Carrabelle Historic Landmarks
Explore these historic landmarks on your next visit to Carrabelle, Florida.
Carrabelle Beach is located 1.5 miles west of town on US 98. It has miles of beautiful uncrowded beach with public bathrooms and picnic areas. Great for sunbathing, swimming, walking, bird watching and surf fishing. It is the perfect beach for children with its gentle lapping waves. Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
This beach has been popular with locals for generations. Prior to World War II the area was called “McKissack Beach” since the local druggist, Dr. McKissack, bought the entire ridge across from the beach and sold the lots to his extended family. In the 1940’s the area was taken over by the US Army as a training ground for Amphibious Landing Training for Camp Gordon Johnson. There are great old photos of soldiers storming off actual landing craft onto Carrabelle Beach mined with explosives with blimps overhead. Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum is located directly across the street from Carrabelle Beach. After the army left Franklin County, Carrabelle Beach returned to popularity with locals and visitors who enjoyed restaurants, a dance hall and motels in the area.
This City operated cemetery is located at the intersection of Gray Avenue and 5th Street, NE. It has grave sites dating back to the early 1800’s when Carrabelle was just a fishing village on maps. Many of the founding fathers and pioneer families are buried here. There is a great deal of history to be discovered by a stroll through the grounds.
ISLE OF REST CEMETERY
This is the cemetery of the African American Community in Carrabelle. It has grave sites of some of Carrabelle’s beloved and important citizens. The land for this cemetery was donated by the St. Joseph Land Company. A stroll through the grounds reveals much local history.
CROOKED RIVER LIGHTHOUSE
Crooked River Lighthouse Park is located at 1975 HWY 98 W Carrabelle, FL 32322 and the telephone number is 850.697.2732. 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Weather permitting, you can climb the Crooked River Lighthouse every day. Climbs must start at least hour before closing. The cost for climbing the lighthouse is $5.00 per person. All climbers must be 44 inches tall.
For over 100 years the Crooked River Lighthouse has stood as a beacon, guiding timber ships as well as local fishermen and oystermen through the treacherous pass between Dog and St. George Islands, along Florida's Panhandle. Built in 1895, this iron and steel skeletal structure replaced the lighthouse on Dog Island, which was destroyed by hurricane in 1873.
In 1995, the Crooked River Lighthouse was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard which four years later, despite its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, had plans to surplus the lighthouse and auction it off to the highest bidder. It was at this time that the Carrabelle Lighthouse Association (CLA) was formed by a dedicated group of local citizens with the goal of preserving, restoring, and opening the lighthouse to the public. Through their efforts the Crooked River Lighthouse has been restored and established as a private aid to navigation burning brightly every night.
The Keeper’s House Museum features information and artifacts about the life of the keeper and his family at the turn of the 19th century, the science of the Fresnel lens, plans and photographs of the building of the lighthouse.
CARRABELLE HISTORY MUSEUM
The Carrabelle History Museum is housed in a historic building that for 75 years was Carrabelle's City Hall. The building was constructed in 1933 by local mason Marvin Justiss during the Depression as a work program to employ locals. Located at 106 SE Avenue B, it anchors Carrabelle's historic waterfront district. The Museum is open Wednesday 12-5 pm, Thursday 10 am-5 pm, Friday 10 am-5 pm, Saturday 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday 12-5 pm. and by appointment.
The Carrabelle History Museum's mission is to preserve the history and culture of Carrabelle and the surrounding Forgotten Coast. The museum features ancient fossils, Native American pottery shards, lumber trade tools, nautical artifacts and history, a Civil War display, notable local citizens, and the original World's Smallest Police Station. There are special displays including the US Steamship Tarpon which served the area from 1902 to 1937 and the original World's Small Police Station.
The Museum is a member of the Florida Trail of Indian Heritage featuring information and documentation of Carrabelle's First People - the Apalachee Indians who lived here from 150- 900 AD. There is a diorama of the Civil War skirmish in Carrabelle when the Union blockade ship sent 2 gun boats up the river where they encountered the Carrabelle Irregulars. The museum also has research files on the families, places, houses and events throughout the history of Carrabelle. The gift shop includes items such as unique t-shirts, books, and adorable Carrabelle black bears & white squirrels as well as an assortment of interesting books.
The Carrabelle History Museum is a project of the local non-profit organization, Carrabelle CARES. It is sponsored by the Carrabelle History Society and the City of Carrabelle with support from the Franklin County Tourist Development Council with a community partnership from the Franklin County Public Library. It opened in April of 2009. The Carrabelle History Museum is staffed by volunteers and funded through donations, memberships and grants.
The City of Carrabelle has developed 1000 feet of waterfront property along historic Marine Street into the Carrabelle Waterfront Wharf and Park. This popular area for locals and tourist alike has a free two-lane boat ramp with a staging dock and parking, a fish cleaning station, playscapes and bike racks that look like sea creatures, and a wheelchair accessible floating dock alongside the fishing pier. Public restrooms and an historical kiosk are located next to a large covered the fishing dock and picnic pavilion. Many local activities and festivals are held in this area. The views are great there along the Carrabelle River and out to the mouth of the river.
In 1891 the Carrabelle, Tallahassee & Georgia Railroad (later to become the Georgia, Florida and Alabama Railroad) ended at this spot where the train depot also served as the ferry depot for people catching the boats to Apalachicola and St. Marks. Since Carrabelle is on St. James Island, the train was a critical link to the outside world until the bridges were built in the 1930s. The center of town built up around the depot as stores, bars, restaurants and a pharmacy opened their doors. The mail came in on the train. The post office was across the street. Thousands of barrels of pine rosin were shipped out on the train. It was the life line out of Franklin County.
Over the years as the center of town moved up several blocks to the highway, this area became lined with fish houses processing the bounty brought in by the shrimp fleet, the bay shrimpers, snapper boats and the mullet fishermen. Great wheels were used to dry the seine nets. Boats were stacked up at the docks. Carrabelle was the first place in Florida to export salted down mullet on the train. It was a crowed and busy place. Later in the 1950s, party fishing boats became popular in the area. Country music stars would come down to go out fishing and get out of Nashville.
WORLD'S SMALLEST POLICE STATION
The “World’s Smallest Police Station" is Carrabelle’s most photographed attraction today. Visitors and tourist are seen daily taking pictures at the site directly across the street from the Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center at 105 St. James Street (US 98).
It came into being on March 10, 1963. The Police Chief was having problems answering the police phone at City Hall while watching for speeders on the highway. St. Joe Telephone's lone Carrabelle employee bolted a call box to a building at the corner of U.S. 98 and Tallahassee Street. He noticed that when it was raining, the policeman would get drenched while answering phone calls. So when the telephone company decided to replace its worn out phone booth in front of the local drug store with a new one, he decided to solve both problems at once by putting the police phone in the old booth. They moved the phone booth to its current site on U.S. 98.
The booth did protect the officers from the elements, but some people snuck into it to make long distance calls. Eventually the dial was removed from the phone, making it impossible to make calls out. Today the phone is in the Carrabelle History Museum to keep it safe. Carrabelle’s “World’s Smallest Police Station” has been featured on television shows "Real People", "Ripley's Believe It or Not" and "The Today Show". The Police Chief was even a guest on the "Johnny Carson Show". It was featured in the movie "Tate's Hell" which was produced at Florida State University.
The content on this page was produced with financial assistance from VISIT FLORIDA.