LOCATION:(lat. 28°06'22.4" N., long. 82°46'20.5" W.)
Wall Spring is located in Pinellas County, FL, West of Alt. 19 at the end of DeSoto Blvd. in Palm Harbor
This site was formerly known as "Health Spring". It was closed for decades until the Pinellas County parks department acquired the property and built a park around the spring in 2001. It has a long and colorful history and was used to feed a commercial swimming hole up until the late 60's. The spring itself looks better than ever, after years of barely trickling, it now has a strong flow of crystal clear water. The parks department installed a new concrete wall with a spillway and built boardwalks surrounding the spring to allow visitors to see the springs vent, which is shaped like a woman's head.
The site had been closed off for years and no one seemed to know if there was a diveable cave system here, so I snuck in one night after work and did a free dive into the spring vent. Armed with my trusty dive light, and a couple of weights on my belt to help neutralize the effects of the flow, I was able to see that there was a cavern with a small passage in the back wall. The only problem was a tight, sand filled restriction at the bottom of the spring vent blocked the way into the cavern. Full of excitement about the possibility of "going passage" in a new cave system, I quickly planned a dig/cave dive for the following week. Since it was obvious that we would not be able to enter with full cave gear (not even side mounted), I needed time to come up with a non-mounted 80 cu. ft cylinder rig that would allow us to safely navigate a wide variety of situations. After all, who knew how deep that little passage went?
My dive partner, Chris Stone and I returned a few nights later loaded down with gear, including a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a rope. We descended about 15ft or 20 ft into the spring and came to the impassable restriction. The sides were wide enough for us, so we began taking turns digging at the sandy, crushed shell bottom. One of us would stay at he surface, hauling up the bucket and dumping it over the concrete spill way so the spoil did not slide back into the spring.
After about 1/2 hour, I was at the surface when I noticed there was no activity on the rope. The passage had become big enough to pass through and Chris had "stolen my glory" becoming the first one to enter the cavern. When I got down to the restriction he was on the other side, which sloped down into the cavern, using a piece of broken pottery to "hoe" the entrance open a little more. The springs flow has really increased in the past few years so the entrance was running clear again in minutes. After looking around a bit he exited and I headed in with a reel to run the beginnings of a permanent line. The cavern is plenty big enough to maneuver around and I was able to clip off the "80", like a stage bottle for travel down the low winding passage in the back of the room. I was only able to get a hundred feet or so before the cave pinched off into a couple of blowing holes. So much for our "major discovery"... but it is a beautiful spring nonetheless!
While poking around on subsequent dives, we found several unique bottles. Someone recognized one as a beer bottle from a local bottling company that was in business around the turn of the century.
The Spring as it looked during the initial dive (prior to improvements).
The Spring vent (said to be the profile of Senora Ponce de Leons head)
Old bottles recovered from the cavern
Wall Springs County Park Website