A part of Bay County was located just east of the boundaries of Tyndall Field and Gulf County. It contains the most easterly incorporated city in Bay County. The land developed as a promotional scheme of W. T. McGowan and Gordon Parker. They purchased 1,850 acres from J. W. Wainwright and platted the land for lot sales in October 1946. It is the former location of Fort Chateuge, constructed by the French in 1718 and abandoned in mid-1720’s.
W. T. McGowan was well known in Panama City for promoting the city in the 1930’s. Mexico Beach attracted national attention when he advertised that it was the only place in the world that served milk-fed fish. He claimed that cows were driven into a lake at Mexico Beach so fish could feed from their udders. Mildred Curi traveled to Mexico Beach to witness the event, only to be told it was dog fly season and the cows were dry.
The real developer of the community was Gordon U. Parker. He purchased an additional 1,500 acres from Felix DuPont with the three miles of Gulf of Mexico frontage. He was president of the Parker Realty Agency.
Area citizens began to visit Mexico Beach and purchase property. A group met June 7, 1967 to organize an incorporation of the town. With the support of Bay County Commission, incorporation papers were drawn up and sent to the Florida Legislature. A bill was signed by the governor in 1967. McGowan sold his interest and moved to Bristol, Florida. He wrote a book attempting to prove that the Apalachicola River was a biblical Garden of Eden.
The population overwhelmingly approved the incorporation and elected Charley Parker the first mayor. Councilmen were William Lyles, and R. C. Parker. The council meetings were held in members’ homes until the city hall and fire station was constructed in Mexico Beach.
Citizens were concerned about a school as their children were being transported to Tyndall Field Elementary School and secondary schools in Springfield. Tommy Smith (Bay County Superintendent) and Tommy Owens of Gulf County secured their boards agreement to transport Mexico Beach students to closer Port St. Joe schools.
Mexico Beach has grown from 475 people in 1975 to over 1,000 today.