Fountain of Youth
In popular legend, a fountain with the power of restoring youth. It was much sought after, and at one time was supposed to be in one of the Bahamas Islands, possibly Bimini.
As the story goes, Juan Ponce de León (1460-1521) — who had been with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 and who had later conquered and become governor of Puerto Rico — set out in search of the Fountain of Youth in 1513, after learning of the fable from the Indians of the Caribbean island. In the process of his search, de León discovered Florida.
But the story did not start with Ponce de León, nor was it unique to the New World. A Fountain or Well of Youth had appeared in the Alexander Romance, the Travels of Sir John Mandeville and writings related to Prester John long before. Explorers of the time had a habit of projecting onto newly-found places what they had read in books of fantastic travels, as demonstrated by the naming of Amazonia, the insistence that Ethiopia's king was Prester John, and the speculation that the Earthly Paradise was to be found in Asia, the Americas, or wherever its seekers happened to be looking.
Florida is home to the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park, created as a tribute to the city's illustrious history at the spot where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed. Though the fountain situated there is not "the" Fountain, this does not stop tourists from drinking its water.
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Steiger, Brad and Sherry Hansen, The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, Thomson Gale; (3) The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition Handy Volume Edition, Oxford University Press.
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