With Florida now being known for coast-to-coast steel, concrete, and asphalt, even those old enough to remember “Old Florida” can now only reminisce what the state was like when it was natural, when wildlife abounded, with rivers and freshwater springs that were not littered.
There are restaurants with décor to give you an “Old Florida” ambiance, but if you want the real thing, Beck’s Fish Camp will surprise you. It is 400 acres of unspoiled fields, forests, and waterway. The land was used by the Beck brothers in the late 1800’s to build a sawmill and ship lumber around the world. The bayou, known by the Spanish as the Little Escambia River, was dammed to create a 50-acre lake for the milling operation. With the dam gone, the spring-fed fresh water flows again to the Escambia River, and a fish camp was started in the 1940’s. The Florida Fresh Water and Fish Comm. reports that the Escambia is the best fishing river in Florida, with bluegill, bass, sunfish, gar, shell-cracker, crappie, and some sturgeon.
The grounds are believed to be where Gen. Andrew Jackson encamped his 15,000 troops in 1821. The nearby town of Cantonment derives its name from its meaning as a “military encampment.”