The Life Of Ed

Ed Watts lives at Lily Springs located of the Santa Fe River near High Springs. He lives in a palmetto-thatched hut. Watts says he prefers his life as a hermit rather than city-life.

Watts, 50, has lived at Lily Springs for the last 15 years. When he first found the spring in 1984, it was covering in trash. Watts found the owner and asked him if he could clean it up and swim in it, naked.

Watts was called the springs' caretaker, and was given a 20-year no-payment lease. He first began staying at Lily Springs only a few days a week in a tent. After about a year he began staying full-time. He built a grass-hut on the ground, but flooding caused him to build a new hut on stilts.

Watts has also become more modern over the years; he has a telephone and electricity. He uses the phone for emergencies and to keep in touch with the canoe outpost to keep track of canoers on the river.

Watts has become what he calls "a tourist attraction" because many people canoe to see him. When people are around he wears a loincloth to be polite. Other times he is naked. Even though he lives alone; he always likes to talk with visitors.

Watts was born in Lake City, and was born with "brittle-bone disease." He has broken many of his bones, including legs and hips, and is on government disability because of the disease.

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