The Thirty A Review March 2021

l o c a l r e a d s

Pathway to Paradise on Florida’s Emerald Coast New Book Offers Comprehensive History of How 30-A Came to Be b y Te s s F a r m e r P athway to Paradise on Florida’s Emerald Coast is a full-color hardcover book that makes

quite a statement as a coffee table book, but as they say, don’t judge by its cover… It also includes what is likely the most detailed description and history of the area available. Have you heard the story of the ‘haunted house’ at Point Washing- ton that later became Eden Gardens State Park? How did the moniker ‘Redneck Riviera’ come to be? Or the background on how old town Santa Rosa came to be and what led to its demise?

Clockwise from top: Jeeps gathered for the Fourth of July at Seagrove Beach circa the 1980s; An early brochure advertising the amenities at Dune Allen; The trailer Eric Allen used as his office when he began building homes in Dune Allen Beach circa the early 1950s; Author Robert Reynolds; Book cover.

Pathway to Paradise on Florida’s Emerald Coast details the history of one of Florida’s most sensational destinations and tells the story of one of its most notable roads, Scenic Highway 30A. Author Robert Reynolds’s first work Simply Seagrove was published in 2018 and covered the history of Seagrove Beach. He now broadens his scope to cover all the communities along Highway 30A, with background on the entire Emerald Coast. From its creation in 1937 by the Florida legislature to its designation as a Florida Scenic Highway in 2008, 30A has witnessed the milestones in the development of the Emerald Coast. At first opposed by developers because of fears of congestion, 30A became the pathway that would connect and unify the diverse coastal communities along its path. When Reynolds was in junior high in Montgomery, AL, his parents discovered Seagrove Beach, a beach community that was close enough to drive to for weekends and as he puts it, “offered a lot more water sports than central Alabama.” The destination was Seagrove Beach, and his book Simply Seagrove portrays not only how they found it, but how Seagrove came to be. Reynolds’s family did a lot of boating and exploring by Jeep and in his books, he describes adventures ranging from navigating shallow canals in a Boston Whaler, to excavating and piecing together pottery in the dunes, and photographing a comet from the bluff. He covers the huge variety of waterways, including the history of the coastal dune lakes and tales of some devastating hur- ricanes. He describes all the plant and animal life you can expect to see that makes up the diverse ecosystems here, as well as a host of other phenomena from squeak- ing sand to red sunsets. Readers are sure to appreciate Reynolds’s clever storytelling, rare photographs, and vin- tage maps also included in the book.

parks and trails, and covers the many facets

that make life on 30-A all it is today, in- cluding the cultural arts, festivals, land- marks, and food scene. Whether coming to the area for a one-time vacation or to make a home and a life, Pathway to Para- dise is a must-have resource. “All in all, powerful, sometimes op- posing, forces will influence the future of Highway 30A and the Emerald Coast,”

He invites readers to ex- plore the towns that developed along the scenic route, from family-built communities like

Dune Allen Beach and Seagrove Beach to architect-de- signed layouts managed by large corporations, such as Rosemary Beach and Watercolor. The book also outlines the creation of unique community designs, such as in prominent Seaside and Alys Beach. Learn about the larger-than-life figures who spearheaded the developments over the decades, from Chicago snake oil salesman Charles Cessna, who dreamed of a dynamic city at Santa Rosa, to Edward Ball, who bought Cessna’s property after the hopeful empire collapsed. Ball went on to build the St. Joe Company into the largest private landowner in the state. Developers continued to be a driving force thorough the years, with J.J. and Robert E. Lee McCaskill and the development of Inlet Beach, to C.H. McGee, Sr. and his son Cube at Seagrove Beach. The hardbound book also explores the natural phe- nomena of the Gulf of Mexico, bays and lakes, state

writes Reynolds. “A long economic expansion has helped propel prices in the region, and the basic draws that have helped Florida continue to gain population are still in place. But environmental factors always in the back- ground are becoming more pronounced, and disagree- ments over access to beach areas have continued to raise concern. Let us hope that all interested parties will work together to help keep Scenic Highway 30A the idyllic place it has become, truly a pathway to paradise.” Pathway to Paradise on Florida’s Emerald Coast is available at Florida libraries, online retailers, and featured at local retailers including Sundog Books in Seaside, The Hidden Lantern in Rosemary Beach, The Studio Gallery in Uptown Grayton Beach, and Stock & Trade Design Co. in Miramar Beach. Further information is available at

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