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

First Coast Maritime Archaeological Project

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" »

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" »

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.

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.


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”" »

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!!" »

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 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 . . ." »

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!

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" »

March 21, 2012

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" »

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" »

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!" »

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 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!" »

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 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" »

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 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!" »

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 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" »

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" »

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 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 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 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 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 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.

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" »

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 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" »

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" »

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 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 8, 2008

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" »

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 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).

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

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 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 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" »

May 13, 2008

05/19-20/08 LAMP Dive training event: the 1715 wreck of the Urca de Lima

Posted by: Chuck Meide

A local diver on the anchor of the Urca de Lima, a Spanish galleon lost in 1715 off Fort Pierce, Florida.

UPDATED: Read the 22 May 08 blog entry about this great event!

LAMP will be staging a training event for members of our volunteer dive team on May 19 and 20th, 2008, in conjunction with the Florida Public Archaeology Network's East Central and Southeast Regional Centers.

Continue reading "05/19-20/08 LAMP Dive training event: the 1715 wreck of the Urca de Lima" »

April 3, 2008

Sea Trials for the Barca Chata

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Most folks know that one of the most exciting new projects at the Lighthouse is our wooden boatbuilding program. Part of LAMP's First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project, the LAMP Boatworks is dedicated to keeping traditional maritime craftsmanship alive, while providing experimental archaeological and public outreach avenues to help us better interpret boat and ship remains preserved in the archaeological record. Our first build was a Bevin's skiff, a traditional skiff design available as a kit build through the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. While this inaugural and beautiful little boat was an undisputed fantastic success, many of us were eagerly awaiting our first boat to be built from scratch. This was to be the barca chata.

Continue reading "Sea Trials for the Barca Chata" »

March 31, 2008

04/15/08 Public Meeting for National Maritime Heritage Area

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

National Maritime Heritage Area Workshop


Please join us for a National Heritage Area Feasibility Workshop
(Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - 12:30 pm until 5:00 pm
GTM NERR Environmental Education Center
505 Guana River Road
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32080

RSVP requested by April 11, 2008
Contact Pam Troll at 904-829-0745, ext 224 or

March 27, 2008

The 2008 Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide


As Florida Archaeology Month (March) draws to a close, I'd like to reflect on LAMP's biggest public archaeology event, the annual Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology. We sponsored, along with the Lighthouse, the GTM Research Reserve, FPAN, and a number of other supporters, this Symposium for the first time last year. As successful as that inaugural effort was, this year's meeting--from March 12th to the 15th--was even greater!

Continue reading "The 2008 Northeast Florida Symposium on Maritime Archaeology" »

March 6, 2008

Boat Launch a Yo Ho Ho Success!

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

Last Friday night was a wonderful Boat Launch Event, as we launched the Bevin Skiff now christened the William A. Harn, after Lighthouse Keeper William Harn, a man who was at Ft. Sumter as member of the Union army when it was fired upon. This small skiff, designed in New England was perfect for Harn, whose family might have kept such a craft for bringing in supplies from Steam boats named Fern and Armeria, when they docked on what is now Salt Run. This boat is the first finished product of our recently established traditional boatbuilding program, LAMP Boatworks.

UPDATED! More pictures and video below the fold . . .

Continue reading "Boat Launch a Yo Ho Ho Success!" »

March 5, 2008

03/06/08 Lecture: Maritime Archaeology in Portarlington, Australia

Posted by: Chuck Meide


The first of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project lecture series for 2008 will take place at the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum on Thursday, March 6, at 6 pm. LAMP Director of Archaeology Dr. Sam Turner will present a slideshow lecture titled "Maritime Archaeology in Portarlington, Australia."

Continue reading "03/06/08 Lecture: Maritime Archaeology in Portarlington, Australia" »

Details from 1855

Posted by: Brendan Burke


Digging through the online archives of the Library of Congress, I recently came across a panorama of St. Augustine completed in 1855. After close review, there are some interesting details I thought I'd share with the blog community.

Continue reading "Details from 1855" »

February 19, 2008

MARC High School Students Dive on Historic Shipwreck in America's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Menendez High School student Ricky Stratton makes a giant stride entry as LAMP intern Lindsay Jones, fellow student David Pouliotte, and Menendez High teacher Ken Jones look on.

One of LAMP's more exciting educational activities is the MARC program. MARC=Maritime Archaeology Research Class. Founded in 2000, LAMP's high school program was initiated at Nease High School, and later moved to Pedro Menendez High School just south of St. Augustine. With the inception of LAMP's First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project (FCMAP), the MARC program was reorganized and expanded. Starting last September, the students enrolled in this class interact with archaeologists five times a week, including 2 hours of pool training for each student every week for NAUI scuba diver certification. Through our FCMAP grant, 10 new sets of dive gear were purchased so that these students can dive with LAMP archaeologists first as student divers and later as project volunteers. Last week, our first class of student archaeologists "graduated" by conducting their final two checkout dives on a historic shipwreck offshore St. Augustine.

Continue reading "MARC High School Students Dive on Historic Shipwreck in America's Oldest Port" »

February 7, 2008

Searching for Shipwrecks in Salt Run

Posted by: Chuck Meide

LAMP's newest intern archaeologist, Lindsay Jones, skippers the Indy during today's diving operation.

Finding shipwrecks is not easy. Finding them in Salt Run is particularly challenging. Today's dive objectives were located within the main channel, which even on a February weekday afternoon saw pretty heavy recreational boat traffic. Then there was the 57 degree water, almost non-existent visibility, and of course the tidal currents . . .

Continue reading "Searching for Shipwrecks in Salt Run" »

December 13, 2007

Dive Training with LAMP's High School Maritime Archaeology Class

Posted by: Chuck Meide

One of our more exciting projects here at LAMP is our high school underwater archaeology program, which when it began in 2000 became the first such program in the U.S. that we know of. LAMP assists teacher Ken Jones with this class, which is available as an elective to students at Pedro Menendez High School. This year's class, the first to be taught under LAMP's new leadership, has undergone significant structural changes. One such change is an increased emphasis on basic diving training. For the first time LAMP staff will be teaching and certifying the students themselves, and this scuba training has been expanded to run the entire school semester, culminating with a series of five open water dives. By putting young people in the water with archaeologists, and introducing them to the underwater world, we really do feel that we change lives.


Continue reading "Dive Training with LAMP's High School Maritime Archaeology Class" »

December 4, 2007

The Jefferson Davis Links to the Hunley

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

Forensic facial reconstruction of J.F. Carlsen, former helmsman on the Jefferson Davis who perished on the H.L. Hunley submarine offshore Charleston, South Carolina.

This information comes from a LAMP volunteer about the crew of the Jefferson Davis which sank off the bar in St. Augustine to the north of the lighthouse.

Corporal J. F. Carlsen
(April 15, 2004 - CHARLESTON, SC)
J. F. Carlsen was a European by birth. He seems to have been drawn to danger and adventure. Before he lost his life on the H. L. Hunley at approximately 20-23 years of age, he had crossed the Atlantic, run the blockade surrounding the South, and been part of a crew taken over by a mutiny. He was also recognized for bravery during fierce battles for his service to the Confederacy.

Continue reading "The Jefferson Davis Links to the Hunley " »

November 28, 2007

LAMP Surveys Salt Run

Posted by: Chuck Meide

A major part of LAMP's First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project is to survey bodies of water around St. Augustine, America's oldest port, in an attempt to discover historic shipwrecks and other maritime archaeological sites. One area we had definitely planned on searching was Salt Run, the channel running alongside the Lighthouse and dividing Anastasia Island from Conch Island. At one time this served as the main navigational channel for St. Augustine, and it would have seen significant vessel traffic (and shipwrecks!). The Salt Run survey was re-prioritized once the Port Authority of St. Augustine announced that it was planning on dredging the channel and modifying the boat ramp dock. In order to prevent the possible destruction of unknown archaeological sites, an immediate survey of Salt Run was necessary.


Continue reading "LAMP Surveys Salt Run" »

November 8, 2007

The First Gathering of the Florida Maritime Heritage Association in Cortez, Florida

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Cortez is a tiny fishing village near Bradenton Beach, south of Tampa. Founded in the 1880s by watermen and fisher folk from North Carolina, this town is truly unique and hosts a vibrant maritime community. The maritime theme is explicit on the local landscape--I hadn't spent five minutes in town before seeing rudders, anchors, buoys, nets, and other maritime paraphernalia prominently on display in front yards. This town, with its rich commercial fishing history and working waterfront, was a perfect place to host a conference on maritime heritage. In late October, Sam and I traveled to Cortez to attend this meeting, the first attempt in over 20 years to gather all of those parties interested in preserving Florida's maritime past.


Continue reading "The First Gathering of the Florida Maritime Heritage Association in Cortez, Florida" »

October 22, 2007

10/25/07 Lecture: The Early Days of Nautical Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide

UPDATED with pictures from the event included below . . .


Dr. Switzer, a pioneer in the field of nautical archaeology, will be talking about three early projects he was closely involved with. The techniques developed on these sites in the 1960s and 1970s led directly to the methods used today by LAMP archaeologists exploring shipwrecks off St. Augustine, our nation's oldest port.

(UPDATED with pictures from the talk below)

Continue reading "10/25/07 Lecture: The Early Days of Nautical Archaeology" »

October 11, 2007

Big Day for the Boatworks

Posted by: Dr. Sam Turner

Monday October 10, was a big day for LAMP Boatworks. We installed the finished centerboard trunk in the Bevin’s Skiff, (our first building project, see blog To Build A Boat, August 2, 2007), made considerable progress fashioning the oars, built some sawhorses, and assembled a new tent effectively doubling our workspace. Jim Gaskins has spent considerable time meticulously fashioning the centerboard trunk. This piece is critical since it holds the centerboard to provide stability under sail but more importantly, has to be robustly built in order to absorb the shock transmitted to it through the centerboard during grounding events. The correct installation of this structure is also of great importance since it’s through the hull and subject to leaking if not properly done.

Continue reading "Big Day for the Boatworks" »

September 26, 2007

Of Old Ports, Lighthouses and Ben Franklin.

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

The following is written on a New England Lighthouse web site. http://lighthouse.cc/boston/history.html History - page one

Boston lighthouse) holds a place of honor among our nation's beacons. This was the first light station established on the North American continent, and the last in the United States to be automated. It's also our only light station that still retains an official keeper.

Because Boston Light was destroyed in the Revolution and rebuilt in 1783, the tower itself is the second oldest in the U.S.....It's recorded that there was a beacon on Point Allerton in Hull as early as 1673.

Sorry, in St. Augustine we scoff (in a friendly way) at 1673. Heck, we were a 108 by then. Maybe they got the idea for the 1673 lit watch tower from St. Augustine? Yes, Boston is important, and claiming first American lighthouse is significant. But claming first "North American" watchtower is a different thing all together.

An exciting point from this excerpt about Boston is the report that fires burned in towers very early on at Hull. This happened before they were designated "lighthouses." What does that mean? Is it important in some way? Let's explore it a bit more.

Consider this quote from Puertos del Estado, a Spanish web site discussing Spain's port system. The quote below has been translated into English, See the original at: http://www.puertos.es/es/index.html

The origins of the visual aids to navigation date back to the humans' first attempts to discover new commercial routes, going far a way from the coast in their vessels. In the daytime, the geographical unevenness oriented these men. However, at night, they needed to use the light emitted by bonfires burning in strategic coastal points in order to come back to the port. Since the rain or the wind extinguished these bonfires, they were protected with a kind of structure...Thus, the lighthouses started....

After the fall of the Roman Empire...countries were focused on the wars more than on the social and economic development. Few new lighthouses were built...Morever, the existing lighthouses were destroyed.

Since the 12th Century, the navigation in the Mediterranean Sea and in North Europe was reactivated. In order to guarantee the safety in the shipping routes, lighthouses were built. Thus, Scandinavia and Germany had the best-lit coast in Europe (15 lighthouses in 1600).... In addition, bonfires were placed on existing watchtowers such as Porto Pi in Mallorca.

Hmmm? So, according to Spanish historians, Europe used lighthouses formally as early as 1600. More excitingly for us, there is a recorded history in Spain of lighting watchtowers!!!

I believe the question is not "How early was there a lighthouse?" But rather, "When did economic activity and coastal defense call for maritime aids to navigation? It is at this point that we begin to discover when the "port" became a "port" and not just a ship's landing site."


Continue reading "Of Old Ports, Lighthouses and Ben Franklin. " »

September 11, 2007

St. Augustine Shrimping Heritage in the News

Posted by: Chuck Meide

The First Coast of Florida, in addition to being the first U.S. coast to be settled by Europeans, was the first coast to foster a commercial shrimping industry. Spreading from Fernandina to St. Augustine in the early 20th century, following the expansion of the railroad built by capitalist Henry Flagler, the nascent commercial shrimping and shrimpboat-building industries were dominated by a number of innovative families of Mediterranean descent--including the Versaggi, the Poli, the Salvadore, and the Xynides families.

1947 photograph of the shrimp boat Silent Night cruising before the 17th century Spanish fortification Castillo de San Marcos, taken during the annual blessing of the fleet celebration. Image courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection, State Library and Archives of Florida.

Continue reading "St. Augustine Shrimping Heritage in the News" »

September 6, 2007

New Stories of the Old Spanish Watchtower

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

I received an typical late night email from friend and FLA LH historian Neil Hurley. Neil and I argue about the first tower in St. Augustine in a friendly way and hopefully share interesting points with each other.

This time he sent something very interesting from 1839.

This snip comes from The Columbian Navigator; Sailing Directory for the American Coasts and The West Indies, printed in London in 1839, page 133. Neil helped me find it on line. He tells me that this publication uses a variety of sources including those who lived in the British period in Flordia. Since it's a secondary publication we can't be sure it's 100% accurate. Most things written about the St. Augustine Lighthouse are not 100% accurate, but Neil's work is some of the best out there.

Here is the embedded snip from the following link: http://books.google.com/books?id=w8oBAAAAYAAJ&printsec=toc#PPR49,M1 (Recovered Sept 6, 2007)

By the way, The talented CDR Hurley, (USCG retired) has just published with the help of Middle River Press a wonderful volume about Florida Lighthouses. The book entitled, "Florida's Lighthouses in the Civil War" is available for pre-sale at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum store. A case has been ordered and will be shipped soon.

It's a hard cover, 176 page volumne with beautiful color photos and wonderful, rare stories about lighthouses and ships during Florida's Civil War. I was very impressed with it, and hope you will be as well.


August 29, 2007

More Tales from the Jeff Davis Chronicles

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

For those of you who love Civil War History, here is a story ssociated with the Confederate Privateer Jeff Davis. Thanks to Mr. Tim Jackson, a LAMP volunteer for this interesting info.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is available on-line. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was published between 1841-1902. I will warn you that some of the descriptions on the web from the 1861 papers are very graphic. My snip below stops short of that. The website is: http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/Default/Layout/Includes/BE/NavigationSites/Phaseone.htm.

The (parenthesis) include my notations.

On July 25, 1861 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Reported.

New York has got another hero, and Barnum (PT Barnum) has him on exhibition for the delight of all who patronize his signular establishment. The reader will remember that on Sunday morning last, Wm. Tillman...made his bow to an appreciative New York Public... Tillman was a steward (cook) on board the schooner Waring; she (the schooner) was caputred by the Jeff Davis privateer, and a prize crew put on board here. The Waring was then turned southward, and it was pretty broadly hinted that the colored (African American) steward would be turned into cash (sold into slavery) as soon as the vessel reached Charleston. Tillman, not unnaturally, determined to avoid this catastrophe, and he killed three of the privateers....Tillman modest narrative may have been effaced from the public mind and we reproduce just its salient points....

(Eagle, On-line, Recovered by Jackson, T, 2007)

Tillman Photo Harper's Weekly, 1861

(The drawing may be referenced at: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1861/august/schooner-waring.htm)

The narrative goes on to describe how the prize crew of the Jeff Davis were killed with axe blows to the skull and dumped over board. Then Tillman, without any real training in navigation steered the Waring back to the port of New York.

Continue reading "More Tales from the Jeff Davis Chronicles" »

August 28, 2007

What's That Racket? Roof Restoration of the LAMP Barracks

Posted by: Karson Winslow, California

For the past three days, work in the office has been accompanied by the melodious ring of hammers and staple guns. There is currently a replacement in the works of the tin roofs on both the LAMP headquarters and the maintenance shed on the Lighthouse grounds. The idea is to recreate the roofs as they once were, by replacing the tin sheets with aromatic cedar shingles. They actually make it smell quite nice when exiting and entering the building.


Continue reading "What's That Racket? Roof Restoration of the LAMP Barracks" »

August 27, 2007

LAMP caught a ketch.

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Brass and wood aboard the Quark.

The ketch Quark came into St. Augustine's waters this week for a brief stay. Fortunately for us here at the Lighthouse, the boat’s crew has good taste and a mind for all things historical. They visited the Lighthouse. It was here at the LAMP office we first met George Floyd, owner and master of this amazing wooden boat. He came into the LAMP office to discuss his ventures into a Maritime Heritage Museum in Apalachicola. Towards the end of our chat, he dropped the bomb to say he was currently in town on board his reproduction ketch, docked a few cables length away at the Conch House Marina. An invitation was all we needed to go see and tour this piece of replicated history.

Continue reading "LAMP caught a ketch." »

August 6, 2007

LAMP Research Gets Good Press!

Posted by: Chuck Meide


Since the start of this years fieldwork (July 1), LAMP archaeologists have been working hard to implement the inaugural season of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. This major program of research and public archaeology was made possible by a Special Category historical preservation grant from the State of Florida's Division of Historical Resources. Part of our mission is to spread the word about our work and the rich maritime history of Florida's First Coast, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through widespread media exposure. With the help of Beau, the Lighthouse's public relations expert, we have received some great press lately.

Continue reading "LAMP Research Gets Good Press!" »

August 2, 2007

To Build a Boat...

Posted by: Karson Winslow, California


UPDATE: Read more about LAMP's boatbuilding program in this Florida Times-Union article online.

Posted by Brendan Burke

Visitors to the lighthouse may now notice an abundance of hammering, sawdust, and wood shavings just over the fence from the lighthouse tower. This is the newly established LAMP Boatworks. LAMP has been fortunate enough to attract the skills of several volunteers who have prior boatbuilding experience and other who are interested and willing to learn about wooden boat building. With the combined resources of LAMP and these valuable people dedicating their time and labor, we are pleased to announce the boatbuilding program is well under way!

Continue reading "To Build a Boat..." »

July 24, 2007

In Retrospect: A look back at the two week Practicum

Posted by: Karson Winslow, California

The boats have been washed down, gear sorted and the majority of the mayhem has subsided. It is very quiet now in the LAMP office. No longer are students coming in and out of the building in need of tasks or a quick break from the day’s heat. We have successfully come to the end of the two week field project and have had to say goodbye to the Flinders crew.


Continue reading "In Retrospect: A look back at the two week Practicum" »

July 20, 2007

More Jefferson Davis News From Long Ago!

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

More ferretted out archival information about the loss of the notorious, Confederate, privateer Jeff Davis in St. Augustine comes from the New York Times, September 7, 1861. This account is from Mr. F.C Dutneux, one of the crew and originally was told in the Richmond Enquirer.

The full, interesting tale, much longer than is shown below, can be purchased from the Times Archive On-line http://select.nytimes.com.

"They then turned their course, with a light wind for St. Augustine, Fla. Upon nearing the coast the wind increased, until finally it blew a perfect gale. The vessel had crossed the gulf safely, and on Friday night, the 15th, they hove to, and found themselves in sixteen fathoms of water. At daylight land was discovered with a clear coast. They were then about 10 miles south of Mantanzas. Squared away they made for the St. Augustine bar. Found the tide too low upon their arrival and stood off.

The captain hoisted the Confederate Flag at the fore-topgallant mast and fired a gun as a signal for a pilot. Three attempts were made to get into the harbor, but it was found they could not weather it. The people on shore kept a light burning for them, as was afterwards discovered...

Continue reading "More Jefferson Davis News From Long Ago!" »

July 17, 2007

Documents Shed Light on Maritime Significance

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

The University of Miami at the following link http://scholar.library.miami.edu/shedd/letters/62oct19.html#lighth lists the letters of Calvin Shedd a New Hampshire Solider that spent time in St. Augustine during the Civil War.

We made a personal discovery and read the Shedd Papers in our search for information about the Confederate Privateer and former Slave Ship the Jefferson Davis. While it is impossible to know what Shedd meant by "beyond" the Lighthouse, this letter -- brought to our attention by one of our LAMP volunteers --- does reveal many colorful and personal details about the period and it's link to maritime history.

One of the remarkable tasks we perform at the lighthouse is the finding, gathering and saving artifacts and information about how the Nation's oldest city is inextricably linked to the sea. No doubt this letter was discovered first, long before we came along, but it's information may be new to some of you. Note the steamer bringing mail as well as the wreck of the Davis. I am also intrigued by the description of the gun boats that would be needed to hold the town if any Rebels were about.

Continue reading "Documents Shed Light on Maritime Significance " »

July 16, 2007

Survey with Marine Magnetics

Posted by: Chuck Meide

On Sunday, we planned to go out to sea with Doug Hrvoic, the owner of Marine Magnetics and manufacturer of magnetometers and magnetic sensors. I was impressed with the Marine Magnetics magnetometer when I first used one back in 2001. Basically, its quality of data was precise, its setup and operation was simple, and it was lightweight and easy to handle. One of my goals when I arrived at LAMP was to acquire a good quality marine magnetometer in order to search the seas around St. Augustine for historic shipwrecks. I was excited, then, when Doug offered to ship us a top-of-the-line marine gradiometer and come show us how to use it during the initial phase of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project and Flinders field school practicum.

Plus this Seaquest marine gradiometer has got to be the coolest mag on the market as it looks like a Klingon bird of prey!


Continue reading "Survey with Marine Magnetics " »

July 15, 2007

Whatever it takes!

Posted by: Agnes Milowka, Australia

The practicum motto must surely be - whatever it takes! Archaeologists it seems are built tough and they will go to extremes to get the data they need.


Continue reading "Whatever it takes!" »

July 12, 2007

We had a field day!

Posted by: Jessica Berry, UK

"Ghostbusting?" asked a passer-by. No, archaeology of course! Here is Jody Bulman before and after a hot, sweaty and entertaining magnetometer training morning on the lawn in front of the LAMP lighthouse. We are all very contented students and not one of our new toys that we are getting to play with is worth under $10,000!

Jody gets his kit on!

Continue reading "We had a field day!" »

July 10, 2007

LAMP-Flinders Maritime Archaeology Field School: Diving on a Double Shipwreck Site

Posted by: Chuck Meide

On July 4th, LAMP launched its First Coast Maritime Archaeology project in conjunction with Flinders University, in the form of a practicum or advanced maritime archaeological field school. The primary diving site for this two-week field school is a unique archaeological site--two shipwrecks at a single location.


Continue reading "LAMP-Flinders Maritime Archaeology Field School: Diving on a Double Shipwreck Site" »

July 9, 2007

Seeing beneath the waves

Posted by: Agnes Milowka, Australia

Today was another awesome day out on the water although this time we stayed dry. Instead we got to play with some very cool and expensive toys, namely a sidescan sonar - the Klein system 3000... oh yeah baby!!!


Continue reading "Seeing beneath the waves" »

July 6, 2007

Blogging From the Other Side

Posted by: Kurt Knoel, Musuem of Underwater Archaeology

I am a lucky man. My position as director of the online Museum of Underwater Archaeology (MUA) has allowed me to work with some of the best folks in underwater archaeology. Back in February I was fortunate enough to host the Flinders University spring field school journal on the MUA. Today I’m down in St. Augustine, FL visiting with the Flinders staff and students, many of whom I’d met via email as we received their daily entries. This time I’m visiting them as they conduct what Flinders University underwater archaeologist Mark Staniforth refers to as a practicum rather than a field school.

Continue reading "Blogging From the Other Side" »

LAMP/Flinders Field School Student Log: day two

Posted by: Jessica Berry, UK

Student log: day 2.

It's 5.30 am. It's much too early and I wonder whether intravenous caffeine is a possibility. Slowly, very slowly all the necessary kit is assembled for the first morning for some of us who are heading out on the two vessels.


Continue reading "LAMP/Flinders Field School Student Log: day two" »

July 5, 2007

Maritime Archaeological Field School Sets Sail in St. Augustine

Posted by: Beau Phillips

The first ever maritime archaeological field school here in the nations oldest port officially started this week. The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and Flinders University has partnered to give under water archaeological students a hands-on tutorial. Students will learn their craft while-doing, as they prepare, research, dive on and record some of the many shipwrecks off the St.Augustine Coast.

Field School

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March 30, 2007

The 2007 Northeast Florida Symposium on Underwater Archaeology

Posted by: Chuck Meide

Well, it is finally over, after weeks of working around the clock, but what a success!! LAMP and the Lighthouse hosted our first ever archaeological symposium, in partnership with the GTM-NERR. For three days respected scholars, many of them leaders in the field, came to St. Augustine and presented papers on various aspects of shipwreck and underwater prehistoric archaeology. We heard about Portuguese spice trading galleons, trading vessels lost off West Africa, 10,000 year old submerged sites, 4000-foot deep wrecks in the Gulf of Mexico, and everything from 18th century British warships to ancient dugout canoes right here in Florida.


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