Closing Reception and Gallery Talk for
"Vote Okaloosa" history exhibit at the
Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida,
Saturday, January 19 at 10:30 a.m.
"Vote Okaloosa", a local history exhibit at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida will have a Closing Reception and Gallery Talk by Supervisor of Elections, Paul Lux on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. The exhibit, featuring interactive voting equipment and documents from the archives of the Okaloosa County Elections office, contains items dating back as early as 1917. Bring your family and friends for this unique exhibit and presentation. There will be refreshments, door prizes and special giveaways for children. This gallery talk is free and open to the public.
Vote Okaloosa Exhibit Closing Reception and Gallery Talk
Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
||Free and open to the public
||Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida
||115 Westview Ave., Valparaiso
to the Top
spear points, a black iron wash pot, crosscut saws, turpentine
collection cups, a porcelain pitcher, lumber mill tokens, and
old school desks portray the history of Okaloosa and Walton
Counties. These artifacts, and hundreds more spanning the years
from 8,800 B.C. to the present, illustrate past ways of life
for you and your family to enjoy. Stone tools and weapons chipped
by Paleo-Archaic hunters (our first residents) are on display.
Pottery shards from the Woodland Period show you the ingenuity
of pottery construction and decoration.
The Humble Mullet
the Birth of an
Nature has supplied the basic factors leading to the modern-day fishing industry of Okaloosa and Walton Counties. The De Soto Canyon, located south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the most significant geological features in the Gulf. This deep underwater canyon splits through the continental shelf and comes near to shore. It is this nearby patch of deep water that allows a wide variety of deep-sea fish to range close to shore, and this is a fundamental reason for Destin's modern-day deep-sea fishing industry -- easy access to deep water.
Ancient Indians were the first to take advantage of the plentiful seafood in the Choctawhatchee Bay region. Among the bay, river, the Sound, and the Gulf, there were many varieties of seafood for the first inhabitants to consume. Oysters especially were popular, and the tons of oyster shell middens left behind by these first fishermen bear testimony to this fact. All across the Choctawhatchee Bay region, these piles of oyster shells mark Indian camps and settlements.
It was in the antebellum period that the first Anglo settlers came to the region, and they formed the nucleus of a fishing industry that continues to grow to this present day. New England fishermen in the early 1800s first discovered the ample fish and shellfish of the region. One of the most influential of these early fishermen was Captain Leonard Destin who began a settlement on Moreno Point near East pass. Destin (1813-1884) was a native of New London, Connecticut. Like many other New England fishermen of the early 1800s, Destin began journeying to the Gulf of Mexico for seasonal fishing trips. Sometime around 1840, Captain Destin came to the Choctawhatchee Bay area and eventually decided to settle there permanently. Destin married South Carolina native Martha J. McCollum, built a New England style cottage at Moreno Point, and the two began raising a family. Other fishermen settled at Moreno Point (present-day Destin), and a small fishing community developed along the bluffs which overlook East Pass. Destin and these early fishermen seined fish from Choctawhatchee Bay, Five Mile Bayou (now Cinco Bayou) and the Gulf. Using smacks, yawls, and schooners, the fishermen took their catches to markets in Pensacola. By the 1850s, the East Pass fishermen were fishing all along the Gulf Coast and were marketing their catches as far away as Mobile and New Orleans.
These fishermen continued to ply their trade through the late 1800s and early 1900s, becoming one of the most significant fishing communities on the west coast of Florida. By the 1950s as commercial development increased, and the population began to swell, the modernized fishing fleet became more commercially successful.
The Destin Deep Sea Fishing Rodeos were created, and the community became by the mid to late 1900s a resort area and a favorite destination of deep-sea fishermen from around the country. This tradition continues to this day. Despite the rise of condominiums and burgeoning populations, the Destin and Choctawhatchee Bay region still has a thriving commercial fleet of fishermen, many who are descended from the original settlers of the antebellum period. The fishing heritage of the Destin area is one of the rich historical legacies of northwest Florida.
Dr. Brian R. Rucker
Professor of History
Pensacola Junior College/University of West Florida
new permanent exhibit has been completed in the lobby
of the Heritage Museum. This full wall mural, created
by Cynthia Fisher and Kristen
Rybka, features images pertaining to local
and regional history and marks the starting point for
guided museum tours. Visit the Museum and see this vibrant
representation of our past.
Crestview Depot exhibit evokes the early days of railroading in
northwest Florida and draws attention to the railroad's
tremendous impact on the region. When it opened in 1883,
the Crestview Depot served the Pensacola & Atlantic
Railroad. Then, from 1891 on, it served the Louisville
& Nashville (L&N) Railroad. Our exhibit includes
portions of the depot built in 1905 as well as artifacts
salvaged when it was torn down in 1974.
opening of the Pensacola & Atlantic railroad through the
Panhandle in 1883 was a milestone in Northwest Florida's transformation
from frontier to civilization. The
arrival of a second railroad about 20 years later made Cottondale
[in Jackson County] a crossroads in the vast network of American
to West, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad bought the
Pensacola & Atlantic and linked with other railroads to
form a transcontinental route from Jacksonville to Los Angeles.
to South, the Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay—nicknamed
"The Bay Line"—connected Panama City to the
Central of Georgia railroad at Dothan, Alabama.
the heyday of railroad travel, daily passenger trains linked
Northwest Florida to New Orleans, Jacksonville, and Atlanta
directly and to the rest of the United States through connections.
The streamliner era arrived in 1949 when the L&N and the
Seaboard Air Line railroads introduced the Gulf Wind from Jacksonville
to New Orleans with numerous stops along the Panhandle, including
Crestview. The Museum has extensive artifacts from the Crestview
trains carrying political candidates and other VIPs sometimes
caused local excitement, and occasionally the Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey circus train passed through en route
to and from its home base in Sarasota. Railroads
made their profits on freight service. Millions of tons of timber
and farm products from the Florida Panhandle departed by rail.
Raw materials and finished goods from elsewhere arrived by train.
the L&N and Seaboard are part of the CSX railroad, which
still has a line through the Panhandle. The Bay Line is still
a thriving shortline. And, after a 22-year interruption, passenger
train service returned in 1993 in the form of Amtrak's Sunset
Limited from Orlando to Los Angeles.
Museum would like to thank Jeff Wilson of Nashville (www.hermitage.com)
for this article.
Jeff began his life-long love of railroads while watching
the trains from the front porch
of his grandparents' store in Chattahoochee (Gadsden County).