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.