Santa Rosa County .org

  Home | Clerk | Sheriff | Fire | Court | Community College | Schools | Library | History
Department of Health | Hospitals | Humane Society | Airport | Parks | Fair | Real Estate | Business Directory


Santa Rosa County was home to a trading center and a thriving brisk import-export business before its creation of February 18, 1842. The County was named for Rosa de Viterbo, Roman Catholic saint an its seat became Milton. The economic base for Santa Rosa County during the Territorial and Early Statehood Periods was the industry rather than agriculture. In 1743 the first known record of the lumber industry in West Florida was of two masts of yellow pine being shipped from Pensacola to Havana by a Spanish schooner. A number of sawmills began operating around the bays and streams adjacent to Pensacola after the transfer of Florida to the United States in 1821. These sawmills continued operations until the Civil War.

The Civil war brought prosperity to Bagdad during the first year, but in March 1862 Confederate troops withdrew from Pensacola and moved rapidly across Santa Rosa County. Bagdad industries were torched by the 1st Regular Florida Volunteers to prevent them from falling into Union hands. The wanton destruction ruined the industrial base of the county. Production had resumed by 1867 and brought new prosperity with its world wide demand for yellow pine. All the prominent men in Santa Rosa County made their fortunes directly from the Lumber industry. Bagdad had the greatest concentration of large mills. The west bank of the Blackwater River was occupied by the Simpson Mill. The East side of the Blackwater had a mill operated by John Hunt, referred to as the Dog Farm. The mill at Bagdad was burned during the Civil war and the Miller mill at East Bay as well.

The third railway in Florida, and one of the only two at the time was the Arcadia and Blackwater Railway in what is now Santa Rosa County. This railway was built to haul sawn timber and lumber from the sawmill of Forsyth and Simpson at Arcadia (later this was the Bagdad Land and Lumber Co. For over a hundred years, the logging industry furnished jobs for thousands of people but by 1939 the area was soon depleted of trees forcing the mills out of business.

The per capita income in Santa Rosa County for 1993 was $15,944 (33rd highest in the state). The median household income in 1989 was $24,584. In 1989, 11.5% of families had incomes below the poverty level. In 1990, 19.0% of personal income in Santa Rosa County was derived from transfer payments. In 1992 the greatest numbers of persons in Santa Rosa County were employed in the government, retail trade, and services sectors.
Whiting Field Naval Air Station and Eglin Air Force Base are major federal government employers. Employers of the greatest numbers of persons in the retail trade sector were eating and drinking establishments and food stores. In the services sector employers of the greatest numbers of persons were medical and other health services and business services. Major employers in the manufacturing sector are a large lumber mill in Bagdad and several chemical plants. In 1992 there were 430 farms in Santa Rosa County,
totalling 79,270 acres (12% of land in the county). In 1991, 18,278 thousand board feet of softwood logs, 116,547 cords of softwood for pulp, and 8,255 cords of hardwood for pulp were produced. In 1991, 1,365,291 pounds of fish and 211,978 pounds of shellfish were landed in Santa Rosa County.

Today, Milton is known for its outstanding canoeing and water sports along the Blackwater River. The new Blackwater Heritage Trail, following the route of the old Florida-Alabama Railroad, built in 1900, invites you to step back in time with a scenic tour for hikers, joggers and bikers.


©1997-2021 All Rights Reserved