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Marion County







Facts & Information

The Cities and communities of Marion County, Florida *

Candler, Citra
Eastlake Weir, Eureka
Fairfield, Fellowship, Flemington, Fort McCoy
Lowell, Lynne
Marion Oaks, Martel, Martin, McIntosh , Moss Bluff
Ocala (The County Seat of Marion County), Oklawaka, Orange Lake, Orange Springs
Rainbow Lake Estates, Reddick
Salt Springs, Santos, Shady, Silver Springs Shores , Silver Springs, Sparr, Summerfield


*This list of cities may not be complete. The list may contain towns, cities, villages, boroughs, townships, ghost towns and other populated places.

If you have information about any of these unlinked communities, please send it to us and we will add a page for that community. Some of these places above may only be neighborhoods or local area names and are not listed with the census at all or just included in a larger surrounding designated census area.

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Information & Facts about Marion County, Florida


Marion County Website

County Administrator
601 SE 25th Ave.
Ocala, FL  34471


Size: 1,663 square miles
Land area: 1,579 square miles.
Water area: 84 square miles
The county is 5.06% water

It is the fifth largest county in the state
Elevation: approximately 104 feet above sea level
Geography: A generally rolling terrain


Located in a predominately rural area of the state, Marion County was ranked the 16th most populous county in Florida (1998). It is home to nearly 250,000 people, the majority of whom live in unincorporated areas. There are five incorporated cities that make up Marion County: Belleview, Dunnellon, McIntosh, Ocala and Reddick. Ocala is the county seat, and has a population of almost 50,000, nearly 20 percent of the county's residents (1998), making it the largest city in the county. Though Marion County is the 16th most populous counties in the state, its large size (1,610 square miles) yields a density of roughly 160 persons per square mile, which is lower that the state density of 288 persons per square mile.

The population of Marion County was:
1980 122,488
1990 194,835
1994 219,340
1995 225,256
1996 230,120
1997 235,737
1998 241,269
1999 249,433
2000 258,916
2002 271,096
2010 309,243 (Projection)

Other population figures:
2000 - 106,755 households
2000 - 74,621 families


The per capita income in Marion County was:
1998 - $21,533


Marion County has a sub-tropical climate
Winter highs average 69 degrees F.
Summer highs average 93 degrees F.

Winter lows average 45 degrees F.
Summer lows average 72 degrees F.

Temperature extremes do occur going into the 90's in the summer and the 30's in the winter, but this is only occasional.

Average annual rainfall: 53 inches
Most of the rain falls during the summer thunderstorms. There are about 116 rain days each year.


Marion County history begins before recorded civilization. Evidence of early man is found by remnants of pottery, weapons, jewelry and bones. The largest artesian water system (by flow) in the world, Silver Springs has been the site of discoveries of the traces of early man as well as the mastodon, mammoth and saber toothed tiger.

The Timucua Indians were one of the earlier peoples to inhabit the area. The Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, mentioned their culture in his writings about his expedition in 1539. The largest of their villages was called "Ocali", however, its exact location in Marion County is unknown. By the mid 1700's, the Timucuas had been decimated due to contact with the Europeans and disease.

In 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States, and settlers immediately began to pour into this frontier area. The Seminole, a name applied to peoples of the Lower Creek from Georgia and later the Upper Creek of Alabama inhabited the new territory. Conflicts between the United States and the Indians were found even before the First Seminole War in 1817. Fort King, located near SE 36th Avenue and Fort King Street in Ocala, became an important military post, first occupied in 1827. The fort was at the center of events that led to the Second Seminole Indian War in 1835. With the Indian Removal Act in 1830, the United States embarked on the removal of the Indians from Florida.

In an effort to control the Seminole, the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 encouraged white settlers to move into Florida, offering 160 acres free to eager settlers. Many early pioneers came from South Carolina, where their local revolutionary war hero was General Francis Marion "The Swamp Fox". He led a guerrilla band that helped keep the British from conquering the South.. For this reason, on March 25, 1844, Marion was chosen as the name of the county. Florida became a state in 1845, and Marion County was one of the first names confirmed at the first meeting of the assembly. Marion County was quickly the hub of a rapidly growing state. Tobacco, rice, sugar cane, cotton and cattle flourished. In 1846 the county seat was platted and named "Ocala".

During the Civil War, Florida and Marion County played a major role by furnishing the Confederacy with needed provisions. However due to the privations of war and Union shipping blockades, the growth and development of Marion County stood still during the Civil War.

The latter part of the 1800's saw increased growth in the area. Between 1871 and 1875 the citrus industry began in Marion County and saw the development of the "Parson Brown" and "Pineapple" oranges. The discovery of phosphate prompted another land boom which is commemorated every year by "Boomtown Days" in Dunnellon. By 1890 Ocala was one of the largest towns in Florida. Silver Springs had become an international tourist draw and the first Florida tourist attraction.

In November 1881, a Fire destroyed the heart of Ocala. Four blocks of buildings were destroyed, including the courthouse five hotels and all of the principal businesses. The wooden buildings replaced by brick structures, resulting in Ocala being known as "Brick City".

By 1925, Ocala was considered Central Florida's most progressive area. Agricultural products and cattle, turpentine and timber, and the richness of the limestone based soil was a major contributor to the vigor of the farming economy.

The rich grazing, rolling hills, and year round pastures not available in other states, contributed to the development of the Thoroughbred industry in Marion County. The first Thoroughbred farm, "Rosemere", was established in 1935. In 1956, an unknown three year old named "Needles" won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and Marion County became a focus for the racing world. Marion County boasts over 1,000 farms and training centers including approximately 450 Thoroughbred farms, and is home to nearly 50 different horse breeds. In 1999, Ocala/Marion County was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture census as the "Horse Capital of the World" and as having more horses and ponies than any other county in the nation. Nearly 29,000 residents are employed in the county's Thoroughbred industry alone. This unique rural character combined with the Thoroughbred industry puts Ocala/Marion County in the elite company of Lexington, Kentucky; Newmarket, England; and Chantilly, France as the major Thoroughbred centers in the world. The Florida Thoroughbred industry has to date produced 41 North American champions, 18 Breeders' Cup champions and 6 Kentucky Derby winners, including 1997 winner Silver Charm. Florida-bred Affirmed captured the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes) in 1978. Florida bred Skip Away was the 1998 North American Horse of the Year and Florida-Bred Beautiful Pleasure was named the North American Champion Older Female in 1999. In addition, Marion County is the home of many other champions, including locally bred Rugged Lark, a two-time winner of the coveted American Quarter Horse "Super Horse" title.


Marion County is known not only for its horses, but other livestock as well. It is one of Florida's main cattle-producing areas as well as hog, sheep, and chicken production. A wide variety of crops thrive on more than a million acres of county farmland. Farms produce blueberries, cantaloupe, peanuts, watermelons, wheat, corn, soybeans, and hay. Honey production is a thriving business. Nearly 2,000 county residents are employed in agriculture.

Up until 1970, when the county's population was less than 70,000, agriculture, citrus groves, timber and cattle were the foundation on which the area's economy was based. Raising crops and livestock are still important factors in the economic equation, but today industry, the breeding of horses and tourism account for the most dramatic growth.


Marion County is often called the crossroads of Florida. Its location in the north-central part of the state puts it within an hour or two of major metropolitan areas. Ocala is at the hub of the system of federal and state highways that crisscross the county. The area provides easy access to Interstate 75 for north/south travel, to U.S. highways 27, 301, and 441, and State Roads 484, 475, 464, 40, and 200, which connect Ocala with points east to the Atlantic and west to the Gulf of Mexico. Greyhound bus line provides daily passenger and package express service. The Ocala Regional Airport is a general aviation facility that offers private and charter flight services, as well as a business aircraft terminal. This general aviation airport has expanded to include an FAA Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Training Facility and an emergency response driver's training center.


Belleview/South Marion Chamber of Commerce
5301 S.E. Abshier Blvd
Belleview, Florida 34420
Phone: 352-245-2178
Fax: 352-245-7673

Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce

Attractions & Other Information

Marion County has the same land area as the entire state of Rhode Island. For people who enjoy the outdoors, there are places to go and things to do all year round. Silver Springs is the largest artesian spring system (by flow) in the world and Florida's first tourist attraction. It contains evidence of prehistoric animals goes back more than a million years and evidence of man in the area more than 10,000 years ago. For more than a century the springs have been a tourist attraction with early visitors arriving by steamboat.

Throughout the year more than 250 civic clubs and organizations promote festivals celebrating the cultural variety of Marion County. Major annual events include: "God and Country Day"; the Chamber of Commerce's Christmas Parade; Ocali-Fest; Light-Up Ocala; Brick City Days commemorating the city's rebirth in red brick following a devastating fire; the McIntosh 1890 Festival; Boomtown Days in Dunnellon; Belleview Founder's Day and a number of smaller festivals and events. The importance of agriculture is recognized through other events such as the Southeastern Youth Fair; Florida Equestrian Classic; the Shriners' Rodeo, the Professional Pro Rodeo and many breed-specific horse shows annually.

Golfers may choose from 15 public, private and semi-private Marion County golf courses. One of the courses open to the public is Golden Ocala Golf & Country Club on US Highway 27, just west of I-75. What makes this course talked about in golfing circles are the eight special holes that have been designed to duplicate famous holes from Scotland's St. Andrews course, and the Masters Course in Augusta, Georgia.

Events such as rodeos, horse shows, the Southeastern Youth Fair, are held at either the newly remodeled and roofed Southeastern Livestock Pavilion which offers covered seating for 4,200 and an indoor arena, multi-purpose reception hall and 226 stalls; or the Ocala Equestrian Complex, across from the airport, which has a covered arena and seating for events.

For those interested in motorsports the Ocala Speedway, just north of Ocala, has racing every Saturday night. The Motorcross of Marion County is in Reddick; and the Hardrock Cycle Park on NW Gainesville Road, offers mountain bike trails, motocross tracks, and even camping.

The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing and International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, honoring the famous "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, contains a unique collection of classic cars and automobile memorabilia. Over 75 race cars and memorabilia from the early days of drag racing to the present are on display.

Nearly three-quarters of the Ocala National Forest is in Marion County. The Forest offers 383,000 acres of unique ecological sites, trails, natural springs. Hundreds of camping sites throughout the forest offer everything from full-service campgrounds to more rustic sites. The National Forest also has trails for horseback riding and is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Parks include Salt Springs and Salt Springs Trail, Fore Lake Recreational Area, Juniper Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and the Mill Dam Recreation Area. Fore Lake Recreation Area is a day use and camping area that is open year-round. A 250-foot sandy beach is adjacent to the 77-acre Fore Lake. Opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming and other water sports abound in a region covered by hundreds of fresh-water springs, lakes and the Silver, Rainbow, Ocklawaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers. Canoeing and kayaking the Juniper Run at Juniper Springs is a fun-filled trip for the entire family, with getting back made easy since the boats and their passengers are ferried back to their cars in the parking lot at the end of their day. The pure, clean waters of springs and spring-fed lakes and rivers are a dream come true for folks enjoying snorkeling and diving.

Just outside of Ocklawaha on Lake Weir is the 560 acre Carney Island Park which offers hiking, biking, swimming, picnicking and canoeing. Area lakes such as Orange, Jumper, George, Lake Weir and the Withlacoochee River are unequaled for bass fishing which is just one of the more than 100 species of fish to be found in the region's waterways.

Marion County's KP Hole Park, located on the Rainbow River in Dunnellon, has a sandy beach, a protected swimming area and picnic tables, as well as the rental of tubes, canoes and a public boat ramp. The length of the tubing trip may take up to four and one-half hours. The Rainbow River is only 5.8 miles long, and the main springs are one and one-half mile upriver from the KP Hole. The average water temperature is 72 to 74 degrees.

Attractions in the County

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This page was last updated on 19 August 2011 at 6:24 pm

This page was created 9 August 1999

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