Written by: Jklingman93
Santa Rosa Beach, perched on the edge of Hogtown Bayou in northwestern Florida, has a rich and traditional history. The beautiful white sand was created from the ancient weathering of quartz from the Appalachian mountains. This quartz was broken down into a fine powder by the wind and was then washed away by rivers and streams until it accumulated on the Florida panhandle. The sand is as fine as powder and gives the beach a unique feel underfoot.
In more recent history, in the late 1800’s the beach lifestyle became a popular idea in America, and people slowly began settling in several parts of Florida. During this time, steamboat trade and transportation was wildly popular, and towns could become very populated very quickly. Because of its close proximity, many of Santa Rosa Beach’s first settlers were originally from Alabama. The settlers were further attracted to Santa Rosa Beach at the time because the town was a bustling steamboat landing. The town was founded by Charles Cessna, who was also a major entrepreneur in the town. At its peak, Santa Rosa boasted about 1200 residents. The town included a general store, 2 turpentine mills, a syrup factory, and many other businesses including a large, beautiful hotel. Evidence of the riverboat trade can still be found on the bayou floor and on the shore of the beach. Tiny fragments of old, discarded turpentine pots are often washed up on the shore.
Unfortunately, the booming town of Santa Rosa endured extensive damage from a hurricane, with many residents becoming sick with Malaria around the same time. This caused a mass exodus of residents from the town, eventually leaving the place completely empty except for the abandoned buildings, which some residents dismantled for the lumber. Even the town’s beloved hotel came to a tragic end when it burnt down in the 1970’s. It’s foundation can still be seen today. Although the town of Santa Rosa would have been a sight to behold in the early 1900s, it remained a ghost town for quite some time after the exodus of its residents.
In modern times, however, it is again a bustling beach town with many beautiful sights to behold, perfectly showcasing it’s powdery white sand and rich historical past. Although steamboats are no longer seen on the water, there are plenty of other watercraft to see, and of course there is always a chance that someone may find a piece of history laying in on the shore.