History of Dunnellon
Dunnellon was founded in 1887. In 1889, phosphate was discovered in the area, leading to
an expansion of the area until the early 1910s. The original mining took place in and around the Rainbow River (formerly called ‘Blue Run’), using the river’s natural flow to transport phosphates. What is now the ‘Blue Cove’ subdivision, was one of the original mining pits.
The town of Dunnellon became a “Boomtown” through this discovery. The area’s population and prosperity carried the small mining town through many years until the ultimate slowdown of phosphate production
Dunnellon’s Historical Depot
Dunnellon was platted as a railroad town in 1890 when trains provided a major source of transportation. In 1908 the Atlantic Coast Line railroad built the depot on South Williams Street. In its early days, the Atlantic Coast Line carried produce, timber from virgin long leaf pine forests, passengers and phosphate. For some passengers and cargo, the journey continued on steamers plying the St. Johns River.
Youngsters crowded the station, waiting for a glimpse of caged animals roaring by on the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus train. During World War II, the trains carried troops and military equipment.
In 1991, the Greater Dunnellon Historical Society board of directors and membership approved a decision to purchase the depot from CSX Transportation Inc. In 2002 the historical society obtained a grant to restore the facility. The depot has been restored to its original splendor and has been updated to current standards. Since the renovation, historic murals painted by past president Tom Ferrie have found a home in the depot. The colorful murals, which once hung in a local thrift shop, are a record of Dunnellon’s history. Visit: http://www.dunnellondepot.com/ for more information.
Dunnellon celebrates 125 years of incorporation in 2016 and is now known as a tourist detination and small business hub for southwest Marion County. For those with extra time, a dip into the spring waters at Blue run Park will cool you off or a quick trip into Dunnellon for some day shopping or eating round out the adventure.