Snowbird RV Trails Visits Tarpon Springs, Florida

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We spent a beautiful 74 degree and sunny touristy day on the “Sponge Docks” section of Tarpon Springs, Florida just up the coast from our Winter base in Clearwater Beach.

The area is heavily steeped in Greek culture and nowhere is more apparent than in the shops, restaurants, and attractions along a stretch of Dodecanese Boulevard.
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The many shops offer all types of Greek merchandise as well as handmade soap and many, many types of sponges.
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If you like Greek food there are many restaurants with indoor, outdoor, and harborside seating. Our hands-down favorite place is called “Touch of Greece” for the desserts of your dreams. You gain weight just walking in the door!
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The view along the harbor with its many types of working boats coming and going is beautiful. You can book passage on one of the tour boats ($8) and be introduced to a diver and the art of sponging and perhaps see a dolphin or two along the way.
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”The west coast sponge beds were discovered accidentally in 1873 by Key West turtle fishermen whose nets were fouled by sponges off the mouth of the Anclote River. Spongers came to the area to work the beds, and some moved to Tarpon Springs. In 1890 John Cheyney, a Tarpon businessman, opened the Anclote River and Rock Island Sponge Company across the river from Tarpon. During the 1890s, sponge packing houses were built in the city, sponge presses were installed, and buyers moved to town. Gradually the sponge business shifted from Key West, Cuba, and the Bahamas to Tarpon, and by 1900 the city was considered the largest sponge port in the United States.

It was, however, the Greek immigrants who expanded and refined sponging in Tarpon Springs. In 1905 John Corcoris introduced the first mechanized sponge fishing boat to Tarpon Springs and brought in 500 Greek divers from Kalymnos, Halki, Symi, Hydra, Spetse, Aegena and other islands. Other Greeks soon followed and businesses were established to serve the Greek community, including restaurants, candy shops, coffee houses, and grocery stores. Sponge merchants and brokers then came to Tarpon, and their presence helped to create a well-integrated industry. They built boats, loaned money to boat owners, and supplied tools and equipment to the entire sponge fleet.

The sponge industry prospered, but in 1938 a blight infested the sponge beds and many of the sponges died.

Tourism has replaced sponging as Tarpon Springs major economic activity. Thousands of visitors come to the city each year to enjoy the outdoors, playing golf or fishing, visiting the Sponge Docks, and to experience the Greek culture.” – Source: Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society
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Tarpon Springs, Florida – just off Highway 19N – is definitely worth a visit when you are in the area.

On the Road with Niki, Jack, and Snowbird RV Trails

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