Bill Gamblin - Santa Rosa Press Gazette
Residents of Santa Rosa County will have the opportunity to learn some of the history that lies beneath the Blackwater River.
What once was known as Hardscrabble before a series of name changes, which included a period where Milton was referred to as Hell, has a rich history resting on the bottom of the Blackwater River.
Saturday night the Blackwater Pyrates are sponsoring a lecture starting at 6 p.m. that will focus on the shipwrecks of the Blackwater River and the lumber mill history.
Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, of West Florida Archaeology Network, will speak on the shipwrecks, while Dr. Brian R. Rucker of Pensacola State College will address the lumber mill history.
Both of these segments work hand in hand.
“The most recognizable wrecks are the four schooners and the steam tug at Sheilds Point,” said Dr. Scott-Ireton, who specializes in maritime archaeology.
“The are ones that can be seen at low tide and at times can be seen from the I-10 bridge if you know what you are looking for.
“The biggest thing is there are a lot of vernacular watercraft that are at the bottom of the Blackwater that we do not have much history on since they were not constructed at a shipyard or by a shipwright.”
Ironically one of the biggest mysteries Scott-Ireton will address is a British war sloop – the HMS Mentor.
“We recently got a grant to do research on this vessel and try to locate it as well,” Scott-Ireton said.
“This British ship was the only one around and the British were planning on using it to battle the Spanish fleet, but it capsized in 1781 and the crew burned the ship.
“Some of the boats we will talk about has involved a lot of research and thesis work by graduate students here at UWF, while others are not so well researched.”