Air Navigation Marker Returns to Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach Road from Air
Rivard

Grayton Beach has a new interesting feature and you won’t find it on the sand or in the water. Nope, it’s on the main road into town and it’s right beneath your feet. Next time you find yourself making your way down Defuniak Street, you’ll notice the big white lettering of “Grayton Beach” on the street...trust us, you can’t miss it. In addition to just looking cool and classically Grayton, the historical significance of this signage actually dates way back to World War II. 

In the 1940s around 13,000 of these air markers had been painted on barns, hangars, building roofs, and roads. Before the modern-day invention of radar and GPS, World War II pilots would rely on visual air markers to assist in navigation.  The idea was to help pilots find their way from one town to another. It makes sense that there was a marker in Grayton Beach since a Coast Guard station was established on our humble shore in the 1940s. 

As time rolled on the road was repaved and the iconic and historical letters were smoothed out and painted over. The Coastal Heritage Preservation Foundation, a group of residents who aim to renovate and preserve our South Walton community, along with other supporters pushed hard to have this historical, and quirky, marker restored. The Walton County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to allow the Grayton Beach Neighborhood Association to repaint the marker, and it was completed in June of 2019. 

In addition to being an eclectic coastal town with breathtaking white sand beaches, Grayton Beach, and South Walton alike are chock full of history and colorful pasts. The first mention of people living in South Walton can be found in a census record from 1840 to 1860 mentioning one single cabin in the wilderness. While the landscape has certainly seen an abundance of change and growth since the lone cabin days, our classic, stuck-in-time, charming as ever Grayton Beach still has some of these iconic cabins and cottages, and they offer an idyllic place to stay and soak in what it really feels like to be a local.