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Fort Walton Beach is home to 19,000 people and is packed with history and recreation along Florida’s northwestern coast. Its sister city is Quezon City in the Philippines.
Popular attractions in this Okaloosa County beach town include:
- Emerald Coast Science Center, an hands-on educational experience packed with family-friendly fun
- Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, a marine park featuring shows and interactions with dolphins, rays, and sharks since 1955
- Heritage Park and Cultural Center, which houses several museums and cultural sites, particularly those related to the indigenous Mississippian Fort Walton culture
Whether its business or pleasure you are coming to town for, Fort Walton Beach has plenty of shopping, recreation, and cultural landmarks for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. Along the coast, you can find plenty of shopping and dining opportunities along Mary Esther Boulevard, as well as Miracle Strip Parkway.
Just across Brooks Bridge is Okaloosa Island, which is filled to the brim with recreation and dining facilities and coastal condos and hotels with an unparalleled view of the Gulf of Mexico. Taking US Highway 98 southeast takes you to nearby Florida panhandle towns like Destin and Miramar Beach. Further west, you can find Pensacola and Warrington.
The Fort Walton Culture
Fort Walton’s history is believed to go as far back as between 1100 and 1550 CE, from a culture closely related to the preceding Weedon Island peoples inhabiting the Old Tampa Bay area during the same period. The name “Fort Walton culture” was coined by Gordon Willey, an archaeologist working at the site.
Many of the pottery and artifacts found in the area are reminiscent of Mississippian craftsmanship. Several ceremonial platform mounds exist in the area, indicating villages central to the Fort Walton culture’s chiefdoms.
The mound structure is as follows:
- The base is constructed from several layers of fill inside of which can be found the remains of even more ancient structures
- The main ramp to access the mound’s summit is paved with a log staircase
- Many mounds still had a building at the summit with a wattle and daub construction
- Many central mounds are surrounded by secondary mounds
- Some mounds show signs of intrusive burial over the years
The Fort Walton peoples and the Leon-Jefferson era tribespeople who came after are the later Apalachee peoples’ ancestors. Their cultures were influenced by increased contact with European–particularly Spanish-- settlers and a decline in the traditional chiefdom system of rulership as colonial territory expanded.
Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park is not just a Florida State Park: it is also one of the most important archaeological sites for understanding the Fort Walton culture’s chiefdom structure and overall culture. The Indian Temple Mound Museum is another hub of Fort Walton culture and history, chronicling an estimated 10,000 years of indigenous societies living in the area with over 1,000 artifacts.
Notable Names and Places in Fort Walton Beach
Quite a few individuals of renown come from this gorgeous coastal locale, including the following:
- Nuremberg trials court reporter and journalist Nancy Kenaston
- Florida 1st District congressional representative Matt Gaetz
- Former Department of Homeland Security Director and retired Coast Guard rear admiral John C. Acton
- Two-time Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam
- World-renowned guitarist Shane Gibson, who is most known for touring with Korn
Fort Walton Beach is well-known for its tourism industry and is home to two crucial United States Air Force bases: Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) and Hurlburt Field. These bases are by far the largest employers in the area, providing jobs for over 27,000 people combined in 2010.
Eglin AFB is one of the largest in the nation at over 700 square miles. Its size allows for a variety of flight exercises, as well as artillery and explosives testing. One of the most notable weapons tests conducted at Eglin was the Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) in 2003. Eglin also contains a Fighter Wing, Air Armament Center, and a Test Wing. Meanwhile, Hurlburt Field houses many essential components of the USAF, including Headquarters, Special Operations Command, and a Special Operations University.
How Does SERVPRO Measure and Detect Water Damage in a Fort Walton Beach Home?
SERVPRO technicians offer water damage cleanup for Fort Walton Beach properties at any time of the day or night, including weekends and holidays, to minimize damage while maximizing homeowners’ savings. One of the most critical aspects of ensuring this endeavor is successful is an accurate measurement of moisture-affected surfaces with the proper tools.
SERVPRO uses moisture sensors, meters, and infrared imaging to attain the following goals per Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) standards:
- Returning structures and contents to their normal humidity levels
- Accelerating drying with air movement and dehumidification equipment
- Calculate drying goals based on air temperature and humidity as well as moisture content of damaged items
- Detect and eliminate water damage in and behind structures such as walls, ceilings, and floors to prevent long-term structural damage and microbial growth
While sensors and meters are typically calibrated for the measurement of specific materials like wood and drywall, thermal imaging detects potential water damage through changes in temperature. Water damage affecting a structure is usually colder than in dry areas. SERVPRO techs can reach these areas by making small holes in wall or ceiling cavities, for example, or removing saturated sections of drywall or flooring to dry and sanitize materials easily.
Microbial growth can occur in as little as 24 hours after damage occurs so that SERVPRO technicians can remediate with various tools, including HEPA filter air scrubbers, EPA-registered antimicrobials, and agitation tools.
SERVPRO of Fort Walton Beach is a locally owned and operated franchise that is Faster To Any Size Disaster. Call (850) 863-2552 for emergency response cleanup and restoration services for your home.