Carrabelle, Florida

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Carrabelle, Florida
Location in Franklin County and the state of Florida
Location in Franklin County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 29°51′14″N 84°39′57″W / 29.85389°N 84.66583°W / 29.85389; -84.66583Coordinates: 29°51′14″N 84°39′57″W / 29.85389°N 84.66583°W / 29.85389; -84.66583
Country  United States
State  Florida
County  Franklin
 • Total 4.8 sq mi (12.5 km2)
 • Land 3.7 sq mi (9.7 km2)
 • Water 1.1 sq mi (2.8 km2)
Elevation[1] 26 ft (8 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 2,778
 • Density 271.5/sq mi (104.2/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 32322
Area code(s) 850
FIPS code 12-10725[2]
GNIS feature ID 0280069[3]

Carrabelle is a city in Franklin County along Florida's Panhandle in the United States. The population was 1,303 as of the 2000 census. According to the U.S Census estimates of 2009, the city had a population of 1,231.[4] Carrabelle is located at about 20 miles (32 km) east of Apalachicola, Florida at the mouth of the Carrabelle River on the Gulf of Mexico.


Carrabelle is surrounded by the Carrabelle River, Crooked River, Ochlockonee River and the Gulf of Mexico. To the south is Dog Island. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.8 square miles (12 km2). 3.7 square miles (9.6 km2) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) of it (22.45%) is water.


Downtown Carabelle

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 1,303 people, 562 households, and 370 families,residing in the city. The population density was 349.2 inhabitants per square mile (134.9/km²). There were 790 housing units at an average density of 211.7 per square mile (81.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.48% White, 5.68% African American, 0.31% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.84% from other races, and 1.53% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.61% of the population.

There were 562 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.0% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 27.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,749, and the median income for a family was $27,955. Males had a median income of $26,719 versus $19,018 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,677. About 14.8% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9% of those under age 18 and 24.2% of those age 65 or over.

For many decades, Carrabelle had the only tertiary sewage treatment facility in the State of Florida, but this may have been updated in recent years.


In 1528 the first Spanish expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez passed through the area on its way from Tampa Bay to the Rio Grande. From the late 17th century through early 18th century a few passages referring to the area are mentioned. Carrabelle, Dog Island, and St. George Island served as points to stage raids on local ports as well as San Marcos de Apalache in 1677 and 1682.

In 1876 explorer Nathaniel Holmes Bishop of Medford, Massachusetts navigated the Crooked River through the lowlands to the Ochlockonee River. In 1877 Oliver Hudson Kelly, from Massachusetts founded the town and named it Rio Carrabelle. The following year the first U.S. Post office was established with its address as Rio Carrabelle. By 1881 the population was between 500 and 600 people.

In 1891 The Carrabelle, Tallahassee and Georgia Railroad was established to connect Carrabelle northward through Tallahassee to the Florida-Georgia line.[5]

On August 1, 1899, the 2nd hurricane of the season struck the area almost destroying the town leaving just nine homes.[6]

In 1942, Camp Gordon Johnston was opened for the purpose of training amphibious soldiers on nearby beaches. The camp trained a quarter of a million men and closed in 1946.

On August 23, 2008, Tropical Storm Fay made its record fourth landfall in the state of Florida at Carrabelle.


Area marinas[edit]

World's Smallest Police Station
Local history museum

Carrabelle is the home of the "World's Smallest Police Station".[7]

The "World's Smallest Police Station" came into being on March 10, 1963. The city had been having problems with tourists making unauthorized long distance phone calls on its police phone. The phone was located in a call box that was bolted to a building at the corner of U.S. 98 and Tallahassee Street. Johnnie Mirabella, St. Joe Telephone's lone Carrabelle employee at the time, first tried moving the call box to another building, but the illegal calls continued.

Mirabella noticed that the policeman would get drenched while answering phone calls when it was raining. So when the telephone company decided to replace its worn out phone booth in front of Burda's Pharmacy with a new one, he decided to solve both problems at once by putting the police phone in the old booth.

With the help of Curly Messer, who was a deputy sheriff at the time, Mirabella moved the phone booth to its current site on U.S. 98. The booth did protect the officers from the elements, but some people still sneaked into it to make long distance calls. Eventually the dial was removed from the phone, making it impossible for tourists to make calls.

It has been featured on television shows Real People, Ripley's Believe It or Not, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. It was featured in the movie Tate's Hell, which was produced at Florida State University. Along with police station T-shirts—the design is copyrighted—there are police station hats, visors, postcards, and calendars.

But life has not always been easy for the retired St. Joseph Telephone and Telegraph Company phone booth. Vandals have ripped phones out of the booth and shot holes through the glass. It has been knocked over by a pickup truck, a tourist once asked a gas station attendant to help him load it into his vehicle to take it back to Tennessee and it was knocked over and damaged by Hurricane Kate.[8]

Carrabelle has a local history museum which is located in the Marvin Justiss building also known as "Old City Hall" and is open on Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm for visitors interested in learning about the local history of Carrabelle.

The Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum is located in the Carrabelle City Complex, 1001 Gray Avenue and admission is free.[9] The museum was named after Colonel Gordon Johnston, an American soldier who served in the Spanish–American War, Philippine–American War and World War I.


Carrabelle is a part of the Franklin County Schools system. Students attend the Franklin County K–12 School in Eastpoint, Florida that was built in 2008.[10]


External links[edit]