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: December 22, 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
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
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. Legend holds that
some of his treasures are hidden in
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
the 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
The scene is preserved today at Fort
Gadsden Historic Site in the
Apalachicola National Forest. It is
about 15 miles north of Apalachicola.
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 became the third busiest port
on the entire Gulf Coast.
The point of land on which
Apalachicola 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
The giant bales along with timber, fish,
turtles, turpentine and other
commodities arrived aboard beautiful
paddlewheel steamboats. The
steamers 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
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 boats 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 the bay.
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
Oysters need the right amount of
freshwater to survive. The "river war"
goes on even as the last of the bay's
famed oystermen cling to their boats
and special ways 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 landmarks, 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
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