Although evidence exists as early as 1763 of the Jones Brothers' yard careening and repairing British men-of-war, Bagdad's first major shipyard was built in 1833 by Captain John Gardner and changed ownership several times. In 1853, the shipyard was purchased by John Forsyth for $750. He operated it for two years, when it reverted to the newly organized E.E. Simpson & Company upon Forsyth's death. In 1858, William Ollinger and Martin Bruce began operating a small repair plant and marine railway that lasted for 60 years. In 1861, during the Civil War, Confederate President Jefferson Davis authorized the construction of three gunboats for which Ollinger and Bruce received the contract . In March of 1862, the gunboat and shipyard were destroyed by Confederate
forces to keep them from falling into Union hands. To save the 500-ton drydock, workers quickly sunk the only dock of its kind in Northwest Florida beneath the surface of the Blackwater River. A 110-foot, twin-screw gunboat was boarded and set afire by Confederate soldiers. Though most of Bagdad's population fled to Greenville, Alabama, James Creary remained behind to oversee the remaining property. He was taken prisoner by a Union scouting party and was briefly imprisoned at Fort Pickens in Pensacola.. In 1867, during Reconstruction, the Ollinger and Bruce Shipyard reopened. George Bruce inherited his father's share of the shipyard in 1894, and it remained in operation until 1917, when it moved to Mobile and operated as the Mobile Shipyard. In 2008, the Bagdad Waterfronts Florida Partnership completed the development of the Ollinger & Bruce Shipyard Park, a waterfront "pocket
park" located near the site of the former shipyard and freight wharf.
Center: Drydock behind riverboats
Right top: Advertisement about dry docks
Right middle: Floating dry dock (1860-1917)
Right bottom: Martin F. Bruce (1833-1894) Bagdad Sectional Dry Docks Company