The prairie became the stronghold of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe under chief Ahaya the Cowkeeper in the 18th century. It is named for the Cowkeeper's eldest surviving son, Payne.
There have been times when the prairie's drainage became so blocked that it flooded, causing the formation of a lake. The most recent such occurrence was in 1871, and lasted until 1886. During this period, steamboats were a frequent sight on what was called Alachua Lake.
Read more about this topic: Paynes Prairie
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