Port St. Joe
The town of St. Joseph dates to the 1830s and was a bustling city with about 12,000 residents. In 1838, it was selected as the site for Florida’s first Constitutional Convention where 56 delegates met from the surrounding territory and drafted Florida’s first constitution. Six years later, Florida became a State.
In 1841, three-fourths of St. Joseph’s population succumbed to yellow fever that arrived on a Spanish freighter. The approximate 400 remaining residents fled after a major hurricane in 1844. Re-established in the 1920s, the resurrected city went industrial with the opening of the St. Joe Company’s paper mill in 1938. Workers were well paid and easily employed at the mill, in related forestry industries or in maritime trades. Despite comparative prosperity from union wages and job security, the consistent paper mill stench sent most passers-by out of town quickly. Then the mill closed in 1999 bringing on a new era.
A gift of geography, Port St. Joe faces west, bringing stunning sunsets over Cape San Blas and St. Joseph Bay. Restaurants and a restored historic hotel take advantage of this, setting up tables and rocking chairs that are as comfortable for dining, sitting and talking as they are ideal for photographers. The beaches at nearby Cape San Blas are rated tops in the world.