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

October 2009 Archives

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October 30, 2009

Maritime Research and the Oldest Port

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

Someone told me this week that Gloucester, MA was America's Oldest Seaport. Good for them, congratulations.

St. Augustine, FL is the "Nation's Oldest Port" and those things are quite different. What we mean when we say Nation's Oldest Port is that we are the oldest continually occupied European (A Port is a European concept) economic and defensive sea-hub in the Continental US, or put another way in any of the 50 states in the United States today. We date from 1565. And we remain linked to the sea. Puerto Rico, a US territory, has an even older, continually-occupied town and port. But no where in any of the 50 states that make up our nation, is there a continually occupied port city older than St. Augustine.

We see maritime history as about the "America's" and transatlantic ocean voyages and about Atlantic World history, and not simply about one Nation's history, but we recognize that our particular port's significance lies in the fact that we are the oldest port in what is now considered one of the 50 official states in our Nation.

We are not claiming to be the first landing site for European's, or to be the first port in the 13 original American Colonies, though by the time St. Augustine was the Capital of East Florida, a British Colony during the American Revolution (Perhaps the 14 or 15th in the New World) the Spanish had been here for hundreds of years. We have documents dating the King of Spain mentioning a port here in St. Augustine as early as the 17th century. So does that small city in MA. But again, by that time we had already been here, and had an aid to navigation, a Spanish watchtower that later became a lighthouse, for the better part of a century.

We also want to congratulation the City of St. Augustine on it's First American Birthday Celebration, set to culminate in 2015. We believe and celebrate the fact that Europeans did not discover America, only explored it and settled it. Native peoples were already here, and the first American's in Florida that lived a life "of the sea" certainly deserve to be heralded. We believe the City's chosen name does that beautifully, while still contributing to the public's understanding of the way Spain contributed to the multi-cultural history of what we call the United States of America.

We are pleased to see the City pick up and run with the "nation's oldest port" concept, but we caution that we are not "America's oldest seaport" those things are quite different. The America's have many older ports, and the original American English colonies have a unique place in all our hearts. No, we are more accurately our nation's oldest port, and our nation is a place that celebrates a rich multi-cultural history, a theme first studied by our Nation's Oldest Port Heritage Area group in preparation for a hoped for designation by congress so that our community can control and cooperate on stewardship of a host of cultural and natural resources.

That point brings me to the study of a little known group, the black mariners who came to St. Augustine and Ft. Mose in small boats as runaway slaves. Later African American mariners gathered oysters in the Victorian era and held beach oyster roasts for Visitors from Henry Flagler's grand hotels. A small African American girl was killed here at St. Augustine Lighthouse during the construction of our 1876 tower, and yet the history of these people that built our maritime infrastructure is little understood. We hope to tell that tale in cooperation with Freedom Road, who are also working on the City's Birthday Celebration.

According to Dr. Sam Turner of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, writing in a report on the Dredging of Salt Run for the Army Corp on Engineers, Florida itself was discovered and founded in part due to Slavery in the Bahamas. After Columbus's famous voyages, Spain sailed from Island to Island looking for natives to become slaves. A hurricane blew one of these vessels off course and a "vast undiscovered land was seen" that in turn, led to the officially sanctioned voyage of Juan Ponce De Leon in 1513, and La Florida was born.

What do you think about these distinctions and ideas? Do they matter? Why? What does maritime history tell us about ourselves?


October 29, 2009

10/29/09 Presentation: Search for the Submarine USS O-9


Presentation Title: The Search for the Submarine USS O-9
Speaker: Dr. David Switzer, Plymouth State University
When: Thursday, October 29, 2009, at 7:00 pm
Where: Anastasia Gallery (upstairs Keeper's House), St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Come join LAMP research associate Dr. David Switzer as he shares the story of a NOAA expedition in search of a lost submarine and answers to an unsolved U.S. Navy mystery! The United States submarine USS O-9 was launched at Quincy, Massachusetts in 1918 to serve in World War I. She never saw war service but conducted cruises off the Canal Zone in the 1920s. She was decommissioned in 1931 and ten years later as the clouds of war were darkening Europe she was recommissioned. Her new life was to serve as a "training boat" out of New London, Connecticut. But first it was necessary that the USS O-9 and others of the class take a deep submergence test.

Continue reading "10/29/09 Presentation: Search for the Submarine USS O-9" »

October 28, 2009

Job Announcement: Archaeological Conservator

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Job Opportunities, LAMPosts

UPDATE: This position has been filled. Thank you, all of the talented individuals who expressed interest in joining our program.

The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program is seeking a qualified person to fill the job of Archaeological Conservator. This is a full-time position with benefits. This individual will oversee LAMP's conservation laboratory spaces and be responsible for processing and treating archaeological objects recovered from research excavations.

The full job description is listed below.

Continue reading "Job Announcement: Archaeological Conservator" »

LAMP Passes Coast Guard Inspection

Posted by: Brendan Burke in LAMP Boatworks, LAMPosts

The Chaisson Dory Tender, our most recent build.

LAMP boatworks has joined the ranks of American professional boatbuilders by passing its first Coast Guard builder's inspection. Marc Redshaw, of the U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boat Testing & Factory Compliance Program, stopped by for a surprise inspection yesterday afternoon. Sam Turner, head of the boatworks, gave Mr. Redshaw a tour of the facility and presented the Chaisson Dory Tender, our most recently completed project.

Last spring we received a Manufacturer's Identification Code from the Coast Guard and our prefix is 'LMP', which will go on every boat built here. While we have been operating under this certification, having passed the first inspection is a nice landmark for the program. Congratulations to everyone who has made this a success!

If you would like to help support the program, hull #LMP0003 can be yours. We are currently selling the Chaisson Dory Tender, with handmade ash oars, for $3,500. Stop by and see it at the Lighthouse Visitor's Center.

October 27, 2009

Lighthouse and the Coast Guard Partner to Clean Sweep.

Posted by: Brendan Burke in Events, LAMPosts


The LAMP corral is much improved thanks to...the US Coast Guard?! No, we weren't issued a citation for being hazardous to navigation but it certainly looks like there are preparations for an inspection. Over a couple weekends, we have been working with a solid bunch of guys who are in the process of becoming the Coast Guard's newest addition to the Goat Locker.

Continue reading "Lighthouse and the Coast Guard Partner to Clean Sweep." »

10/27/09 Presentation: "Fast Food Changes: St. Augustine and its Harvest of the Sea"

Posted by: Brendan Burke in LAMP Events, LAMPosts


Presentation Title: "Fast Food Changes: St. Augustine and its Harvest of the Sea"
Speaker: Mr. Brendan Burke, LAMP
When: Tuesday, October 27th, 2009, at 6:30 pm
Where: First Coast Technical College, Building C

The Slow Food First Coast group seeks to "reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We seek to inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat." Brendan will be presenting a lecture to the Slow Food Group on St. Augustine's role in affecting the culinary habits of US consumers throughout the 20th century. By producing thousands of shrimp boats to help create one of the largest fishing fleets in the world St. Augustine left its mark in how Americans eat and view seafood. Subsequently, the importation of farmed shrimp led to a decline in domestic shrimping, severely cutting the size of the US shrimping fleet and lengthening the distance between our seafood and our plate.

October 26, 2009

Judyth Piazza chats with Brendan Burke

Posted by: Brendan Burke in In the News, LAMP Events, LAMPosts, Public Relations

The replica Nina after arrival to St. Augustine.

Remember the arrival of the Nina and Pinta here in St. Augustine on May 9th? Judyth Piazza and her radio show The American Perspective on the Student Operated Press (theSOP.com) interviewed LAMP's Brendan Burke that day and the interview has recently posted. Click the link below to follow to theSOP.com's website and listen!


October 23, 2009

10/23/09 Shipwreck Recording Workshop and Archaeology Club Social

Program Title: "Shipwreck Timber Recording Workshop," followed by a BBQ social for the Flagler College Archaeology Club
Workshop Taught by: Chuck Meide, LAMP Director, and other LAMP staff
When: Workshop is on Friday, October 23rd, 2009, at 1:00 to 4:00pm, followed by the BBQ social immediately afterwards at 4:00 pm
Where: LAMP Headquarters (old Coast Guard Barracks) at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
Who's Invited: This activity is open to members of the Flagler College Archaeology Club

Continue reading "10/23/09 Shipwreck Recording Workshop and Archaeology Club Social" »

October 15, 2009

City Archaeologist digs 16th century site in the Plaza

Posted by: Chuck Meide in In the News, LAMPosts

Congratulations to our friend and colleague Carl Halbirt, the City Archaeologist of St. Augustine, for a successful dig in the Plaza!

October 13, 2009

10/13/09 Presentation: "The Galveztown Replica Project"


Presentation Title: "The Galveztown Replica Project"
Speaker: Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP
When: Tuesday, October 13th, 2009, at 7:00 pm
Where: Bowden Building located at 120 Church St., Pensacola, Florida
Sponsored by: Pensacola Archaeological Society

Continue reading "10/13/09 Presentation: "The Galveztown Replica Project"" »

October 9, 2009

10/09/2009 Special Program: Florida Sea Grant Adult Daycamp


Event: Special Tour of LAMP and the Lighthouse for Florida Sea Grant Adult Daycamp
When: Friday, October 9th, 2009, at 9:30 to 4:00 pm
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
Who's Invited: This private event is open to participants in the Florida Sea Grant Adult Daycamp program

This was a great group and everyone seemed to find their visit enjoyable and educational. The participants got a personalized tour of LAMP's facilities, a tasty home-made box lunch from the Keeper's Cafe, a ride on our research vessel, and an opportunity to explore the museum and Lighthouse. They even got a chance to get their hands dirty and helped us sort through archaeological material recovered by dredges on our shipwreck site this summer. Thanks everyone!

October 7, 2009

10/07/09 Home School Days Program: "Shipwreck Discovery"

Home School Days Presentation Title: "Shipwreck Discovery"
Speaker: Education Department and LAMP staff
When: Wednesday, October 7th, 2009, at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
Who's Invited: This activity, which addresses Sunshine Standards and is appropriate for ages 2-17, is part of our Home School Days program. If you are a home schooler and are interested in participating in this or other home school programs at the Lighthouse, please call Director of Education Chris Kastle at 904-829-0745.

Wednesday's Home School program will consist of three individual activities at pre-arranged stations. Station Two will consist of "Basics of Underwater Archeology," in which LAMP archaeologists will demonstrate the use of a variety of equipment used by underwater archeologists, discuss what it is exactly that underwater archeologists do, and will also talk about current LAMP projects. Click here to learn more about the October 7th Home School Days Shipwreck Discovery Program, including a brief discussion of all three stations.

October 3, 2009

Radio show highlights Lighthouse & LAMP!


Back on July 25, Kathy Fleming (Executive Director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum) and myself woke up pretty early on a Saturday to join Matt Jeffs, a local radio celebrity on 1240 AM WFOY whose morning show Airborne with Matt Jeffs is really fun to listen to. He has all kinds of interesting speakers from the St. Augustine region, and at least once a month he has on a local archaeologist. Apparently Kathy and I have faces that were built for radio, because not only is this broadcast out on the airwaves, but via a webcam it is broadcast on the internet. We talked about all of the great programs at the Lighthouse and gave an update on the shipwreck LAMP was excavating over the summer months, complete with a bucket full of wet artifacts . . . you can watch the whole thing below!

Continue reading "Radio show highlights Lighthouse & LAMP!" »

October 2, 2009

10/02/09 LAMP hosts the Archaeological Institute of America

Event: Special Tour of LAMP and the Lighthouse for AIA Board of Trustees
When: Friday, October 2nd, 2009, at 2:30 to 6:00 pm
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
Who's Invited: This private event is open to the Board of Trustees of the Archaeological Institute of America

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is North America's oldest and largest organization devoted to the world of archaeology. The nonprofit Institute was founded in 1879 and chartered by the United States Congress in 1906. Today, the AIA has nearly 200,000 members belonging to more than 100 societies in the United States, Canada, and overseas. The organization is unique because it counts among its members professional archaeologists, students, and many others from all walks of life. The AIA exists to promote archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past worldwide, and its diverse membership shares a passion for archaeology and its role in furthering human knowledge. The AIA publishes the scholarly American Journal of Archaeology as well as the popular Archaeology Magazine, and they sponsor the popular Maya at the Playa Conference going on right now just south of St. Augustine in Palm Coast.

LAMP and the Lighthouse are honored to have this opportunity to host the Trustees of this exemplary organization and to share with them all of the work that we do to research and preserve the archaeological heritage of northeast Florida.