Updated January 19, 2021
Alachua County is in North Central Florida and has an estimated population of 269,043. This ranks it 23rd largest of Florida's 67 counties. The county seat is Gainesville.
The county was founded in 1824 and named for a Seminole-Creek Indian word, "luchuwa." The name means jug, as in a jug of water.
The jug referred to was a large depression in the ground a few miles southeast of the present location of Gainesville.
The county was formed while Florida was still a territory, and its border stretched from the Georgia state line south to Charlotte Harbor near Punta Gorda.
As Florida's population grew over the years, many new counties were formed from the original Alachua County.
The early settlers of the county - and many of their descendants today - pronounce the county name "lotch away." It confused me when I first showed up at the University of Florida many years ago.
ALACHUA has a population of almost 10,000, It was founded in 1884 as a stop on the railroad. The City of Alachua Downtown Historic District contains 102 historic buildings.
ARCHER has a population of about 1,200. It dates back to the 1840s when it was a frontier village known as Deer Hammock. The town was renamed after James T. Archer, Florida's first Secretary of State. Bo Diddley of rock n roll fame had a home in Archer.
CROSS CREEK is a quiet community between Lake Lochloosa and Orange Lake. It was the home of famous writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the current location of the historic Yearling Restaurant. Learn more about Cross Creek.
GAINESVILLE is the largest city in Alachua County with a population of 134,000. It is home to the University of Florida which has a student enrollment of 52,000. In addition to UF and Santa Fe College, the city has a large park system, many historic districts, modern shopping centers, hospitals, and all the amenities of other cities of its size. Learn more about Gainesville.
HAWTHORNE has a population of about 1,500 and was incorporated in 1881. The area is known as a center of agriculture and a rural lifestyle.
HIGH SPRINGS was settled in the 1830s and the town began to prosper when the Savannah, Florida & Western Railway came through town. The town also prospered with phosphate mining. It is in the center of "Spring" country, and a lot of outfitters operate in the town. Learn more about High Springs.
ISLAND GROVE is an unincorporated community on US Highway 301 not far from Cross Creek. It is a quiet place and home to Island Grove Wine Company that specializes in blueberry wines.
LACROSSE has a population of about 400 and is in the northern part of Alachua County. The town was incorporated in 1897 and is in an agricultural region known as the "Potato District."
LOCHLOOSA is a very small unincorporated community on U.S. Highway 301 on the eastern shore of Lockloosa Lake. The local post office was established in 1881. The name may have derived from the Indian word "luski" for terrapin, and "lusa" for black, so "black terrapin."
MELROSE was settled in the late 1800s and was named after Melrose Abbey in Scotland. The town prospered in the citrus industry, but was devasted by the Great Freezes of 1894 and 1895. The town today has many well preserved Victorian era homes and buildings. Learn more about Melrose.
MICANOPY is a town of about 600 and is reportedly the oldest continously occupied community in interior Florida. Is has a downtown historic district located on the National Register of Historic places. The town has a few antique stores and restaurants. Learn more about Micanopy.
NEWBERRY is a town of about 6,000. It was founded as a phosphate and railroad town in the late 1800s. The city's historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places and has many well preserved historic buildings. Learn more about Newberry.
ORANGE HEIGHTS is a neighborhood at the intersection of US Highway 301 and State Road 26. In the 1890s it had a population of 300 with a school, church, sawmill, hotel, stores and other businesses.
ROCHELLE was founded in the 1830s and was an early railroad town. Citrus was important in the area, and the early town prospered until the Great Freezes of 1894-1895.
WINDSOR was settled by English cotton planters in 1846 who named it for the town in England. The town prospered during the good times in the citrus industry, but began to decline after the Great Freezes of 1894 and 1895.