Chattahoochee Landing
This important archaeological
and historic site has been
occupied for thousands of
years.
Torreya State Park
Named for an extremely rare
tree, Torreya preserves a
wide variety of historic sites
including the Gregory House.
The Apalachicola River in Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Apalachicola River, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Apalachicola River, Florida
The Historic Apalachicola River
Seen here from Alum Bluff in Liberty County, Florida,
the Apalachicola River has been a focus of life for
thousands of years.
The Apalachicola River & Valley
A wholly Florida stream, the Apalachicola
River rises on the Georgia border at the
confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint
Rivers. From there it flows south to
Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Described by one writer as a prehistoric
"Highway 101," the river has served as a
major transportation artery for thousands of
years. One writer, in fact, advanced the theory
that the Biblical
Garden of Eden may have
been located along its banks.

Rev. E.E. Callaway of Bristol came to believe
that the Apalachicola and its tributaries
matched the description in Genesis of the
rivers that watered the Garden of Eden. He
identified a site at
Alum Bluff in Liberty County
as the point at which he believed God had
planted the luxurious garden. Local tradition,
in fact, holds that the rare Florida Torreya tree
is the gopher wood from which Noah built the
ark.

The Garden of Eden story is just one of the
colorful legends that add flavor to the culture
of the river valley.

Native Americans lived on the Apalachicola
for thousands of years before the arrival of
the first Europeans. Civilizations rose and fell
here and traces of their presence can still be
found in the mound groups that dot the river's
banks. One of the most impressive of these
is located at Chattahoochee Landing.

The Spanish established missions near the
confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint
Rivers during the late 1600s and later built a
fort near present-day Apalachicola. During
the 1700s, the notorious pirate and
adventurer William Augustus Bowles
operated from a base at Estiffanulga Bluff
and used the river to hide his flotilla of pirate
ships.

The British envisioned using the river as an
avenue for invading the United States during
the War of 1812 and established two forts
along the Apalachicola. Their massive post
at Prospect Bluff was used as a supply and
training base.

Left in the hands of their Native American and
black allies when the British evacuated the
river in 1815, the post became known to U.S.
authorities as the
"Negro Fort" on the
Apalachicola. It was destroyed by the Army
and Navy in 1816 with one of the deadliest
cannon shots in American history.

The "Negro Fort" was blown to bits in the
blink of an eye and 270 of the 320 men,
women and children inside its walls were
killed by a single shot. The rumble of the
explosion was felt as far away as Pensacola
and would reverberate in the Abolitionist
movement until the Civil War.

Fighting returned to the Apalachicola River
just one year later when it became a focus of
action during the First Seminole War of 1817-
1818. Battles were fought near present-day
Chattahoochee and at Ocheesee Bluff and
Blountstown. The war led to an invasion of
Spanish Florida by Andrew Jackson in
1818and the establishment of
Fort Gadsden
on the old British post site at Prospect Bluff. A
base for Jackson's operations in Florida, the
fort also played an intriguing role in the story
of
Milly Francis, the Creek Pocahontas.
Fort Gadsden Historic Site
The earthworks of old Fort
Gadsden can be seen at this
historic site on the lower
Apalachicola.
After the transfer of Florida from Spain to the
United States, the Apalachicola became a
major avenue of commerce. Paddlewheel
steamboats carried people and products up
the river to Columbus and down to the
booming
port of Apalachicola. Towns grew
and flourished and Apalachicola even
witnessed the birth of the world's first
machine for making ice.

Fighting raged through the valley during the
Second Seminole War and Confederate
troops built forts and
artillery batteries along
the Apalachicola during the Civil War.
The Garden of Eden?
The Nature Conservancy's
Garden of Eden Trail leads
through a steephead ravine at
the Apalachicola Bluffs and
Ravines Preserve near Bristol.
U.S. Arsenal
The officer's quarters of the
historic U.S. Arsenal, site of
one of the first incidents of the
Civil War, can still be seen in
Chattahoochee.
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 18, 2012
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