The Winding River Road Part 7
ASHS Column for 5 4 2006
Margaret Collier

    Altha Scott and Dorothy Newton, the two ladies keeping the Museums open during the week for you, have been busy boxing up the white elephants, but still have a few available for your perusal if you still have a need for a novel gift or item for your home.
    Donation boxes for Old #100 have been placed in the Escambia County Bank lobby, Bondurant’s Ace Hardware, and Brenda Cox's Southern Treasures Shop. We thank these folks for allowing us to use their places of business and we urge everyone to patronize them whenever possible. We have at least one more to be placed, in addition to the ones in The Leach House, so be sure to drop your donations in these boxes whenever you are out and about. 
    We are getting all our ducks in a row to "Bring Old 100 Home" for real. This means if you’re willing to lend a hand, literally, let us know pretty soon. We think it may be soon after July 1, and we’ll need to have the site prepared. We need a road built across the park to support the equipment. The rail bed needs to be prepared and the rails and cross ties laid. If you have the gravel called for to make the road- and rail beds or know someone that will be willing to donate it for a deduction on their taxes, get in touch with us.
    Teri and Jerry Sanders, hikers extraordinaire, brought their hiking buddy from New Hampshire to the museum complex for the grand tour last week. We encourage all members and friends of the Society to do likewise. Let as many people as possible know about what a good thing we have here in Century by inviting them to come, see, and maybe even decide to join us.
    We lost a dear member and former native of Century last week, Elizabeth (Betty) Mosley Lester. Betty was born in Century in 1931 to Leon and Helen Mosley. Her mother was well known to many Century High School students both as teacher and later as school secretary. Memorials should go to the Century United Methodist church or to the First United Methodist church in Pensacola.
    Jerry Simmons and I do not want you to weary of this very long account of the Winding River Road, so we'll probably let this chapter be the last for awhile. It is too good not to finish though, so do expect to get smaller doses of it every now and then until we draw to a close.
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    Finally, by degrees the roads used for hauling logs to the different landings on the river and to the different sawmills became connected. Then it wasn't long before foot logs, often called Raccoon Bridges, were replaced by pole bridges for use of wagons in crossing each mill creek near the mill. The oldest and longest Indian trail in this part of the county then was replaced by the Winding River Road, following in almost every foot of its approximate eighteen miles the old Indian Trading Trail.
    It is interesting to note how this old winding road in following the Indian Trail avoided steep hills and deep hollows, shunned wet or occasionally wet places that would become boggy during constant use and become impassable, but followed dry ridges. If this road had to pass up or over a hill it always wound around in gradual graceful curves so as to make the incline as gentle as possible. Foot logs, fords and pole bridges were always located at strategic places where washouts were few and upkeep negligible.

    It is interesting to observe even today the route of this old winding road as it crossed the "Devil's Backbone" not far from the Holly Mill Creek a short distance below the old mill site.

    For the information of the reader, I may state the "Devil's Backbone" is the name given years ago either by the Indians or the earliest white settlers to a long high steep narrow ridge leading along down beside the Holly Mill Creek on the south side and extending out into the low swampy flood plain almost to the river and rising higher toward its head where it was once capped with huge rocks. Note: These rocks were dynamited [some time] ago, breaking them into small pieces and hauled away and used for curbing to hold fills made in building the Jay-Century highway through the Escambia River swamp.

    This interesting phenomenon creates interest, wonder and admiration in the minds of all persons who see it. To climb its steep sides rising an hundred feet or more and stand on the huge rocks imbedded in its narrow summit and look out over the surrounding low swamp land where no other rocks are to be found makes one wonder how the "Devil's Backbone" and the huge rocks got where they are. If the reader hasn't yet seen this phenomenon may I suggest that it will be well worth a trip down to the old Mims Island log and timber landing for the privilege of climbing up this strange hill and walking upon the Devil's Backbone.

    The Indians were not book-made engineers or book scientists. However, they knew their woods, soils, streams, hills and hollows and how to locate a trail for durability under long and hard use with little or no upkeep or change in location. Because of this many modern roads have been located along the route of Indian trails. When I think of the Indian's knowledge and understanding of his surroundings, of his understanding of the social order of his people and his vision in the conservation of his natural resources, his forests, soils, fish, game, and unpolluted waters I sometimes wonder if in our present efforts to educate our people in books we haven't neglected a few of the basic principles that make an educated people.

    The Indian did not burn or permit the annual burning of his forests, pastures or soils. He did not clear hillside fields and permit them to wash away. He did not permit the wanton destruction of his supply of fish and game. He did not permit the pure crystal waters of his springs, streamlets, creeks, lakes or rivers to be polluted. Seemingly he knew more about the value of pure water than our best physicians and sanitary engineers know today.
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    When we do take up this story again we'll have an interesting eye-witness account of travel along the winding road with his father and with Grandfather John T. Diamond as well as Grandfather Neil Campbell, Uncle Gabe Capers and Uncle Tom Sunday. Be sure to keep up with all of the Society's columns, but particularly the ones about the Winding River Road.                       * * * *
    For information about the ASHS, email or visit our website at You may call 850-256-2029, 850-256-3980, or 850-256-2661.

This page last modified on Monday, May 01, 2006