Valparaiso Florida

FEATURED LISTING: Florida ::: Valparaiso

It is entirely befitting that Valparaiso in Okaloosa County should host the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, because this town of 6400 residents is an absorbing and extensive canvass of the intriguing past of the area, starting from Aleutian times.

Valparaiso is an appropriate name for this scenic urban settlement carved out of thick forest, for it is indeed a telling and graphic representation of our common vision of paradise. Abundant water, rich soil and a wealth of flora and fauna are the most telling features of this generous land bordering the Atlantic. The weather is relaxing for most of the year, except for exciting visits by storms that so love all of Florida!

European explorers found indigenous tribes collecting the sea grass that grows all around Okaloosa, and enjoying the twin bounties of freshwater fish and sea food amidst acres of timber. The township of Valparaiso was conceived towards the end of the 19th century, but suffered successive setbacks as the founder passed away prematurely, and as the company charges with the formation and development of the town, suffered financial failure.

Valparaiso was incorporated early in the 20th century, these tragedies notwithstanding. The town was relatively stagnant, with just a few timber mills and a sprinkling of turpentine manufacturers, until 1935. The latter year proved to be a watershed as an airstrip was built in response to the growing charm and novelty of aviation in those days. This became the nucleus of the Eglin Air Force Base, which stands to this day. Local authorities wisely donated some 350 thousand acres to the military, which encouraged then to invest in the town, and to bring in desperately needed dollars as well. We have to mention the Valparaiso Inn established by a Chicago entrepreneur, in this connection, for it also set a trend of increasing numbers of visitors to Valparaiso.

Though the Heritage Museum has an excellent collection that goes back to Aleutian times, its more admirable contribution to the history of all Florida is its continuous effort to spread awareness of the arts and crafts of the area. The Museum helps people learn how to weave pine needles, sea grass and the round reeds that are also remnants of the earliest times of Okaloosa. Private operators offer fishing charters, which means that one can enjoy being transported to pre-historic times in Valparaiso! Baskets made from local plants and abundant sea food fresh from the waters of the area provide exceptional delights for folk accustomed only to modern times!

Valparaiso is also a gentle and encouraging place for senior citizens. The local association is so active that many people may find themselves in the midst of schedules that are fuller than when they were young and at work! The emphasis on fitness is most exemplary and contributes to the wellness and longevity of members, without intruding on personal preferences. Such community initiative adds to the values of the pleasant weather and peaceful surroundings of this Paradise with a revealing veil!

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