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

February 2012 Archives

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February 27, 2012

Weighing Anchor for the Capitol

Sitting at my desk about a week or so before Thanksgiving, I received a call from a gentleman who said he had a large anchor that had recently come from the sea. We get lots of calls and visits here at LAMP from folks who have found things on the beach and want to identify them, but few six-foot anchors. He said he had a picture and some information about the anchor and wanted to share it with us. I met with Richard, who told me a story....

Continue reading "Weighing Anchor for the Capitol" »

February 24, 2012

LAMP Documentary "Search for the Jefferson Davis" to be Featured at the Amelia Island Film Festival this Saturday, February 24th, 2012

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


We were excited to hear that our documentary, "The Search for the Jefferson Davis," had been selected as a featured film at the 4th annual Amelia Island Film Festival held this week. We have blogged many times before about this exciting and historically significant shipwreck, which has such a rich and dynamic history and continues to elude archaeologists.

The film will be showed at 1:00 pm on Saturday, February 25, at the Anchor in Fernandina Beach. The Anchor is located at Centre St. and N 6th St., Fernandina Beach, FL, 32035.

Click on the video below to watch the trailer!

February 21, 2012

LAMP Reacts to Odyssey Treasure Hunting Ruling (UPDATED)

Posted by: Chuck Meide in In the News, LAMPosts

Check out the First Coast News Report by Clicking the Video Above. The embedded video has been giving us problems, so if you cannot see it above click here to go directly to the First Coast News story and video

[UPDATED: As of Thursday, February 23, 2012, Spain has taken custody of the coins and other artifacts salvaged from the Spanish warship Mercedes wreck site from treasure hunting firm Odyssey in Tampa, Florida. Click here for English translation. Click here for Original Story in Spanish.]

[UPDATED: On Friday, February 24, at 12:30, the planes departed the U.S. with the coins and other artifacts on board, bound for their original 1804 destination, Spain. Click here for the story.]

Yesterday we received a call from Jessica Clark, First Coast News TV reporter, asking us how we felt about the recent court ruling regarding the treasure hunting company, Odyssey Marine, who had salvaged some 17 tons of silver coins from the 1804 wreck of the Spanish frigate Nuestra SeƱora de las Mercedes. This was a controversial action, as Odyssey is a commercial treasure hunting company who does not operate to internationally accepted archaeological standards. Spain had pressed in U.S. courts for the return of all recovered objects, insisting that as a Spanish military vessel a salvor had no legal right to take anything from the Mercedes without prior approval from the Spanish government, and a Federal Judge agreed with them. What's more, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Odyssey's appeal, so the ruling is final, and Spain's cultural property must be returned to them, where it will not be sold but will go on display in one or more museums. As I write this, Spain is preparing to send a fleet of military aircraft to Tampa to repatriate the coins.

Click on the above video embed to see the First Coast News story, or click here to read the written version and check out a slideshow of artifacts recovered from our ongoing excavation of the Storm Wreck.

Continue reading "LAMP Reacts to Odyssey Treasure Hunting Ruling (UPDATED)" »

The Apple Jack and the Caravel (and a Clarification)

Posted by: Chuck Meide in In the News, LAMP Boatworks, LAMPosts


The Apple Jack is one of the last wooden-hulled shrimp boats to have been built here in St. Augustine, by the famous DESCO shipyard. Until recently, Apple Jack could be seen out shrimping local waters, but circumstances have lead to the end of its shrimping career. Normally this would mean her equipment would be stripped and sold off, and her hull broken up. As a representative of the thriving shrimp trawler-building industry that was so important to St. Augustine during much of the 20th century, and one of the last working St. Augustine-built boats to ply St. Augustine waters, this is a historical vessel and one that is well worth preserving.

On 30 January the St. Augustine Record reported that a local group wanted to convert the hull of the Apple Jack into a replica of a 16th century caravel to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon's landing on the Florida coast (just a little to the north of us here in St. Augustine). It has been reported that a 20th century trawler hull is virtually identical to that of a 16th century caravel; nautical archaeologists specializing in 16th century Iberian ship construction would certainly disagree, given the evolution of the caravel form and rig in the 15th and 16th centuries and the ancestry of the St. Augustine trawler which can be traced to Greek boatbuilders emigrated to Florida in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That debate is academic, of course, and what may be true is that any effort to prevent the immediate destruction of the Apple Jack may provide a respite necessary to eventually restore her. Original equipment from the Apple Jack is already being removed and auctioned off, diluting her historical integrity, so the window of saving her is limited. Conversion of the Apple Jack into a modern interpretation of a caravel would entail some significant structural changes, further diluting her original historical integrity, but the group spearheading this effort hopes to eventually convert the hull back and fully restore the historic shrimp boat after the 500th anniversary celebration. A more recent story, in the 20 February edition of the Record, has followed up on this project, and stated that plans are for the fully restored Apple Jack to "be on display at the St. Augustine Lighthouse."

This was an inaccurate statement. It is not that we are not interested in seeing the Apple Jack fully restored and on display to the public, but this kind of commitment is a serious undertaking that requires significant resources to do properly, and we can't responsibly agree to such a commitment without ensuring we are able to follow through.

Below the fold is a statement from our Executive Director, recently sent to the St. Augustine Record, to clarify our position on the proposed restoration of the Apple Jack, and its proposed temporary conversion to a caravel.

Continue reading "The Apple Jack and the Caravel (and a Clarification)" »

February 13, 2012

LAMP Mourns the Passing of a Friend

Posted by: Brendan Burke in In the News, LAMPosts

Dr. David C. Switzer, 1934-2012

Dr. David Switzer, professor emeritus at Plymouth State University, passed away this past weekend at his home in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Dr. Switzer was, and will always be, a true friend of each one of us here at LAMP. His warm smile and energy made his students and peers feel at ease during field work, lab work, or in the classroom. At the same time, he was constantly teaching, handing down knowledge in the manner of a true scholar. From his native Maine to the Falkland Islands, and even the Mediterranean, Dr. Switzer led expeditions that trained generations of today's maritime archaeologists. He was a research associate/instructor here at LAMP but moreover a good friend and fellow scholar.

Continue reading "LAMP Mourns the Passing of a Friend" »

February 3, 2012

Get behind the scenes...

Jacksonville.com published a nice piece about our behind the scenes tours here at the Museum. If you haven't take one of the tours, they are well worth it. See how the museum works, how we are learning about our past from artifacts buried in the seafloor, and learn about the many things which go on behind the veil to keep our history alive and exciting. Even if you have visited the lighthouse before, or recently, come back for this experience. Visit our webpage too, for more information on how to get involved, for more on our other tours and opportunities, and learn how to contribute to our museum. Read on for more information!

CLICK HERE for the link.

Many thanks to Dan Scanlan for this nice article!