Apalachicola, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Fishing boats line the docks in Apalachicola,
Florida. The charming and historic city has owed its
existence to Apalachicola Bay since its earliest days.
The wide streets of Apalachicola
catch the Gulf breezes as they drift
across Apalachicola Bay. The city is
beautiful and historic.
Antebellum Orman House
Now a Florida historic state park,
the Orman House was brought by
sailing ship and assembled in
Apalachicola in 1838.
When the River was King
$10,000,000 in cotton came down
the river to the warehouses and
cotton merchants of Apalachicola
Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Florida's Historic City on the Bay
Cape St. George Lighthouse
Demolished by a hurricane, the
Cape St. George Lighthouse has
been restored on beautiful St.
George Island off Apalachicola.
|Copyright 2013 & 2015 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Latest Update: January 11, 2015
Apalachicola is one of the most historic cities
in the United States. Located where the
Apalachicola River meets Apalachicola Bay,
the Florida city is a noted destination for eco-
and heritage tourism.
Even before the modern city was founded,
the area surrounding Apalachicola was an
important vortex of history. The bays, rivers
and islands were the haunts of William
Augustus Bowles, the famed adventurer and
pirate who tried to establish an empire
among the Florida Indians during the late
Bowles based his "Navy" (i.e. pirate ships)
upriver at Estiffanulga Bluff and one of them
fought a successful battle against a Spanish
coast guard ship in Apalachicola Bay.
In 1814, British troops used Prospect Bluff,
about 30 miles upriver from Apalachicola, as
a base for operations against the United
States during the War of 1812. They built a
fort they called British Post there.
When the war ended, the British left their fort
in the hands of their former American Indian
and African American allies. Officials in the
U.S. started calling it the "Negro Fort" and
sent the army and navy to destroy it in 1816. A
heated cannonball from a U.S. Navy gunboat
struck the powder magazine and blew the fort
to bits, killing 270 of the men, women and
children sheltered within its walls. It was the
deadliest cannon shot in American history.
The scene is preserved today at Fort
Gadsden Historic Site in the Apalachicola
National Forest. It is about 15 miles north of
The U.S. Army had a hospital camp at West
Point, the site of present-day Apalachicola, in
1818-1821. Somewhere beneath the city are
buried the remains of a number of American
soldiers. The location of the graves has been
lost to time.
A customs office was opened at West Point
in 1821 and that was the original name of the
city when it was incorporated in 1827. The
name was changed to Apalachicola in 1831
as the city booked t become the third busiest
port on the entire Gulf Coast.
The city is located where the Apalachicola
River meets Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of
Mexico. The point of land on which it was built
was the natural export point for tens of
thousands of bales of cotton bound from
upriver farms and plantations to the textile
factories of Europe and New England. In
1860 alone an estimated $10,000,000 in
cotton was shipped through Apalachicola.
The giant bales along with timber, fish,
turtles, turpentine and other commodities
arrived aboard beautiful paddlewheelers.
The steamboats also brought passengers
and carried incoming cargoes back up to the
plantations and cities on the Apalachicola,
Chattahoochee, Flint and Chipola Rivers.
Apalachicola's social status grew with its
commercial success and the city attracted
such luminaries as Dr. John Gorrie, the
inventor of a mechanical refrigeration unit
that also made ice, and Dr. Alvin Wentworth
Chapman, a world-renowned botanist and
author. Both are buried in the city.
Dr. Gorrie's research and inventions provide
the focus of the John Gorrie Museum State
Park on 6th Street. Chapman is remembered
at the beautiful Chapman Botanical Garden
on North Market Street.
The War Between the States (or Civil War)
brought commerce in Apalachicola to a
screeching halt. Confederate troops held the
city for one year, building fortifications and
mounting cannon to defend the city and the
mouth of the Apalachicola River. Warships of
the Union Navy blockaded the port and
several small encounters took place in and
around Apalachicola Bay.
The Confederates withdrew from the city in
1862 and it was left "between the lines" until
the end of the war. By the time the conflict
was over, the commerce of Apalachicola had
been destroyed. Shortly after the lifting of the
blockade in 1865, however, Union General
Alexander Asboth reported that citizens were
returning from "rebeldom" to bring the city
back to life.
John Gorrie Museum
The inventor of the first ice machine
and mechanical refrigeration was a
physician and community leader in
The riverboats returned after the war and
Apalachicola rebounded, but the days of the
beautiful old paddlewheelers were coming to
an end. By the early 1900s they had been
replaced by railroads and modern highways.
Apalachicola adapted to changing times and
turned to the bay for its survival. Apalachicola
oysters became famed around the world for
their special flavor created by the perfect
combination of freshwater and saltwater in
Humans have harvested oysters from
Apalachicola Bay for thousands of years and
the culture is a special part of American
history. The industry has been hit hard by
Atlanta's demands for more and more water
from the river system.
Oysters need the right amount of freshwater
to survive. The "river war" is finally heading to
the U.S. Supreme Court even as the last of
the bay's famed oystermen cling to their
boats and special was of life.
Apalachicola thrives today as a center for
tourism and fishing. It boasts numerous
historic homes and its location is one of the
most beautiful in Florida. Historically and
ecologically unique, the area around the old
city is a paradise for lovers of history and the
From quaint restaurants offering world
famous Apalachicola oysters, shrimp and
other seafood to beautiful inns and historic
andmarks, the city is a stunning destination.
Its Seafood Festival, held each fall, is the
oldest coastal celebration in Florida.
To learn more about the historic sites and
points of interest in Apalachicola, please
follow the links below.
Please click here to visit the city's official
tourism site for more information.
Chapman Botanical Garden
The legacy of a premier botanist,
Dr. Alvin Wentworth Chapman, is
remembered at Apalachicola's
stunning botanical gardens.
St. George Island
The beaches of St. George Island
just off Apalachicola are some of
the most beautiful and pristine in
History on the Gulf Coast