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As histories go, Lithia’s is rather interesting, if not somewhat confusing. According to rather sketchy written accounts, two bands of settlers arrived mere yards from each other at precisely the same time, and laid claim to their own humble bit of land. Unbeknownst to the other group, each named their stake, Lithium—sadly, the why and how have been lost through the passage of time. Because the two like-named places were wreaking chaos on travelers searching for the proper Lithium, it was decided to have a bare-knuckles, winner-take-all brawl between the two settlements. Although the fight was furious, it was also futile, as the two bands fought to a draw. Ultimately, the denizens of each agreed that diplomacy was probably far less painful, and eventually a compromise was struck. The two villages agreed to merge into one settlement, and not wanting to sacrifice the name of their respective small places entirely, they named the new place Lithia. This ensured that the histories and names of the two former settlements would remain forever sacrosanct, the latter, if only in the plural form. Also, this was one of the first documented Battle of the Bands (you had to have seen that coming!) in recorded history.
The community of Lithia is located about 18 miles east southeast of Tampa in Hillsborough County. Its name is actually derived from the discovery of lithium in the waters of a spring, Lithia Spring Major, around the year 1900. Lithia’s history abounds with settlements by numerous Native American tribes, and agriculture, saw mills, and phosphate mining. In 1848, James Alderman created a ford on the Alafia River on the site of present-day Alderman’s Ford Park. Combined with Lithia Springs State Park and the C.W. Bill Young Reservoir, the recreational opportunities are nearly limitless, and the natural beauty of the community, resplendent.
Lithia has benefited from the development efforts that began in the late-1990s at FishHawk Ranch, a planned community composed of several distinct villages built over 3,000 acres. It contains several public common areas including Park Square Town Center, the Lake House, the Palmetto Club clubhouse, the Osprey Club, the Aquatic Center, biking and walking trails, community swimming pools, gym facilities, tennis courts, lakes, and ponds. Two of these communities, Channing Park and the Enclave at Channing Park, are located within the FishHawk area of Lithia. Private amenities include a skateboard park, a playground with picnic facilities, dog park, a half-basketball court, soccer field, an amenities center with a fitness area, pirate splash zone, and a resort style pool with spa.
FishHawk draws its name from Little Fish Hawk Creek, a tributary of the Alafia River just west of Lithia Springs. The area was transformed by development, with the population growing over 700%, from under 2,000 to 14,087 in the 2010 census, while the median household income also increased dramatically. Two communities, Starling at FishHawk and The Preserve were previously an undeveloped wildlife habitat. The Florida Green Building Coalition named FishHawk a “green” community—the first in Hillsborough County, and the largest in the Tampa area. In 2003, the National Arbor Day Foundation honored the FishHawk community preservation efforts.
So, despite its small size, Lithia really is worth fighting over. Except any confrontation today would probably be more likely resolved by a more civilized bare-knuckle, winner-take-all chess match, or maybe a no-holds-barred heated game of Monopoly. Or, perhaps, touched by a sense of nostalgia, they would simply rely on a latter-day Battle of the Bands—you know, the type of bands that use musical instruments.
Oh, one last thing, especially for all of you literary junkies: Lithia is the closest community to the coordinates listed as the launch site by Jules Verne in his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon.