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Getting Outdoors . . . It’s Good for the Soul!

Sandra Chafin Special to The Star
The Star

Our trail exploration into the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve takes us to Old Shell Road. Originally it was probably called Shell Road or just . . . the highway to Apalachicola. We refer to it as “old”, like we do St. Joseph because they were first used a very long time ago.

If you turn left on Shell Road you will cross Homestead Road. You can follow Shell Road to the Buffer Preserve’s boundary line. From Treasure Road on Shell Road to the boundary line is 2.21 miles.

The road was important as it was used to deliver mail weekly to St. Joseph and Apalachicola along with people and supplies in the 1800s from Marianna. The north and south road was designated by Andrew Jackson as a federal highway which includes parts of highway 73 and 71.

As travelers came from Georgia, Alabama and even farther points north, to St. Joseph, they might have traveled by boat to Apalachicola then over land to reach St. Joseph. The road used would have included part of present-day Treasure Road and Old Shell Road.

The road to St. Joseph from Apalachicola is mentioned in novels written about St. Joseph and Apalachicola in the 1940s: The Great Tide (1947) by Rubylea Hall and The Wrath and the Wind (1949) by Alexander Key. These books serve as our Gone with the Wind of Northwest Florida.

What is the significance of Old Shell Road and part of Treasure Road? They are part of the roadbeds traveled from Old St. Joseph to Apalachicola and vice versa in the early 1800s. Even before Florida became a state and was still a territory these roads made passage possible between the Boom towns of St. Joseph and Apalachicola.

As you walk let your imagination soar to envision horses, buggy’s, stagecoaches, and probably walkers going from town to town. There were no convenience stops, no air conditioning to make the trip easier.

Henry A Drake wrote an account of St. Joseph which can be found on the internet. Pictures from his collection in the early 1900s include two of the roads to Apalachicola, with one noted as being near Money Bayou.

While we now travel the 20 plus miles to Apalachicola with ease it certainly was not easy in the early 1800s. When it was decided to build a new town from the ground up – the road had to be built first. Even with boat traffic to Depot Creek the supplies had to be unloaded and moved over land to the new town.

Enjoy you hikes through the Buffer Preserve. Think of those who traveled these roads before you. Many may remember the old road and may have driven it in the past.