Apalachicola is the seat of Franklin County, Florida. Located in the State's northwestern shores on the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola Harbor is over 180 nautical miles (222 kilometers or 138 miles by air) east-southeast of Pensacola and over 300 kilometers (189 miles) northwest of Tampa. Apalachicola Harbor lies at the mouth of the Apalachicola River off Apalachicola Bay on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Apalachicola Harbor is the State's biggest oyster producer, and tourism is an important part of the local economy. In 2000, over 2300 people called Apalachicola Harbor home. Apalachicola Harbor is the home of a 193 thousand acre United Nations Biosphere Reserve and National Estuarine Sanctuary. Its major industries are tourism and seafood.
In the early 1800s, the current site of Apalachicola Harbor was a trading post called Cottonton. Incorporated as West Point in 1827, the Legislative Council of the Florida territory gave Apalachicola Harbor its current name in 1831.
Before railroads networked the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola Harbor was the Gulf area's third busiest port, with only New Orleans and Mobile exceeding Apalachicola Harbor's traffic. By the turn of the 19th Century, Greek immigrants made the sponge trade a major industry for Apalachicola Harbor.
Today, Apalachicola Harbor is still an important port and source of employment for workers in the seafood industry. Oyster harvesters and shrimpers keep busy, contributing over 90% of the State's oyster production each year. Apalachicola Harbor hosts the annual Florida Seafood Festival.
The territory's Legislative Council incorporated Trinity Episcopal Church in Apalachicola Harbor in 1837. Being one of the country's earliest prefabricated buildings, its framework arrived at Apalachicola Harbor by schooner from New York.
Apalachicola Harbor's outstanding citizens include botanist Alvan Wentworth Chapman, who moved there in 1847. He published Flora of the Southern United States in 1860. Seeking a way to lower his patients' temperatures, Dr. John Gorrie, an Apalachicola Harbor physician, discovered the cold-air refrigeration process and patented his ice machine in 1850. His system was the basis for modern air-conditioning and refrigeration.
In 1979, the first-ever attempt to convert an oil platform into an artificial reef took place in Apalachicola Harbor when Exxon moved their experimental subsea production system from Louisiana.