Apalachicola, Florida is a quiet fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico
with an impressive past. Known as cotton town
in the early part of the 19th century
, the settlement was named West Point
by the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, and incorporated as a city in 1829
. It was renamed Apalachicola
, fourteen years before Florida was granted statehood
From 1827 to 1861, plantations in Alabama and Georgia shipped tons of cotton down the Apalachicola River to the Gulf of Mexico on barges, where it was stored in warehouses prior to loading on ships bound for New England or Europe. This turned Apalach into a major American seaport, and one of the oldest and largest cotton ports in the Southeast. There were foreign consulates in Apalachicola, and goods were also shipped up river to towns and plantations. Of course, this changed at the onset of the Civil War, but there are still some warehouses along the river that have survived from that time. The city is filled with some of the finest examples of 19th century architecture, with beautiful old houses, shops and churches.
After the cotton boom, Apalachicola made its living by fishing from the Gulf and the lagoon-like bay protected by a chain of offshore barrier islands. Today, no one can hear the name Apalachicola and not think of oysters. Still harvested from Apalachicola Bay like they were half a century ago, these local shellfish are renown worldwide for their fresh, sweet taste. Apalach produces 15% of America's and 90% of Florida's annual oyster crop.
In recent years Apalachicola (and neighboring St. George Island in particular) has experienced something of a tourist boom. Dubbed the "Forgotton Florida" by promoters, the region's quaint charm and undeveloped natural beauty is a stark contrast to the condo-lined beaches that most people think of when they envision Florida. Visiting Apalach is a lot like walking back into the past, as time has stood still for this town during most of the last century.
Apalachicola is home to the John Gorrie Museum (the inventor of refrigeration), the Florida Maritime Museum, the Florida State University Marine Laboratory, the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge and the Gibson Inn. The city hosts "Florida's Oldest Maritime Event," the Florida Seafood Festival, each November in Battery Park at the foot of the John Gorrie bridge.
Source Information: George L. Chapel, Apalachicola Historical Society • mailer.fsu.edu • taxpayer.net