In 1846, two hotels were built at Newport Spring: the Washington and the Wakulla, to entice and accommodate the folks who came to “take the waters”---to bathe in and drink the mineral water for medicinal purposes. In 1851, a state charter permitted the building of a plank road from Newport to the Florida-Georgia line. The road only ended up going as far as what is now US 27 at Chaires Cross Road in Leon County, with a spur that headed toward Tallahassee. Its purpose was to make easier the transport of cotton from the plantations in the area south of Thomasville, Georgia and around Tallahassee, to Newport where it was taken by river to the port at St. Marks. Only boats with a small draft could navigate the shallow river to take the cotton to the port. While certainly an improvement over the shifting sand, the plank road was no doubt a bone-jarring wagon ride over the boards.
This was taken under the bridge at Newport looking south.
This one is at the same spot looking north up the St. Mark's River.
Though we have found no mention of the road itself in historical writings, since the road was in place in March of 1865, Confederates must have made use of it as they fought and tracked the Union troops who followed the river from the other (east) side from Newport to Natural Bridge where the main battle took place. The Union troops were defeated in that battle and Tallahassee remained Confederate, the only state capital east of the Mississippi to do so. This weekend, the commemorative re-enactment of this battle will take place at Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park.