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

October 2008 Archives

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October 29, 2008

10/29/08 Lecture: Amphoras: Silent Observers of Ancient Maritime History

Lecture Title: Amphoras: Silent Observers of Ancient Maritime History
Speaker: Dr. David Switzer, Plymouth State University
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, Keeper's House Gallry
When: Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 7:00 pm
RSVP: Please contact Sara Hansen by email or phone at 904-829-0745
Download flier promoting this event

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October 24, 2008

Mystery Shipwreck Identified

The Fortuna II, a 65' long shrimp boat owned by the Versaggi family, came to grief on this stretch of Ponte Vedra Beach during a fierce north wind and "mountainous seas" in 1938. LAMP archaeologists recently discovered the remains of a shipwreck here, and our working hypothesis is that probably the wreckage is all that is left of this 38-ton shrimping vessel.

Many of you saw that LAMP was in the news two weeks ago for our most recent shipwreck discovery. At the time we thought the wreck could date to as early as the 1800s, though as is often the case more investigation was needed in order to gain some more clues and firm up the wreck's identity. In this case, further investigation did the trick, but in the library, not in the surf.

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October 23, 2008

Help Preserve Florida's Working Waterfronts: Vote YES on Amendment 6

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts

Help Preserve Florida's Working Waterfronts

While we here at LAMP and the Lighthouse do not often advocate political issues, sometimes there are items on the ballot that are particularly important for historic preservation or maritime heritage. We feel that the non-partisan Amendment 6 on the ballot this November is important towards saving traditional working waterfronts that have been such an important part of Florida's maritime heritage from its earliest history, and we urge everyone to vote YES on Amendment 6.

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October 20, 2008

ACTION ALERT!!! The Treasure Hunters are Coming!

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts


Tomorrow (Tuesday 21 October, 12 - 4 pm) there is a public meeting at the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve regarding proposed rule changes in the state's policy towards treasure hunting. We encourage everyone who cares about Florida history and archaeology to attend the meeting, and/or visit a public comment webpage the state has established in conjunction with their proposed new 1A-31 regulations for treasure hunting. These rules mandate an unprecedented new level of archaeological oversight for treasure salvage operations. While these rules are a step in the right direction, in our opinion they do not go far enough. We'd like to send the message to Tallahassee loud and clear that treasure hunting is detrimental to our state's great archaeological heritage and that it should be banned outright. We have received word that as many as 100 treasure salvors are planning to attend, so their voice will be strong, but hopefully some of us in the archaeological community will show up to share our opinion that commercial treasure salvage has been and will continue to be a bad policy for historical resources that belong to all of us.

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October 17, 2008

Wind and Lighthouse Keeping

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

A couple of months ago we had some serious winds blowing here at the lighthouse from the west. We have a door stop at the top of the tower that keeps the heavy cast-iron door from banging into the lantern wall.

wind effects

Our site interpreter Bob was on the gallery deck when the winds arose. He restricted access to the deck to ensure guest safety until he had taken some wind readings and determined that he needed to close the door. The winds had quickly increased into the 40's with a gust close to 50 mph. He lost his grip before getting the heavy door shut, and this is what the door did to the door stop from the force of that wind.

wind effects

Here at the lighthouse we monitor weather conditions very closely, and make frequent checks of wind speeds when we feel they are increasing in strength. We close the deck to all visitors when wind speeds go above 40 miles per hour (30 mph for children under 12), and also if there are storms in the area. A few guests don't understand sometimes why we do that, and this is a good example why. It is good to appreciate the power of mother nature. Safety is our highest priority here at the lighthouse, and Bob did an excellent job that day, following in the best traditions of Lighthouse Keepers of old.

10/17-18/08 Florida Maritime Heritage Association Meeting

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Events, LAMP Events, LAMPosts


UPDATED with new information, please see schedule below . . .

The second annual meeting of the Florida Maritime Heritage Association will be held in America's Oldest Port at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, sponsored by the Museum and its research institution, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), on October 17-18, 2008. Anyone associated with a Florida maritime museum, university anthropology/history department or maritime studies program, consulting company, preservation group, government agency, or any other maritime heritage organization is welcome to attend. This blog posting will serve as the official online source of information about the upcoming conference.

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October 16, 2008

Bent at the Lighthouse

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner in LAMP Boatworks, LAMPosts


Boat builders- job well done!

LAMP Boatworks has just finished framing the Chaisson Tender, a small rowing gig that has been under construction for some months at the Lighthouse. It’s an important milestone in the building of this particular craft and one for LAMP Boatworks as well. Frames and half-frames, also known as ribs, are important structural members of any boat. In this case half-frames were used and were steam bent, a technological innovation that gives boat builders a leg up in savings of time and materials. Steam bending is an important skill to master and apply and so doing places LAMP Boatworks further down the road toward a first class boatworks.

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October 15, 2008

The Passing of an Old Friend

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts


On Monday night my wife Amy and I had to say goodbye to Noaa, the best friend and most faithful companion that anyone could ever ask for. Noaa had been a part of my life for almost fifteen years, and as an archaeologist's dog he often had to live temporarily at a friend's home while I was away in the field--always knowing I would return whether it was a week or a month--while many times he was able to accompany me, so that he was a waterdog familiar on board research vessels, at marine laboratories, in rivers, springs, and of course the sea. Our adventures took him places that no dog before him had been. Most notably, as the official mascot of the La Salle Shipwreck Project in Texas, he was the only dog in history to have walked on the seafloor fully seven miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

He will be sorely missed, not only by my family but by many archaeologists across the U.S. and abroad, and I wanted to take this chance to share a few memories and photos of this extraordinary friend.

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October 9, 2008

Day 9

Posted by: Beau Phillips in Barely Legible, Lantern Preservation Project

Today we began to pressure wash the underside of the observation deck.

Pressure Washing Underneath the Overservation Deck

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October 8, 2008

Newly Discovered Shipwreck gets LAMP in the News

LAMP recently confirmed the discovery of a shipwreck on the coast of Ponte Vedra Beach, north of St. Augustine. A local surfer, also a Fish and Wildlife Officer who we have gotten to know from our time spent on the water, came across an unknown object in the surf. After having talked to LAMP archaeologists about the importance of protecting shipwrecks in state waters, he thought this just might be a wreck--and after a recent visit we confirmed it!

When we visited the wreck again today, Jessica Clark of Jacksonville's Channel 12 First Coast News came out to do a great story. In this heavy surf, its a terrible challenge to locate and inspect the exposed sections of wreckage, as you can see in the video (check out the scene where Sam is totally wiped out by a wave!) All in all, a great day of scientific inquiry, and a great day on the beach!


October 6, 2008

Very cool video on underwater cultural heritage!


A week or so ago, former LAMP archaeologist and current St. Johns County Archaeologist Robin Moore sent me a link to this very cool video. Its a wonderful overview of what we mean by underwater cultural heritage, and why it is important to save this heritage so it can be enjoyed and understood by future generations. It also has some really fantastic computer-generated scenes--such as the dramatic sinking of a large colonial-period sailing ship! This mini-documentary is sponsored by the United Nations' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which among other responsibilities is charged with safeguarding underwater cultural heritage.

Its almost 12 minutes long, but definitely worth a look. Check it out! (click here or on the image above to link to the video page).

October 3, 2008

I Love LAMP!

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Flights of Fancy, LAMPosts

And now for something completely different . . . it seems that LAMP is beloved not only by those in St. Augustine and the First Coast, but by such notables as Steve Carell and Will Ferrell . . .


October 1, 2008

Just Another Day...

Posted by: Beau Phillips in Barely Legible, Lantern Preservation Project

Someone wise just told me, "the work of preservation is never done," and so we continue to work. On the list for today, and about four more months worth of tommorrows, is the Lantern Preservation Project, a wildly creative title I know -- especially since I just came up with it -- but an accurate one at least.

Yesterday metal workers began to cut a piece of the "upper gallery" from the top of the Lighthouse. If your worried don't be, the "upper gallery" is the area above where visitors walk. They are removing a deck plate so they can create a mold and cast new deck plates. The new plates will replace the ones that have been damaged by more than a hundred years of wind and rain.

Cutting Deck Plates

Workers cut deck plate - taken from inside the lens room

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