Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#85 The Ghost Town of Old Parramore (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

Crumbling tobacco barn in Old Parramore
The Ghost Town of Old Parramore in eastern Jackson County is #85 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the entire list as it is unveiled.

Established in the years after the War Between the States (or Civil War), Old Parramore was a major riverboat port. It came into existence as a major part of the local economy shifted from cotton production to naval stores and timber.

The John W. Callahan often stopped at Old Parramore
Five different riverboat landings served the growing community, providing places where paddlewheel steamboats could edge up to the bank of the Chattahoochee River to load or unload passengers and cargo. The most important of these was Peri Landing (pronounced "pea-rye"). It was located on a bend of the river just north of today's Parramore Landing Park.

A warehouse landing, Peri had storage facilities where farmers and businessmen could leave bales of cotton, timber and other cargo for the riverboats to transport either upriver to Columbus, Georgia, or downriver to Apalachicola, Florida. It holds a unique although forgotten place in local history as the eastern end of a major county road built in 1914 to connect western Jackson County with the Chattahoochee River. The steel Bellamy Bridge over the Chipola River that so many people love and remember was built as part of an upgrade associated with the building of the new road to Peri Landing.

Annual Oak Grove Homecoming at Old Parramore
Back on the high ground away from the river, the town of Parramore grew. It was centered around today's intersection of Oak Grove and Parramore Roads and at its height included at least five stores, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, sawmill, gristmill, post office and more. Large naval stores operations grew around the town, with turpentine stills operating in almost every direction. Local senior citizens recall how they could look to the horizons and see the stacks of the stills streaming black smoke into the air.

Site of Old Parramore business district today.
Railroads and modern highways eventually put the paddlewheel riverboats out of business and Old Parramore vanished with them. One by one the stores, turpentine stills and other businesses faded away. All that is left today are a couple of historic houses, a one-room school, cemeteries and the ruins of Central School.

Making hush puppies at the annual Central School Reunion
Two annual events bring the vanished town back to life each October. The annual Oak Grove Homecoming has been taking place for more than 50 years and features music, historical discussions, a brief sermon and dinner on the grounds. Each year, dozens of current and former Parramore residents and their families attend, along with those who come to learn more about the historic community. The other event is the Central School Reunion. Former students and their families gather each year at the ruins of the historic school to remember the days of their youth.

If you would like to learn more about this significant Jackson County ghost town, please consider my book:

Old Parramore: The History of a Florida Ghost Town [Book]

Old Parramore: The History of a Florida Ghost Town [Kindle]

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