Apalachicola Maritime Museum - A Hands-on Museum Full of Fun
Are you looking for something to do nearby on a day when you have those afternoon rain storms that Florida is known for? When you’re on your St. George Island vacation there are many options within a 20-30 minute drive, but one of the more underrated museums in the area is the Apalachicola Maritime Museum (AMM). If you haven’t been to Maritime Museum then you need to take a few hours and make the drive from your St. George Island beach home to Apalachicola.
The AMM was founded as a non-profit organization by George Floyd in 2007. The current site of the Maritime Museum in Apalachicola (103 Water St) was acquired from a severely damaged shrimp and scallop operation. Mr. Floyd purchased the site two years after Hurricane Dennis flooded the docks causing rotted wood and collapsed docks and began work to build what is now the Maritime Museum (there is also a second location in Chattahoochie). Nearly all of the artifacts and boats have been donated to the museum over the last twelve years (some are on loan). While the museum appears small on the outside, it is packed with tons of history inside.
Most people don’t know that there are three rivers (Apalachicola, Chattahoochie and Flint) that come together to form the largest river in Florida. The Maritime Museum really focuses on celebrating the history of the maritime activities in the area. They even have boating excursions, boat building and restoration and other educational programs.
As most of our readers know, we have three kids under 10, and there is no doubt that it’s often hard to keep kids interested. The best thing about the museum is that it is very hands on. Our kids loved walking through the museum and touching and feeling everything from the sea sponges to the wheel of a ship to the row of ship dials. They even have a small sailboat inside of the main entrance.
Our kids especially enjoyed the Civil War area of the museum. There is a canon, swords and manikins dressed up in Civil War garb. Our kids really enjoyed watching the video of the history of the Civil War in the Apalachicola River area and even how the canons were used in the Civil War.
Once you go outside, you can see several boats/vessels they have on display. There is a walking tour guide that helps tell the history of each of the boats. Currently, the largest boat on display at the docks of the AMM is the S/V Heritage, a 58-foot Kelch sailboat, which began as the flagship vessel of the AMM. The Heritage sailed from New England to its new home in Apalachicola in 2007 for the museum’s opening.
You can see the Greenie, Starfish Enterprise (a 40-foot catamaran) and several other vessels at the docks too.
After touring the docks outside and looking at the fleet of ships, we finished our trip to the Maritime Museum with an intense game of checkers in the library. There was even a quadruple jump that won the game!
The pride and joy of the Maritime Museum is the Samuel Floyd (named after the grandfather of the founder of the museum). The Samuel Floyd is a paddlewheel boat that is 107 feet long. The Samuel Floyd was donated to the AMM after it sank to the bottom of the St. Johns River in 2008. The boat was then restored over a period of six years in order to bring it back into service. (To learn more about the Samuel Floyd and it’s maiden overnight voyage, check out the work done by Two Egg TV.) There are twelve cabins for overnight guests, a fully galley and a very nice dining room on the paddleboat. She will be able to host weddings, overnight trips and other events. It will truly be a boon for the museum once it arrives. The Samuel Floyd was preparing to make the 1,000 mile voyage to the AMM last fall, but, unfortunately, Hurricane Michael changed those plans. As a result, the Samuel Floyd remains in the St. John’s River south of Jacksonville, and will make its voyage to the AMM soon (more on this below).
Unfortunately, the Maritime Museum suffered significant damage from Hurricane Michael. According to Mr. Floyd, the “devastating damage” included nearly four feet of water in the museum. The library and gift shop were flooded and most of the vessels were damaged. Many of the artifacts in the museum were completely destroyed and many of the woodworking tools used in the wooden boat-building workshop were also ruined. Some of the kayaks that were located at the museum were found 50 miles out to sea!
The members of the museum staff are still working to rebuild and restore the museum. According to Mr. Floyd, the goal is to have a partial reopening around April 1. The library will open first while they continue to restore the other exhibits in the museum. Mr. Floyd expects it’ll be 3-4 months (likely June or July) before the Museum is fully up and running again.
If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy afternoon during your St. George Island beach vacation, make sure you head to the Apalachicola Maritime Museum. We really enjoyed it, and I’m sure you would too! Have you been to the Maritime Museum? Tell us about it in the comments below.
As a non-profit 501(c)3, the AMM really needs our support. Will you find a way to support the museum? Maybe you can help with clean up. Maybe you can make a donation. Whatever you do, make sure you support this little piece of history in Apalachicola.