Marion County, Florida

Marion County, Florida
Marion County
Ocala, FL, Courthouse, Marion County, South Side, 06-26-2010 (2).JPG
Marion County Courthouse in Ocala
Seal of Marion County, Florida
Map of Florida highlighting Marion County
Location in the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location in the U.S.
FoundedMarch 14, 1844
Named forFrancis Marion
Largest cityOcala
 o Total1,663 sq mi (4,307 km2)
 o Land1,585 sq mi (4,105 km2)
 o Water78 sq mi (202 km2), 4.7%
Population (est.)
 o (2017)354,353[1]
 o Density224/sq mi (86/km2)
Congressional districts2nd, 3rd, 11th
Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Marion County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 331,298.[2] Its county seat is Ocala.[3]

Marion County comprises the Ocala, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area. it includes part of Ocala National Forest, which also extends into three other counties.


Evidence of ancient cultures has been found in Marion County, as well as of the earliest encounter between European explorers and historic indigenous peoples. In 1976, an archaeological investigation found ancient artifacts in Marion County that appear to be the oldest in mainland United States. Excavations at an ancient stone quarry (on the Container Corporation of America site (8Mf154) in Marion County) yielded "crude stone implements". Thousands of pieces of chert were found at the site. These showed signs of extensive wear and were found in deposits below those holding Paleo-Indian artifacts. Thermoluminescence dating and weathering analysis independently gave dates of 26,000 to 28,000 Years Before Present (YBP) for the production of these artifacts, prior to Clovis points. The findings suggested human habitation in this area much earlier than documented by other evidence.[4] Barbara Purdy also had bipoint evidence from the CCA site which she reported in a 2008 paper.[5]

The county seat of Ocala, Florida is named for an Indian site visited and recorded by the Hernando de Soto Expedition in the sixteenth century. During the colonial period, Spain and Great Britain traded control of this area.

European-American settlement

After acquisition of the Florida territory by the United States in the 1820s, Marion County was created in 1844 from portions of Alachua, Mosquito (Orange), and Hillsborough counties. Until 1853, Marion County included most of what are now Lake and Sumter counties. In 1849, Putnam County was created and took the northeast portion of Marion. Levy County's creation took some of the western portion of Marion in 1877, near the end of the Reconstruction era.

Marion County is named after General Francis Marion of South Carolina, a guerrilla fighter and hero of the American Revolutionary War who was known as the "Swamp Fox".[6] Numerous early settlers of this area were natives of South Carolina and likely picked their local hero as the county's namesake.[7] The Act creating the county of Marion of the Territory of Florida was signed on March 14, 1844, by the territorial governor, R. K. Call. The county motto is "Kingdom of the Sun."

Post-Reconstruction era to mid-20th century

During the post-Reconstruction period, there was considerable racial violence by whites against blacks in Marion County; they exercised terrorism to re-establish and maintain white supremacy. Whites lynched 19 African Americans here from 1877-1950; most were killed around the turn of the 20th century. This was the 4th highest total of any county in the state.[8]

Mid-20th century to present

The rural area has been developed for breeding racehorses, and some farms have been quite successful. Since the mid-20th-century, thoroughbred farms in the county have become known for such race champions as Needles, bred at Bonnie Heath Farm, and in 1956 becoming the first Florida-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby; and Affirmed from Harbor View Farm. Carl G. Rose, who had come to Florida in 1916 from Indiana to oversee construction of the first asphalt road in the state, developed the first horse farm in 1943. As an engineer, he had become familiar with the area's limestone, which he realized supported good pasture for raising strong horses. (Limestone nurtures Kentucky's noted Bluegrass Region.) In 1943, Rose bought land along State Highway 200, at $10 per acre, which became Rosemere Farm. The next year one of his horses, Gornil, won at Miami's Tropical Park, becoming the first Florida-raised thoroughbred to win a Florida race.

Close on Rose's heels, entrepreneur Bonnie Heath set up his own thoroughbred farm, producing Needles, which in 1956 became the state's first native-bred winner of the Kentucky Derby. (see further below). Bonnie Heath Farm is owned and operated by Bonnie Heath III and his wife Kim. Rosemere Farm was sold long ago, and the large site was redeveloped for the retail center Paddock Mall and the College of Central Florida.

In 1956, the Ocala-area Thoroughbred industry received a boost when Needles became the first Florida-bred to win the Kentucky Derby. In 1978, Marion County-bred-and-raised Affirmed won the Triple Crown. Today, Marion County is a major world thoroughbred center with more than 1200 horse farms, including about 900 thoroughbred farms, totaling some 77,000 acres (310 km2). Ocala is well known as a "horse capital of the world."[9]


The nearby community of Silver Springs developed around the Silver Springs, a group of artesian springs on the Silver River. In the 19th century, this site became Florida's first tourist destination. Today, well known for glass-bottom boat tours of the area, Silver Springs is owned by the State of Florida and was incorporated into Silver Springs State Park in 2013.[10][11] Other nearby natural attractions include the Ocala National Forest and the Florida Trail. Several prominent man-made attractions in the Ocala area existed in the past, such as the Western-themed Six Gun Territory theme park (operated from 1963 to 1984) and the Wild Waters water park (operated from 1978 to 2016).


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,663 square miles (4,310 km2), of which 1,585 square miles (4,110 km2) is land and 78 square miles (200 km2) (4.7%) is water.[12]

Marion County is generally composed of rolling hills, some high and some low. The majority of its trees consist of live oaks, pine, and palm trees. Marion County is considered the southernmost county in North Central Florida, and the northernmost county in Central Florida.

It is about a two-hour drive from many of Florida's major cities, Orlando is 75 minutes to the southeast while Daytona Beach is about 90 minutes to the east. Tampa is about 75 minutes to the southwest. Jacksonville is roughly a two-hour drive northeast. Miami is about five hours to the southeast. Fort Lauderdale is about a four-hour drive from Marion County.

Marion County also has three large lakes at its opposite borders. Orange Lake is in the far northern part of Marion County, near the border with Alachua County. Lake Kerr is in the northeastern part of the county, near the town of Salt Springs, which is near the border with Putnam County. Lake Weir, the largest of the three, is in the far southern region near the border with Lake County. Part of Lake George is in Marion County also.

Marion County is inland, centered between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. Because of this, Marion County is not affected as much by hurricanes as the more coastal counties to its east and west. It has, however, been affected by major hurricanes within the historical record, including ones that would produce tremendous damage if they were to happen again. The second-greatest threat from tropical cyclones, both financial and in terms of life, is the threat created by fresh water flooding. Major winds above 100mph are possible from hurricanes in Marion County, but have not been recorded in modern times. However, tornadoes are a major threat to this region of the state. It takes a little less than an hour by car to get to the Gulf of Mexico from Marion County, while it takes about half an hour longer to get to the Atlantic Ocean.

Adjacent counties

National protected area


As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 258,916 people, 106,755 households, and 74,621 families residing in the county. The population density was 164 people per square mile (63/km²). There were 122,663 housing units at an average density of 78 per square mile (30/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.16% White, 11.55% Black or African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.69% from other races, and 1.44% from two or more races. 6.03% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. According to the 2000 Census the largest European ancestry groups in Marion County were English (18.7%), German (16.7%) and Irish (14.0%).

There were 106,755 households out of which 24.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.60% were married couples living together, 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.10% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the county, the population was spread out with 21.40% under the age of 18, 6.40% from 18 to 24, 23.80% from 25 to 44, 23.90% from 45 to 64, and 24.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 93.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,944, and the median income for a family was $37,473. Males had a median income of $28,836 versus $21,855 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,848. About 9.20% of families and 13.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.20% of those under age 18 and 7.40% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure

The Florida Department of Corrections operates facilities in unincorporated areas in the county, including the Lowell Correctional Institution and the Lowell Annex.[19][20] The annex houses Florida's female death row.[21]

Presidential elections results
Marion County presidential election results[22]
Year Republican Democratic Other
2016 61.30% 107,833 35.27% 62,041 3.43% 6,026
2012 57.53% 93,043 41.32% 66,831 1.15% 1,864
2008 55.14% 89,628 43.58% 70,839 1.28% 2,075
2004 58.19% 81,283 41.00% 57,271 0.80% 1,123
2000 53.55% 55,146 43.39% 44,674 3.06% 3,151
1996 45.92% 41,409 41.08% 37,045 13.00% 11,717
1992 40.74% 35,442 35.44% 30,829 23.82% 20,718
1988 66.38% 41,501 33.09% 20,685 0.53% 334
1984 69.97% 37,815 30.02% 16,225 0.01% 6
1980 58.49% 23,743 37.94% 15,400 3.57% 1,449
1976 47.99% 16,163 50.37% 16,963 1.64% 553
1972 78.18% 19,505 21.63% 5,397 0.18% 46
1968 32.66% 7,468 25.36% 5,798 41.98% 9,600
1964 54.42% 10,879 45.58% 9,112
1960 49.43% 7,043 50.57% 7,206
1956 50.99% 6,362 49.01% 6,114
1952 51.17% 6,134 48.83% 5,854
1948 22.43% 1,829 57.01% 4,650 20.56% 1,677
1944 22.68% 1,642 77.32% 5,597
1940 17.47% 1,297 82.53% 6,127
1936 14.01% 760 85.99% 4,664
1932 23.07% 962 76.93% 3,208
1928 49.75% 1,927 48.10% 1,863 2.14% 83
1924 17.25% 359 73.43% 1,528 9.33% 194
1920 31.57% 1,232 62.43% 2,436 6.00% 234
1916 19.50% 462 66.15% 1,567 14.35% 340
1912 10.87% 179 70.73% 1,165 18.39% 303
1908 22.05% 482 61.85% 1,352 16.10% 352
1904 15.84% 230 75.14% 1,091 9.02% 131

Law enforcement

  • Marion County Sheriff's Office[23]
  • Belleview Police Departments[24]
  • Dunnellon Police Departments[25]
  • Ocala Police Departments[26]


County public education is supervised under the Marion County School District.

Public school system

  • 28 elementary schools
  • 8 middle schools
  • 1 4-8 school
  • 1 K-8 center
  • 10 high schools
  • 3 charter schools
  • 14 special needs schools

Elementary schools

  • Anthony Elementary School
  • Belleview Elementary School
  • Belleview-Santos Elementary School
  • College Park Elementary School
  • Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary (magnet)
  • Dunnellon Elementary School
  • East Marion Elementary School
  • Eighth Street Elementary School
  • Emerald Shores Elementary School
  • Evergreen Elementary School
  • Fessenden Elementary School
  • Fort McCoy School (K-8)
  • Greenway Elementary School
  • Hammett Bowen Jr. Elementary School
  • Harbour View Elementary School
  • Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks (grades 5-8)
  • Katie Fay Elementary School
  • Legacy Elementary School
  • Madison Street Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (magnet)
  • Maplewood Elementary School
  • Oakcrest Elementary School
  • Ocala Springs Elementary School
  • Reddick-Collier Elementary School
  • Romeo Elementary School
  • Saddlewood Elementary School
  • Shady Hill Elementary School
  • South Ocala Elementary School
  • Sparr Elementary School
  • Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary School
  • Sunrise Elementary School
  • Ward-Highlands Elementary School
  • Wyomina Park Elementary School

Middle schools

  • Belleview Middle School
  • Dunnellon Middle School
  • Fort King Middle School
  • Fort McCoy School (K-8)
  • Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks (grades 4-8)
  • Howard Middle School
  • Lake Weir Middle School
  • Liberty Middle School
  • North Marion Middle School
  • Osceola Middle School

High schools

Private schools

  • Ambleside School Of Ocala, grades K-8[27]
  • Belleview Christian Academy, grades PK-9
  • Blessed Trinity School, grades K-9
  • Children's Palace East & Academy, grades K-2
  • The Cornerstone School, grades PK-8[28]
  • Crossroads Academy, grades 3-12
  • Grace Building Blocks School, grades K-2
  • Grace Christian School, grades PK-8
  • Meadowbrook Academy, grades K-12[29]
  • Montessori Preparatory School, grades K-5
  • New Generation School, grades K-12
  • Ocala Christian Academy, grades PK-12[30]
  • Ocean's High School, grades PK-12
  • Promiseland Academy, grades K-7
  • First Assembly Christian School, grades K-9[31]
  • The Reading Clinic, grades 2-6
  • Redeemer Christian School, grades K-9
  • The Rock Academy, grades PK-9
  • The School of the Kingdom, grades 1-12
  • Shiloh SDA Church School[32]
  • St John Lutheran School, grades PK-12
  • Trinity Catholic, grades 9-12


The Marion County Public Library System has eight branches. The system also has two bookmobiles that have routes throughout the county on weekdays.

Headquarters - Ocala
2720 E. Silver Springs Blvd.
Ocala, FL 34470

13145 SE Highway 484
Belleview, FL 34420

20351 Robinson Road
Dunnellon, FL 34431

905 S. Highway 314A
Ocklawaha, FL 32179

5870 SW 95th St.
Ocala, FL 34476

Ft. McCoy
14660 NE Highway 315
Ft. McCoy, FL 32134

Marion Oaks
294 Marion Oaks Lane
Ocala, FL 34473

15150 NW Gainesville Road
Reddick, FL 32686



Interstates and expressways

  • I-75.svg Interstate 75 runs north and south across the central part of the county, with interchanges at County Road 484 (exit 341), SR 200 (exit 350) SR 40 (exit 352), US 27 (exit 354) SR 326 (exit 358), and CR 318 (exit 368).

Surface roads

  • US 41.svg US 41 runs north and south through Dunnellon and the southwestern corner of the county.
  • US 27.svg US 27 runs northwest and southeast throughout the county. It is multiplexed with US 441 north from the Lake-Marion County line and then with US 301 from Belleview, until it reaches SR 492 in Ocala, then runs northwest through Williston, Perry, Tallahassee, and beyond.
  • US 301.svg US 301 is the main local north and south road through the county entering from the northern outskirts of Wildwood in Sumter County. It joins a multiplex with US 27 between Belleview and Ocala, and with US 441 from Belleview to Sparr. From there it runs northeast towards Citra and eastern Alachua County.
  • US 441.svg US 441 runs mostly northwest and southeast throughout the county. It is multiplexed with US 441 north from the Lake-Marion County line and then with US 301 into Sparr, where it runs northwest again into McIntosh and Evinston, before crossing the Marion-Alachua County Line on its way to Gainesville, High Springs, Lake City, and points north.
  • Florida 19.svg SR 19 runs north and south along the far eastern edge of the county in Ocala National Forest, which includes the communities of Astor Park and Salt Springs.
  • Florida 25.svg SR 25 is a south-to-north interrupted route that enters the county from Lake County as a bi-county route around Lake Weir. The route briefly becomes a state route between SR 35 and US 27-301-441, and spends the rest of its journey through the county as a "hidden state road" of US 441.
  • Florida 35.svg SR 35 enters the county as a hidden state road along US 301, then turns southeast along US 27-441 in Belleview before turning back north again onto Baseline Road, where it runs until reaching SR 40 in Silver Springs. The route continues as County Road 35 until it reaches SR 326.
  • Florida 40.svg SR 40 is the main west to east road in the county, spanning from US 41 north of Dunnellon, then passing through Ocala, Silver Springs, and Ocala National Forest, crossing the Marion-Lake County line just east of SR 19.
  • Florida 200.svg SR 200 runs northeast and southwest from Stoke's Ferry in Citrus County through US 27-301-441 in Ocala where it becomes a hidden state road along US 301 throughout most of the state further north.
  • Florida 326.svg SR 326 is a bi-county west-to-east road running from Gulf Hammock Wildlife Management Area in Levy County through I-75 where it becomes a state road north of Ocala that turns southeast towards SR 40 in Silver Springs.
  • Florida 464.svg SR 464 runs east and west from SR 200 through the southeastern part of Ocala running along some numbered streets before becoming Maricamp Road, then turns into a county road southeast of SR 35, and continues towards the northern coast of Lake Weir in Ocklawaha.

Public surface transportation

Local bus service is provided by SunTran.[34]


Marion County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic
2016 61.3% 107,833 35.3% 62,041
2012 57.5% 93,043 41.3% 66,831
2008 55.1% 89,628 43.6% 70,839
2004 58.2% 81,283 41.0% 57,271
2000 55.6% 55,146 43.4% 44,674
1996 45.9% 41,409 41.1% 37,045
1992 40.5% 35,442 35.4% 30,829
1988 66.4% 41,501 33.1% 20,685
1984 70.0% 37,815 30.0% 16,225
1980 58.5% 23,743 37.9% 15,400
1976 48.0% 16,163 50.4% 16,963
1972 78.2% 19,505 21.6% 5,397
1968 32.7% 7,468 25.4% 5,798
1964 54.4% 10,879 45.6% 9,112
1960 49.4% 7,043 50.6% 7,206

Since 1980 Marion County has become a solidly Republican county.




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011.
  4. ^ Barbara A. Purdy, "Investigations into the Use of Chert Outcrops by Prehistoric Floridians: The Container Corporation of America Site", Florida Anthropologist, Vol. 34, No. 2, June 1981, pp. 90-
  5. ^ Wm Jack Hranicky, Bipoints Before Clovis: Trans-Oceanic Migrations and Settlement of Prehistoric Americas, Universal-Publishers, 2012, p. 225
  6. ^ Publications of the Florida Historical Society. Florida Historical Society. 1908. p. 33.
  7. ^ Pyle, Nancy (May 14, 1987). "County's history reflected in its names". Ocala Star-Banner. pp. 8A. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ Lynching in America/ Supplement: Lynchings by County, 3rd Edition, 2015, p.2
  9. ^ "The Horse Capital of the World". Retrieved 2013.
  10. ^ Thompson, Bill. "State lets Palace Entertainment out of Silver Springs lease". Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ Stone, Rick (January 24, 2013). "Silver Springs, Oldest Florida Tourist Attraction, Will Become A State Park". WLRN. Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014.
  15. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014.
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011.
  19. ^ "Lowell Correctional Institution Archived February 28, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.." Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 31, 2010.
  20. ^ "Lowell Annex Archived August 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.." Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 31, 2010.
  21. ^ "Death Row Fact Sheet Archived August 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.." Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
  22. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2018.
  23. ^ Marion County Sheriff's Office
  24. ^ Belleview Police Departments
  25. ^ Dunnellon Police Departments
  26. ^ Ocala Police Departments
  27. ^ "A living education". Archived from the original on December 14, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  28. ^ "Home". December 8, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  29. ^ "Meadowbrook Academy : Home". Retrieved 2015.
  30. ^ "Home -- Ocala Christian Academy". Retrieved 2015.
  31. ^ "Ocala First Assembly of God -- An A/G Church in North Central Florida -- Ocala, FL". Retrieved 2015.
  32. ^ "Shiloh SDA Church School : Home". Retrieved 2015.
  33. ^ Marion County Airport
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 13, 2010. Retrieved 2013.
  35. ^

External links

Coordinates: 29°13?N 82°04?W / 29.21°N 82.06°W / 29.21; -82.06

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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