Friday, January 9, 2009

The Possum Monument - Wausau, Florida


Ok, this unique memorial is not really Civil War related, but it is one of my favorite purely Southern points of interest in Florida. This is Wausau, Florida's famed Possum Monument.

Unveiled in 1982, the Northwest Florida monument pays tribute to the lowly possum, mostly thought of today as road kill. In an earlier time, however, the possum (or opossum as they call it in the North) was an important food. The years after the War Between the States and up through the great depression were hard times in much of the South.

Washington County, for example, was one of the four counties targeted by Asboth's Raid on Marianna during September of 1864. Union troops passed through the county on September 28th and 29th of that year, inflicting heavy damage on the local farms and infrastructure. According to census data, Washington, Jackson, Holmes and Washington Counties suffered more economic damage during the war than any other counties in Florida.

Massive disruption of farming and food supplies in the region sent people into the woods looking for food and the possum was plentiful. It became a favorite dish, usually served with sweet potatoes, in the hard times of the next eight decades.

In memory of the role the little marsupial played in helping many families survive difficult years, the people of Wausau erected the Possum Monument and host an annual Possum Festival and Fun Day. It stands by U.S. Highway 77 in downtown Wausau. The town is located in Northwest Florida between Interstate 10 at Chipley and Panama City.

Most people do not realize it, but the first Saturday in August is officially Possum Day in the State of Florida, by declaration of the Florida Legislature.

If you would like see more photos and read more about the Possum Monument, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/possummonument.






1 comment:

Jessica Ross said...

This is a fantastic story. My mother is from Wausau, along with many generations of my mother's family going back to the early
1800's. The possum is king of the woods in Wausau and if not for that particular marsupial I wouldn't be here today. Thank you for your kind words about Our Possum Festival. It's a great was to spend the first Saturday in August!!!