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Carrabelle, Florida
City entrance sign
City entrance sign
Location in Franklin County and the state of Florida
Location in Franklin County and the state of Florida
Carrabelle, Florida is located in the United States
Carrabelle, Florida
Carrabelle, Florida
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Florida
County  Franklin
Rio Carrabella 1877
Carrabelle (Incorporated) May 11, 1893
 • Type Commission
 • Total 5.93 sq mi (15.35 km2)
 • Land 4.79 sq mi (12.40 km2)
 • Water 1.14 sq mi (2.95 km2)
26 ft (8 m)
 • Total 2,606
 • Density 544.39/sq mi (210.18/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 850
FIPS code 12-10725
GNIS feature ID 0280069

Carrabelle is a city in Franklin County along Florida's Panhandle, United States. The population was 2,778 as of the 2010 census. Carrabelle is located east of Apalachicola at the mouth of the Carrabelle River on the Gulf of Mexico.


Carrabelle is located east of the center of Franklin County along the Carrabelle River, between St. George Sound to the south and the Crooked and New rivers to the north. To the south is Dog Island, separating St. George Sound from the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Route 98 passes through Carrabelle, leading west 22 miles (35 km) to Apalachicola and northeast 30 miles (48 km) to Medart. Tallahassee, the state capital, is 54 miles (87 km) to the northeast.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Carrabelle has a total area of 5.6 square miles (14.6 km2), of which 4.5 square miles (11.7 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.9 km2), or 20.12%, is water.

Carrabelle is the eastern terminus of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 482
1900 923 91.5%
1910 900 −2.5%
1920 1,055 17.2%
1930 920 −12.8%
1940 1,019 10.8%
1950 970 −4.8%
1960 1,146 18.1%
1970 1,044 −8.9%
1980 1,304 24.9%
1990 1,200 −8.0%
2000 1,303 8.6%
2010 2,778 113.2%
2020 2,606 −6.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
FL 67 Carabelle (N)
Downtown Carabelle

The population of Carrabelle rose from 1,303 in 2000 to 2,778 in 2010 with the expansion of the city limits to the northeast to include the Franklin Correctional Institution.

As of the census of 2010, there were 2,778 people, 1,243 households, and 560 families residing in the city. The population density was 349.2 inhabitants per square mile (134.9/km2). There were 790 housing units at an average density of 211.7 per square mile (81.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.48% White, 5.68% African American, 0.31% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.84% from other races, and 1.53% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.61% of the population.

There were 562 households, out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.0% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. Of all households 30.6% were made up of individuals, and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city the population was spread out, with 23.3% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 27.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,749, and the median income for a family was $27,955. Males had a median income of $26,719 versus $19,018 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,677. About 14.8% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9% of those under age 18 and 24.2% of those age 65 or over.

For many decades, Carrabelle had the only tertiary sewage treatment facility in the State of Florida, but this may have been updated in recent years.


In 1528 the first Spanish expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez passed through the area on its way from Tampa Bay to the Rio Grande. From the late 17th century through early 18th century a few passages referring to the area are mentioned. Carrabelle, Dog Island, and St. George Island served as points to stage raids on local ports as well as San Marcos de Apalache in 1677 and 1682.

In 1876 explorer Nathaniel Holmes Bishop of Medford, Massachusetts, navigated the Crooked River through the lowlands east to the Ochlockonee River. In 1877, Oliver Hudson Kelly from Massachusetts founded the town and named it "Rio Carrabella". The following year the first U.S. post office was established with its address as Rio Carrabella. By 1881 the population was between 500 and 600 people.

In 1891 the Carrabelle, Tallahassee and Georgia Railroad was established to connect Carrabelle northward through Tallahassee to the Florida-Georgia line and eventually terminating in Augusta, Georgia.

On August 1, 1899, the 2nd hurricane of the season struck the area, almost destroying the town and leaving just nine homes.

In 1942, Camp Gordon Johnston was opened for the purpose of training amphibious soldiers on nearby beaches. The camp trained a quarter of a million men and closed in 1946.

On August 23, 2008, Tropical Storm Fay made its record fourth landfall in the state of Florida at Carrabelle.


  • Historic deepwater fishing village
  • World's Smallest Police Station
  • Crooked River Lighthouse
  • Carrabelle Beach
  • Tate's Hell State Forest
  • Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum
  • Boat Parade of Lights
  • Carrabelle Riverfront Festival
  • Waterway to Dog Island, St George Sound, and eastern start point to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

World's Smallest Police Station

The World's Smallest Police Station

Carrabelle is the home of the "World's Smallest Police Station", which came into being on March 10, 1963. The city had been having problems with tourists making unauthorized long distance phone calls on its police phone. The phone was located in a call box that was bolted to a building at the corner of U.S. 98 and Tallahassee Street. Johnnie Mirabella, St. Joe Telephone's lone Carrabelle employee at the time, first tried moving the call box to another building, but the illegal calls continued.

Mirabella noticed that the policeman would get drenched while answering phone calls when it was raining. So when the telephone company decided to replace its worn out phone booth in front of Burda's Pharmacy with a new one, he decided to solve both problems at once by putting the police phone in the old booth.

With the help of Curly Messer, who was a deputy sheriff at the time, Mirabella moved the phone booth to its current site on U.S. 98. The booth did protect the officers from the elements, but some people still sneaked into it to make long distance calls. Eventually the dial was removed from the phone, making it impossible for tourists to make calls.

It has been featured on television shows Real People, Ripley's Believe It or Not, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. It was featured in the movie Tate's Hell, which was produced at Florida State University. Along with police station T-shirts—the design is copyrighted—there are police station hats, visors, postcards, and calendars.

But life has not always been easy for the retired St. Joseph Telephone and Telegraph Company phone booth. Vandals have ripped phones out of the booth and shot holes through the glass. It has been knocked over by a pickup truck, a tourist once asked a gas station attendant to help him load it into his vehicle to take it back to Tennessee, and it was knocked over and damaged by Hurricane Kate.


Carrabelle FL Justiss bldg hist msm02
Local history museum

Carrabelle has a local history museum, the Carrabelle History Museum, which is located at 106 Avenue B, SE in the Marvin Justiss building, also known as "Old City Hall". The museum is free and open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and by appointment other days, for visitors interested in learning about the history of Carrabelle and the area.

Carrabelle FL WWII msm01
Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum

The Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum is located in the Carrabelle City Complex, 1001 Gray Avenue, and admission is free. The museum was named after Colonel Gordon Johnston, an American soldier who served in the Spanish–American War, Philippine–American War and World War I.

Crooked River Lighthouse is located 2 miles (3 km) west of town, just past the Carrabelle Beach RV Park. The Carrabelle Lighthouse Association manages the Keeper's House Museum and gift shop.


Carrabelle is a part of the Franklin County Schools system. Students attend the Franklin County K–12 School in Eastpoint, Florida, that was built in 2008.

Notable people

Carrabelle FL Ervin mnmt02
Richard W. Ervin monument in Carrabelle
  • Richard W. Ervin, Jr. (1905–2004), born in Carrabelle, was the Florida Attorney General from 1949 to 1964, and he served as chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court from 1969 to 1971
  • John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil (1911–2006), born in Carrabelle, was a distinguished Negro league baseball player and coach for the champion Kansas City Monarchs who, later, worked as a scout for the Chicago Cubs. With his gentle demeanor, he highlighted the work of African-Americans before their integration into the previously "whites only" world of Major League Baseball. He gained a national spotlight during his interviews with Ken Burns' PBS documentary named Baseball
  • John Robinson, aviator
  • Jack Rudloe, a writer and naturalist and cofounder of the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory at nearby Panacea, Florida – moved to Carabelle at age 14 and lived there for two years. As a young man from the city, he was profoundly and positively affected by his experiences after moving and living there and has maintained his ties to the community

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Carrabelle para niños

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