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Volcano in Florida | The Legend of the Wakulla Volcano

There may be absolutely no scientific evidence to support the existence of a volcano in Florida, but that's the closest explanation for the smoke that rose from the Wacissa Swamp for over 100 years. The Legend of the Wakulla Volcano has baffled scientists for decades, as they try to explain the origin of the smoke that was reported so many times by so many different people, there is no way a hoax could be to blame.

The Legend of the Wakulla Volcano makes perfect sense to explain why people from the Civil War and other historical times saw smoke rising from the swamp. What else would cause smoke that could be seen for 20 miles, all the way out into the Gulf of Mexico? The possibility of there being a volcano in Florida is denounced by geologists. But, the evidence is difficult to ignore.

An earthquake in South Carolina seemed to end the visible smoke rising from the swamp, which lent credence to the theory that a volcano in Florida was to blame for the smoke. No other explanation can satisfy all of the hundreds of accounts of people who witnessed the smoke. Now that the smoke has vanished, people report seeing steam. There have been people find a crater that they believe is the volcano in Florida.

Wakulla County

The Wakulla Volcano
Volcano In Florida

Twenty-five miles southeast of Tallahassee lies the mysterious Wacissa Swamp, which is home to one of Florida’s greatest (yet least known) legends: The Wakulla Volcano.

Seminole lore tells of “smoke rising in the swamp”. Throughout history, the rising smoke was visible from far out in the Gulf of Mexico, and was even used as a navigational aid for those sailing into St. Marks. In 1830, settlers blamed the smoke on Indian campfires or pirates.  During the Civil War, people suggested it was smoke from a camp of deserters or runaway slaves.  Others suggested it was the smoke from a moonshine still hidden deep in the swamp.  The problem with each new theory was none of them accounted for why the smoke had been visible for over 100 years.

On a clear day, the smoke could be seen up to 20 miles away, and at night, people reported seeing a glow from far out in the swamp.  The mysterious smoke even made the papers.  In 1880, a reporter for The Tallahassee Patriot described seeing the glow “looking like a large fire shooting it’s flaming tongue up into the upper realms.”  The New York Herald Tribune even organized an expedition into the swamp in hopes of finding the source of the mysterious smoke.  Sadly the investigation did not go well and the reporter died of “swamp fever”.

On August 31, 1886, the smoke suddenly vanished after an earthquake hit Charleston, South Carolina, and sent tremors all the way through north Florida. The sudden disappearance of the smoke caused a new theory to surface about the smoke’s origin. Perhaps it had come from a volcano that the earthquake had closed up!

Over the years, scientists have denied the possibility of a volcano existing in Florida.  The University of Florida’s geology department recently went on record saying that there is no proof that volcanic activity has ever taken place in Florida.  However, in 1949, a survey crew building Highway 98 through the Wacissa Swamp claims to have found a giant hole that took six hundred tons of rock to fill. Many believe this hole may have been the actual volcano, but others are not convinced.  

For years, hunters and hikers have reported finding an oddly shaped crater, surrounded by rocks which have been described as looking like they were “pushed from the earth and burnt by extreme heat.”  Others report seeing steam occasionally coming from an odd rock formation in the swamp. Most reports seem to point to the existence of a crater on a high ridge where the Wacissa River and the Aucilla River meet.

For years, people have offered up numerous explanations for the mysterious smoke, but the swamp isn’t making it easy to find the truth.  Somewhere out there, protected by alligators and snakes, lies Florida’s lost volcano, perhaps waiting to become active again.

Was there ever a volcano near Tallahassee Florida?
The Legend of the Wakulla Volcano
Volcano In Florida
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This article was contributed by in November 2013 and updated in November 2014. It has been viewed 21,455 times.

  1. The area is rich in limestone and flint rock. There are several aggregate mines located near by. Could be a combination of several factors. One would assume that a peat bog fire would burn out within several years, but a deep source hydrocarbon based fire could burn for over 100 years.

  2. This article is very interesting, however it is also misleading. The article says ” Most reports seem to point to the existence of a crater on a high ridge where the Wacissa River and the Aucilla River meet.” This is not in Wakulla. It should be called the Wacissa Volcano.

  3. Why is it called the Wakulla volcano? It is Just over the Taylor County line in Jefferson County. Your marker is smack dab in the middle of the Races, which is the confluent of a branch of the Wacissa and Aucilla River (Half Mile Rise). Interesting legend nonetheless!

  4. Very interesting there’s a book called the history of Washington County by EW Carswell where they talk about a volcano south east of the city of Chipley Florida. That was witnessed by early settlers and native Americans there is red like rock in the area and a mound there also it’s located in the Orange Hill area of Washington County .

  5. Sean & Russ… the name “Wakulla” is an early Indian word meaning “mysterious”. The legendary volcano takes its name from the small hamlet of Wakulla, which happens to be in Wakulla County, even though its actual location is in southwestern Jefferson County, about ten miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico.

    So while your points are valid, and many people do refer to it as the “Wacissa Smoke”, the actual name is Wakulla Volcano.

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