The Forgotten Coast has a history that spans centuries, and one of the reasons the area is so beloved by residents and visitors alike is the stories from long ago. They add character to match the sparkling water, sugar-white beaches and “island time” mentality that makes St. George Island and the adjacent communities so wonderful.

And whether you have an hour or a week to dive into the rich history of the coast, there are fascinating museums ready to tell interesting tales on topics ranging from WWII heritage to maritime intrigue.

 

Apalachicola Maritime Museum

103 Water St., Apalachicola. Open Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

The Apalachicola Maritime Museum provides a hands-on learning environment for all things nautical. Through programs such as boat building and restoration, historical tours, and educational programs, visitors are able to get an insider’s view into the three rivers that converge to become the largest river in Florida—the Apalachicola River. The main exhibit is the Heritage of Apalachicola, originally named the Quark, a 58-foot wooden ketch from the 1930s. Daily sailing adventures on both the bay and river are offered.

 

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center

108 Island Dr., Eastpoint. Open Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center — or ANERR, as the locals call it — features more than 1,300 species of plants, 131 species of fish, and 50 species of mammals within 246,000 acres nestled along Apalachicola Bay. It’s great for nature lovers who enjoy sightseeing, and the more curious who want to learn more about the environment around them. ANERR features winding paths that incorporate pine flat woods, oak hammocks and freshwater marshes where cattails and sawgrass grow wild. The reserve also includes a Nature Center features 18,000 square feet of learning space including two working wet and dry research laboratories.

 

Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum

Carrabelle City Complex, 1001 Gray Ave., Carrabelle. Open Monday – Thursday 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Friday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

For World War II buffs, the Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum, in nearby Carrabelle, is a must visit. The camp was opened in 1942 as a training camp for Infantry Divisions and their support units in amphibious operations. In the following four years of operation, 250,000 men trained there before shipping out to both the European and Pacific fronts. The exhibit tells the story of the United States’ extensive effort during World War II through a widespread history of those who trained there, as well as photographs of daily life in the camp. Veterans who trained at the camp also contributed memorabilia, with everything from uniforms to souvenirs.

 

Cape St. George Light Museum and Gift Shop

2B East Gulf Beach Dr., St. George Island. Open every day except Thursday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., with additional hours for seasonal full-moon climbs.

Don’t think you have to leave St. George Island to get your dose of history! The Cape St. George Light Museum and Gift Shop is conveniently located in the center of our little island. This iconic landmark has a long and storied history, with four different iterations defining the skyline over multiple decades. The last structure, which stood for 153 years, was sadly destroyed in 2005, but the museum was built in its likeness. Now, visitors can learn about the history in the museum and replica of the Keeper’s House, as well as climb to the top of the lighthouse for unmatched views of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Carrabelle History Museum

106 Avenue B Southeast, Carrabelle, Open Wednesday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday –  Saturday 10 p.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. 

The museum opened in 2009 and is located in the Old Carrabelle City Hall, which was built in 1933 as project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The museum has four rooms full of historic artifacts, a large entry hall for special displays and a workroom/office for the volunteers to process the incoming artifacts. The displays highlight local heroes, the early 1900s steamship Tarpon and Carrabelle natives who lived in the area thousands of years ago.

 

Crooked River Lighthouse

1975 Hwy 98 W, Carrabelle. Open Wednesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m, Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Crooked River Lighthouse stood for nearly 100 years, illuminating the pass between Dog and St. George Islands. Newly restored, the 103-foot iron and steel lighthouse stands on the main land where it was originally built in 1895 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse beams nightly with an acrylic replica of its original 4th-order Fresnel lens. The tower is open for climbs, and there is also the Keeper’s House Museum and Gift Shop along with an adjacent picnic area features a 70-foot wooden pirate ship.

 

John Gorrie Museum

46 6th St., Apalachicola. Open Thursday – Monday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. year-round, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The John Gorrie Museum chronicles the life of one of Apalachicola’s most famous residents, Dr. John Gorrie. A gifted physician and committed citizen of Apalachicola who served as postmaster, city treasurer, town councilman and bank director, Gorrie’s most famous contribution was a refrigeration unit for his yellow fever patients. This machine laid the groundwork for modern refrigeration and air conditioning. The museum honors his legacy by showing how one man can impact the world.

 

Orman House Museum

177 5th St., Apalachicola. Open Monday, Thursday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This antebellum home was built in 1838 by cotton merchant and businessman Thomas Orman on the Apalachicola River. The house features details of both Federal and Greek revival styles with wooden mantelpieces, molded plaster cornices and wide heart-pine floorboards. Adjacent to the house are the Chapman Botanical Gardens, featuring a butterfly garden, other botanical features, walkways and open spaces. And there is also the Three Soldiers Detail, a bronze replica of the Vietnam memorial statue in Washington, D.C.

 

Raney House Museum

128 Market St., Apalachicola. Open 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Originally constructed in 1838, four short years after cotton commission merchant David G. Raney moved to Apalachicola, the Raney House blends elements from Greek Revival and Federal-style architecture. The mansion, now a historic museum, is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes and contains furniture, documents, and artifacts of the 19th century.

Many vacation destinations require sprawling day-long expeditions to truly enjoy an area’s diverse natural beauty. But for folks staying on St. George Island, a quick drive to the north side of the SGI Bridge reveals the second-largest estuarine research reserve system in the United States.

The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center — or ANERR, as the locals call it — features more than 1,300 species of plants, 131 species of fish, and 50 species of mammals within 246,000 acres nestled along Apalachicola Bay.

It’s great for nature lovers who enjoy sightseeing, and the more curious who want to learn more about the environment around them.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, ANERR features winding paths that incorporate pine flat woods, oak hammocks and freshwater marshes where cattails and sawgrass grow wild. It is a photographer’s dream with a variety of scenery at every turn, especially near Millender Park, a prime picnic area with views of Apalachicola Bay and the volunteer-made breakwater area.

There are signs posted to keep a lookout for black bears, and while it may be a rare occurrence to actually see one, it should give you an idea of how diverse the wildlife found in ANERR is.

The reserve’s Nature Center features 18,000 square feet of learning space including two working wet and dry research laboratories. It overlooks the Cat Point oyster bar, which is one of the most productive oyster bars in Apalachicola Bay. At low tide, tidal flats and parts of oyster reefs are exposed.

In the Education Center, there are three large water tanks representing the river, bay and gulf habitats found in the Apalachicola area. Each tank holds more than 1,000 gallons and houses a variety of native plant life and creatures.

For more than a century, Apalachicola and Eastpoint have been working waterfronts, fostering generations of fishermen whose industries have only been sustainable due to the health and productivity of Apalachicola Bay. The Education Center focuses on that aspect of local history, with exhibits showing the evolution of oyster industry, and more. A beautiful, 80-foot mural is also on display, depicting area ecosystems.

One of ANERR’s signature events revolves around National Estuaries Day each September. Activities include free, fun and educational stations for kids and adults including marine animal touch tanks, and estuary-themed games including Microplastic Match-Up, Reptile Round-Up and Pin the Tag on the Monarch. In addition to this, there are educational events held year-round.

ANERR is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and for more information call 850-670-7700 or visit apalachicolareserve.com.

While we spend a spend a majority of our time enjoying St. George Island, it’s our wonderful neighboring communities who also make the Forgotten Coast the panhandle’s best destination. So sometimes we like to stretch our legs and escape for a bit and being just a few miles to our east, Carrabelle makes for a pleasant escapade.

The area has some of the best hunting, fishing, hiking and camping on the coast, with over 750,000 acres of public forest where eagles, deer, blue heron, osprey and black bear can be seen, depending on the season. And that massive acreage includes nearby Tate’s Hell State Forest and the convergence of the Carrabelle, Crooked and New rivers, which are perfect for canoes and kayaks.

At Carrabelle Beach, Crooked River Lighthouse Park is a fun place to visit and experience a bit of history. It features the 103-foot lighthouse, where you can climb all 138 steps to the top for a great view of the area. The park also features a museum and, soon, will feature a centerpiece pirate ship known as the Carrabella II for kids to explore.

Craving a day of adventure? Dog Island is just a short jaunt to the south, by motor or paddle. The island is a fun place for adventure with pristine white sand beaches, good shelling, crabbing and shore fishing. Although it is now closed, the Pelican Inn is still there, reminding visitors that the island used to be inhabited. Now, it’s a prime destination for folks wanting a taste of pristine habitat, where hundreds of species of birds can be observed, and a picnic lunch is the best idea of the day.

For those who enjoy golf, hard-court tennis, aerobics and good food, the St. James Bay Golf Resort is open to the public and features the Crooked River Grill restaurant and a perfectly manicured 18-hole championship course.

Carrabelle is also home to a collective of local artists whose creations can be found throughout the area. And there are two main events each year, in addition to holiday celebrations like those at Christmas and the Fourth of July. Each August, the city hosts the Crab Cake Cook-off, which for the last three years has raised money to build the aforementioned Carrabella II. It’s a tasty chance to mingle and enjoy a variety of crab cake recipes using local seafood.

And the featured attraction each October is Lantern Fest, held at Crooked River Lighthouse. The glow from 123 lanterns will set the mood for an evening celebrating the lighthouse’s 123rd birthday. There’s dancing, Celtic music, star gazing with the Tallahassee Astronomical Society, children’s activities, delicious food and desserts, and special evening tower climbs at the tallest lighthouse on the Forgotten Coast.

It’s National Lighthouse Day!

Did you know that there is a National Lighthouse Day? It’s celebrated on August 7th each year, and is rooted in a 1789 Act of Congress. Although the St. George Island Lighthouse isn’t quite that old, it’s still a part of this important past.

St. George Island, Cape St. George Light

St. George Island, Cape St. George Light

On August 7, 1789, Congress passed an Act that provided for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers. These help commerce and navigation, but also help improve public enjoyment of the nation’s waterways and coasts.

National Lighthouse Day was officially designated in 1989, recognizing the 200th anniversary of the signing of the 1789 Act and of the first Federal lighthouse being commissioned.

The original 1789 Act read:

An Act for the Establishment and support of Lighthouse, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

St. George Island, Cape St. George Light

St. George Island, Cape St. George Light

That all expenses which shall accrue from and after the fifteenth day of August one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, in the necessary support, maintenance and repairs of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers erected, placed, or sunk before the passing of this act, at the entrance of, or within any bay, inlet, harbor, or port of the United States, for rendering the navigation thereof easy and safe, shall be defrayed out of the treasury of the United States: Provided nevertheless, That none of the said expenses shall continue to be so defrayed by the United States, after the expiration of one year from the day aforesaid, unless such lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers, shall in the mean time be ceded to and vested in the United States, by the state or states respectively in which the same may be, together with the lands and tenements thereunto belonging, and together with the jurisdiction of the same.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That a lighthouse shall be erected near the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, at such place, when ceded to the United States in manner aforesaid, as the President of the United States shall direct.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to provide by contracts, which shall be approved by the President of the United States, for building a lighthouse near the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, and for rebuilding when necessary, and keeping in good repair, the lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers in the several States, and for furnishing the same with all necessary supplies; and also to agree for the salaries, wages, or hire of the person or persons appointed by the President, for the superintendence and care of the same.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That all pilots in the bays, inlets, rivers, harbors and ports of the United States, shall continue to be regulated in conformity with the existing laws of the States respectively wherein such pilots may be, or with such laws as the States may respectively hereafter enact for the purpose, until further legislative provision shall be made by Congress.  Approved: August 7, 1789

Origins of National Lighthouse Day:

Although we love and cherish our local lighthouses the Cape St. George Light and the Crooked River Lighthouse, National Lighthouse Day originated much farther north – in Rhode Island, in fact. There, Senator John H. Chafee sponsored a joint resolution in Congress on April 28, 1988, to designate August 7, 1989 as “National Lighthouse Day,” proclaiming that the resolution “Designates August 7, 1989, as National Lighthouse Day and calls for lighthouse grounds, where feasible, to be open to the public.” The resolution passed quickly, emerging from the Senate on July 26, 1988, and coming through Congress (sponsored by Rep. William J. Hughes, New Jersey) on October 21. Two weeks later, on November 5, 1988, President Ronald Reagan applied his “John Hancock,” and the Bill became law. The first National Lighthouse Day was observed on the 200th Anniversary of the original act, August 7, 1989.

Carrabelle Lighthouse

Carrabelle Lighthouse, FL

In Recognition of National Lighthouse Day – Hon. William J. Hughes

HON. WILLIAM J. HUGHES
in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, JULY 26, 1989

Mr. HUGHES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to a special occasion which communities all across America will be celebrating next week. August 7, 1989, marks the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Lighthouse Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse in the United States.

In honor of those events, I was proud to sponsor a resolution last year which designated August 7, 1989, as National Lighthouse Day. The celebration next week will provide some long overdue recognition for the important role which lighthouses played in the history of our country, and the values of safety, heroism, and American ingenuity which they represent. At the same time, I am hopeful that it will encourage communities and citizens groups around the country to rededicate themselves to the protection and restoration of these historic structures.

As America continues its technological progress into the 21st century, it becomes easy to forget the wholesomeness and serenity of preindustrial establishments such as lighthouses. The history they provide gives us the opportunity to step back in time and learn more about our country. The contributions they made to our society, from protecting our coasts to guiding our sailors, should continue to be appreciated and remembered.

I am proud to point out that there are three restored lighthouses in my congressional district in southern New Jersey. These three, the Cape May Point lighthouse, the Finns Point lighthouse, and the Hereford Inlet lighthouse, contribute greatly to New Jersey’s beautiful coastline.

The Cape May Point lighthouse, which was first lit on October 31, 1859, was reopened to the public in 1988 after being closed for 50 years. Today, with restoration virtually complete, its light once again shines bright, giving comfort to seamen nearly 19 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Hereford Inlet lighthouse was built in 1874 and is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. Under restoration since 1982, it continues to provide North Wildwood with a valuable monument to Cape May County’s maritime history.

Last, the Finns Point lighthouse, located in Pennsville, is a 113-year-old marvel. It served as an aid to navigation along the Delaware River from 1877 until 1950, when the river channel was enlarged and deepened.

Unfortunately, not every lighthouse is as lucky as these to have been adopted by a local citizens group or community. Many have fallen into disrepair and desperately need support. For this reason, I have been pleased to join with other Members of Congress in sponsoring legislation to establish the National Bicentennial Lighthouse Fund in order to provide Federal assistance for local lighthouse restoration efforts.

Mr. Speaker, the National Lighthouse Day celebration on August 7, 1989, will indeed be a special event. I hope it further rejuvenates the spirit of these maritime institutions and the impressive restoration efforts which are now taking place in the many communities. It is important that future generations have the opportunity to learn more about and appreciate the unique role which lighthouses played in helping to build our great Nation. I hope that everyone will join me in supporting this effort in the months and years ahead. —

Today…

St. George Island, Cape St. George Light

St. George Island, Cape St. George Light

However, the National Lighthouse Day designation was, it turns out, only official for that one anniversary in 1989. Although lighthouses and lighthouse lovers around the country celebrate annually, Congress has yet to permanently designate August 7th as a recurring date to observe the importance of what the Lighthouse Foundation refers to as “America’s lighthouse heritage.”

In 2013, twenty-four years after the 1989 observation, a Senate Resolution passed that made August 7, 2013 “National Lighthouse and Lighthouse Preservation Day,” but again this was only a single-year designation. As the Lighthouse Foundation notes, “Over the past couple of decades, lighthouse leaders from around the country have worked tirelessly to convince Congress to permanently designate August 7 as National Lighthouse Day on America’s calendar, and though unsuccessful to date, those noble efforts continue. However, even without official recognition from Congress, the nationwide lighthouse community continues to ‘keep the flame of our rich lighthouse heritage burning bright. Each year, August 7 is celebrated as National Lighthouse Day, with lighthouse groups offering the general public a host of fun-learning activities to enjoy – including tours, cruises and presentations that pay special tribute to America’s lighthouses and their grand history.”

Here on St. George Island, we’re lucky to have a magnificent lighthouse to see and love every day of the year, and dedicated folks to protect and preserve it even without official Congressional designation. It’s a beacon for the Island, a piece of Apalachicola Bay history preserved for everyone to enjoy, and easily the best view around. So come on out next time you’re down, stop by the Lighthouse museum, and admire the majesty of the Cape St. George Light.

Whether your passion lies in creative writing or recreating natural scenery on canvas, St. George Island offers a winning combination of natural beauty and serendipity. Keep reading to learn about a few of the island’s most unique locations, each of which is sure to inspire your inner artist.

The St. George Island Lighthouse

The St. George Island Lighthouse’s prominent silhouette is well suited for the background of a watercolor painting – or as the setting of your budding romance novel! The iconic lighthouse is surrounded by a tranquil park, where you can relax at a bench or a picnic table and get your creative juices flowing; it’s also just a few steps away from a pristine beach.

St. George Island State Park

No visit to SGI is complete without a trip to St. George Island State Park, and for good reason – who can resist the chance to explore miles of undeveloped beach? You’ll have more than enough space to relax and take in the park’s unbeatable coastal scenery and endless stretches of pristine white sand. You’re sure to find additional inspiration when you explore the 3.5-mile trail through the park’s dunes and bay forest, featuring unspoiled, natural views.

The St. George Island Fishing Pier

Perhaps the only thing more enticing than gazing out at the sparkling water of Apalachicola Bay is spending a few relaxing hours enjoying the ocean breeze on the St. George Island fishing pier. This massive pier measures 600 feet, offering creative vacationers plenty of space to observe the water, as well as the impressive Bryant Patton Bridge.

Fuel Your Creative Side

Seeking to rekindle your artistic spirit? Look no further than St. George Island. Come delve into all that the island has to offer by booking a stay with Resort Vacation Properties today.

This time of year, the airwaves are full of monster movies and creature features trying to scare you, but on the Forgotten Coast, we don’t have to look any further than the waters of the Gulf of Mexico discover the weird and wacky! Did you know that although oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface, humans have explored less than 5% of them? But even that 5% has proven to be home to some eerie organisms. Here are a few of our favorite freaky fish of the Forgotten Coast:

One creepy resident is also a favorite dish of ours—flounder! This fish may be known for its tasty flavor, but it also possesses a very distinctive profile. In adults, both eyes are on one side of its very flat body. But it gets even weirder: they’re not born that way! Baby flounders have eyes on both sides of their bodies, but, as the fish grows from the larval to juvenile stage, one eye migrates to the other side!

The Sheepshead Fish looks like your average, run-of-the-mill aquarium-type fish. Its black and white stripes are both eye-catching serve as the impetus for their nickname “Convict Fish.” However, their appealing appearance ends when they open their mouths—which contain what look like human teeth! They have many rows of them, too, to help grind up their favorite foods: mollusks and bivalves.

Barracudas also call the waters of the Gulf of Mexico home. Their signature features, such as the protruding under jaw and razor-sharp teeth, are definitely creepy, but it’s their attraction to shiny things that sends shivers up our spines. If you plan to swim in a barracuda’s habitat, be sure to remove all jewelry and watches. The sheen reminds them of their natural prey, and they’ve been known to attack humans, thinking their glittering trinkets are food!

What are your favorite creepy creatures from the deep?

Tiny housing is not just a popular current trend. Tiny houses, known colloquially as shotgun houses, of Apalachicola and the Gulf Coast area of Florida helped shape the area in a time when commerce and the port lifestyle was flourishing. These utilitarian homes were created to be practical and cheap, and have now become a symbol of our little corner of Florida.

Preserving and Embracing Apalachicola’s Rich Legacy

Shotgun homes sprang up in the early 1900’s as homes for mill workers along the Gulf Coast. The homes were built to be simple and straightforward. Each home had three rooms: the living room, kitchen and bedroom. The floor plan was not fancy, with one flowing into the other. The term shotgun home was coined because if you left the front door and the back door open, a shotgun blast could go through the home and not hit a single wall. More simply, a shotgun home was designed with oversized windows and when everything was open a nice cooling breeze would flow right through the home.

In the mid to late part of the 20th century, shotgun homes fell out of favor. These homes were too simple, too boring and were not thought of as adding to the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Many homes of this style were demolished. Homes were abandoned and the lush Florida fauna took over. Today there is a revitalization of these kinds of homes and the shotgun homes along the coast of Florida are being preserved and celebrated for their simple luxury and artistic efficiency.

PEARL’s Shotgun Houses

Not only a part of Florida history, but a part of Americana, the shotgun homes are a part of the Pearl’s latest exhibition. This local non-profit is made up of dedicated individuals working to preserve the rich history of the area, the people who settled here, and the way of life that made our little neck of the woods what it has come to be today.

When you are staying in the area at one of the fantastic St. George Island Resort Vacation spots, take a day to tour the area and see some of the restored historic homes. Once covered by brush and perhaps fallen into a bit of decay, the shotgun homes of Florida are being restored and being lived in and loved by families that may not otherwise have a place to live. Walking tours, photo exhibits, and interactive maps will help you navigate through the once booming mill town that helped our area flourish.

At Resort Vacation Properties, we’re all about accommodating our visitors with the comfiest homes and best beach and bay views on the Island! But, there’s one Forgotten Coast inhabitant that has a home far too small for guests—the sea turtle!

Turtles are one of the most revered and storied creatures in existence. Some groups of Native Americans believed that a turtle even carries the world upon its back. In cultures from other parts of the world, they can represent luck, endurance, and long life. Here on the Forgotten Coast, where many come to nest, we don’t have a particular mythology for them, but they are among our favorite guests. To help you get to know these fascinating creatures, we’ve compiled a list of little-known facts about our friends from the sea!

They’re travelers—and homebodies, too

Sea turtles can travel over 20 miles a day! Their greatest migration, though, is to home—some travel up to 1,400 miles to lay their eggs on the same shores where they hatched.

They navigate using the earth’s magnetic field (maybe)

Sea turtles can detect both the angle and intensity of the earth’s magnetic field. A new theory suggests that they use this ability to navigate, which is how they find their way back to where they hatched after years of being away.

Their sex is determined by outside factors

Unlike most creatures, their sex isn’t determined by genetics, but by outside factors—namely, the temperature of the sand outside of their nest. Warmer temperatures lead to mostly females, while cooler weather typically yields males.

They’re team players

Because it’s almost impossible for the hatchlings to make it out of the nest on their own, the hatching of one triggers the hatching of the rest. Even with all of the babies working together, it can take up to a week to dig out of their nests!

They’re night owls

When the babies finally make their grand entrance, it’s in the dark. They emerge at night and follow the light, which traditionally leads them to the water. Development along beaches has altered this, however, and oftentimes the lights from houses confuse the hatchlings. That’s why it’s important to turn off outdoor lights during nesting season!

They breathe air

Sea turtles are most often associated with their underwater adventures, but they actually breathe air! They’re champs at holding their breath—they can last 4-7 hours when they’re sleeping or relaxing! However, during physical activity, it’s a paltry 2-3 hours at best.

They can be geriatrics

A healthy sea turtle can live to be about 80, with some even surviving to be over 100! That means some of these incredible creatures even manage to outlive the human researchers studying them.

Unfortunately, our sea turtle friends are endangered. To keep the sea turtle population in existence, there are various laws in place to protect them. If you’re lucky enough to witness a hatching, leave the hatchlings alone and avoid using flash photography or any light. It’s important for them to find the ocean on their own, and, as they follow the moonlight to the ocean, other light will disorient them.

In the tranquility of the Apalachicola National Forest, you may spot an unusual sight for Florida’s Panhandle: a Union Jack, the famed flag of the United Kingdom, flying amongst the native pines. The flag is part of the Fort Gadsden National Historic Site—home to the ruins of two different forts, including one built by British troops during the War of 1812. The British recognized the importance of the area and built the first fort, known as British Post, on the banks of the Apalachicola River. British Post served as a local base for the British troops and as a recruiting station for their main allies—former slaves.

In fact, when the British troops left Florida in 1815, they left the fort to those former slaves. The “negro fort,” as it came to be called, became a haven for fugitive slaves, with the population growing from about 400 to as many as 800.

“Negro Fort” was controversial; it was technically beyond the United States’ territory and was seen by many to threaten the Southern institution of slavery. In July of 1816, the tension came to a head, and the freemen fired on an American ship, killing four U.S. soldiers. The American forces, along with their Creek allies, responded with an all-out attack, using a well-aimed heated cannonball to destroy the fort and kill all but 30 of the fort’s 300 inhabitants in an explosion heard as far away as Pensacola. The remaining freemen were returned to slavery.

Fort Gadsden History in St. George Island FL – Resort Vacation Properties

After the skirmish, the fort was deemed a pivotal location for war times, and Andrew Jackson, then Major General of the Seventh Military District, charged Lieutenant James Gadsden with rebuilding the fort. Jackson was so pleased with the work that he named the new edifice Fort Gadsden. The fort was used as a forward base for army movements during the First and Second Seminole Wars, then later as a base for Confederate forces during the Civil War.

After the Civil War, Fort Gadsden saw little usage until the 1960s, when the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials established Fort Gadsden State Historic Site. In 1972, the Apalachicola National Forest obtained the site, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Gadsden National Historic Site is a must-see for history buffs. The park features what little remains of both forts that called the area home, a cemetery, small exhibit, interpretive signs and walking trail, and a picnic area. A relic of our country’s complicated history, the Fort Gadsden National Historic Site serves as a stark reminder of where we’ve come as a nation while honoring those who lost their lives during one of our country’s most tumultuous times. For more information about the Fort, check out the USDA Forest Service.