Vernon Florida

FEATURED LISTING: Florida ::: Vernon

Think of Vernon and most likely the cult documentary film, ‘Vernon Florida’ comes to mind. Vernon was the subject of Errol Morris’ second documentary and brings out the quirks of this thinly populated rural area of Washington County. Vernon was nicknamed Nub City or Stump City because its residents deliberately amputated a limb in order to collect the insurance money. Morris wished to focus on this unusual form of insurance fraud but he discovered that Vernon was a place seemingly filled with odd characters.

The documentary of rural life records interviews with unusual locals like a quirky preacher who shares with the audience and his congregation his views on the word ‘therefore’, a hunter who ‘specializes’ in turkey gobblers and an elderly man who likes to catch and keep wild critters. Many others had strange relationships to animals, including a turtle keeper and a worm farmer. A couple with a jar of sand from White Sands, NM, insisted it had begun to grow, thanks to radiation.

What people seem to forget is that the documentary was made in 1981; Vernon is not the same now and most of these characters have passed away. Today fewer than 800 people live in Vernon but efforts are being made to see that the community progresses with the rest of the state. Located in the Panhandle, midway between Panama City and the Alabama border, Vernon is nearly 5 square miles area and the geographical center of the county. It derives its name for George Washington's Virginia home, Mt. Vernon. The pioneer town was also the site of a major Indian settlement.

Vernon was a busy town and the county seat during the early part of this century until it lost it to Chipley by a single vote in 1927, something the residents have never forgotten. Even today, the paved streets and Old Moss Hill Church, built by slaves and settlers in 1857 are relics of a thriving past. Crystal springs and lovely lakes surrounded by snow white sand add to the regions beauty. The Vernon Historical Society began its preservation efforts in 1998 and the City of Vernon has donated the old City firehouse to the Society where historical artifacts are on display. An annual Spring Exhibit and a Heritage Festival held each fall raise funds for the current preservation project.

The Main Street boasts of a few restaurants such as KC s Pizzas and Subs, Somsris International Restaurant, Homespun Restaurant for country cooking and Dees for home cooking and seafood. Three Oaks Winery offers wine tasting and tours regularly and one can browse through the Grapevine, their gift shop. The wooded area around Vernon is perfect to experience the great outdoor and offer fishing camping, boating and hunting.

The area is ripe for development with a new International Airport being built nearby. The State Highway 79 is soon to be four-lane and one can reach the sugar white beaches of Panama City Beach in no time at all. A 624 home development is coming up just south of Vernon and is a part of the exploding growth in the panhandle.

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