A brief history of the Port of Port St. Joe

Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 10:26 AM.

In 1941, on a site just south of the paper mill, which is currently   “jetty park,”  the oil docks portion of the port was built along with a large tank farm that extended from the docks to where the current Centennial Bank is now located.

Petroleum products were shipped in from the oil fields of Louisiana and Texas in large tankers and barges. The petroleum was then pumped to Chattanooga, Tennessee and intermediate points via an eight-inch pipeline that was constructed during the same time the oil docks were being built. 

By 1963 the petroleum distribution center had reached its life cycle and was therefore shut down.  In the early 70’s Hess oil purchased the facility and operated it until the mid to late 80’s when it was then shut down permanently.

From 1938 to the early 1970’s the Port of Port St. Joe enjoyed a brisk national and international trade.  In the 1950’s, at the height of the port activity, there were ships coming out of and going in to the port on a weekly basis. Beginning in the early 1970’s however, shipping from the port began a steady decline and by the mid 1980’s most shipping activity had ended. 

By 1996 the natural deep water harbor and the extended channel that led to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico experienced its last visit from a cargo ship.

Currently the port bulkhead and surrounding land sits idle awaiting a new birth.  The former major users of the port, the St. Joe Paper Mill and Box Plant, and the Arizona Chemical Company have been razed so that the land can be reclaimed for further use. Also, left behind is the essential infrastructure used to support their operations. Water, sewer, electricity and gas are in abundant supply. The AN short-line railroad that connected the Port to the main rail lines of the U.S will soon be repaired and back in service. A $750,000 state grant for an environmental and engineering study of the shipping channel, a requirement before any dredging can take place, was recently awarded to the Port St. Joe Port Authority with the St. Joe Company providing the required match of $250,000.

As a result of a recent formation of a strategic development partnership with the St. Joe Company, the Port of Port St. Joe and the surrounding land and infrastructure are now positioned to once again become a thriving port. 

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