Historic Bagdad Mill Site
BAGDAD VILLAGE HISTORIC DISTRICT
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES - SANTA ROSA COUNTY, FL
A Florida Heritage Site
Historic Bagdad Mill Site
The Historic Bagdad Mill Site is where Joseph Forsyth and his partners, Andrew and Ezekiel Simpson, built new sawmill facilities in the 1840s. Locating the mill at the confluence of Pond Creek and Blackwater River proved to be lucrative for the transportation, milling, and shipping of timber.
(Left) Simpson & Co. Front Gang Mill pictured in January of 1890. This building was added to a number of times in the ensuing years.
Logs were transported via railways, flatboats, and rafting to the Bagdad Mill for processing. Through the years, production continued to expand with the installation of a steam-powered sawmill and with the addition of a new gang mill, sash and door factory, and an adjoining island mill across the river.
(Right) This photo shows the mill after the turn of the century. The cupola of the Simpson & Co. Front Gang Mill building is visible in the center. The small building in the foreground is the 'Floating Firehouse.'
By 1900, Bagdad's lumber mill had become the largest producer of yellow pine lumber in the world. Alongside the mill, an active shipping industry also thrived where lumber was shipped to South America, Italy, England, and Scandinavia as well as New Orleans for domestic consumption.
Unfortunately, the company failed to manage the forest and replant. Virtually none of the 30 million acres of virgin yellow pine was left in Northwest Florida after cutting its ample supply. By 1939, the mill in Bagdad went out of business causing most of the families to move away.
(Above) This photo shows the timber pen where lumber was dogged and locked together with spikes and chains.
(Left) There are over 160 newly planted trees in the park. Visitors can read about the history of Bagdad and its mill on panels set along the pathway.
Today, the park is serene and the river is quiet. Beautiful trees and grassy fields replace the sights and sounds of the lumber mill and its yards. Visitors can read about the history of Bagdad and its mill on educational panels found along the park's .45 mi path.
Bagdad Mill Site Park offers a spectacular view of the Blackwater River and Island No. 2 that was once a part of the lumber mill's operations. A historic marker is set at the foot of the pier designating the park as a Florida Heritage Site. The marker describes the historic significance of the Bagdad Lumber Mill and the Shipbuilding industry here on the Blackwater River.