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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Marks in Wakulla County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Port Leon

1838 - 1843

 
 
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jamie Abel, May 30, 2013
1. Port Leon Marker
Inscription. (front)

The former town of Port Leon, once the terminal for the Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad, was located across the St. Marks River about two miles south of here.

(back)

Port Leon, A Ghost Town Two Miles South
1838-1843


The Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad was critical to shipping materials from all of what was then called ‘Middle Florida’ and Southern Georgia. In 1839, Richard Keith Call, president of the Tallahassee Railroad Company, founded the town of Port Leon as the railroad terminus in order to capture the cotton shipping business from the towns of Magnolia and St. Marks. The company had a bridge with two openings, built according to the Town lattice design, erected over the St. Marks River at this location. Businessmen from Magnolia were quick to buy lots, build warehouses, and benefit from the new port city. Freight was no longer loaded in St. Marks.

There were twenty or more houses, a saw mill and grist mill; businesses included warehouses, a hotel, two taverns, a post office and a newspaper. Port Leon, established in 1838, was designated the first county seat when Wakulla was carved from Leon County in 1843. Just a few months later the town was destroyed by a hurricane. The storm swept the bridge up the St. Marks River. Residents boated around the remaining
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jamie Abel, May 30, 2013
2. Port Leon Marker
center post for decades thereafter.

After the hurricane the railroad company quickly announced that freight would again be accepted in the St. Marks terminal. The residents of Port Leon moved upstream to establish the town of Newport. All that remains of Port Leon are disturbed lands in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the railroad bed that is now part of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Today the terminus of the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is in the town of St. Marks where visitors enjoy the laid-back, eco-tourism and great food.
 
Erected by Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Greenways and Trails.
 
Location. 30° 9.261′ N, 84° 12.253′ W. Marker is in St. Marks, Florida, in Wakulla County. Marker is on Riverside Drive 0.1 miles west of Port Leon Drive (Florida Route 363), on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Saint Marks FL 32355, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. San Marcos De Apalache (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort St. Marks Military Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named San Marcos De Apalache
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jamie Abel, May 30, 2013
3. Port Leon Marker
The marker is seen looking east down Riverside Drive in St. Marks, Florida.
(approx. half a mile away); St. Marks Lighthouse (approx. 5.8 miles away); Battle of Natural Bridge (approx. 9.5 miles away).
 
Also see . . .
1. Civil War Florida. The page describes the role the Port Leon site played in the American Civil War. (Submitted on July 29, 2013, by Jamie Abel of Westerville, Ohio.) 

2. Florida Trail Association - Apalachee Chapter. Site discusses the trail, which, by hitching a ride from a passing boat, leads south from St. Marks into Port Leon. (Submitted on July 29, 2013, by Jamie Abel of Westerville, Ohio.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels
 
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jamie Abel, May 30, 2013
4. Port Leon Marker
The Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad used to cross a bridge near the marker, continuing south to Port Leon.
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jamie Abel, May 30, 2013
5. Port Leon Marker
Today, the railbed of the Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad serves as a recreational, multi-purpose trail between the two municipalities.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Jamie Abel of Westerville, Ohio. This page has been viewed 383 times since then and 7 times this year. Last updated on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Jamie Abel of Westerville, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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