Blackwater River ... and more tales of Santa Rosa County

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AngelGirl
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Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:37 pm

Underwater tales tell the history of sunken vessels
February 23, 2011 21:03 PM

Clairen Reese

Pelican correspondent

Anyone familiar with Santa Rosa County knows it's an area steeped in rich, colorful history. But that knowledge may not extend beneath the surface of the beautiful Blackwater River. In an effort to educate the local community on the extensive and intriguing maritime history of Milton and Bagdad, the Blackwater Pyrates will host Dr. Della Scott-Ireton of the University of West Florida Archaeology Network. She will speak at at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24 at the Bagdad Community Center, 6860 Pooley St., Bagdad. The lecture is open to the public at no cost. The format will be approximately one hour with a slide presentation and a question-and-answer period afterwards. Scott-Ireton has a doctorate specializing in maritime archaeology, public interpretation of maritime cultural resources and the training of students in archaeological methods and practices.

"This type of venue gives our community a deeper understanding of how our universities, our county and our cities work together to build on our past and propel us into the future," Blackwater Pyrate Captain Danny Keiek said. "When the Pyrates first started, Dr. Scott was gracious enough to deliver a similar lecture. When you are on the river as much as the Pyrates, you can feel the history. Even more unique is the fact that most of the wrecks are in shallow water, so you can 'see' the history."

According to former Pyrate Captain Tom Scott, UWF students dive these wrecks and discover new ones each year. Many of the wrecks are lumber transport barges, each with its own personality and window into the past. Recently, students have discovered two additional vessels in the Milton area and thesis work has begun with the help of grants and donations.

"The dark waters of the Blackwater River are home to over 18 sunken vessels whose history is linked to these towns and the surrounding communities," Scott said. "The two vessels that have the most notoriety are probably the Bethune schooner and the Tampa. The Bethune was a mid-19th century light draft coasting schooner. She carried small cargo along the Gulf Coast and into the larger river basins. It's believed the schooner, listed on the national register of historic places, carried lumber and bricks. Where larger ships held up to 500,000 feet of lumber, a schooner only transported around 100,000 feet. It was common for schooners to serve Bagdad and Milton because of their ability to navigate the river. The Tampa was primarily a passenger vessel that ferried lumber mill workers and staples."

The original name of the Bethune is unknown, Scott-Ireton said. Thus, it was named after a landowner. Scott-Ireton will provide additional details on why they think they know which ship it may be and how she sank. There is speculation she was burned by the confederate troops to keep her out of the hands of the northern Army or she may have died of old age by the brickyard she served located near the top of Blackwater River.

"The City of Tampa was well known for its beauty and technological advancement," Scott-Ireton said. "It was a steam driven ship with ample decks and a busy schedule. In the 1920s the Tampa caught fire at the Bay Point Mill Docks and was pushed out into the head of the Blackwater Bay where it sunk. Many years later all that was left to survey was the boiler and smokestack in seven feet of water. To date only the boiler remains."

The maritime lecture is one of many services provided by The Blackwater Pyrates, who were founded in 2006.

For additional information contact Ken Ponsell @ 850-529-3565
or visit www.blackwaterpyrates.com .
Last edited by AngelGirl on Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
AngelGirl
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AngelGirl
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Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:18 pm

Bumping this up --- for those interested in some local history!

A.G.
AngelGirl
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Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 BSB
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bjrichus
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Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:15 pm

AngelGirl wrote:Bumping this up --- for those interested in some local history!

A.G.
Angel Girl,

The PNJ link at the top of the item seems to be dead now... :(

If it was just a link to the advert for the talk then that's ok, as it's already well in the past!!!
bjrichus (also known as Brian)
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AngelGirl
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Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:44 pm

No, it was a link to the article ... but I copied and pasted the body of the article to the post window just in case it disappeared (as they do from time to time!) Thanks for letting me know. I'll edit it out!

Thanks!

A.G.
AngelGirl
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Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 BSB
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