We return to the Pensacola vicinity to explore the other major road in and out of town (not including the interstate), US 90. I’ve covered the stretch east of Tallahassee. Now it’s time to cover the west half.
I’ve mentioned before what a pleasant drive most of I-10 is. This is especially true of this section, even zooming through. There are no major cities between Pensacola and Tallahassee. Since the speed limit is 70 mph, that means you can go from one to the other in three hours or less. Should you want to get to any of the county seats along the way, they’re all within about 6 miles of the interstate. So start in Pensacola, or Tallahassee, or anywhere in-between; it’s all easily accessible.
Should you eschew the interstate, I would recommend one stop along it that you might like to check out. It’s the longest entrance to a rest stop in the state. If you’re going west, that is. On the east side of the Apalachicola River is a rest stop on the south side of the interstate. Going west, you have to take an off-ramp and cross a bridge over the interstate to get to it. The medians around here are wide, a quarter of a mile or more. Honestly, you’ll think you’re never going to reach the end.
Once you get there, though, you’ll find a larger rest area than others along the way. It’s probably because it serves eastbound and westbound traffic. Picnic tables, a walking path, and large bathrooms. There may be showers, but I can’t remember for sure. Unfortunately, you can’t see the Apalachicola River from the rest stop, nor get close to it.
Which is another reason to visit the rest stop, since you’ll cross the big bridge that crosses the river. All the bridges that cross the river are impressive, and I’ve seen everyone, so believe you me.
Enough about the interstate; we’re doing US 90. Speed limits in the urban areas are 35-45, but between they’re 55-65. Just the driving between Pensacola and Tallahassee will take you about 4 hours.
We’ll begin in Milton, which though in the next county over, is a suburb of Pensacola. The first spot is on the western fringes of Milton, the Arcadia Sawmill and Arcadia Cotton Mill. This was another one of those that had vague directions. However, some research led me to discover the site was now part of a historic preservation park thing. There are informational displays, and a long boardwalk that takes you through the adjacent semi-swampy areas.
From here you can go next to Bagdad or Milton. I suggest the former, as you’ll be doing less backtracking.
Bagdad is only a couple miles south of Milton. Most of it is a historic district. I’ve walked a bit of it, but mostly drove around. Didn’t see any sort of downtown; it’s all residential. Considering how close they are to Milton, I guess they never really needed a commercial area. I couldn’t find any of the slave houses mentioned in AGFHA, but I didn’t look very hard for them. They could be gone; I’d be amazed if any still survived. I’m sure the local history folks could help to find out. (see Google map)
- Bagdad Village Historic District (Roughly bounded by Main, Water, & Oak Streets, Cobb & Woodville Roads, Cemetery, Pooley, & School Streets) (NRHP)
- Benjamin W. Thompson House (4661 Forsyth Street) (AGFHA)
- Bagdad Post Office (Thompson Street and Forsythe Street) (AGFHA)
- Bagdad Methodist Church (Forsyth Street and Overman Street) (AGFHA)
- Emma Fournier Forcade-Donald Youngblood House (Church and Allen Streets) (AGFHA)
- McNair House (Allen Street) (AGFHA)
- Slave House (Limit Street) (AGFHA)
- Yellow River Marsh (6141 Dickerson City Road)
Now go over the small bridge that crosses the creek that separates Bagdad and Milton. You’ll initially encounter the old depot, which now houses a railroad museum. Further on you’ll enter the historic district, which encompasses most of downtown Milton and a block or three north and south. The building where the local historical museum was got damaged by fire back in 2009. They had to close it, but it may have reopened by now. I hope so, ’cause I rather like Milton, and would like to learn more about the area from the folks there. Maybe even a story or two about their most famous son.
I mentioned a while back that US 90 goes by the courthouse of every county it passes through. Across from the history museum is one, for Santa Rosa. I didn’t think it was an old one, but I found out it was built in 1921. There was remodeling done 40 years later, which may have reduced how much of the old architecture you could see and thrown me off. But I did like it when I first saw it, even thinking it was modern.
- Milton Historic District (US 90 at Blackwater River bounded by Berryhill, Willing, Hill, Canal, Margaret, & Susan Streets) (NRHP)
- Louisville and Nashville Depot (206 Henry Street) (NRHP)
- Mt. Pilgrim African Baptist Church (Junction of Alice and Clara Streets) (NRHP)
- Ollinger-Cobb House (302 Pine Street) (NRHP)
- Masonic Hall (Canal at Pike Street) (AGFHA)
- Museum of Local History (6866 Caroline Street)
- St. Mary’s Rectory (6841 Oak Street) (NRHP)
- St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Rectory (300-301 Oak Street) (NRHP)
When I was doing Wellborn, I talked about the bit of Florida State Road No. 1 that was still there. Now you can see a much longer section, that’s also on the NRHP. It goes several miles west of Milton, just to the north of US 90. I’ve seen at least one car parked on it, so you can drive it (very slowly) for old time’s sake. Or just park nearby and walk along it. Very much like the old brick Dixie Highway, a part of which is east of Hastings, but a better-kept portion is in Maitland. (see Google map)
- Florida State Road No. 1 (NRHP)
Once you get past the end of old Florida State Road 1, you’ll be going through some of the Blackwater River State Forest. That’s about all you’ll see for the next 25 miles. Do look for the turnoff to get to the Blackwater River State Forest. It’s very popular with canoers. Even though out of the way, there were a goodly amount of folks picnicking and such both times I was there.
By the by, the photo at the top of the blog is of the Blackwater River, in the park. In case you needed some additional encouragement to check it out.
Just before you get into Crestview, there’s another turnoff that will take you to the Baker Block Museum. Which is in the town of Baker, and is a living history museum. I’m not sure what the ‘Block’ part is all about. The building isn’t a block long. (see Google map)
We’ll stop here. Next time, my least and most favorite towns in the Panhandle. See you on the road!
Route length: 35 miles