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History of Thonotosassa

The name Thonotosassa comes from the Seminole-Creek words thlonto and sasse, meaning the place was a source of valuable flint.  When Fort Brooke in present day Tampa was founded in 1824, a road was built connecting it and Fort King in Ocala which ran northwest of Lake Thonotosassa.  Despite this, the presence of a Seminole village largely prevented whites from moving into the area. Following the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842, however, whites began to settle.

In 1893, the Tampa and Thonotosassa Railroad opened a 13-mile route between the two growing communities. This line today no longer extends into Thonotosassa, its northern tracks having been removed along with the town depot by the 1980s; but its southern portion remains a busy industrial spur, joining with the CSX main line at Neve Wye.

Some of this areas rich history is evident at the Hillsborough River State Park (15402 U.S. 301 North , Thonotosassa, FL 33592   Phone: 813-987-6771). The park’s history shows that human activities date back to prehistoric times when native peoples hunted, fished and foraged along the river’s flood plain. The river was named in the late 1700s when Wills Hills-the British Colonial Secretary and Lord Earl of Hillsborough was given jurisdiction over the area and sent surveyors to report on the new colony.

After Florida became a United States Territory, settlers migrated into the newly opened land which created conflict with the resident Seminole tribes. The U.S. government’s plan to transport the Seminoles west to Oklahoma sparked the beginning of the Second Seminole War. In 1835, Fort Alabama was built to protect the bridge over the Hillsborough River on the trail from Fort King (Ocala) to Fort Brooke (Tampa). The fort was abandoned a few months later and destroyed by fire. Fort Foster was built on the same site in the winter of 1836, where visitors can today experience the reconstructed fort.

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established the area surrounding the river rapids as a public park. Many park structures and the suspension bridge are examples of the CCC style of rustic architecture, designed to be in harmony with the natural environment.

The park’s most unusual natural feature is a series of rapids created by the river as it flows over outcroppings of Suwannee limestone. Cypress swamps, pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks are distinctive features. Commonly seen animals include gopher tortoises, woodpeckers, owls, bobcats and deer.

Thonotosassa is located at (28.056135, -82.292663).  Thonotosassa is an unincorporated census-designated place in Hillsborough County, Florida, United States. The population was 6,091 at the 2000 census. Other recreation areas include the Morris Bridge Road area and its Nature's Classroom.