Upcoming Events & Exhibits

Special Exhibit: Founding of Carrabelle

Christmas Eve will mark the 139th anniversary of the official creation of the Town of Carrabelle. The incorporation of Carrabelle was officially recorded on Christmas Eve in 1881 by Franklin County.

In honor of this historic date, the Carrabelle History Museum announces the opening of a new exhibit documenting this important event. This special exhibit will open Wednesday, December 9 at 12 pm and will be on display at the museum until December 31, 2020 at 5 pm. The exhibit and museum are open every Wednesday and Sunday from 12-5 pm and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 am-5 pm (except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). There is no charge for admission but donations are gladly accepted to help defray costs.

The community of “Rio Carrabella” was formed in 1877 when Oliver Hudson Kelley set up a tent on the east side of the river in Carrabelle, moved in his wife and 5 daughters then declared himself the mayor. He began immediately to organize the community. Nineteen (19) local residents who were registered Franklin County voters signed an incorporation petition and sent it to the county. This petition established the legal city boundaries and government structure. Carrabelle was incorporated the day before Christmas 1881 so on that date, Carrabelle officially became a town with its present name. This special exhibit will focus on introducing the Articles of Incorporation and five of the original Founding Fathers, including Oliver Hudson Kelley.

Carrabelle History Museum is located at 106 SE Avenue B, in historic downtown Carrabelle, FL. For more information, contact the museum at 850-697-2141 or carrabellehistorymuseum@gmail.com. Funded in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council.

Gulf Terminal and Navigation Company's dock in Carrabelle, circa 1895, Credit: Florida Memory


Past Events & Exhibits

Carrabelle Coastal Culture

Saturday, Sept 5, 10 am - 3 pm

Downtown Carrabelle, FL

Music will fill the streets in downtown Carrabelle on Saturday, September 5, 2020, 10 am to 3 pm. In the spirit of the Culture Crawl, the Carrabelle History Museum will be bringing live, outdoor (socially-distanced) music on the corners through downtown Carrabelle for all to enjoy.

This is a wonderful opportunity to add a bit more fun as you experience the amazing local culture, art, history, and food that Carrabelle already has to offer. Visitors will spot wandering costumed characters from the Fishy Fashion Show. Music will be heard during the Culture Crawl in some unexpected places. Unique artwork can be seen throughout the downtown area from murals on the walls to art in the windows of local shops to the public art near the Marine Street waterfront pavilion.

Downtown shops, galleries and restaurants are encouraged to set up outdoor options for folks to enjoy. Be on the lookout for festive, pop-up canopies and open air tables through the area. Downtown Carrabelle will transform into an outdoor coastal market for the day.

Attendees are asked to follow all CDC guidelines to keep themselves safe including social distancing and sanitizing / washing hands frequently. Masks are encouraged indoors or anytime social distancing is not possible. The Marine Street public restroom, the Messer Pavilion public restroom and the Carrabelle History Museum restroom will all be available during this time.

Friendly Artistic Alligator at Carrabelle Culture Crawl, Sat, March 21, Carrabelle, FL
Friendly Artist Alligator at Carrabelle Culture Crawl

There are many choices for a place to have a great lunch.

Sponsorship generously provided by Duke Energy, Carrabelle CRA, Coastal Realty Group, and Carrabelle Lighthouse Association. Funding in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council. For more information, contact the Carrabelle History Museum at 850-697-2141 or carrabellehistorymuseum@gmail.com.

Duke Energy


Turpentine in North Florida: History Talk with Barbara Clark & Bonnie Allen


C-Quarters Marina, Hwy 98, Carrabelle, FL

Join the Carrabelle History Museum as we host another engaging history program, “History of the Turpentine Industry in North Florida” featuring Barbara Clark, Region Director for Florida Public Archaeology Network - North Central Region (FPAN) and Bonnie Allen, Park Services Specialist, Florida Park Service. Learn about the impact the turpentine industry also known as naval stores, had on Florida’s history and economy including racial relations during Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era and industrial innovation. This program will also share insights into the local history of the turpentine industry in the Big Bend Region and highlight some of Zora Neale Hurston's research at turpentine camps. Funded in part by the Franklin County TDC. There is no fee for this program. Thanks to our sponsors C-Quarters Marina, Centennial Bank, and Shaun Donahoe Realty. For more information, contact 850-697-2141. 

Speaker's Series: Turpentine in North Florida, POSTPONED, Carrabelle, FL. Carrabelle and Forgotten Coast History

Historic Sawmills of Franklin County, Carrabelle History Museum, Carrabelle, FL


The Carrabelle History Museum is sponsoring a wonderful, free “Visit with Santa” event during Carrabelle’s Holiday on the Harbor celebration on Saturday, December 14. Santa and his head Carrabelle elf will ride around the town on top of the City of Carrabelle Fire Truck, spreading cheer to the many children who run outside to see him go by. Santa will then make his big arrival on the fire truck in downtown Carrabelle at 2:00 pm.

Children are welcome to visit with Santa and his elves at his big chair in front of the White Kitchen at the corner of Avenue B and Marine Street between 2:00-4:00 pm & 5:00-7:00 pm. This wonderful visit and photo op are provided free to all families. A professional photographer from Karilyn Photography will be there to capture the special memory at no charge and photos will be posted for free downloading to the Carrabelle History Museum’s Facebook page. Families are welcome to bring their own camera as well. Additionally each child will be given a candy cane and a free age-appropriate book from Bring Me a Book Franklin. While there, the whole family can enjoy a free tour of the Carrabelle History Museum decked out in holiday decorations from 10 am - 5 pm. This event is open to the public.

While in downtown Carrabelle, be sure to experience the rest of the Holiday on the Harbor festivities, which begin at 11 am and are presented by the Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce including FREE mini-train rides for children from 3-6 pm. Guests can enjoy complimentary hot cocoa, cider, coffee and pastries from several community church booths. Make sure to stay to see the highlight of the festival, the traditional Christmas Boat Parade of Lights and fireworks in the evening.

Many thanks to the generous sponsors who make this activity possible for the children and families of our community!  City of Carrabelle, Carrabelle Fire Department, Franklin County TDC, Godfrey Builders, Hartman Law Firm, PA, Inovia Group, Karilyn Photography, Martin’s House of Coins, MLD Architects, and Friends of the Museum. Books provided by Dinner Divas and Bring Me A Book Franklin 

Visit with Santa in Carrabelle by Carrabelle History Museum

Dog Island Shipwrecks




by Joan Matey

An unusual and memorable gathering took place in the fishing town of Carrabelle Florida this past Saturday.( September 3, 2011) A group of people all bonded by a shared family tragedy, and all having a bit of an obsession with the same old boat, came to the grand opening of the S.S.TARPON exhibit at the Carrabelle History Museum. Gathered were the descendants of the crew of the steam ship Tarpon, which sank less than

10 miles off the coast of Panama City in 1937 due to a severe storm, too much cargo and a proud, and overly determined captain.

Many were the grandchildren of survivors, some the relatives of the Second Mate who perished trying to save the 81 year old Captain. Almost all of the families reported having a photo of the ship somewhere in their homes. They were very excited to finally meet others with last names they were so familiar with. The Mattairs, McKnights, Smiths and Russells (and related families)) were able to share stories of the horrible ordeal, with details that their grandparents had told them so many times. Discussions included who was clinging to the hatch cover or the mast, plus comments on operations before the wreck.... like how much faster the roustabouts would work, when the captain was watching. The museum staff was able to get some positive identification on photos they were unsure of, and extra tidbits to add to the exploration of this fascinating, certainly film-worthy story.

The SS TARPON had a long career. She was part of Henry Plant's transportation empire in the late 1880s and part of Flagler's fleet at the turn of the century. The vessel was sold to a panhandle firm in 1902. TARPON served the northern gulf coast until its demise in 1937, carrying freight and passengers 'til 1930, and from then on, mainly hauling freight. The steam powered ship cruised weekly from Mobile to Carrabelle. Older folks referred to her as Carrabelle's Queen Mary. "This was a very significant era in the history of Franklin County and the Gulf Coast," said museum director, Tamara Allen.

To keep your curiosity high, I won't tell you the entire story in this article. The Carrabelle History Museum hopes that everyone will come to our friendly little town, check out our special exhibit, have a great seafood dinner and take a walk on our beach! (Remember we depend on you visitors to keep our wonderful restaurants going during the off -season.) "The Last Voyage of the S.S. TARPON" will be displayed through Thanksgiving weekend. The Carrabelle History Museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment. Call (850) 524-1153.

(The Carrabelle History Museum is at 106 Avenue B Carrabelle FL 32322 [Behind the BP Station on Hwy 98]
Joan Matey is former manager of the 1843 Knott House in Tallahassee and is currently curator at the
Crooked River Lighthouse and the Carrabelle History Museum.) 

P.S Attention Divers: The remains of the wrecked vessel can be located via the State Underwater Archaeological Preserve. 


Tarpon Exhbit