Special Exhibit: “Carrabelle in the 1930’s”

Ferry between Apalachicola and Carrabelle. 1930s (circa). Owned and operated by Captain A. L. Wing.

Ferry between Apalachicola and Carrabelle. 1930s (circa). Owned and operated by Captain A. L. Wing.

The Carrabelle History Museum is excited to announce a special exhibit on “Carrabelle in the 1930’s” will be opening on Sunday, May 1 and be on display through Saturday, May 28, 2022. There is no charge for admission but donations are gladly accepted. The museum and exhibit are open Wednesdays 12-5 pm, Thursdays thru Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays 12 – 5 pm.

All month long, the Carrabelle History Museum will be celebrating the anniversary of the original opening of the now historic City Hall Building, which currently houses the Carrabelle History Museum. Carrabelle’s Historic City Hall first opened to the public on May 2, 1938. This building was the result of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and was described at the time of its construction as “one of the finest buildings in the state for a city of this size.” The structure is a two story brick vernacular style of that period. Carrabelle’s original City Hall was constructed by Marvin N. Justiss, a local mason of note who is said to have built half of Carrabelle. Mr. Justiss hand made the concrete blocks in wooden forms. Each one weighs over 60 pounds.

In addition, this exhibit will also explore what Carrabelle and Franklin County were like during that era. Fun, cultural highlights will be shared as well as serious items of note happening in the world to provide context to 1930s Carrabelle. Visitors are invited to come to the museum to learn about Captain Wing’s ferry between Carrabelle and Apalachicola, the opening of the first bridge across the Apalachicola Bay connecting Carrabelle to Apalachicola by road, and the sinking of the Steamship Tarpon. This was the era of steamships, ferries, brand new bridges, and big band swing and jazz music, all the while the Nazis were already consolidating power and World War II was brewing.

This exhibit will consist of a newly restored original jail cell door, a display on the construction methods of the City Hall building, historic photos of Franklin County from the 1930s, historical newspaper articles, plus artifacts and music from the 1930s.


C. C. Land Turpentine Camp

Spring 2022 Exhibit

The Carrabelle History Museum is excited to announce a new special exhibit on “C. C. Land Turpentine Camp”.  This exhibit will be on display from Wednesday, March 2 through Saturday, April 30. There is no charge for admission but donations are gladly accepted. The museum and exhibit are open Wednesdays 12-5 pm, Thursdays thru Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays 12 – 5 pm.

Clifford C. Land, known as C. C. Land, founded turpentine operations in Tate’s Hell in the 1930s, starting at High Bluff and moving to Greenpoint, between Eastpoint and Carrabelle. Turpentine camp workers needed exceptional strength to wield the heavy hand tools and had to master skillful techniques to maximize the amount of sap they could get from a pine tree without destroying it. C.C. kept the company going until wage labor laws made it no longer feasible, and this was the last operating turpentine camp in Franklin County. In the late 1940s, the business converted to logging and cattle raising.

The exhibit shows the difficult process of gathering sap and distilling it into resin with many photos, artifacts, letters and documents from the C. C. Land Turpentine Company. An impressive array of tools unique to the turpentine trade and old hand-made wood and tin tool carriers are on display. There are bark hacks, scrapers, axes, odd-shaped galvanized buckets from the late 1930s and a collection of different types of pots and trays used to collect the pine sap. The historic photos of the camp workers on the job reflect their skill and strength and illustrates the challenges of this long-ago profession. Aluminum tokens, known as scrip used for purchases at the camp commissary are also part of the display, as well as samples of the many medicinal products made from pine derivatives.

This amazing collection of authentic artifacts is on loan from Bonnie Allen, granddaughter of Clifford C. Land and retired Park Services Specialist. She will be at the Carrabelle History Museum on Saturday, March 19 from 10 am – 3 pm to further interpret her collection and discuss the turpentine industry in Franklin County. Bonnie Allen is from Apalachicola and worked with the Florida Park Service for over 35 years, at St. George Island State Park, St. Andrews State Park, and most recently with Tallahassee-St. Marks Area Parks.


Funding in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council.

 

Sponge Diving in Carrabelle and the North Gulf Coast of Florida



There is no charge for admission but donations are gladly accepted. The museum and exhibit are open Wednesdays 12-5 pm, Thursdays thru Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays 12 – 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Carrabelle History Museum is located, one block from Carrabelle Harbor, at 106 SE Avenue B, Carrabelle, FL.  For more information, contact 850-697-2141.

Funded in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council.

The museum is honored to be the recipient of a welcome surprise of the loan of a fascinating artifact for the exhibit. A turn-of-the-century Greek sponge diving suit complete with helmet and weight belt has been loaned to the museum and is a fabulous addition to the sponge diving exhibit. The Sponge Diving exhibit also includes a recently donated authentic, brass sponge diving helmet used by a former local diver as well as a diorama of the sponge docks, early images and historical photos of Carrabelle’s sponge boats and local sponge divers plus a fascinating video of sponge diving.

After the sponge industry in Greece collapsed in the late 1800s, Greek divers brought their practices to Florida and created an extremely lucrative industry. Apalachicola, Tarpon Springs, and Key West emerged as top sponge trade ports. By 1900, Apalachicola was home to two sponge warehouses and employed around 100 men. Carrabelle developed a large sponge fleet of its own during that time. “By 1879, Carrabelle had the largest sponge fleet in Florida next to Key West”, according to David Shubow in the Tequesta: The Journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida.

Small sailboats embarked on month-long harvesting trips in the northern Gulf. Each vessel carried several small dinghies. A pair of men worked each dingy with one man rowing as the other looked for sponges using a glass viewing box pressed against the surface of the water.

The arrival of diving technology in the early 1900s, the diving suit, brought more efficiency to harvesting. The diving suit enabled the men to walk along the sea floor to more quickly harvest sponges. By around the 1930s a combination of overharvesting, blight, and the invention of synthetic sponges led to the depletion of the sponge industry which virtually closed in this area at that time. In recent years sponge harvesting has made a bit of a comeback and locally-sourced sponges can once again be found in Franklin County.

Florida’s tough, soft sponges were considered to be some of the best in the world. Sponges from the northern Gulf were denser than other Florida sponges because of the colder water. Many of them were harvested just off of Dog Island.

Eventually “new” diving technology revolutionized the industry. Heavy brass helmets, diving suits, and weights – weighted belts and lead in the shoes would enable divers to walk along the sea floor. They would breathe through a long tube connected to the boat above. While this enabled divers to stay down longer and harvest more sponges it was also much more dangerous.

This exhibit will explore the history of sponge diving in Carrabelle and the area. Come and learn about the migration of Greek sponge divers to and from Carrabelle. This exhibit will include history photos of Carrabelle sponge boats and local sponge divers, an old, brass sponge diving helmet and more.