A Lost City and Paddlewheelers: Chattahoochee’s History Revealed

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Chattahoochee Landing Mounds, Chattahoochee, Florida
Chattahoochee Landing Mounds, Chattahoochee, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
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Tucked away along Florida’s Apalachicola River, unassuming Chattahoochee brims with outsized stories echoing across the ages. Where moss-draped Native mounds now anchor its river landing park, a powerful chiefdom once governed summer solstices and Gulf-to-mountain trade. Where weathered wooden shards of mighty steamboats age on sandbars, the paddlewheelers once represented the peak of transportation connecting cotton empires. Chattahoochee may seem frozen in its small town ways, but scratch just below the surface to uncover the storied layers rivaling the ages.

Table of Contents

History of the Mounds

Despite its modest size, the strategic riverside location of Chattahoochee has imbued the settlement with centuries of storied history. Long utilized as a trading conduit between Appalachian tribes and Gulf coast villages thanks to its position near the merger of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, the area saw the emergence of powerful chiefdoms and mound-building cultures as early as 900 AD.

The surviving earthen mounds at Chattahoochee Landing Park comprise remnants of a once sprawling 7-mound epicenter and trade hub for the Fort Walton people about 1000 years ago. Spanish explorers first recorded the area in 1674 as part of the Old Spanish Trail and said the complex was abandoned. In 1812, British soldiers raised a fort at the site during the War of 1812. Remaining a strategic riverport, the landing later hosted 19th century American conflicts like the pivotal Scott Massacre.

Chattahoochee River from the top of the mound, Chattahoochee, Florida
Chattahoochee River from the top of the mound, Chattahoochee, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Other Things to Do at the Park

Today, the City of Chattahoochee maintains the site as a public park. Visitors can view the surviving mounds up-close and learn about the complex through informational signage. Picnic facilities, playgrounds, docks and walking trails allow enjoying the location’s natural beauty. While many mysteries remain unsolved, the park provides critical protection so future researchers may further unlock secrets of North Florida’s original inhabitants.

Riverboat Landing

In the 1800s steamboat era, the landing became a bustling port for commercial paddle wheelers churning between Appalachian River cities down to the Gulf. Towers of cotton bales, tobacco barrels, and timber once lined the docks awaiting transport. At one point, a tavern was built atop one of the mounds to service those who were working or traveling along the river. Now, all that remains of the landing’s 19th-century hustle are eroded landings and scattered boat frame remnants from old, deteriorating vessels run permanently aground. In 1957, the Woodruff Dam was constructed for hydroelectric power, which created Lake Seminole to the north but no longer allowed for water transit up the Apalachicola and Flint Rivers.

Victory Bridge

Victory Bridge, Chattahoochee, Florida
Victory Bridge, Chattahoochee, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Rising in the 1920s, the Victory Bridge emerged as a practical river crossing and a symbol of American infrastructural ambitions. Its designation honored WWI Allied forces while replacing antiquated ferries functioning since Florida’s 1821 transfer from Spain to the U.S. The $1 million project marshalled engineers, work crews and equipment that overcame swampy terrain and raging river currents alike. For a time, the bridge provided a crucial link along the transcontinental Old Spanish Trail highway route.

The graceful concrete arches first welcomed roaring early motorists as well as for passing vessel below. But inevitability of progress saw the structure gradually retired from daily use as modern highways advanced. Now, the original bridge stands vigil near a parallel 1990s successor, its aged elegance recalling eras when raging rivers throttled Florida’s frontier growth.

Camping

Located on the banks of the Apalachicola River, Chattahoochee RV Park and Fishing Resort offers a scenic base camp for outdoor recreation and relaxation. The pet-friendly facility features full hookup RV sites with 50 amp electrical service or tent sites. Guests can gather at the clubhouse, utilize the bathhouse facilities, or have picnics. Visitors can launch boats via two available boat ramps to access the river’s bountiful fishing opportunities. A fishing pier also allows casting a line from shore. Interested campers can contact the City of Chattahoochee.

How to Visit

Chattahoochee River Landing Park is located just east of the Chattahoochee River on the south side of the road just before you cross the bridge when heading west on Highway 90.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Chattahoochee River Landing Park before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

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