Paynes Prairie Visitor Center
The visitor center at Paynes
Prairie looks out over the vast
The Battle of Black Point
One of the first battles of the
Second Seminole War was
fought on the rim of Paynes
Prairie at Black Point.
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park - Micanopy, Florida - Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida - Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
The sweeping prairie was the scene of some of the
most significant events in Florida history.
The Great Alachua Savannah
Just south of Gainesville, Interstate 75
passes across a vast plain. Few of those
making their way north or south on the major
highway realize it, but they are crossing one
of the most significant natural resources in

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park covers
21,000 acres and is a remarkable grassland
unlike any other in the Deep South. Buffalo
and wild Spanish horses graze on the prairie
and historic sites dot the preserve.

Native Americans have hunted on Paynes
Prairie for thousands of years and a large
number of archaeological sites have been
located in the preserve. By the late 1700s,
this was the domain of the Alachua division
of the Seminoles. William Bartram visited
them here in 1774 on what he called the
"Great Alachua Savannah."

By the early 19th century, the Seminole of the
prairie area were under the leadership of
King Payne, a noted chief of the era. Paynes
Prairie was probably named in his honor.

The Alachua rattled to the assistance of the
Spanish when Florida was invaded by a
group of American filibusters who called
themselves "Patriots" and again when U.S.
troops pushed into the Gainesville area
during the War of 1812. King Payne was
killed in the fighting.

In late 1835, one of the first significant
actions of the Second Seminole War was
fought on the rim of Paynes Prairie. Seminole
warriors engaged Florida militia in the Battle
of Black Point, an event that took place shortly
before the deadly
attack on Major Francis
Dade's column in December of that year.

Several other skirmishes took place in the
prairie area over the years that followed. The
Visitor Center at the preserve offers a good
exhibit on Paynes Prairie's role in the Second
Seminole War. Among the artifacts to be
seen there is a cast Osceola's death mask.

The hard-fighting remnants of the Florida
Seminoles were eventually pushed down
into the swamps of South Florida and the
area surrounding Paynes Prairie quickly
became a center for white settlement.

Ranchers grazed their herds on the vast
grassland and settlements grew quickly
along its borders. With a brief interruption of
20 years, it continued to serve that purpose
up into the modern era.
Heavy rains that fell in the region between
1871 and 1873 so flooded the Paynes Prairie
basin that it turned into a massive lake. For
two decades steamboats and other vessels
moved passengers and cargo on the lake
until Alachua sink reopened in 1891 and the
lake once again disappeared.

The massive state park today features an
excellent visitor center, hiking trails, exhibits,
observation platforms, fishing, camping,
picnic areas, bike trails and more. Lucky
visitors might also catch a glimpse of the
park's herds of buffalo and Spanish horses
that roam wild on the prairie.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is located
in Micanopy. From I-75 North or South, take
exit 374 and travel east on CR 234. Follow it
for 1.6 miles and turn left on U.S. 441. The
park entrance is 0.6 miles ahead on your

The park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset
365 days per year. Admission is $5 per
vehicle, $4 if only the driver is in the car and
$2 for bicyclists and pedestrians.
click here to visit the park's website for more.
Paynes Prairie
The preserve covers more
than 21,000 acres that stretch
for as far as the eye can see.
The Face of Osceola
A cast made from the actual
death mask of Osceola is on
display in the visitor center.
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Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.