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Northwest FloridaFlorida: The March of Progress
Few people realize the vast distances within the boundaries of Florida. From the Georgia border to Key West is 550 miles and from Jacksonville to Pensacola is 400 miles. This may not mean much to you, but when we say that Pensacola is closer to Chicago than to Key West via Jacksonville, you will get an idea of the magnitude of the task of road-building in Florida.
In spite of this, few states possess such an excellent highway system. Fine paved roads extend the length and breadth of the state. A good example is the Old Spanish Trail (Florida Route I) from the Alabama border through Pensacola to Jacksonville. This four hundred miles is well paved and traverses the pleasing country of North and Northwest Florida.
The expression "Northwest Section" embraces all Florida territory west of the historic Suwannee River, which has its source in Georgia and flows southwestward into the Gulf of Mexico.
Along the Gulf coast from Pensacola to the mouth of the Suwannee are a number of progressive ports and resort towns. In this back-country along the Gulf coast are sections primeval as when the Red Man roamed its glades and swamps.
Bear, deer, and wild turkey abound and wildcats are numerous. Quail and dove shooting is excellent and there are many squirrels and other small game. Fresh-water fishing is superb, while the waters of the Gulf and its bays furnish many a thrill to the seeker after big fish. Except for the level reaches along the Gulf, most of northwest Flori dais rolling land, with some considerable hills.
Lumber and naval stores are produced in great quantities and agricultural products are many in variety and quantity. Many berries, watermelons, grapes, Satsuma oranges, garden truck, etc., are produced. Some counties, Gadsden in particular, pro- duce much shade-grown Sumatratobacco.
PENSACOLA, metropolis of the northwest section, is a deep-water seaport and railroad center. Shipping, to and from all parts of the world, moves in its harbor. This harbor is so sheltered and yet so accessible to the open sea that some of the most outstanding business concerns of the nation have established docks and warehouses there. Two trunk lines connect with the North and West, while rail and road connections to all Florida are good.
In addition to the already existing Spanish Trail, a new Gulf Coast Highway is under construction, which will link Pensacola and this entire section more closely with Tampa and with Central Florida.
Pensacola harbor was formerly defended by Forts Pickens, McRae and Barrancas. These forts are not now in use for purpose of defense, There is a navy yard, a naval aviation station, and here is the winter rendezvous of the submarine flotilla and the reserve torpedo fleet. The larger liners and battleships can enter here.
Pensacola has a fine climate, the average annual temperature being 67.7 degrees, and the water supply is 99 per cent pure.
Here the hills come right down to the shore, and Pensacola is the highest seaport in this entire section of the United States. These hills provide an excellent drainage system for the city.
There are twenty-two parks, bathing beaches, two golf courses, a yacht club, good theatres and the boating and fishing is splendid.
Of points of interest we will mention Plaza Ferdinand, where flags of five nations have flown, the old Spanish forts San Carlos and San Bernardino and the English fort St. George, captured by Andrew Jackson in 1818. Many other spots of interest and beauty are to be found, as the city was founded in 1559, and even as far back as 1516, Spaniards had landed there, you may well imagine that Pensacola vies with St. Augustine as a point of interest to those historically minded. The French captured it in 1718 and again in 1719, the English took possession in 1763, the Americans came in 1814. The Civil War saw much activity here, both North and South holding the town at various times. Modern Pensacola will well repay the visitor for the journeying there. Eastward from Pensacola are coast towns, available by water and by roads connecting with the Old Spanish Trail, as well as by branch railways. CAMP WALTON and Val are among the excellent resort spots along this coast, with hotels and beaches and other recreational facilities.
PANAMA CITY, on St. Andrews Bay, a body of water which is equaled only by the famous Bay of Naples, in the opinion of many travelers, has fine hotels, beaches, casino pool, golf courses, fishing unsurpassed and the fine hunting common to this section. Florida's first Kraft Pulp Mill is located at Panama City. It is owned by the Southern Kraft Corporation, a subsidiary of the International Paper Company. The estimated capacity of the first two units is two hundred tons per day.
PORT ST. JOE is the site of Florida's first constitutional convention, a monument to which stands near the main highway.
APALACHICOLA, renowned for its oyster and shrimp fisheries and canning factories, is located on Apalachicola Bay at the mouth of the mighty Apalachicola River. It is interesting to note that the rare tumion-taxifolium, said to be the famous Biblical Cedar of Lebanon, grows plentifully in this river valley.
In Apalachicola is a monument to Dr. Gorrie, inventor of artificial ice. Between Apalachicola and Panama City, the Gulf Coastal Highway is complete and a more beautiful roadway would be difficult to find.
Carabelle is another fishing town and bathing resort cast of Apalachicola. In Wakulla County, south of Tallahassee, the state capital, is PANACEA" where excellent bathing and fishing are enjoyed. The Wakulla SPRING, in Wakulla County, is one of the wonder springs of the state. It has a flow of 150,000 gallons per minute, and a glass-bottomed boat gives the tourist an opportunity to look into its cavernous depths. In 1930 the skeleton of a mammoth was found in this spring and the State Geologist had it lifted out piece by piece. It now stands in the Geological Museum at Tallahassee. This section is a paradise of wild life. NEWPORT SPRINGS is in Wakulla County.
Driving east from Pensacola along the Spanish Trail, we pass through the county-seat towns Of MILTON and CRESTVIEW to DeFuniak SPRINGS. All these towns have good accommodations for travelers and DeFuniak Springs is the home of the second Chautauqua established in America. Thousands come here each year to the Chautauqua site upon the beautiful round lake, one mile in circumference, in the heart of the city.
Bonifay and Chipley arc county seats on the Spanish Trail cast of DeFuniak Springs. Chipley is a noted poultry center, location of the national egg-laying contest. Fine natural scenery lies roundabout, especially the Fallen Water cave. There is a 9-hole golf course.
South of Route I are to be found Blountstown and Wewahitchka, county towns in a fine region of game and fish. Near both is the famous Dead Lake, where one may row about in deep water amid a standing forest of dead trees and catch fish in abundance. Big game is plentiful.
MARIANNA, on Route I and the Chipola River, is a pleasing town, with good hotels and a Civil War battlefield monument. Illustrations in this book reveal the hunting and fishing to be found here. Five miles from Marianna are extensive rock caves.
Passing through Quincy, Sumatra tobacco center and pecan market, productive center for 80 per cent of America's fuller's earth, and a delightful old town, one comes to
TALLAHASSEE, the capital of Florida, Seated upon her hills, Tallahassee retains the old Southern charm, both in appearance and in her people. The government buildings and state museum will interest the visitor. Here are located the Florida State College for Women and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. Tallahassee has been the capital of the territory and state since 1823. The tomb of Prince Murat, son of the King of Naples, and nephew of Napoleon the Great, and that of his wife, a Virginia girl, are here.
On the St. Marks River, in the southeast corner of Leon County, is the battlefield of Natural Bridge. It was here that the cadets from Tallahassee withstood the Union Army attack and prevented the capture of the capital city-the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi that was not captured during the Civil War. A monument commemorating this battle has been erected here.
The St. Marks River is thought to have its source in Lake Miccosukee, as the lake's outlet disappears and rises again a short distance beyond. This running underground and rising again is what makes the Natural Bridge near which the battle above referred to was fought.
Numerous lakes and streams nearby furnish first-class fishing, while the forests yield abundant game. Good hotels and excellent recreational facilities add to Tallahassee's attractiveness.
East of Tallahassee, one passes through the agricultural centers, MONTICELLO and MADISON, before reaching the Suwannee River. These towns furnish good accommodations to transients.
PERRY, to the south on Route 19, leading to Tampa, is an industrial town, surrounded by forest and streams. Nearby is the excellent tourist resort of HAMPTON SPRINGS.
The northwest section of Florida has been the part least known to visitors from other states, but more are coming each year and discovering the delights of this old Southland.
Excerpt from "Florida: The March of Progress" published circa 1930s by the Florida Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Immigration.
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