Destin’s forgotten history


The Destin History and Fishing Museum is enriched with the city’s heritage that a lot of people might not know about, even some long-time residents.

ABRAHAM GALVAN @destinlogabe

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The Destin History and Fishing Museum is enriched with the city’s heritage that a lot of people might not know about, even some long-time residents.

Once you enter the museum, you will learn about the first pioneer families who arrived in the 1800s and all of the fascinating tools and amenities they used.

Here are some historic artifacts or stories you can find while learning about Destin’s history:

1. The largest Florida smooth-hound shark in the world was caught in Destin.

“It is found in the western Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Of Mexico, Venezuela and southern Brazil, but it is most common off the west coast of Florida,” said Tarra Wixom, the museum’s assistant director.

The shark was caught on April 1, 1992, and weighed in at 30 pounds, 6 ounces. Fisherman Stephen Wilson caught it during a fishing trip on the charter boat Shooting Star.

2. The unique sand on Destin’s beaches is among the whitest, cleanest and softest sand in the world. What you might not know is that you are actually walking on the Appalachian Mountains.

“Each grain of Destin’s white sand came from very ancient southern Appalachian Mountain quartz brought into the Gulf of Mexico by the Appalachian River thousands of years ago,” Wixom said.

3. The small peninsula known as Destin was once referred as East Pass. The name Destin didn’t come around until later.

In 1896, William “Uncle Billy” Marler was one of the only locals with a dock on the bay where supply boats could land and he wanted them to bring mail.

Marler had to fill out government paperwork in order for the town to send and receive mail. When he was filling out the paperwork, there was a place for “name of town.” He decided to call the town Destin, in honor of his best friend and first employer, Leonard Destin, who was the first settler.

4. In 1934, William Thomas Marler built the first post office building on his property facing Calhoun Avenue. He built everything from scratch, including the interior cabinets and counters.

The small building became the social center of Destin. It was the place where people went for good conversation. The post office served the community for 17 years.

 5. Ever wondered why Destin is called the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village? In the early 1950’s, Capt. Reddin “Salty” Brunson convince Florida Gov. Leroy Collins in to taking a 20 minute ride around the harbor. Collins returned with a 29-pound king mackerel. A reporter commented it was hard to believe that he returned with such a big fish and he replied saying “Not in Destin, the luckiest fishing village in the world. The term became official Oct. 15, 1956.

Wixom said another reason why Destin got the prestigious name is because the city has the quickest access to the deepest waters in the panhandle.

“People will spend less time riding on the boat and more time fishing,” she said. “It was also important for the first Destin families because they didn’t have refrigeration, easy access to ice and motorized boats. They were able to get back before the fish got spoiled.”

Want to see Destin’s history for yourself? The museum is located at 108 Stahlman Ave. in Destin. For more information, call 850-837-6611 or visit