|Statue of Gorrie in U.S. Capitol|
A native of South Carolina, Dr. Gorrie moved to Florida in the early 1830s, settling first at what is now Sneads in Jackson County and then moving on down to Apalachicola in 1833. The city was then one of the boomtowns of the Gulf Coast, as the development of steamboat travel brought cotton bales and other products pouring down the Apalachicola River to Apalachicola, where it was offloaded onto ocean-going schooners and ships for export to ports far and wide.
It was a time when a young man could move to a new city and become one of the leaders of society in short order. That is exactly what Dr. John Gorrie accomplished in Apalachicola. He served as a city councilman, treasurer, postmaster and eventually mayor of the thriving port.
|Replica of the Ice Machine|
|Gorrie Grave & Museum|
So revolutionary was his invention that Southern investors did not believe it could possibly work, even after he demonstrated the machine in Apalachicola. Northern speculators, in turn, tried to kill off Gorrie's invention because it threatened their monopoly on the ice trade. Despite his groundbreaking invention, Dr. Gorrie died a disappointed man. In the end, his process was even stolen by another inventor who eventually adapted it into the refrigeration systems we use today.
Gorrie is now memorialized in statue form in the U.S. Capitol and his work is featured at the John Gorrie Museum State Park in Apalachicola.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/gorriemuseum.