Little Salt Spring

Little Salt Spring

Little Salt Spring

The Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay now stands where the Paleoindian once stood, over 8000 years ago, leaving artifacts buried deep beneath the shoreline all the way to Pinellas Point. At Fort Brooke and Harney Flats in Hillsborough County, artifacts were discovered while excavating the sites. Today the Fort Brooke site is a parking garage and Harney Flats looks lush, green and swampy, with I-4 and I-75 running through it. Little Salt Spring was most likely an oasis in a barren wasteland, used as a seasonal camp at the time of the Paleoindians. The sea level ledge of the Paleoindian Period is now 85 feet below the surface of the spring.

The South Florida Museum in Bradenton displays a map of Paleoindian sites.

The South Florida Museum in Bradenton displays a map of Paleoindian sites.

Turtle on the ledge at Little Salt Spring.

Turtle on the ledge at Little Salt Spring.

Along with an oak mortar probably used for grinding nuts or seeds, one of the most intriguing finds was a now-extinct giant tortoise discovered upside down, impaled with a stake, over a charcoal pit, on a ledge 80 to 90 feet below the surface of the spring. The water level was even with the ledge 12,000 years ago. Evidence gathered at the now-submerged site show an informal hearth and charred remains indicating man cooked at the site.

Artifact from Little Salt Spring

Artifacts from Little Salt Spring

Giant ground sloth, mammoth, bison and mastodon remains as well as hickory nuts and gourd remains were also found. One place on the underwater slope before the deep-water drop-off, a series of stakes were driven into the ground, possibly a kind of trap for catching the abundant deer in the area.

Steve Koski, Little Salt Spring

Steve Koski, Little Salt Spring Manager

Historic Marker

Historic Marker

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