St. Joseph: Ghost City

St. Joseph: Ghost City

Title

  • St. Joseph: Ghost City

Published Date

  • published 1940

Transcript

[Page 10]
citizens whose deaths will be deplored in both domestic and public life but
we trust that we have seen the end of an epidemic which will long be
remembered."

This optimism was unfulfilled. St. Joseph never recovered from
the scourge. Most of those who had been interested in the city refused to
go back, and the palatial homes, fine public buildings, and full warehouses
awaited in ghostly silence the return of their owners. A few intrepid souls
returned for their personal belongings and some carried, by schooner or
barge, the timbers of their old homes to rebuild in Apalachicola. Today
houses still stand in that city reconstructed from timbers that were parts of
fine residences in St. Joseph. The railroad from Iola to St. Joseph vanished
with the town, and Iola, the other terminal, likewise disappeared, swept
away by the changing currents of the Apalachicola River.

In November 1841, the Sentinel of Tallahassee said: "We hear
nothing of St. Joseph now. Where is it?" In May of the next year the
Journal of Apalachicola declared, "St. Joseph with her artificial resources
and beautiful bay has sunk into an everlasting commercial sleep."

Adverse Fate was by no means finished with this ghostly place, for
in 1843, shortly after it had been partially dismantled, a forest fire swept
into the city. The blaze cast a reflection in the skies that could be seen as
far as Apalachicola, and consumed everything that lay in its path as it
raced with crackling fury down to the waters of the bay.