Remnants of the Captain Fritz steamboat remain in the Choctawhatchee riverbed

June 10, 2016

The Capt. Fritz steamboat. Photo courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida
The Capt. Fritz steamboat. Photo courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida

Low water levels expose remnants of Walton history

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s much of Walton County’s commerce was transported via water. Sown lumber, turpentine and vegetables were shipped to the mills and markets of Pensacola via steamboat and schooner.

One of the major steamboats that made a regular run between Freeport, Point Washington and Pensacola was the Capt. Fritz. A stern wheel steamboat built in 1892 the Capt. Fritz started operations in the Choctawhatchee Bay. She transported goods and passengers until she caught fire and burned at Cedar Tree Landing on the river on Sept. 19, 1930.  Historical records show that when the vessel caught fire at Cedar Tree Landing she was cut loose from her moorings. The ship floated down river to her current resting place about one mile north of Cowford Landing. Remnants of the Capt. Fritz are easily visible when the river level is low.

Remnants of the Capt. Fritz remain. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Remnants of the Capt. Fritz remain. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Walton County resident Ken Little and his wife Gator have a close connection to the Capt. Fritz.

“Gator’s grandfather and great-grandfather were skippers of the Fritz during part of the time she was in service,” Ken recalled.

For those interested in exploring the remnants of the steamboat, the Capt. Fritz is located approximately 1 mile north of Cowford Landing. The GPS location is: 30° 28′ 7″N  85° 53′ 23″W.

Information courtesy Coastal Heritage Foundation, State Library and Archives of Florida, and the Mississippi Maritime Museum.

About the Capt. Fritz:
Built 1892
Side Paddle Wheel – Built at Moss Point, Miss, 1892
Builder: John D’Angelo; Registration: 126911
Description: 101.0 Length; 21.6 breadth; 4.5 depth
Tonnage: 32 Gross; 16 Net; Home Port: Shieldsboro, Miss., in 1892
Owner: Fritz Lienhard