The history of Santa Rosa began long before the boundaries were set and the county was officially recognized in 1842.
From the earliest settlers to the lumber boom to its role as a railroad stop along the wilds of the turn-of-the-century Gulf Coast, Milton’s history has been closely tied to the history of the nation, the area’s rich natural resources, agriculture and industry.
Explore all of these facets of Santa Rosa history at a series of events ranging from lectures and tours to live demonstrations, reenactments of past events and hands-on family activities.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of all the great history that is right in their own backyard,” said Karen Harrell, coordinator for the annual Beaches to Woodlands Tour, which is sponsored by the Tourist Development Council and promotes a variety of events in Santa Rosa County every October.
“These events are an amazing opportunity to get the kids outside, have some fun and learn about the area,” Harrell said.
The popular history events have the ripple effect of introducing people to other Santa Rosa opportunities, such as camping, museums and even downtown shopping, she added. “They also draw history buffs from across the region to downtown Milton and the other events, showcasing everything we have to offer in Santa Rosa County.”
“We have a rich history downtown and across the county – from the north end down to the beaches,” she said. “Why get in the car for hours when we have it all right here?”
“Secrets of Santa Rosa Archeology & History in Your Own Backyard” Lecture Series
Saturdays in October
5709 Mill Pond Lane, Milton
“Secrets of Santa Rosa Archeology & History in Your Own Backyard” is a lecture series exploring the history and lasting historical impact of The Arcadia Mill Site.
The Arcadia Mill complex in Milton was Florida’s largest antebellum industrial complex. The lecture series will explore the role the site played in the formative years of Santa Rosa County, the area’s ties to shipbuilding, the nearby Scott Site where many of the area’s bricks were manufactured, and the diverse population that worked together not only at the Arcadia site but to build the community. After the lectures, guided tours will be available, or visitors can explore on their own.
The weekend lecture series events are presented by the University of West Florida, the Florida Public Archeology Network, West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc., and Arcadia Mill.
- Oct. 6: Dr. Brian Rucker, Pensacola State College “Arcadia: Its Significance in West Florida and the Old South”
- Oct. 13: Lindsey Cochran, UWF Archeology Student “High-Tech Archeology at Arcadia Mill’s Simpson Lot”
- Oct. 20: Marisa Foster, UWF Archeology Grad Student “Paradox on the Blackwater: Preliminary Investigations of the Swingbridge Wreck Site”
- Oct. 27: Dr. Richard Lewis, Bagdad Village Preservation Association “Slavery and Women in America.”
For more information, visit www.flpublicarchaeology.org.
Santa Rosa County History Museum
Saturdays in October – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
5234 Willing Street, Downtown Milton
Explore Santa Rosa County’s rich history and the ongoing effort by area volunteers to preserve and protect area treasures including the Imogene Theater which has undergone extensive renovations after a 2009 fire. For more information call(850) 623-9866 or visit www.santarosahistoricalsociety.com.
Depot Days at the L&N Depot West Florida Railroad Museum
Oct. 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
5003 Henry Street, Milton
For more than 20 years, the Depot Days Celebration has brought Santa Rosa’s history to life with model trains, arts, live music and historical demonstrations.
The Museum occupies the L&N Milton combination freight and passenger depot that was built in 1907-09 on the site of the original 1882 P&A depot. Visitors can view and tour several vintage train cars, including the L&N Dining Car 2722, two former Pullman sleeper cars, renovated into L&N baggage-dormitory cars, two cabooses, an L&N box car and L&N flat car. Outbuildings include a bridge tender’s house from the Escambia Bay trestle and a section shed with motor car.
The museum, including the train cars, will be open and three different scale model trains will be running throughout the property. For more information, visit www.wfrm.org.
Munson Community Heritage Festival
Oct 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m
Krul Recreation Area, Blackwater River State Forest
History comes alive in Blackwater River State Forest with the Munson Community Heritage Festival featuring exhibits, living history demonstrations, bluegrass & gospel music.
Visitors will have a chance to see live local wildlife and dozens of demonstrations throughout the event including cow milking, cane syrup making, wood stove cooking, plowing with a mule, food preserving, quilting, bee keeping, basket making, blacksmithing, Native American displays, antique gas engines, cars, and farm equipment. Visitors can also get information about local hunting and fishing. Cost is $5 per vehicle.
For more information, visit www.munsonheritagefestival.com.