St. Augustine Amateur Radio Society will be on site with HAM Radios
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL – The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will join 400+ lighthouses from throughout the world for International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) from August 17-18, with support from members of the St. Augustine Amateur Radio Society (SAARS) on the grounds of the nonprofit Museum throughout the weekend.
Members of SAARS will operate the HAM radios and communicate with lighthouses all over the globe. The weekend festivities will begin at 4:00 p.m. on Fridayand run continuously until 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. Most members of SAARS will rotate shifts through the entire 48 hours.
always enjoy participating in this worldwide event,” said Executive Director Kathy
A. Fleming. “It brings together so many groups of people who are passionate
about the history and care of our historic lighthouses. We appreciate all the
volunteers from the St. Augustine Amateur Radio Society who help us connect
with the world and share the story of our Lighthouse.”
This annual event began in 1998 as a way for lighthouses, lightships and maritime beacons to connect with each other via amateur radio and advocate for the preservation of these historic structures. Major amateur radio organizations such as the Radio Society of Great Britain, the Amateur Radio League of America and the Wireless Institute of Australia support and promote this event.
tent will be set up in front of the St. Augustine Lighthouse to serve as ILLW
headquarters. During regular visiting hours, from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Museum
guests are welcome to visit the tent to listen and watch as SAARS communicates
with other participants around the globe.
Marking its 22nd
anniversary this year, the event attracts over 500
lighthouse entries located in over 40 countries. Today, it is one of the most
popular international amateur radio events in the world.
Alexander Hamilton was first Supervisor of all U.S.
Long before the days of GPS, lighthouses played an integral role in keeping sailors safe on the water. There was no Siri to tell them where to go, so they simply had to fully rely on their wits … and lighthouses.
On August 7, 1789, the U.S. Congress
recognized the importance of Lighthouses and passed the Act for the
Establishment and Support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers.
This act officially put lighthouses under federal control, attempting to make
navigation for sailors more efficient and safer.
The act specified that it was “the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury” to oversee that the act’s provisions be carried out. This included maintenance of all lighthouses and aids to navigation, as well as overseeing construction of the mandated lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay.
Alexander Hamilton became the nation’s first Secretary of the
Treasury on September 11, 1789, a little over a month after the Lighthouse Act
was passed. Thus, Secretary Hamilton oversaw the transition of responsibility
for all existing lighthouses (and other aids to navigation) from the various
states and municipalities to the federal government.
Two hundred years later, The
United States Lighthouse Society petitioned for August 7, 1989, to be deemed
National Lighthouse Day, in honor of the day that Congress signed the Act. This
petition only deemed National Lighthouse Day to be a holiday for that specific
Then, on August 7, 2013, the Senate passed a resolution stating that every August 7th be declared National Lighthouse Day. Although not officially law, the recognition of August 7th as National Lighthouse and Lighthouse Preservation Day continues with the government and its agencies, including the National Park Service, which maintains a number of historic lighthouses across the country.
“Thanks to the Junior Service League
of St. Augustine, the St. Augustine Light Station was saved and a maritime
museum was created,” said Kathy Fleming, Executive Director of the St.
Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.
“We are nonprofit, mission-centered,
and community connected. Our donors and members continue to help us save
maritime history and keep the light shining.”
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will celebrate National Lighthouse Day on August 7. Learn the history of Florida’s first lighthouse in exhibits at the nonprofit Museum and participate in the Nation’s Oldest Port Demos, interactive demonstrations offered daily every 30 minutes from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days each week, with hours changing to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. after Labor Day.
anniversary of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse will be celebrated on
October 15, 2019. This second tower was built from 1871-1874, and the first
order Fresnel lens was lit on October 15, 1874. Prior to this tower, the
Spanish Watchtower was named Florida’s first lighthouse in 1824 by the U.S.
government. A wooden watchtower was first built at the site in the 1560s,
followed by the Spanish Watchtower, which stood at 70 feet high and was made of
coquina, like the Castillo de San Marcos. That coquina came from the quarry on
THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM:
pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140
years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the
Nation’s Oldest Port®. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours
and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse &
Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive
the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port® as symbolized by our
working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse
Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian
About the American Alliance of Museums:
The St. Augustine Lighthouse &
Maritime Museum is
accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national
recognition afforded the nation’s museums.The
American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906,
helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing
knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum
community. As the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field,
accreditation signifies excellence and credibility. Accreditation helps to
ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum collections, and reinforces the education and public
service roles of museums and promote good governance practices and ethical
behavior. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and
volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the
Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. (www.aam-us.org)
Established on August 4, 1790, the U.S. Coast Guard has kept the nation’s waterways safe, playing a critical role in national security. Every year, August 4 is celebrated as the U.S. Coast Guard Birthday, commemorating the military organization for its valor and discipline.
Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, founded the Revenue Marine — which later became the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard is one of America’s five armed forces and traces its founding to Aug. 4, 1790, when the first Congress authorized the construction of 10 vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws, prevent smuggling, and protect the collection of federal revenue. Responsibilities added over the years included humanitarian duties such as aiding mariners in distress.
The service received its present name in 1915 when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to form a single maritime service dedicated to the safety of life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws.
The Coast Guard is a multi-mission, maritime, military service and the smallest of the five Armed Services. Its mission is to protect the public, the environment and U.S. economic interests in the nation’s waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.
A Coastal Lookout Building was constructed at the St. Augustine Light Station in late 1941-early 1942 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. However, life had not changed dramatically on the East Coast. Americans still felt a sense of separation the war. The sinking of the SS Gulf America off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida in April 1942 changed that feeling. Candlepower in the lighthouse was reduced. Blackout curtains were required in every home, and cars drove without headlights. The war was close by.
U-Boat 123, Korvettsenkapitan Reinhard Hardegen was on his second patrol to the Americas. The mission was to interrupt British supply lines and demoralize everyday citizens. On his first journey, he sailed into the harbor of NYC and looked out at the American shoreline. Now, Hardegen prowled the St. Johns County and Duval County coast before finding a target for his torpedoes.
He mentioned “the slender lighthouse” in his logbook, and noted how clearly the coast could be seen without binoculars. The explosion of the SS Gulf America could be seen for miles. Eyewitnesses rushed to the beach to watch as Hardegan surfaced his U-boat between the tanker and the shore and fired on the vessel to finish it off. Despite being hit by depth charges, U-123 managed to escape and limped back to Germany.
Not long after in June 1942 German spies from Operation Pastorius choose Ponte Vedra (and New York) as landing sites. A submarine surfaced in view of the shore and four men disembarked, buried explosives, and caught a bus to Jacksonville. At least one of them spoke perfect English. The FBI learned of the operation when one of the NYC team became nervous and reported the others. Buried on Ponte Vedra beach were blocks of TNT molded as soap for the laundry, a “pen” that could start fires, and a detonation device. The four spies from Ponte Vedra were executed within weeks of landing.
The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard responded with beach patrols using Jeeps, horses and guard dogs. Armed guards were stationed at St. Augustine Lighthouse to watch the sea 24 hours a day. The passing of each friendly ship was marked with a board and a string. Coordinates were radioed to U.S. Naval Headquarters at Government House, and the next watch station was alerted. The men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard, trained at St. Augustine’s Flagler College and all over St. Johns County for service around the world.
This lice comb was found in a concretion from the Storm shipwreck, a 1782 American Revolutionary War shipwreck excavated by St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum archaeologists and students from 2009-2017.
View other artifacts from this shipwreck in WRECKED!, an exhibit in the Keepers’ House at the Museum. Read more about the shipwreck here.
Believed to be made of ivory, the lice comb had salts removed before being treated with a reinforcing agent. This was completed by conservators on site at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. Lice combs were important in early shipboard life as lice were extremely common.
It was determined that the wreck carried loyalists or Tories evacuating Charles Town, SC and fleeing to British East Florida, which was still loyal to the crown. As many as 16 ships from Charleston (the name of Charles Town today)wrecked on the St. Augustine sandbar on New Year’s Eve, December 1782.
As British loyalists ran in fear of the victorious Americans, many lost everything they had to the sea. Excavation recovered hundreds of artifacts but we do not always know what they are right away. Archaeologists use x-ray analysis to gain a clearer picture of objects locked inside odd, lumpy rocks retrieved from the seabed.
“The United States is filled with
purportedly haunted locations, each with their own ghost stories and paranormal
occurrences. Vote once per day for your favorite haunted destination until
voting ends on Monday, August 26 at noon eastern time. The
winning places will be announced on 10Best on Friday, September 6.”
Locations on the list include the Wavery Hills Sanatorium in Louisville,
Kentucky; the Villisca Ax Murder House in Iowa; Fort Mifflin on the Delaware in
Philadelphia; the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia; the
Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio; and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic
Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, among others.
From the listing about the St. Augustine Lighthouse: “Paranormal activity reported at the St.
Augustine Lighthouse includes the disembodied voice of a woman asking for help.
Dark of the Moon ghost tours take visitors into the lighthouse at night to
learn about the spirits that may still haunt the 1876 Keepers’ House and 1874
During ghost tours at the lighthouse, guests hear stories about the
history of the lighthouse, lighthouse keepers, their families, and those who played
a role in building the 1874 tower. Ghost stories also go back to the Spanish
Watchtower, the first lighthouse made of coquina, which became Florida’s first
lighthouse in 1824.
“Everything we do at our nonprofit Museum saves our maritime past,” said
Executive Director Kathy Fleming. “Dark of the Moon Ghost Tours helps fund the
Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, enabling us to continue our mission
to preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port.”
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
will be featured on the new season of Ghost Hunters, which debuts August 21 on
A&E. In addition, the St. Augustine Lighthouse has been highlighted on CNN,
MSN, the Travel Channel, Fox News, The Weather Channel, and Parade Magazine.
ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM:
A defensive and navigation tool and landmark of St. Augustine for
145 years, the St. Augustine Light Station watches over the waters of the
Nation’s Oldest Port®. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime
research, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime
Museum, Inc. is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the
stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port® as symbolized by our working lighthouse.
We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime
Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE OF MUSEUMS:
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is accredited
by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition
afforded the nation’s museums. The American Alliance of Museums has been
bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best
practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of
concern to the entire museum community. As the ultimate mark of distinction in
the museum field, accreditation signifies excellence and credibility.
Accreditation helps to ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum
collections, and reinforces the
education and public service roles of museums and promote good governance
practices and ethical behavior. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum
professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the
museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community.