The ravine, and Gold Head Branch flowing through it, plus the trails through and around it, are the principal attractions of Gold Head Branch State Park. But the lakes come a close second. Park literature informs visitors that canoe rental is available, that freshwater fishing will produce bass, bream, and speckled perch. And, of course, there is always swimming.

Well, not always. In mid-March 2001 north central Florida was experiencing a drought that had lasted more than two years. The lakes of the entire region were ghosts of their former selves. Lake Okeechobee (some 200 miles south of Gold Head Branch) , the huge lake that feeds the endangered Everglades, had recently experienced a fire in its lakebed.

Gold Head Branch ends its short career at Little Lake Johnson, which is immediately adjacent to Big Lake Johnson (they must have been simply "Lake Johnson" in years of more than ample rainfall). The park advertises its furnished cabins (no reduction in rate should the air conditioning fail due to power failure) as "lakeview." And so they are, some of them in sight of Little Lake Johnson and some favored to view Big Lake Johnson. Here's what the lower end of Big Lake Johnson looked like in these drought conditions:

The cabins, which are much further from the lake water than when they were built, are named for trees, e.g., Oak, Beech, Palm, Pine, etc.

The pavilion, built by the CCC and incorporated into the present-day picnic area, is fronted by a flag pole by which the VFW observed the dedication of the park.

And then there's Sheeler Lake, which is being restored after years of misuse. All activity in and arround it is prohibited, even sunbathing! Finally, there's Pebble Lake, seen here through the trees from the picnic grounds.

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