The Apalachicola region has been populated since the first inhabitants arrived 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. Clam shell middens and sand burial mounds found along the Apalachicola River area at Box-R are typical of the prehistoric sites found scattered throughout the lower river valley. Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama began settling along the Apalachicola River in the early 1700s.

Creek Indian Village
Florida Photographic Collection
Creek Indian village on the Apalachicola River. Castelnau, Francis, comte de, 1812-1880

In 1909, the Apalachicola and Northern Railroad built 16 miles of track connecting the new settlement of Port St. Joe with Apalachicola. In 1910, the first passengers made the 50-minute trip between Port St. Joe and Apalachicola, crossing a portion what became the present day Box-R Wildlife Management Area. Regular passenger service ended in 1951, but freight hauling continues today. Box-R’s northern boundary, the Jackson River, connects the Apalachicola River with Lake Wimico, a few miles to the west. The Intracoastal Waterway route through Lake Wimico and the Jackson River opened in 1930 and connected Destin and Apalachicola.

In the late 1920s, Edward Ball and Alfred DuPont began buying large tracts of land for timbering and created the St. Joe Timberland Company. The land comprising Box-R WMA was part of the company’s holdings for many years, and was known as Box-R Ranch. The ranch lands were managed for a variety of uses including pine silviculture and recreational activities such as hunting, fishing and canoeing. At the request of the Ed Ball Wildlife Foundation, the area was established as a wildlife refuge in 1967 and was closed to hunting by the Florida legislature. In 1993 the Florida cabinet approved acquisition of the 7,579-acre Box-R Ranch. In 1999, St. Joe Corporation requested the wildlife refuge status be removed to allow for a variety of hunting that is enjoyed today.

Cypress lumber yard

Florida Photographic Collection
Cypress lumber yard: Apalachicola, Florida

Apalachicola Northern Railroad depot

Florida Photographic Collection
Apalachicola Northern Railroad depot: Port Saint Joe, Florida

FWC Facts:
One of Florida's smallest owls, the burrowing owl lives in open, treeless areas.

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