Day 112 – Apalachicola, FL and the Forgotten Coast

I need to add more to this post, but wanted to get something up.

This is a neat town filled with the history of cotton shipping, logging, oysters and the invention of the first ice making machine. I think it now mainly survives on tourism with a big draw being the fall Florida Seafood Festival.

I was really interested in visiting Apalachicola once I learned that it is the place where the first ice making machine was designed and built by Dr. John Gorrie in 1849. He was into studying tropical disease and realized that cooling down the air of a patient’s room brought relief. This was done by suspending a container of ice above the patient and below an air vent. The ice cooled air fell onto the patient pulling additional air into the room through the pipe above. A pipe at floor level vented the warmed displaced air out of the room. It was crude, but it dropped the air temperature and brought much relief to patients and I’m guessing anyone else in the room.

Ice did not exist in Florida naturally so it had to make it’s way south from the frozen rivers up north. Both the distance and loss due to melting made ice an expensive luxury at the time. Dr. Gorrie set about inventing a machine that could make ice locally and the rest is history. But as is often the case, Dr. Gorrie did not get rich off his idea, he actually died 4 years after getting his patent in 1851 – penniless, humiliated and alone.

I want to find out more about this man and see if there has been a documentary done on him and if not maybe that is something I could work on, but I also want to draw you attention to an article I read in the NYTimes about the development of the “cold chain” in China. The cold chain is the equipment and processes that allows food to be harvested/butchered and delivered to our tables as fresh as possible. It takes a lot of energy go run a cold chain and it is under massive expansion in China as it rightfully propers into modernity.

Of course we have a long established cold chain for our food, but I am sure few understand its impact on the environment (myself included).  And just think what life would be like without the AC systems that make living in much of the Southern US possible. Or the convenience of having a refrigerator and freezer in every home. Thank goodness we don’t have to eat salt preserved or canned food all the time or have to slaughter an animal if we decide we want to eat some meat. Many still do.

Check out some of the pictures from the museum and please leave some comments.






One response to “Day 112 – Apalachicola, FL and the Forgotten Coast”

  1. Penny Avatar

    Thanks for sharing so much insight into the places you are visiting. I think learning more about the life of Dr. Gorrie would be very interesting. In spite of his accomplishments it appears he had a sad life at the end. What might he have accomplished if he could raise funding via the Internet.