Boggy Bayou: Around Niceville and Valparaiso by Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida
Located just north of Florida�s Gulf Coast, the twin cities of Niceville and Valparaiso nestle side by side along the shores of Boggy Bayou. Although they are now dynamic modern communities, the land they occupy remained a wilderness long after the rest of Florida was settled. After the Civil War, early homesteaders carved out a meager existence by making turpentine, sawing lumber from the pine forests, and harvesting fish from the waterways. In the 1920s, word spread that this region was an unspoiled paradise, so Chicago investors purchased land for development. Photographs taken at the time show the first hard road to Crestview, an early-20th-century bathhouse and waterslide, and formal get togethers at the Valparaiso Hotel. Today the nearby towns of Destin and Fort Walton Beach host millions of tourists, but just across the bridge, Niceville and Valparaiso hold on to their small-town charm.
Contributing authors Carole Spence Apfel (of the Spence family who owned the Niceville Fish House) and Annette Brabham are lifetime residents of the area. Annette�s father, Cliff Brabham, spent years photographing the bayou and has provided many of the pictures for this publication. Co-author Kay Harter has lived along Boggy Bayou for many years, sailing its waters and leading local preservation efforts. Barbara Brundage, museum director, has worked as a professional historian for more than 20 years. She has a degree in history and interpretation from Penn State University and worked as a ranger/historian for the National Park Service.