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

August 2012 Archives

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August 27, 2012

CrabTrap Roundup a Grand Success!

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Events, In the News, LAMPosts

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum staffmember August Ellis freeing fish and other marine critters rescued from a derelict crabtrap on Saturday's Roundup and Waterway Cleanup.

The 2012 CrabTrap Roundup and Waterway Cleanup was a great success on Saturday. This event was sponsored and organized by LAMP and the Lighthouse, along with the Tower Club, our new support group made up of young professionals.

From the St. Augustine Record:

Dozens of volunteers searched the Tolomato, Matanzas and San Sebastian rivers as well as other areas and brought their finds back to one of three boat ramps that served as collection sites.

By the end of the day, around 60 volunteers had removed 30 traps and an estimated 1,500 pounds of trash from local waterways, said Brendan Burke, an archaeologist with the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, which co-hosted the event. Around a dozen of those traps came from the San Sebastian River.

Lost or abandoned crab traps continue to trap wildlife as long as they are in the water and can cause many fish and other creatures to die, officials said. The traps also clutter the water and can be a hazard for boaters and people.

Fishermen can lose crab traps during storms and other events, Burke said.

“Every derelict crab trap that we removed, we’re saving hundreds if not thousands of marine animals that would have perished inside them,” he said.

Way to go, Brendan and August, for taking the lead in organizing this event, and way to go to the many volunteers from our community who participated in this great waterway cleanup!

August 25, 2012

2012 Crab Trap Roundup & Waterway Cleanup!

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


As a sentinel of our waterways the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is proud to announce the 2012 Crab Trap Roundup and Waterway Cleanup! This event, hosted by the Tower Club, a support organization of the Lighthouse, will leave our waterways cleaner, happier, and healthier. See the poster for details and we hope to see you out there on the waters this Saturday! Don't forget too, that there is an informational Captain's Meeting at Conch House Marina on Friday evening from 6:00-8:00pm.

Many thanks to our sponsors, especially the Florida Inland Navigation District, the St. Augustine Port, Waterway, and Beach District, and Conch House Marina & Resort!!

The waterways are divided into three zones with a boat ramp designated for trash collection at each ramp. The northern zone's ramp is the Usina Boat Ramp, the central zone's ramp is the Lighthouse Boat Ramp, and the southern zone's ramp is the Butler Boat Ramp. Click on the maps below the fold to see each zone.

Continue reading "2012 Crab Trap Roundup & Waterway Cleanup!" »

August 21, 2012

Weather Channel Broadcasts Live from the Lighthouse

Posted by: Chuck Meide in In the News, LAMPosts

On Friday, the Weather Channel came to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum to stage a series of interviews for live broadcast, to celebrate National Lighthouse Day.

From the St. Augustine Record:

The nation’s oldest city got a big dose of national attention Friday morning when The Weather Channel came to town to broadcast live from the St. Augustine Lighthouse, mixing meteorology, maritime history, archaeology and even a bit of ghostly lore.

From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., The Weather Channel meteorologists Mike Bettes and Maria LaRosa hosted a special edition of the morning show, Your Weather Today, from the courtyard in front of the lighthouse. The episode, entitled “The American Lighthouse,” celebrated lighthouses around the country, but the star of the show was clearly St. Augustine’s familiar black and white striped lighthouse, which was erected in 1874.

Click here to see the broadcast from the Lighthouse, with an interview with a Coast Guard officer about Lighthouse operations and the Coast Guard.

Continue reading "Weather Channel Broadcasts Live from the Lighthouse" »

August 16, 2012

Iron Cauldrons

The smallest cauldron from the Storm Wreck was recently cleaned of concretion using a pneumatic scribe.

The first recognizable object that archaeologists found on the Storm Wreck, back during its dive of discovery in August 2009, was a large, iron cauldron. We raised it to the surface, so that it saw daylight again for the first time in over two centuries, on July 14, 2010. During that same summer we found three more cast iron cauldrons, and the following two years of excavation we've raised another two more. We could have easily named this shipwreck the "Cauldron Wreck."

Continue reading "Iron Cauldrons" »

August 14, 2012

Airscribing the Tea Kettle and Cauldron Continues

LAMP archaeologist Brian McNamara is carefully cleaning this cast-iron tea kettle of concretion using a delicate pneumatic tool. The kettle was recovered from the Storm Wreck, lost in the late 1700s offshore St. Augustine.

For the past week we've been making a big push to get more artifacts cleaned. Right now we have a good number of interns from universities across the country and as far away as Germany and Australia, and we have been seeking to maximize on their labor before most return to school in August and September. So we have been cleaning artifacts in shifts each day outside LAMP headquarters, which has the added benefit of providing a unique show for our visitors.

Continue reading "Airscribing the Tea Kettle and Cauldron Continues" »

August 13, 2012

8/27-31/2012 Artifact Conservation Workshop

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMP Events, LAMPosts



What Does a Student Learn in the Workshop?

This weeklong workshop is designed to introduce students to the fields of archaeological conservation (including maritime or waterlogged artifacts) and museum conservation. Each student will spend time in lectures and laboratory practicum to learn about and expand their skills with artifact analysis, treatment, and stabilization techniques. From setting up treatment systems to learning the process of recording treatment phases, students are directly involved in the learning process. At the end of the workshop students will have gained a working knowledge of treatment techniques and methods for a variety of common organic, ceramic, and metal artifacts. This workshop has value for students who are considering entering the conservation world as well as professionals or avocationals interested in gaining an understanding of post-excavation conservation. Lectures and processes are designed to apply to both professional audiences as well as continuing education for those with little or no previous background in the fields of chemistry, conservation, museum studies, or archaeology.

Continue reading "8/27-31/2012 Artifact Conservation Workshop" »

St. Augustine Lighthouse Among Nation's Prettiest

Posted by: Chuck Meide in From the Lens Room, In the News, LAMPosts


The Huffington Post website compiled a slideshow of the prettiest lighthouses in America, in honor of National Lighthouse Day last Tuesday. Several pictures of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum were listed, some ranked as high as number 8 best lighthouse photo by viewers. Go check them out!

National Lighthouse Day remembers a Congressional act that established support of lighthouses, buoys, beacons and public piers in 1789.

August 9, 2012

Cleaning Shipwreck Artifacts at the Lighthouse

LAMP intern Annie Carter (left) and LAMP volunteer Julie Powell (right) use airscribes to carefully clean two cast iron cauldrons of two centuries of encrustation. Visitors to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum can see this activity for the remainder of August.

Today visitors to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum were treated to a rare opportunity: the chance to see archaeological conservators cleaning artifacts recovered from a late 18th century shipwreck. We have been making a big push in recent weeks to physically clean some of the many concretions, or heavily encrusted artifacts, that we have discovered from the Storm Wreck, which dates to the late 1700s.

Continue reading "Cleaning Shipwreck Artifacts at the Lighthouse" »

History Out of Shifting Sands . . .

LAMP divers raised not one but three muskets from the late 1700s Storm Wreck during the 2012 field season.

What a great article came out of the Jacksonville newspaper, the Florida Times Union, last Saturday. I missed it as I was on vacation, but heard all about it when I came back into the office this week and it is online.

From the Times Union:

In 2009, members of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program were aboard their research vessel, the Desmond Valdes, doing a remote sensor survey. They got a noticeable magnetic return.

Divers who investivated found a large cast-iron cooking cauldron and other artifacts, and registered the site under the name Storm Wreck.

The students, interns and volunteers of the program’s field school excavated the immediate area in the summer of 2010. That November, LAMP Director Chuck Meide went out to retrieve equipment left behind.

But the sands had shifted.

In addition to the mooring anchors and lines he was expecting, Meide found a cluster of cannons and a bronze ship’s bell — only 10 or 15 feet north of the original site.

A discovery like this is the reason LAMP exists. It was founded as the
archaeological branch of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. When the lighthouse museum became affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution in 2010, it was time for a name change.

“We decided to re-brand ourselves,” said Kathy Fleming, the group’s executive director.

The First Light Maritime Society was born.

Continue reading "History Out of Shifting Sands . . ." »

August 8, 2012

St. Augustine Lighthouse Listed Among Nation's Top Lighthouses


The Weather Channel just released their list of the top eleven lighthouses in the country as their celebration of our nation's lighthouses for National Lighthouse Day, August 7th. The top choices were chosen by the Weather Channel's Facebook fans, and after tallying hundreds of votes the St. Augustine Lighthouse was listed in the top eleven in the country! Congratulations to the staff of the Lighthouse and LAMP for their part in making our Lighthouse such a great place to visit!

Article on LAMP's 2012 Field School in the Beaches Leader

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Field School, In the News, LAMPosts


A great story on our 2012 Field School ran in the Beaches Leader, a local paper for the Jacksonville Beaches, back on July 24 (in case you are wondering why all of these blog postings are suddenly appearing, our field season has come to a close so we are catching up with all the news we couldn't report while out diving on the boat!)

From the Beaches Leader:

LAMP’s annual summer field school brought 17 college students from across the country to learn archaeology by working on the late 18th century “Storm Wreck.” During the month of June, LAMP continued excavations on this wreck in an attempt to better understand the nature and extent of the shipwreck site, and the date, nationality, and function of the vessel it represents. Archaeology staff and students primarily worked from the research vessel Roper, a former shrimp trawler which is on loan to LAMP from the Institute of Maritime History in the Chesapeake region. This month, LAMP will continue field work but will focus on testing magnetic targets identified through previous years’ survey, in hopes of discovering one or more new shipwreck sites in the vicinity of the historic inlet.

Students were instructed in scientific diving procedures, archaeological recording and excavation, the use of hydraulic probes and induction dredges, marine remote sensing survey and analysis (magnetometer & side scan sonar), artifact collection and documentation and basic conservation laboratory methodology. The field school also hosted an evening lecture series with field school instructors and visiting professionals from various public, private and academic institutions throughout Florida.

A field school is an irreplaceable component in the education of any student pursuing a career in archaeology. Each June, LAMP oversees an intense four-week, accredited educational program, allowing both undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to participate in a marine survey and underwater excavation of a historic shipwreck site. In addition to methodological training and academic lectures, students get valuable real-world experience in all aspects of archaeological fieldwork, scientific diving and seamanship and laboratory analysis. LAMP has partnered with a variety of universities, including Flinders University, Florida State University, Syracuse University and Plymouth State University, to organize and implement this four-credit course.

Button May Prove to Be Important Clue to the Identity of the Storm Wreck (UPDATED)

Posted by: Chuck Meide in In the News, LAMPosts

This button, with its distinctive crown and the letters "RP," was from the uniform of a British Army regiment made up of American colonists loyal to the British crown. A button recently discovered from the Storm Wreck, with a similar crown, could help identify the shipwreck.

I often tell tour groups here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum that many of our discoveries are not made on the seafloor, but in the laboratory. Nothing exemplifies this statement more than a tiny little button that was recently found by one of our volunteers while cleaning away the concretion from the ship's bell. It is a small find, but one which might possibly lead to a positive identity for this shipwreck, and one which is already leading to a better understanding of this mystery ship's date, nationality, and function.

The story of the button broke in a St. Augustine Record front page story on 23 July. We actually discovered the button a week or two earlier.

Continue reading "Button May Prove to Be Important Clue to the Identity of the Storm Wreck (UPDATED)" »

Lighthouse's "French Connection" and the State French Heritage Trail

Posted by: Chuck Meide in From the Lens Room, LAMPosts


The St. Augustine Lighthouse's First Order Fresnel Lens is included in the French Heritage Trail published by the State of Florida.

The Lighthouse lens was hand blown in Paris in 1874, specifically for use in St. Augustine, so our Spanish City has a French night light. According to the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee archives, there are only 16 such original, first-order, Fresnel lenses in light towers as working aids to navigation in the United States. The publication of the State French Heritage Trail was announced at the Florida Historical Commission Board meeting on-line on July 14, 2010.

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