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Steamboat on the Ocklawaha c.
The 110 mile long Ocklawaha River flows north from Central Floridamarker until it joins the St. Johns River near Palatkamarker. Its name is a corruption of ak-lowahe, Creek for "muddy".

The source of the Ocklawaha River is Lake Griffin, part of the Harris chain of lakes in Lake County, Floridamarker. The Ocklawaha River watershed includes parts of the Green Swamp, most of Lake Countymarker, and portions of Marionmarker, Alachua and Putnammarker counties. The largest of several large lakes in the Ocklawaha's watershed is the badly polluted Lake Apopkamarker near Orlandomarker.

The Ocklawaha River is the principal tributary of the St. Johns River. The most important and famous tributary of the Ocklawaha is the Silver River, which carries the discharge from Silver Springsmarker. Another important tributary of the Ocklawaha is Orange Creek, which flows from Orange Lake.

The river was used extensively in the 1800s and early 1900s for steamboat transportation, most famously the Hart Line operated by Hubbard L. Hart. Narrow steamboats were used to navigate the constrictive and winding river. In the 1870s, the route between Palatka and Silver Springs became very popular, and was travelled by prominent figures such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas A. Edison and Mary Todd Lincoln to visit Silver Springs. The wild and scenic trip up the river added a sense of adventure to a visit to Silver Springs. The popularity of the river route to Silver Springs declined after the arrival of railroad service to Ocalamarker in 1881.

The river has suffered severe ecological damage in the 20th century from fertilizer runoff, dredging, pollution and rerouting. The river narrowly escaped becoming part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal.

The river is a popular place to canoe, kayak and fish. The river forms the western boundary of the Ocala National Forestmarker. Portions of the river remain mostly undisturbed by man. The natural landscapes and lush wildlife and growth of the outlying area are mostly hydric hammock and flatwoods, with scrub pine ridges and sugar sandy soils. Wildlife is abundant, including wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and wading birds in this area. Outdoor recreational activities include hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding, and paddling, although there are few established trails.

The Gores Landing unit of Ocklawaha River WMA consists of almost 3,000 acres (12 kmĀ²) along the Ocklawaha River in eastern Marion County. The Ocklawaha River basin is a primary tributary of the St. Johns River Water Management District.

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