Florida: Wakulla County

Wakulla County (pop. 30,776) is south of Tallahassee, on the Gulf of Mexico. Its only incorporated cities are Sopchoppy (pop. 458) and St. Marks (pop. 294).

Sopchoppy’s name is of undetermined Native American origin. The city hosts an annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival, honoring the tradition of driving worms up to the surface to be collected as fishing bait.

Youngsters learning to charm the worms

The old Sopchoppy High School gymnasium was built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built of native limestone

St. Marks is the site of Fort St. Marks – now San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park – formerly an important military fort, dating back to Spanish colonial days in the 17th century.

Not much remains

St. Marks Light (1842), Florida’s second-oldest lighthouse, is a few miles away, at the mouth of the St. Marks River.

Still in use

The county seat of Wakulla County is Crawfordville – the only unincorporated county seat in Florida. The old wooden courthouse is now the home of the Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce.

Built in 1893

A much-photographed sight in Crawfordville is the Harvey Family’s collection of old Ford trucks, dating from the early 1900s to the 1970s, along U.S. Highway 319.

All were used on the family farm.

The unincorporated community of Panacea apparently got its name because the local springs were reputed to be all-healing. It is America’s only Panacea.

The Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea has a small aquarium that is open to the public.

Touching is encouraged.

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is the site of Wakulla Springs, one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. The spring’s opening is 180 feet below the surface.

Cave divers have explored underwater.

When the water is clear, glass-bottom boat tours are available.

Usually late winter or early spring

The “Wakulla Volcano” was the name of a mysterious 19th-century phenomenon  in the county’s swamps – a column of smoke, sometimes accompanied by bright lights. The cause was never determined.

Possibly peat moss fires

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