Pensacola ... the last of our Panhandle journey from St Marks. Pensacola is the most westerly city in Florida and one of the oldest and most historical in America, with a settlement that predated even St. Augustine's (but only lasted a short time). Pensacola became part of the U.S. in 1821, and it was officially incorporated in 1825. Its history far predates this time, and it was ruled by five different flags in its history. So much to see in Pensacola from the historic district, to the lighthouse to the waterfront, it could take days to see it all. Lots of rich history. See Pensacola Wiki
Mexico Beach (not to be confused with Mexico City) ... came to 'fame' after being literally destroyed by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. About 2 weeks after Michael hit the Panhandle, we traveled to Mississippi and drove through Mexico Beach. We were shocked to learn that 20 miles east and west of that community were also devastated. Along Rt 10, trees were literally sheared off at 25 ft and many sections of road contained debris (we were impressed that heavy equipment and tree service contractors were in key locations clearing the road and replacing fencing). As we traveled along Rt 10 we saw homes and farms on either side without roofs and most rest stops were closed due to major damage.
Since much of the reporting on the hurricane was focused on Mexico Beach, we wanted to see just how badly they were hit. Below are some original images we captured 2 years ago and those taken recently. It was encouraging to see a positive improvement in the conditions we saw 2 years ago. Yes, homes on the Gulf side were furthest along to being restored or replaced - all on piles. Most roofs were now metal and many homes had concrete piles - elevating living space 11-15 ft. On the community side, maybe 30-40% of the homes are under repair/replacement ... but the entire community is still years away from 'normalcy'. We did capture a photo of the one home that the news media had reported as the lone survivor due to planned over-building and reinforcement.
Apalachicola ... A charming fishing town once known as the oyster capital of the world, is a little like Cape Cod. Apalachicola offers terrific seafood, waterfront parks, bed & breakfast inns and yes - shopping. It provides a glimpse of the Florida Panhandle's timber and fishing history.
A few years back, a reduction of fresh water caused a significant impact to oyster bed production. When the beds were productive in past years, a local oyster farmer could harvest 8-10 full baskets in a day ,... today they would be lucky to net 1-2. Fortunately, with tourism, real estate and fishing, the economy is holding its own. A great place to visit. You can enjoy a relaxing weekend or spend a few days exploring the town. Lots of history! Oh, we plan on returning. Click visit Florida.
Carrabelle ... we found the smallest police station in America. Located on Rt 98. It seems years earlier, when the town was young and felt the need for a police presence, they economically provided an office with phone - a phone booth! The story from locals we talked to was that the 'police station' only remained in operation for a short period of time. Residents, it seemed, realized that the officer would be absent from the 'station' periodically to attend to an emergency, leaving the office and phone available.
After photographing the police station, we inquired about the possibility of other interesting sites in town and became aware a home owner that constructed a storage building and lighthouse made out of used bottles. The owner we were told did not have a problem with visitors entering their property - all they asked was "please close the gate when leaving".
Crawfordville ... for any road trip we take, we try to identify destination that fit a photo theme: it could be Florida lighthouses, old towns, back road , end-of-the-road fishing towns and anything that is unique or abandoned. We learned of the Ford Truck Cemetery through our web search located just south of Crawfordville.
When you arrive, be careful there is a drop to the small field, but once safely parked, you are in an area containing rusted Ford cars and trucks. The vehicles are rusted and quite overgrown with vines and grass, however, neatly lined up for all to see and photograph. Since our monthly travels in the Panhandle pass nearby Crawfordville, we take the opportunity to pass by and see visitors walking to taking photos. See TripAdvisor
See more at Crawfordville
In our search for historical towns, we found Chattahoochee located on the Apalachicola River. The location was originally the site an military arsenal that had been used during the Seminole Wars and the Civil War. In 1876 aA hospital was built on the site which later became Florida's first state hospital in 1947. A large complex and grounds with strict rules about taking photos (oops). Upon leaving, we talked to the grounds keeper and became aware of 1,000 + year old Indian mounds that we had to visit.