The lost communities of the Blackwater

By Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

It’s hard to imagine, but less than 100 years ago, towns and communities other than Bagdad and Milton dotted the local coastlines.

Where are they all now?

The Bay Point Mansion was destroyed in a fire in 1980.

“This was one of the most industrialized counties in Florida, and many communities sprang up around the lumber mills that harvested the long-leaf pines," said local historian Brian Rucker. "Once the forests were depleted, the towns were abandoned and sank into decay.”

One such community was Bay Point, located on Garcon Point just south of I-10. Rucker said a small town existed around the the Bay Point Lumber Mill from the mid-1800s until the mill closed in 1920.

Local historian Brian Rucker discusses the communities that sprang up along the Blackwater River because of the lumber industry.

“Bay Point had a wonderful antebellum mansion built in the 1850s, which was later called the Rosasco mansion. Sadly, it burned in 1980,” Rucker said.

The site was then surveyed by archeologists, and any remnants Bay Point and its town disappeared beneath a subdivision.

Just down the road from Bay Point was another lumbering community known as Robinson Point.

“The mill was incorporated in 1899 by Peter Tomasello, and was a thriving community in the early 20th Century," Rucker said. "D.L. Burgess ran a popular dance pavilion there that drew folks from all over the area.”

This photo from around 1910 shows a lady in what was then called Dickerson City.

Farther down Garcon Point was another community that historians give differing accounts of.

Dickerson City, where today there is still a road and few houses, was either at one time a luxurious gambling den, accessed by boat due to the lack of roads, or its hotel was intended to be a health spa. Either way, the hotel disappeared in a fire around 1918.

“My granddad ran a freight boat that made stops there, and my dad had his first cold soda there at the age of 8,” said local resident Ken Broxson.

A free historical presentation featuring these and other lost communities will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Imogene Theatre. 

The presentation will include a partial re-enactment of a journey taken by a Pensacola family in 1915, who recorded in a log book what they saw each day along the Blackwater Bay coastal area. Their trip, recorded in “The Log of the Peep O’ Day,” may be the only eye witness account of what our coastlines looked like in 1915.