The Bagdad Mill Site Park, a grassy space on the bank of Blackwater River and Pond Creek, has been named a Florida Heritage Site, an honor awarded to only six locations in Santa Rosa County.
A large, black plaque describing the birth of this lumber mill community and its significance during the Civil War stands tall beside the water. At its foot, a marble slab credits the Blackwater Pirates for footing the $2,200 bill to make the recognition possible.
But the historical significance of this spot has not always been easy to see, and without the combined voice of the community, it might never have become an asset to the community.
County Special Projects/Grants Coordinator Sheila Fitzgerald said this location was once a pain in the side of the community.
“This property about 20 years ago was operated as a concrete plant, so industrial use, not friendly to the environment,” Fitzgerald said. “The community of Bagdad really struggled with having them as a neighbor because they didn’t take care of the property they dumped stuff in the water. For years, some of these community members showing up to protest or talk to the Environmental Protection Agency about what they were doing or going to the board of county commissioners saying don’t approve this permit.”
The state finally took the company to court and the property was donated to the state as part of the case settlement.
Read the full article in the June 23 issue of Navarre Press. Click HERE to subscribe online to your community newspaper.