October 8, 2007

Chiles and His Florida: Century

The Alabama-Florida Border, perhaps the most political conservative corner of the Sunshine State and the hardest to define culturally as a split between Old South and something uniquely "Floridian." Century, however, is a majority-black town as of 2000 census and probably one of the only Democratic jurisdictions in Escambia County. That's unique. Looking at Wikipedia, it seems that Century and Pensacola are the only incorporated cities in the county--no wonder Chiles picked Century as the starting point of the Walk. Big-City Pensacola doesn't carry much symbolic value.

The above picture is right on the border, as you enter Century.

The most obvious thing coming into town is that it's Election Time in Century! See the sign lurking behind the Florida Welcome sign.
Century, so named because it was built at the turn of the 20th century.
Municipal Election Time! City Council seats up and the mayor's office too. It's a genuine squatters village in front of the Piggly Wiggly.

Founded in 1900 to house mill employees of the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company, by Yankees General Russell A. Alger of Michigan and Martin H. Sullivan of New York, the town's name comes from the turn of the century spirit in its construction. Oxen were used to pull long leaf pine lumber off the rail cars that journeyed 90 miles south from Alabama pine forests to Century saw mill. In 1942, the railroad shut down. Trucks were used instead of rail. In 1957, the mill was sold and new management took over.

Since workers in the logging industry had to labor long hours in the hot sun far from home each day, they built camps in Alabama presumably to bring some civilization to the lifestyle. Working with the timber though, with the snakes and spiders and bugs, had its share of frustrations.

See the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society for more info and pictures.
Another reminder you're close to Alabama. Cotton puffing up behind the bushes as you leave town. This is pine-and-cotton country.
Century Chamber of Commerce.

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