Current Exhibits and Events

Past Exhibits and Events



PAST EVENTS


 



 

Saturday, August 4 at the Carrabelle History Museum!


FAMILIES OF SURVIVORS BOND,  7 DECADES AFTER A GULF COAST SHIP WRECK

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

 


jpg