- Marion County
- Year Founded: Incorporated April 21, 1891
- Founded by: named for John F. Dunn
- Previously known as: Town of Dunnellon
The Town of Dunnellon was formed on Dec. 22, 1890 and later incorporated on April 21, 1891. In 1971 the town became the City of Dunnellon.
Dunnellon, named for local financier John F. Dunn, is located in the southwest corner of Marion County where the beautiful Rainbow River merges with the Withlacoochee River. Dunnellon is noted as the site of the first discovery of hard-rock phosphate in the state of Florida.
The growth of the phosphate mining industry in the region was the catalyst of the city’s economic boom experienced during the late 1800s and early 1900s – thus giving Dunnellon its enduring nickname “Boomtown.”
Today that rich history is celebrated each spring with the “Boomtown Days Festival” in the city’s historic district starting along West Pennsylvania Avenue. The Dunnellon Boomtown Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Dunnellon become a hub for the railroad which was used to transport phosphate to processing plants in other parts of the state. The emergence of the railroad also fostered the local timber industry since lumber was used to build the rail system.
The area’s waterways and trail system is the backbone of ecotourism in Dunnellon which brings thousands of tourists to the region year round to enjoy activities such as bass fishing, kayaking, tubing, diving, and bird watching.
The Withlacoochee River is noted as one of few rivers in the world that flows south to north. The Rainbow River, fed by the Rainbow Spring, is managed by the Rainbow Springs State Park. In 1972, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Rainbow River as a National Natural Landmark. It is also an aquatic preserve and an Outstanding Florida Waterway. The Rainbow River is a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
Dunnellon is also the site where the Withlacoochee State Trail and the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway trail meet at the Blue Run of Dunnellon Park. Both trails accommodate hiking, biking and horseback riding.
In 2001 Dunnellon served as the backdrop for the filming of the movie “Jeepers Creepers” staring Gina Philips.
Today, the city continues to be a gateway for the tri-county region of Marion, Citrus and Levy counties.
Story of City’s Founding
Dunnellon’s prosperous mining industry brought increasing numbers of residents to settle here. It was those residents who wanted a more structured form of government. So they met on Dec. 22, 1890 at the school building on the corner of McKinney Avenue and Illinois Street to establish a local government under a written charter. The town was incorporated in 1891. In 1971 the town became the City of Dunnellon.
Little Known Facts
- First hard-rock phosphate discovered in state of Florida
- Area known for bass fishing
- Area known for harvesting timber
Name: Dunnellon Historic Boomtown District
Location: Roughly bounded by McKinney Ave., Illinois St., Pennsylvania Ave., and Cedar St.
Historical Significance: includes marker at Vogt Springs marking the site of first hard-rock phosphate discovery in state, district includes many of the original buildings of city.
Name: Dunnellon Train Depot
Location: 12061 S. Williams St.
Historical Significance: circa 1908, purchased by Greater Dunnellon Historical Society in 1991 from CSX Railroad, restored with grant funding in 2002.
Name: Bethel Baptist Church
Location: North Williams Street
Historical Significance: circa 1889 area’s early black congregation
Name: The Presbyterian Church
Location: Chestnut and Ohio streets
Historical Significance: circa 1893 area’s early white congregation
Name: Goethe State Forest
Location: C.R. 337
Historical Significance: named for the Goethe Family which operated a sawmill near Chatmire just north of the city.