Information from The Apalachicola Historical Society
This article is an excerpt from Webb’s Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida, Part 1, Webb, Wanton S., Editor and Compiler, New York: W. S. Webb & Co., 1885.
Some 690 square miles, or 441,600 acres in area. Population in 1880, 1,791.
The territory of this county, except a small portion on the west side of the Apalachicola river near its mouth is embraced in the extensive grant made by the Indians in 1819 to Forbes & Co. and English trading house, and is known as a part of the “Forbes Purchase.”
Apalachicola, the county site, is at the mouth of the great river of that name. At present the lumber business is the leading industry.
Very little agriculture is pursued in this county. Immediately along the river banks are some very handsome orange groves that give promise of inducing more extended investments in that direction.
ST. JAMES ISLAND is one of the most attractive and important points on the Gulf coast. The island is formed by a tidewater bayou known as Crooked river, which connects with the Carrabelle river at the west end and the Ochlockonee river on the east. It is located about midway between St. Marks and Apalachicola.
The island is the highest elevation on the coast between Pensacola and Tampa, ranging from twenty to seventy feet above the Gulf level. It is 21 miles in length, and averages about 4 miles in width.
At the west end of the island the town of Rio Carrabelle is rapidly building up, and becoming a milling point of importance. At this place is the well known Dog-Island Harbor, claimed to be the best harbor on the Gulf coast. The entrance is by way of East Pass, through which ships drawing twenty feet readily enter and anchor in the harbor in twenty-four to twenty-seven feet of water, with mud bottom anchorage.
Tributary to this harbor are the Chattahoochee, Flint, Apalachicola, Carrabelle, Crooked, Ochlockonee, and Sopchoppy rivers, From all of these streams both hewn and sawn timber is rafted or lightered to ships loading here, and thence transported to Northern and foreign ports. The immense pine forests on these rivers are a mine of wealth to support the town which must inevitably become the Gulf port of Middle Florida.
The soil on the mainland adjacent to the island is principally sandy, with a clay subsoil, and considered some of the most productive in the State.
Being in the same latitude with St. Augustine the same crops can be produced that mature there.
APALACHICOLA is an important lumberport. In anti-bellum [sic] days and before the up-river country in Alabama and Georgia was intersected by railways, large quantities of cotton were brought by steamers to this point, and shipped thence to New York and New Orleans. When railroads turned the cotton bales to the eastward to be shipped from Atlantic ports the business of the place declined. Through the lumber business it is again entering into life and real estate is again appreciating. The location of this little city by the sea is peculiarly beautiful and pleasant. In the early spring the town is quite a resort for excursionists down the river on the commodious boats from points in Georgia and Alabama. Much of the old spirit of hearty hospitality hangs about the town. The milling business is on the increase, and will in time assume more considerable portions. A brisk and profitable trade is also being done here in fish and oysters by boats on the river. Corn, salt and fertilizers are conveniently and cheaply introduced by vessels coming for lumber. The spongers on the reefs, not far east of this place, find also at Apalachicola a convenient depot for supplies, and the disposition of their catch. The water in the bay is 9 ½ feet deep. Population about 2,000. The Tribune is published here.
BRICKYARD is a country post-office, situated 26 miles north of Apalachicola, on the Apalachicola river. The surrounding population is about 150.
CARRABELLE – Located at the junction of Carrabelle river and Dog-Island harbor, on the western end of James Island, was settled in Dec. 1877 by O. H. Kelley (the postmaster), and now has a population of between 500 and 600. A stage line tri-weekly connects with Tallahassee; fare, $4. Lumbering is the main industry, the mills producing 10,000,000 feet per annum.
ST. TERESA is called the Long Branch of middle Florida. It is a delightful summer resort on the eastern end of St. James Island, about midway on the Gulf coast between St. Marks and Apalachicola. The citizens of Tallahassee and other points inland, spend the summer months here, leading a cottage life with Gulf breezes and bathing.