A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

March 2007 Archives

« February 2007 | Main | April 2007 »

March 31, 2007

03/31/07 Lecture: Excavation of a Sugar Mill on Guana Island, British Virgin Islands

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMP Events

Lecture Title: "Perpetually Boyling: Sugar Production in the West Indies and the Archaeological Investigation of the Sugar Mill on Guana Island, British Virgin Islands”
Speaker: Chuck Meide, LAMP Director
Program: "Sweet Digs: Archaeology of Sugar Mills" (three lectures and a tour of Dunlawton Sugar Mill) organized by the Florida Public Archaeology Network, Museum of Arts and Sciences, and Volusia County
When: 31 March 2007, 11 am
Where: Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach

For more information click here.

March 30, 2007

The 2007 Northeast Florida Symposium on Underwater Archaeology

Well, it is finally over, after weeks of working around the clock, but what a success!! LAMP and the Lighthouse hosted our first ever archaeological symposium, in partnership with the GTM-NERR. For three days respected scholars, many of them leaders in the field, came to St. Augustine and presented papers on various aspects of shipwreck and underwater prehistoric archaeology. We heard about Portuguese spice trading galleons, trading vessels lost off West Africa, 10,000 year old submerged sites, 4000-foot deep wrecks in the Gulf of Mexico, and everything from 18th century British warships to ancient dugout canoes right here in Florida.


Continue reading "The 2007 Northeast Florida Symposium on Underwater Archaeology" »

Florida Lights, Why Save Them?

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

There is a $23 milllion dollar need for Florida's lighthouse properties. If you take the Florida lighthouse study of 2002, and add 5% for inflation and hurricanes each year, you come up with a staggering need based on bifurcated missions and overlays of ownership. Lighthouse expert and preservation architect Ken Smith of Jacksonville is the expert who helped set these very modest numbers: Here are some samples:

$3.5 million to stabilize Alligator Reef. This lighthouse was named after the USS Alligator, a schooner built to help fight slavery, that wrecked in the keys.

American Shoal Lighthouse - $1,186,250.00 Another keys lighthouse in real danger of being lost forever.

Boca Grand Rear Range Light - $362,500

Dry Torgutas at Loggerhead key $543,750.

Egmont Key, the top is off this one and it's rusting. The DOD has paperwork needed for transfer to an owner who can help perhaps? It's needs by architect's estimate are around $1,458,875.00

These are just a few of the needs out there. Governor Crist gets it. He's put $5 million to begin this work in a request. The money is supposed to come recreational lands funds.

The House put money in too at this writing, but has the money coming from a different place. They put the money in competition with Special Cateogories, but we specifically were told by the Governor's staffers that this was not the target funding source.

Continue reading "Florida Lights, Why Save Them?" »

March 23, 2007


Posted by: Kathleen McCormick in Shine

It could have been a disaster. The morning of our biggest event of the year the man in charge of Lighthouse Festival, our Director of Operations, was kept home by a gastro-virus. Our LAMP staff was less than a week away from co-hosting a large Marine Archaeology Symposium, we were in the process of installing the first phase of what will become a major exhibit on the history of the St. Augustine shrimp industry, a flu bug was wreaking havoc on the staff, prep for a major reception on the grounds was in full swing, our Education Director will be leaving today for a great new opportunity and the everyday problems and crises involved in running a historic site seemed to be mounting faster than we could count them.

Continue reading "A-Team" »

March 21, 2007

Telling Our Story

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

Last Saturday was our biggest event of the year, Lighthouse Festival. I spent months planning it as I have for the past three years. This year I handed off the leadership portion to two of our very capable staff members since I was going to be gone to Tallahassee the weekend prior. I asked them to finish up planning and oversight of the event, and run it the day of. It turns out this was providential since I spent that day nursing a very angry digestive tract. Stomach flu is not a pleasant experience and it brought back memories of my encounters with seasickness, first aboard the ferry that takes you from Long Beach to Catalina Island in California, and the second aboard a large catamaran sailing off Maui. Even the toughest folks can be brought to their knees by it. I often wonder how those who made the Atlantic crossing during the past few centuries managed, considering it took a couple of months to make the trip. We who study history hear some pretty horrific stories about what conditions were like aboard ship in those days.
Welcome Sentinel

But then to see a tall tower with a spiral of black and white stripes, standing majestically on the shore, wearing it's bright red hat. What a joy to see this sentinel, all dressed up for your arrival, signaling an end to your misery. It would be no surprise to learn that they carried the memory of that wonderful moment, that lighthouse, with them for the rest of their lives. They would pass that story down to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And then imagine if those generations could actually still go and see that tower...

That is why we do historic preservation... it's not so much about the lighthouse, as it is about people and the importance of their story.

March 20, 2007

03/20-22/07 Northeast Florida Symposium on Underwater Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMP Events


Northeast Florida Symposium on Underwater Archaeology
Various speakers. This three-day symposium is jointly sponsored by the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas Research Reserve and LAMP. Located at the auditorium in the GTM Reserve Educational Center. Special Rates available at local hotel in Vilano Beach for out of town guests.

When: 20-22 March 2007, 9 to 5 each day
Click here to visit the 2007 Symposium webpage with more information including full program

March 17, 2007

03/17/07 Lighthouse Maritime Festival & Lecture Series

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMP Events

17 March 2007
Lighthouse Festival
Fun for the whole family, the festival includes everything from pony rides to archaeological exhibits and a maritime archaeology lecture series.
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, all day event

Lighthouse Festival Lecture Series
(all lectures will take place in the Salt Run Community Center/ St. Augustine Yacht Club, across from the Lighthouse on the water)

Continue reading "03/17/07 Lighthouse Maritime Festival & Lecture Series" »

March 14, 2007

Hope for the future of History

Posted by: Kathleen McCormick in Shine

This morning a few of us went to Switzerland Point Middle School to help judge entries for the first annual History Fair. We were blown away by the number of first-rate entries and had a delightful time interviewing the participants. We have a good supply of bright, creative middle-schoolers in our county and some very talented teachers to guide them. That's good to know.

Continue reading "Hope for the future of History" »

03/14/07 Sinkhole Dive Demonstration

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMP Events

Sinkhole Dive Demonstration

Sorry, this event has been CANCELLED.

LAMP Divers will stage an underwater archaeology demonstration at Sheeler Lake, a 20,000 year old sinkhole site with the potential to yield prehistoric archaeological sites. Divers will explain the equipment and techniques used for a preliminary reconnaissance dive. This event will take place at the Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park in Clay County. Call Christy Pritchard at 904-819-6420 for more information.

March 12, 2007

Cape Canveral Lighthouse Restoration

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

I have heard from The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Association, the lantern room has been hoisted back atop the Cape Canveral Lighthouse. The relighting is set to be scheduled in about a month after final work is completed.

Congratulations to the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse and the United States Air Force for fabulous work in this regard. This is a very unique and special tower at the Cape, and it deserves this kind of treatment. Here is a photo of the lantern at the bottom about to be hoisted up. George Diller, of the Florida Lighthouse Association, receives the photo credit on this remarkable image.

Cape Canveral Lighthouse Restoration


March 10, 2007

Lighthouse Preservation is Smokin'!

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

It is Saturday, March 10, 2007. I decided to slow cook a beef brisket. I have been grilling for a long time and one of my favorite meals is good mesquite smoked brisket. I don’t have a smoker and you have to smoke brisket for a long time at low temps. I can’t control the temp on my grill like I would like to, and it would get too hot for a brisket. The only good brisket I have had was purchased at a Famous Dave’s BBQ. So then I remembered that I bought a gigantic roaster oven for when my family was here at Christmas and never used it. I do a dry southwest rub on the brisket and put it in the roaster at 200 degrees. I make some moppin’ sauce and add a packet of smoking mesquite chips to smoke the meat. After six hours I have beautiful southwest flavored rubber. Moral of the story…. You can’t rush the good stuff… especially brisket.

This week I go to Tallahassee to talk to the legislature about tourism in Florida and in particular, lighthouse preservation. Sometimes I get impatient because I have so many things I need to do to the tower, and I know so many other lighthouse groups who are struggling to preserve their towers. I hope the state legislature will back the Governor's new funding for lighthouse preservation. But then I remember that preservation started on our tower in the late 1980’s. We are seen as one of the premier lighthouses in the U.S. and it took a lot of time and love and sweat to get this lighthouse to where it is today. You can’t rush historic preservation just like you can’t rush brisket. It takes lots of time, care, and patience… like most worthwhile things in life. Oh for a real smoker... in Tallahassee and in my backyard!

Continue reading "Lighthouse Preservation is Smokin'!" »

03/10/07 Boat Tour with LAMP Archaeologists

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMP Events


Boat Tour with LAMP Maritime Archaeologists
On board the Victory III, the premiere tourboat docked at the City Marina, downtown St. Augustine. This event is a fund-raiser for the St. Augustine Archaeological Association. LAMP archaeologists Chuck Meide and Sam Turner will be presenting a personalized custom tour of St. Augustine's maritime landscape as it was meant to be seen, from the sea. The Victory III departs the City Marina dock at 8:45 am. The City Marina dock is just south of the downtown side of the Bridge of Lions. Call Bob Stephens to reserve your space on the boat at 808-7211.

When: 10 March 2007, 8:30 am

March 8, 2007

Questions, questions...

Posted by: Kathleen McCormick in Shine

Those of us fortunate enough to spend time at the top of the tower are used to answering certain questions on a regular basis:
"Why are you so far from the water?"
(See our website, http://www.staugustinelighthouse.com for the answer)
Is the place really haunted?
(If you think it is, then it is. If you think not, then it isn't...we have no proof either way).
The one that always gets me, though, is: "Do they make you stay up here all day?!?!?.

Continue reading "Questions, questions..." »

March 5, 2007

Running to the Light

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

OK, so I am a couple of days late posting this week. I have been swamped. Ran up to Jacksonville on Friday to get the liquor license for lighthouse festival on March 17th. It is always an ordeal because you have to get a bunch of signatures from the city zoning office, the internal revenue service in Jax, and you have to have it notarized. Then you set up an appointment with the licensing agency and they interview you to see if the reason for the license is legitimate. We do this each year because we have the Michelob Ultra 5K Run at the festival and we have to serve beer. Then I have planning meetings for interpretive planning, website changes, the blog, manager’s meetings, along with daily fires that need to be put out, safety inspections, and an upcoming trip to the state capitol for tourism days. Then there are maintenance issues, personnel issues and keeping up with personnel records, and any number of other jobs that arise during the day…

In the lens room

Suffice it to say that now you know why I wrote my last blog. In the midst of it all, the tower just stands out there, quiet, sturdy, dependable. Every night the light is on, the beacons turn, and I look at it and catch my breath. What I do is called a job. All of the things that get me stressed are what feed me and my family, and the fact that I can feed my family when so many can’t is a huge blessing. I don’t have to work here… I choose to work here. And that is a good choice. I just have to remember it when I’m putting out fires.

March 4, 2007

My life isn't that bad

Posted by: Beau Phillips in Barely Legible


This is where I work. Sure there are 219 steps to the top and no elevator but when you get there...
Well you can see. Oh yeah, and its winter here today 65 degrees - put your jacket on. This isn't a place that you come and say, "I love to visit I just wouldn't want to live here." Its the place that you visit and say, "I'm gonna make my money and retire here." Good Food and Great views, but I'll let you decide on the veiws for yourself.


Thats not all folks...

Continue reading "My life isn't that bad" »

March 2, 2007

03/02 - 04/27/07 Exhibit: SS United States

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMP Events

Traveling Exhibit: S.S. United States
Traveling exhibit on display at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, focusing on the 1950s Atlantic liner, a maritime engineering marvel for its time. For more information, email Kathleen Hill at khill@stagustinelighthouse.com.

When: 02 March - 27 April 2007, regular operating hours (9am - 6 pm)
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, Keeper's House upstairs gallery

March 1, 2007

Lighthouses a Symbol of Democracy?

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

All we lighthouse people know that lighthouses and aids to navigation, major ones, minor ones, solar powered ones and lights with Fresnel lenses are neccessary to the smooth operation of our economy and saftey. If we read about history of any major searfaring nation or culture, we find an account of the new and growing government setting up lighthouses and aids to navigation. They did so very early on. They continue to do so. Ensuring the safety of people coming into port is critically important.

Is this a reason to save lighthouses? I just returned from a successful trip to Washington DC. I was sitting over a Sam Adams or two (what else?) having a conversation with a very smart fellow that I'd just met about well politics and the world. He asked what I did. I told him. He said to me,

"That is not what you need to say up here. You must really show why it is important to save and preserve lighthouses. Don't say maritime history is important to our culture. Say, "Lighthouses are our symbol of democracy!"

Yes! I like this. Lighthouses literally protected the huddled masses seeking our shores. and They are symbolic of freedom and the chance to make it here in the land of opportunity. They are a symbol of our desire as individuals to be both safe and free. This is what they are really about.

I think he has a very good point. Lighthouses are critical to us as a nation for very practical reason, but they are much more than the sum of their parts. They are also symbols of our hope in the darkest hours and of our desire to be free, to reach out and settle new worlds and make safe the way for others who follow.

So my question is do you think he was right as well? I will probably never see this fellow again, but I really do think he was right. He made me think about my profession in a new way? What do you think? Why is this true? Or is it full of hooey?


History or grave-robbery?

Posted by: Kathleen McCormick in Shine

So James Cameron, not content with picking the bones of the Titanic victims, has decided to move on to grave-robbing and exploitation at a higher level. This time, according to carefully-timed news reports and interviews, he's found the tomb of Jesus. How convenient that it also contained the bones of Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother, and a son of Jesus...and Jimmy Hoffa, for all I know. Now Cameron can cover all the bases: "History", Religion and a "Da Vinci Code" connection. That guy sure does know how to make money. If only he'd admit he's just a money-grubbing film maker instead of pretending to be a producer of "Historical documentaries", I'd be less disdainful. Having one archaeologist make headline-grabbing claims does not constitute historical accuracy.

Continue reading "History or grave-robbery?" »