Churchwell Drive, the road that goes by the Panama City Beach Post Office connecting Middle Beach and Front Beach Roads was reopened Wednesday.
Construction began April 2007 and was completed ahead of schedule as it wasn’t slatted to be completed until mid summer 2008.
- Widen existing roadway
- Relocate the overhead utilities underground
- Build a parking area for the nearby beach access point – 127 spaces with embedded gravel run-off absorption system
- Build sidewalks and bike lanes
- Replace old bridge (paid for by FDOT)
The Churchwell family was at the ribbon cutting Wednesday along with Mayor Gayle Oberst and various other city officials. I never did get the full story for what the history of Churchwell Drive was (if someone knows, please fill us in), but I was referred to a great website, jdweeks.com. From what I understand, there used to be an amusement park from where the Churchwell Drive road is to Wal-Mart, with the entrance being somewhere around where the Wal-Mart parking lot is now. There was a train that went around the park with the horse stables where the current Post Office is. I was told that there were gun-fight shows and carnival rides. Instead of condos, they had two and three story hotels and cottages on the beach.
There are tons of pictures of old Panama City and Panama City Beach showing the original Long Beach and The Hangout, where the young folks gathered back then. I love looking at this stuff.
If anyone has any resources for historic Panama City Beach, please let us know.