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

August 2007 Archives

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August 29, 2007

More Tales from the Jeff Davis Chronicles

For those of you who love Civil War History, here is a story ssociated with the Confederate Privateer Jeff Davis. Thanks to Mr. Tim Jackson, a LAMP volunteer for this interesting info.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is available on-line. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was published between 1841-1902. I will warn you that some of the descriptions on the web from the 1861 papers are very graphic. My snip below stops short of that. The website is: http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/Default/Layout/Includes/BE/NavigationSites/Phaseone.htm.

The (parenthesis) include my notations.

On July 25, 1861 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Reported.

New York has got another hero, and Barnum (PT Barnum) has him on exhibition for the delight of all who patronize his signular establishment. The reader will remember that on Sunday morning last, Wm. Tillman...made his bow to an appreciative New York Public... Tillman was a steward (cook) on board the schooner Waring; she (the schooner) was caputred by the Jeff Davis privateer, and a prize crew put on board here. The Waring was then turned southward, and it was pretty broadly hinted that the colored (African American) steward would be turned into cash (sold into slavery) as soon as the vessel reached Charleston. Tillman, not unnaturally, determined to avoid this catastrophe, and he killed three of the privateers....Tillman modest narrative may have been effaced from the public mind and we reproduce just its salient points....

(Eagle, On-line, Recovered by Jackson, T, 2007)

Tillman Photo Harper's Weekly, 1861

(The drawing may be referenced at: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1861/august/schooner-waring.htm)

The narrative goes on to describe how the prize crew of the Jeff Davis were killed with axe blows to the skull and dumped over board. Then Tillman, without any real training in navigation steered the Waring back to the port of New York.

Continue reading "More Tales from the Jeff Davis Chronicles" »

August 28, 2007

What's That Racket? Roof Restoration of the LAMP Barracks

Posted by: Karson Winslow, California in First Coast Maritime Archaeological Project, LAMPosts

For the past three days, work in the office has been accompanied by the melodious ring of hammers and staple guns. There is currently a replacement in the works of the tin roofs on both the LAMP headquarters and the maintenance shed on the Lighthouse grounds. The idea is to recreate the roofs as they once were, by replacing the tin sheets with aromatic cedar shingles. They actually make it smell quite nice when exiting and entering the building.


Continue reading "What's That Racket? Roof Restoration of the LAMP Barracks" »

August 27, 2007

LAMP caught a ketch.

Brass and wood aboard the Quark.

The ketch Quark came into St. Augustine's waters this week for a brief stay. Fortunately for us here at the Lighthouse, the boat’s crew has good taste and a mind for all things historical. They visited the Lighthouse. It was here at the LAMP office we first met George Floyd, owner and master of this amazing wooden boat. He came into the LAMP office to discuss his ventures into a Maritime Heritage Museum in Apalachicola. Towards the end of our chat, he dropped the bomb to say he was currently in town on board his reproduction ketch, docked a few cables length away at the Conch House Marina. An invitation was all we needed to go see and tour this piece of replicated history.

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Shipping News Begins!

Posted by: Brendan Burke in LAMPosts, Shipping News

Welcome to our newest blog section Shipping News! In this section we will be posting information on historic and reproduction boats, vessels, ships, and craft that come here to St. Augustine. In the past few weeks I have witnessed a few boats docked around here that made me think “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to share some of the floating stories that come in and out of our waterways?” and so here we are. Our inaugural entry, I hope, will provide some insight as to what sort of posting to expect. Also, since LAMP can’t keep tabs on every vessel traveling through, please let us know if you see or hear of a historic boat in the area. You can do this by email at: bburke@staugustinelighthouse.com or by phone at 904-838-8813. Thanks and enjoy!

-Brendan Burke, LAMP

August 20, 2007

Simon the Lighthouse Cat Says Hi!

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

Many of you ask about Simon. I thought I would bring you up to date on his activities. For those of you who don't know Simon, he lived here right behind the lighthouse tower but spent most of his days (and nights) on the premises. Guests would frequently stop to pet him and at times would report a "dead cat in the ferns" since he would sleep among the green plants on his back with his legs up in the air. One guest was very insistent that we had a dead cat on the property and that "It should be removed immediately!" I asked him to describe the critter and he gave me an exact description of Simon. Having reached the spot of the tragedy, I slowly reached down to stroke his belly. I was rewarded with a soft "mew" at which time he rolled over. The guest jumped back and started laughing his socks off. He later said it was the highlight of his vacation.

Simon Sleeps

Just take away the bed, put him among ferns, and you get the idea. This is how he spends most of his days. He likes to prowl at night.

Continue reading "Simon the Lighthouse Cat Says Hi!" »

August 14, 2007

How Close did the Bear Actually Get?

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

Pretty Close. What's happening to Black Bear's in the Smokey's? Well, their numbers are recovering in the National Parks and National Forests around my home town. We recently had a terrific time camping there with our family. We tent camp. It was loads of fun.

We aren't those tourists that run after bears. Bear's are majestic in their natural habitat and we feel lucky and blessed to have seen them. But the encounters also left me wondering what would become of the bear. The park was crowded. Lots of people ran toward the bears we saw. While some seemed ok with this, this fellow seemed a bit stressed out to me.

Bear Nose

He was wandering around mid-day (something bears do when they get used to human food) just off the Loop Road in Cade's Cove while we were sitting in a line of traffic. The first photo is the bear walking behind our car. The second is the bear approaching. A line of car's had stopped obviously to see the bear. Some tourists abandoned their autos and ran toward it. We happened to be in the direction that the bear ran to get away. He ran right into traffic.

Bear Approaches

We saw three bears while touring the historic sites and mountain valley that is Cade's Cove. Cade's Cove is in the Smokey Mountains National Park In Tennessee. It's very crowded, but just as beautiful and special as I remember. The NPS is doing a remarkable job in this area of returning native species and blending cultural and natural resource management. Bear populations are rebounding although an attempt at re-introducing the wolf seems to have hit a snag. The park's new managment plan calls for bringing back native plants that may help rebuild the eco-system of small rodents and other small animals neccessary to support the food chain for other predators. The mountains once supported wolves and panthers. Native Americans hunted here and burned the fields periodically. Later Euro-american's (mostly the Scots-Irish who traveled to this area from Pennsylvania in the 1700's) settled and farmed.

The open fields are filled with wildlife in the early morning and the loop is closed to vehicular traffic on Wednesday. You can tour by bike. We saw, three bear and maybe 16 deer, four wild turkey, a ground hog and a host of other critters during our Tuesday drive. Great fun.

Another photo of Dry Falls on Hwy 28, on the Road to Highland's, NC shows one of many remarkable waterfalls in the Smokey Mountains. Incidentially, my home town is not too far away. I was born in Asheville, NC. My family (Some of those same Scots-Irish with a bit of French and English thrown in) lived in Pensacola, NC on the back side of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. Perhaps this is why, when I came to Florida, I became a lighthouse keeper. I have an affinity for high and remote places. One of our family names is McMahan. It is the Irish spelling of the Scottish clan name Matheson. Mahan is the "clan of the bear."

Dry Falls NC

Hope you enjoy these photos.


August 10, 2007

Launch of Endeavour - Pictures from Your Friendly Neighborhood Lighthouse Keeper

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

Got up Wednesday and headed down to Kennedy Space Center with my wife and daughter for the shuttle launch. Steve Geis, Operations Director at the center, had invited some members of the Florida Attractions Association down for VIP viewing. This was an opportunity that I didn't want to miss since there are only a few more launches prior to retiring the shuttle program. The security guard at the first checkpoint waved us through to the Visitor's Center. We parked at the administration building and got checked in, recieved our passes, and relaxed in their conference room while viewing the astronauts being strapped into thier seats on NASA TV. A short time later we boarded busses and were taken to the Saturn V building conference room and enjoyed a great buffet and cold drinks. From the balcony of the room we were as close as you can get to view the launch, a distance of three miles (read on for more pictures of the launch).


VAB - Vehicle Assembly Building where the shuttle is mated to the external tank and the solid rocket boosters.

Continue reading "Launch of Endeavour - Pictures from Your Friendly Neighborhood Lighthouse Keeper" »

August 8, 2007

Florida Tree Snails Arrive at Lighthouse

Posted by: in Natural World

The Lighthouse Summer Camp kids and their teachers, Jeff Wessel and Andy Magee, found two Florida tree snails crawling on the Lighthouse patio on August 7, 2007. Why is this worth noting? Florida tree snails normally populate coastal hammocks in South Florida and the Keys. The northernmost area reporting tree snails is Indian River County. There, tree snails have been found on orange and grapefuit trees and since they do no harm to the trees they should not be disturbed.


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August 6, 2007

LAMP Research Gets Good Press!


Since the start of this years fieldwork (July 1), LAMP archaeologists have been working hard to implement the inaugural season of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. This major program of research and public archaeology was made possible by a Special Category historical preservation grant from the State of Florida's Division of Historical Resources. Part of our mission is to spread the word about our work and the rich maritime history of Florida's First Coast, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through widespread media exposure. With the help of Beau, the Lighthouse's public relations expert, we have received some great press lately.

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August 2, 2007

To Build a Boat...

Posted by: Karson Winslow, California in First Coast Maritime Archaeological Project, LAMP Boatworks, LAMPosts


UPDATE: Read more about LAMP's boatbuilding program in this Florida Times-Union article online.

Posted by Brendan Burke

Visitors to the lighthouse may now notice an abundance of hammering, sawdust, and wood shavings just over the fence from the lighthouse tower. This is the newly established LAMP Boatworks. LAMP has been fortunate enough to attract the skills of several volunteers who have prior boatbuilding experience and other who are interested and willing to learn about wooden boat building. With the combined resources of LAMP and these valuable people dedicating their time and labor, we are pleased to announce the boatbuilding program is well under way!

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