Northwest Florida Fun Facts

Like Trivia? Northwest Florida Fun Facts are both fun and factual. Learn history, geography and more with these tidbits.

**Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his men made camp in Northwest Florida during the winter of 1540 before heading west to Mexico. More than 40,000 artifacts have been excavated at the site just east of the Capitol in Tallahassee, which is the only location in North America known to have been occupied by the Spanish explorer.

**Florida’s highest waterfall is located at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley just off I-10. Fed by several springs which are dependent on seasonal rains, the waterfall drops 73 feet into a 100-feet deep sinkhole.

**In 1916, while visiting her cousin in Pensacola, a young debutante named Bessie Wallis Warfield met a dashing young pilot named Earl Spencer who became the first of Wallis’ three husbands. The second was Ernest Simpson, and the third and most famous was Edward VIII, King of England, who gave up his throne for Wallis, “the woman he loved.”

**Florida has 34 commercial wineries that produce both vinifera and native Muscadine wines. Northwest Florida is home to eight of those wineries: Yellow River Vineyards in Holt, Chautauqua Vineyards in DeFuniak Springs, Emerald Coast Wine Cellars in Destin, SeaBreeze Winery and Panama City Beach Winery in Panama City Beach, Three Oaks Winery in Vernon, Old Oaks Vineyard in Bonifay, and Monticello Vineyards & Winery in Tallahassee.

**In Northwest Florida you can travel from Bagdad to Havana and never leave the state. Along the way you can stop at Fountain, Red Head, Honeyville, Sumatra, Two Egg, Sweet Gum Head, and New Hope – twice - just some of the some unusual place names there are in the region.

**Actress Faye Dunaway was born in Bascom, Florida, just up the road from Two Egg.

**Florida was the first place in the New World to establish commercial vineyards and wineries. Some of the earliest vineyards were along the St. John’s River, but evidence of planted grapevine arbors from around the 1640s has been found at the ruins of San Luis Mission in what is today Tallahassee.

**Completed in June, 2010, the Navarre Beach pier extends 1545 feet into the Gulf of Mexico making it the longest pier on the Gulf Coast. For $1 you can hike to the end and back.

**There are seven military bases in Northwest Florida.

**The highest point in Florida is Britton Hill located at Lakewood Park near the town of Paxton. It is 345 feet above sea level.

**The town of Lynn Haven, in Bay County, is home to one of the last Civil War monuments dedicated in Florida. Erected in 1920, by the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic), an organization of honorably discharged Union veterans, it is the only monument south of the Mason-Dixon Line to honor Union soldiers.

**The first Saturday in August is Florida Possum Day and the date of the Annual Wausau Possum Festival. Remember one person’s opossum is another person’s marsupial. Drive carefully.

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**The oldest brick train station in Florida was built in 1858 and is located in the town of Lloyd in Jefferson County.

**Northwest Florida is home to the largest designer outlet center in the country. With over 100 designer names, Silver Sands Factory Stores in Miramar Beach annually attracts over 7 million shoppers.

**Divers can explore hundreds of offshore wrecks and reefs, including the WWII British tanker Empire Mica, which lies about 20 miles south of Cape San Blas in about 115 feet of water, the 910-foot aircraft carrier U.S.S. Oriskany, located 22 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass in 212 feet of water, and at least two ships from the 1559 fleet of Don Tristan de Luna, which represent the second-oldest known shipwreck in the country.

**Tupelo honey, made from the tupelo gum tree, is a highly prized, light amber colored table honey with a slightly greenish hue. It is produced commercially in areas along the Choctawhatchee, Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers. In the heart of the region is Tupelo Honey Capital Wewahitchka, setting for the film Ulee’s Gold.

**Northwest Florida is home to several Civil War battlefields at Fort Pickens (Battle of Santa Rosa Island, October 9, 1861), at Marianna (Battle of Marianna, September 27, 1864) and just south of Tallahassee (Battle of Natural Bridge, March 6, 1865). Despite heavy Confederate losses throughout these battles, Tallahassee remained the only Confederate capital not captured by Union forces.

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**When cotton was king, the lands near Tallahassee were covered with the profitable crop and the planters built beautiful homes to display their wealth. Today, 71 plantations encompassing 300,000 acres still exist, making the region home to the country’s largest concentration of original plantations.

**Some Northwest Florida Fun Facts, like this one, we can really relate to. Whenever you turn on the air conditioner, thank Dr. John Gorrie who invented the first ice making machine. Dr. Gorrie lived and worked in Apalachicola and in 1851 was granted the first U.S. Patent for mechanical refrigeration, the forerunner of a/c.

**Coastal dune lakes and their unique eco-systems are found in only five places in the world: Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, the Northwest Pacific Coast of the United States, and Northwest Florida.

**Some Northwest Florida Fun Facts are spooky. The historic Russ House in the town of Marianna gives new meaning to the term "haunted chamber." One of the town's most beautiful old homes, it is also believed to be one of the most haunted, with several ghosts inhabiting the structure. It is also inhabited by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

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**Pensacola native Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., was a fighter pilot in the U. S. Air Force. In 1975 he became the first African-American to reach the rank of four-star general in American military history.

**According to the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board, if you had been preparing your Thanksgiving menu in Northwest Florida in 1810, your meal would have been cheap; 8 cents a pound for beef, 12 cents a pound for pork, 50 cents for 100 oysters, $12 for a barrel of flour, 6.5 cents each for eggs, 50 cents a pound for butter, 25 cents a bottle for milk in the summer (none could be found in winter), 7.5 cents a pound for sugar; BUT you would have shot your own turkey and grown your own pumpkin for the pie.

**If you live in the town of Oak Grove, and you want Santa to find you, be sure to use your zip code on your letter. There are three Oak Groves in Northwest Florida; one in Escambia County, one in Okaloosa County and one in Gadsden County.

**Highway 30A in Walton County is the only county road designated as a Florida Scenic Highway.

**The tallest Native American ceremonial mound in Florida is located near Lake Miccosukee in Jefferson County. It is 46 feet tall and 300 feet wide and is one of a complex of mounds called the Letchworth-Love mounds which were built between 1,000 and 1,700 years ago.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Every week I send out Northwest Florida Fun Facts to a blind copy list of Explorers who just can't get enough Florida trivia. If you'd like to be on the list, send me your email and I'll put you on the list. I promise I won't send you anything but the weekly email titled "In Northwest Florida..." (see my Privacy Policy Statement).

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