on the Kirkpatrick (Rodman) Dam in north-central Florida, went on to wide acclaim and awards.

Margaret Ross Tolbert is an artist based in Gainesville. Florida’s freshwater resources are a recurring theme in her work, and she hs exhibited paintings celebrating Florida’s springs in galleries across the state. In 2010, she contributed to “AQUIFERious,” a weaving of scientific insights with Tolbert’s painting, writing, and performance about Florida’s springs.


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