Sing a song of Lanark

Published: Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:22 AM.

In 1929, a second hurricane damaged the old inn and again destroyed the pier and bathhouses. A new hotel was built around 1930 and remained in business until 1942. Bathing suits could be rented at the concession stand, which sold hot dogs and sodas.

‘Hell by the sea’

In 1942, Lanark took on a new persona when the US Army came on the scene.

Because it was an island, St. James was picked to be the largest training center for amphibious soldiers; men schooled in assault science and the use of landing craft, including seagoing jeeps, amphibious tanks, landing barges and the two-ton DUKW landing craft.

In all, 165,000 acres were leased or purchased for Camp Gordon Johnston developed around Lanark. The rows of one-story apartments that make up much of the village today were officers’ quarters and the inn was commandeered for women’s quarters.

Carrabelle current mayor Curley Messer was among the first Army personnel on the scene. He and seven members of his combat MP unit were dispatched to Florida from New Orleans the day the war broke out in Dec. 1941.

The Army Corps of Engineers was already on the site, surveying and preparing plans. Local people were hired to do the construction and later maintenance and they were glad to have the work, according to old-timers, because the area had not yet recovered from the Depression.

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