In 1955, Sam Herron Jr. and his father-in-law Fred Daley bought Warm Mineral Springs and about 1,000 acres of surrounding cattle pasture. Flowing from an underwater cave in North Port, the springs maintain a year-round temperature of 87 degrees, and many people swear the water heals arthritis and other ailments. Herron wasn't convinced the water was anything special, but he became a believer the day of his first visit, when the seller slathered some of the spring's warm black mud on his sore neck and instantly his pain disappeared.
For the next 44 years Herron managed the springs as well as his Sam H. Herron Jr. Inc. Real Estate, which developed Warm Mineral Springs, now home to 1,000 people. He also witnessed divers discover evidence of early man and saber tooth cats on cave ledges deep under the surface. Herron, now 78 and still in great shape, sold the springs two years ago, but he keeps his office on site and still soaks in the water. He thinks Warm Mineral Springs is Ponce de Leon's legendary Fountain of Youth. "I'm still here after all these years," he points out.