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Welcome to T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Native Americans were the first to enjoy the beauty and bounty of St. Joseph Bay. The peninsula was settled by hunter-gatherers of the Weeden Island and Mississippian, Fort Walton Cultures. Remains of shell tools and pottery of these cultures have been found in the park. Spanish explorers named St. Joseph Bay in the early 1500s, but did not settle here until 1701 when they built a fort, Presidio San Jose, and a mission at the tip of the peninsula. After a few years the settlers abandoned the fort and returned to Pensacola. Nothing remains of the settlement today.

As the Florida Panhandle became an important part of shipping routes in the 1800s, settlers from Apalachicola moved here hoping to establish a competing port. St. Joseph’s Point Lighthouse was built on the peninsula in 1839 to serve the shortlived town of St. Joseph across the bay. After the town’s population was decimated by yellow fever in 1841, the lighthouse was dismantled.

In 1868, the Stone family purchased much of the land surrounding the bay, including the peninsula. They sold it to the U. S. government in 1940 to use for military training. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park opened in 1967. It was dedicated to the former owner, T. H. Stone, a respected community leader in Gulf County.