History of Cape San Blas

Early 1500's

Spanish explorers named St. Joseph Bay in the early 1500s but did not settle here until 1701 when they built a fort, Presidio San Jose, and a mission at the tip of the peninsula.


St. Joseph Bay area is one of the best natural bays in the country and it was first reported by the Spaniards who came from Pensacola in 1699. They  reported seeing the prow of a shipwreck near the peninsula. The Spaniards named the bay San Joseph de Vallardes in honor of Comte de Moctezuma, they occupied the bay in 1701 in order to prevent their adversaries which included the French from interrupting important supply routes to Pensacola. In the early 1700s, the area was an important battleground between Spanish, British and French interest. In 1719, the Spanish Presidio San Jose built a fortified settlement at the tip of this peninsula. Soldiers and convicts from Cuba, Veracruz and Mexico City which totaled more than 1200 were living in and around the fort. This settlement did not last long as it was abandoned in 1723 and the remaining buildings were dismantled and used to build a presidio in nearby Pensacola.

Photo below is part of Eastern North America with East and West Florida, 1768. Copied from the original, annexed to the report of repuriutation of the Board of Trade, dated 7 March 1768 (S.P.O. plantations general, No. 254).

1825 Beaupre's Florida

By 1825, Florida had 12 counties. Unlike today's digital world, maps lagged. This map just shows first two counties divided by the Suwanee River.
July 21, 1821 Escambia and St. Johns
Aug. 12, 1822 Jackson ( from Escambia)and Duval from St. Johns
June 24, 1823 Gadsden
July 3, Monroe
Dec 29 1824
Leon, Walton, Alachua, Nassau, and Mosquito
Dec 9, 1825 Washington


St. Joseph’s Point Lighthouse was built on the peninsula in 1839 to serve the short-lived town of St. Joseph across the bay. After the town’s population was decimated by yellow fever in 1841, the lighthouse was dismantled.

The first Cape San Blas lighthouse was built in 1847 for $8,000 and took 2 years to build. It collapsed during a storm in 1851. Congress appropriated $12,000 for a second brick tower lighthouse for the cape which was finally finished in November 1855, but it was destroyed on August 30, 1856, when another hurricane struck Cape San Blas. On May 1, 1858, a third lighthouse was completed. During the Civil War the lighthouse was not in commission but resumed operations July 23, 1865. Over the years, erosion began eating away at the lighthouse. In 1883 the fourth iron frame lighthouse was constructed. This light house still stands today. It was moved around the Cape for protection purposes and it now stands in George Gore Park in the City of Port St. Joe since 2014.

1853 - Colton's Florida


Cape San Blas was home to a Confederate saltworks where 150 US bushels (5.3 m3) of salt a day were processed by evaporation of seawater. This halted in 1862, when a landing party from the Union ship, the USS Kingfisher, destroyed the saltworks.

1878 - Apthorp's Florida,

Apthorp's Standard map of Florida : constructed from the latest United States surveys and from other official and local sources

1903 - Clyde Steam Ship Lines Map

The Clyde Steamship Co. map of Florida : showing routes and railroad connections.

1906 - Atlantic Coast Line Railroad: Florida and the South, c. 

Complete map of Florida and the South, with index : showing the semi-tropical resorts reached by the lines of Atlantic Coast Line Railroad


Patches of heavy concentrate in sand on upper part of beach on Cape San Blas. Photographer James Hart Curry Martens. Photographed on February 6, 1928.


In 1868, the Stone family purchased much of the land surrounding the bay, including the peninsula. They sold it to the U.S. government in 1940 to use for military training. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park opened in 1967. It was dedicated to the former owner, T. H. Stone, a respected community leader in Gulf County.


PHOTOGRAPHER is Florida. - Department of Commerce. - Motion Picture and Television Bureau


Scallop Cove was built by the Picket Family in 1986. Many years later they sold it to a couple. That couple sold it the Davis's in 2001. The Matney's bought it in 2017 and are the current owners. 


The Donna Kay shrimp boat arrived. This mysterious landmark had become quite an attraction. Quickly becoming a unique adventure of its own, those who made the trek to see the renowned shrimp boat would pass by the old location of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse as well as various "shell trees" decorated by passers-by. The Donna Kay sat for three years and we said goodbye in August 2021.


October 10, 2018,  Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992. It was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States in terms of pressure, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille in 1969. Michael was the first Category 5 hurricane on record to impact the Florida Panhandle, the fourth-strongest landfalling hurricane in the contiguous United States, in terms of wind speed, and the most intense hurricane on record to strike the United States in the month of October.

A maximum wind gust of 139 mph (224 km/h) was measured at Tyndall Air Force Base before the sensors failed. Many homes were damaged and an inlet was cut inside the State Park which has been naturally repaired.


*This information was gathered from multiple websites and stories and we are not historians. If you find any of this information to be wrong, please tell us so we can fix.

  • SAINT JOSEPH PENINSULA STATE PARK. State Parks. Accessed November 24, 2017. http://www.stateparks.com/saint_joseph_peninsula_state_park_in_florida.html.
  • T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, FL. Reserve America. Accessed November 24, 2017. https://floridastateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/th-stone-memorial-st-joseph-peninsula-state-par....
  • Welcome to T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. Florida State Parks. Accessed November 24, 2017. https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/St-Joseph.
  • Friends of St Joseph State Parks. Accessed November 25, 2017. http://friendsofstjosephpeninsulastatepark.org.
  • ST. JOSEPH PENINSULA STATE PARK. Absolutely Florida. Accessed November 25, 2017. http://www.abfla.com/parks/StJoseph/stjoseph.html.
  • Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_San_Blas
  • Cape San Blas Lighthouse http://www.capesanblaslight.org/history-of-the-cape-san-blas-lighthouse.cfm
  • Childers, Ronald Wayne (2004). "The Presidio System in Spanish Florida 1565-1763". Historical Archaeology38 (3): 24–32. JSTOR 25617178.
  •  "Fort Crevecoeur"Visit Florida. Retrieved October 14, 2018
  • Turner, Gregg M. (2008). A Journey into Florida Railroad History. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. pp. 38–42. ISBN 978-0-8130-4149-0
  • McCarthy, Kevin M. (1990). Florida Lighthouses. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press. pp. 121-124ISBN 0-8130-0993-6.
  • Costin, Leonard. "A Brief History of the Port of Port St. Joe"Port St. Joe Port Authority. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  • "St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve"Florida Department of Environmental Protection. October 26, 2017. Retrieved October 14, 2018.

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