Step into the past at the Washington County History Museum

The Washington County History Museum boasts a large turpentining collection. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Washington County in the northwest Florida panhandle has a long and interesting history. Established in 1825, the area was first settled by those seeking both economic and political freedoms in a rough frontier land of vast timber and mineral resources. Inland waterway transportation on the Choctawhatchee River brought about river settlements, which later were named Ebro, Caryville, and Vernon along Holmes Creek. Vernon, the geographical center of the county, derived its name from George Washington’s Virginia home, Mt. Vernon. The pioneer town was also the site of a major Native American settlement. The County courthouse was located in Vernon during the early part of the 20th century until the railroad came into Chipley. Chipley became the new county seat in 1927.

Located in the center of downtown Chipley, the Washington County History Museum offers a tribute to the area’s history boasting relics of the past. The town square area, formerly the train depot, houses artifacts in two buildings, a caboose, gazebo, and green space.

The Washington County History Museum’s Bill Lee train station building hosts a large Creek Indian display. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The main building houses an extensive turpentining exhibit with tools of the trade and collection pots used during its era. The first telephone service was implemented in 1896. The museum displays the history of the phone system in detail with relic switchboards, phones, and photographs.

Located next door to the main museum in the former Bill Lee train station is a vast collection of Native American artifacts. The exhibit features pottery, woven baskets, herbal medicines, furs, ceremonial instruments, weapons, and art. The collection is on loan from Debbie Bush of the Muscogee Creek Tribe, and features Creek artifacts from across the State of Florida.

The museums are open on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you are interested in joining the Washington County Historical Society, call 850-638-0358.

The History Museum is located at 685 7th Street, just north of Hwy. 90, in downtown Chipley. ::MAP::

For more information about Washington County click here.

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