Radioactive Fountain of Youth - Atlas Obscura

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Radioactive Fountain of Youth

Punta Gorda, Florida

Some believe Ponce de León's mystical spring lurks right under a public drinking fountain.  

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In 1513, Ponce de León set off for what is now Florida to find the mythical Fountain of Youth. The Spanish explorer claimed to have heard whispers about a spring that could grant eternal life. While his quest is unsuccessful, some locals in Punta Gorda believe that his object of obsession was right here all along. 

Word got around in the 1920s that the water from this unassuming fountain could help keep old-age at bay. For years, collagen-craving visitors wore the tap out every six months. Sixty years later, when the EPA tested the sulfurous-smelling water, they found that it contained double the acceptable level of radioactivity. Officials tried to shut it down, but locals weren’t having it. Today, travelers can still swing by for a swig of mineral-rich water—no matter how inadvisable it might be. 

Know Before You Go

As the sign next to the fountain reads, “Use Water at Your Own Risk.”


Located at the corner of Marion and Taylor, across from Coldwell Bank.

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