This 1,640-acre park features a variety of habitats: pristine beaches, freshwater coastal dune lakes, old-growth longleaf pine forests and wetlands. Evidence from midden mounds (discarded debris from Native American communities) and a large mound adjacent to the park, indicate that Native Americans used this area for fishing, hunting and camping. From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, workers from the Quarters Turpentine Village turpentined old-growth longleaf pines in forests now part of Topsail Hill.
Wildfires are always unwelcome, but prescribed fire can actually protect and benefit many of Florida's natural habitats. This photo shows a prescribed burn conducted along the edge of Topsail Road. As a panhandle coastal park, Topsail Hill Preserve requires a northerly wind to conduct prescribed burns. This limits the burn window to the wintertime, when this photo was taken. The fire was close to U.S. Highway 98 and it was critical that the wind keep its direction throughout the day to reduce smoke on the highway.
The JB-2 is a U.S. copy of the German V-1 surface-to-surface pilotless bomb first used against England in June 1944. By January 1945, 1,000 JB-2s were in existence but production was cancelled on VJ (Victory in Japan) Day. The first U.S. JB-2 was test-flown at nearby Eglin Air Field, Florida in October 1944. Although the JB-2 was never used in combat, they were placed on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean in case of a possible invasion of Japan, before the end of WWII.
Interpretation is a very important part of visitor services at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. In this photo, Dan Burton, the Park Services Specialist is showing park visitors an adult corn snake as part of the "Snakes in Your Backyard" interpretive program. During the program visitors are introduced to snakes, some for the first time, and sometimes visitors are afraid of them. Dan tells the visitors about the importance of snakes in the ecosystem and usually has people respecting and appreciating them by the end of his program.
This tractor and tram service was used before the state park was purchased. After the addition of Gregory E. Moore RV Resort to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, park staff continued using this system to transport park guests to the beach. This area now has a boardwalk to the beach, a paved tram road and a restroom.
This Springfield matting was used during WWII to make the beach more accessible to military vehicles when testing missiles, such as the JB-2 rocket. Springfield matting is an iron mesh that was laid in sand to keep trucks from sinking. Springfield matting is found throughout the dunes on the west side of the park and especially near Morris Lake Nature Trail.