Are you living in New Hampshire and trying to find your dream in California or in North Dakota and trying to warmer climate?  I think you should all put your plans on hold.  A rare opportunity has arisen here in Florida that I think you should all seriously consider.  Recent events have made real estate in this area most affordable.

For example,  St. Marks, Eighteen miles south of Tallahassee, where the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers meet, almost on the Gulf of Mexico.  It has been called one of Florida’s most scenic spots.  It is just a couple of miles to the Gulf on the river.
It is a quaint fishing town of 325 people far from the bustle of the big city.  My relatives kept a boat there in the 70s.  It was their get-away from the city.  They would take the dog and spend the weekend there.  Earl would drive over to Posey’s for some smoked mullet (yummy).  He was the one who introduced smoked mullet to me, there on the boat.  In turn, I introduced him to raw oysters, also obtained at Posey’s.  At left, my nephew, in front of Posey’s.

Patrick and I used to go riding our bikes out in the wildlife area near the lighthouse.  We would always go to Posey’s afterwards for smoked mullet and raw oysters.  About three or four years ago we took Patrick’s girlfriend canoeing on the Wakulla River, just above St. Marks.  Naturally, we stopped at

Posey’s for something to eat.  I am enclosing photos of Posey’s and the kids at a table.  The dollar bills on the walls are left there by past customers.  Posey’s sits right on the St. Marks River.  Their back door opens onto a dock on the river.

Now for the best part.  Last Monday, with Hurricane Dennis (2005) 200 miles to the west.  Lots of clouds, some mild wind, and, of course lots of rain.  Then, in the middle of the night, came the ten to twelve foot tidal surge.
The town of St. Marks was under water.  The water in Posey’s was chest high at one point.  The water in the rest of the town was four feet deep the next day.  Everyone’s house was flooded.

Everyone’s car was under water.  Everyone had to wade to get anywhere.  No one had evacuated because the hurricane wasn’t supposed to, and didn’t, come this way.  Walking in the streets is a bit adventurous.

I’m sure the waters will recede.  Just when, no one knows.  I am sure you will be able to get to, and look at, property in the near future.

I’m sure you remember being down here years ago and when we were all at the beach.  That would have been a long, long time ago. 
The beach cottages, with the pier, were across from Alligator Point.  We had that sailing surfboard.  Everyone fished from and swam from the pier and had a good time.

You had to go through Panacea and cross the bridge over the Ocklocknee River to get to the beach cottages.  Right there, on pilings over the river, and right next to the bridge is a restaurant.  It is called Angelo’s now, but back then it was called Faiver’s.  It was the place to eat for miles and miles around.  It had that ambience of being on the river, and the seafood was so good.  People thought nothing of driving the 40 miles from Tallahassee down to Panacea to eat at Faiver’s.  It was a favorite place of ours, back when it was Faivers.  They even built another place in Tallahassee to get the legislature crowd back in the 70s.  Much to their surprise, it didn’t do too well.  Everyone still drove to the coast.

When I was in Vietnam in 1968, grandmother sent me a newspaper clipping.  It had a photo showing the waves rolling in the windows of Faiver’s, courtesy of a hurricane.  It was still there when I came back to Tallahassee in 1969.  I left to go back into the Navy in 1971.  By the time I had moved back to Florida in 1978 it had changed hands.  Gone were the crowds.  It was never the same.

The present owner said in yesterday’s paper that he had thought of having the restaurant raised up higher on stilts.  He did not get around to it.  Now the state has condemned the building after Hurricane Dennis.
Both St. Marks and Panacea are marked on the map at right, as well as the place where the beach cottages used to be.  That’s right, they are long gone.  That whole area of cottages, in the tall pines by the bay is overgrown.  I walked through there a few years ago and found the remains of only one cottage where there used to be dozens.  I have some good memories of that summer.

If you want your own business on the water, there is a seafood place that is now for sale, cheap. It is in Eastpoint, past Panacea, but before you get to Apalachicola.  Yes it is/was on the bay, across US 98.  See photo below.

Of course, getting to anywhere along the coast, from Panacea to Panama City Beach now is going to be a slight problem.  US 98 took a hit ……… again.
Further west, in Panama City Beach, there are some waterfront homes that you could get a good deal on.  They used to be just behind the sand dunes from the Gulf of Mexico, but they are right on the water now.  The view is much, much better.

If you are concerned about your real estate investment here, don’t be.  Residents of St. Marks said they haven’t seen the storm surge this high since 1985.  That is a whole 20 years since the last storm surge record.

I have marked on the map where all the photos came from.  I even marked the little town of Lee in the upper right corner.

There actually is one positive note.  Down in the Florida Keys, off Key Largo in 2002, they sank a 510 foot Navy ship to form an artificial reef for recreational divers.  They botched the job.  The ship turned turtle and sank upside down in 130 feet of water with the bow just breaking the surface.  All efforts to right the ship failed.  They were only able to get the ship to roll on its side.  At least the bow was not longer a hazard to navigation.

Then came along Hurricane Dennis (2005) many miles to the west.  Somehow, wave action from the hurricane actually righted the ship.  She now sits right side up, like she was supposed to be.  Of course, that was the only good thing that came from Hurricane Dennis…… the Menace.

Let me know when you are coming to check out the Gulf area real estate.  You can stay at my house and use one of our cars, or I will be only happy to drive you around.  Better not take too long.  Some of these great opportunities won’t be around for long.  I’m talking about the land, not the opportunities.  More hurricanes are expected, namely Katrina.

Tom Sparkman July 16, 2005

See: Map (2005)