Upcoming Events & Exhibits

Florida in World War I 

Speaker's Series - History Program

Saturday, April 10, 10 am - 12 pm

C-Quarters Marina, Hwy 98

Carrabelle, FL

Carlstrom Aviation Field, FL June 1918

The Carrabelle History Museum in partnership with the Camp Gordon Johnston Museum is presenting a fascinating history program entitled, “Florida in World War I”. Learn about the contributions of Florida in WWI as well as the impact of the 1918 pandemic on Florida. This program features author Joe Knetsch and will be held Saturday, April 10, 2021, at 10 am - 12 pm in the upstairs room at C-Quarters Marina, 501 St. James Ave (Hwy 98), Carrabelle, FL. Due to COVID precautions, seating will be limited. There is no charge for this event but reservations are required.

A century ago, sparsely populated and largely rural Florida rallied as America plunged into World War I. The state's sacrifices and contributions have rarely been awarded their proper due. The proud USS Florida, too often mentioned as a mere adjunct to the Atlantic Fleet, receives a just accounting, as does the utterly devastating loss of the USS Tampa, the highest death toll the navy suffered in the war. Sunshine State foresters served critical roles abroad, and local libraries became essential hubs for promoting rationing and reporting news from overseas. Floridian aid workers and soldiers training for departure were stricken with the Spanish flu, a pandemic that shook the globe with force equal to the war itself. 

Marines in Miami FL during WWI

Joe Knetsch is an American historian and author who has published eight books and over 200 articles in numerous journals. Joe has a B.S. from Western Michigan University, an M.A. from Florida Atlantic University and a Ph.D. from Florida State University. He has taught at the secondary and collegiate levels, and worked as a historian for the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Natural Resources. 

The History Speaker Series programs are popular and due to COVID precautions, seating will be limited to 50 attendees. Reservations are required by emailing carrabellehistorymuseum@gmail.com. Masks are required. Seats will be spaced to allow for social distancing. Attendees are asked to follow all health guidelines to help keep themselves safe including social distancing and sanitizing hands frequently. Hand sanitizer will be available. There is no fee for this program. Donations are gladly accepted to defray costs. Funding in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council. For more information, contact 850-697-2141.   

Duke Energy

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. 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


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




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