Tony Mennillo’s Salty Memories Along the Coastal Highway
Crab Island arrives on the scene, circa 1950s and disappears in late 1970s. In the1935 photo, the Corps of Engineers dredge the pass and place the spoils on Holiday Isle and begin to manufacture Norriego Point that is shown in two parts.
It is easy to see how the East Pass has changed over the years. The 1955 and 1967 photographs show the placement of spoils at the Destin family home site and Crab Island. In the 1967 photo, you start to see the canals cut into Holiday Isle, with more canals in 1968. If you look at the 1968 versus the 1969 photo, you can clearly see that the jetties were built in 1969.
And in the 1978 photo, you see construction already taking place on Holiday Isle as the area is starting to take a permanent shape.
Today, Crab Island and Norriego Point are popular spots for the boating community. There are usually several dozen, or more, watercraft anchored, with families spending the whole weekend there.
Choctawhatchee Bay is more than twentyseven miles long and follows an east-west orientation along the upper Gulf Coast of Florida in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. It varies from one to six miles in width, with depths ranging from ten to forty-three feet.
The bay has four basic natural habitats: shallow slope areas (vegetated, unvegetated, and oyster beds), deep central basin regions (unvegetated), bayous, and a river delta area, with East Pass connecting the bay to the Gulf of Mexico. Tidal exchange in the bay is minimal (a range of about 0.15 m, or 0.5 ft), and flushing is limited to the narrow, shallow opening to the Gulf of Mexico at East Pass.
The bay receives most of its freshwater inflow from Choctawhatchee River, which receives flow from several tributaries including Pea River, Wrights Creek, Sandy Creek, Pine Log Creek, Seven Runs, Holmes Creek, and Bruce Creek.
Several creeks feed the various bayous surrounding the bay, including Turkey Creek, Rocky Creek, Swift Creek, and Alaqua Creek. Freshwater sources also include groundwater contributions from springs and the Floridan aquifer. The Choctawhatchee Bay watershed has the highest elevations in Florida. Soft, sandy soil, intense rainfall, and steep topographical relief make this area highly susceptible to erosion, particularly after removal of vegetative cover, during road construction, and with agricultural activities.
Human impacts, in concert with natural forces, can affect the health and distribution of sea grass beds.
The Destin Harbor East Pass circa 1935…
…and 1978. More, much more, in Tony Mennillo’s fantastic new Destin history book, SALTY MEMORIES.
Crab Island circa 1964.