You are here

From Boom to Bust

Title: From Boom to Bust: Ghost Towns of Selected Florida Gulf Coast Communities.
Name(s): Roberts, Rebecca, author
Davis, Frederick, professor directing thesis
Fenstermaker, John, committee member
Bickley, Bruce, committee member
Program in American and Florida Studies, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2005
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This thesis examines extinct or vanishing towns along Florida's northwest coast, specifically communities in Wakulla and Levy Counties, that experienced a boom to bust phenomena between Florida's territorial period and the early twentieth century. The exceptional growth of the selected areas prospered largely due to an abundance of seemingly inexhaustible natural resources. The towns withered and disappeared when industrialization depleted the natural resources or when populations shifted according to changes in land availability and mandated land use. Lumberyards sometimes demanded specific wood for manufacture and harvested a species to decimation within a geographical area. Sawmill owners bought non-contiguous land or leased other nearby lands to meet the increasing need for production. Early Gulf Coast railroads tended to follow the path of high-yield lumber mills and commodified natural products. Newly implemented laws often changed the methods of available collection, and consumption of resources and became another factor in whether a town thrived or died. Small, independent commercial fishermen abandoned their livelihoods when new net bans challenged their authority. Hunting resorts closed in consequence of federal land purchases. The Civil War changed forever the labor force behind cotton production. Southerners who viewed slaves as just another limitless resource had to reevaluate their lifestyles. Even the old planters and slave owners who could readjust morally and socially were unable to realign themselves financially and the death of their beneficent town soon followed. Freedmen left their master's land when and if opportunity arose in favor of newer or black-cultured communities. An out-migration of freedmen could lead to the death of post Civil War towns. The demise of many southern ghost towns is often attributed to technological advances and progress bypassing the sleepier little villages, but this theory diminishes, if not totally dismisses the agency of a single person, or a select group of people, to make or challenge decisions contributing to the boom or bust of a particular settlement. It is true that the areas studied often witnessed a loss of transportation services and outward migration in favor of larger or newer sites, but a breach usually appeared in the town's power-structure long before population loss. Larger political, social, and economic forces working outside of the geographical area of a future ghost town were not truly as powerful as might be expected. Instead, the decisions of a relatively small group of citizens, who often had contacts with people connected to larger government forces, made decisions independently of a town council and greatly contributed to the sometimes gradual and sometimes swift extinction of their own districts. The town's lack of a powerful force could be equally devastating if the area received no external representation.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-1821 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis Submitted to the Program in American and Florida Studies in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2005.
Date of Defense: November 4, 2005.
Keywords: Richard Keith Call, Florida History, Ghost Towns, Extinct Towns, Wakulla County, Levy County, Magnolia, Port Leon, Newport, Arran, East Goose Creek, Wakulla Beach, West Goose Creek, Cedar Key, Rosewood, Turpentine, Naval Stores, Lumberyards, Seine Fishing, Florida Railroad, George Hamlin, Augustus Steele, David Levy Yulee, Henry Walker Sr., Civil War, Slaves, Hurricanes, Hunting Resorts
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: Frederick Davis, Professor Directing Thesis; John Fenstermaker, Committee Member; Bruce Bickley, Committee Member.
Subject(s): United States -- Study and teaching
Persistent Link to This Record:
Use and Reproduction: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.
Host Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Roberts, R. (2005). From Boom to Bust: Ghost Towns of Selected Florida Gulf Coast Communities. Retrieved from