1930's | The West Bay Bridge


Transportation took center stage during this decade, including this headline in the 1932 Panama City Pilot: “PANAMA CITY GETS MODERN AIRPORT; WILL ACCOMMODATE BOTH LAND AND SEAPLANES.”

The story spoke of the land donated by Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Atkinson “just north of St. Andrews,” marking the area’s first true airport.

1930sMill.pngThe International Paper Company built a paper mill that was to fuel not only the immediate area’s economy, but had tentacles that spread far away and contributed to the need for an expanded port facility.

The first sighting of “The Breakers” came in the form of a snack hut at the end of “The Pier” around 1937, the same time the Bay County Herald became the Panama City News Herald.

And perhaps the biggest story early on for the newly named paper was the sinking of The Tarpon, lost during a storm.

And those people with familiar names remained busy. James “Jim” Mowat and William “Bill” Mowat won a trip for a 4-H project. James later served as a school board member for 24 years while Bill died in a bombing raid over Germany the following decade.


John Daniel, who later became city manager of Panama City, was surveying again, this time for right-of-way for another bridge: The West Bay Bridge. Meanwhile, the bridge he surveyed for the previous decade opened not just for traffic, but for a formal and easy way for people to go back and forth from the beach, forever changing the dynamics of the county.


Left: Panama Grammar School football team, circa 1939. Principal W. F. ‘Billy’ Harrison, Kr., is at left. Coach Crawford Mosley is at right. Harold Conrad is fourth from the left in the back row.
Courtesy Jerry Harrison

Middle: Spanish moss adds to the natural beauty of St. Andrew Bay where these two men are fishing in the 1930s.
Courtesy Bay County Library Local History Room / #D-5925

Right: W. W. Starling with his daughter Ruth at Sinclair Oil Company’s bulk plant, 1938.
Courtesy Ruth S. Glenn


Left: Bar pilot Ernest Spiva with his trademark hat and pipe, holding his young son Ernest Jr., circa 1938.
Courtesy Ernest Spiva

Middle: Group of men that either financed or worked on the boat ‘Friday’ in the shipyards at Panama City, 1930s.
Courtesy Bay County Library History Room / #147.1.4

Right: Snack hut on the end of ‘The Pier,’ Panama City Beach, 1937. The Breakers sold breakfast and lunch to tourists and fishermen.
Courtesy Bay County Library History Room / #114.6.3

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