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St. Marks in Wakulla County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Port Leon

1838 - 1843

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

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.

Reverse:
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
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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 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.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1839.
 
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 (State Road 363), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Saint Marks FL 32355, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers.
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jamie Abel, May 30, 2013
2. Port Leon Marker
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Telltale Bones (a few steps from this marker); Bo Lynn's Grocery (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); St. Marks Bike Trail Park (about 600 feet away); The City of St. Marks (approx. ¼ mile away); San Marcos de Apalache (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Old Store on the Wakulla River (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort St. Marks Military Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort San Marcos de Apalache (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Marks.
 
Also see . . .  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.) 
 
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jamie Abel, May 30, 2013
3. Port Leon Marker
The marker is seen looking east down Riverside Drive in St. Marks, Florida.
Port Leon Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed 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.
Photographed 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 was last revised on October 28, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 28, 2013, by Jamie Abel of Westerville, Ohio. This page has been viewed 880 times since then and 67 times this year. Last updated on August 3, 2013, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 28, 2013, by Jamie Abel of Westerville, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 24, 2024