The following article was taken from the Golden Jubilee edition in 1935, on the occasion of the Apalachicola Times’ 50th anniversary. The edition was devoted to the Gorrie Bridge.
Carrabelle Records Reveal Interesting Events of Thriving City
Naval Stores, Lumber, Fishing Industries Furnish Chief Sources of Income - - - Ideal Tourist Playground
(Note: The information contained herein has been furnished by citizens living in and near Carrabelle, and from old records.)
Long before anyone lived near the present site of Carrabelle, and prior to the Civil War, hunters from St. Marks made the trip from St. Marks River to a small river west of Ochlocknee River and east of the Apalachicola for their big game and for the excellent fishing. They usually stretched their tents on the east bank of (what they call New River).
There is no doubt that the area between New River and the Apalachicola River is on of the greatest game producing territories in the State of Florida. It has in its midst what is known as Tate’s Hell Swamp, one of the impenetrable swamps of the Southland. It is therefore a natural rendezvous for bear, deer, turkey and all other game common to the Southern part of the United States.
From the Atlantic seaboard, Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas, came the first settlers of this new territory to settle a country which had been for centuries used by the Indians as a half-way ground while going from the Apalachicola River to St. Marks and vice-versa. In about 1855 came the Picketts who were the first to construct a home. Soon after a few settlers had constructed homes here the Civil War broke out in 1861, and it is said that a Federal gun boat anchored inside of the island early in 1862 and dispatched a small boat to the mainland loaded with barrels and kegs to get a supply of fresh water. Seeing this boat, the few settlers banded themselves together, under the guidance of Major Blocker, and fired from the top of what is now known as Coombs’ Hill at the small boat as it attempted to land.
The sailors immediately returned to the mother ship and advised their commander of the incident. After hearing their report, he set out with three boats loaded with men to punish the ambushers and found that they had not fled, but offered stubborn resistance which was effective, causing the Commander to return to his ship, and while sailing away he remarked: “They offered dogged resistance,” therefore the island across the sound received the name Dog Island, which it now bears.
1875 – Parlin’s mill was built.
1879 – Came a few more settlers, the Mattairs, Mackerys, Burns, Yents, Hances, Moores and others.
1879 – Reynolds mill constructed.
1883 – A one-room white school was erected.
1883 – Mrs. Reynolds was the first teacher in the public school.
1886 – Tri-weekly mail service was inaugurated before the completion of the Carrabelle Tallahassee & Georgia railway, by use of a horse and buggy relay. Part of the route being negotiated by the use of a hand car operated over the short line of the railway which then reached the Ochlocknee River.
1886 – Mr. C. H. Kelly was first postmaster.
1887 – Capt. A. L. Wing operated the mail boat “Gazelle” from Carrabelle to Apalachicola.
1887 – The Coombs Company purchased Parlin’s mill which later enlarged and was named the Franklin County Lumber Company.
1887 - The first railroad was extended beyond the Ochlocknee River and was later completed to Tallahassee.
1887 – J. C. Brayton made the first map of this village.
1889 – Mr. C. H. Kelly, of Washington, D. C., built the “Island House”, a nicely furnished hotel.
1890 – Mr. C. H. Kelly proclaimed himself Mayor of the village.
1890 – Mr. Frank Burns was hailed into Mayor’s court to be tried for assault. He was fined five dollars and costs by Mayor Kelly. This was the first case.
1890 – Reynolds Brothers Lumber mill was destroyed by fire. It stood on the present site of the Seaboard Line Railroad depot. It was under lease by the Coombs Company.
1890 – The Covingtons entered into the naval stores business and a large export agency was established, all of the products being shipped to foreign countries. Their yards were congested a number of times with more than 75,000 barrels of rosin. All rivers in this section were dotted with stills and river boats were very busy. The rivers were tributary to this port and the village was considered prosperous.
1891 – Miss “Carrie” Hall, who was associated with the Kellys, was considered the “belle’ of the community. This being a new river country the name Rio Carrabelle was given to the village.
1891 – Carrabelle Land & Lumber Company erected a large plant on the north side of town. In later years R. J. & B. F. Camp purchased the mill which was later leased to the Carrabelle Saw Mill Company. Two years late the Camps took the mill back and operated it until 1912. It was then sold to the Rentz Lumber Company. After a few years of successful operation it was bought by C. P. L. Phillips.
1892 – Carrabelle applied for charter from the State of Florida.
1893 – Carrabelle received its charter and Mr. Ogletree was elected Mayor and W. I. Mattair Marshal.
1893 – Uriel Blount made the second map of Carrabelle which was compiled from the Brayton map of 1887 and other data and is approved by the City Council of Carrabelle.
1895 – Georgia, Florida & Alabama Railroad shops were constructed between Carrabelle and Lanark.
1895 – Crooked River Light Station was established two miles west of Carrabelle for the convenience of ships entering East Pass which was known to be the most accessible pass during stormy weather of any pass on the entire Gulf Coast.
1895 – Lanark Inn, a resort hotel, was built five miles east of Carrabelle by the J. P. Williams Land & Development Company, principal owners of the G. F. & A. Railway Company.
1899 – Six lives were lost in a very severe hurricane which destroyed the town, driving fourteen baroques and schooners ashore on Dog Island and St. George Island. The hurricane evidently was of local origin.
1899 – The G. F. & A. Railway shops were destroyed by the hurricane and were reconstructed in Tallahassee. They are now located in Bainbridge, Ga.
1900 – A school house was constructed with four rooms. The building was later increased to 10 rooms.
1907 – Fire destroyed the business section of Carrabelle.
1907 – The Carrabelle State Bank was erected.
1907 – The Georgia, Florida & Alabama Railway completed to Richland, Ga.
1909 – Greek sponge business located here.
1913 – The Marine-Grecian Bank was built.
1915 – First electric lights by J. P. Westberg.
1915 – A pioneering company was organized with Mr. August Jernberg as president and general manager. They located on a bluff 25 miles north of Carrabelle on New River. Wells were drilled for irrigating, and the place was named New Home. The enterprise failed because of land title disputes which were later cleared.
1923 – Graves Brothers Company erected a large electrically driven lumber mill four miles north on Crooked River.
1924 – Graves Brothers only operated a short while and sold to the West Florida Lumber Company. It was later named Harbison City.
1925 – Electric light plant operated by Carrabelle Electric Company, Alva Bragdon, manager.
1926 – Carrabelle Electric Company sold half interest to Graves Brothers and operated under name of Carrabelle Ice & Power Co., Inc.
1929 – Carrabelle High School was completed.
1930 – Carrabelle Ice & Power Company sold to the Florida Power Corporation.
1932 – Fire destroyed business property to the extent of $100,000.
Carrabelle is located about halfway between the Ochlocknee River on the east and the Apalachicola River on the west in Franklin County Florida, with an extended frontage on the Gulf of Mexico. The town is quite hilly, the elevation being about twenty feet above sea level.
The climate is mild with a mean annual temperature of about 69 degrees, and the average annual rainfall is 56 inches. The greater part of the precipitation occurs during August and September.
Cattle raising, naval stores, lumber, oysters, shrimp and fishing industries furnish the chief sources of income for the inhabitants of this town. These commodities are exported in enormous quantities. In 1934 the total exports of fish alone reached well over the 3 million pound mark, and this was not a representative fishing season for the Carrabelle fishermen. One of the largest fisheries in the State of Florida is located here, none of which compare in size to those of a few years ago. The mullet is the chief money fish and is caught with seines and gill nets in great quantities, while other fish such as pompano, trout, sheepshead, mackerel, bluefish and flounders play an important part in the annual catch. The deep sea fishing is secondary, however much money is invested in boats and tackle for the catching of red snapper, grouper and other varieties of the deep. All of these are caught with hook and line.
The town is well located for waterborne commerce, the Ochlocknee, Crooked, Carrabelle and New Rivers are tributaries to the beautifully land-locked harbor.
The transportation facilities are very good. The Gulf Coast Highway is of much value and importance to the town as well as the railroad. The highway continues westward to Apalachicola bay which connects with the Gorrie Bridge.
Feeling deeply indebted the writer and the people of this vicinity wish to pay to the sponsors, the officials and all other who made the beautiful new Gorrie Bridge’s realization, high tribute for their progressiveness.
The consolidated school system in Carrabelle is unexcelled, the building is of brick and concrete, the majority of the pupils are transported by means of steel-bodied trucks which are operated by competent drivers.
Hunting and fishing offer attractive inducements to sportsmen, many of whom have visited here before and since the establishment of the town. The sand bathing beaches on the Gulf are among our greatest assets, as they afford splendid opportunities for surf bathing and other aquatic sports.
The near future appears to be very bright for this thriving little town on the northern shores of the great Gulf of Mexico. Building permits have already shown a decided upturn in business and there is no doubt that with completion of the proposed deep-water harbor improvement projects, together with the advertising campaign which the Carrabelle Civic Club, a recent organization, purposes to inaugurate the town will excel all expectations of development resulting from a live and wide-awake activity of the citizens of this town and community.