Welcome to our newest blog series where we will examine the technological innovations that improved lighthouses and made coastlines around the world safer. Each installment of the blog series will cover an invention or technological application introduced at the St. Augustine Lighthouse in its history. This first installment will focus on the powerhouse of the lighthouse – the first order Fresnel lens.
The first lighthouses, as we recognize them now, were simply bonfires set atop high ground to improve their visibility. Eventually, people placed these fires on elevated platforms to extend their range. Technological advances replaced these fires with oil lanterns that provided a strong, steady light source. Despite these improvements in light sources, lighthouses still required some sort of magnification to project their beacon out to the horizon. Continue reading →
A model hull of the Florida skipjack is now complete, built over the past several months by volunteer boat builder Ralph Koebke. Ralph brought his model to the lighthouse on Friday to compare with the full size replica currently under construction at the lighthouse Heritage Boatworks program. Using the same ship lines as the full size replica, he has paid attention to the smallest of details to create an accurate, scale model of the vessel. Over the coming months, he will work on constructing a rig for the model. So far, he has logged over 150 volunteer hours on the project, and has done great work!
Guests are in for a special treat with top shelf whiskey and food pairings at a Speakeasy fundraiser on Friday the 13th in the “haunted” 1876 Keepers’ House basement at the Light Station.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – On Friday, November 13th, at 7:00 p.m., the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will host a special fundraiser featuring a selection of craft whiskey samples and food pairings from the Blackfly Restaurant. The “Lighthouse Speakeasy” will include samples from Hudson Whiskey, Jefferson’s Bourbon, Templeton Rye and Carpano Antica Formula. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Museum’s maritime research and education programs.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drink small batch whiskeys and sample amazing food in a unique, historically relevant location,” said Board of Trustees member Bruce Beaman, who helped organize the event. “This will be the last event of this type to be held in the basement, which was featured in Ghost Hunters, before the new exhibit installation begins. Your tickets will help fund the Lighthouse’s programs that provide educational opportunities to our community.”
Spirits selected for the event include hand-crafted whiskey and bourbon from New York City, a rye whiskey from Iowa and a sweet Italian vermouth. Each of these will be paired with delicious food from St. Augustine’s award-winning Blackfly Restaurant.
“This is going to be a really fun, unique experience that we have never done before at the Lighthouse,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “Our historic building has the perfect ambience for a cozy, speakeasy party and the refreshments we’ve selected will offer folks a high caliber taste experience you can’t get anywhere else in St. Augustine.”
All refreshments for the event have been generously donated, so all proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Museum programs including an annual summer camp with scholarships for at-risk youth, research programs that provide hands-on underwater archaeology experience for college students and a new Maritime Research & Education Center that will provide much-needed handicap accessible exhibit and classroom space at the Museum.
The Lighthouse Speakeasy is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person. Space is limited; to make reservations please visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org/speakeasy or call (904) 829-0745.
Each month, we will be showcasing a different piece from our Museum collection. Outside of the artifacts on exhibition at the Lighthouse, we have hundreds of other historic pieces that are preserved in our collection.
This small pin is a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) collar/hat pin.
The pin is a screw version as opposed to a clasp version made of brass. The design has the USCG emblem and is consistent with pins that were worn during WWII. This particular one is missing the back portion that would have kept it secure on the uniform more about this later in the story. Continue reading →
As we do conservation of artifacts from the Storm Wreck, we try to identify and work on pieces that are either unique or may have some identification or information pertaining to the ship. Some of the items that have gone through or are currently undergoing conservation include a 4-pound cannon, a 9-pound carronade, dozens of cannonballs, numerous cast iron cauldrons, pewter plates, spoons and thousands of nails.
These artifacts were all chosen because they had the potential to have some diagnostic numbers or maker marks on them. They were also chosen because they were easily identifiable while excavating and X-raying. One common theme uniting all of these artifacts is that they are all big solid pieces or clumps of hundreds of little bits of metal.
Unfortunately, in maritime wrecks most of the surviving material is going to be metal. This makes conservation easier, since the same processes can be used for almost all the different metallic objects.
However, it is a nice break and a challenge when we come across organic materials.
Artifact 12S 200 was excavated during the 2012 LAMP field school. At first, it did not look like much.
It appeared to be a standard concretion of shell and sediment over a few different objects. But, when X-rayed, the unremarkable blob turned out to be very interesting. Continue reading →