The name "Florida" actually comes from the Spanish word "florido," which means "full of flowers."
Okaloosa County, located in the panhandle of Florida, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The region was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Apalachee, Choctaw, and Creek tribes. They utilized the area's resources, such as the abundant fishing grounds and fertile land, for sustenance and trade.

In the 16th century, Spanish explorers, including Hernando de Soto, arrived in the area. They established settlements and introduced European diseases, which had a devastating impact on the Native American population. The Spanish rule continued until the late 18th century when Florida came under British control. However, the British influence in Okaloosa County was limited.

Following the American Revolution, Spain regained control of Florida, including Okaloosa County. During this time, the region saw increased interaction with American settlers moving southward. In 1821, Florida was transferred to the United States as a result of the Adams-OnĂ­s Treaty. As American settlers continued to arrive, the Creek Wars of the early 19th century disrupted the lives of both Native Americans and settlers in the area.

By the mid-19th century, timber and naval stores began driving the local economy. Sawmills proliferated, and the lumber industry became a significant contributor to Okaloosa County's growth. The railroad arrived in 1895, connecting the county to the rest of Florida and enabling further expansion. Agriculture, particularly cotton cultivation, also became prominent.

Okaloosa County experienced significant growth during the 20th century. The construction of military bases, such as Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, in the early 1940s brought increased economic opportunities and population growth to the area. These bases played a vital role in World War II and have remained significant military installations to this day.

In recent decades, Okaloosa County has become a popular tourist destination, known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor recreational activities. The county's economy has diversifed, with tourism, military, and technology sectors playing significant roles. As of today, Okaloosa County continues to thrive, combining its historical significance with modern development.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Okaloosa County, Florida.

  • 1915: Okaloosa County is established on September 18.
  • 1933: The first bridge connecting Okaloosa County to the mainland is completed.
  • 1940s: Tyndall Air Force Base is established in Okaloosa County.
  • 1956: The town of Fort Walton Beach is incorporated.
  • 1961: The Eglin Air Force Base museum opens to the public.
  • 1963: Okaloosa-Walton Community College (now Northwest Florida State College) is founded.
  • 1969: Destin is incorporated as a city.
  • 1975: The Okaloosa Correctional Institution is established.
  • 1996: The Emerald Coast Science Center opens in Fort Walton Beach.
  • 2004: Hurricane Ivan causes significant damage to Okaloosa County.