Alternative History
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State of Apalachicola
Timeline: 1983: Doomsday

OTL equivalent: Apalachicola National Forest
Location of Apalachicola
Location of Apalachicola
Capital Apalachicola
Largest city Port St. Joe
Other cities Eastpoint, Carrabelle, Wewahitchka, Crawfordville, Hosford, Blountstown
Demonym Apalachicolan
Legislature Legislative Council
Governor Van Johnston
Lieutenant Governor Larry Holmes
Area approx. 900 mi²
Population 30,555 
Established March 22nd, 1984
Currency Floridian dollar, barter

Apalachicola is a state in the Republic of Florida that existed independently between March 22, 1984 and March 22, 2011, the twenty-seventh anniversary of its establishment by a committee of representatives from area towns in the winter following the destruction of the capital of the former state of Florida. Located along the Apalachicola River in Florida's panhandle, the largest town is the port of Port St. Joe. However, the population of the state lived for decades deep in the wetlands which had been administered as Apalachicola National Forest. Expeditions from North Florida, in fact, completely missed the population of more than 20,000 that had set up camps and eventually settled in along the many streams that feed the River.

Abandoned home on an Apalachicolan lake

By 2010, though, the towns were resettled after years of being abandoned. The ports of Port St. Joe and Apalachicola were reopened and the capital was moved to Apalachicola. The camps and "Hoovervilles" in the swamp have been turned back over to the wildlife there as contact with civilization has been made. The present governor of the state is Van Johnson, while long-time resident of Wewahitchka, Larry Holmes, serves as lieutenant governor.


Before Doomsday

The territory claimed by the free state of Apalachicola was mostly contained within the National Forest which

Trammell Bridge (photo by Andy Callahan)

provided swamp land and forests into which refugees fled. On the outskirts of the park, though were towns such as Blountstown and Bristol to the north, connected by the historic Trammel Bridge (built 1938).

More to come....

Doomsday and Aftermath

Sunday evening in the Florida panhandle almost always was a pleasant time.  September 25, 1983, was not one of those evenings.  As night fell, the residents of the sleepy towns along the borders of the Apalachicola National Forest were rocked by the sound of several megatons of nuclear weapons detonating to the east and to the southwest. Multiple mushroom clouds blotted out stars in the darkened skies over Tallahassee, while a single cloud could be seen near the point where the sun had recently set. The fires spawned by the blasts over the capital city spread to the edge of the park.

Survivors in the suburbs of Tallahassee fled down I-10 in both directions, mostly on foot since many cars either were stopped due to EMP blasts or fuel shortages. Power was out all over the area, leading to even more chaos. Many survivors, though, took the road least traveled - State Highway 20 towards Blountstown. Within a week, the villages of Hosford and Telogia had been overwhelmed by refugees, leading to altercations and criminal activity as food became scarce. These neighboring towns, though, dealt harshly with such behavior. In the end, though, the towns had to be abandoned for lack of supplies. The only hope was to seek a living in the nearby National Forest. Mosquito-borne diseases took their toll, reducing the population by thousands in the first year.

Meanwhile, at the western edge of the park, the district park ranger station in Bristol took charge of the area as the representative of the national government of the area. The chief ranger and his deputies became the "law" in the swampland as the summer homes of east coast executives became refugee camps. Within a few months, once no contact had been made with the federal government, the ranger service began to train others to assist in their duties. 

Independent Nation-state

Having expected the worst, the rangers in charge were pleased when "nuclear winter" did not occur. Even while battling disease and burying the dead, plans quickly turned to some way of keeping civil order in place.  As flowers began to bloom in late winter, leaders from among the refugees and local townspeople emerged to form a new provisional government on March 22, 1984. Naturally, the new "state" became known as the Republic of Apalachicola. Most of the towns that sprung up were along Florida Highway 65, with the existing town of Sumatra becoming the capital. Hardier families spread out on state and county roads and even into the forest itself.

For over a quarter century practically no contact was made with the outside world. Border towns, like Bristol, Blountstown and Wewahitchka provided security against bands of refugees over the years. Most of the resources of the towns, though, had been transferred to the interior of the forest. Only dedicated security forces manned the town halls and schools that had been transformed into military-style compounds. The coastal towns became especially well suited for this, but also became the point into which outside search parties confirmed the existence of the state.

On March 22, 2011, the Republic of Apalachicola dissolved, becoming a state of the Republic of Florida. Having recently moved the capital to the port of Apalachicola, the new state was ready to join the 21st century.

Present Day