Thursday morning was gorgeous after a big rainstorm on Wednesday afternoon that caused a leak in our bathroom ceiling vent, but that is not relevant to today's walk.
At 10:30 a.m., we parked our truck at a boat launch area and went for a 10k Volksmarch around Bagdad (in Florida, not Baghdad in Iraq!).
|Blackwater River Boat Launch, |
|Blackwater River, Bagdad, Florida.|
As we followed our walk instructions, we noticed that there were numerical references to historical places of interest that were supposed to be attached to our instructions. They weren't. While we walked, we wondered what had been there in years past. [NOTE: We returned to the start point the next day and found the points of interest pages. I snagged a copy, so I could fill you all in on what we saw!]
A current point of interest (not on the list) was the number of debris piles placed on the side of the road after October's Hurricane Sally.
|Debris piles like these are scattered |
around the Southeast after Hurricane Sally.
We passed by Shipyard Point where William Bruce built a house between 1875-1880. Bruce was a partner in Olinger and Bruce Shipyard established in 1867.
At the end of Forsyth Street, it looked like a ferry had operated on the Blackwater River at one time. That was my guess when we looked at it without the key to the points of interest. However, the area turned out to be a popular park where residents once went "courtin'."
Next, the Bagdad Volunteer Fire Department building came into view along with the Bagdad Elementary School. The school was built in 1923. It features a "mission"-style parapet that was popular in the 1920s.
One thing that stood out to us was all the Spanish moss in the trees! Some Bagdad adults remember being told as children that the moss is witches' hair. Long ago, witches came to Bagdad because they heard it was the closest place to heaven. When they tried to fly to heaven, they were caught by the trees and their hair was left in the trees as moss.
Next, we walked through the area where, in the days of the Bagdad Mill (1800s), slave houses were located. The families living there today are descendants of the early black families who worked at the Mill.
|Spanish moss is abundant here!|
A number of historic churches of different styles were part of the walk.
|Bagdad First Assembly of God.|
|Bagdad First Assembly of God.|
The church above had its beginnings in an old board tabernacle a few blocks away. In 1927, the church moved to its present site, using the building previously owned by the Baptist Church. The original wooden structure was later bricked and in 1982 was replaced with an octagonal-shaped sanctuary.
We saw fun items in people's yards. Here are a couple of them, although I'm not sure I'd call that gun sign "fun."
Below is the Bagdad Village Museum (circa 1880) which is only open the first Saturday each month from 9:00 a.m. to noon. This is the oldest museum building in northwest Florida. This building was originally the New Providence Baptist Church. Construction began in 1847 and was completed in 1901. The lumber was hauled by wagon from the Bay Point Mill to the former site and the structure was built by members of the black congregation.
|Bagdad Village Museum.|
More crisscrossing of the local streets followed as we made our way up a small hill to see the Bagdad Cemetery. The cemetery began in the mid-1800s and, typical of the south, was divided into white and black sections. Many of the headstones and fences are works of art.
The founder of Bagdad, Joseph Forsyth, is buried beneath the impressive nine-foot obelisk marker. (I neglected to take a photo of it.) He died in 1855. The small headstone to the left of the obelisk marker is that of his daughter, Elizabeth, who died in 1852 of yellow fever.
After the cemetery, we walked down the hill past Bagdad Recreational park, the town's recreation center, and ball fields. In someone's driveway, we saw this hand-drawn fire hose cart.
The Forcade House is a Florida Heritage Site. It is known for its outstanding example of Shingle-style architecture which is rarely seen in the south. From the historical marker:
|Hand-drawn fire hose |
cart, circa 1870.
"Elzear 'Exie' Fournier, a French Canadian, built this house from locally cut and milled heart pine for his sister Emma Fournier Forcade, with the help of his brother-in-law, Edward V. Forcade. The two men worked for the Bagdad Land and Lumber Company.
"The home features excellent craftsmanship, including a curved upper front porch, along with multiple roof styles, including hip, gable, and shed. One of the most striking elements of the exterior are butt shingles on the upper section of the home, which were all made with locally cut heart pine. The home also boasts a Dutch front door in which the top half can be opened for ventilation while keeping the bottom half closed for safety. Another feature is a narrow window in the dining room that could be opened all the way up and used as a door.
"While employed at the Bagdad lumber mill, Edward Forcade brought home small scrap end cuts of heart pine to create designs in the floors, walls, and ceilings. The floors' styles vary from room to room, ranging from herringbone and parquet with intricate borders to various squares of different sizes. The end cuts have the grain turned in opposing directions to create a unique visual impact. The dining room ceiling features a striking curved design on all four sides, all made with heart pine.
"The house stayed in the Forcade family until 1952, when Donald and Nina Youngblood purchased it. In 1987, the Forcade House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing building in the Bagdad Village Historic District. When it was purchased in 2004, Nina Youngblood issued a stern warning never to paint the original woodwork."
I would LOVE to see the inside of this house!! I wonder if they ever open it to the public?
|Forcade House (side).|
|Forcade House (front)|
|Curved upper front porch, multiple roof |
styles, butt shingles.
|Front entrance, Forcade house.|
Back and forth, back and forth...we didn't miss many streets in historic Bagdad. It wasn't all exciting to look at, but it became more interesting AFTER we finished the walk and picked up the points of interest sheet the next day!
We finally came to the Bagdad Mill Site, which is one of the most interesting places in Bagdad. And our walk instructions said to go to the gate, turn around and leave!!! We felt gypped that this park was not included in the walk. We would have much rather seen this than some of the neighborhoods we walked through. Thankfully, we have relatives in the area who took us to this park a year ago. I think this park should be incorporated into the walk!
The Bagdad Mill Site was the home of Bagdad Land and Lumber Company. In 1840, the mill was established on the Blackwater River. The mill was the largest producer of yellow pine in the world and remained in operation until 1939.
The Thompson house below is another famous home in Bagdad. Built in 1844 by Benjamin Thompson, this beautiful antebellum home once faced the Blackwater River but was moved in 1912 to its present location. The Thompsons continued to live in it during the many months it was being moved.
|All we got to see of the park was the gate!|
When the present owners were renovating this house in the 1970s, they got a big surprise. Union soldiers left graffiti on the walls during an expedition to Bagdad for much-needed lumber. Corporal William H. McCormack of the Second Maine Cavalry used a burnt stick to scroll a message and the date October 26, 1864, on the walls. Horseshoe prints were reportedly found embedded on the interior stairwell.
|Sign on the old barbershop.|
|Barbershop, circa 1949.|
The First United Methodist Church below was erected in 1885, although the congregation had been established since 1830. Construction employed the shiplap pattern using cut nails and underpinnings wedged with wooden pegs similar to ship construction. The altar rail originally ran down the center with men on one side and women on the other side!
|First United Methodist Church.|
|First United Methodist Church.|
The old post office is on Thompson Street which was the center of town until the late 1920s. Businesses included a hot shop, a café, and a general store. The street was open to the water and adjacent to the mill.
|The old post office.|
We headed back to the boat launch and our lonely truck. Across the Blackwater River from the boat launch is Island No. 2. Around 1900, the mill was situated on the island and was connected to the main mill by an overhead lift. After a hurricane and fires destroyed it, the lift was not rebuilt. At low tide, the pilings for the docks can still be seen. The island is now swampy and uninhabited except for snakes, birds, and small wild animals.
After our walk, we had lunch at Taco Bell and called it a day.
|Our truck at the boat launch parking area.|