The Fountain of Youth, a legendary spring that was believed to grant eternal youth to those who drank from it, was thought to be located in Florida. Juan Ponce de León is said to have been searching for it when he discovered the land that would become Florida.
Bay County is located in the panhandle of Florida and has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was inhabited by the Native American tribes, including the Creek and the Seminole tribes. The first European contact with the area occurred in the 16th century when Spanish explorers arrived. However, it wasn't until the 19th century that significant settlement and development began.

In the early 1800s, the United States acquired the area as part of the Florida Territory. During this time, the region saw an influx of settlers, primarily from the South, who established cotton plantations and timber industries. The county was officially established in 1913 and named after St. Andrew's Bay, which is a prominent feature in the area.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Bay County experienced growth and development with the arrival of railroads and the establishment of the Panama City area. The county benefited from the shipping and trading industry, and it became a popular tourist destination due to its beautiful beaches. However, the Great Depression in the 1930s brought economic hardships to the county, leading to a decline in population and development.

In the following decades, Bay County has experienced ups and downs, including military base closures and natural disasters such as hurricanes. Despite these challenges, the county has managed to recover and grow. Today, Bay County is known for its beautiful coastline, vibrant tourism industry, and being home to Tyndall Air Force Base. It remains a hub for fishing, boating, and outdoor recreation, attracting visitors from around the world.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Bay County, Florida.

  • 1913: Bay County is established in Florida.
  • 1850s-1860s: European settlers begin to arrive in the area.
  • 1861-1865: The American Civil War impacts Bay County, with many local men joining the Confederate Army.
  • Late 1800s: Lumber and turpentine industries become important for Bay County's economy.
  • 1906: St. Andrew Bay Railroad is completed, connecting the county to the national railroad system.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression hits Bay County, leading to economic struggles.
  • 1941-1945: World War II results in the establishment of Tyndall Air Force Base, bringing economic growth to the county.
  • 1960s: The construction of the Hathaway Bridge connects Panama City to the nearby beach communities, boosting tourism.
  • 1995: Hurricane Opal strikes Bay County, causing significant damage.
  • 2010: Deepwater Horizon oil spill affects the county's coastline and economy.
  • 2018: Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, devastates Bay County and surrounding areas.