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History of Dunnellon

Discover Dunnellon, the treasure of the Nature Coast which is a water lover’s paradise where two rivers meet. The majestic spring fed Rainbow River and the Withlacoochee River both feed into Lake Rousseau. Lake Rousseau, a 3,657 acre lake is home to some of the best Bass fishing anywhere and is known as the Bass Capital of the World! An excellent source of year round fishing which offers a wide variety of species including largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, gar and more along this 12 mile long stumpy lake that is rich in ambiance with its native vegetation and beautiful natural surroundings.

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Dunnellon Florida was recently listed as one of the 15 Best Retirement Hot Spots for Real Estate Investing in the United States by RealtyTrac.com


Dunnellon is the ideal place to live, or plan a visit. You can enjoy the historic streets of this former Boomtown of the 1890s where phosphate was discovered and mined. Dunnellon is rich in history and has true charm and hospitality. Dunnellon is a Nationally Registered Historic District with more than 70 buildings that include some restored Victorian Architecture which are home to gift stores, antique shops, hair salons, restaurants and more.

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.

4x5 1908Youngsters 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.

It is a sportsman’s jewel where the hiker, biker, nature lover, bird watcher, and boater can enjoy each day for a unique adventure. It is not unusual to spot osprey and the American Bald Eagle, a family of Great Blue Herons, a river otter, bobcat or deer.

Dunnellon is a casual, friendly town that offers a laid back lifestyle and community. Community events are important to this town and their annual Small Town Christmas parade and celebration held this first Saturday in December is enjoyed by all. The first Saturday in Dunnellon hosts local vendors selling everything from homemade items and crafts, to yard sale treasures along the streets of the Historic Village. The Historic Village Shops located in the heart of Dunnellon is host to many events including the annual Victorian Nights which is held in November. You can enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride, cook some s’mores, shop in the village shoppes for your holiday gift list, and enjoy good food and a great time. Throughout the year there are many events that include arts & crafts festivals, music, car shows and more!

Discover Dunnellon and enjoy the recently opened leg of the Withlacoochee State Trail which provides hikers, bikers, strollers and roller bladers access to the State of Florida’s “Rails to Trails” adventure! Just down the road a little you can access the Cross-Florida Trail at the Pruitt Head Trailhead. You will enjoy the richness of Old Florida on natural trails that include all types of Oak, Palm, Pine and Magnolia trees that are home to many species of birds and wildlife.

0791Also located in Dunnellon, is Rainbow Springs State Park one of the most beautiful state parks in Florida! Your visit to the park will allow you to view the gorgeous headsprings of the river that produces 400-600 million gallons of water each day which forms the Rainbow River. Locals and tourists enjoy the kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling and tubing opportunities that the crystal clear water allows. It is 72 degrees all year long which can be quite refreshing when temperatures hit the highs during the summer months! The park also is home to waterfalls and gardens. The largest man made waterfall (60′) in Florida is the Rainbow Falls located at Rainbow Springs State Park. In early spring, plan a trip to see the Azaleas when they are in full bloom and exploding in color along the banks of the river.

The Rainbow River also knows as Blue Run, was once named Wekiwa Creek. This gorgeous river is 5.7 miles long and is abundant with a large variety of wildlife, plants, flowers, and fish. Please respect our beautiful river and leave it cleaner than when you arrive! If you choose to boat down the river, the entire river is idle speed limit with no wake zone only. It is a 3.7 mile float on a tube from the Blue Run Park to the KP Hole Park. Blue Run Park is a City of Dunnellon park where you can exit the river as a tuber or floater. Shuttle services also pick up from this area as well. Please obey the law by keeping disposable containers of any kind off the clear waters of the Rainbow River.

KP Hole Park is a great family destination on the Rainbow River, where you can swim, tube, launch your boat, canoe or kayak. It’s a popular place for a picnic and definitely picturesque too!

Not far from Dunnellon city limits, along the Tidewater Trail you can enjoy the Goethe State Forest. It has 126 miles of developed trails to enjoy for the hiker, bicyclists, equestrian or those who enjoy viewing life in the wild! You can hike or ride throughout various types of Florida landscapes.

Dunnellon is conveniently located approximately 1 1/2 hours north of Tampa and west of Orlando, 20 minutes south of Ocala and only 15 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Phone Numbers of Interest:
Dunnellon City Hall 352-465-8500
Dunnellon Police Department 352-465-8510
Dunnellon Library 352-438-2520
Rainbow Springs State Park 352-465-8555
Post Office 352-489-4224

Web Links of Interest
City of Dunnellon; www.dunnellon.org
Marion County Property Appraiser; www.pa.marion.fl.us
Citrus County Property Appraiser: www.pa.citrus.fl.us
Marion County Schools www.marion.k12.fl.us
Citrus County Schools www.citrus.k12.fl.us