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

September 2007 Archives

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September 26, 2007

Of Old Ports, Lighthouses and Ben Franklin.

The following is written on a New England Lighthouse web site. http://lighthouse.cc/boston/history.html History - page one

Boston lighthouse) holds a place of honor among our nation's beacons. This was the first light station established on the North American continent, and the last in the United States to be automated. It's also our only light station that still retains an official keeper.

Because Boston Light was destroyed in the Revolution and rebuilt in 1783, the tower itself is the second oldest in the U.S.....It's recorded that there was a beacon on Point Allerton in Hull as early as 1673.

Sorry, in St. Augustine we scoff (in a friendly way) at 1673. Heck, we were a 108 by then. Maybe they got the idea for the 1673 lit watch tower from St. Augustine? Yes, Boston is important, and claiming first American lighthouse is significant. But claming first "North American" watchtower is a different thing all together.

An exciting point from this excerpt about Boston is the report that fires burned in towers very early on at Hull. This happened before they were designated "lighthouses." What does that mean? Is it important in some way? Let's explore it a bit more.

Consider this quote from Puertos del Estado, a Spanish web site discussing Spain's port system. The quote below has been translated into English, See the original at: http://www.puertos.es/es/index.html

The origins of the visual aids to navigation date back to the humans' first attempts to discover new commercial routes, going far a way from the coast in their vessels. In the daytime, the geographical unevenness oriented these men. However, at night, they needed to use the light emitted by bonfires burning in strategic coastal points in order to come back to the port. Since the rain or the wind extinguished these bonfires, they were protected with a kind of structure...Thus, the lighthouses started....

After the fall of the Roman Empire...countries were focused on the wars more than on the social and economic development. Few new lighthouses were built...Morever, the existing lighthouses were destroyed.

Since the 12th Century, the navigation in the Mediterranean Sea and in North Europe was reactivated. In order to guarantee the safety in the shipping routes, lighthouses were built. Thus, Scandinavia and Germany had the best-lit coast in Europe (15 lighthouses in 1600).... In addition, bonfires were placed on existing watchtowers such as Porto Pi in Mallorca.

Hmmm? So, according to Spanish historians, Europe used lighthouses formally as early as 1600. More excitingly for us, there is a recorded history in Spain of lighting watchtowers!!!

I believe the question is not "How early was there a lighthouse?" But rather, "When did economic activity and coastal defense call for maritime aids to navigation? It is at this point that we begin to discover when the "port" became a "port" and not just a ship's landing site."

industry_sloop_sailing

Continue reading "Of Old Ports, Lighthouses and Ben Franklin. " »

September 18, 2007

Visitor Comments !!!

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

One of our fabulous Educator's posted this on our internal home page. It's a look at the comments left in our "keeper's log inside the lighthouse tower." Thought I'd share it good and bad.

9/7 - Friday
Words of encouragement: "Don't be afraid of heights" (editor's note: Very sound advice)


9/8 - Saturday
Guests were quick to assess the weather on rainy days...
"It stinks"
"Lousy."
"Rain, rain, rain"...followed by more..."rain, rain, rain"

But when the rain cleared..."B-U-T-Ful"
"Wonderful!"
"Great!"
"Worth climbing the steps for!! :)"

"Rainy, but worth it"
"Rain! And children slipping around!!" (editor's note: That's why we have 'Wet Floor' signs out there, folks!)
"Fantastic Restoration"
"What a beautiful structure!"


9/9 - Sunday
"Great! Back from last night's tour!"
"Fun - legs hurt - hot"
"Great view, great photos"
"Clear, 6 miles, my mom on the bench in the woods"
"I can see my house from here"
"Nice paintbrush"
"The sea, pallea(?), and a lot more. I was awesome" -- written by Clive, who looks to be a young'un.


9/10 - Monday
"Hard climb/breathtaking view. Didn't like the decent!! But worth it!!"
"Great view - climb was not as bad as expected!"
"Whiney kid but great time"
"Awesome. Thanks for keeping this part of history alive."
"It was a long way up."


9/11 - Tuesday
"Always wanted to come here!"
"Clear, bright, shiny day"
"Does it ever get warm here?"
"Light sprinkles"...followed by "Heavy Rain"
9/7 - Friday
Words of encouragement: "Don't be afraid of heights" (editor's note: Very sound advice)


9/8 - Saturday
Guests were quick to assess the weather on rainy days...
"It stinks"
"Lousy."
"Rain, rain, rain"...followed by more..."rain, rain, rain"

But when the rain cleared..."B-U-T-Ful"
"Wonderful!"
"Great!"
"Worth climbing the steps for!! :)"

"Rainy, but worth it"
"Rain! And children slipping around!!" (editor's note: Wet floor signs out.)
"Fantastic Restoration"
"What a beautiful structure!"


9/9 - Sunday
"Great! Back from last night's tour!"
"Fun - legs hurt - hot"
"Great view, great photos"
"Clear, 6 miles, my mom on the bench in the woods"
"I can see my house from here"
"Nice paintbrush"
"The sea, pallea(?), and a lot more. I was awesome" -- written by Clive, who looks to be a young'un.


9/10 - Monday
"Hard climb/breathtaking view. Didn't like the decent!! But worth it!!"
"Great view - climb was not as bad as expected!"
"Whiney kid but great time"
"Awesome. Thanks for keeping this part of history alive."
"It was a long way up."


9/11 - Tuesday
"Always wanted to come here!"
"Clear, bright, shiny day"
"Does it ever get warm here?"
"Light sprinkles"...followed by "Heavy Rain"
Grimm Window Cleaning said our windows were smeared. (Editors Note: They are sometimes in a nor-easter; it's the salt spray that does it; or it could be sticky kids fingers....lots of those in this life too. Thanks for telling us! In the old days they hung off a board called a cradle to paint and clean them.)
"This proves that 'Behind Every Cloud, There is a Rainbow'"


9/12 - Wednesday
"Whew! Did it!"
"Hard walk - wonderful view"
"Ne par el Putas vuelo a subir"
"Hot" followed by..."It's only in your head. -Nice & Warm-"


9/13 - Thursday
"Clear, temp mid-80s, hot! Wonderfully maintained site"
"Yet again a wonderful well maintained site. Thank you, USA" (Written by Visitors from the UK)
"Lovely town, people are great! Thank you :)"
"Warm, pretty, there is a 2 masted boat stuck in the sand"
"Boy it sure is hot!! Awesome view."
"Is it me or is it hot!! Great view by the way."
"Sehr gut"


9/14 - Friday
"Great weather, amazing view, worth the climb!!!"
"I'm speechless, not breathless" <-- "Me too!"


9/15 - Saturday - Florida Lighthouse Day
"It was great. I'll be back to do it again."
"Awesome and thanks to Art for the info up there."
"Warm but nice. Carl went ALL the way up. I got scared and decided to come back down."
"Pura vida!"
"Loved it. My 3rd time climbing"
"View as fine as frog hair!"
"I have climbed numerous lighthouses. The view is of the best I've seen! Key West being the 2nd best. See you again."


9/16 - Sunday
"I just found out I'm scared of heights!!! Or falling!!"
"it was windy it was cool"
"Just added to a perfect weekend."
"Great views. Lots of sweat."
"I survived the steps! Beautiful day :)"
"I did not eat the berries"
"Lots of steps, couldn't believe they had to carry the oil all the way"
and to end on a good note...
"We got engaged!"

That's all for this week!

Visitors from the States:
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont, Virginia


Internationally:
Bolivia, Bulgaria, Columbia, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Ukraine
"This proves that 'Behind Every Cloud, There is a Rainbow'"

Florida's Historic Restoration is Flying High

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

Last week I went to Lakeland, FL. for another Florida Attractions Association board meeting. It was held at the Florida Air Museum. The meeting went well and was shortened somewhat when our hosts informed us there would be airplane rides when we got done. But this was not any ordinary old airplane. This was a ride in a beautifully restored 1941 Stearman Trainer. This is the same plane that our dads trained in as cadets in WWII. Unfortunately I had to take a raincheck when they ran out of time, but just to see it in the air and hear that engine gave me the shivers. Most were built in 1940 by Boeing's Stearman division in Witchita, KS. Boeing built 8,584 of the biplanes for the military.

1941 Stearman Trainer

Continue reading "Florida's Historic Restoration is Flying High" »

September 11, 2007

St. Augustine Shrimping Heritage in the News

The First Coast of Florida, in addition to being the first U.S. coast to be settled by Europeans, was the first coast to foster a commercial shrimping industry. Spreading from Fernandina to St. Augustine in the early 20th century, following the expansion of the railroad built by capitalist Henry Flagler, the nascent commercial shrimping and shrimpboat-building industries were dominated by a number of innovative families of Mediterranean descent--including the Versaggi, the Poli, the Salvadore, and the Xynides families.

1947shrimper.jpg
1947 photograph of the shrimp boat Silent Night cruising before the 17th century Spanish fortification Castillo de San Marcos, taken during the annual blessing of the fleet celebration. Image courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection, State Library and Archives of Florida.

Continue reading "St. Augustine Shrimping Heritage in the News" »

September 8, 2007

Cuban tree frogs arrive in St. Augustine

Posted by: in Natural World

Two weeks ago Darlene Humphreys, who works at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, asked me about huge tree frogs climbing up the walls of her home and coming to rest on the outside of the windows every night. I asked Darlene and her husband, Jay, to take pictures so I could identify these frogs. Two days later they sent several pictures via e-mail.

In one picture Jay placed his hand beside a frog on the window so its size was immediately easy to see. The frog was at least 4 ½ inches long and would cover the palm of a human hand. Its toes ended in the familiar round tree frog toe pads, but this was definitely not a Florida tree frog. It has warty skin and can be cream or pale brown. The one in Darlene’s picture had pale green around the back legs and huge eyes.Cuban%20tree%20frog%20w%20hand


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September 6, 2007

New On Deck

Posted by: Brendan Burke in LAMPosts

Hi. Please let me introduce myself, my name is Brendan Burke and I am the newest addition to LAMP’s staff. As an Archaeologist and Logistics Coordinator I will be working with Chuck Meide and Sam Turner in the field and office to get the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project going, working to develop the LAMP infrastructure, and to help keep things running smoothly here! Since I’ve been here since late June I’ve come to meet just about everybody here at the Lighthouse but I would like to share my background with you and introduce myself our blog community.

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New Stories of the Old Spanish Watchtower

I received an typical late night email from friend and FLA LH historian Neil Hurley. Neil and I argue about the first tower in St. Augustine in a friendly way and hopefully share interesting points with each other.

This time he sent something very interesting from 1839.

This snip comes from The Columbian Navigator; Sailing Directory for the American Coasts and The West Indies, printed in London in 1839, page 133. Neil helped me find it on line. He tells me that this publication uses a variety of sources including those who lived in the British period in Flordia. Since it's a secondary publication we can't be sure it's 100% accurate. Most things written about the St. Augustine Lighthouse are not 100% accurate, but Neil's work is some of the best out there.

Here is the embedded snip from the following link: http://books.google.com/books?id=w8oBAAAAYAAJ&printsec=toc#PPR49,M1 (Recovered Sept 6, 2007)

By the way, The talented CDR Hurley, (USCG retired) has just published with the help of Middle River Press a wonderful volume about Florida Lighthouses. The book entitled, "Florida's Lighthouses in the Civil War" is available for pre-sale at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum store. A case has been ordered and will be shipped soon.

It's a hard cover, 176 page volumne with beautiful color photos and wonderful, rare stories about lighthouses and ships during Florida's Civil War. I was very impressed with it, and hope you will be as well.

Kathy

September 5, 2007

Shrimping in the St. Johns

Posted by: Brendan Burke in LAMPosts

shrimp%20in%20bucket.bmp

Shrimping on the St. Johns River is something that folks have enjoyed for generations. Last night I was able to join in the fun and thought I'd share the experience.

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