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Once the site of one of the area’s largest industrial operations in the 19th century, a 21-acre property at the confluence of Pond Creek and Blackwater River in Bagdad, Fla. will soon open as one of the area’s largest waterfront parks.

Santa Rosa County will host a grand opening celebration for the Bagdad Mill Site Park on Monday, May 16 at 10 a.m. at the Bagdad Mill Site Park.

The site was previously the location of the Bagdad Land and Lumber Company, which operated from 1840 through 1939. The site was acquired by the State of Florida Board of Trustees in 2000 and was leased to Santa Rosa County for development in 2004 as a passive recreation area. The Bagdad Waterfronts Florida Partnership, Inc., has served as a catalyst for progress following a community envisioning and master planning process in 2006.

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Bagdad Mill Site Park. (Santa Rosa County/Special to The Pulse)

The $750,000 restoration and preservation project includes various recreational facilities, including a kayak launch, fishing pier, walking trails, and landscaping as part of the first phase of the project.

“I am proud of the efforts of the community and county departments who worked diligently over the last ten years to open Bagdad Mill Site Park,”said Commissioner Bob Cole.

Phase one of the project also includes educational signs detailing the history of the property and the village of Bagdad. Future phases will include the addition of pavilions, a gazebo, restrooms, a grassed amphitheater, a floating dock and fenced-in dog park.

Bagdad Mill Site Master Plan. (Santa Rosa County/Special to The Pulse)

Bagdad Mill Site Master Plan. (Santa Rosa County/Special to The Pulse)

“We were able to leverage grant funds and contributions along with $250,000 of county in-kind services to minimize expenditures. I am looking forward to the grand opening of this beautiful park and encourage the community and citizens to celebrate with us.”

The program will conclude with an unveiling of a historical marker describing the significance of the Bagdad Lumber Mill and Shipbuilding in Bagdad.

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The Bagdad lumber mill in Santa Rosa County, circa 1930s. (UWF Archives/Special to The Pulse)

Following the grand opening program, there will be a brief overview of Arcadia Mill’s evolution to Bagdad Mill and live enactment with period-dressed actors representing early Bagdad including a reverend, postmistress and mill worker.

Completion of phase one of the project was provided from assistance from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Coastal Partnership Initiative Program, Recreation Trails Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, State of Florida, Santa Rosa County District II Commissioner, Tourist Development Office Lodging Tax Collections, Bagdad Waterfronts Florida Partnership, Inc., Blackwater River Foundation, Inc., International Paper, and Blackwater Pyrates.

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