The Winding River Road Part 6
ASHS Column for 4 27 2006
Margaret Collier

    No, dear Readers, Jerry Simmons has not resigned from the alternate weeks of writing this column. Be of good cheer! He will resume sharing his literary talent with you after we finish the lengthy tale of "The Winding River Road" by John T. Diamond. You probably do not realize that Jerry has a hand in all of our columns since he selects the pictures, corrects my errors, and adds tidbits of his own. In short, he is our editor-in-chief!
    At the April 18 meeting, we regretfully accepted Jeanine Johnson's resignation as secretary and hostess due to work conflict. She has served the Society well for quite some time so will be missed. Kay Ross is our new hostess, so members, be gracious when she calls and asks you to help with refreshments.
    Also at the meeting we discussed having the first memorial brick in our new memorial walkway be made in memory of Gloria Clancy Briggs. Our sympathy goes to her widower, Warren Briggs.
    Several other items of business were handled before the excellent program that was presented by Carol Green, RN, Community Educator with Covenant Hospice. She informed us of the many types of dementia, how caregivers can cope, and kinds of help available. Members who missed this meeting are to be pitied. Possibly those of you who did not come were blindsided by the early date of the month. Remember, the third Tuesday sometimes seems early and sometimes late. Be aware that the May meeting is the 16th at 6 P.M. 
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    Shortly after the log and timber landings that were listed in last week's account were established, the following mills were in operation by water power supplied by creeks crossed by the Winding River Road, all of which were cutting square timber from yellow pine logs for the Pensacola market and grinding corn meal for bread and chops for livestock feed:
    1.) The Johnson Mill, on Moore's Creek, near the edge of the river swamp, owned by a Mr. Johnson.
    2.) The Centennial Mill, on Moore's Creek two miles above the Johnson mill owned by McDavid brothers.
    3.) The McDavid Mill, on the McDavid Creek, not far from the river. Owned by Grandfather McDavid.
    4.) The Diamond Mill, on the Diamond Mill Creek, owned by Grandfather John T. Diamond.
    5.) The Cobb Mill, on the Cobb Mill Creek, owned by Washington Cobb.
    6.) McCaskill Mill, on the McCaskill Mill Creek, owned by McCaskill.
    7.) Holly-Riley Mill, on Holly Mill Creek, owned by Holly and Riley.
    8.) The Gaylor Old Mill, on Governor's Creek, later the Gaylor Creek, and still later the Campbell Creek, owned by Mr. Gaylor.
    9.) The Barrow Mill, on Edgely Creek, later Barrow Mill Creek, owned by Mr. Barrow for a short while only, (probably washed out). Mr. Barrow later settled the Barrow place just beyond the present location of the Mt. Carmel Methodist Church and built a sawmill on the creek two miles west of his home in Alabama, known years later as the Pew Mill.
    10.) In 1886 the Bray Mill was built on what was then known as the Barrow Mill Creek. It was owned and operated for a few years by Henry Bray.
    The work of these saw mills was cutting square timber from large yellow pine logs for the Pensacola timber market. However, the operation of these small saw mills did not stop the marketing of round logs, hewn timber or the long straight pine trees sold as spars. Premium prices were paid for extra long sticks of hewn timber and for extra long spars. Because of these premium prices many of these products were hauled long distances to the log and timber landings on the river.
    Many tall straight pines were dug up and from six to eight feet of the tap root was used. Such spars brought much higher prices than those not having a long portion of the root attached. This was because in fitting them in sailing vessels, the tap root portion was placed beneath the deck of the vessel. Therefore, that part of the tree growing exactly level with the surface of the ground was even with the deck of the vessel where the greatest strain was on the spar.
    That made the spar much stronger and able to better withstand storms and hurricanes at sea. Many such spars sold for as much as one dollar or more per linear foot. It was not uncommon for such spars to be hauled fifteen or more miles with a slow moving team of oxen and the use of large tail carts.
    Each of the log landings and saw mills mentioned in this article had short roads leading to them over which logs were hauled. These roads were never surveyed, blazed out or constructed, any more than was the Winding River Road. They, like the Historic Old Road were beaten out little by little as needed, following the Indian trails made in traveling to and from landings on the river where they kept their canoes and dugouts handy for fishing and hunting and for trading trips.
    The roads used in hauling logs to the saw mills nearly always followed routes traveled by the Indians in going up and down the creeks in search of wild game around the edges of swamps and hammocks.
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    It is always difficult to stop in the middle of a portion of this captivating story, but space has to be properly apportioned in a newspaper, so we just have to wait another week before getting the next tidbit. Buy that Ledger to be "in the know!"

This page last modified on Monday, May 01, 2006