St. Marks in Wakulla County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
1838 - 1843
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.
Port Leon, A Ghost Town Two Miles South
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
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 (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.
Other nearby markers. At least 6 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 St. Marks Lighthouse (approx. 5.8 miles away); Wakulla Springs Archaeological & Historic District (approx. 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 & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 28, 2013, by Jamie Abel of Westerville, Ohio. This page has been viewed 422 times since then and 46 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.