The Winding River Road
ASHS Column for 3 23 06
Margaret Collier

     A few tidbits for your consideration before the main course this week: 
     Tidbit 1. Welcome to our two newest members, Paul and Maxine Louviere.
     Tidbit 2. On Saturday, March 18, our own Jerry Simmons took unto himself a wife. We wish happiness for him and his Dianne.
     Tidbit 3. On Sunday, March 19, the congregation of the Century United Methodist Church joyfully returned to their beautiful historic sanctuary from the annex across the street.
     Pardon me while I ponder that move a
bit more. I have ruminated about what
makes that old Methodist Meeting House so
special - not only to its long-time members,
but to newcomers and the Historic District
as a whole. Well, what makes a house a home?
It's the stuff of life that goes on in the
building - the weddings, the births, the
growing up, the dying. A spirit develops
during all of these processes that either
builds a family or tears it apart.
     In the case of this particular church,
the membership is small and much like a
family. When fire nearly destroyed the
building, that family worked together to
restore it. A few years later when the
hurricanes did so much damage, that little
family of the faithful stuck together,
prayed, worked and encouraged each other
until finally, last Sunday they were able
to come home. That faithful, loving
commitment has permeated the very walls
over the 104 years since its founding.
Thanks be to God!

     And now, at last, we'll begin an article, "The Historic Winding River Road and Its Resources." My understanding is that John T. Diamond wrote it. At any rate it is excellent material that deserves close reading. Due to its length it will be served in small doses, so enjoy. 
                              * * *
     The subject of this article is located in the extreme northwest corner of Santa Rosa County, Florida and is among the oldest and most historic roads in this part of the country. This road never was marked out by blazing trees along its route to show its location, surveyed, staked out, graded or built. It just grew
a little at a time as short
stretches were beaten out as needed
for a specific purpose.
     This road followed the old
Indian Trading Trail as it wound
along the edge of the Escambia River
swamps and hammocks. This trail was
so named because the Indians in
carrying on trade with the Spaniards
used it from the time of the
earliest Spanish settlements at
Pensacola and Florida Town. The
trail finally extended from the
Florida and Alabama state line to
Old Woodbine and Florida town.
     This trail first began to be
called a road on the east bank of
the Escambia River approximately
sixteen miles below the Florida-
Alabama state line not far from a
spring called by the Indians,
"Chumuckla," meaning in their
language, "Healing Waters,
"because of the health-giving
qualities of its water. This
spring had been a famous watering
place for the Indians long before
the Spaniards came to West Florida.
     Tradition tells us oftentimes
when Indians were not feeling well
they would camp near this spring a
few days, eat little solid food, rest and drink large quantities of "Healing Water" to pep them up for the chase or the war path.
     This road had its beginning in this neighborhood not necessarily because of the spring, but because as the Spaniards extended their settlements up the water courses from Pensacola and Florida Town this area was one of the earliest to be occupied. At this time the Spaniards had ceased to search for gold and silver in Florida. They were looking for Indian trade, quantities of large straight yellow pine timber for shipment to Spain and luxuriant open range pastures for their cattle, horses and hogs.
     They were also looking for a region having an ample supply of pure spring water for domestic purposes, and creeks having sufficient fall and narrow valleys to supply waterpower. They knew if they were to remain healthy in a land where medicines and doctors were scarce, a supply of pure water must be available. Many of them had been in West Florida long enough to know the value of an ample supply of fish and game in a land where the reserve supply of food is small.
     These adventure-loving Spaniards found exactly what they were looking for in the area extending from the mouth of Moore's Creek three or four miles below the "Spring of Healing Waters," northeastward along the east band of the Escambia River to the Florida-Alabama state line. All was in the low flood plain and hammocks along the river and among the crystal springs and clear creeks flowing through the lands adjacent to the river's flood plain.
     Here, indeed, they found a forest primeval containing the largest and tallest trees they had ever seen, the most luxuriant and well-watered pastures and the purest waters in crystal springs and clear creeks the minds of adventurous Spaniards could imagine. An examination of the creeks revealed plenty of water and more than enough fall for supplying waterpower for all the machinery they would need. An ample supply of fish was found in the river and creeks and plenty of game grazing in the swamps, hammocks and piney woods.
     Truly, adventure had found the land of the present and the future. The small boats bringing the adventurous Spaniards were anchored or tied up in the mouths of the little creeks where they emptied into the river and the erection of cabins begun. 
                                   * * *
     We'll continue this in next week’s column. It just gets better. Now, you know, that I can't close without reminding you of our date in the Historic Park on Saturday, April 8. Bring your lawn chair, appetite, good attitude, and a pocket filled with cash for our huge sale. Clean your eye glasses in order to get a better look at the Model A's, dancers and twirlers, and clean the wax out of your ears for hearing the great music. There will be something for everybody. If it rains we can hold forth in the various museums, so there is no excuse for your not being there.

Century United Methodist Church, erected in 1902

The McCaskill Family
Seated left to right, back: Evander Alonzo
McCaskill, his wife-Margaret Hatten McCaskill

Standing left: his son, Benjamin Montgomery McCaskil

Seated left to right, front: his daughters,Margaret McCaskill, Mary McCaskill, his son, Van David "Dade" McCaskill

Standing right: his daughter-Ola McCaskill

This page last modified on Tuesday, April 04, 2006