Postcard From The World's Smallest Police Station

Carrabelle is a rather small, quiet town along the Florida panhandle about 20 miles east of Apalachicola. The town is surrounded by the Crooked, Ochlockonee, and Carrabelle rivers and the Gulf of Mexico. With a population of about 1,300 happy souls, the major business is fishing and it is noted as a nice deep-water fishing village. It's a nice, peaceful, family-friendly type of place. What it is most famous for however is a phone booth. You see, Carrabelle is home to the world's smallest police station.

The town used to have a problem with tourists making unauthorized long-distance calls on its unattended police phone. The phone harked back to a time when folks could mostly be trusted to not do what they weren't supposed to do - the call box was simply bolted to the side of a public building with a little sign beside it saying, "For police business only." In the early 1960's though, the town's phone bill began to be hundred's of dollars per month after fishermen and tourist figured out there was nothing to prevent them from calling home or anywhere else.

At first, the town's lone employee simply moved the phone to the side of another building that wasn't located right on the main road through town, but it didn't take visitors long to find it and continue making their calls. About that time, the phone company decided to replace the town's aging phone booth in front of the pharmacy. Johnny Mirabella, the town's employee, talked the phone company into letting him have the old booth and with the help of Curly Messer, a deputy sheriff, moved the booth to its present location on Highway 98 and on March 10, 1963, installed the police phone in it and placed police station decals over the booth's glass. Unfortunately, people would still make their illegal calls from it until Johnny finally got a bright idea and simply wired the phone directly into police dispatch and removed the dial. No more illegal long-distance phone usage!

The phone booth police station has been featured on numerous television shows such as The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Ripley's Believe It or Not, and Real People among others and was used in the movie "Tate's Hell." The town has copyrighted the design and makes additional income by selling t-shirts, hats, postcards, and calendars featuring the "World's Smallest Police Station."

Of course, there are negatives that come with fame - vandals have occasionally ripped the phone out, shot bullet holes in it, and knocked it over several times with trucks. One time a tourist tried to get a local help him load the booth into his pickup so he could take it back home to Tennessee with him. But the iconic little police station always gets repaired eventually and it still stands at the corner of U.S. 98 and CR 67.