LONGWOOD, Fla. – If you’ve ever driven through Longwood along Interstate 4, there’s a good chance you passed by this spot without ever even realizing it.
Nestled in the woods near Markham Woods Road is a historic spring with a long history.
The “Ginger Ale Spring” — as nearby residents like to call it — was once the property of the Beemans, a wealthy family that lived in Florida during the 1900s.
According to local historian Jason Byrne, the story behind the spring stems back to the 1880s, when Dr. Edward Beeman discovered a cure for upset stomachs.
Find every episode of Florida Foodie on YouTube:
Beeman eventually used his research to create “Beeman’s Pepsin Chewing Gum,” which ended up being a huge success for his startup, the Beeman Chemical Company.
Beeman later sold the company, making him and his family extraordinarily wealthy.
His son Harry was living in Orlando with a wife and two children: Edwin and Lester. The family made even more money through ventures like real estate in Winter Park and the San Juan hotel in downtown Orlando.
Lester eventually came of age and went into real estate, making his fortune by investing in an area of land near Longwood called Palm Springs, which grew to become a “go-to spot” for weekend getaways for Central Florida residents, Byrne explains.
With all of the success the family was seeing, the Beeman Investment Company announced in 1924 that it would set up a bottling plant built at a smaller spring north of Palm Springs — the Ginger Ale Spring, as it would come to be known.
The company claimed that its beverages — Beeman’s Palm Springs Water and Beeman’s Palm Springs Ginger Ale — would put even Coca-Cola to shame, though little evidence exists that distribution made it past the I-4 corridor, according to Byrne.
“The water and ginger ale products were carried by most local druggists and independent grocers, as well as emerging chains such as United Markets grocery, with four stores in Orlando alone and 34 total (all in the Tampa Bay and Orlando area),” Byrne writes.
Less than a year later, production at the plant stopped, and the Beemans pursued other ventures.
While the plant is no longer there, the Ginger Ale Spring still sits with a large stone tub collecting water and faded green paint. The tub has a small opening in it, which creates a small stream that feeds into the nearby Little Wekiva River.
News 6 visited the area with county officials on Tuesday to explore the site. The most apparent feature of the spring is the strong odor of sulfur, which can be smelled from a short distance away.
The property is situated both on county-owned and private lands, meaning that residents aren’t allowed to explore the area on their own without permission.
Several objects were left at the site, including a small statue and a few decorations.
Deputies said that a woman was found dead near the spring back in 2020. A local resident told News 6 that offerings are left near the spring by her family.
That resident also said he regularly visits the spring to bathe and was even baptized there.
According to Byrne, some springs like this throughout Florida have spiritual or religious reputations associated with them.
“The belief in the curing power of Florida water and sulfur springs in particular was very prevalent, even up until recent decades...” Byrne said. “For a few, it was some spiritual power of this water from the earth. But I think most of them it was less religious/spiritual and more just viewed as a natural cure from the minerals and other goodness that sprang from the depths.”
Despite the “No Trespassing” signs placed around the area, law enforcement and county officials have said that trespassers have been a large concern for this area. News 6 found piles of garbage littered throughout the woods, indicating that people had been there recently.
However, county officials have said that the area is prone to flooding and can be a dangerous trek, cautioning locals to keep off the property for their own safety.
The spring is situated on a property line shared by Seminole County and a private landowner. The County’s section contains drainage and utility easements that are not publicly accessible. The exact location of the spring is not disclosed to keep residents safe and prevent trespassing.Seminole County Public Communications Coordinator Ally Linville
For more information on the Beemans and the background of the spring, you can visit Byrne’s Florida History Blog by clicking here.
Interested in more weird stories about Central Florida? Click here.
Check out the Florida Foodie podcast. You can find every episode in the media player below: