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


A blog by Chuck Meide, Director of LAMP and Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP Director of Archaeology.

July 31, 2014

Search for the French Fleet in the News!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The cover of FYI, a supplement to Jacksonville's newspaper, the Florida Times-Union, announcing the search for the lost French Fleet!

We've recently had some more news stories out on our ongoing search for the lost French fleet of Jean Ribault. Shortly after our first week of survey we were interviewed by Jessica Clark of First Coast News. You can see the video here, its a really great newstory!

Continue reading "Search for the French Fleet in the News!" »

Hoisting the French Flag during the Search for Ribault's Fleet

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Fort Caroline National Monument Ranger Craig Morris and LAMP archaeologist/Flinders graduate student Brian McNamara pose with the French fleur-de-lys flag. It flew over Fort Caroline National Monument and will soon fly over the Roper as we search for the lost French Fleet of 1565.

Guest blogged by LAMP archaeologist Brian McNamara:

My spur of the moment decision to stop by the Fort Caroline National Memorial for a research visit on the way home from the airport could not have been better timed. I walked in one hour after a press conference formally announced they are fairly confident that the real location of the fort has been identified in Jacksonville. I must have looked conspicuous taking a million reference photographs in my LAMP tee shirt (and being the only visitor on site the whole three hours I was there). Ranger Craig Morris and Lynda Corley walked over and we had a long conversation about the new discovery of the fort and LAMP's ongoing search for Ribault's lost ships off of Canaveral. How fortuitous would it be to discover the wreck of Trinité within a couple weeks of the finding of the settlement that started the whole story?

The National Park Service staff at Fort Caroline National Memorial are very excited to see what comes of the search, and have honored us by presenting LAMP with Fort Caroline's flag, to be flown at Roper's masthead when we resume our work in the field.

July 30, 2014

Fort Caroline Discovered?

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Fort Caroline was built by the French in 1564 on the banks of the River of May, the present-day St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida. Its exact location has never been found.

One of our archaeologists, Brian McNamara, visited Fort Caroline yesterday. He was one of the first to hear of a potential new discovery. State Representative Lake Ray and his son Lake Ray IV made the announcement yesterday that they believe they have identified the exact location of Fort Caroline, on the St. Johns River in the Timucuan Preserve, a National Park Service property that also includes the Fort Caroline National Monument.

From the Florida Times-Union:

The nearly 450-year-old site of North America’s first French colony is on a small island between Mayport and Buck Island, state Rep. Lake Ray said Tuesday. . . .

Ray said he’s confident the Jacksonville site is the real location of Fort Caroline. He asked that the location of the site not be disclosed to protect it from looters. The site is being protected by the Coast Guard and National Park Service, he said.

Finding the original site of Fort Caroline has been a hundreds-year-old mystery that Northeast Florida historians have long since tried to solve.

The French established the fort in 1564. Spanish soldiers from St. Augustine later attacked it and ultimately the French abandoned it.

Ray’s son, Lake Ray IV, has searched for the site of Fort Caroline since 2010.

Ray IV, who has a bachelor’s in history from the University of North Florida, brought his father in on the search about two months ago, and they used copies of maps they inherited from the state representative’s father.

Within those maps, they said, they found an original drawing of Fort Caroline, penned by a young man who sent the map back home to his father. They used geological survey maps from the early 1900s and found a small island that matched the map, Rep. Ray said.

He said moats that were known to have bordered the site are clearly visible on the land, and there’s an imprint of a triangular structure that was part of the fort and rectangular courtyard.

“If you get out on the island, there’s no doubt,” said Ray IV.

University of North Florida associate professor of anthropology Robert “Buzz” Thunen said researchers will need to find French and Spanish artifacts before the site can be verified.

No excavations have begun yet, but they may start within three weeks after researchers get the proper permits, Thunen said.

Barbara Goodman, National Park Service superintendent for the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and the Fort Caroline National Memorial, said archeologists will start by digging 10 or 12 test holes. From there, researchers will determine whether there’s enough cause to continue excavations.

“Its a felony for anyone who isn’t authorized to go digging around on the property,” she said. “As soon as we have some information to share, we’ll share it. Until we know what we have, we need to keep the site protected.”

She said research will start as soon as certain details, such as funding for the dig, can be settled


NPR and First Coast News also ran stories on the potential discovery.

They used aerial photographs to identify landforms that might correspond to the remains of the original fort and its moat. At this stage I would say their finds are preliminary in nature, and would need to be tested archaeologically before we could say with any confidence that they represent the actual site of the fort. They supposedly have artifacts from the site, which I have not seen (and which would be illegal to have removed from the site without a National Park Service permit), that when analyzed by archaeologists might also lend credit to their claim. Regardless, there is excitement in the air about Ribault, Fort Caroline, and the Lost French Fleet this year, the 450th anniversary of the French settlement!

July 10, 2014

LAMP to Search for the Lost French Fleet of 1565

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Today was an exciting day. At 10am we hosted a press conference to announce to the world that we will be launching an expedition to search for the lost French fleet of Jean Ribault, wrecked in 1565. This project is funded by the State of Florida and NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration, and is being carried out in partnership with the National Park Service, the Center for Historical Archaeology, and the Institute of Maritime History.

The story has been making a big splash in the news. Two Jacksonville TV stations, First Coast News and News4Jax (Channel 4) broadcast stories, and it was carried by the Jacksonville and St. Augustine papers.

From the Florida Times-Union:

By Matt Soergel

ST. AUGUSTINE | A team of archaeologists unveiled plans Thursday for an oceangoing expedition to find the lost French fleet of Jean Ribault, which sank 449 years ago in a history-changing hurricane off Florida’s Atlantic coast. . . .

Finding the fleet would be momentous, said Chuck Meide, the expedition’s principal investigator.

“It is Florida’s origin story, so it is also the story of the birth of our nation,” he said at a press conference under the live oaks outside the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.

Meide, 43, a maritime archaeologist with the Lighthouse Archeological Maritime Program, will lead a crew of four on the search, which begins this month. They’ll spend up to six days at a time on a converted shrimp boat, using sonar to look above the seabed and a magnetometer to search for metal — cannons, cannonballs and other artifacts — under the sand.

Continue reading "LAMP to Search for the Lost French Fleet of 1565" »

Archaeologists to Search for Lost 1565 French Fleet of Jean Ribault

Posted by: Shannon


This July and August, archaeologists will search for a fleet of 16th century French ships that were lost in a hurricane, resulting in the establishment of a Spanish colony in St. Augustine, Fla. in 1565.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – Later this July, researchers from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will embark on a six-week search for the lost French fleet of Jean Ribault, which sank off the Florida coast in 1565. If discovered, these ships would arguably represent the most important shipwreck sites ever discovered in U.S. waters.

If these ships hadn’t gone down in a hurricane, the entire history of the First Coast, and that of our country, would be dramatically different,” said Chuck Meide, director of the museum’s Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program and the principal investigator on this expedition. “The loss of these ships and subsequent massacre of French survivors by Spanish forces is what led to the founding of St. Augustine by Spain 450 years ago.”

Under the direction of France’s King Charles IX, Ribault led a fleet of seven ships, including his 32-gun flagship, Trinité, to the New World in 1565. One thousand French colonists, sailors, and troops came with him to bolster the French colony at Fort Caroline, near the mouth of the St. Johns River. At the same time, Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived in Florida intent on destroying the French enterprise. In a preemptive strike to keep Menendez from establishing a colony in St. Augustine, Ribault sailed his four largest ships southwards, only to be struck by a hurricane which scattered and wrecked his fleet. With the loss of these ships, Fort Caroline was taken, Ribault and his men were put to the sword at Matanzas Inlet, and Spain established the first permanent settlement in the United States.

Though the French fleet has never been found, artifacts from survivor camps near the Canaveral National Seashore have given archaeologists an indication of where to search. This expedition will be the first geophysical survey ever conducted to search for these ships in the marine environment. If found these ships would be the oldest French vessels ever discovered in the United States, or anywhere else in the New World.

“This is a really exciting project for our museum and our state and federal partners,” said Kathy A. Fleming, executive director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. “We have done extensive research and exhibits on a number of area shipwrecks, but this one really tells the origin story of St. Augustine.”

This expedition is funded and supported by partnerships between the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the State of Florida, the Institute of Maritime History, and the Center for Historical Archaeology.

All partners involved in this historic project have leveraged their joint resources including expertise, equipment and funding to make the expedition possible. This project has been financed in part with historic preservation grant assistance provided by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission and a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (NOAA OER). The search has been tapped as one of NOAA OER’s signature expeditions for 2014.

The National Park Service’s Southeast Archaeological Center (SEAC) and Submerged Resources Center (SRC) are providing additional resources and support to the LAMP team and will be actively participating in the research. The search will be conducted from a research vessel provided by the Institute of Maritime History, and will use historical research undertaken in the French archives by the co-principal investigator on the expedition, Dr. John de Bry of the Center for Historical Archaeology in Melbourne, Fla.

To safeguard these archaeological sites, which are protected from molestation or looting by law, the specific locations of discovered shipwrecks and/or artifacts will not be disclosed via media or other means. Very few artifacts will be removed from any shipwreck sites discovered, and then only temporarily for documentation before being returned to their original location on or under the seafloor.

Results of the survey and search will be released after the expedition concludes in August. Information and updates will be available on the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum blog located at http://staugustinelighthouse.org.


June 2, 2014

LAMP's 2014 Field School in the News

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Today was the first day of the 2014 Field School! Eleven students from across the U.S., from Oregon and Colorado to Florida and Vermont, arrived this weekend and this morning we all assembled at the Lighthouse for the first day of their training. This morning was orientation and paperwork, followed by an introductory lecture on maritime and underwater archaeology. Then the students rotated through different stations, where they practiced skills ranging from knot-tying to underwater search patterns, archaeological recording, setting up and using baselines for horizontal and vertical mapping, and compass use.

News travels fast in St. Augustine! The Field School students were highlighted in today's issue of Historic City News:

Archaeologists from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will begin their annual field school in St. Augustine on June 2nd with sixteen undergrad and graduate college students from around the world and as far away as Australia.

This year, students will be diving on a 1782 British Loyalist shipwreck located one mile off St. Augustine’s historic coast. Lighthouse archaeologists have been excavating this wreck since 2010. Artifacts recovered from the ship have helped the team piece together the story of British Loyalists who evacuated Charleston, S.C., near the end of the American Revolution.

“Field school is a great opportunity for college students to get experience with all the aspects of archaeological research,” said Chuck Meide, Director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). “Our training is unique in that we are one of very few organizations that can provide underwater excavation experience.”

The 2014 student roster includes Molly Trivelpiece (Longwood University), Hannah Lucke (University of Puget Sound), Bridget Stanton (Flagler College), Leeah Worley (Lycombing College), James Kinsella (University of Central Florida), Christopher McCarron (University of Alabama, Birmingham), Madeline Roth (St. Mary’s College of Maryland), Michael Reese (University of Colorado), Chandler von Cannon (Flagler College), Eden Andes (Florida State University) and Allyson Ropp (University of North Carolina, Asheville).

The students have arrived in St. Augustine for the educational experience of a lifetime. For the next four weeks, they will undergo hands-on, underwater research and excavation on historic shipwrecks.

Click here to read the entire article!

Archaeological Conservation Employment Positions at LAMP

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum are seeking two positions, one full-time Assistant Archaeological Conservator and one part-time Archaeological Conservation Technician, to start in July 2014. These positions are grant-funded and will last two years (July 2014 through June 2016). The primary objective of these positions will be to assist LAMP's Archaeological Conservator in the treatment of artifacts recovered from the Storm Wreck, a Loyalist refugee vessel lost at the end of the American Revolution in December 1782 offshore St. Augustine. A significant assemblage of material culture has been recovered from the shipwreck to date, including cannons, firearms, cauldrons and other cookware, tableware, buttons, buckles, other personal items, tools, hardware, ship's equipment, navigational instruments, and the ship's bell. Successful applicants will have appropriate experience and training in the conservation of waterlogged archaeological materials, and will be able to interact with the public as our conservation laboratory is housed on the museum grounds and engages with the public whenever appropriate.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum and LAMP are equal opportunity employers. The Museum may be able to provide housing to successful applicants, in a dorm-like setting shared with other program participants (students, interns, visiting scientists, etc), if desired.

For further information, please contact LAMP's Archaeological Conservator Starr Cox at scox@staugustinelighthouse.com. Cover letters and vitae may be emailed to Brenda Swann, the Lighthouse's Director of Collections, Interpretation, and Programming, at bswann@staugustinelighthouse.com.

Click here for the Assistant Archaeological Conservator job description

Click here for the Archaeological Conservation Technician job description

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is the premier maritime museum located at the nation's oldest port, St. Augustine, Florida. Our mission is to Discover, Preserve, Present, and Keep Alive the Stories of the Nation's Oldest Port. LAMP, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, is the research arm of the Museum. LAMP conducts archaeological and historical research, archaeological conservation, traditional wooden boatbuilding, and other activities to realize the mission of the Museum. LAMP has been excavating the Storm Wreck since 2010 and with the Museum is planning a major exhibit focusing on this Revolutionary War shipwreck to open around late 2016.

June 1, 2014

2014 LAMP Field School in Maritime Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) is pleased to announce our 2014 Summer Field School. This year the field school will be held from June 2nd - June 27th at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. This comprehensive 4-week practicum will focus on the continued excavation of an 18th century shipwreck. Discovered in 2009, excavations began on this wreck site during the summer of 2010. Artifacts recovered from this site, along with documentary research carried out in the British National Archives, indicate that this shipwreck, known as the “Storm Wreck,” was a Loyalist refugee ship lost at the end of the Revolutionary War on December 31, 1782. Recent discoveries include hardware and rigging components, navigational and carpentry tools, a series of cast-iron and copper cauldrons, a small flintlock pistol and six cannon and the ship's bell. This summer’s activities will include mapping, recording and excavating an area adjacent to the 2010-2011 excavation units. Students will work alongside instructors to record and recover artifacts associated with this wreck.

Continue reading "2014 LAMP Field School in Maritime Archaeology" »

May 7, 2014

News of the Deliverance shipwreck from far and wide!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP archaeologists and volunteers mapping the shipwreck at Mickler's Landing at Ponte Vedra Beach. Our work and follow-up detective sleuthing lead to its identification as the Bermuda schooner Deliverance, lost in December 1947.

You have probably already read about the Mickler's Landing Wreck, which we recently identified as the Bermuda schooner Deliverance after a brief investigation on the second day of January earlier this year. We wrote about it here and here. Since that time there were a lot of media stories, which haven't all been listed on the blog, so I've got them all with links below the fold. The best article is the most recent, from the 19 April edition of Bermuda's newspaper the Royal Gazette . . .

. . . the remains of the ship have been reasonably firmly identified as the one owned by William Blackburn Smith, of Bailey’s Bay, that struck the rocks of the town of Ponte Vedra in the early hours of 13 December 1947, very stormy conditions having prevailed for sometime prior to its demise.

Demise was not in the heavens for its human compliment, so that all ten members of the crew and the captain were ‘delivered’ from the Deliverance. “Deliverance” is a very emotive and powerful word, especially in senses given in the Bible.

It has a special place and meaning in Bermuda history, as it was the name of one of the two vessels that delivered the Bermuda-stranded souls of the Sea Venture (wrecked 1609) to Jamestown, Virginia, in May 1610.

One of the strongest senses of the word is to rescue, or deliver, people from a dangerous and unpleasant situation, and that is its sense for the men of that other Deliverance on that cold, midwinter day in late 1947, as they waited beleaguered in rain, wind and heavy waves, but in sight of salvation on that Florida strand.

While we also had a ferry boat by the same name, it is likely that the 1947 Deliverance was the last Bermuda vessel of that name to work in the carrying trade, in that instance taking 100 tons of scrap metal for sale in Florida.

You may well ask where that amount of junk iron came from in tiny Bermuda of the day, but it is possible that it included old cannon and other artillery parts from our historic forts, as word has it that an operator from Florida was in Bermuda after the Second World War (1939-45) to carry out such a business.

At present, there is no known account of what happened to the cargo of the Deliverance, but as the vessel was driven onto the beach after its encounter with offshore rocks, it was likely stripped on the shore.

Read more below, and check out all of the other stories that have made local, regional, national, and international news!

Continue reading "News of the Deliverance shipwreck from far and wide!" »

April 15, 2014

A Thank You to the Museum Visitors!

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler


Every year more and more people travel to far away places to see new sights, taste different foods, and learn more about the world around them. Visitors make the trek to St. Augustine, Florida year-round and while there, visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. When they make their way to the Gallery in the upstairs of the Keepers' House, our team of ship-modelers enjoys the opportunity to talk with them. For the help we have received from those visitors, it's time to express our thanks! And just how have the visitors been able to help the ship model team?

Continue reading "A Thank You to the Museum Visitors!" »

April 3, 2014

Ponte Vedra Shipwreck Mystery Solved

Posted by: Christopher McCarron

There are many fascinating artifacts to be found along Florida's historic coast, but none have attracted as much recent national attention as the 67-year-old Bermuda-based shipwreck, Deliverance. Discovered by Saint Augustine's local archaeologists from the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) back in 2008, the shipwreck had remained an unidentified mystery until New Years Day when the shipwreck resurfaced from the sands and revealed enough details for LAMP to discover its origin and story.

Continue reading "Ponte Vedra Shipwreck Mystery Solved" »

March 27, 2014

X-rays reveal shipwrecked artifacts

Posted by: Chuck Meide

An interesting artifact revealed by x-ray . . .

Tuesday, 25 March 2014, turned out to be a day of discoveries at the Lighthouse. In addition to the find of some old iron plates from the tower's upper structure buried in the courtyard (which will be featured in a subsequent blog post), we made some pretty cool discoveries at Monahan's, the local chiropractors' office. What were maritime archaeologists doing at the chiropractors? Not getting a back-cracking, but borrowing an x-ray machine! Each Tuesday we have scheduled with Monahan's to come for a visit to use their x-ray to scan a number of concreted artifacts from our 1782 Loyalist shipwreck, the Storm Wreck. What we saw on Tuesday was pretty darn cool. Join us below the fold for the full story . . .

Continue reading "X-rays reveal shipwrecked artifacts" »

March 19, 2014


Posted by: Brendan Burke

Since over two centuries have passed, I guess we can release this sensitive information. At one time it was top secret and valuable to the enemy. This information would have been onboard the ship that LAMP now calls the Storm Wreck. In 1782, when St. Augustine found itself as the recipient of thousands of Loyalist refugees, ships wrecked in our inlet attempting to get to safe harbor. Research continues through the winter, while we plan our dive season, and invariably we come across original documents mined from British and Scottish archives that tell amazing stories. We want to share one of these documents with you now. Fire two guns and show a green pennant at the mast head to keep reading...

Continue reading "TOP SECRET" »

March 17, 2014

3/18/2014: Lecture--How Greek Traditions Transformed St. Augustine's Waterfront

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Lecture, "How Greek Traditions Transformed the Waterfront"
Who: Brendan Burke, LAMP Archaeologist
When: Tuesday March 18th, 2014, at 7 pm
Where: Flagler Room, Flagler College, 74 King Street, St. Augustine
How much: Free admission, seating is limited

LAMP's own Brendan Burke will be presenting the final of four lectures in the Historic St. Augustine Research Institute's series "St. Augustine's Forgotten People." Be sure to show up early, they fill the room and have to turn folks away.

March 16, 2014

3/17/2014 Radio Interview: Chuck Meide on Florida Frontiers

Posted by: Chuck Meide

When I was in Cocoa Beach on March 7th to speak to the Florida Historical Society about our excavations on the 1782 Loyalist shipwreck (the Storm Wreck), FHS Director Ben Brotemarkle asked if I could sit down for a brief interview for their radio show, Florida Frontiers. I talked about our excavations on the Storm Wreck, and also fielded some questions on our upcoming search for the lost French fleet of 1565, and the ongoing controversial new theory that Fort Caroline is actually located somewhere in Georgia, not in Jacksonville.

Tune in to Florida Frontiers this Monday, March 17, at 6:30 pm on 89.9 WJCT (the Jacksonville station). It can be heard in many other NPR stations across Florida as well (click the link to Florida Frontiers to see where else it is airing, or to hear it online).

LAMP Director disputes alternative location of Fort Caroline

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Last month,at a conference in Tallahassee, two researchers--Crowe and Spring--gave a public presentation to announce their theory that the 1565 French colony of La Caroline was not in present-day Jacksonville, Florida, but some 70 miles to the north near Darien, Georgia. The evidence they presented to support this alternate hypothesis was not convincing to many of the scholars present at the post-presentation debate, including LAMP Director Chuck Meide.

From the March 15 edition of Ancient City News:

St Augustine Lighthouse Archaeologist, Chuck Meide, told Historic City News that he traveled to Tallahassee recently to challenge claims by scholars, Fletcher Crowe and Anita Spring, that French-occupied Ft Caroline is not actually located near Jacksonville, as we have been led to believe, but rather located along the St Mary’s River in Georgia.

Academic scholars presented the findings they have developed during course of their research. Their theory is that Ft Caroline was some 70-miles north, but Meide says that there are a number of problems with the evidence that was presented at the conference.

“First of all, it is problematic to use 16th century maps to determine an exact geographical location with any precision; as they are notoriously inaccurate and often mistakes were copied and re-copied by cartographers who had never even visited the New World,” Meide explained. “For every map presented that seemed to show the River of May further north — we could find another in which it is depicted in the Jacksonville area.”

Continue reading "LAMP Director disputes alternative location of Fort Caroline" »

March 11, 2014

The Controversy of Fort Caroline: A Timeline of Media Events - UPDATED

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The famous de Bry engraving depicting Fort Caroline, founded by the French Huguenots on the River of May at present-day Jacksonville, Florida. A recent theory of an alternate location for the fort (the Altamaha River in Georgia) has been met by skepticism from scholars but has attracted substantial media attention.

UPDATED 16 March 2014

When the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum hosted a recent French-themed Sea Your History event featuring a lecture by Dr. John de Bry and myself on the failed French colonization attempt in Florida and the lost Ribault fleet of 1565, we met a gentleman named Fletcher Crowe. He was friendly and related to me that at the upcoming Le Floride Française conference in Tallahassee he would be relating a history of Fort Caroline and the French settlement that was very different from the one we talked about. He certainly did. Newspaper headlines in late February reported breathlessly that scientists now believed Fort Caroline to be in the middle of Georgia, rather than Florida. LAMP and the Lighthouse immediately refuted this claim, which for many reasons is less than compelling, but it has still attracted widespread media attention. In this blog post I am summarizing and documenting some of the public statements and media stories made regarding this controversial and unproven new theory. To be clear, I am simply documenting how this story has been presented in the media, and not laying out an argument against the theory; but I will state explicitly that the ideas on the alternative location of Fort Caroline espoused by Crowe and Spring contradict decades of quality scholarship by archaeologists and historians regarding the settlement of Florida by the French and Spanish, and we find no merit in their claims.

Continue reading "The Controversy of Fort Caroline: A Timeline of Media Events - UPDATED" »

March 6, 2014

LAMP Boatworks 2014 Boat Drawing Winner!

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner


This year’s lucky winner of the LAMP Boatworks 2014 wooden boat drawing is Dianne Bay of the Cape Canaveral area. Her lucky winning Ticket is No. 1030. Dianne has until March 31st, to claim her prize!

March 5, 2014

Old City Life Magazine Highlights the Blessing of the Fleet

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Shrimp boats havent just been plying local ocean waters, but have been seen in local print as well. A couple St. Augustine publications have recently published articles on our shrimping and fishing heritage. Thanks to Lura Scarpetti and Douglas Jordan, and Shannon O'Neil for helping with edits and publishing. Click the links below to read on!

St. Augustine Beacon article about fishing in St. Augustine during the late 1800s.


Old City Life March 2014 article about the history of the Blessing of the Fleet in St. Augustine:


Old City Life January 2014 article about the Xynides family tradition of building shrimp boats:


Continue reading "Old City Life Magazine Highlights the Blessing of the Fleet" »

March 4, 2014

3/7/14: Lecture, "The Excavation of the Storm Wreck, a Loyalist Refugee Ship Lost During the American Revolution"

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: Lecture "The Excavation of the Storm Wreck, a Loyalist Refugee Ship Lost During the American Revolution"
When: Friday March 7th at 7pm
Where: Library of Florida History, 435 Brevard Ave, Historic Cocoa Village
Who: Chuck Meide, LAMP Director

I will be presenting at the first event sponsored by the newly formed Florida Historical Society Archaeological Institute in Cocoa Beach this Friday night. If you are in the area, come check it out! Click below to see other lectures they have scheduled for Archaeology Month!

Continue reading "3/7/14: Lecture, "The Excavation of the Storm Wreck, a Loyalist Refugee Ship Lost During the American Revolution"" »

March 1, 2014

Lecture: The Recovery of a WWII bomber in Loch Ness

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Lecture, titled “The Loch Ness Wellington Bomber: The Story of the 1985 Recovery of a World War 2 Aircraft from Nessie's Water”

When: Tuesday, March 5th at 3:30

Where: Anastasia Island Branch Library

Who: Joseph "Zarr" W. Zarzynski, RPA (Register of Professional Archaeologists)

Zarr is a friend and colleague, a volunteer, and a big supporter of LAMP and the Lighthouse. On Tuesday, March 5th at 3:30 he is presenting a talk at the Anastasia Island Branch Library. Read more about it below the fold . .

Continue reading "Lecture: The Recovery of a WWII bomber in Loch Ness" »

February 22, 2014

LAMP disputes new Fort Caroline claims

Posted by: Chuck Meide

For further information on this controversy, including a detailed summary of its evolution in regional and national media, click here.

Date: Feb. 22, 2014
Press Contact: Shannon O’Neil (904) 377-2643/soneil@staugustinelighthouse.org

St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeologist Disputes New Ft. Caroline Claims

Archaeologist Chuck Meide disputes new claims asserted about the location of Ft. Caroline at a conference in Tallahassee on Friday and maintains that evidence supports location in Jacksonville.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL. – Academic scholars opened a lively debate at a conference in Tallahasee, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 21st, with a claim that Ft. Caroline, long believed to have origins in Jacksonville, was in fact founded in Georgia. Chuck Meide, Director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, was at the conference and led the rebuttal disputing these claims.

“There are a number of problems with the evidence that was presented at the conference,” said Meide. “First, it is problematic to use 16th century maps to determine an exact geographical location with any precision, as they are notoriously inaccurate and often mistakes were copied and re-copied by cartographers who had never even visited the New World. For every map presented that seemed to show the River of May further north, we can find another in which it is depicted in the Jacksonville area.”

Meide, an Atlantic Beach native, has studied the French history of Northeast Florida for decades, both in and out of the water. This summer, Meide and his archaeology team from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum are planning an expedition to find the lost fleet of French captain Jean Ribault. Meide and several other historians have spent years researching French and Spanish records from the 16th century to determine where Ribault’s fleet sank while trying to sneak into St. Augustine in 1565. The relationship between St. Augustine’s location and that of Ft. Caroline plays heavily into Meide’s dispute of the new claims issued by scholars Fletcher Crowe and Anita Spring at the conference, La Floride Francaise: Florida, France, and the Francophone World.

“The most glaring problem with the Altamaha River theory is the location of St. Augustine,” said Meide. “We know that Menendez marched his men from St. Augustine on September 18 to attack the French, and they successfully sacked Fort Caroline on September 20. That is a two-day march through hurricane-force winds and rain. It’s not conceivable in those or any conditions that the soldiers could have made it to the Altamaha River from St. Augustine in two days.”

Meide brought this point up with Spring and Crowe during the debate that followed their presentation in Tallahassee. The researchers’ response indicated that they believe St. Augustine was actually founded further north, at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River.

Though it is well-known that the Spanish moved the settlement of St. Augustine twice, first from its original location at the Indian village of Seloy to Anastasia Island, and then from the island to its final location at present-day downtown St. Augustine, there is no evidence that the original site was as far north as the St. Mary’s River, which forms the Florida-Georgia state line.

“If Crowe and Spring’s theory is correct, then the Spanish would have moved the St. Augustine settlement 70 miles south, from the St. Mary’s River, to its present location. There is simply no evidence for this,” said Meide. “This new theory doesn’t stand up to the archaeological and historical information that has been amassed by scholars over the past fifty years. From the post-presentation debate at the conference, it seemed to me that most of the scholars attending from France and the U.S. were likewise not convinced that this theory holds water.”

Along with LAMP’s team of archaeologists and field school students, Meide has been diving and researching local shipwrecks that tell the story of St. Augustine’s roots for almost a decade. Recent dives on a 1782 British wreck have uncovered the history of evacuees who fled Charleston, S.C., bound for St. Augustine near the end of the American Revolution.

Meide hopes with the help of grant funding from the state of Florida that the expedition to find Ribault’s fleet will provide further evidence on the origins of Ft. Caroline, St. Augustine and the nation as a whole.


A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest Port (sm). Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port (sm) as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

Leave a Legacy of Light – click here to give a lasting gift of archaeology, education, historic preservation, and maritime heritage.

Continue reading "LAMP disputes new Fort Caroline claims" »

January 24, 2014

Another great news story on our latest beached shipwreck

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Just a quick update to our previous blog entry on the Mickler's Landing Wreck, which had become re-exposed on the beach a few days before the start of the new year. We had lots of great media attention from this wreck, and while I was out of the country attending the Society for Historical Archaeology meetings in frigid Quebec City, another news story on the wreck came out in the Jacksonville paper.

From the Florida Times-Union:

More remnants from Northeast Florida’s nautical past have revealed themselves on Ponte Vedra Beach.

But while experts think they know when the wreck occurred, what ship it was is still a mystery.

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum archaeologists waded into the waves last week to look at 80 feet of iron and timbers revealed during a New Year’s low tide near Mickler’s Landing. It appears to be a schooner from the 1860s into very early 1900s. It apparently met a tragic end during a 1947 storm if a fuzzy photograph of a two-masted ship beaching there proves to be this wreck, Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program chief archaeologist Chuck Meide said.

“A schooner most certainly could have an iron frame and wooden planking,” Meide said. “It does have some iron plating on its bow, and that is a little strange. We haven’t seen any ship construction like that.”

Continue reading "Another great news story on our latest beached shipwreck" »

January 22, 2014

1/25-26/14: Sea Your History Event: Celebrating French History in St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The French arrive in Florida, from Theodor de Bry, Grand Voyages (1591)

Join us this weekend, Saturday January 25 - Sunday January 26 at the Lighthouse for our ongoing Sea Your History event! This weekend the focus is on French history and culture.

Our guest of honor is Dr. John de Bry, the Director of the Center for Historical Archaeology and an expert on French colonial archaeology and historical documents. On Sunday, Dr. de Bry and LAMP Director Chuck Meide will be available to meet the public from 3 pm to 4 pm at a table displaying a collection of rare French shipwreck artifacts, and they will present a lecture entitled "The French Fleet of 1565: Collision of Empires." This will focus on the French settlement attempt at Fort Caroline and Ribault’s colonization fleet which attacked St. Augustine and was wrecked in a storm south of our coast. Dr. de Bry and Meide will provide historical context for the well-known Theodor de Bry engravings, present the documentary research related to the lost fleet carried out in the French archives, and provide an update for LAMP’s search for these lost ships, scheduled to begin July 2014. Dr. de Bry is a direct descendant of Theodor de Bry, whose iconic engravings have brought the French settlement attempt to life for the rest of the world from the 16th century to the present day.

During and after Sunday's archaeological events (3 pm to 6 pm) there will be a French wine tasting courtesy of PRP Wines of Jacksonville!

Read below the fold for the full schedule of both Saturday's and Sunday's events!

Continue reading "1/25-26/14: Sea Your History Event: Celebrating French History in St. Augustine" »

January 3, 2014

Mapping the Mickler's Landing Wreck at Ponte Vedra Beach

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP staff and volunteers documented a beached shipwreck on 2 January 2014, our first shipwreck project of the new year!

On New Year's Day LAMP got a call from First Coast News reporter Jessica Clark. She had been contacted by a local Ponte Vedra Beach resident, Sharon Caruso, about a shipwreck exposed on the beach.


A significant patch of wreckage was exposed in the surf which had been previously buried in the sand. At low tide the outline of a ship could be seen pretty clearly. First Coast News ran a story on the wreck that day:

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Carol Caruso likes to walk on Ponte Vedra Beach, but she hadn't been out in a few weeks. When she walked along the shore Tuesday, she saw something big.

With her hands held out wide, she said, "This is what I found at low tide!"

It appears to be the skeleton of a ship, right where the waves hit the beach.

"I've been looking at it for two years," Caruso explained but she's never seen so much of it coming out of the sand.

"Generally it's just that point, literally that point sticking up and that's it. So I thought this had to be something special," she beamed.

The ribs of the ship appear to be jutting out from the beach above the waves.

. . . Archaeologists with the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (or L.A.M.P.) in St. Augustine have been out to the site before, studying it. However, after seeing pictures of the ship Wednesday, archaeologist Brenden Burke said he and the L.A.M.P. team have never seen so much of the ship exposed.

Burke explained that parts of the ship have been revealed three times in the last six years.

The very next day, LAMP sprung into action, and a group of archaeologists, students, and volunteers assembled on the beach at the start of low tide to document the newly exposed portions of the wreck.

Continue reading "Mapping the Mickler's Landing Wreck at Ponte Vedra Beach" »

December 22, 2013

A Special Link to Model Photos

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler

HMS Victory - the ship's wheel.

The people who have visited with the ship modelers at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum have been a widely varied group. They seem to have had one thing in common, however. After having spoken with our group of modelers, most have expressed an interested in following our progress on the current model we are working on, HMS Victory.

Continue reading "A Special Link to Model Photos" »

The Days of Yore, Ponce de Leon & Ship Models

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler

The San Cristobal, a Spanish bergantin, was one of the ships of the Ponce de Leon Expedition to Florida in 1513.

In early 2013, St. Augustine celebrated the 500th Anniversary of Ponce de Leon's legendary expedition to Florida's coast. Three ships, the Santiago, the San Cristobal and the Santa Maria de la Consolacion, set out from Puerto Rico on March 4, 1513. The fleet crossed open water until April 2, 1513, when they sighted land which Ponce de León believed was another island. He named it La Florida in recognition of the verdant landscape and because it was the Easter season, which the Spaniards called Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers).

Continue reading "The Days of Yore, Ponce de Leon & Ship Models" »

December 13, 2013

1881 Instructions to Light Keepers

Posted by: Chuck Meide


An email made its way across staff computers today bringing to our attention a new post on the Lighthouse History blog. Its a summary of the Instructions to Light-Keepers, a formal set of guidelines set by the U.S. government's Light-House Board for Lighthouse Keepers across the country. Its a great read so I thought I'd bring it to folks attention on our own blog.

Some highlights from Lighthouse History:

The 1881 Instructions began, “The Keeper is responsible for the care and management of the light, and for the station in general. He must enforce a careful attention to duty on the part of his assistants; and the assistants are strictly enjoined to render prompt obedience to his lawful orders.” Absences had to be communicated to those left in charge and reported to the inspector. “Light-keepers may leave their stations to attend divine worship on Sundays, to procure needful supplies, and on important public occasions.”

“Watches must be kept at all stations where there is an assistant. The keeper on watch must remain in the watch room and give continuous attention to the light while he is on duty. When there is no assistant, the keeper must visit the light at least twice during the night between 8 p.m. and sunrise; and on stormy nights the light must be constantly looked after.”

Continue reading "1881 Instructions to Light Keepers" »

November 19, 2013

Shipmodeling - A New Hobby or An Ancient Tradition?

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler

An ancient clay model of a Greek warship.

Ship modeling is most definitely not a "new" hobby by any means! In fact, its history goes much further back than most people actually realize. Ship and boat models have been discovered in the Mediterranean dating from ancient Egypt, Greece and Phoenicia. Models are a thing of beauty but also of tremendous historic value to also help archaeologists in estimating size of various sea vessels used in real life.

Continue reading "Shipmodeling - A New Hobby or An Ancient Tradition?" »

Former LAMP student, now CEO of Britain's Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust, investigates Scottish shipwreck

Posted by: Chuck Meide

This shipwreck was recently exposed on the beach at Bamburgh Castle in Scotland. One of our former students, Jessica Berry, was called in to investigate.

Here at LAMP we always are proud to see our former students make good! We recently saw a news story involving one of our 2007 Field School students, Jessica Berry. She was a Flinders University student at the time, working on her master's degree, and she participated in the joint Flinders-LAMP Field School in that year, which was the first Field School LAMP ever sponsored (we have continued to run a summer field school in maritime archaeology each year since). Jessica, a native of the United Kingdom, was a great student, lots of fun to work with, and she even authored some of our LAMPosts Blog entires--check them out here and here .

Continue reading "Former LAMP student, now CEO of Britain's Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust, investigates Scottish shipwreck" »

November 15, 2013

ACTION ALERT! Public Meeting to Discuss National Heritage Area

Posted by: Chuck Meide

We need you to attend a St. Augustine City Commission meeting on Wednesday November 20th to show your support for the proposed Nation's Oldest Port National Heritage Area

The Nation's Oldest Port National Heritage Area is a project that we have invested a lot of time, effort, and enthusiasm in. National Heritage Areas are places with such distinctive history and cultural patrimony that they receive a special designation from Congress and the U.S. Department of the Interior as a place of special heritage. Such a designation also provides access to special grant funding which can go towards historical or archaeological research, historic preservation projects, educational programs, marketing, or other appropriate projects. National Heritage Areas do not entail any governmental regulations (unlike National Parks or Marine Sanctuaries). For the past several years we have been working on building an alliance of community groups, businesses, city and county governments, and other organizations from Nassau through Flagler Counties to create a National Heritage Area in this part of Northeast Florida which would bring attention to the special maritime heritage of the region around the nation's oldest port.

To date, we have seen widespread support throughout the counties that would be included within the proposed Heritage Area. On Wednesday, 20 November 2013, the City of St. Augustine will be having a public meeting, and on the agenda will be the proposal that the City formally support the proposed National Heritage Area as we prepare the final package for review by lawmakers in Washington D.C. We would like anyone who is a supporter of LAMP, the Lighthouse, and the archaeological and historical heritage in our region to come to this meeting to show their support for our National Heritage Area.

Continue reading "ACTION ALERT! Public Meeting to Discuss National Heritage Area" »

November 8, 2013

The Story of the Ship Behind the Model

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Dockyard in England

HMS Victory remains as majestic today as she was on launch day, May 7th, 1765. This ship and her mother country will celebrate the ship's 250th birthday in 2015. The Eighteenth Century: Still Alive in England ...

Continue reading "The Story of the Ship Behind the Model" »

Yachts, Ship Models and a Love Story

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler

Doug Anderson and the Victory

Today's blog begins by going backwards in time a bit. I would like to share a kind of "Love Story", one which eventually brought the model HMS Victory to the Lighthouse. As time and this blog go on, we will talk about the little-known Rebecca and other models as well, posting photos as each of the ships progress.

Continue reading "Yachts, Ship Models and a Love Story " »

November 7, 2013

Prominent investor blasts treasure hunting as a worthless investment--UPDATED

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Photograph by Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP Photo

UPDATED -- Click here for an update to this story via a press release from Meson Capital Partners, LLC. Full updated report is here.

This morning we saw an article in Bloomberg Businessweek highlighting a report released by a Wall Street short seller and investment activist. This report is a damning indictment of the treasure hunting industry, and in particular Odyssey Marine, the well-known treasure hunting company based out of Tampa:

Exploring shipwrecks may provide fun and adventure, but whether it’s a good business is a different question. Perhaps the most well-known treasure hunter, Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX), has made headlines for years, including last year when, as my colleague Susan Berfield reported at the time, Odyssey’s brash chief executive officer led the money-losing company in an (ultimately unsuccessful) battle to claim profit from coins found in a Spanish shipwreck. The company’s now in the limelight again, and not in a flattering way. Late last week, a young activist investor published a 66-page report (pdf) outlining an argument for why Odyssey’s stock “is worth $Zero.” The investor, Ryan Morris, alleged the company used offshore entities to obscure its true value, and the company let executives “live a life of glamor hunting the ocean while disappointed investors foot the bill.”

Continue reading "Prominent investor blasts treasure hunting as a worthless investment--UPDATED" »

November 6, 2013

6/11/2013: "Shrimp Boat City" book launching

Posted by: Chuck Meide


And so we begin .... The Journey of a Lifetime!

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler

This is one of the models you will find on your visit to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.


We hope you will enjoy this new blog, the Ship Model Journal, provided by the modelers at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum! Unknown to many visitors, the Museum houses an incredible collection of ship models. They are on display throughout the museum, in the gift ship and the Keepers' House. Some are quite large while others are fairly small. Some have tremendous detail while amazing in their simplicity. When you tour the Lighthouse facility, be sure to check them out.

Continue reading "And so we begin .... The Journey of a Lifetime!" »

October 25, 2013

LAMP investigates beached shipwreck exposed by storm

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP archaeologists investigate a newly discovered shipwreck site on Ponte Vedra Beach. From left to right are LAMP Archaeological Conservator Starr Cox, LAMP Director Chuck Meide, Lighthouse staff Dennis Kirk, LAMP archaeologist Sam Turner, and volunteer Peggy Friedman, who discovered the shipwreck two days earlier.

Last Wednesday morning our friend Peggy Friedman, who volunteers with the local sea turtle patrol, was walking the beach looking for sea turtle nests when she encountered something unexpected--the old wooden bones of a shipwreck jutting out from the dunes. Earlier in the week a nor'easter storm had raked our coast, and caused massive erosion of the beach, so that the the seaward half of the sand dune had effectively been scooped away, exposing the remains of the shipwreck. Peggy told the scientists at the GTM-NERR (Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve), who have jurisdiction over this location, and they contacted me here at LAMP.

A quick visit to the site with the other LAMP archaeologists confirmed that this was indeed the remains of a beached ship. After this brief inspection on Thursday, we knew that we had to return the following day for a more thorough investigation of the wreckage, and our public relations coordinator, Shannon O'Neil, sent out a notification to the press. Boy was there interest! During our investigation on Friday I was interviewed no less than six times! We lot a lot of great press, and the links to videos and newspaper articles are included below the fold . . .

Continue reading "LAMP investigates beached shipwreck exposed by storm" »

October 1, 2013

LAMP research highlighted in Australian magazine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


One of our former graduate students, Kyle Lent, recently published an article on his work with us in Flinders University's magazine Engage, the July 2013 edition. Flinders University is located in South Australia and we have worked with their faculty and students many times before (see here, and here). Kyle served as a Field School Supervisor during the 2012 season, and worked as a volunteer archaeologist for many months after that, until he got a job with the archaeological consulting firm SEARCH. He is one of our many success stories!

The entire issue of Engage is available as a pdf, and you can read it here. Below is a snippet, but by all means check out the entire article!

The final months of the American Revolution (1775-1781), were an exceptionally perplexing time for everyone involved. As British control over the colonies was diminishing, many loyalists looked to the horizon to flee what would soon be a new rule. East Florida’s inviting climate and its loyalty to the crown proved to be an enticing prospect. Based on many archaeological assumptions, supported by an equal amount of archaeological evidence, the Storm Wreck is, in all likeliness, an example of a colonial-era British loyalist refugee ship which attempted to flee Charleston, South Carolina, and met its demise while attempting to enter St Augustine at the end of, or shortly after, the Revolution.

230 years later, archaeologists cast off the dock lines of a former 36-foot steel hulled shrimping boat turned research vessel, set GPS navigation to the site coordinates, and put a fresh pot of coffee on the boil one early June morning. As the sun rises above the horizon, so the 2012 field season begins.

LAMP Boatworks featured in Canada's Classicboat Magazine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


LAMP and the LAMP Boatworks is featured in the Fall 2013 issue of Classicboat Magazine, the publication of the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Antique and Classic Boat Society.

The article does not appear to be online, though the previous issue does feature its articles online, so it may appear there in the future. But I'll give you a little teaser here . . .

In addition to the Lighthouse, there are a number of smaller buildings on the site, and a few of those house the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) which conducts and studies old maritime wrecks. They bring artifacts up from their resting place on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and, in some cases, the wrecks are chemically and electrically stripped of their salt water scale and corrosion for study and documentation.

. . . . In 2007 a plan was put into motion to start up a volunteer group to build these small boats. Maury Keiser took up the challenge and the lead to assemble and start up a small group of volunteers. Like most groups, they evolved and found their way. Start up funds and continuing revenue sources are always an ongoing challenge. The idea was and still is to build a continuing and expanding group that, with experience, will develop a more complex skill set in traditional boatbuilding. As more volunteers enter the program, these skills are passed and shared.

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks featured in Canada's Classicboat Magazine" »

September 7, 2013

Storm Wreck carronade sees the light of day

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP's Archaeological Conservator, Starr Cox, uses a pneumatic airscribe to clean the muzzle of the carronade recovered from the 1782 Storm Wreck. Photograph courtesy of the St. Augustine Record

On Friday, 23 August, we temporarily removed our carronade from its conservation vat for a special cleaning session. This carronade along with another cannon was recovered from the Storm Wreck and bears the date 1780. Our goal on Friday was to change out the solution of water and sodium carbonate so the electrolysis treatment could continue, and also to clean the muzzle of the gun in order to get an accurate measurement of its bore diameter. This figure will be used to develop an auger-like device to clean out the bore during a future cleaning session. We also were able to weigh the gun, and discovered a new marking cast into the gun which had previously been obscured by corrosion.

Continue reading "Storm Wreck carronade sees the light of day" »

August 8, 2013

New Video Showing the History and Excavation of the Storm Wreck

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Check out the latest video we have produced highlighting our work on the Revolutionary War period Storm Wreck! This has been a busy excavation season and we haven't blogged much, but we wanted to share this one as it is a great compilation with some outstanding underwater video. We have had the best visibility (at least for a few days) that we have ever had offshore St. Augustine so we finally have some good footage of the various aspects of the job when it comes to excavating, recording, and recovering artifacts from an underwater shipwreck site.


May 22, 2013

A Spanish Galleon in St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide

A replica of a Spanish galleon entering the harbor off downtown St. Augustine. While this is an authentic replica of vessels that were instrumental to the founding of our nation's oldest port, no ship this large could have ever entered St. Augustine due to our shallow and treacherous inlet.

Yesterday we got a phone call from a St. Augustine city official, asking if a LAMP research vessel could help escort into our inlet a replica Spanish galleon. We had already heard the news that our city was to feature a visit from the galleon, as part of Florida's 500th birthday celebration, and we have been looking forward to the day of its arrival! The galleon, named El Galeón Andalucía, is owned and operated by the Nao Victoria Foundation in Spain, and will be visiting four cities during its Florida tour. It measures 175 feet in length and is a 495 ton vessel. It is probably an accurate depiction of a medium to large sized galleon of the second half of the 16th century through first half of the 17th century.

Ironically, however, the sight of this galleon in our harbor, no matter how authentic the ship itself is, could never have been seen in our ancient city.

Continue reading "A Spanish Galleon in St. Augustine" »

May 10, 2013

The 65th Annual Meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society, St. Augustine, May 10-11, 2013

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The St. Augustine Archaeological Association (SAAA), made up of archaeologists and locals with an interest in St. Augustine archaeology, will be hosting the annual meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society (FAS) this May. The SAAA is our city’s local chapter of the FAS, and last hosted the annual meeting, which is held each year in different cities across the state, in 2001. This conference will attract avocational and professional archaeologists from across the state and beyond.

Continue reading "The 65th Annual Meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society, St. Augustine, May 10-11, 2013" »

April 22, 2013

The First Woman Lighthouse Keeper, Right Here in the Nation's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The original St. Augustine Lighthouse was built of coquina around the 1730s, and collapsed into the sea just three years after the present-day tower was completed in 1874. It was here that Minorcan resident Maria Andreu served as Lighthouse Keeper after her husband, the former Keeper, died in 1859.

There was a great article in the St. Augustine Record today, that also ran in Jacksonville's Florida Times-Union, about the first woman to serve as a Lighthouse Keeper in the U.S. And it happened right here, another first for America's first successful, continuously operating port city. Not surprisingly given St. Augustine's diverse heritage, this pioneer was not only the first woman but the first Hispanic woman to serve in this post, and is also considered the first Hispanic woman to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard (though at the time, the agency managing Lighthouses was known as the U.S. Lighthouse Service).

From the St. Augustine Record:

Maria Mestre de los Dolores Andreu stands out both in the annals of the U.S. Coast Guard and the federal government.

In 1859 she assumed the watch as the lighthouse keeper at St. Augustine Lighthouse after her husband, Juan, died. Maria Andreu thus became not only the first Hispanic-American woman to serve in the Coast Guard but also the first to command a federal shore installation, say officials.

Her appointment came after her husband died on the job. According to a report in the St. Augustine Examiner on Dec. 10, 1859, “Monday last … (Joseph Andreu) was engaged in white washing the tower of the Light House” when the scaffolding gave way and he fell 60 feet. He died almost instantly.

Its a really great article, one of the best I've seen on the Lighthouse, so go read the entire thing here.

April 19, 2013

Cleaning the Lighthouse

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Before and after photographs of the tower, after an outbreak of mold was cleaned in March 2013.

Historic preservation and the maintenance of historic structures is a never-ending challenge. Our team recently made a great step forward in the ongoing caretaking of the Lighthouse. Improper maintenance back in the 1970’s destroyed the surface of the brick on our keeper’s house, presenting us with a special problem today. Mold grows on the side of our tower (especially on the north side, like moss on trees) and it must be regularly cleaned. Previously, we used scaffolding or harnesses to do so, a process both expensive and dangerous. This year the maintenance team at the Lighthouse put their heads together and developed a special cleaning system, consisting of a pressure washer suspended and controlled from a series of lines running from the ground to the top of the tower. The pressurized spray of bleach and water, controlled like a marionette by our maintenance staff, worked great, and the new tower looks fabulous! Kudos to our Operations team, including Site Supervisor Brenna Ryan and Maintenance staff David Popp, Brian McNamara, and Blake Soulder, and directed by Deputy Director of Operations Rick Cain.

Click below to see some more before/after shots of the tower.

Continue reading "Cleaning the Lighthouse" »

April 17, 2013

Research Continues, Why Storm Wreck is not a “Sally”

Posted by: Chuck Meide

This listing of a 190-ton vessel named Sally, commanded by a Captain Crossgil, was discovered on a document in the British National Archives. This document listed the ships that were to be used by the British Army during the evacuation of Charleston in December 1782.

Ask any maritime archaeologist and they will candidly point out that for every hour spent diving on a shipwreck there is easily another hundred hours required to process the information one has collected. I have been living proof of this since our last major discoveries on the Storm wreck with the regimental buttons and “brown bess” land pattern muskets. If the formulae holds true, then I have spent enough time diving on the site to keep me busy for the next several years.

Continue reading "Research Continues, Why Storm Wreck is not a “Sally”" »

April 10, 2013

2013 Maritime Archaeology Field School

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Check out this video we made showing students in the 2010 LAMP Field School raising a cauldron from the 1782 "Storm Wreck."

Students in the 2012 Field School preparing for another "day at the office."

The 2013 Field School in Maritime Archaeology will run from May 27 to June 21, 2013. Each year LAMP sponsors this internationally acclaimed opportunity for training in maritime and underwater archaeology. Students from universities across the U.S. and abroad will learn these specialized skills by working side by side with LAMP archaeologists. Participants will be 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 will also host an evening lecture series with field school instructors and visiting professionals from various public, private and academic institutions throughout Florida.

Follow the links below for more information, or continue reading after the fold . . .

Click here to see the official webpage for the 2013 Field School, with complete information on activities, lodging, applications, paperwork, etc.

Click here to see an article on last year's field school in the Jacksonville newspaper, the Florida Times Union.

Continue reading "2013 Maritime Archaeology Field School" »

April 9, 2013

LAMP and UNF Partner in Historic Shipbuilding Class

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Almost there! Class participants (minus one student) show off their progress.

This spring LAMP has partnered with the University of North Florida to teach a class called The History of Shipbuilding. LAMP's Sam Turner teaches the Tuesday lecture and Brendan Burke teaches a Thursday lab. In the class students are learning about vessel construction from the times of the ancient Phoenicians to our nuclear navy. On Thursdays the students meet in the lab and have been working to learn how to properly construct a ship's half model. The process of learning how to build a half model is an invaluable part of learning how vessels are designed and how the complex lines of a boat interact with water, gravity, and motion. A secondary part of the class is learning to use some basic hand tools that require the user to go slowly and think about the pending accomplishment. As we are about to wrap up the class I thought I'd offer some commentary on how it has progressed.

Continue reading "LAMP and UNF Partner in Historic Shipbuilding Class" »

March 29, 2013

Workboat Magazine Highlights the Storm Wreck

Posted by: Chuck Meide

A few weeks back I had a great little phone interview with the writer Gary Boulard, who was really fun to talk with. He was on assignment for WorkBoat Magazine. He was calling because of a press release announcing the archival research that I had recently carried out in England. Now Garry's article has come out, and its a fun read . . . .

From WorkBoat Magazine:

In May 1782, the editors of the British-run Royal Gazette in Charleston, S.C., posted an almost idle boast.

“We insert with pleasure, what gives us every reason to believe,” the paper declared, “that neither American independence will be recognized, nor the friends of British Government in this country deserted, by the present Ministry of England.”

Just seven months later, with the Revolutionary War all but over, the British left Charleston.

“They evacuated Charleston, which was a huge port, and went in several different directions,” said Chuck Meide, the director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. “One squadron went to England, one went to Halifax, one to Jamaica.”

But many of the vessels headed for St. Augustine, Fla. “We were getting swamped with people — our population exploded,” noted Meide. “We became the third or fourth largest city in all of the colonies.”

But on the way to St. Augustine, the vessels loaded with British loyalists confronted head-on a treacherous and well-known sandbar. At least 16 ships were wrecked as a result of the sandbar or for other reasons in December 1782.

One of those vessels was the Storm Wreck, currently being excavated offshore by archaeologists with the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program.

Read the entire article here!

Garry has expressed interest in a follow-up story, focusing on our research vessels and the equipment used during shipwreck excavations and artifact recovery. I'm looking forward to working with him again, and hope that this time we can meet in person and get him out on the deck of the Roper!

March 28, 2013

ACTION ALERT: Save Florida archaeology and stop the proposed Citizen Archaeology Permit program

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The state of Florida is considering a Citizen Archaeology Permit program, similar to the Isolated Finds program it experimented with and abandoned a few years ago. The idea is that private citizens could collect isolated artifacts from public lands and report them to the state, an activity that is usually illegal unless conducted under a state permit by archaeologists. The problems are many: under the original policy the finds were rarely reported or reported with little useful detail, the policy lead to widespread looting of archaeological sites, and the policy prevented law enforcement officers from protecting archaeological sites from looting as it provided a "cover" for looters. This program would extensively impact archaeological sites on state lands.

To learn more, read the official statement put out by FPAN (Florida Public Archaeology Network) here.

If you'd like a little more background, you can read a recent blog post by Jeff Moates, Director of FPAN's West Central Region, here.

If you are a friend of Florida archaeology, YOU CAN HELP!! Please voice your opinion on this issue to Florida legislators, and tell them to oppose the implementation of the proposed Citizen Archaeology Permit program. State Senator Alan Hays has invited Floridians from across the state to express their views to him. You may contact him here, and you can see the letter I wrote him below. If you are from out of state, feel free to share your views with him and let him know that Florida's archaeological heritage is one of the reasons you like to visit Florida.

To find the state legislator for your area and share your thoughts, visit this page.

Click below to see the letter that I have sent my legislators.

Continue reading "ACTION ALERT: Save Florida archaeology and stop the proposed Citizen Archaeology Permit program" »

St. Augustine Diocese Documents Dating Between 1594 and 1763 Digitized by University of South Florida

Posted by: Chuck Meide


From the Gainesville Sun:

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Inside a Catholic convent deep in St. Augustine's historic district, stacks of centuries-old, sepia-toned papers offer clues to what life was like for early residents of the nation's oldest permanently occupied city.

These parish documents date back to 1594, and they record the births, deaths, marriages and baptisms of the people who lived in St. Augustine from that time through the mid-1700s. They're the earliest written documents from any region of the United States, according to J. Michael Francis, a history professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Francis and some of his graduate students in the Florida Studies department have spent the past several months digitizing the more than 6,000 fragile pages to ensure the contents last beyond the paper's deterioration.

"The documents shed light on aspects of Florida history that are very difficult to reconstruct," Francis said.

Dr. Francis is a colleague of ours who I first met at a First Light Maritime Society function in Washington, D.C. Like our own Dr. Sam Turner, Michael Francis is one of the few scholars fluent in 16th century Spanish script. It will be very exciting to see what stories are revealed in these 6,000 pages of forgotten St. Augustine history . . .

Read the entire article here.

March 27, 2013

LAMP's Ponce de Leon Research Featured on Smithsonian.com

Posted by: Chuck Meide


We've been seeing a lot of Dr. Sam Turner's work in the news lately, because the 500 anniversary of Ponce de Leon's first landing in Florida is fast approaching (just a few more days now!) The latest national media organization to pick up this story is Smithsonian Magazine, whose webpage Smithsonian.com just featured Dr. Turner's research regarding Ponce de Leon's voyage of discovery:

And so, on March 27, 1513, the first sighting of Florida by Juan Ponce and his fleet. A continued northward voyage and a bout of bad weather later, Juan Ponce and his crew went ashore on April 3 somewhere north of present-day St. Augustine.

Though Juan Ponce was the first to “officially” discover Florida—the first with approval by the Spanish king for such a quest—says Turner, he was not, of course, the first to actually do so. Slave runners had been traveling around the Bahamas for years.

During the course of one of these slaving voyages by a mariner named Diego de Miruelo, a large land to the north had been accidentally discovered when his vessel was driven north in a storm. There he traded with those he encounters but took no captives. Shortly thereafter, slavers went directly to this new land in search of slaves. Thus the initial discovery in the north became common knowledge that ultimately led to Juan Ponce’s licensed voyage of discovery in 1513.

Click here to read the entire article!

500 Years Ago Today: Florida is Sighted by Ponce de Leon

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP's Director of Archaeology, has been writing a recurring series of articles for the St. Augustine Record regarding Ponce de Leon's voyage of discovery 500 years ago.

LAMP's own Dr. Sam Turner continues his column in the Record, which has been picked up elsewhere across the state, on Ponce de Leon's 1513 voyage of discovery. The most recent installment published Sunday highlight's de Leon's first sighting of the land he would name "La Florida."

From the St. Augustine Record:

On Easter Sunday, March 27, 1513, land described as an island in the Herrera account was sighted to the west. This was the first sighting of the Florida coast. This first sighting is where many writers on the subject of the discovery of Florida err in their interpretation of Herrera. This stems from a simplistic approach to the text. Because the land is described as an “island,” many historians assume that it must be one of the numerous Bahamas Islands known to the Spanish as the Lucayan Islands. It was not until some years after 1513 that the Spanish themselves realized that Florida was part of a greater land mass. This 16th century misunderstanding of geography continues to confuse scholars to this day.

As noted previously, the Lucayan Islands had been scoured and largely depopulated by Spanish slavers who had also made a number of incursions into Florida for the same purpose by 1513. It is very unlikely therefore for any of the Lucayan Islands to have been unknown and un-plundered of their inhabitants by Spanish slavers. The unidentified island sighted March 27 was the east coast of Florida.

Read the entire article here.

Read the first installment of Sam's series, 20 January 2013, here.

Read the second installment, 03 February 2013, here.

Read the third installment, 17 February 2013, here.

Read the fourth installment, 03 March 2013, here.

Read the fifth installment, 17 March 2013, here.

March 26, 2013

Pirates of the Original Panama Canal

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Divers from Texas State University raise a cannon believed to have belonged to the pirate Henry Morgan, off the coast of Panama.

A great article just came out in Archaeology Magazine on the search for Henry Morgan's shipwrecks off the coast of Panama. Fritz Hanselmann, the director of the project, is a friend and colleague of LAMP and a former lecturer at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. A number of cannons have already been found in the area, and there are five wrecks of Morgan's lost somewhere in the vicinity.

From Archaeology Magazine:

Since the first trans-isthmus railroad opened in 1855, the mouth of the Chagres River has been a backwater surrounded by a clotted jungle full of anteaters, toucans, and bellowing howler monkeys. On a promontory above, shaped like the prow of a massive ship, sit the ruins of El Castillo de San Lorenzo el Real de Chagre, or Fort San Lorenzo, which defended the important trade route between 1626 and 1741. It was sacked several times, including by Morgan’s men on their way to Panama City in 1671. Fritz Hanselmann, an underwater archaeologist at Texas State University, is looking for evidence of the privateer’s Panamanian raid—but not in the fort. He’s focused on a string of whitecaps in the sea 200 yards from it, treacherous Lajas Reef, which sank five of Morgan’s ships, including his flagship Satisfaction.

Congratulations to Fritz for getting great media coverage for a first-class shipwreck project. Click here to read the whole article!

March 19, 2013

Research in the British Archives Makes the News, and Another Great Discovery!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

This letter, dated 9 January 1783, from East Florida's British Governor, Patrick Tonyn, to the British Commander in Chief Sir Guy Carleton in New York, reports the loss off St. Augustine of the Rattlesnake, along with two victualing ships and six private vessels.

As I've blogged earlier, I recently made a trip to England where I spent four days immersed in dusty old volumes and sheafs of parchment, searching for clues to the identity of our shipwreck here off the coast of St. Augustine. Our PR specialist Steve Higgans put word out on the trip in the form of a press release, and it attracted some attention both near and far.

From Jacksonville's newspaper, Florida Times-Union:

Chuck Meide let his fingers do the walking through Britain’s National Archives, and the trip shed new light on the ship that probably wrecked off St. Augustine toward the end of the Revolutionary War in 1782.

But while the recent document search gave a new clue to the mystery ship’s identity, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum’s archaeology director also found another that says it shouldn’t have been anywhere near St. Augustine.

Continue reading "Research in the British Archives Makes the News, and Another Great Discovery!" »

March 14, 2013

Spring Break Scribing!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

One of our favorite students, Maggie Burkett, has returned to St. Augustine while on Spring Break from her undergraduate studies at Juniata Collage. Like most college students, she has decided to forgo beer and beaches on her Spring Break to come to LAMP to clean shipwreck artifacts in the laboratory! Ok, maybe she's not like most students. But we are glad to have her, even for a day, and her efforts have helped us move closer to the conservation of this iron cauldron recovered from the Storm Wreck, a British shipwreck lost off St. Augustine in December 1782.

Maggie hasn't been our only volunteer working on artifact cleaning for us this spring . . .

Continue reading "Spring Break Scribing!" »

March 11, 2013

The Ponce de Leon Controversy Continues . . .

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner

Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP's Director of Archaeology, was recently interviewed by the Florida Today regarding Ponce de Leon's landing site.

The controversy continues . . . did Ponce de Leon land in North Florida, as his log indicates? Or did he land further south, near Melbourne, where an avocational historian has traced his route as best he could reconstruct it using a modern sailboat? It is a matter of local pride for those of us in North Florida . . . and those in Melbourne. A recent article in Florida Todayallowed both sides to weigh in, including LAMP's own Dr. Sam Turner, a Ponce de Leon scholar.

From Florida Today:

When unconventional historian Douglas Peck and his loyal crewmate, Hooker the tabby cat, attempted in 1990 to retrace Juan Ponce de León’s voyage of exploration, they ended up sailing near the Melbourne Beach shoreline — not St. Augustine.

Did the duo successfully upend centuries of academic history?

According to most schoolbooks, the Spanish conquistador sighted shore near the present-day city of St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in North America.

Spirited debate continues on Ponce de León’s landing site. And Florida’s looming 500th anniversary has thrust this controversy into the spotlight, with the Space Coast taking center stage.

The article is substantial and worth a read, and there is a great little video to accompany it. Considering that the newspaper in question is based out of Melbourne, we had expected there might be a little home team bias. And there was a pretty important hole in Melbourne's argument that was not emphasized. The single primary piece of documentary evidence--the latitude recorded by Ponce de Leon the day before his landing--was not mentioned in the video at all. That latitude coordinate--30 degrees, 8 minutes--puts Ponce's landing somewhere in the Ponte Vedra area, north of St. Augustine (even with the understanding that 16th century instruments and astronomical tables don't have the accuracy of a modern GPS) . The alternative theory, based on a cruise taken in a marconi-rigged, modern sailboat, which certainly handles winds and seas very differently than a 16th century a square-rigged caravel, is based solely on a single voyage undertaken in the 20th century, not on a written fact in the historical record from the 16th century. You check it out and make your own decisions--we report, you decide!

February 5, 2013

All Work (and Some Play) in Jolly Olde England!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Director Chuck Meide (center) poses with 2012 Field School students and 2013 Field School Supervisors Olivia McDonald (left) and Loren Clark (right) outside the Lamp Lighters Pub in Leicester, England, during the 46th annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology.

2013 started with a bang for me as LAMP's Director, and for our research on the Storm Wreck, the Revolutionary War-era shipwreck that we have been excavating offshore St. Augustine. On January 8th I flew from Jacksonville to Heathrow Airport in London, from whence I would travel (along with my colleagues Dr. John de Bry from the Center for Historical Archaeology and Michael Krivor from Southeastern Archaeological Research, who arrived on a later flight) by train to the city of Leicester, in the East Midlands of England.

In Leicester this year were the meetings of the Society for Historical Archaeology, or more formally the 46th annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology. After five days at the conference, networking with archaeological colleagues from across the globe (including some of our former field school students) and hearing everyone's latest research, I was to spend an additional four days in London, at a bed and breakfast in Kew, where I was eagerly awaiting the chance to peruse documents in the National Archives (formerly the Public Records Office), in an attempt to learn as much as we possibly could about the Storm Wreck which we have been excavating offshore St. Augustine.

Continue reading "All Work (and Some Play) in Jolly Olde England!" »

So You Want to Own a Lighthouse, Do You . . . ?

Posted by: Chuck Meide


A great blog entry has been making the rounds lately, written by Craig Morrison, the owner of the Execution Rocks Lighthouse in Long Island Sound. In his Diary of a Light Keeper he tells the story of how he was first inspired to seek out, acquire, and manage his own lighthouse. We here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum are proud that we played a role in his inspiring story:

Sometime back around 2001, I was watching the NPR show on TV about the lighthouse act written by Gale Norton, Secretary of the Department of the Interior with my girlfriend/attorney, Linell. I asked if we could start a nonprofit and get one. She agreed.

I found a course at St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida, hosted by the US Coast Guard, the National Park Service, the GSA, among many other lighthouse constituents. Linell and I spent a week in classes about bricks and Fresnel lenses and the Secretary of the Interior's standards for lighthouse restoration. We bought the book in print, which is now available online. We also met a lot of folks that had ownership interests in lighthouses and that were interested in getting one. Some folks just loved lighthouses.

Our Lighthouse here in St. Augustine was chosen as the first to be turned over to a responsible non-profit organization by the Department of Interior, and we organized and ran the training course that Mr. Morrison refers to. So we are proud to be a leader that has helped the cause of Lighthouse preservation not only in our nation's oldest port but elsewhere across America.

Craig's story is a great read! Check out the whole thing for yourself here!

LAMP's Dr. Sam Turner to Write a Series on Ponce de Leon for Florida Newspapers

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Dr. Sam Turner began writing a new series of articles on the history of Juan Ponce de Leon's voyage of discovery that are running in a number of Florida newspapers.

Dr. Sam Turner, one of LAMP's archaeologists and a historian specializing in reading 16th century Spanish script, was invited to write a series of articles on Juan Ponce de Leon for the local newspaper, the St. Augustine Record. Debuting on January 20, the articles were picked up by a number of other Florida newspapers, including the Tallahassee Democrat. We are proud that Dr. Turner will reach such a wide readership as he explores the history of this fascinating Spanish conquistador, who 500 years ago this year was the first European to formally discover and name the land of Florida.

From the St. Augustine Record, 20 January 2013:

In the port of Yuma, in the province of Higüey on the eastern end of the island of Espanola, a fleet assembled. The province of Higüey had been conquered by Juan Ponce de Leon and Spanish troops in 1504 and Ponce was selected by the governor of Espanola to administer the newly conquered territory. It was the big break that put Ponce on the stage of history.

Thus began the epic voyage that would lead to the discovery of Florida in April of 1513, and culminate with Ponce de Leon's death in an attempt to colonize the peninsula. We hope everyone will read along with each installment as we apply some serious scholarship to the dramatic story of Ponce de Leon!

Read the first installment, 20 January 2013, here.

Read the second installment, 03 February 2013, here.

January 23, 2013

Newly Discovered Shipwreck on Cumberland Island

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The remains of a wrecked wooden ship, or a section of a wrecked vessel, were recently discovered on Cumberland Island, a barrier island north of St. Augustine on the Georgia coastline. Cumberland Island National Seashore is within the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and therefore National Park Service archaeologists from the Southeastern Archaeological Center will be investigating this interesting find. It is reminiscent of ship remains that have been found on the beach here in our area, includingthe Blowhole Wreck, the Ponte Vedra Beach Wreck, and the Vilano Beach Rudder and Chainplate sites.

From News4Jax.com:

ST. MARYS, Ga. - Cumberland Island National Seashore on Tuesday announced the discovery of a previously undocumented shipwreck located within the boundaries of the seashore.

The wreck, first discovered by Cumberland Island National Seashore maintenance staff, was uncovered during a period of unusually high tides and surf. This is the first documented shipwreck found along the shoreline since the park became a part of the National Park system in 1972.

The park's Resource Management staff made an initial assessment and National Park Service Archaeologists based at the Southeast Archaeological Center in Tallahassee, Fla., conducted excavations last week.

Read the entire article here.

December 11, 2012

Focus on the St. Augustine Inlet

Posted by: Chuck Meide

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection vessel, participating in their St. Augustine training program, powers through the inlet, between channel markers and with the sea buoy in the background. Photo by Peter Willott, courtesy of the St. Augustine Record.

In last Sunday's local newspaper there was a great article on St. Augustine's Inlet. Our port's connection to the sea has always been a vital but potentially dangerous link to the outside world, and the hazards of navigating the channel are still well-known to mariners today, as they were for hundreds of years.

From the St. Augustine Record:

With constantly shifting sands, the St. Augustine Inlet has always been a challenge to navigate, and vessels have foundered trying to enter the nation’s oldest port since the earliest days of colonization. Even the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Notice to Mariners lists the St. Augustine Inlet as “dangerous due to shifting shoaling.”

LAMP's own Brendan Burke, a licensed boat captain, was consulted for the article and his quotes are prominently featured:

Continue reading "Focus on the St. Augustine Inlet" »

December 6, 2012

Lucky Winner Takes Home Handmade Wooden Boat Built by LAMP Boatworks

Posted by: Chuck Meide

On Wednesday, December 5th, during the Lighthouse's Luminary Night holiday event, we drew the winning ticket in our LAMP Boatworks drawing. This raffle has been an annual event here for the last three years, and is a great way to fund our heritage boatbuilding program.

This year our boatbuilders constructed a beautiful little Chaisson tender, a stylish design dating from the early 1900s renowned for tending sailboats and yachts. The drawing was held at 8:30 pm and the lucky winner is . . . . Glynn McCoy, from Flagler County south of St. Augustine. Congratulations to Ms. McCoy for winning this fabulous little boat, and thanks to all of you that supported our boatbuilding program by participating in the drawing!

December 2, 2012

Lighthouse Seeks Volunteer Ship Model Builders

Posted by: Chuck Meide


From the article in the St. Augustine Record:

When Katie McNally, from Ontario, N.Y., donated nine model boats to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum in the autumn of 2011, one was held back. It wasn’t finished. It was the hull of the model of the British Ship HMS Victory, and it was being completed by her husband James G. (Jim) McNally, Jr. when he passed on in 2005.

The model ended up in the hands of the family friend, Doug Anderson, of Marsh Creek, who gave much of his time, driving and arranging the prior model ship donations to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, St. Augustine’s only Smithsonian Affiliate Museum.

The museum is looking for a volunteer modeler or modelers to take the unfinished hull in Anderson’s possession and complete it during the museum’s public hours. The volunteer or volunteers will be requested to work on the model and, at the same time, talk to the public about model building, why it is important to museums, and how it helps inform those who study ships and Atlantic Navigation. “There is much more to the art and craft of model building” than you can imagine, said museum curator Kathleen McCormick. The modelers can select from a variety of upcoming dates during the Sea Your History Weekends program funded by the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council.

We have already had a few calls from model shipwrights interested in volunteering. In addition to the model of HMS Victory, we also have an unfinished model of the Civil War privateer Jefferson Davis that is in need of completion. If you have these skills and are interested in donating your time to these projects, please contact us at 904-829-0745, or email Dr. Sam Turner at sturner@staugustinelighthouse.org.

Read the entire article here.

November 21, 2012

NOAA announces new Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail webpage

Posted by: Chuck Meide


NOAA has just announced the debut of their Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail website. It looks like a great one! The website houses videos that highlight some of the most iconic locations along the Outer Banks, oral histories from residents that personally experienced WWII along the East Coast, and multiple images. The website shares a wealth of information related to the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks, a 200-mile long series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia. This area was so dangerous to seafarers that its vast number of shipwrecks have earned it the nickname "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." Its great to see such a great webpage resulting from the work that NOAA and other agencies have conducted in that region.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

November 16, 2012

11/16-17/2012: Sea Your History Weekend

Posted by: Chuck Meide

We are having our first Sea Your History Weekend starting Friday November 16 with events on both Friday and Saturday.

Friday at 3:00 there is a Lost Ships Archaeo Tour lead by Chuck Meide, Director of LAMP. Paul Johnston, the Curator of Maritime Archaeology from the Smithsonian will also be on hand. Folks can buy tickets on our website or at the counter for $24.00.

Paul Johnston will be joining the Tower Club Haunted Pub Crawl as well on Friday evening at 7:00 PM. Join us for a night of spirits and . . . more spirits! Those who buy these tickets will get in for the lecture on Saturday as well.

Saturday at 6:30 AM Kathleen McCormick, Lighthouse & Museum Director of Collections, will be hosting a Sunrise Tour. Come watch the sunrise from the best view in town!

Saturday at 9:00 AM until around 1:00 PM there will be a boatbuilding demonstration. This is free with paid admission so come by and check out our boatbuilders planking a traditional flat-bottomed spritsail skiff!

Saturday at 11:00 AM Paul Johnston, underwater archaeologist from the Smithsonian Institution, will present on the history of maritime archaeology at the Smithsonian. This event is free with admission.

Sea Your History is a series of weekend events that is being paid for by a grant from the Tourist Development Council.

Continue reading "11/16-17/2012: Sea Your History Weekend" »

October 6, 2012

Great story on the Storm Wreck in Charleston's Paper

Posted by: Chuck Meide

A really great article on our work on the Storm Wreck just came out in the Charleston paper, The Post and Courier:

This week, archaeologists with the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum found a button on a Florida shipwreck that may help identify it as one of those ships that left Charleston in the waning days of the Revolutionary War.

Chuck Meide, archaeology director at the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, said divers found a button on the ship that appears to have the number “74” on it. That could identify it as a button of the uniform of a soldier in the British Army’s 74th Regiment, Campbell’s Highlanders.

That regiment helped evacuate Charleston more than two years after they took the city in the longest siege of the Revolution.

Meide said the button only reinforces the belief that they are excavating one of the lost Loyalist ships.

“It’s just like everything is really coming together, every piece we find,” Meide said.

We have since realized that what we thought was a 74 is actually a 71, which makes more sense as the 71st Regiment was in Charleston and evacuated on the last fleet to leave that city.

Read the entire article here, its great!

October 5, 2012

Day of Discovery, Part 2

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Volunteer Karen Paradiso holding up her latest discovery!

Well, on Tuesday we had quite a day sorting through dredge spoil from the late 1700s Storm Wreck. We thought she was exceptionally lucky to find a coin in her first hour of sorting, on her first day. She must be, because she made another great find today!

Continue reading "Day of Discovery, Part 2" »

October 4, 2012

Button from shipwreck identifies it as Revolutionary War shipwreck

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Check out this story in the local paper, the St. Augustine Record:

A corroded uniform button found in the mud off the St. Augustine Beach pier could be the “smoking gun” that leads to identifying a mystery shipwreck.

And the copper coin with a face of what could be Britain’s King George found by a Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program volunteer just adds to evidence that the wreck could be part of a British Revolutionary War fleet that fled Charleston in 1782.

Read the entire story, but note that at the time it was printed we has misinterpreted the button as having a "74" on it. It is actually a 71, but the significance is the same--the 71st Regiment was stationed in Charleston and evacuated on the last fleet to leave the city, the same fleet that lost 16 ships on the St. Augustine bar on December 31st, 1782.

October 3, 2012

Day of Discovery!!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The copper coin which was found by a volunteer when sorting through dredge spoil from this summer's excavations on the late 1700s Storm Wreck. And that wasn't the day's only exciting discovery . . .

Yesterday started out like any other day. I had a manager's meeting to attend, the other LAMPers were busy with various projects, and several volunteers were bustling about the office with projects of their own. Before I left the barracks for my meeting, I briefly chatted with a volunteer, Karen, who for her first time was going to sort through our dredge spoil. "Now, you'll probably find some lead shot from the shipwreck," I told her. "You may not find too much else. This can sometimes be a thankless, tedious job. But, you never know. You never know what you may find, you never know what great discovery you might make."

Boy, was I ever right!

Continue reading "Day of Discovery!!" »

October 1, 2012

Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar in Cortez, Florida

Posted by: Brendan Burke

HADS Attendees

I recently attended the Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar, a training session hosted by the Florida Public Archaeology Network and the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research. The goal of the program is to train dive leaders from around the state, from dive shops, and teachers about the value of submerged cultural heritage. Seminar organizers included Dr. Della Scott-Ireton (FPAN), who talked about the value of underwater sites and provided an overview of sites that have been destroyed by mismanagement, looting, and treasure hunting; Jeff Moates (FPAN), who provided a detailed history of the maritime lanscape around Tampa Bay; and Franklin Price (BAR) who provided an in-depth discussion of the laws and regulations established to protect underwater archaeological sites. The seminar was hosted at the Cortez Maritime Museum in the historic fishing community of Cortez. Located near Bradenton Beach, this small community has fought to preserve its strong fishing traditions and the sound of air nailers repairing stone crab pots resounded through the neighborhood as we walked around. On Saturday we dived the USS Narcissus, an army tug that sank on New Years Day in 1866 during a storm. The tug's boiler blew up and killed 29 out of 30 crewmen. It was one of the bloodiest ship losses suffered by the US Navy during the period of the Civil War. The Narcissus had taken part in the battle of Mobile Bay and had hit one of the 'damned' torpedoes that Adm. Farragut so vehemently despised. Click on this into to see pictures from the trip!

Continue reading "Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar in Cortez, Florida" »

Former LAMP Director Named State Underwater Archaeologist for North Carolina

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Billy Ray Morris, who founded LAMP in 1999.

Former Director and founder of LAMP, Billy Ray Morris, recently accepted the job of North Carolina State Underwater Archaeologist. Morris will run the state's Underwater Archaeology Branch at Kure Beach, North Carolina.

From the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Newsroom:

His work at Cultural Resources will include expansion of the state’s shipwreck data files, and sharing that information with students and professional researchers. He will process permit applications for exploration of historic resources in state waters, and will also guide research on the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck, and on numerous Civil War shipwrecks and other sites yet undiscovered.

Morris has worked for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, and the Lighthouse Maritime Archaeological Program, which he founded and directed.

Billy Ray is a great archaeologist and will be a real benefit for the people of North Carolina. We wish him the best of luck in this new endeavor!

September 19, 2012

9/19/2012 Lecture: Atlantic World Impact of African Religions on Christianity

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Lecture, Atlantic World Impact of African Religions on Christianity
Who: Dr. John Sensbach
Where: Anastasia Gallery (upstairs Keepers' House), St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
When: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 7:00-9:00 pm

On September 19th, Dr. John Sensbach of the University of Florida will share examples of the Atlantic World Impact of African Religions on Christianity, both in the alterations of worship habits and the cultural impact of Europeans and Americans. This is funded by the Florida Humanities The time is from 7:00pm – 9:00pm. This event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Anastasia Gallery at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.

September 15, 2012

9/15-16/2012: "Sea Your History" Weekend

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Sea Your History Weekend Schedule

Saturday September 15, 2012

Archaeology Under the Sea (ArcheoTour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)


VIP Lightkeeper’s Tour - (Behind the Scenes Tour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)

Building Maritime History Fountain of Youth)

Archaeology Under the Sea – (ArcheoTour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)
VIP Lightkeeper’s Tour (Behind the Scenes Tour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)

Building Maritime History – .(Fountain of Youth)

4:00-6:00 Bienvenidos! Welcome Happy Hour Concert – Celebrate the Sounds of the Southeast (GTMNERR)

6:30 to 8:30 Sunset by the Sea – Sunset Kayak Experience (GTMNERR)

Sunday, September 16, 2012
Archaeology Under the Sea – (ArcheoTour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)


VIP Lightkeeper’s Tour - (Behind the Scenes Tour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)

Building Maritime History (Fountain of Youth)
Archaeology under the Sea – (ArcheoTour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)

VIP Lightkeeper’s Tour - (Behind the Scenes Tour - St. Augustine Lighthouse)

Building Maritime History (Fountain of Youth)

August 27, 2012

CrabTrap Roundup a Grand Success!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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


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

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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



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


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

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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 . . .

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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


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

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


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.

Continue reading "Lighthouse's "French Connection" and the State French Heritage Trail" »

July 16, 2012

Musket Raised From Shipwreck Makes Big Splash in News!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

On Thursday LAMP's team of archaeologists recovered an encrusted flintlock musket from the site of the Storm Wreck, a late 18th century shipwreck that has been the focus of excavation every summer since 2010. Frequent storms, unusual for the summer months, have caused significant delays in this year's fieldwork, by burying the site and by preventing us from being able to work it. It took a few weeks to uncover our grids and get our travel and grid lines back into a usable system, and we have found a number of artifacts becoming exposed due to erosion at what we thought were the boundaries of our site. One of these objects was discovered on the previous Tuesday, by yours truly. After groping around in the dark and feeling the object, I was pretty sure that it was a musket, as it was about the right length and appeared to feature the trigger guard and the remains of the stock in about the right place. Subsequent diving by some of our archaeologists who have worked with historic firearms confirmed its identity, and we brought it up to the surface and back home safely on Friday.

Lots of great news stories have come out of this latest find. Check out some of the links below . . .

Channel 4 story and video

Channel 4 slideshow

Florida Times-Union
(Jacksonville newspaper), a great story by Dan Scanlan

St. Augustine Record story

We even got some interest from Spanish-language outlets, including Que, Yahoo! Espanol, El Confidencial, and Canarias7.

We've been so busy with our summer Field School and field season that we haven't been updating the blog regularly, but stay tuned, we'll have some more updates online soon!

July 15, 2012

7/15-20/2012 Sonar Workshop

Posted by: Chuck Meide


UPDATE: The 2012 Sonar Training Workshop was a great success! Class participants not only learned the basics of deploying and using the sonar in the field, of crunching data and manipulating and mosaicking sonar imagery, but they actually discovered a new archaeological site in the form of an old 19th century anchor! If you are interested in this training experience, contact us and let us know, we can arrange customized dates to fit your schedule.

Sonar Training Workshop (July 15-20 2012)

This class will indoctrinate the student on the basic principles of archaeological underwater survey using sidescan sonar technology. Through the one-week course, a series of classroom and field experiences will demonstrate and directly involve students in the procedures of establishing a survey plan and enacting it. After learning how to gather data, then collecting it, students will learn how to mosaic sidescan imagery and create a deliverable product used for analysis and presentation. By the end of the course, each student will have operated a sidescan sonar, used it to identify underwater features, and helped compile an acoustic survey report.

Continue reading "7/15-20/2012 Sonar Workshop" »

June 4, 2012

2012 Underwater Archaeology Field School

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The 2012 Field School in Maritime Archaeology will run from June 4 to June 29, 2012. Each year LAMP sponsors this internationally acclaimed opportunity for training in maritime and underwater archaeology. Students from universities across the U.S. and abroad will come to learn these specialized skills by working side by side with LAMP archaeologists. Participants will be 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 will also host an evening lecture series with field school instructors and visiting professionals from various public, private and academic institutions throughout Florida.

Follow the links below for more information, or continue reading after the fold . . .

Click here to see the official webpage for the 2012 Field School, with complete information on activities, lodging, applications, paperwork, etc.

Click here to see an article on the field school in the Jacksonville newspaper, the Florida Times Union.

Continue reading "2012 Underwater Archaeology Field School" »

May 23, 2012

LAMP Hosts New ArchaeoTours

Posted by: Chuck Meide


LAMP has been working hard at developing a new program to share our archaeological discoveries with the public. The new Lost Ships ArchaeoTours program was recently announced in the Jacksonville newspaper, the Florida Times-Union.

From the Times-Union:

Learn more about the lost ships of St. Augustine as the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program hosts Archaeo Tours, a 90-minute tour into parts of the historic light station and maritime archaeology laboratory facilities.

The tours are guided by a lighthouse archaeologist who explores the ships wrecked off the coast of the nation's oldest port. The tours include information on how archaeologists excavate each underwater site as they find artifacts untouched by human hands for centuries.

Information on "Storm Wreck," the program's most recently excavated shipwreck, is also part of the tour as is an insider's look at how these artifacts are conserved.

The tours include a multimedia presentation that dives even deeper underwater to investigate wrecks off the coast of St. Augustine. The historic Keepers' House and the 160-foot-tall lighthouse are open for participants after the tours, as are refreshments.

The Lost Ships Archaeo Tours are held three times per day on Mondays and Fridays. Visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org to review tour times, with others scheduled for groups or large parties with advanced notice. Reservations are required, $48 per ticket, at (904) 829-0745 or www.staugustinelighthouse.org.

For more information, check out the Lost Ships ArchaeoTours page!

St. Augustine Lighthouse Featured in the News

Posted by: Chuck Meide

An amusing story that came out in the local press after Al Roker mispronounced the name of our nation's oldest port. The story also happens to feature a number of interviews of tourists and our favorite historical reenactor, James Bullock, that took place here at the Lighthouse.

May 17, 2012

Cannon Treatment Continues

Posted by: Chuck Meide

After draining the electrolytic solution it has been soaking in, the iron 4-pounder cannon recovered from the Storm Wreck is exposed for all to see. The solution needs to be periodically changed as it soaks up dissolved salts from the iron gun.

Yesterday our visitors got a special treat, as our Archaeological Conservator Starr Cox lead a team of interns and volunteers in the changing of the water from one of our two cannon vats. These two cannons were brought up by LAMP archaeologists almost one year ago, and have been undergoing treatment ever since. Take a look below the fold to read a bit about what it takes to conserve a 200 year old cannon completely saturated in seawater, and to see some photos from the water change.

Continue reading "Cannon Treatment Continues" »

May 9, 2012

LAMP Boatworks Launches Hull #LMP0009!!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Yesterday morning a brand new vessel slipped into the waters of Salt Run, a Chaisson dory tender built by the LAMP Boatworks. The hull is the ninth project from the Boatworks and is a style of hull that dates to the early 20th century in Swampscott, Massachusetts from the shop of George Chaisson. These popular and stylish 10' tenders were designed as auxiliary boats for larger sailboats or yachts. Their timeless beauty has preserved the hull type and this boat is the second Chaisson built here at the LAMP Boatworks. She has been built as the 2012 LAMP Boatworks drawing boat. Tickets for the boat are available here in the museum gift shop and are $5 each or a bargain deal of 5 for $20. The drawing will take place on December 5th, 2012 at our Luminary Night event. You stand a 1 in a 1000 chance of winning a beautiful little boat worth thousands, so get your chance now and we wish you luck!

Click here to see more pictures LMP0009, the Chaisson Dory Tender!

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Launches Hull #LMP0009!!" »

May 4, 2012

Update from the Teaching With Small Boats Conference!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

I am sitting on the banks of the Puget Sound this evening, waiting for dinner, and enjoying the beautiful scenery of western Washington state. Under my feet is a pebble beach, a log for my butt, behind me is a well ordered row of woody cabins. In front of me is a mile wide stretch of water about 48 degrees but crystal clear and full of sea lions, otters, salmon, dungeness crabs, and gray whales. On the other side is Whidby Island, framed at times by the even more distant but majestic Olympic Mountains. Rising to over 12000 feet, their snowy crags are a reminder of the youthful vigor of the landscape, the restless Pacific Rim. Eagles chatter and whistle from the giant cedar trees and the lapping of the water are all that meets the ears.

No trip to Seattle would be complete without a shot of the Space Needle, but I thought I'd add the flair of the conference to this picture. Superposed on the Space Needle is the mainmast and rig for the schooner Lavengro, a beautiful 1920s Biloxi lugger now sailing Lake Union.

But that us not why I am here. LAMP sent me here to learn from the best institutions in the country who build wooden boats and train young people in solid math and science skills using a philosophy that 'boats build people', not the other way around. Groups from all over the country are here to share their success stories in programming and it has been an astounding success. How do I measure this success? The 80 or so participants who have participated this weekend have kept a remarkable energy going to blend ideas, come up with new ones, and refine existing concepts of how to make our young people better, smarter, and stronger. While we do many of these things at the Lighthouse Museum with our education programming, we are thinking about making the LAMP Boatworks more of a part of this. It has been a successful part of the museum and deserves to share its skills with a broader group.

Continue reading "Update from the Teaching With Small Boats Conference!" »

Artifact Cleaning Continues in the Laboratory

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Volunteer archaeologist Brian McNamara and intern Julie Powell cleaning copper-alloy artifacts that have recently completed electrolysis at the LAMP Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.

Just a quick blog post to let folks know out there that conservation activities are progressing in the LAMP laboratory! We have recently had some iron artifacts, recovered by archaeologists from a colonial site in New Smyrnia, finish electrolysis treatment and final coating, and we have also had a batch of copper-alloy artifacts, from a variety of shipwreck sites, finish their electrolytic treatment. Our volunteers and interns are now physically and chemically cleaning these objects by soaking in vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, and by scrubbing with baking soda. They will eventually be coated with a special finish to help prevent future corrosion. Most of these artifacts are spikes and other ship fasteners from the Steamship and Ballast Pile Wreck Site recovered in 2009, along with a brass belt or strap buckle recovered in 2010 from the late 1700s Storm Wreck.

Stay tuned for more updates! We are gearing up for our Field School and subsequent field season and are planning on lots of blog updates!

Julie cleans a brass belt or strap buckle recovered from the Storm Wreck, which was lost off St. Augustine sometime shortly after 1780.

April 30, 2012

5/1/2012: SAAA Meeting and Lecture (LAMP Research Update)

Posted by: Chuck Meide

When: Tuesday, May 1, at 7:00pm
What: St. Augustine Archaeological Association Meeting & Lectures by Local Archaeologists
Where: the Flagler Room, Flagler College
Who:Chuck Meide (Director, LAMP), Robin Moore (St. Johns County Historic Resources Specialist), and Sarah Miller (Florida Public Archaeology Network, Northeast Regional Director)

Join us for the St. Augustine Archaeological Association's last meeting before breaking for the summer! We'll hear from three local archaeologists: Chuck Meide of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, St. Johns County Historic Resources Specialist Robin Moore, and FPAN Northeast Director Sarah Miller! Each will be providing their annual update overviewing the results of their program's research in the last year.
This event is free and open to the public.

April 26, 2012

The Bounty Safely Docked in St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


We blogged the other day about the impending arrival of the replica tallship Bounty. As of 1:00 pm yesterday, after two weeks at sea, the Bounty crossed through the Bridge of Lions and safely docked at the City Marina. Some of our Lighthouse volunteers, including Maurey Keiser, escorted the proud ship in with his own sailboat, some of us watched from the Bridge, and some of us witnessed the arrival with binoculars from the top of the tower. What an exciting day, and what a beautiful ship!

From the St. Augustine Record:

As the HMS Bounty made its way through the Bridge of Lions early Wednesday afternoon, the crowd of people on the bridge burst into applause. Hundreds of others, stationed all along the waterfront from the Castillo de San Marcos to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, waved and cheered the three-masted wooden vessel as boats of all shapes and types buzzed around the harbor, escorting the ship.

The Bounty will be open for tours Friday through Sunday. Tickets are available at the City Marina.This Saturday marks the 223rd anniversary of the original mutiny on the Bounty, which took place on April 28, 1789.

The St. Augustine Record compiled a great slideshow of the Bounty's arrival, and also this video below. Its great to see a historic sailing ship in our port, and to imagine how for centuries tall masts dotted our harbor like a forest on the water.

4/26/2012 Volunteer Barbeque and Introduction to our New Volunteer Coordinator, Loni Wellman

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Volunteer Appreciation Barbeque
Where: Front lawn of the Keeper's House, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
When: Thursday, 26 April 2012 from 12:30 to 2:30 pm
Who: All Lighthouse and LAMP volunteers are invited to welcome our new Volunteer Coordinator, Loni Wellman!

We are having a Thank You Barbeque for all volunteers on April 26 from 12:30 until 2:30 here at the Lighthouse front lawn. Come enjoy yummy barbeque (slow-cooked by our own Rick and Lee) and great company! Volunteers will receive a small thank you gift from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. This will also be an opportunity for everyone to meet Loni, our new Volunteer Coordinator.

After a lengthy search and grueling interview process, we are pleased to announce Loni Wellman as our new Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator. She will start with the team Monday, April 23, 2012. Loni earned her M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and her B.A. in history from Flagler College. She has worked at several museums in various capacities, including the Children’s Museum of Memphis, Art and History Museums-Maitland, Orlando Science Center, and the Center for Science and Industry, Toledo. Her experience will be an asset to the organization, and her enthusiasm will undoubtedly be contagious!

We would also like to extend a big THANK YOU to our dedicated and long-time volunteer Lee McConkey for providing his time and input as part of the interview and selection team.

April 25, 2012

4/25/2012 Lecture: Why a Chalupa?

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: Lecture, "Why a Chalupa?"
Where: St. Augustine Yacht Club
When: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 5:00-6:30 pm
Who: Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP
Food: Beverages and light dinner available for purchase

This lecture is co-sponsored by the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation, and LAMP and the First Light Maritime Society. Dr. Sam Turner will be speaking about our joint project, to build an archaeologically and historically authentic replica of a sixteenth century watercraft used by the first Spanish settlers in St. Augustine.

April 24, 2012

The Bounty Comes to St. Augustine!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Tomorrow morning, sometime around 0800, the tall ship Bounty should be arriving off the St. Augustine Inlet and preparing to sail into Matanzas Bay. She is a replica of the well-known British naval vessel which saw the infamous mutiny against Captain Bligh in 1789. Drawing 13 feet of water, she will have to wait for the high tide in order to enter the harbor and cross under the Bridge of Lions and dock at the City Marina, where the public can tour her decks on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

From the St. Augustine Record:

The HMS Bounty, a replica of one of the most famous ships in the world, was built for the 1962 MGM movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard. The Bounty has also appeared in several other motion pictures over the years, including “Treasure Island,” and two of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies starring Johnny Depp.

The Bounty, which has just begun its 2012 East Coast tour, will come through the St. Augustine Inlet, possibly as early as Wednesday, and tie up at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, where she will be available to the public for tours Friday through Sunday.

Continue reading "The Bounty Comes to St. Augustine!" »

April 19, 2012

5/5/2012 Lecture: The Caribbean World of Juan Ponce de León and His Discovery of Florida

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner


What: Lecture: "The Caribbean World of Juan Ponce de León and His Discovery of Florida"

Where: Flagler College Ringhaver Student Center
When: Saturday May 5, 2012 10:00 - 11:00AM


Where: The Gallery, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
When: Saturday May 5, 2012 1:00 - 2:00PM

Who: Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP

This is one of a number of lectures sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council and organized by Flagler College as part of the Viva Florida 500 commemoration. The series runs in various locations in St. Augustine May 3 -6, 2012. More information on these events can be seen here, but please note the place and time of Dr. Turner's lectures are mistakenly transposed at the linked webpage; the correct times and places are as listed above.

4/19/2012 Lecture: Lost Ships

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner


What: Lecture, "Lost Ships"
Where: R. B. Hunt Elementary School
When: Thursday April 19, 6:30 to 7:30
Who: Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP

Private lecture for a local Boy Scout Troop will discuss the nature of shipwrecks and some of the history associated with wrecks in the St. Augustine area.

Ring Power, with its roots in St. Augustine's maritime industry, celebrates its 50th Anniversary

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Diesel Engine Sales Company, or DESCO, one of the largest companies building shrimp trawlers in the world, became the widely recognized and successful Ring Power in 1962. Here are photographs of DESCO employees posing for their 1200th boat launching in the 1960s along with the present-day employees of Ring Power outside the company headquarters at St. John's County World Commerce Center.

Here at the First Light Maritime Society, we have long celebrated the rich history of the shrimping industry centered in St. Augustine (we even had a shrimping float in the Easter Parade one year!) Our port was known for its shrimp boat building, and the most successful of these companies by far was DESCO, or Diesel Engine Sales Company. This company became Ring Power in 1962, and we are pleased to congratulate them on turning 50 years old this year!

You can read more about the company's history and its maritime roots in the great front-page story in the St. Augustine Record. The founder of the company, L.C. "Ring" Ringhaver, worked his way up through the DESCO ranks to become sole owner, and subsequent founder of Ring Power. His youngest son, Randy Ringhaver, now serves as the chairman and president. Mr.Ringhaver is a strong supporter of our community's maritime heritage and the company has provided funding for, among many other community charities, our publication of an upcoming book on St. Augustine's shrimping history--Shrimp Boats Are Coming--written by our partner Ed Long. Another recent donation was made to the museum's collections, a compilation of DESCO company photographs.

April 16, 2012

LAMP Boatworks Update

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The most recent project at the LAMP Boatworks. Foreground left is the Chaisson dory tender, a 17' spritsail skiff to right, and a 1760s ship's yawl in the background.

A quick update, since I’ve been remiss in sending one for a while. I hope this finds you all in kindred spirits and enjoying this fine weather. Things around the boatworks have been heating up this spring and continue to simmer at a solid pace.

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Update" »

April 15, 2012

Meetings Regarding Oil Exploration off the East Coast

Posted by: Chuck Meide

BOEM, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formerly known as Minerals Management Service), is hosting a series of meetings along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., to solicit public commentary regarding a proposal to use geological and geophysical activities in support of oil and gas exploration and the development of renewable energy sources off the Atlantic coast. Two of those meetings are in Jacksonville on Monday, 16 April 2012.

Continue reading "Meetings Regarding Oil Exploration off the East Coast" »

April 11, 2012

4/11/2012 Lecture: An Underwater Archaeologist's Adventures in Lifelong Learning

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Lecture, "An Underwater Archaeologist's Adventures in Lifelong Learning"
Who: Chuck Meide
Venue: The 23rd International Conference on College Teaching and Learning
Where: Sawgrass Mariott, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

LAMP's Director Chuck Meide was invited as a Featured Speaker at the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning, whose theme this year is "Lifelong Learning."

Continue reading "4/11/2012 Lecture: An Underwater Archaeologist's Adventures in Lifelong Learning" »

March 28, 2012

Congratulations to Kathy Fleming, Newest Member of the Florida Historical Commission!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Congratulations to Kathy Fleming, the Executive Director of the First Light Maritime Society, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, and LAMP, for her appointment by Florida's Governor to serve on the Florida Historical Commission! This is a great honor, and great news for maritime heritage fans in Florida. Way to go Kathy!

March 23, 2012

3/23/2012 Museum Gala: Legado

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Legado, a Gala celebrating our Spanish-American maritime heritage
Where: St. Johns County Visitor's Center, 10 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, Florida 32084
When: Friday, March 23, 2012, 6:30-10:30 pm
Dress: Black tie, or period costume
Highlights: Live music and dancing, with a performance by Museo Interactivo from Malaga, Spain; Silent Auction; Vignettes performed from the historical drama "Madness of King George"

For more information and ticket sales click here

All proceeds from this event go towards the work of the First Light Maritime Society, including continued LAMP archaeological research.

March 22, 2012

3/22/2012 Chalupa Keel Laying at Fountain of Youth

Posted by: Chuck Meide

On Thursday, 22 March, an event was held at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, north of the Lighthouse on the mainland in St. Augustine. It was a celebration of the start of a new boat construction project. LAMP is supporting this project by providing our partners at the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Fountain of Youth with data from our archaeological and historical research into the traditional Spanish boat known as a Chalupa. Many of the volunteer boatbuilders from LAMP Boatworks will be participating in the project, and several of them along with LAMP's Dr. Sam Turner are spearheading the project.

The program was a great success and you can read more about it in the St. Augustine Record.

March 21, 2012

3/21/2012 Lecture: The Minorcan Experience in New Smyrna

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Crossroads of Exchange Lecture Series, "The Minorcan Experience in New Smyrna,"
Who: Dr. Roger Clark Smith, historian and LAMP Research Associate
Where: Anastasia Gallery, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
When: Wednesday, March 21, 2012, at 7:00 pm

Continue reading "3/21/2012 Lecture: The Minorcan Experience in New Smyrna" »

3/21/2012 Lecture: Search for the Jefferson Davis Documentary

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Lecture, "Search for the Jefferson Davis Documentary"
Who: Joe Zarzynski, archaeologist and filmmaker, and Chuck Meide, LAMP Director
Where: Ponte Vedra Public Library, 101 Library Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082, Phone:(904)827-6950
When: Wednesday, March 21, 2012, at 6:30 pm

Continue reading "3/21/2012 Lecture: Search for the Jefferson Davis Documentary" »

March 17, 2012

3/17/2012 Festival: 20th Annual Lighthouse Festival

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: 20th Annual Lighthouse Festival
When: Saturday, March 17, 2012, from 11 am to 6 pm
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse
Highlights: Free admission, food, drink, pony rides, bouncy house, live entertainment, archaeology tables with artifact displays, boatbuilding and other crafts for kids, 5K run, and more!

March 9, 2012

LAMP Monitors Beach Dredging and Dredging Awareness

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The saga of our 450 year old shipping channel continues as dredging of the St. Augustine Inlet began last week. In an effort to both maintain safe bathymetry (enough deep water) and a big, wide beach, sand is pumped from the bottom of the inlet and onto St. Augustine Beach. LAMP is helping to guard our maritime history and ensure we don't lose anything to this important project.

Continue reading "LAMP Monitors Beach Dredging and Dredging Awareness" »

March 8, 2012

3/8/2012 Lecture: Maritime Archaeology at Achill Island, Ireland

Posted by: Chuck Meide

What: Beyond Our Backyard: Archaeology Around the World Lecture Series, "Maritime Archaeology at Achill Island, Ireland"
Who: Chuck Meide, LAMP Director
Where: Bowden Building, downtown Pensacola
When: Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 7:00 pm Central Time

Continue reading "3/8/2012 Lecture: Maritime Archaeology at Achill Island, Ireland" »

February 27, 2012

Weighing Anchor for the Capitol

Posted by: Brendan Burke

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


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

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 Señora 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


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

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...

Posted by: Brendan Burke

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!

January 30, 2012

LAMP Boatworks Update

Posted by: Brendan Burke

View image
The HMS Bounty, soon to be seen in our Nation's Oldest Port.

As usual, lots has been going on around the boatworks. Here's a quick update as to the most recent events...click to read on...

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Update" »

Galveztown replica ship in the news!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Boatworks chief boatbuilder Maury Keiser (right) and St. Augustine resident Roy Jaeger pose in front of the Galveztown's erect frames in Malaga, Spain.

From the Houston Chronicle:

GALVESTON - A visit from a replica of an 18th-century brig built from oak trees felled by Hurricane Ike is being delayed more than a year because of a complete redesign based on newly discovered documents.

Construction of the Galveztown in the Nereo Shipyard on the Spanish coast was halted because the architect found more details about the original design of the ship sailed by the Spanish governor of colonial Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, who mapped Galveston Bay and became the namesake of the island.

A keel designed for a 68-foot on-deck length had already been laid last year when naval architect Francisco Fernandez announced that he had learned that the original on-deck length was 56 feet, a full 12-feet shorter than originally thought.

Fernandez, reached by phone in Madrid, said he discovered the original dimensions by piecing together information from documents in the United States, Spain and Great Britain.

Continue reading "Galveztown replica ship in the news!" »

January 10, 2012

LAMP Heads Out to SHA 2012!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The pennant of the USLHS aboard Roper as we passed by the USS Constellation in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Read along here for an account of our recent trip to Baltimore to participate in the annual conference for the Society for Historic Archaeology. The conference theme was "By The Dawn's Early Light: Forging Identity, Securing Freedom, and Overcoming Conflict" As usual, LAMP brought all of its resources to bear and had a grand time presenting to, and learning from, other professionals in the field.

Continue reading "LAMP Heads Out to SHA 2012!" »

December 16, 2011

Happy Holidays From Our Friends At NOAA

Posted by: Brendan Burke

As people who live on the water for a chunk of the year, LAMP and the Lighthouse Staff spend a lot of time listening to "The Voice of the NOAA Weather Radio". This monodigital robotic drone accompanies many of my pre-dawn ministrations on the banks of Salt Run to get each day started during our field season. Similarly, while at sea we often catch an update to listen for encroaching storm fronts. I have listened with baited breath in the middle of the night to the scratchy voice piped in over 162.400mHz as seas increased or the weather seemed to grow filthy. Anchors get pulled, dock lines doubled, and hatches battened-down as a result of this electronic voice. For once, presented to you here, we can enjoy the mellifluous intonation of our government's weather apparatus sing us a holiday carol 'Deck the Halls'. Enjoy!! CLICK HERE FOR NOAA'S CHRISTMAS CAROL

December 8, 2011

Winner announced in the Susan skiff drawing!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


After a year of excitement and anticipation, the winning ticket was finally chosen on December 7th, during our annual Luminary Night holiday celebration.

Mr. Zachary Diaz of Miami, Florida, is the proud new owner of this lovely, tradtional wooden boat, handcrafted by our volunteers at the LAMP Boatworks. The winning ticket, No. 1201, was drawn at 8:30 pm and the phone call to Mr. Diaz was broadcast over the microphone to the assembled crowd. Mr. Diaz was so excited that he was jumping up and down!

Congratulations to Mr. Diaz. He will be picking up his new boat in the next three weeks. Looks like Christmas came a little early to the Diaz household!

November 30, 2011

Another plank for the yawlboat!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Things are happening around the yard here at the LAMP Boatworks. Yesterday Jim Gaskins and Maury Keiser attached another strake to the 1760s yawlboat. This boat is being built as a ship's boat for the GalveZtown, a ship that will be built in Malaga, Spain and arrive here in St. Augustine in 2013. The project is a reminder, or an education for many of us, that Spain played an important role in the American Revolution, similar to that played by France.

Click HERE to see a video of the strake being put on. Its not the clearest video but gives you an idea of what goes into just the laying of every one of the dozens of planks on this traditionalboat.

Click here for more information about the 1760s yawlboat.

November 23, 2011

LAMP Boatworks Update (23NOV2011)

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The USGC buoy tender Elm rescues the tug Beth McAllister on November 5th.

Click here for last week's LAMP Boatworks update
. I post them by email to our volunteer boatbuilders but its a good blog topic to keep everyone apprised of what it is we do here. I'll post some older ones too in the next blog entry. Enjoy!

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Update (23NOV2011)" »

November 21, 2011

Video Clips from the Cannon Unveiling

Posted by: Chuck Meide

In case you couldn't make it to our Cannon Unveiling last Friday, here are some videos.

A brief bit of the speech before the unveiling . . .

The cannons are revealed . . .

Close-up view of the markings on the carronade ("9 P" designating this gun as a 9-pounder, and the year 1780) . . .

Good view of the carronade, from muzzle to breech . . .

Good view of both guns . . .

We also had other artifacts from the Storm Wreck on display. Here two of our interns, Jessica Bunke (UNF) and Nicole Alvarez (Flagler College) show off some rare treasures at the artifact table (note when our intern says "cannon clapper" she meant bell clapper, from the ship's bell) . . .

Plus here is a video of our Archaeological Conservator Starr Cox discussing the stabilization process the cannons will undergo for the next one to two years . . .

Cannon Unveiling in the News!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The two cannons raised by LAMP archaeologists this summer, a 4-pounder cannon and a 9-pounder carronade, were revealed to the public last Friday.

The St. Augustine Record ran a great front page story on our cannons and our special Unveiling Event:

Archaeologists unveiled two centuries-old cannons, one with a very important inscription, at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum Friday night.

“It’s been hidden away for centuries,” said archaeologist Chuck Meide, director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Progam (LAMP), as he awaited the unveiling. “It hasn’t been touched for centuries.”

The cannons rested under a tent Friday night in the courtyard under the towering St. Augustine Lighthouse. They were unveiled amid a crowd historians, archaeologists, professors and others at an invitation-only event.

The cannon unveiling was a resounding success! Over a hundred people attended as we pulled back the sheets to reveal for the first time our two guns, cleaned of concretion. While the long gun did not feature any inscriptions, the carronade has proved to be a really unique piece. Its right trunnion bore the year the gun was cast, 1780, and the mark "9 P," which stands for 9-pounder (meaning this gun fired a cannon ball weighing 9 lbs). As it turns out, we now believe this is the second-earliest surviving carronade in the world (only one known carronade pre-dates it, in the collection of the Tower of London). It may also be the only surviving 9-pounder carronade, according to at least one source we have found. This carronade seems truly unique for a number of reasons--some of its features are very rare and reflect the fact that it is a very early example of what at the time was a new and high-tech weapon.

The story also made it into the Florida Times-Union, click here to read more about it.

November 18, 2011

11/18/2011 Museum Event: Cannon Unveiling

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Director Chuck Meide showing off one of two cannons recovered by LAMP archaeologists and revealed to the public on Friday, November 18th.

What: Cannon Unveiling Event
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse
When: Friday, November 18th, 2011

Join us for this premier museum event. On Friday evening we will be revealing to the public for the first time the two cleaned cannons recovered from the late 18th century Storm Wreck. One of these guns, a carronade manufactured by the Carron Iron Works in Falkirk, Scotland, featured a year which has helped us narrow the date of the shipwreck.

November 15, 2011

11/16/11 Lecture: Cruising in Traditional Small Craft

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: Lecture, "Cruising in Traditional Small Craft"
Who: Curt Bowman
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, Anastasia Gallery (Keepers' House, upstairs)
When: Wednesday, November 16, 7:00 pm
Sponsored by: LAMP, the First Light Maritime Society, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association.

Continue reading "11/16/11 Lecture: Cruising in Traditional Small Craft" »

November 14, 2011

LAMP Boatworks update (14NOV2011)

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Click here for the October 21st LAMP Boatworks update!
Click here for the November 23rd LAMP Boatworks update!

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks update (14NOV2011)" »

November 9, 2011

11/09/2011: Galveztown Replica Project Conference

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The Galveztown Replica Project Conference is this afternoon here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, with lecturers from as far away as Spain assembling to discuss this exciting project. The Galveztown was the American Revolution-era sailing brig that under the command of Bernardo de Galvez lead the expedition that captured Pensacola, thus taking both West and East Florida from the British during America's War of Independence. A team of shipwrights at the Astilleros Nereo shipyard in Malaga, Spain are planning on building a full-scale replica of this historic vessel.

October 26, 2011

LAMP's Cannon Raising Selected as CNN's Top Three Shipwreck Stories for 2011!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Check out CNN's top three shipwreck news stories for the year--our raising of two cannons from the late 1700s Storm Wreck made the top three list on the "Gotta Watch" section of CNN's "This Just In" news blog! Click here to watch the CNN coverage of our cannon raising, or to see footage of the other two stories!

October 21, 2011

LAMP Boatworks Update (21OCT2011)

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Click here to see the October 21 LAMP Boatworks update!

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Update (21OCT2011)" »

October 14, 2011

"Search for the Jefferson Davis" Documentary to Debut on National Archaeology Day at the Orlando Film Festival

Posted by: Chuck Meide


On Monday there was a great story in the St. Augustine Record announcing the debut of our documentary "The Search for the Jefferson Davis" at this year's Orlando Film Festival, which will be held on October 19-23. The documentary, produced by Pepe Productions whose director and crew came and filmed our archaeological team in June 2009, is an exciting glimpse into what goes into an archaeological search for a historic shipwreck of national significance. You can read more about the Jefferson Davis, and our ongoing search for her (the most successful privateer of the Civil War), here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The debut screening will coincide with National Archaeology Day, celebrated in both the U.S. and Canada.

We are really proud of the documentary and looking forward to its first public viewing. For those interested in seeing it at the Festival, the documentary will be shown at 2:10 p.m. Oct. 22 in Theatre 12 at Cinema City, Orlando, Florida.

Click here to see more information on the documentary debut posted on American Institute of Archaeology's National Archaeology Day Events webpage.

September 7, 2011

The 446th Anniversary of the Founding of St. Augustine Reenactment

Posted by: Chuck Meide


As discussed in an earlier blog post, Menendez made first landfall on our shore on September 7th, exactly 446 years ago today, and on the following day he formally founded the settlement that would last, becoming the oldest city and port in the nation.

This momentous occasion is being celebrated this year on Saturday, September 10th, with an exciting annual heritage event. Hosted by our friends at Florida Living History, Inc along with the Mission Nombre de Dios, the planned activities include:

• the historical re-enactment of Admiral Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’ landing in 1565.
• a grand procession to the Mission Nombre de Dios Museum following the Mass of Thanksgiving.
• a lecture on the founding of St. Augustine by Dr. Michael Gannon will follow the Mass and procession.

More information on the event is below . . .

Continue reading "The 446th Anniversary of the Founding of St. Augustine Reenactment" »

August 31, 2011

High School Students in Michigan Discover Shipwrecks with NOAA Archaeologists

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Tenth grader Yer Vang assists our friend and colleague Dr. Jim Delgado, a NOAA maritime archaeologist, on a project in the Great Lakes which let young people work with archaeologists on the search for sunken wrecks. Here in the nation's oldest port, LAMP archaeologists have been incorporating high school students into our underwater archaeology programs since 1999.

Congratulations to our friends and colleagues with NOAA's Marine Sanctuaries program, for a successful project using maritime archaeology to expand the horizons of regular kids. This same goal has been core to our mission at the First Light Maritime Society since the founding of LAMP in 1999, and in fact we pioneered what we believe to be the first program to team high school students with underwater archaeologists to work side by side on historic shipwreck sites. I thought I'd salute our colleagues who were so successful at a similar program, albeit one unique and exciting in its own right.

Working with the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron, which boasts hundreds of well-preserved shipwrecks in its frigid depths, a group of high school kids participating in NOAA's Project Shiphunt recently discovered two shipwrecks over a century old.

This quote from student Tierrea Billings sums up why we get kids involved with archaeology:

"I'm so used to, you know, being in the class room and being in one place and just being here. But when, like, I got to go out there and experience all this different technology and things that I never even heard of, it made me realize that there's so much that the world has to offer..."

Continue reading "High School Students in Michigan Discover Shipwrecks with NOAA Archaeologists" »

August 28, 2011

Our Nation's Oldest Port Turns 446 Years Old! (Almost)

Posted by: Chuck Meide

St. Augustine was sighted and named by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés exactly 446 years ago today, 28 August 2011.

Today's date marks the day 446 years ago that Menéndez first sighted, and named, St. Augustine, though he didn't make landfall until a week later, on September 7. So an early Happy Birthday to St. Augustine, the Ancient City and Oldest Port!

UPDATE: There have been some questions from our readers regarding the exact day that St. Augustine was founded. Many sources list it as September 8, including the webpage of the City of St. Augustine. Here is a definitive timeline from the Florida Museum of Natural History, which under Dr. Kathleen Deagan has conducted archaeological excavations of Menéndez' first settlement and fortification, to help clear up some of the important date's in St. Augustine's first year of existence. You'll see that a lot of dramatic and pivotal historical events happened very quickly in those first few week's after Menéndez' landfall:

• August 28 - Sighted land of Florida on St. Augustine’s feast day

• September 7 - Captains Morales and Patiño disembark with 30 men to dig an entrenchment to protect people and supplies while the site of the fort is more carefully chosen

• September 8 - Menendez formally claims Florida, unloads two of his ships

• September 20 - Menendez and 500 soldiers march on Ft. Caroline, capture the fort and rename it San Mateo

• September 27(?) - Menendez returns in triumph to St. Augustine, with 200 men

• September 29 - Massacre of French at Matanzas

• October 11 - Second massacre at Matanzas

• November 1 - Menendez takes 250 men to Cape Canaveral, captures French survivors there. Before leaving, Menendez marks out the fort at St. Augustine, and establishes a work schedule for the soldiers to build it. Their tools were iron poles, mattocks and hatchets.

August 26, 2011

Early Spanish Fort Discovered by City Archaeologist!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

St. Augustine's City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt, on right, oversees a local volunteer during excavations of a newly discovered site believed to be one of the settlement's early wooden forts.

St. Augustine's City Archaeologist, Carl Halbirt is a great friend and colleague, and one of the most productive and knowledgeable archaeologists I've had the pleasure of working with. Congratulations to him on one of his greatest discoveries: the apparent remains of one of St. Augustine's early wooden forts, dating perhaps to the late 1500s. This story made a big splash when it hit the front page of the St. Augustine Record the other day, and rightly so. If this site does indeed prove to be what we think it is, it will be one of the most significant finds ever made in this most archaeologically significant of American cities.

St. Augustine City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt and his team believe they are on the verge of a major discovery connected to the city's colonial Spanish history.

Since January, Halbirt has been digging on a parcel in the back of the Spanish Quarter hoping that the site may be where once stood one of the nine Spanish wooden forts that preceded the Castillo de San Marcos, the 17th-century coquina fort that sits in majestic silence across the road.

"Although it's mostly conjecture at this point, this could be one of the most significant archaeological finds we've made in St. Augustine," Halbirt said. "To date, we've never found any physical evidence of any of the wooden forts that we know the Spanish built here before the Castillo."

Continue reading "Early Spanish Fort Discovered by City Archaeologist!" »

August 18, 2011

The 150th Anniversary of the Loss of the Jefferson Davis

Posted by: Chuck Meide

This scene depicts the recapture of the Enchantress, which had been taken by Confederate raiders from the privateer Jefferson Davis, by the USS Albatross.

“The name of the privateer Jefferson Davis has become a word of terror to the Yankees.”
--Charleston Mercury, August 1861

Today marks the sinking of the infamous Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, which struck the sandbar offshore St. Augustine Inlet on 18 August 1861. LAMP researchers have been searching for this shipwreck for years, and have made significant historical discoveries in the National Archives and elsewhere, though the location of her physical remains are still a mystery. With the help of Pepe Productions we have even produced a documentary on our hunt, "The Search for the Jefferson Davis." Yesterday's New York Times carried a tribute to the history of this Rebel raider, a great read for this, the anniversary of her loss off our nation's oldest port.

Not long after setting sail from Massachusetts, the Cuba-bound merchant schooner Enchantress spied a square-rigged brig approaching, painted black, with dark sails and black mastheads and yards. As the vessel drew near the merchantman, a voice ordered the Enchantress to heave to. Shortly, a boat containing an officer and six men rowed alongside. Upon climbing over the gangway, the officer confronted the merchantman’s captain, demanding immediate surrender of his vessel. Facing the muzzles of the raider’s cannon, and with only a single musket on board, the schooner’s captain had no alternative but to submit. It was piracy, plain and simple — but piracy condoned and supported by the Confederacy.

The Enchantress, captured on July 6, 1861, was the latest prize for the Rebel privateer Jefferson Davis. Known affectionately, even reverentially, by Southerners as the Jeff Davis, the ship’s adventures were followed closely on land. With the Union blockade tightening around Southern ports, the scrappy Jeff Davis seemed to offer hope that the Confederates could still change the balance of the Civil War at sea.

Continue reading "The 150th Anniversary of the Loss of the Jefferson Davis" »

August 2, 2011

The Wealth of Knowledge

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP used the research vessel Roper, on loan from the Institute of Maritime History, during its June field school, when a team of archaeologists, college students, and volunteers excavated an 18th century shipwreck and raised two cannons.

A few weeks ago, while on the research vessel Roper while conducting shipwreck survey offshore the Matanzas Inlet, I participated in a phone interview with a writer from St. Augustine Underground. She had wanted to write an article on archaeology and treasure hunting in St. Augustine. I immediately saw red flags when I first heard this, as the confusion between these two contradictory practices is a common misunderstanding among members of the public. Underwater archaeology is very different from treasure hunting. The former involves systematic scientific investigations of shipwrecks or other maritime sites to seek knowledge about the past, while the latter is concerned with salvaging shipwrecks in search of materials that can be sold for a profit. Careful recording, documentation, and forensic analyses--procedures which cost time and money and prevent archaeology from being a profitable venture in a commercial sense--ensure that as a site is literally destroyed through excavation, scientists can maximize the amount of knowledge gained which can be received in no other way. Over the last few decades treasure hunting in Florida has, alas, resulted in the loss of a vast amount of knowledge that could have been saved, if archaeology had been conducted.

“The objects to us aren’t as valuable as the context,” he said. “Treasure hunters typically don’t give a damn about this. They care about the shiny stuff.”

For archeologists, the sole purpose of finding artifacts is to learn more about the people who used them. They are strongly against the selling of any artifacts no matter if it’s gold coins or a chipped dinner plate. Archeologists are after information, not objects.

On the other hand, it’s common knowledge that treasure hunters are in the business to make a profit or simply grow their personal collection. And they are frowned upon by archeologists.

“Treasure hunters are typically not interested in information,” Meide said. “They’re interested in stuff.”

Continue reading "The Wealth of Knowledge" »

July 18, 2011

Conservation of Cannons from the Storm Wreck

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Check out this great story on the conservation of our cannons from the St. Augustine Record:

Archaeologists believe the cannons sailed on a ship sometime between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and sank along with a ship off the St. Augustine bar, which is located within eyesight of the St. Augustine Beach Pier. Everything else is a secret covered by cemented shells, ceramic pieces, a portion of a plate and a brick that remain embedded in the encrustation.

The cannons will go through extensive treatments over the next two years to remove the encrustation, a combination of iron corrosion product and sea sediment, that will eventually expose the marking that will show the cannons' origins, said Cox.

July 17, 2011

A Tale of Two Cannons

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The first of two cannons successfully raised from the site of a late 18th century shipwreck offshore St. Augustine, at the close of LAMP's archaeological field school in late June.

June 28 was the big day. The culmination of our annual archaeological field school and of a month of diving to excavate the 18th century Storm Wreck. Every day since the first week of June we'd been departing the Lighthouse for an hour trip out the inlet and south, to the location of St. Augustine's relict inlet where so many ships came to grief in the 1700s and 1800s. Throughout the month, we'd been coordinating teams of divers, students working side by side with archaeologists from LAMP, Flinders University in South Australia, and elsewhere, to excavate sand from around ancient artifacts, including six cannon. We decided early on to raise two of these guns, in order to study a more representative sample of the three styles of cannon present on the site. But that decision was ambitious, and raising not one but two cannons is a monumental task.

Continue reading "A Tale of Two Cannons" »

July 7, 2011

African-American Maritime Hero

Posted by: Chuck Meide


One hundred and fifty years ago today, African-American steward William Tillman on the schooner SJ Waring, which had been captured by the infamous Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, single-handedly retook his ship, becoming one of the first noted black heroes of the Civil War. This story was highlighted in the St. Augustine Record today, and it one of many told in the recently released documentary film The Search for the Jefferson Davis, which follows the research of LAMP archaeologists as they seek out the historical stories and physical remains of this ship, lost off the coast of St. Augustine 150 years ago.

St. Augustine Record:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Union's first black hero of the Civil War wasn't one of the African-American soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, famously depicted in the 1989 film "Glory," but rather a merchant ship's cook who took up arms to prevent being sold into slavery after a Confederate raider captured his vessel.

At least that's the reckoning of some historians and a pair of upstate New York-based documentary producers who have included William Tillman's story in their new film on the short-but-prolific wartime record of the brig Jefferson Davis, a Southern privateer that seized several Union ships in the opening months of the war.

"He certainly ranks among the top half-dozen African-American heroes of the Civil War as far as I'm concerned," said Gerald Henig, professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay, in the San Francisco Bay area.

The entire article is worth a read, and if you think that's a great story wait until you see the documentary. It is available for sale in the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum gift shop, and its really an excellent show.

UPDATED: Since this original blog posting, another great article on this story came out in the New York Times. Here's an excerpt below, and click the link to the original article, its a good one.

Tillman’s heroic action struck a responsive chord among a Northern population that was reeling from the news of the Union defeat at Bull Run on the same day the Waring arrived in New York. The New-York Tribune wrote, “To this colored man was the nation indebted for the first vindication of its honor on the sea.” Another publication reported that the achievement drew “unstinted praise from all parties, even those who are usually awkward in any other vernacular than derision of the colored man.” At Barnum’s Museum Tillman was the center of an “attractive gaze to daily increasing thousands” and “pictorials vied with each other in portraying his features, and in graphic delineations of the scene on board the brig.” Several months later the federal government awarded Tillman the sum of $6,000 ($154,000 in 2011 dollars) as prize-money for the capture of the schooner.

July 6, 2011

The Mayport-Matanzas Shipwreck Expedition is Underway!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Just after dawn the morning of 6 July the crew of Cruise 1 loads the Roper for a four day expedition to search for shipwrecks off Jacksonville.

There's no rest for the weary at LAMP! Just three days after wrapping up our annual field school, which focused on the excavation of the late 18th century Storm Wreck (including the raising of two cannons!), we've already switched gears from a local, day-trip excavation to a remote, liveaboard survey operation. During the month of July LAMP's research vessel Roper (on loan from the Institute of Maritime History) will remain out at sea (other than brief visits to shore to re-fuel and switch out crews) conducting almost continuous survey to search for shipwrecks. This entails a much smaller crew (we've gone from often more than 20 on the boat to just 4) and it involves overnight stays on research cruises lasting four days at a time. We have adopted this new methodology to most efficiently survey in areas more remote from our traditional stomping ground of St. Augustine. For the first three cruises we will be conducting sonar and magnetometer survey off the St. Johns River and Fort George Island Inlets (off Mayport and Jacksonville, Florida) some 40 miles north of St. Augustine. Then for the final three cruises we will be targeting the area surrounding the Matanzas Inlet, 16 miles south of St. Augustine, and the traditional "back door" to the nation's oldest port.

The purpose of this expedition is discovery, and we think it is likely that we will discover one or more historic shipwrecks in these two areas.

Continue reading "The Mayport-Matanzas Shipwreck Expedition is Underway!" »

Radio Free LAMP Back on the Air!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

I know a lot of folks have noticed that our LAMPosts Blog, and indeed the entire Keeper's Blog, have been off the air for some time. I've gotten emails from former field school students wondering where their blog entries where, and phone calls from long-time friends of LAMP wondering why the links to us on Google are all dead. At the same time, lots of folks noticed the new look to our webpage, and were invariably impressed. Not surprisingly, the sudden loss of the blog in cyberspace was related to the new webpage and server switch. Well, the good news is . . . the blog is back baby! We're back online and I've put up a few posts in the last few days. There's lots more to get on there, as we've just finished our field school which climaxed with the raising of two cannons which gained international media attention, and we've already begun our next project, an extended expedition to search for shipwrecks off the coast of Jacksonville to the north of St. Augustine. The bad news is that the server switch has resulted in the temporary loss of a lot of the images that were on the blog, and also the new webpage is not yet up to speed; we're missing lots of information and pictures there. So everyone please be patient with us and know that we are promising more and greater things to come on our webpage and blog! As I write this I am out on the research vessel Roper, armed with a new wireless internet device that (intermittently, at least) to communicate with the outside world (and check the weather radar) while out conducting survey. Stay tuned . . .

Smithsonian Postpones Controversial Treasure Hunting Shipwreck Exhibit

Posted by: Chuck Meide


It sent a shockwave through the archaeological community: the venerable Smithsonian Institution was planning a major exhibit on a Tang Dynasty Chinese shipwreck off the coast of Indonesia which had, unfortunately, been salvaged by treasure hunters. Many of the readers of the LAMPosts blog are familiar with the longstanding controversy regarding treasure hunters' destructive techniques of wreck salvage and their standard practice of selling artifacts, both of which lead to a loss of knowledge which could have been gained through archaeological inquiry. Archaeologists follow strict scientific standards, and never sell their collected data, and there is a clear distinction between scientific archaeology and the commercial salvage of shipwrecks by treasure hunters. Treasure hunting is simply considered unethical by professional archaeological standards, as is purchasing or displaying artifacts recovered by treasure hunters. The Belitung Wreck was immediately recognized as one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in Asia, due to its wealth of preserved artifacts related to the famed "Maritime Silk Road," and we may never know the extent of the information we have lost due to salvage by treasure hunters. So it is easy to imagine the frustration and anger in the historic preservation and archaeological communities when it was reported that the Smithsonian was going to sponsor a major exhibit, putting their seal of approval on a project that contradicted accepted ethical practices and caused the permanent loss of information that could be gained in no other way. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the archaeologists at LAMP and the St. Augustine Lighthouse were particularly disturbed by the situation.

But a concerted effort by the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and many other similar professional organizations, has lead to positive results. The New York Times:

The Smithsonian Institution has indefinitely postponed its plans to mount an exhibition of Chinese artifacts salvaged from a shipwreck because of opposition from archeologists who say the objects were collected by a commercial treasure hunter in a manner that violated professional standards. The exhibition, “Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds,” was tentatively scheduled for next spring at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s Asian art museums.

Continue reading "Smithsonian Postpones Controversial Treasure Hunting Shipwreck Exhibit" »

July 1, 2011

LAMP partners with FPAN for Heritage Awareness Diver Seminar

Posted by: Chuck Meide

In late May LAMP Director Chuck Meide accompanied FPAN Northeast's Director Sarah Miller and Outreach Coordinator Amber Grafft-Weiss to assist teaching the Heritage Awareness Diver seminar sponsored by the State of Florida, FPAN, and NOAA. The story was picked up by the Historic City News:

In their latest adventure, Sarah and Amber suited up for submerged resources training as part of a Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar aimed at providing dive instructors with all the information, tools, and resources needed to teach heritage awareness as a specialty course.

Accompanying the students was Chuck Meide, a local underwater and maritime archaeologist who currently serves as director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program; the research arm of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.

Continue reading "LAMP partners with FPAN for Heritage Awareness Diver Seminar" »

June 30, 2011

Cannons raised from the deep makes big news splash!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

On June 28, 2011, a date which we at LAMP will remember for a long time, we successfully raised two cannons from the Storm Wreck. These two guns, along with at least four others, had laid silent on this shipwreck since the Revolutionary War. Raising two was an ambitious goal, one that had motivated us for the duration of the field school for the entire month of June.

Needless to say, bringing up two cannons brought a lot of media attention. The story was picked up and reported by CNN and also NBC broadcast stations across the country, not to mention the local and regional media. Below are some links to these stories.

Click here to see a link to the news videos from CNN and two Jacksonville stations, First Coast News and Fox News.

Click here to see the story and video by Jacksonville's paper, the Florida Times-Union.

Click here to see the story and two videos by Jacksonville's First Coast News.

Click here to read the story in the St. Augustine Record.

May 12, 2011

Jacksonville Magazine May 2011

Posted by: Beau Phillips


Continue reading "Jacksonville Magazine May 2011" »

May 11, 2011

LAMP's Search for Shipwrecks Highlighted in Jacksonville Magazine

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Trinite in storm.jpg

A great story recently appeared in Jacksonville Magazine thanks to writer Alison Trinidad, who interviewed LAMP staff and our colleague at the Center for Historical Archaeology Dr. John De Bry. The article focuses on the 1565 loss of Ribault's French fleet, which had made the initial attempt to colonize the First Coast. The destruction of Ribault's ships by hurricane paved the way for Pedro Menendez' successful and permanent settlement at St. Augustine. These shipwrecks thus played a pivotal role in American history, and as we approach the 450th anniversary of their loss, their discovery would be the holy grail of maritime archaeology in Northeast Florida:

"This is an event that changed the course of history," says John de Bry, an Indialantic-based historian and archaeologist working on the search. If the Spanish had not successfully colonized, we might be living in a different Florida."

"Its a timely topic," adds Chuck Meide, director of the Lighthouse's research arm, known as LAMP. "We know that the fleet was scattered south of St. Augustine to as far as Cape Canaveral. That's a huge area to cover. It would take years and years to search, but it would be nice to by 2015."

LAMP, or Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, routinely conducts shipwreck surveys near and around the nation's oldest port, but the search for Ribault's sunken fleet would take them into uncharted waters. "All our work here has been done and focused in St. Augustine," Meide says. "We're used to day trips. Logistically, its quite different for us."

Continue reading "LAMP's Search for Shipwrecks Highlighted in Jacksonville Magazine" »

April 21, 2011

LAMP Boatworks at the Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival

Posted by: Brendan Burke

panorama copy.jpg

The late afternoon waterfront was still and flesh-warm. Only broken by the splash of a jumping mullet or the sudden outburst from a seagull, the glassy waterscape seeped Old Florida. Wooden docks askew from storms and time kept silent fishing boats bowing slowly to their slack moorings. This was, and is, the fishing village of Cortez, Florida. I stood with Matt Hanks on an old floating dock looking out over the panorama and letting the tension of a four and a half hour drive ease away. We were there to bring the good news of our lighthouse boatbuilding program to the Gulf coast, to learn about what other programs are doing, and to show off the William A. Harn, the first boat built by LAMP Boatworks. Follow along to learn more about LAMP Boatworks and the Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival!

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks at the Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival" »

April 20, 2011

"What is it???" Wednesday: Maritime Edition

Posted by: Chuck Meide

If you haven't ever seen it, the "What is it???" Wednesday is a great weekly posting on The Dirt on Public Archaeology blog maintained by our regional FPAN center. FPAN stands for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, and they are great partners of ours here in Northeast Florida. An artifact recovered by LAMP from the Storm Wreck is highlighted in this week's feature, check it out here!

Maybe you will be the one to answer the age-old question: "What is it???" (and win an FPAN t-shirt!)

March 31, 2011

Pier 17 Benefit for Lighthouse and LAMP!

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Pier 17 Marine, Inc. has been supplying boaters in Jacksonville and the south for many decades. Their community service and neighborliness has been a mark of their service to the area and as everyone who has shopped there knows, friendliness and good customer service is their trademark. Boaters also know too, that if they have an obscure part that needs replacing and have exhausted all other resources, Pier 17 will have it. Cynthia Seagrave, owner of Pier 17 has an annual sale, ranging from 48%-84% discounts throughout the store. The sale starts on April 4th and runs through the 8th. A nautical flea market is hosted on Saturday and is in the parking lot for Pier 17 Marine, so be sure to go and see good deals, both old and new!

Each year, Pier 17 Marine selects a nonprofit to support for each day of the sale. This year, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum/LAMP has been selected as the sponsored nonprofit for Saturday!! We are very excited, and grateful to have been gifted such a nice opportunity. Thank you Pier 17 Marine!! We will have a display table set up for the event as well as the Susan skiff on display, our most recently completed LAMP Boatworks boat. Be sure to get your tickets to take a chance in our drawing to win this handsome little wooden boat.

Pier 17 Marine is located at 4619 Roosevelt Blvd, Jacksonville. It is right beside the Rt. 17 Ortega River Bridge, and adjacent to Sadler Point Marina. See you there!

March 18, 2011

4/2-3/2011 Lecture Series: "This Other World:" Ponce de León and the Founding of Florida

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Event: "This Other World:" Ponce de León and the Founding of Florida Lecture Series
When: April 2-3, 2011
Where: Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, 11 Magnolia Ave, St. Augustine, Florida
Cost: Free

LAMP Director of Archaeology Dr. Sam Turner will be presenting a lecture titled "A Sailor's Life in the Early Spanish Caribbean" at 1 pm on Saturday, April 2.

Click below for more information and full schedule!

Continue reading "4/2-3/2011 Lecture Series: "This Other World:" Ponce de León and the Founding of Florida " »

19th Annual Lighthouse Festival and JSL 5K

Posted by: Beau Phillips

Date: March 19
Time: 11-6
Admission: FREE
Parking: paid parking at the site
free parking and shuttle from the Elk's Lodge
Sponsors: Tourist Development Council, Bank of St. Augustine, Picolata Farms

Join thousands when the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum opens it's doors during this annual tradition celebrating our maritime history. Children must be 44" Tall to climb the tower and children under 12 year-old must be accompanied by an adult.

What to do
Junior Service League 5K (must register)
Climb the Tower
Explore the Museum
Bouncy House & Slide (Requires tickets)
Build & Float Sailboat (Requires tickets)
Pony Rides (Requires tickets)
Facebook Photo Booth (NEW & FREE)
2nd Annual Wooden Boat Show
Children's Crafts

Continue reading "19th Annual Lighthouse Festival and JSL 5K" »

March 2, 2011

6/6-7/1/2011: 2011 LAMP Underwater Archaeology Field School

Posted by: Brendan Burke


The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) is pleased to announce our Summer 2011 Field School. This year the field school will be held from June 6 - July 1, 2011 at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, St. Augustine, Florida. This comprehensive 4-week practicum will focus on the continued excavation of an 18th century shipwreck. Discovered in 2009, excavations began on this wreck site began during the summer of 2010. Artifacts recovered from this site indicate that is is a late 18th century wreck of unknown origin. Recent discoveries include hardware and rigging components, navigational and carpentry tools, a series of cast-iron and copper cauldrons, a small flintlock pistol, four cannons, and the ship's bell. This summer’s activities will include mapping, recording, and excavating an area adjacent to the 2010 excavation units. Students will work alongside instructors to record and recover artifacts associated with this wreck, including the planned raising of at least one cannon.

Continue reading "6/6-7/1/2011: 2011 LAMP Underwater Archaeology Field School" »

February 24, 2011

3/19/2011: Boat Show 2011!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Click the poster to make it bigger.

We are pleased to announce the 2011 LAMP Boatworks Boat Show, to be held on Saturday, March 19th. This is part of the annual St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Lighthouse Festival. Last year we had a very nice collection of traditional watercraft show up from all over Florida. This year is our second year including a boat show as part of the Lighthouse Festival and we are looking forward to it! Boats we seek include traditional watercraft powered by sail, oar, or engine. This includes wooden boats built using traditional plans, methods, and/or materials. This is a fun event and if you have not visited our museum, it is open to the public for free on Festival day and we routinely host 5,000 or more visitors every year.

Continue reading "3/19/2011: Boat Show 2011!" »

February 14, 2011

LAMP Divers Discover Four Cannon and the Ship's Bell

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP diver inspecting the ship's bell on the day of its discovery, 17 December 2010. It was recovered later that same day.

It was meant to be a routine monitoring dive on a site months after summer excavations had come to a close. We expected black visibility and perhaps some challenging work searching for a buried wreck site, and untangling submerged lines, and if we had time digging up some dredge hose and mooring anchors we had left on site to be buried by accumulating sand. The only thing out of the ordinary was that we had several new volunteers with us out on a dive for the first time, and the fact that it was a cold day, with water temperatures around 54 degrees F.

But as it turned out, December 17, 2010 was a day nothing short of extraordinary. It was the day of LAMP's greatest discovery to date.

Continue reading "LAMP Divers Discover Four Cannon and the Ship's Bell" »

January 28, 2011

LAMP Boatworks Plays Hookey

Posted by: Brendan Burke

LAMP Boatworks, enjoying a day sail.

Volunteer boatbuilders from the LAMP Boatworks enjoyed a 'thank you' cruise aboard Privateer Lynx this past Thursday, the 28th of January. The Lynx Eduational Foundation offered space on the cruise for our Boatworks volunteers as an act of appreciation for their efforts to revitalize the ship's stern boat. Lynx has now departed St. Augustine and will be reopening for tours in downtown Jacksonville on February 15. We wish her well!

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Plays Hookey" »

January 24, 2011

Ship's bell unveiling in the news

Posted by: Chuck Meide

From the St. Augustine Record:

As a large crowd of people peeked around one another Sunday to watch the event happening about 20 yards beyond her, Marie Valdes stared almost straight up at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, following her 2-year-old grandson, Desmond in pointing at its beacon.

About 150 people eagerly watched Lighthouse Archeological Maritime Program Archeological Conservator Starr Cox carefully chip crustations and debris from the bronze bell of a ship sunk a few miles off the St. Augustine Inlet more than two centuries ago. The bell was lifted from a water-filled crate in which it had been kept untouched since December.

Sought was an inscription the lighthouse staff hopes will help identify the ship discovered in the summer of 2009. Excavation began last summer.

The story was also carried by Jacksonville's paper, the Florida Times-Union.

January 20, 2011

LAMP Boatworks Celebrates a New Launch!

Posted by: Brendan Burke


For the past several months volunteers at the LAMP Boatworks have been diligently working on the building of our eight hull, a boat type called the ‘Susan’. Designed by Robert M. Steward in the 1950s, this classic little boat got her feet wet this morning at the hands of the lead builders, Richard Sexauer and Steve McMullen .

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Celebrates a New Launch!" »

01/20/2011 Lecture: Shipwreck Archaeology off the Nation's Oldest Port (Juno Beach, FL)

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: Lecture, part of the LRHS History Lecture Series
Who: Chuck Meide, Director of LAMP
When: Thursday, January 20th, 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
Where: Juno Beach Town Center Council Chambers, 340 Ocean Drive, Juno Beach, FL
Sponsored by: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Town of Juno Beach, Florida Humanities Council

Free and open to the public, please RSVP by calling 561-747-8380 x101.

Continue reading "01/20/2011 Lecture: Shipwreck Archaeology off the Nation's Oldest Port (Juno Beach, FL)" »

December 31, 2010

A Tour of Lynx

Posted by: Brendan Burke


A sulking schooner fell in with the British blockading squadron during December of 1813. Biting wind and freezing spray calloused a sunwashed seascape. Harsh winter light cast stark lines across the sleek vessel making her appear even sharper than she already was. Lieutenant Murray gently tacked the Mosquidobit and kept communication flowing up and down the line of British schooners, sloops, and frigates. Today things were quiet. Hardly a word was passed on deck to maintain the evolutions. No new sails, no news, nothing to do but pace the ship within its assigned box. Back and forth, back and forth, flags hoisted up, fluttered down, log kept, deck swept. Piercing cold wind kept Lt. Murray’s gaze down to clear wind tears from his eyes and thoughts wandered to this recently built ship, one of the fastest in the squadron and once a proud privateer known as Lynx. Only a few months prior, she had fallen into British hands at the mouth of the Rappahannock River and ended her role as a patriot combatant.

Continue reading "A Tour of Lynx" »

LAMP's 2010 Field School a Success for Both Teachers and Students, Part III

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Field School student Katie Kelly, of the University of Indianapolis, enters the water with a giant stride, to participate in the excavation of the 18th century Storm Wreck. Katie was presented with the 2010 David Switzer Young Pioneer Award, which is awarded to the field school student who best exemplifies the qualities of hard work, dedication, and teamwork.

This is the final installment of a three-part blog focusing on our 2010 summer field school activities. As usual, it has been very busy here during the post-fieldwork season, so its been a while before I've had a chance to get back and re-visit those great memories from the summer's fieldwork.

Part I of this blog focused on the initial training of our 2010 field school students, including intense zero-visibility diving training in the pool, and also on the initial preparatory work on the site of the Storm Wreck, an 18th century shipwreck discovered during the previous year's field school. Part II focused on the diving investigation of the Bayfront Ballast Pile, a site located in the harbor off St. Augustine's waterfront. We had switched focus to that site when we were faced with mechanical problems with our primary research vessel, Roper. Once the Roper was fully repaired, courtesy of Ring Power Marine Services, we were ready to return to the offshore ocean environment, to begin excavations on the Storm Wreck. After being away from this colonial period wrecksite for a week, excitement has built, and we are all eager to begin excavations and make discoveries . . .

Continue reading "LAMP's 2010 Field School a Success for Both Teachers and Students, Part III" »

LAMP Boatworks takes on a new project!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Lynx's ship's boat sailing to the Lighthouse.

The schooner Lynx, 'America's Privateer', brought their ship's boat over to the Lighthouse for routine maintenance and some repairs. Our boatworks is happy to take on this project and support the active preservation of maritime history in our port. Take a look at this video to see the smallboat rowing and sailing over to us!

Click HERE to view the video.

And click HERE to learn more about the LAMP Boatworks program!

December 16, 2010

Video Posted from Oceans Past III Conference

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Click here to see video posted from the conference recently attended by LAMP's Brendan Burke. See the left-hand side of the screen for videos you can select to see highlights from the keynote address, and other highlights of the conference.

Regatta of Lights 2010

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The R/V Desmond Valdes underway along the bayfront during the Regatta of Lights.

This past Saturday evening the 30th annual Regatta of Lights was hosted in Matanzas Bay. Along the bayfront a festive throng gathered to view and enjoy illuminated boats from our port. Twenty-eight vessels participated this year with the Black Raven acting as the grand marshal. Three cannon shots from the Castillo were loosed and the dark pirate ship responded with two of her own. That was the signal for the parade to begin.

Continue reading "Regatta of Lights 2010" »

December 6, 2010

You Can Help the Homeless--with a Maritime Spin!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Please vote to support this project by texting 104881 to PEPSI (73774) once a day during the month of December!

Students in Flagler College's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) have come up with a creative way to help the homeless by tapping into an unused by-product of Florida's international maritime trade--shipping containers. As the keepers of our region's maritime heritage and because of our ongoing commitment to service in our community, we at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, LAMP, and the First Light Maritime Society have joined Flagler College to support this project, which is seeking funding from a Pepsi grant to enable these students to transform abandoned shipping containers into homes for the homeless while providing vocational training and a sense of purpose to at-risk individuals.

We need your help! Flagler's SIFE students are competing for the Pepsi grant and we need your votes to drive them into first or second place by the end of December. Momentum is building, as this project has jumped from 276th to 24th place in just two days! The general public is invited to vote up to once a day during the entire month of December! You can text your vote in as listed above, or you can visit www.refresheverything.com/containersforacause and vote there. Please support this great cause and vote every day from now until New Year's Eve!

Read more about this exciting project below the fold!

Continue reading "You Can Help the Homeless--with a Maritime Spin!" »

November 27, 2010

Casting a Wide Net; St. Augustine's Shrimping History Goes International

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Dublin, Ireland. Location of the Oceans Past III conference, attended by LAMP's Brendan Burke.

St. Augustine’s shrimping heritage is not typically the topic of conversation in European universities, but last week it was part of a scholarly gathering within the stone walls of an ancient university in Dublin, Ireland. Trinity College, founded in 1592, hosted scholars from twenty one countries to share the results of their research on historic fisheries throughout the world. Read on for more information about the Oceans Past III Conference!

Continue reading "Casting a Wide Net; St. Augustine's Shrimping History Goes International" »

11/27/2010 Event: Crew of HMS Falcon 18th Century Naval Reenactment

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: 18th century British Royal Navy reenactment
Who: The crew of HMS Falcon
When: Saturday, November 27th, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Come visit the Lighthouse on Saturday and enjoy the colorful characters of the crew of HMS Falcon, a local group of reenactors. They are a group of interpretive history volunteers reenacting mainly at the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments in St. Augustine, Florida. They portray British sailors during the American War of Independence, during which time Florida was held by England, under the Treaty of Paris. They will be here all day long, singing chanteys and interpreting maritime history from a Royal Navy seaman's point of view.

Photograph of the Falcon crewmembers courtesy of monalisa1492.

November 17, 2010

Flintlock Pistol Discovery Gets More Press--with Video!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Archaeological Conservator Starr Cox prepares a concretion for CAT scanning at the Flagler Hospital Imaging Center.

Our most recent discovery, that of a flintlock pistol from the 18th century Storm Wreck, generated a lot of attention in the local and regional media. This weekend, another story came out in the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville's newspaper. In addition to the print story, the Times-Union has put together a video which is available through the link above, or else by clicking below to see the rest of this blog entry.

Continue reading "Flintlock Pistol Discovery Gets More Press--with Video!" »

November 12, 2010

Privateer Lynx Arrives in St. Augstine

Posted by: Brendan Burke


For 149 years no privateers attempted the St. Augustine Bar. Yesterday, that all changed. The Privateer Lynx, a topsail schooner, made her way safely through the inlet and secured her dock lines at St. Augustine Municipal Marina. Welcomed by a hearty throng of townspeople on land and by boat, the 122' tallship saluted the city with broadsides from its carronades. Cutting through the gunpowder smoke and cheers, she made her way into our city to call it home for the next three months. LAMP was on hand to greet our sailing friends and celebrate the occasion.

Continue reading "Privateer Lynx Arrives in St. Augstine" »

November 9, 2010

Discovery of Flintlock Pistol in the News!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


We have gotten some great press lately regarding our recent discovery of a flintlock pistol from the Storm Wreck, discovered and excavated by LAMP archaeologists off St. Augustine. The wreck dates to the colonial era, to perhaps between 1740 and 1780, a period of time which spans both the First Spanish and British Periods of Florida's history.

The local newspaper, the St. Augustine Record, ran a story in this morning's paper, on the front page below the fold:

"We were yelling," said Chuck Meide, archaeological director for the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program. "It was one of those moments. A moment of discovery."

The discovery was a gentleman's pocket pistol concealed in a concretion, a concrete-like mass that forms around metal artifacts as they rust in the water.

"Our eyes were instantly drawn to (the pistol)," Meide said. The pistol was one of several items that ended "stuck" together. Other artifacts included a large iron spike, lots of small lead shot known as bird shot ("really, really tiny"), an iron hook, two ring-like objects and a disk of metal.

Continue reading "Discovery of Flintlock Pistol in the News!" »

November 8, 2010

Artifacts Hidden from the Naked Eye

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Today is the 115th anniversary of the discovery of X-rays. It is only appropriate, therefore, that we share LAMP's most recent discoveries, which were made using the latest X-ray technology and the help of Flagler Hospital's Imaging Center. On October 25, LAMP archaeologists brought around 25 concretions recovered from the "Storm Wreck," a recently discovered 18th century shipwreck off St. Augustine. Hospital staff used a CAT scan to produce 3-D images of the objects hidden inside these iron concretions. The short video above shows two of the more exciting artifacts. First is the smallest of four cauldrons we have encountered on the wreck site. At 14 seconds into the video, the layer of encrustation covering the cauldron is stripped away by the imaging software, and you can make out details previously hidden, such as the shape of the handles on the rim, and the casting seams on the body. The next artifact is a 3-D image of a small flintlock pistol discovered in another concretion. This colonial firearm is small enough to conceal in a coat pocket, and would have been the last line of defense for a gentleman merchant or officer on board.

Stay tuned for more exciting historical discoveries!

November 4, 2010

Trawling through St. Augustine's History

Posted by: Chuck Meide


LAMP archaeologist Brendan Burke has just published an article on St. Augustine's shrimping and shrimp boat building heritage in Florida Scuba News:.

Plodding up and down the coast with their outstretched arms, the shrimp trawler has become a seaside icon throughout the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Painters, poets, writers, and musicians have recorded shrimp trawlers to feed our nostalgic interest in harvesting the sea, but little has been done to record the history of shrimping, the boats, and the families who built and operated them.

St. Augustine doesn’t claim to be the birthplace of modern shrimping. Fernandina, Florida, has that title, but for much of the 20th century St. Augustine was the shrimp boat capital of the country.

Click here to read the entire article at Florida Scuba News. Its a short piece and a great read, well worth it!

November 3, 2010

Job Announcement: Director of Education

Posted by: Chuck Meide

UPDATE: This position has been filled.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum (SALH) is seeking to fill the position of Director of Education. The ideal applicant will have experience in public archaeology and museum education, and will work with SALH staff and the Lighthouse's research institution, LAMP, to develop, manage, and implement educational programming based on ongoing maritime and archaeological research.

The position description, qualifications, requirements, and other pertinent information is posted below.

Continue reading "Job Announcement: Director of Education" »

11/03/2010 Lecture: "Harvesting the Wind at Sea"

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Presentation Title: Harvesting the Wind at Sea: Evolution of Sailing Vessels from Ancient Seafaring to the Twentieth Century
Speaker: Dr. David Switzer, LAMP Research Associate and Professor Emeritus of History at Plymouth State University
When: Wednesday, November 3rd, 7:00 to 8:00 pm
Where: Anastasia Galley (upstairs in Keepers' House), St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Free and open to the public!

Continue reading "11/03/2010 Lecture: "Harvesting the Wind at Sea"" »

October 30, 2010

10/30/2010 Shipwreck Presentation at Crooked River Lighthouse Lantern Fest

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Presentation Title: "Dog Island Shipwreck Survey, A Ten Year Perspective"
Venue:Lantern Fest 2010
Speaker: Chuck Meide, LAMP Director
When: Saturday, October 30, 2:00 to 10:00 pm (presentation 6:00-7:15 pm)
Where: Crooked River Lighthouse Park, Carrabelle, Florida

Suggested Donation, $2
Nighttime Tower Climb: $5

Continue reading "10/30/2010 Shipwreck Presentation at Crooked River Lighthouse Lantern Fest" »

October 26, 2010

Radio Interview Highlights a Recent LAMP Project

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The Institute for Maritime History was highlighted on WAMU, American University's radio station. Bill Toti, a project leader with IMH, shared the desk with Dr. Susan Langley, Maryland's State Underwater Archaeologist and Dr. Esther White, Director of Archaeology at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Click on the following link to listen!


October 4, 2010

Ninth Maritime Heritage Conference in Baltimore

Posted by: Rick Cain

The SS John Brown waits for us to board for a twilight cruise around the harbor on a living piece of history that takes my breath away.

The middle of September found me in Baltimore once more for the Ninth Maritime Heritage Conference. I was there to do a presentation on Disaster Planning, and what happened here in St. Augustine during the hurricane season of 2004. The presentation was well received by the lighthouse group, but as with most conferences I got more than I gave. The lighthouse group was well represented with folks from around the country, but I found myself drawn to some other presentations touching on things near and dear to my heart. Perhaps it was the welcome cruise aboard the 1944 Liberty Ship John Brown that caught my attention the first night, but for the rest of the conference I was looking away from light stations and toward the sea.

Continue reading "Ninth Maritime Heritage Conference in Baltimore" »

September 10, 2010

LAMP's 2010 Field School a Success for Both Teachers and Students, Part II

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP research vessels anchored off the Castillo de San Marcos on St. Augustine's waterfront to investigate a ballast pile in the harbor as part of the 2010 Field School.

Things have been so busy around here lately because of our field season, I've been neglecting our blog! Here is the second installment regarding our 2010 Field School, which brought 9 new students and 4 returning students to our nation's oldest port to learn the basic techniques of maritime archaeology. In our first installment, I overviewed the training the students underwent before going into the field, and the initial stages of fieldwork on an offshore shipwreck. But mechanical troubles with the research vessel Roper led to a change in plans. For a week we switched from working offshore to a newly discovered site, possibly a shipwreck, in Matanzas Bay along St. Augustine's historic waterfront. Here are two of our secondary research vessels, RV Desmond Valdes and RV Nickerin, anchored over the approximate location of the Bayfront Ballast Pile off the 17th century fort Castillo de San Marcos.

Continue reading "LAMP's 2010 Field School a Success for Both Teachers and Students, Part II" »

August 30, 2010

LAMP research highlighted in Professional Surveyor Magazine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


LAMP archaeologist Brendan Burke recently published an article in Professional Surveyor Magazine:

Looting shipwreck sites in many countries is illegal, and strict legislation is in place to protect the publicly owned, submerged resources. In Florida, shipwreck looting can be a felony with heavy fines and prison sentencing. Moreover, after being looted, shipwreck sites lose their integrity as intact sites of cultural value.

To monitor these sites, LAMP, the archaeological and historical research division of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, purchased a Klein 3900 Search and Recovery sidescan sonar as part of our ongoing First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project, funded by Florida’s Division of Historical Resources. It has been used to monitor sites in northeast Florida as well as several other locations along Florida’s coast. The sonar unit can generate an image of known wreck sites on a regular basis to ensure their integrity and security.

Its a great article and a quick read, be sure to read the whole thing here.

July 17, 2010

18th Century Cauldron, Below and Above the Sea

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP's Archaeological Conservator Starr Cox excavates the sediments from inside a cauldron from the 18th century Storm Wreck. At this stage the large cast iron pot has been removed from its original location and is rigged for lifting. The cauldron is believed to date from 1740 to 1780.

In addition to the underwater footage of the cauldron above (taken on the day of best visibility we've ever had on site), our friends and partners at FPAN, who were on the boat last Wednesday for its raising, have footage of the cauldron as it first broke the surface and saw sunlight for the first time in three centuries . . . you can tell from all the whooping and hollering and honking from surrounding boats that it was an exciting day, check it out!

July 15, 2010

Great Press Coverage for Cauldron Raising!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

For those of you who haven't heard, LAMP archaeologists yesterday raised a cauldron from an 18th century shipwreck off St. Augustine. It came up without any problems and is a fine artifact in great shape which promises to reveal many more secrets. We invited a lot of press to cover the event, and they all did a great job with some great stories. First Coast News (TV12) did a great story on the raising of the cauldron, to watch it click the link above.

Links to more news stories and videos are below . . .

Continue reading "Great Press Coverage for Cauldron Raising!" »

July 6, 2010

St. Augustine Archaeologists Find Colonial Shipwreck

Posted by: Beau Phillips

We've gotten lots of great press regarding our recent exciting discovery of a colonial period shipwreck, nicknamed the "Storm Wreck." The video above is by Jessica Clark of First Coast News.

Vic Micolucci WJXT 4 News4Jax also did a great story! In addition to video they have a slideshow at the same link.

Dee Registre of Action News Jax (TV 47) also ran a fabulous story on the Saturday evening newscast.

In print media, the St. Augustine Record ran the story as the as the front-page headline.

Daytona Beach News-Journal

The story was also picked up by AOL News and various other media groups.

We believe the Storm Wreck dates to the 1700s, based on the limited types of artifacts recovered by Lighthouse archaeologists to date. Stay tuned to hear more about our discoveries on this exciting wreck, which is only the second colonial-era shipwreck ever discovered in the waters of Northeast Florida, and possibly the oldest.

July 5, 2010

LAMP's 2010 Field School a Success for Both Teachers and Students, Part I

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Students and teachers from the 2010 Field School on board the research vessel Roper.

Things have been so busy during this year's field season that I've had no time whatsoever to blog about our activities! Last week we finished a great field school, which brought 9 students eager to learn, and 4 returning students from last year who served as supervisors, for what turned out to be one of our best field school experiences to date. I've picked out a bunch of great photos so everyone can see what our students were up to during the four-week long period from May 31 to June 25.

Continue reading "LAMP's 2010 Field School a Success for Both Teachers and Students, Part I" »

June 28, 2010

Oil Catastrophe and Historic Shipwrecks in the Gulf

Posted by: Chuck Meide


UPDATE: Some more media outlets have begun to explore the threat to shipwrecks and other archaeological sites posed by the oil spill. Click here to read an Associated Press article on the subject.

This link was just sent to me by my friend David Johnson, a fellow Board member for the Institute of Maritime History, and the speaker representing maritime cultural resources at the recent TEDx Oil Spill livestream video broadcast. This event brought together many passionate experts, including marine scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle, and while I haven't watched the entire broadcast it seems like a great and important production. At 2:04:00 David speaks on the importance of preserving shipwrecks in these threatened waters. He does a great job and its worth watching.

Click here to play the broadcast. You can fast forward to 2:04:00 to go straight to Dave's speech on the shipwrecks threatened by the spill.

I'd also like to express our support of our colleagues in the Gulf who are on the front lines of this crisis, including the archaeologists at University of West Florida, who had to recently suspend excavations at the Emanuel Point II shipwreck due to the spill.

June 9, 2010

International Partnership Gets Help from Galveston

Posted by: Beau Phillips

By Harvey Rice
June 8, 2010, 9:22PM

GALVESTON — Sam Turner had no idea where he was going to get enough live oak to supply Spanish shipwrights building a replica of the 1779 brig Galveztown, named after Galveston, Texas.

Then Hurricane Ike swamped the city Sept. 13, 2008, killing an estimated 40,000 trees with salt water.

“This project got kicked off in May 2008, and Ike hit in September, and the connection was made that there is a lot of wood there,” said Turner, archeology director for the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum in St. Augustine, Fla.

Continue reading "International Partnership Gets Help from Galveston" »

May 25, 2010

"Building Boats"

Posted by: Beau Phillips

Read the full story and view John Pemberton's great photos.

May 21, 2010

LAMP TV Interviews

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Kathleen McCormick, Director of Collections and Conservation and TV celebrity!

A week or two ago a production crew from Platforms, the Life-Lifting News Program for Women, came to visit the Lighthouse and conducted interviews with Chuck Meide, LAMP Director, and Kathleen McCormick, Director of Collections and Conservation. They're pretty good--check them out at the links below:

Platforms interview with Chuck Meide

Platforms interview with Kathleen McCormick

Thanks to Shivaun Palmer and the rest of the Platforms crew!

May 20, 2010

5/31/10 - 6/26/10 Summer Field School 2010

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Field School students and volunteers prepare for diving operations during the 2009 Field School. Join us as we conduct maritime archaeology at the nation's oldest port!

Information on the upcoming 2011 Field School is now online! Click here for more information on our upcoming Field School, June 6 through July 1, 2011!

The 2010 Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) Field School will be held May 31 - June 26, 2010 at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. This comprehensive 4-week field practicum will focus on the continued excavation of an unidentified 19th-century ballast pile to make a determination whether it represents the remains of the Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, lost on the St. Augustine bar in August 1861 after the most successful cruise of the entire war. We will also staging test excavations on a new unidentified shipwreck site discovered during last year's survey efforts.

Continue reading "5/31/10 - 6/26/10 Summer Field School 2010" »

April 30, 2010

April 30, 1686: Pirate Raid on the Oldest Port!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Fort Matanzas was constructed by the Spanish in 1742 to guard the inlet located 14 miles south of the oldest port. Its need was recognized after serious "back door" attacks on St. Augustine like Brigaut's April 30, 1686 incursion.

When we think of pirate raids on the nation's oldest port (and by that I don't mean the Johnny Depp-Hollywood caricature pirates who have descended on St. Augustine only in the last decade or so), we usually think of English privateers, such as Searles or Drake. Other English invaders from the sea included Governors Moore and Oglethorpe of South Carolina and Georgia.

Today is the anniversary of a brutal French attempt to sack the oldest port. Its a bloody story involving shipwreck, torture, and a ultimately a victory over the invaders.

Again I'll turn the story over to one of my favorite guest-bloggers, Davis Walker of Florida Living History, to tell the tale:

April 30, 1686: Brigaut’s Raid – The notorious French buccaneer, Michel, “Chevalier” de Grammont, commanding his 52-gun ship, the Hardi (French: “Audacious”), with a galliot under Nicolas Brigaut, and a sloop, threatens the Spanish presidio of San Agustín (present-day St. Augustine, FL). On April 30, Brigaut’s galliot, flying Spanish colors, anchors at Matanzas Inlet, south of the presidio, to gather intelligence, while Grammont remains concealed further south. Deceived by Brigaut’s ruse, captives are taken and tortured for information. However, Spanish troops soon appear on the beach. The following morning, the foes engage in a firefight, but worsening weather grounds the galliot on a sandbar. The next day, Brigaut’s men, “carrying their arms in their mouths, waded ashore, and dug holes in the beach from which they poured a heavy fire into the Spanish troops.”

Continue reading "April 30, 1686: Pirate Raid on the Oldest Port!" »

April 26, 2010

Underwater Archaeology at Mt. Vernon

Posted by: Chuck Meide


LAMP is partnering with Mt. Vernon's Archaeology Department to learn more about the maritime heritage of George Washington's home. Washington's estate and business operations were located on the Potomac River, and this is the first underwater archaeology search in the home waters of our nation's Founding Father. Learn more about the project on George Washington's official blog, George Washington Wired . . .

Continue reading "Underwater Archaeology at Mt. Vernon" »

April 21, 2010

Film Crew at Lighthouse for Jeff Davis Documentary

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Peter Pepe of Pepe Productions interviewing LAMP Director Chuck Meide for the upcoming documentary "Search for the Jefferson Davis."

You may have noticed that our LAMPosts blog updates have been somewhat rare of late. All of us at LAMP have been very busy lately, working round the clock to finish the writing of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project Final Report. Yesterday we took a brief break to work with the film crew from Pepe Productions, who last visited us in June 2009 to film our diving and research activities during the summer field school. They have been working on a documentary focusing on our ongoing search for the Confederate privateer and ex-slaver Jefferson Davis, wrecked in St. Augustine in 1861. I thought I'd give a quick update on the blog.

Continue reading "Film Crew at Lighthouse for Jeff Davis Documentary" »

April 4, 2010

Easter Discoveries

Posted by: Chuck Meide


As many of us are celebrating Easter with our families this weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to recall one of the great maritime discoveries made during the Easter holiday, the official discovery and naming of Florida back in 1513. Ponce de Leon made first landfall on Florida sands somewhere in the vicinity of Ponte Vedra right here on our First Coast. Florida got its name because the discovery was made during Eastertide or the Easter Season, exemplified by the Spanish Catholic Pascua Florida ("flowery festival" or "feast of flowers").

Our friend Davis Walker of Florida Living History, Inc., sends out fantastic Florida history posts on a regular basis. I thought I'd share his most recent, a brief overview of the expedition that formally discovered Florida. He writes:

April 3, 1513: Don Juan Ponce de León (1474-July 1521), the “First Conquistador,” veteran of the Reconquista, companion of Christopher Columbus, conqueror and governor of Borinquén (now Puerto Rico), knight of the Order of Calatrava, is commissioned by his King, Ferdinand of Spain, to discover and explore “Terra Bimini,” unknown land to the northwest of Borinquén. His small squadron of three ships – the Santiago (caravel), the Santa María de la Consolación (nao), and the San Cristóbal (bergantín) – sails from Aguada, Puerto Rico on March 3rd. The “First Fleet” is piloted by Anton de Alaminos, perhaps the greatest Caribbean navigator of his day. On board are about 65 companions – white mariners and soldiers (including one white slave, Juan de León), two Native American slaves (Perico and Fernando), two free black Africans (both named Jorge), and one woman (Juana Jiménez). These last will become the first blacks and the first European woman known to set foot in the continental U.S.

Continue reading "Easter Discoveries" »

March 29, 2010

3/28/2010 Blessing of the Fleet

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Father Tom Willis, pastor of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine, offers blessing to the research vessel Desmond Valdes during the annual Palm Sunday ceremony.

For the first time, LAMP participated in St. Augustine's traditional Blessing of the Fleet ceremony yesterday. This tradition, which once saw hundreds of trawlers decorated with flags gathering in Matanzas Bay in hopes of a bountiful shrimp harvest, has been carried out in St. Augustine since at least 1946, and draws thousands of spectators to St. Augustine every Palm Sunday. This year LAMP's research vessel Desmond Valdes, with two LAMP archaeologists and two generations of the Valdes family on board, took its place in line and received a blessing along with dozens of other commercial and recreational boats.

Continue reading "3/28/2010 Blessing of the Fleet" »

March 17, 2010

3/17-20/10 Fourth Annual Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The 2010 Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology will be held from March 17 through March 20th. As usual, the Symposium will feature speakers from around the country who will give presentations related to underwater archaeology and maritime history research projects in St. Augustine and around the world. This year we are partnering with the St. Augustine Historical Society to bring you "St. Augustine and the Sea II," the sequel to St. Augustine and the Sea symposium in February. After three days of presentations, the Symposium culminates in the 18th annual Lighthouse Maritime Festival.

Continue reading "3/17-20/10 Fourth Annual Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology" »

February 26, 2010

2/26-27/2010 St. Augustine and the Sea!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Join us this Friday and Saturday, February 26-27, as we celebrate the rich maritime history of our nation's oldest port. The St. Augustine and the Sea symposium is sponsored by the St. Augustine Historical Society, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, and the City of St. Augustine. All events are free and open to the public!

For a full schedule of speakers, please continue reading below . . .

Continue reading "2/26-27/2010 St. Augustine and the Sea!" »

February 16, 2010

America's Oldest Port: St. Augustine. The World's Oldest Port: Crete?

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Ancient stone tools recently found on Crete has led archaeologists to push back the origins of seafaring by at least 70,000 years

An exciting archaeological discovery in Crete was just published in the New York Times with remarkable implications regarding the dawn of human seafaring:

Early humans, possibly even prehuman ancestors, appear to have been going to sea much longer than anyone had ever suspected.

That is the startling implication of discoveries made the last two summers on the Greek island of Crete. Stone tools found there, archaeologists say, are at least 130,000 years old, which is considered strong evidence for the earliest known seafaring in the Mediterranean and cause for rethinking the maritime capabilities of prehuman cultures.

Continue reading "America's Oldest Port: St. Augustine. The World's Oldest Port: Crete?" »

February 3, 2010

Coming soon to a theater near you . . . The Search for the Jefferson Davis!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

In the summer of 2009, LAMP archaeologists partnered with Pepe Productions to shoot a documentary film on our search for the lost ship Jefferson Davis, the ex-illegal slaver which became the most successful privateer of the entire Civil War. At the Society for Historical Archaeology meetings at Amelia Island, we unveiled the trailer for the upcoming film, scheduled for release next summer. Enjoy the trailer, and if you really like it, double-click on the video to visit YouTube and give it a favorable rating!

January 19, 2010

The 43rd annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, January 6-9, 2010, at Amelia Island, Florida

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Retired professor George R. Fischer was presented the Society for Historical Archaeology's Award of Merit "for his many contributions to the development of underwater archaeology and for his exemplary service on the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology." He is surrounded by his former students students (L to R): Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, Florida Public Archaeology Network NW Regional Director, Dr. Chris Horrell, Melanie Damour Horrell, David Ball (all with Minerals Management Service, New Orleans), Dr. Russell Skowronek, Assoc. Professor, Univ. of Texas, George Fischer, Richard Johnson, Headmaster of Bishop Hall Charter High School in Thomasville, Nancy Fischer, Dr. Steve Dasovich, Science Engineering, Inc., St. Louis, Dr. Kelley Scudder, Director, Center for Caribbean Archaeology, and Chuck Meide, Director, Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program.

The Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) held its annual conference recently at Amelia Island in Northeast Florida. We were honored to have the SHA Conference visit our veritable back yard. It was a great success, and a great opportunity for LAMP to share with our colleagues all of the great work we have been doing, and the special area that we call home. We were proud to help sponsor and organize this major event, which attracted 1100 of our colleagues from across the world.

Continue reading "The 43rd annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, January 6-9, 2010, at Amelia Island, Florida" »

December 20, 2009

The First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project

Posted by: Chuck Meide


As 2009 draws to a close so does LAMP's most ambitious project to date, the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. In 2006 LAMP was awarded a grant worth more than $281,000 by the State Division of Historical Resources and the Florida Historical Commission in order to undertake this 2.5-year comprehensive program of archaeological research and outreach. In the closing days of the project we are finishing analyses and report production after our final of three grant-funded field seasons.

This project brought a sea change to LAMP and our research capabilities.

Continue reading "The First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project" »

The Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide



The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum and LAMP have hosted the Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology each March since 2007. The fourth annual Symposium will be held at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum from March 17 to March 20, 2010. This annual event is co-sponsored by the GTM Research Reserve, the Florida Public Archaeology Network, and the St. Augustine Archaeological Association.

For more information on this upcoming event, and also previous Symposiums, please follow the links below.

2010 Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology, March 17-20

2009 Symposium information
2008 Symposium information and blog entry
2007 Symposium information and blog entry

LAMP Summer Field School

Posted by: Chuck Meide



Every summer LAMP oversees an intense 4 week accredited field school open to both undergraduate and graduate students, providing an opportunity to participate in a marine survey and the excavation of one or more shipwreck or other maritime archaeological sites. 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.

More information on our upcoming and previous Field Schools are available through the following links.

Upcoming Summer 2011 Field School Announcement and Information

2010 LAMP Field School original announcement

2009 LAMP Field School original announcement

Click here to read all Field School-related blog posts, from 2007 to the present.

December 16, 2009

LAMP Boatworks Hull Inventory

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Welcome to the LAMP Boatworks Hull Inventory. This is an ongoing listing by Hull Number of all small craft constructed by LAMP Boatworks at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Hull Inventory" »

December 10, 2009

Prepping the Galveztown Yawl’s Keel/Stem Scarf

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner


Today boatbuilders prepared the joinery, or scarf, that will attach the Galveztown yawl boat’s assembled stem post to the craft’s keel. This was done by clamping the stem to the keel and drilling pilot holes for the silicon bronze fasteners, in this case nuts and bolts with washers.

Continue reading "Prepping the Galveztown Yawl’s Keel/Stem Scarf" »

December 9, 2009

LAMP Boatworks Chaisson Dory Tender Drawing

Posted by: Chuck Meide


We are pleased to announce the LAMP Boatworks Chaisson Dory Tender Drawing! We will be giving away our beautiful little rowing boat, complete with hand-made ash oars, to the lucky winner of this contest. The 10' long wooden boat was built by our volunteers at the Lighthouse and its hull number is LMP0003. All donations received from the drawing will support LAMP Boatworks, our traditional wooden boatbuilding program.

Suggested minimum donation is $5 per ticket or 5 tickets for $20. The drawing will be held in conjunction with the Lighthouse Maritime Festival on March 20, 2010. LAMP representatives will be traveling with the boat to a variety of events and locations throughout St. Augustine, where tickets will be available, and tickets will always be available at the Lighthouse through the time of the drawing. The official rules to the drawing are listed below.

Continue reading "LAMP Boatworks Chaisson Dory Tender Drawing" »

12/09/09 Presentation: Discover First America Lecture Series "Pirates! Fact and Fiction"

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Presentation Title: Blood in the Inlet: St. Augustine and its History With Pirates
Speaker: Brendan Burke, LAMP
When: THIS WEDNESDAY, December 9th, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Where: Flagler Auditorium (west of the Lightner Museum), St. Augustine

Continue reading "12/09/09 Presentation: Discover First America Lecture Series "Pirates! Fact and Fiction"" »

December 4, 2009

LAMP Boatwright Visits Galveztown Under Construction in Malaga, Spain

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Boatworks chief boatbuilder Maury Keiser (right) and St. Augustine resident Roy Jaeger pose in front of the Galveztown's erect frames in Malaga, Spain.

One of our more exciting international partnerships is that with the Astilleros Nereo, a shipyard and maritime museum in Malaga, Spain. The shipyard is building a full-size replica of the Revolutionary War ship Galveztown, which played a critical role in the battle that switched Florida from British to Spanish control at the end of the Revolution. LAMP archaeologists provided archaeological data to inform the Malaga shipwrights as they designed the vessel, and our volunteers at LAMP Boatworks are just beginning to build one of two yawls, or ship's boats, to accompany the Galveztown on her goodwill American tour which is scheduled to begin with the trans-Atlantic voyage to St. Augustine.

LAMP's chief boatwright, Maury Keiser, headed to Spain on holiday this week and made it a point to visit the Astilleros Nereo shipyard. While there, he got a first-hand look at the Galveztown on the stocks, and got some great press as well.

Continue reading "LAMP Boatwright Visits Galveztown Under Construction in Malaga, Spain" »

November 25, 2009

America's First Thanksgiving -- in Our Nation's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Forget cranberry sauce, Plymouth Rock, and pilgrims. Think olives, garbanzo beans, and Spanish soldiers and sailors and settlers. The first Thanksgiving in our country took place in September 1565, when famed Spanish mariner Pedro Menéndez de Avilés along with 800 Spanish settlers celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving to commemorate the successful sea voyage and founding of the town of St. Augustine, which would go on to be the first and longest-lasting port within the present-day United States. Occurring as it did so soon after trans-Atlantic landfall, this was a maritime Thanksgiving, with sailor's fare making up the bulk of the feast, probably along with native Timucuan food, which would likely have included oysters and fish. The local St. Augustine Timucua were known by the Spanish as the "Agua Salada," or Salt Water, Timucua, a testament to the maritime culture that existed in St. Augustine even prior to European colonization. As is often the norm, our country's history books and school rooms tend to forget our Spanish colonial and maritime roots, and we have ended up celebrating as our national holiday the Thanksgiving of the pilgrims which occurred some 56 years after St. Augustine's first Thanksgiving.

Continue reading "America's First Thanksgiving -- in Our Nation's Oldest Port" »

November 14, 2009

11/13-14/09 Event: LAMP Boat on display at the Antique and Classic Boat Show, Jenson Beach

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Event: LAMP Boatworks' Bevin's Skiff on dislplay at the Antique and Classic Boat Show
When: Friday November 13 to Saturday November 14, 2009, 10 am to 4 pm each day
Where: Maritime & Classic Boat Museum at Indian RiverSide Park, Jenson Beach, Florida

Continue reading "11/13-14/09 Event: LAMP Boat on display at the Antique and Classic Boat Show, Jenson Beach" »

11/14/09 Event: LAMP Boatworks and boat on display at the Pirate Gathering

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Event: LAMP Boatbuilders and boat on display at the "Pirate Gathering" Festival
When: Saturday, November 14, 2009, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where: Francis Field, St. Augustine, Florida

11/14/09 Presentation: "Maritime Archaeology in the Nation's Oldest Port"

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Presentation Title: Maritime Archaeology in the Nation's Oldest Port
Speaker: Brendan Burke, LAMP Archaeologist/Logistical Coordinator
When: Saturday November 14, 2:00 pm
Where: St. Augustine Beach Library

November 4, 2009

Boatbuilders at Work!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Boatworks volunteer boatbuilders using a planer to smooth the sides of a future keel piece.

Now that the oppressive heat of the summer has finally been replaced by cool fall weather, there has been a lot of activity at LAMP Boatworks lately. This volunteer program is dedicated to keeping alive the dying art of building traditional wooden boats. Right now our boatbuilders are in various stages of building four separate vessels. With this flurry of activity, I thought I'd share a few photos so everyone can see our boatbuilders at work.

Continue reading "Boatbuilders at Work!" »

October 29, 2009

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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

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

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


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


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

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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

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"

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner


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

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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"

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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.

September 28, 2009

09/28/09 Presentation: "Gator in the Weeds: Exploring the History of the Steamboat Alligator and other Ocklawaha Riverboats" (UPDATED)

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The Alligator as she last appeared.

Presentation Title: "Gator in the Weeds: Exploring the History of the Steamboat Alligator and other Ocklawaha Riverboats"
Speaker: Mr. Brendan Burke, LAMP
When: Monday, September 28th, 2009, at 7:00 pm
Where: Clay County Historical Society, OId Clay County Courthouse, Green Cove Springs.

LAMP archaeologist Brendan Burke will be giving a presentation focusing on the past year's search for the Alligator. Operating as a passenger vessel on the Ocklawaha River during the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, the Alligator was also converted into one of Florida's earliest reserach vessels. C. B. Moore's hunt for native mound sites was, for a number of year, headquartered onboard the Alligator. Last winter LAMP was involved in a search for the Alligator and has been investigating one wreck site in particular on the shores of Crescent Lake. Come hear about our expedition to find the Alligator!


Directions: Take your best route from St. Augustine to Green Cove Springs. Cross the Shands Bridge and follow the road until you hit Hwy 17. At this highway, turn right. At the second lighted intersection in town, turn left on to Walnut St. Follow the road around for about five blocks. The Old 1890's County Courthouse will be on the left side of the road. You can park on the road or in the parking lot of the School Board opposite. The lecture will be held in the downstairs meeting room.

September 25, 2009

The Newest Shipwreck in the Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The 69' fire rescue boat Patriot, on route from Canada to Tampa, ran aground at the inlet attempting to make it into St. Augustine's harbor for the night. She was eventually pulled to safety by the tugboat Albert Pike, seen in the background.

Its the same story that it ever was. Late Wednesday night a vessel on route from Canada to Tampa made its way into the St. Augustine Inlet, seeking a safe refuge for the remainder of the night. It is probably safe to assume that the captain and crew were unfamiliar with the dynamic environmental conditions that prevail in the waters around our nation's oldest port. And so around 11 pm the 69' vessel found itself stranded near Porpoise Point at the north end of the inlet, as have ships for centuries attempting to make safe harbor in St. Augustine.

Continue reading "The Newest Shipwreck in the Oldest Port" »

September 22, 2009

An Adventure Through Pacific Time (Guest Blog by former LAMP intern Karson Winslow)

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Note from Chuck Meide, LAMP Director: Karson Winslow, a graduate student from Flinders University in Australia, was one of our two first LAMP interns under the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. She worked with us from July to October 2007. When she left us, it was one of the few times that our entire LAMP staff was jealous of our intern's next job, which was cruising the South Seas as a crew member on board an authentic tall sailing ship. At that time we invited her to guest blog her experiences, and now that she is back home in the U.S.A. she has taken us up on her offer. Prepare to enjoy her account of blue seas, green isles, white canvas, and wooden decks . . .

I spent a year doing something that people only dream about, if they know it even exists. When I discovered a way to see the South Pacific through the eyes of an early explorer, I knew there was no way to let an opportunity like this sail away.

After saying farewell to the Lighthouse team in St. Augustine, I joined the Tall Ship Soren Larsen in Auckland, New Zealand with only a small notion of what would lay ahead.

Continue reading "An Adventure Through Pacific Time (Guest Blog by former LAMP intern Karson Winslow)" »

September 15, 2009

The Third Annual Papa Jim Regatta

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Race boats at the Hartley dock ready for the Papa Jim Regatta.

There was extra cause for celebration and excitement along the banks of Salt Run this past Labor Day. For the past three years the Papa Jim Regatta, in honor of the late Jim Hartley, has been hosted by the Hartley family and SPARS, a local group dedicated towards teaching people of all ages, especially youth, the benefits of sailing.

Continue reading "The Third Annual Papa Jim Regatta" »

September 1, 2009

09/01/09 Presentation: "Florida's Fleet: An Ebb Tide of Shrimping"

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Presentation Title:
Florida's Fleet: An Ebb Tide of Shrimping
Speaker: Brendan Burke
Time: Tuesday, September 1st, 2009, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Place: Flagler Room, Flagler College, downtown St. Augustine

Join Brendan Burke, Maritime Archaeologist at LAMP (Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program) in St. Augustine, as he presents the findings of a recent oral history and archival research project concerning the area's long and active shrimping and shrimp boat building industries.

August 8, 2009

Historic ship replica burns

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Sad news from the Netherlands last week. The historic replica ship Prins Willem caught fire and was totally consumed in the port of Den Helder, where it was a popular site for tourists and local maritime buffs alike. The original Prins Willem was the flagship of the Dutch East India Company, built in 1649 and wrecked off the coast of Madagascar in 1662.

Continue reading "Historic ship replica burns" »

July 25, 2009

Using Sonar Mosaics to Protect Cultural Heritage in Our Nation's Oldest Port: New Article in International Ocean Systems Magazine by LAMP Archaeologist

Posted by: Chuck Meide

SonarWiz.MAP + SBP software image showing one of the North Beach Railroad abutments along the Tolomato River and debris associated with its destruction during the mid-20th century.

LAMP archaeologist Brendan Burke just published an article in the July/August 2009 International Ocean Systems Magazine, "the Magazine for Ocean Professionals" (volume 13, number 4). The title of the article is Wreck Protection: Using Sonar Mosaics to Protect U.S. Cultural Heritage, and you can read it online by clicking here. Congratulations Brendan, for producing a great article that will spread news of LAMP's work here in St. Augustine to our colleagues in the broader marine science industry.

July 22, 2009

Some Finds from the Mystery Wreck off America's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Today's discovery: the head, or lid, from a small keg, barrel, or cask. This could have been used to store liquid or dry goods on the ocean-going sailing vessel which plied St. Augustine waters in the 1800s.

I thought I would post a quick update and share some of the finds we have made while conducting archaeological excavations on the unknown shipwreck offshore St. Augustine. LAMP is the research arm of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, and our archaeological investigations are focused on increasing our understanding of the rich maritime history of our Nation's oldest port.

Continue reading "Some Finds from the Mystery Wreck off America's Oldest Port" »

July 12, 2009

Continued Work on the Shipwreck Offshore

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Dr. Sam Turner uses an underwater lift bag to lighten the load of a box of ballast stones. He will swim the stones over to the day's lifting station, directly under the dive boat, so that the rocks can be hauled to the surface by the crew waiting above. This photograph has been modified with Adobe Photoshop so that viewers can better see the diver and his equipment; if you'd like to see the original version, click below.

Continue reading "Continued Work on the Shipwreck Offshore" »

July 6, 2009

Storms at Sea

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Ominous and rapidly-moving storm clouds drove LAMP researchers off the water today. Sudden storms have always been a hazard to St. Augustine mariners in modern times and in antiquity.

Continue reading "Storms at Sea" »

June 24, 2009

I once was blind, but now I see . . .

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP Field School student Chris Borlas takes advantage of good visibility to use a line level and folding rule to measure the depth of an excavation unit underwater. For the past three weeks, it has been so dark and murky on the wreck site that trying to see an air gauge, compass reading, tape measure, hand signal, or line level has been completely fruitless.

On the first day of diving this this week, LAMP staff and students alike were ecstatic to find that, with no warning, they could suddenly see on the shipwreck site. Visibility had been slowly improving over the past several weeks, so that divers could begin to see to a limited degree the site around them, instead of relying on groping in the dark. But all of the sudden the vis was great! We wasted no time and took advantage of these conditions while we had them.

We've posted some underwater video from Tuesday so everyone following along can experience seeing the shipwreck as we do. Check it out below!

Continue reading "I once was blind, but now I see . . ." »

June 22, 2009

LAMP Field School in the News

Posted by: Chuck Meide

This photo was taken by St. Augustine Record reporter Daron Dean when he visited our excavation site on Friday. Also on hand were a film crew from Pepe Productions, including a Flagler College intern (with camera) and the film's director (helping steady her) working on an upcoming documentary.

We are always happy when our archaeological work gets local press attention, and last Sunday we were treated to a great front page story in the St. Augustine Record written by reporter Marcia Lane.

Continue reading "LAMP Field School in the News" »

June 20, 2009

Field School Students Take the Plunge -- First Dives Offshore

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Graduate Student Supervisor Rachel Horlings, a PhD student from Syracuse University, launches herself into the water to dive on the wreck of an unknown sailing vessel. Students from all over the U.S. have traveled to America's oldest port to participate in the 2009 LAMP Field School. Our primary objective is to excavate this sunken ballast pile in an attempt to determine if it represents the remains of the Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis.

Continue reading "Field School Students Take the Plunge -- First Dives Offshore " »

June 14, 2009

Archaeology Boot Camp: the 2009 LAMP Field School Begins

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Honora Sullivan-Chin, a student in the 2009 LAMP Field School, undergoes black-out mask zero visibility training under the supervision of Graduate Student Supervisor Kendra Kennedy. The first two days of Field School are an intensive training session to prepare them for the challenges on diving in zero- and low-visibility conditions on the wreck of an unknown sailing vessel offshore which might be the lost privateer and former slave ship Jefferson Davis.

Continue reading "Archaeology Boot Camp: the 2009 LAMP Field School Begins" »

June 10, 2009

LAMP Field Season is Underway with the Arrival of the R/V Roper!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

R/V Roper, the research vessel of the Institute of Maritime History, is on loan to LAMP through the end of July. A crew of five IMH divers delivered this working dive boat from Maryland to St. Augustine in late May.

We had anticipated the arrival of the R/V Roper for months now, and in late May the day finally arrived. We had heard from our colleagues in the Chesapeake region about this vessel, about what a fantastic working dive boat she is, and finally we were going to find out for ourselves.

Continue reading "LAMP Field Season is Underway with the Arrival of the R/V Roper!" »

June 8, 2009

6/8-6/26/2009: LAMP 2009 Summer Field School

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The 2011 LAMP Field School announcement is now online! Click here to learn about our upcoming summer field school, June 6-July 1, 2011.

UPDATE: The 2009 Field School was a great success! Click here to read the 2009 Field School blog posts!

Below is the original announcement for the 2009 Field School:

The 2009 Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) Field School will be held June 8-26, 2009 at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. This comprehensive 3-week field practicum will focus on the testing of an unidentified ballast pile to make a determination whether it represents the remains of the Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, lost on the St. Augustine bar in August 1861 after the most successful cruise of the entire war. Alternate inshore sites will be investigated depending on conditions offshore.

Continue reading "6/8-6/26/2009: LAMP 2009 Summer Field School" »

May 21, 2009

The Five Hundredth Anniversary of the Discovery of Florida

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner

The year 2013 will be the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida and the North American mainland. To prepare for this anniversary as well as to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the failed colonial attempt at Pensacola and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, the State of Florida has launched a website called Viva Florida. One of the principal purposes of the website is to inform and educate the general public about the unique and ancient cultural heritage found in Florida. Long before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, St. Augustine was an active frontier port in Spain’s vast American empire.

A section of the website devoted to education contains three video lectures by experts in the fields of history and nautical archaeology. The first lecture is by Dr. Wes Singeltary of the Florida Department of State. The second is by Richard Brosnaham, Executive Director of West Florida Preservation, Inc. The final lecture is presented by Dr. Sam Turner, the Director of Archaeology at LAMP at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum who discusses the life of Juan Ponce de León and his voyage of discovery to Florida in 1513.

To see the website follow the link below.


To see the lectures click on Education in the navigation bar on the left side of the screen.

Meet the R/V Desmond Valdes

Posted by: Brendan Burke

R/V Desmond Valdes under way.

On March 1st I was given an address and a location to go look at a boat. First off, I’m always going to look at boats but this one was special. It was being donated to the Lighthouse and I had been tasked with finding out more about it. After pulling into the storage lot and taking a quick gander, my eyes settled on a very nice Grady White over against the back fence that I identified as the donor vessel. Approaching more closely I noticed that a much larger and beefier Grady White next to the first one. My eyes had to re-adjust a bit as I realized that this larger boat was, in fact, our subject.

Continue reading "Meet the R/V Desmond Valdes" »

May 11, 2009

5/06 - 5/17/09 Columbus Ships in St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: Historically accurate replicas of the Nina and the Pinta, open to the public for tours
Where: St. Augustine City Marina
When: 9am-6pm, May 6th - May 17th, 2009
Who: These two replica ships are operated by the Columbus Foundation, and were brought to St. Augustine with the help of LAMP and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
How much: Admission for adults is $7, children older than 4 are $5, and senior citizens are $6. A guided group rate of $3 per person is also available for groups of 15 or more. A portion of each admission goes to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum.

April 30, 2009

Dive Training for Students at Pedro Menendez High

Posted by: Chuck Meide


High school students (L to R) Drew, Matt, Florian, and Danielle learn the scuba diving and the basics of underwater archaeology in the MARC class.

LAMP staff regularly teaches a Maritime Archaeology Research Class (MARC) at Pedro Menendez High School. In addition to learning the basics of maritime history, archaeology, and marine science, select students undergo scuba training and certification. All dive training is overseen by Chuck Meide, LAMP Director and a NAUI scuba instructor.

Continue reading "Dive Training for Students at Pedro Menendez High" »

April 16, 2009

Take a Virtual Dive on Florida's "Museums in the Sea"

Posted by: Chuck Meide


I thought that folks would be interested in the new webpage produced by the State of Florida, Museums in the Sea. This is a really neat interactive website which allows visitors to explore the history, archaeology, and marine life associated with Florida's eleven different Underwater Archaeology Preserves. These are all shipwrecks off Florida's coastlines which are historically significant and also suitable dive sites for locals and visitors to dive. With the new website, now non-divers can explore them as well!

Continue reading "Take a Virtual Dive on Florida's "Museums in the Sea"" »

April 13, 2009

Easter Parade!! Keeping Our Shrimping Heritage Alive in America's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide


For the first time ever, LAMP and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum hosted a float in the annual St. Augustine Easter Parade! Our theme was Shrimping in Our Nation's Oldest Port, and to this end we towed a wooden boat with classic lines rigged in a manner reminiscent of traditional shrimp trawlers of the 1920s and 30s, the dawn of the shrimping era in St. Augustine. Not only did we have a great time, we proved a big hit with the crowd! Join us below to see some pictures of this really fun day. You never know what LAMP and the Lighthouse will be doing to keep our maritime heritage alive in America's oldest port!

Continue reading "Easter Parade!! Keeping Our Shrimping Heritage Alive in America's Oldest Port" »

April 7, 2009

LAMP Archaeologists Rescue 100-year old Alligator Farm Logboat

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Friday was an exciting day! LAMP archaeologists joined a team of St. Johns County scientists to recover a 20-ft long, 100-year old historic dugout canoe from the alligator pit at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. The boat had been sitting on the ground, exposed to the elements and to the activity of large alligators (one of which made her nest against the boat) for several years. We visited the boat the Monday before, and observed that it was clearly suffering heavy deterioration, which is why Alligator Farm officials were happy to trade it to the St. Augustine Lighthouse in return for another boat, a historic flatboat replica made by the volunteers at LAMP Boatworks.

Continue reading "LAMP Archaeologists Rescue 100-year old Alligator Farm Logboat" »

March 25, 2009

3/25/09-3/27/09 The 3rd Annual Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide



The 2009 Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology will be held at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum in America's oldest port, St. Augustine, Florida, from March 25 to March 27, 2009.

Continue reading "3/25/09-3/27/09 The 3rd Annual Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology" »

March 19, 2009

Action Alert: GTM-NERR Needs Your Help!

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Our neighbor to the north, the Guana Tolomato Matazas National Estuarine Research Reserve, is in danger of losing a major portion of its funding unless we act now. Due to a Tallahassee snafu, money from a Land Acquisition Trust Fund has been reallocated to the legislature's general fund. With this move, unless we are proactive it will never make its way back into St. Augustine's beautiful estuaries and marshes. Read below to find out how it will directly and negatively effect our community unless we act now.

Continue reading "Action Alert: GTM-NERR Needs Your Help!" »

March 18, 2009

Journal of a Voyage at Sea

Posted by: Brendan Burke


A maritime archaeologist rarely gets to spend time with a wooden sailing ship that has not yet sunk. The following is an accounting of my time onboard the Chesapeake Pilot Schooner Virginia and our voyage from Jacksonville to Miami.

Continue reading "Journal of a Voyage at Sea" »

March 12, 2009

3/12/09 Presentation: Before the Wreck: The Intimate Life of a Pilot Schooner

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Presentation Title: Before the Wreck: The Intimate Life of a Pilot Schooner
Speaker: Brendan Burke
Time: Thursday, March 12th, 7:00 pm
Place: Anastasia Gallery (upstairs in Keeper's House), St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

You are invited to attend a talk based on my recent experience aboard the schooner Virginia, a 126' replica Chesapeake Bay pilot schooner. Owned by the Virginia Maritime Heritage Organization, Virginia sails as the goodwill ambassador ship for the Commonwealth of Virginia. I was recently invited to guest-crew aboard her for a trip to Miami from Jacksonville, where she was recently berthed for winter layup. Aboard her, I spent a great amount of time talking with the crew and captain about her rigging, sailing, construction, and how she fits into the VMHA's mission to preserve the maritime heritage of the Chesapeake Bay. Join us for an evening of tales on the high seas!

The talk will be held in the SALH Gallery at 7:00 on Thursday, March 12th and should last about 45 minutes. Coffee and water will be provided. See you there!

March 3, 2009

Echoes of the Past: Sonar Search in Robinson Creek

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Sliding along quietly through the marsh we inspired nothing more than nonchalant looks from bankside egrets. Looking like a routine fishing boat, the marsh waders and herons went about their day and life seemingly went on as normal through the tidal flats. However, the scene underwater was much busier. A constant and rapid pinging sound was emanating from the boat, one gathering historical data and ‘seeing’ Robinson Creek’s bottom for the first time.

Continue reading "Echoes of the Past: Sonar Search in Robinson Creek" »

February 19, 2009

Carry Me Home to Old Virginia!

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Schooner Virginia

Going out in all sorts of weather and sea conditions is the job of the harbor pilot. To do this they must be competent mariners and know not only how to steer their own vessels but any that they may have to bring in to port. In 1915 the Virginia Pilot Association’s president, William Rowe Boutwell ordered a schooner built to keep his pilots “sharp sailors” It was launched in 1917 as the schooner Virginia. Although most pilots at this point were operating steam vessels, such as the V.P.A.’s steamer Relief, to be able to weather more adverse conditions Boutwell’s ship ensured the best skills among his men as well as keeping a proud history alive. Keeping that story today is the schooner Virginia. She is a replica of William Boutwell’s boat, also named the Virginia, and recently came to visit us here on the First Coast.

Continue reading "Carry Me Home to Old Virginia!" »

February 18, 2009

2/18/09 Lecture: The Wharf That Launched 800 Warships

Posted by: Chuck Meide

An artist painting of the Lake George military wharf circa 1759 with the sloop Earl of Halifax and smaller bateaux. The 1758-built British wharf, now submerged, was studied by Bateaux Below and the 250 year old waterfront structure is the topic of a LAMP-sponsored talk by Joseph W. Zarzynski (photo credit: Mark Peckham & Bateaux Below).

Lecture Title: The Wharf That Launched 800 Warships--The History & Archaeology of a French & Indian War Waterfront Structure
Speaker: Joseph W. Zarzynski (Underwater Archaeologist, Bateaux Below, Inc.)
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, Anastasia Gallery upstairs in the Keeper's House
When: 6:00 pm, Wednesday February 18, 2009
Sponsored by: LAMP and the St. Augustine Archaeological Association
Special Event: DVD signing and special sale of the documentary "The Lost Radeau"

Continue reading "2/18/09 Lecture: The Wharf That Launched 800 Warships" »

January 18, 2009

Scuba Checkout Dives for the MARC High School Class

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP diving instructor Chuck Meide solicits the "OK" signal from two student divers during their checkout dives in Alexander Springs in Lake County.

One of LAMP's main educational programs, and an important part of our First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project, is the MARC High School program-- Maritime Archaeology Research Class. For three semesters, LAMP and FPAN archaeologists have been visiting a students enrolled in this class at Pedro Menendez High School on a weekly basis, to teach the basics of archaeology and maritime archaeology in particular. Eight of the students in this year's class are participating in the optional scuba certification aspect of the class. For the entire semester the students have participated in weekly pool sessions at the local dive shop, Sea Hunt Scuba, where they have been taught by LAMP staff. In order for these students to earn their NAUI basic open water scuba diver certification, they must demonstrate mastery of the basic scuba skills during a series of one snorkel dive and four scuba dives.

Continue reading "Scuba Checkout Dives for the MARC High School Class" »

January 15, 2009

1/15/09 Lecture: The Proposed Nation's Oldest Port National Heritage Area

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Lecture Title: The Proposed Nation's Oldest Port National Heritage Area
Speaker: Robin Moore, St. Johns County Historic Resource Specialist and LAMP Research Associate
Location: St. Augustine Yacht Club
Date and Time: January 15th, 2009, 11:30 am

1/15/09 Lecture: LAMP, the St. Augustine Lighthouse, and the Maritime History of America's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Lecture Title: LAMP, the St. Augustine Lighthouse, and the Maritime History of America's Oldest Port
Speaker: Chuck Meide, LAMP Director
Venue: Ponte Vedra Rotary Club
Location: Marsh Landing Country Club, Ponte Vedra
Date and Time: January 15th, 2009, 8:00 am

January 3, 2009

Happy New Years from LAMP!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Happy New Year's from the LAMP gang! Left to right, 19th century versions of Brendan Burke, Sam Turner, Chuck Meide, Christine Mavrick, and Robin Moore. Lest old acquaintances be forgot . . . have a great 2009!

December 15, 2008

Bites of the Alligator

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The Alligator as she appeared in her final configuration.

This past Tuesday, December 9th, LAMP took a second look at a wreck in Crescent Lake. The lake, a tributary of the St. Johns river and about an hour and a half southwest of St. Augustine, and it’s eastern shore is reputed to be the resting place of the steamboat Alligator. Our work with this wreck began earlier this fall and began through an interesting series of events.

Continue reading "Bites of the Alligator" »

December 12, 2008

Hunt for the Alligator Makes the News

Posted by: Chuck Meide


In September, I got a phone call from Dr. Roger Smith, Florida's state underwater archaeologist. He asked if we could go take a look at a recently reported wreck site, and put us in touch with retired meteorologist and avocational historian Dan Smith (no relation). Mr. Smith has conducted an immense amount of research related to a late 19th century steamboat called the Alligator, which indicates the sternwheeler was lost on the east side of Crescent Lake, south of us in Flagler County. A trip to the wreck site proved that it was a very interesting wreck, not only to us but to several news agencies.

Continue reading "Hunt for the Alligator Makes the News" »

December 10, 2008

Chesapeake Technology Sonar Seminar in Seattle

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Taking a picture of the seafloor is a complicated business. In some industries it is a multi-billion dollar business. Acoustic technology, however, has allowed us to do amazing things and very quickly the mysteries of the sea are becoming fewer and fewer. It does not come without a price nor investment in training. I recently attended a workshop and training conference in Seattle, Washington to hone my skills in collecting and processing sonar data.

Continue reading "Chesapeake Technology Sonar Seminar in Seattle" »

November 19, 2008

Back to 1888

Posted by: Beau Phillips

It’s Pocahontas Number Three coal, from the famous seam in Tazewell County, Virginia, and according to Brendan Burke it is great for blacksmithing.

After Burke moved the coal from the edges of the forge into the firepot, he labored at the blower churning air through the tuyere and into the fire. Green smoke rose from the coals as Burke fed the flames. “The smoke is just weakness leaving the fire,” said Burke. More precisely, impurities, like sulfur, burning off of the coal as it smolders create the green smoke and turn it into coke that is very different from the kind you would drink with your value meal. To a blacksmith, coke is the very high quality source of heat left once the “weakness,” or impurities, burn away.

Burke turns the blower with one hand to heat the steel
Burke turns the blower to heat the steel

Continue reading "Back to 1888" »

November 14, 2008

11/13-14/2008 Blacksmithing Demonstration at the Lighthouse

Posted by: Chuck Meide


What: Blacksmithing demonstration with a traditional forge. Items to be made include boat fasteners (spikes, nails, etc.), chain, oyster knives, etc.
Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, by the LAMP Boatworks boatbuilding station
When: Thursday and Friday, November 13-14, 2008, 10 am - 4 pm
Who: Sam Turner, LAMP Director of Archaeology, and Brendan Burke, LAMP Archaeologist & Logistical Coordinator
For more information click here

Continue reading "11/13-14/2008 Blacksmithing Demonstration at the Lighthouse" »

November 11, 2008

Honoring Those Who Served

Posted by: Chuck Meide

An honor guard of four French jets fly overhead during the dedication of the only monument to the U.S. Navy servicemen participating in the D-Day invasion. LAMP and St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Board member Captain Greg Streeter spearheaded the effort to establish this memorial at Utah Beach, Normandy, some 64 years after the heroic assault.

Every Veteran's Day, we at the Lighthouse are committed to fulfilling one of the most important aspects of our mission, to honor those who have served our country. As an aid to navigation and a sentinel facing the Atlantic, the Lighthouse has always had a military function, especially during times of war. During World War II, the Lighthouse served as a center of U.S. Coast Guard activity, and was manned by lookouts on guard for enemy U-boats. In recent months, another link between the Lighthouse and our WWII maritime heritage has been established, through the efforts of our Board member, retired U.S. Navy Captain Greg Streeter.

Continue reading "Honoring Those Who Served" »

November 8, 2008

Un-breaking the Mold

Posted by: Brendan Burke

The Xynides Boat House. (Photo courtesy of Lowell Beyer)

Standing on top of a pile of broken timbers, exposed nails, torn electrical wiring, and a healthy dose of tetanus-in-the-wings can be a normal day for a maritime archaeologist. We recently had some of those days and I report on them here.

Continue reading "Un-breaking the Mold" »

11/08/08 Lecture: Maritime History of St. Augustine

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Lecture Title: Maritime History of St. Augustine
Presented by: Brendan Burke, LAMP Archaeologist and Logistical Coordinator
When: Saturday, November 8th, 2008, at 2:00 pm
Where: Anastasia Island Branch Library, in the Large Meeting Room (click here for map)
For further information call: 904-209-3730
Click here to download a flier promoting this event.

November 3, 2008

Milling Begins for the Galveztown Yawls

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner


October 29th dawned bright and chilly. The day marked the beginning of the Galveztown Yawl Project at LAMP Boatworks. The Galveztown is a replica brig under construction in Malaga, Spain. LAMP Boatworks is a principal project partner supplying the Spanish shipyard, Astilleros Nereo, with Live Oak timber for the construction of the ship’s hull. LAMP is also assisting the project by building two yawls. These small ship’s boats will be 14 and 16 feet long and will travel nested on the deck of the Galveztown after the tall ship calls in St. Augustine in 2011.

All craft, be they ships or boats, require fairly special lumber. The process begins with the collecting of tree trunks of suitable timber and then milling them into the required dimensions and shapes.

Continue reading "Milling Begins for the Galveztown Yawls" »

A Fish of a Different Kind

Posted by: Brendan Burke


In the story of the founding of Rome we hear much about Romulus, the progenitor of the ancient city, and little about his brother Remus. Last heard from when passed by a flock of birds doing the god's bidding in chosing the nascent city state's king, Remus went underground and was never heard from again. On October 22nd, I met Remus.

Continue reading "A Fish of a Different Kind" »

October 29, 2008

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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

Continue reading "10/29/08 Lecture: Amphoras: Silent Observers of Ancient Maritime History " »

October 24, 2008

Mystery Shipwreck Identified

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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.

Continue reading "Mystery Shipwreck Identified" »

October 23, 2008

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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.

Continue reading "Help Preserve Florida's Working Waterfronts: Vote YES on Amendment 6" »

October 20, 2008

ACTION ALERT!!! The Treasure Hunters are Coming!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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.

Continue reading "ACTION ALERT!!! The Treasure Hunters are Coming!" »

October 17, 2008

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

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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.

Continue reading "10/17-18/08 Florida Maritime Heritage Association Meeting" »

October 16, 2008

Bent at the Lighthouse

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner


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.

Continue reading "Bent at the Lighthouse" »

October 15, 2008

The Passing of an Old Friend

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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.

Continue reading "The Passing of an Old Friend" »

October 8, 2008

Newly Discovered Shipwreck gets LAMP in the News

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


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

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 . . .


September 22, 2008

On the High Seas

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Two of our past interns, Karson Winslow and Lindsay Jones, have become mariners of sorts since their departure from LAMP. Karson is on the S/V Soren Larsen out of Auckland, New Zealand and Lindsay on the M/V Ocean Phoenix out of Seattle, Washington. Read below to see where they work and where their work has taken them…

Continue reading "On the High Seas" »

September 18, 2008

9/18/08 Lecture: The Caribbean World of Ponce de Leon and the Discovery of Florida

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Lecture Title: The Caribbean World of Ponce de León and the Discovery of Florida
Speaker: Dr. Sam Turner, Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program
When: Thursday, September 18, 2008, 7:00 pm
Where: Flagler Room, Flagler College, 74 King Street, St. Augustine, Florida
Sponsored by: St. Augustine Historical Society
For more info call: 904-824-2872

September 12, 2008

St. Augustine Archaeological Association is now Online!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


I was pleased to see that the St. Augustine Archaeological Association, known locally as "S triple A," is now online with their own webpage, saaa.shutterfly.com. It looks like a great webpage right from the start, with a calender of events, links to photos, downloadable archaeology month poster, and past activities journal. Lots to keep supporters of St. Augustine archaeology interested!

The SAAA was formed in 1985 to promote interest in St. Augustine and St. Johns County archaeology, and to provide opportunities for individuals to work side by side with professionals in our area. SAAA has always been a great partner and supporter of LAMP (I couldn't help but notice that we were among their favorite links!) and its great to see this long overdue webpage!

August 27, 2008

Fever in the Barn

Posted by: Brendan Burke


To everybody who's keeping track of LAMP's research boat, the Island Fever, here is an update which encompasses the project history, current events, and our future plans. Read on!

Continue reading "Fever in the Barn" »

August 23, 2008

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Posted by: Chuck Meide


August 23 has been designated by UNESCO as International Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was one of the most massive violations of human rights in modern history. From the 16th through 19th centuries as many as 17 million Africans were stolen away from their homelands, families, dreams, and aspirations, to be transported in a deadly voyage across the ocean where they had few choices but to make a new life in the face of the horrific system of New World slavery and institutionalized racism. The hopes and dreams enslaved Africans kept alive came to fruition first with the legal abolition of the slave trade (by Britain and America in 1807) and finally with the abolition of slavery itself, at various dates by various nations (British colonies in 1833, French colonies in 1848, the United States in 1865, Cuba in 1886, and the last hold-out, Brazil, in 1888).

The ships that played a role in the Atlantic slave trade have increasingly piqued the interest of maritime archaeologists, though few have been located and identified. Two known slave ships have wrecked in St. Augustine waters. To date, neither has been discovered.

Continue reading "International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition" »

August 11, 2008

LAMP Hosts ROV Launch

Posted by: Brendan Burke


This past Friday LAMP deployed a new instrument to recover data from the 1764 shipwreck of the Industry.

Continue reading "LAMP Hosts ROV Launch" »

August 8, 2008

Monitoring the Wreck of the Florida with Side Scan Sonar, and a new Florida Webpage

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The twisted steel wreckage of the sunken steam dredge Florida can be seen in this sonar image. The Florida was lost in 1918 off Crescent Beach, south of St. Augustine.

Continue reading "Monitoring the Wreck of the Florida with Side Scan Sonar, and a new Florida Webpage" »

July 11, 2008

The Island Fever needs your help!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP uses the research vessel Island Fever for diving operations to explore the maritime history of America's oldest port, and to bring college and high school students to offshore historic shipwrecks for a hands-on history lesson like none other. But for the past six months our favorite boat has been high and dry out of the water because of a broken engine and other significant repairs. You can help save our favorite boat and get our programs back on track!

Continue reading "The Island Fever needs your help!" »

June 28, 2008

LAMP International Partnership in the News: Construction of the Replica Ship Galveztown in Malaga, Spain

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The first frame of the replica of the Revolutionary War era brig Galveztown has been erected and was celebrated with pomp and circumstance at the ceremony held in May 2008 at the Astilleros Nereo shipyard in Malaga, Spain. In attendance were LAMP archaeologists Dr. Sam Turner and Brendan Burke, along with the St. Augustine Historical Society's Dr. Susan Parker.

Our partnership with the Spanish shipyard and maritime museum Astilleros Nereo in Malaga continues to gain interest in local and international media outlets.

Continue reading "LAMP International Partnership in the News: Construction of the Replica Ship Galveztown in Malaga, Spain" »

June 27, 2008

UPDATED: State-wide reaction to our treasure hunting Action Alert

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Updated! Letter by Professor George R. Fischer describing the events of the public meeting is included below . . .

We were hoping there would be an overwhelming response to our recent call to action to let the state know that we are against legally sanctioned treasure hunting in Florida waters. The opportunity was a proposed change--the first in 30 years--in the rules currently governing this practice, and a call for public comments and public meeting in Tallahassee.

Well, this early it hard to judge numbers of comments but they are a matter of public record, and so eventually we'll have this data. We do know that our message got out there and spread fast.

Continue reading "UPDATED: State-wide reaction to our treasure hunting Action Alert" »

June 26, 2008

LAMP/Plymouth State University Maritime Archaeology Field School is Underway!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The June 2008 LAMP maritime archaeology field school, accredited by Plymouth State University, is currently underway in St. Augustine, Florida. Here students Ben Siegel and Ryan Flory are in the background with LAMP intern Renee Post. PSU Professor Dave Switzer is in the foreground.

Continue reading "LAMP/Plymouth State University Maritime Archaeology Field School is Underway!" »

June 21, 2008

ACTION ALERT!!! Help Stop Treasure Hunting in Florida Waters!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Word is spreading about an opportunity that might lead to the end of state-sanctioned treasure hunting in Florida waters, but the time to act is now!. We encourage everyone who cares about Florida history and archaeology to visit a public comment webpage the state has established in conjunction with their proposed new 1A-31 regulations for treasure hunting. While these rules are a step in the right direction, 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.

Continue reading "ACTION ALERT!!! Help Stop Treasure Hunting in Florida Waters!" »

May 29, 2008

Sonar Reveals Urca de Lima

Posted by: Brendan Burke

On a volunteer dive training trip to the Urca de Lima site recently, LAMP archaeologist Brendan Burke was busy operating our Klein 3900 sidescan sonar to 'see' the site. This is the first time that the Urca de Lima wreck site, a 1715 Spanish plate fleet ship, has been viewed using this technology and we have presented the findings from this survey here on the Lighthouse Blog!

Continue reading "Sonar Reveals Urca de Lima" »

May 27, 2008

Investigation, Recovery and Conservation of a Keel

Posted by: Renee Post

Chuck Meide, Kathleen McCormick, Renee Post and Mallory Valalik removing sand from around the keel.

About two months ago Park Ranger Shelly Young contacted LAMP and informed us that a local shipwreck, that has been buried in the sand, became uncovered and the keel broke free and washed onto the beach. Chuck and I went to investigate the keel Thursday, May 15 to examine its current state and decide how to transport it back to LAMP for proper conservation. When we arrived at the rangers station, we were dismayed to hear from Ranger Mitch that a vandal had sawed the keel into two pieces while we waited for approval to recover it. Ranger Mitch drove us to the site where the keel washed ashore and we immediately began to examine it. Mitch told us there was a noticeable scarf in the keel, which is where two sections of the keel joined together.

Continue reading "Investigation, Recovery and Conservation of a Keel" »

May 26, 2008

In the News: LAMP Keelhauling gets Good Press!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Anastasia Park rangers and LAMP archaeologists carefully remove sand from around a shipwrecked keel timber before removing it from the beach for preservation in the laboratory. Photo courtesy of the St. Augustine Record

Last Thursday a great article appeared in the local paper, the St. Augustine Record.

The wooden keel of a 19th century merchant ship that wrecked on a St. Johns County beach nearly 200 years ago was recovered Wednesday, according to marine archaeologists.

Chuck Meide, director of the Lighthouse Archeological Maritime Program, said the heavily weathered keel was first recorded on Anastasia State Park in 2004, but Florida Park Service personnel reported recently that a piece of the keel had been sawn off by an unknown person.

LAMP stepped in to ensure there was no further damage to the relic.

Continue reading "In the News: LAMP Keelhauling gets Good Press!" »

May 22, 2008

Volunteer Training Dive a Success!!

Posted by: Mallory Valalik


LAMP and FPAN with their volunteer divers after a day of successful dives among the Urca de Lima 1715 shipwreck.

On May 19th and 20th LAMP joined the Florida Public Archaeology Network for a volunteer dive training off the coast of Ft. Pierce, Florida. The volunteers gained first-hand experience of the scientific diving and mapping procedures along side underwater archaeologists.

Continue reading "Volunteer Training Dive a Success!!" »

May 16, 2008

New Interns at LAMP

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Renee Post diving in water significantly clearer than in St. Augustine.

Well folks here we are again, we have two new interns, Renee Post and Mallory Valalik. Renee recently graduated from University of West Florida with a BA in Maritime Studies. Mallory is a senior at Middle Tennessee State University majoring in anthropology with a focus in bioarchaeology. Renee will be with us for a duration of three months and Mallory will be with us for a month, then to Poland to work on a medieval mortuary site, then she will be back for another month.

Continue reading "New Interns at LAMP" »