While many come to visit our white-sand beaches every week, most give no thought to the area's history or past.
Before there was a 30A drawing folks from near and far, people came here long ago for a different reason — agriculture.
Around 1909 a man by the name of Charles Cessna of
Cessna put his brother, Will, in charge and plats were laid out that stretched from Point Washington on the east to what is now Sandestin to the west, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and the northern shores of the bay around Basin and Alaqua Bayous.
In 1910 Cessna's dream began to materialize. Stores, churches, warehouses, a post office, school, cannery, ice house, lumber mill, two turpentine stills, a sugarcane syrup factory, two hotels, ladies' social clubs, and other town developments were a reality.
Sugarcane grinders were set up where Sandestin is now and syrup that wasn't consumed here was shipped to
Promises of the good life brought Swedes, Germans, Irish, Scots, and others by steamboat from
North/south roads or launches and steamboats provided transportation to the beach. The roads from Point Washington led to Grayton and Seagrove where the Wesleys of Point Washington had a 160-acre land grant. The year 1910 was busy in
The town, though somewhat isolated, boomed for a short five years and grew to about 800 people. In 1915 a bout of yellow fever came through, along with citrus canker that attacked the orange trees, which had to be burned. The town tried to hang on, but its death kneel came with the hurricane of 1926, which sent floods of brackish water from the bay into the sugarcane fields and vegetable gardens. By the end of World War II the town was all but abandoned.
The town's "boot hill" was what is now known as
The area did not begin to slowly revive until the 1940s thanks to a rocket base the
A drawbridge was erected on the 331 corridor over the now-named
The "bust" for South Walton did not arrive until the 1990s.
Today, there are few remnants left of the old town of
Chick Huettel moved here in 1989 — a corporate orphan — from
"We moved here not knowing one person," he said. "There were no stop lights, just one blinking light. The old drawbridge was here, which got knocked out twice and once it killed its keeper. We met a lot of the long-time residents and they would tell me the history. Even though the area has grown, it still has that small-town atmosphere. I like that."
Huettel is the former owner of the old Santa Rosa Sugar Cane Company, located at
The old wooden town bridge is still in use.