Published on December 4, 2012 by Amy
Apalachicola is a city in Franklin County, Florida, on US 98 about 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Tallahassee. The population was 2,334 at the 2000 census. The 2005 census estimated the city’s population at 2,340. Apalachicola is the county seat of Franklin County.
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“Apalachicola” comes from the Apalachicola tribe and is a combination of Hitchiti Indian words “apalahchi,” meaning “on the other side,” and “okli,” meaning “people”. In original reference to the settlement, it probably meant “people on the other side of the river.” Many inhabitants of Apalachicola, however, choose to translate the name of their town as “land of the friendly people.”
A trading post called Cottonton was located on the current site of Apalachicola. In 1827, the town was incorporated as West Point. Apalachicola received its current name in 1831, by an Act of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida.
Before the development of railways in the Gulf states, Apalachicola was the third busiest port in the Gulf of Mexico (behind New Orleans and Mobile). In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the sponge trade, led by Greek immigrants, was a major industry in the town. Apalachicola is still the home port for a variety of seafood workers, including oyster harvesters and shrimpers. More than 90% of Florida’s oyster production is harvested from Apalachicola Bay. Every year the town hosts the Florida Seafood Festival. The bay is well protected by St. Vincent Island, Flag, Sand, St. George Island, and Cape St. George Island.
Trinity Episcopal Church was incorporated by an Act of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida on Feb 11, 1837. The building was one of the earliest prefabricated buildings in America. The framework was shipped by schooner from New York and assembled in Apalachicola with wooden pegs.
Botanist Alvan Wentworth Chapman (1809–1899) settled in Apalachicola in 1847. In 1860, he published his major work, Flora of the Southern United States. The former (now closed) elementary school is named in his honor.
In 1849, Apalachicola physician Dr. John Gorrie (1802–1855) discovered the cold-air process of refrigeration and patented an ice machine in 1850, as the result of experiments to lower the temperatures of fever patients, laying the groundwork for modern refrigeration and air-conditioning. The city has a monument to him, and a replica of his ice machine is on display in the John Gorrie Museum.
On April 3, 1862, the gunboat USS Sagamore and 186-foot (57 m) steamer USS Mercedita (relieving the USS Marion) captured Apalachicola.
In 1979, Exxon relocated their experimental subsea production system from offshore Louisiana to a permitted artificial reef site off Apalachicola, Florida making this the first effort to turn an oil platform into an artificial reef.
Apalachicola is also home to the Dixie Theater, a professional Equity theater which is both a producing as well as presenting performance venue. It is considered the artistic center of Franklin County. Originally built in 1912, it was fully renovated beginning in 1996 and reopened in 1998.
The AN Railway, formerly the Apalachicola Northern Railroad, serves the city.