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Introduction
Essay on Maritime History
Essay on Partners in Preservation
Essay on Why Preserve
List of Sites
Maps (must be printed separately)
Begin Tour
Learn More
Credits

Introduction

The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Archeology Program and Submerged Resources Center in partnership with the Florida Division of Historical Resources, Underwater Archaeological Section of the Bureau of Archaeological Research and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers invite you to explore Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History. This travel itinerary highlights 13 historic shipwrecks listed in the National Register of Historic Places that are accessible to divers and reveal the wonders and mysteries of Florida's maritime past.

The waters around Florida have been swarming with ships for more than 6,000 years. American Indians used dugout canoes to travel up and down Florida's rivers and around the coast. When the Spanish first explored and later colonized Cuba and the Florida Panhandle, their wooden-hulled sailing ships were common sights in Florida's waters. Until the advent of railroads on the Florida Peninsula, ships and boats were vital to the development of the region as they were the most efficient means of transporting goods and passengers. Ever since the earliest European contact with the American continents, Florida has been a converging point for maritime trade routes connecting Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Gulf of Mexico. Traversing Florida's waters could be hazardous; the water currents, offshore geography and geological hazards, including the Florida Reef and the Gulf Stream, traversed with narrow, shallow channels, are compounded by powerful hurricanes, and have caused many ships to founder and wreck. Not surprisingly, there are a large number of shipwrecks in the seas surrounding Florida. These vessels are time capsules from an earlier age and contain a wealth of information on the history of commerce and transport in Florida and the greater Caribbean area.

Florida's shipwrecks are important for many different reasons. The story of each shipwreck adds to the intricate tapestry of local history. Dugout canoes provide information about American Indians who occupied the area for thousands of years. During more recent times, some vessels were locally famous and contributed to the development of Florida's economy. Others provide information on the history of commerce in the region from the days of Spanish treasure fleets up through the age of steamboats and continuing into present day. Shipwrecks contain important information not found in history books or archival records and can supplement our understanding of the past.

Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History offers several ways to discover the places that reflect this significant aspect of Florida's maritime history. Each highlighted shipwreck features a brief description of the wreck's historic significance, color photographs and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page the visitor will find links to three essays: Florida Maritime History, Partners in Preservation and Why Preserve Shipwrecks. These essays provide historic background, or "contexts," for the places included in the itinerary. In the Learn More section, the itinerary links to regional and local websites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, and lodging and dining possibilities. Visitors may be interested in Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, located in Florida. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed out if you plan to visit Florida in person.

Most of the shipwrecks listed in this travel itinerary are easily accessible and fascinating dive locations. Some of the shipwrecks are located within Dry Tortugas National Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary or one of Florida's Underwater Archeological Preserves. The others are within the territorial waters of the United States and under the jurisdiction of the State of Florida. Near most of these shipwrecks visitors will find local dive shops with further information, mooring buoys, marked underwater trails, laminated underwater maps for diving and snorkeling, shore-based exhibits with artifacts that interpret the sites for divers and non-divers alike and brochures. Except for the Maple Leaf (closed to divers), all sites are within generally accepted safe recreational diving limits and everyone is welcome to explore the sites, enjoy the surrounding undersea marine life and learn more about Florida's exciting maritime history. As with all historical and archeological sites on public uplands or submerged bottomlands, the shipwrecks are protected in accordance with Federal and/or Florida laws. The government agencies responsible for their management have established programs for their preservation, protection and interpretation, and for authorizing any excavation, disturbance or removal of artifacts. Living coral also are protected by law in Florida and must not be disturbed. It is important to remember that many of these shipwrecks have been damaged or are in an advanced stage of deterioration due to their being submerged for so many years. Divers today can help preserve these wrecks for future generations by not touching or removing anything from the shipwrecks or disturbing the surrounding sediment or marine life. When diving, always display the "diver down" flag and use mooring buoys to prevent anchor damage to the wreck sites.

lorida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History is part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to promote public awareness of history and encourage visits to historic places throughout the Nation. The National Register of Historic Places partners with communities, regions and heritage areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places nominated by State, Federal and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan trips by highlighting the amazing diversity of this country's historic places and providing public accessibility information for each featured site. Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History is the 38th National Register travel itinerary in this ongoing series. The National Register of Historic Places hopes you enjoy this virtual tour of Florida Shipwrecks. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page.

Maritime History

A long and flat peninsula surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean, Florida has a long and rich maritime history. The size and shape of Florida, along with its natural features like reefs, shoals, water depth, currents, locations of rivers and inlets and the weather, have affected where people lived and where vessels wrecked.

For at least 12,000 years, people have been living in Florida. Those earliest inhabitants would not recognize their home today, because the sea level is 20 to 50 fathoms higher and has covered nearly half of the Florida peninsula. Many people lived near springs and sinkholes and along rivers and near the coasts in areas like present-day Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, relying on fresh and saltwater fish and shellfish as important parts of their diet. The archeological remains at some of the earliest places they lived now are underwater and on the bottom of rivers and springs and offshore on the continental shelf.

From at least 6,000 years ago, the native people of Florida traveled the waterways and coasts by canoe, facilitating communication and trade among the tribes. About 300 prehistoric canoes have been found in more than 200 sites in Florida.

In the late 1400s and early 1500s, looking for a faster way to Asia by sea, European explorers sailed west and ran into the Americas. Seeing new resources to exploit, people to convert and lands to claim, the Spanish, the French and the English sent the military, missionaries and colonists to establish a foothold and expand their areas of control. The first evidence of a European encounter in Florida is the arrival of Spaniard Juan Ponce de Leon in the vicinity of present-day St. Augustine in 1513. Ponce de Leon named the land La Florida and attempted to circumnavigate what he thought was an island, sailing south to the Keys, naming a cluster of islands Las Tortugas and sailing north to present-day Tampa.

Ponce de Leon was followed by fellow Spaniards Panfilo de Narvaez who, in 1528, landed near present-day Tampa Bay and proceeded north to the area now known as Apalachee, and Hernando de Soto who, in 1539, landed in Tampa Bay, spent five months in what is today Tallahassee, and whose explorations of southern North America are commemorated at De Soto National Memorial. In 1559, Spaniard Tristan de Luna y Arellano established a short-lived colony at Pensacola Bay but lost all except three of his supply ships to a hurricane. The Emanuel Point shipwreck site (not included in this itinerary because of the wreck's fragility and poor diving conditions at the site) discovered in 1992 by the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research may be one of his lost ships.

In 1562, the French sent Jean Ribaut to Florida. He marked a spot on the St. Johns River for future settlement and then headed north to establish Charlesfort, which failed, in present-day Parris Island, South Carolina. Two years later, Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere established a French Huguenot settlement and Fort de la Caroline along the St. Johns River.

In 1565, Spaniard Pedro Menendez de Aviles captured Fort Caroline in a brutal fight with the French and established St. Augustine, the first permanent European colony in North America. In 1567, Frenchman Dominique de Gourgues recaptured Fort Caroline. In 1569, the Spanish built a watchtower at Matanzas Inlet to watch the horizon and warn St. Augustine of approaching ships, a strategy that failed them in 1586, when Englishman Sir Francis Drake attacked and looted St. Augustine. The French effort to establish a colony in Florida is memorialized today at Fort Caroline National Memorial.

From the late 1500s through the 1700s, the Spanish sent annual convoys of merchant and military escort vessels from Cuba to Spain. Referred to as the Spanish plate fleets, the ships carried gold, silver and gemstones from the mines of Mexico and Peru, and porcelains, silks, pearls, spices and other highly sought goods from Asia that reached the Americas via the Spanish Manila Galleon fleet that crossed the Pacific.

The homeward bound Spanish plate fleets followed the Gulf Stream through the Straits of Florida and up the coast of North America before heading east for the Azores and Spain. The Spanish built Castillo de San Marcos and other coastal forts and settlements in Florida to provide protection from French and British raiders and pirates, and assist in saving survivors and salvaging cargoes from vessels that wrecked along Florida's shores as a result of hurricanes and mishaps.

Over the years, many Spanish ships were lost off the Florida coast with the greatest disasters suffered by the fleets of 1622, 1715 and 1733. During the 20th century, the remains of a number of lost ships have been found including the Nuestra Senora de Atocha from the 1622 fleet, the Urca de Lima from the 1715 fleet and the San Pedro from the 1733 fleet.

During the 1600s and 1700s, the Spanish, French and English continued to fight over territory and religion in Florida. The British in Georgia and South Carolina attempted to push southward and the French moved eastward along the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi River valley. The Spanish relied not only Castillo de San Marcos to protect St. Augustine, but began construction of Fort Matanzas in 1740 for additional protection from the south.

During the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739 through 1748) between Spain and Great Britain, the Royal Navy patrolled the Caribbean and the North American coastline. One ship that was lost during this time was the HMS Fowey, the wreck of which is located within the boundaries of Biscayne National Park and which has been extensively studied by the National Park Service and Florida State University.

In 1763, under the Treaty of Paris, Spain gave Britain control of Florida in exchange for Havana, Cuba, which the British had captured during the Seven Years' War (1756 through 1763). That same year, the British built a fort overlooking the entrance to Pensacola Bay. Spain captured Pensacola in 1781 and regained control of the rest of Florida in 1783, when Britain gave Florida to Spain in exchange for the Bahamas and Gibraltar. Around 1797, Spain built two forts at Pensacola Bay in the vicinity of the earlier British fort. Little physical evidence of these forts remains but what does remain is preserved at Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Although Britain's control of Florida was brief, its effect on the economy and settlement was substantial. As the British population increased and slaves were brought in, colonial plantations and other industries sprouted and flourished, exporting their products to other British colonies and trading illegally with Spanish Louisiana and Mexico. This was made possible because surveyors mapped the landscape, land grants were given out, the first road was built and a packet system of shipping by rivers and along the coasts was introduced. This economic prosperity and maritime trade continued after Britain ceded Florida to Spain, with exports to neighboring Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard areas, the Northeast and as far away as Europe.

Spain ceded Florida to the United States as part of the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, and Florida became a U.S. Territory in 1821. Coastal trade with other markets continued to expand and towns like Jacksonville, Pensacola and Tampa became important ports. After becoming a U.S. Territory, the U.S. Government began building a series of lighthouses as aids to navigation along the coasts of Florida to mark dangerous headlands, shoals, bars and reefs. Information about historic lighthouses in Florida has been recorded by the National Park Service in its Inventory of Historic Light Stations and by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The U.S. Navy has played a prominent role in Florida's maritime history. In the 1820s, the U.S. Navy was called upon to protect ships off Florida's coasts from pirates that plagued merchant ships in the Caribbean. One of the patrol ships was the USS Alligator lost near Islamorada while escorting a merchant convoy. In 1826, construction began on the Pensacola Navy Yard and four forts to defend it. What remains of Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee, which were built overlooking Pensacola Bay in the vicinity of the earlier British and Spanish forts, is preserved today within Gulf Islands National Seashore. Near the end of the 19th century, and as a result of the Spanish-American War, Tampa and other Florida ports became staging areas for tens of thousands of U.S. troops and supplies headed to Cuba. With the advent of manned controlled flight and the building of aircraft carriers and seaplanes, an aviation training station was established by the U.S. Navy at Pensacola in 1913 and another in Jacksonville in 1940.

Following statehood in 1845, Florida's economy became stronger and the principal ports shipped vast quantities of citrus, cotton, lumber and other products to the Atlantic states, the Caribbean and Europe. The Federal government began construction of coastal forts including Fort Taylor in Key West and Fort Jefferson on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas to better control navigation through the Florida Straits. Although Fort Jefferson never was finished, construction continued for 30 years and vast quantities of bricks were shipped to the key in flat-bottomed steamboats like that found at the Bird Key wreck, which was lost while transporting bricks.

Seceding from the Union in 1861, Florida joined the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Florida's ports were blockaded by the Union and blockade runners delivered supplies needed by the Confederacy in exchange for Florida products. Although there were some vessel casualties on both sides, the major naval battles took place in states north of Florida. One unfortunate casualty in Florida waters was the Union transport ship Maple Leaf that struck a Confederate mine.

After the Civil War, tenant farmers and sharecroppers took over plantation lands, and agriculture, cattle ranching, lumber, manufacturing and extractive industries like phosphate mining became important, prompting improvements in transportation. Railroads expanded across the state connecting the ports and the interior, and steamboats like the City of Hawkinsville, SS Tarpon and SS Copenhagen began providing regular passenger and freight service on inland waterways like the St. Johns River and ocean service to international destinations. Tourism flourished with steamboat tours and hotels near rail lines.

During the late 19th century, the Federal government and local port authorities made improvements to channels and harbors and charted and mapped Florida's waters. These improvements, along with technological advances in navigation and shipbuilding during the 20th century, helped propel Florida's ports to global prominence in trade and commerce and the cruise industry and marine recreation. Florida may well hold the record for the number of pleasure boats used by sport fishermen, jet skiers, wind-surfers, power boaters, sail boaters, water-skiers and scuba divers.

The Florida Keys contain the only coral reefs in the continental United States, making it a haven for fish and coral. These same reefs are hazards to navigation. In this Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History travel itinerary, we highlight just a few of the myriad marine casualties that have occurred over the centuries in the Keys and elsewhere in the waters of Florida.

Partners in Preservation

The waters of Florida abound with historic shipwrecks. Ranging in time from the Spanish colonial period through World War II these wrecks provide opportunities for learning. Visitors can spend a few hours snorkeling in shallow water or months as students or volunteers working with professional archeologists. Volunteers have been essential to the widespread success of underwater archeology and to making the results of that work accessible. As a result, visitors can witness shipwreck history firsthand.

Volunteers have worked with universities, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to present shipwreck sites to the public. They have stretched meager institutional budgets, and added expertise in supporting fields--all the while enjoying themselves! Following are highlights from the work of some of the hundreds of volunteer groups who have supported underwater archeology in Florida.

New diving technologies have made the historic shipwrecks of Florida accessible to more and more people in the last 50 years. The biggest change was the development of the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA). This opened up hundreds of shipwrecks to visitation or exploitation. SCUBA allowed archeologists to perform careful scientific excavations of shipwrecks which led to the documentation of many more important underwater sites, both prehistoric, and historic. Among the first groups of archeologists working in Florida was the Anthropology Department at Florida State University (FSU) which began archeological work on shipwrecks in the mid-1950s. Working with students, volunteers and government employees, FSU has documented dozens of shipwrecks throughout the state. The Archaeology Institute Maritime Archaeology Program of the University of West Florida has been active in shipwreck research in the last few years. It's efforts with the state, interns and volunteers have been essential in work on the Emanuel Point shipwreck, and the Santa Rosa Island wreck.

The National Park Service's Southeast Archeology Center (SEAC), in Tallahassee, Florida, began an underwater archeology program in 1972 taking advantage of its proximity to coastal parks and its established partnership with Florida State University's underwater archeology program. SEAC conducts shipwreck investigations with FSU through field schools on sites including the HMS Fowey (lost in 1748), Nuestra Senora del Populo and Nuestra Senora del Rosario. SEAC has worked with student interns, volunteers and universities on a number of Florida shipwrecks. The National Park Service's Submerged Resources Center was formed in 1980 and is devoted exclusively to work on submerged archeological sites. The Center has worked with volunteers and university archeology programs around the world. In Florida, the Center worked with multiple partners on the Boca Chica Channel wreck near Key West and the multiple shipwrecks of Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne National Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore. The Center's site reports of investigations are a fascinating way to learn more about the history and archeology of shipwrecks.

The Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research leads efforts to protect shipwrecks submerged in state waters. Florida was one of the first to establish a state underwater archeology office and has engaged multiple partners to help it perform its mission. The Bureau answers questions about discoveries made by sport divers and amateur archeologists and manages the Shipwreck Preserves Program, where the public can visit some of the state's most interesting shipwrecks. Currently there are 11 shipwreck preserves, each nominated by nearby communities who partnered with the state to develop the site as an interpreted attraction. Each preserve is designated with a bronze plaque, and offers brochures, underwater guides and a shore-based exhibit. The state has a formal agreement with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to advise them on the management of submerged cultural resources in the sanctuary. The state has also produced a comprehensive Florida Maritime Heritage Trail that includes other types of maritime resources, such as lighthouses, besides the shipwrecks included here.

A good example of the way in which volunteers make a difference in underwater archeology is the SS Copenhagen. previously missing its entire bow section. More than a year after designation as a Florida Shipwreck Preserve in 1994 local divers found a bow that they suspected might be that of the Copenhagen. Working with the state, a nonprofit group, Marine Archaeological Research and Conservation, Inc., (MARC), identified the bow as matching the rest of the ship. MARC continues to be one of the most active volunteer organizations working in the field of shipwreck preservation and archeology.

State archeologists have helped train MARC and other volunteer groups in archeological mapping techniques to help broaden knowledge about shipwrecks in state waters. Volunteer divers from a Bradenton Beach Dive Shop have developed extensive maps of a wreck that is usually covered in sand, working to record what is uncovered by each new storm. They have produced a fine site drawing of the molasses barge Regina (not yet listed in the National Register)--data that would be difficult to acquire without knowledgeable local volunteers.

One shipwreck research saga began in 1984 when Jacksonville dentist Dr. Keith Holland and St. John’s Archaeological Expedition, Inc. located and began excavations on the Civil War U.S. Army transport Maple Leaf. The steamship was sunk when it ran into a Confederate minefield on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville in 1864. On board were the supplies of three Army regiments and several merchants who sold goods to soldiers. A preliminary investigation proved the wreck to be well preserved beneath the river mud. Realizing the tremendous historical value of the find, they called for professional backup and were joined by archeologist Frank Cantelas (from East Carolina University) and students. Lee Manley, an experienced professional diver, trained in conservation, was the project director from 1985 until his death in 1988. As the cost for storage and conservation mounted beyond the ability of the volunteers and the university to support, the Florida legislature provided substantial funding and the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History exhibited the collection. The Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee manages a traveling exhibit on the ship. The Maple Leaf project remained primarily a volunteer effort and is an extraordinary achievement by this partnership of private, academic and government people, money and time.

The opportunities to volunteer are endless, as are the benefits. Individuals with interest and expertise in diving, history, archeology and shipwrecks have made a great contribution to the recreational and educational opportunities and historic preservation of Florida and its rich legacy.

Why Preserve

Shipwrecks are an exciting and challenging window into the study and presentation of our past. Whether diving for pleasure or for research, these submerged resources are valuable classrooms within which a vast array of knowledge, beauty and heritage resides. The story of each shipwreck is woven into the intricate tapestry of regional history. Many of these ships were famous locally and were vitally important to the development of Florida's economy. On a much grander scale, preservation and research of these sunken vessels provide information on the history of shipbuilding as well as commerce in the region. From the days of Spanish galleons through the age of steamboats, these important archeological resources contain a wealth of information not found in the documentary record. In the past, state permits have been issued for the commercial salvage of some of the Spanish plate fleet shipwrecks. Now, the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research has developed programs to protect historic shipwrecks in its waters for all citizens and to teach the public about the state's maritime heritage. Some shipwrecks are further protected and interpreted through designation as Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserves. Many of the wrecked vessels that sailed in Spanish plate fleets are further protected by their status as sovereign property of the Government of Spain.

Shipwreck preservation is equally important as a viable component in marine ecology. Once a shipwreck becomes stable it becomes part of its environment. Marine life envelop these remains as a foundation and frame for survival, helping to sustain the marine ecosystem. Coral creates beautiful reefs that provide a habitat for an abundance of marine life that depends upon the resources and protection that a reef environment provides. Fish, sponges, clams, anemones, octopi, squid, crabs and lobsters interact and thrive among these lost ships. Human divers relish the opportunity to visit these treasures and experience this underwater kaleidoscope of life and history.

Shipwreck preservation happens every day in Florida waters. The largest and most difficult responsibility involves the physical protection of sunken vessels and the surrounding marine environment. The National Park Service and the state of Florida actively work with local communities and chartered diving services to preserve sites. Due to the popularity of diving and snorkeling, these efforts focus on the education of sport divers about the importance of shipwrecks and the great care required when visiting them.

Underwater archeologists are committed to investigating and studying history left on the ocean floor. By studying these vessels, researchers are gaining a better sense of the physical and economic development in and around Florida, evolving shipbuilding methods and what innovations occurred during the transition from wind-powered ships to steam-powered ones. Archeologists also seek insight into understanding the people that were sailing, and the products that were coming through the region.

Within the National Park Service, the Submerged Resources Center uses nondestructive approaches--sampling and recording methods not typically found in excavation-oriented archeology--to study and document shipwrecks while leaving the wreck and associated remains as close as possible to the conditions in which they were found.

Shipwreck exploration is a wonderful adventure. To ensure the same opportunities to future divers and researchers requires an understanding of the complex environment surrounding shipwrecks and a commitment to shipwreck site preservation. Protecting these resources will allow the continued interpretation and understanding of the lives of mariners and the struggles and successes they encountered while navigating the dangerous shoals and straits that surround the Florida peninsula.

List of Sites

USS Massachusetts--BB-2 (shipwreck)

An example of a pre-Dreadnought battleship, the USS Massachusetts is one of the Nation’s oldest battleships. Commissioned in 1896, the Massachusetts, along with the USS Indiana and the USS Oregon, were members of the “Indiana” class of warships and the first ships constructed for the new “Steel” Navy. These heavily-armored, heavy caliber battleships were transitional models obsolete 20 years later as they contained a significant design flaw; “Indiana” warships were built without bilge keels that prevent the vessels from rolling from side to side. As a result, the Massachusetts was extremely unstable, even in calm seas, and if both 13-inch gun tubes were trained abeam at the same time, the ship would heel over, forcing one side underwater while the other side emerged from the waves.

The Massachusetts did not see much action but it did participate in the Spanish-American War, firing on the Spanish warship Cristobal Colon and helping to sink the cruiser Reina Mercedes. The ship was decommissioned in 1906 but returned to a reduced commission status in 1910 as a practice vessel for midshipmen. During World War I, the Massachusetts was employed as a gunnery practice ship. In 1919, it was decommissioned for the last time and renamed Coast Battleship No. 2. In 1921, the vessel was sunk in a training exercise by guns at Fort Pickens. Since it was still partially visible from the surface, Navy pilots used the Massachusetts for target practice during World War II. The Massachusetts is 350 feet long and 70 feet wide at the amidships and two of the battleship’s 13-inch cannon rise out of the water. Even though the hull was stripped for scrap metal during the 1940s, the wreck is in relatively good condition for being submerged for 80 years and has reached a state of equilibrium with the environment. In fact, the Massachusetts was completely undamaged by the violent hurricanes of the summer of 1995.

The wreck of the USS Massachusetts--BB-2 is located 1.5 nautical miles south-southwest of Pensacola Pass. It lies in 26-30 ft. of water within the Fort Pickens State Aquatic Preserve, administered by the Florida Department of Natural Resources. There are special diving instructions at this wreck site regarding anchoring and diving equipment and a prohibition against penetrating the hull. The shipwreck is located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

SS Tarpon (shipwreck)

Built in 1887 and christened Naugatuck, the iron-hulled twin screw steamship Tarpon served during the period when railroads began replacing steamships. Many steamship companies were losing money and as a result, the Naugatuck changed owners a couple of times before being renamed the Tarpon and acquired by the Pensacola, St. Andrews & Gulf Steamship Company, which commissioned Willis Barrow to be its captain. For more than 30 years, starting in 1903, Barrow and the Tarpon made weekly runs along the northern Gulf coast. It is estimated that Barrow made more than 1,700 trips on the Tarpon. By 1937, the Tarpon was considered to be one of the most reliable and dependable vessels operating along the Florida panhandle.

On August 30th of that year, the Tarpon left Mobile, Alabama, loaded with as much freight as possible. The vessel carried more than 200 tons of general cargo as well as 200 barrels of oil and 15 tons of fresh water. As a result, the freeboard (distance between the waterline and the top of the deck) was less than five inches. In the early morning hours of September 1st, the ship started to take in water as the seas steadily became more turbulent. The crew started to jettison cargo but as dawn approached, a gale overtook the vessel. In a last ditch effort, the first mate of the Tarpon steered the ship towards land in an attempt to run it aground before it sank, but the ship was already out of control. Captain Barrow was among the 18 of the 31 aboard that drowned. There was no radio on board to call for help.

Although the Tarpon has begun to deteriorate, remains are still clearly visible on the sand and hardpan bottom. The wreck, approximately 160 feet long and 26 feet wide, was in relatively good condition until the early 1970s when a fierce storm in the Gulf of Mexico damaged the amidships and stern sections. Since then the bow has also collapsed. Located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, the Tarpon is one of Bay County's oldest artificial reefs and is teaming with marine life.

The SS Tarpon is located 7.8 nautical miles offshore of Panama City on the Florida panhandle. The wreck is submerged in 95 ft. of water and situated parallel to the shoreline with the bow facing west. The shipwreck is located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

City of Hawkinsville (shipwreck)

The City of Hawkinsville, a wooden-hulled paddlewheel steamboat, was first constructed for the Hawkinsville (Georgia) Deepwater Boat Lines in 1886. It was sold 14 years later to the Gulf Transportation Company of Tampa which used it to transport cargo on the Suwannee River. The City of Hawkinsville was especially important to the growth of the lumber industry in the region. However, as railroads in the area started to increase in popularity, steamships became obsolete. In an ironic twist, the City of Hawkinsville transported materials for the construction of a railroad bridge across the Suwannee River at Old Town, thus assisting in the development of the railroads in the region. In 1922, the City of Hawkinsville's captain, Mr. Currie, abandoned the vessel in the middle of the Suwannee River as the steamboat was no longer profitable.

The wreck’s port side is only three feet under the surface, while its starboard edge is at a depth of 20 feet. The 141-foot long by 30-foot wide vessel is in a remarkable state of preservation, and the hull is almost entirely intact including the stem post, the deck planking, exterior planking, boiler room and internal framing. The main propulsion system and the steam piping are still in place. The excellent condition of this vessel is due to the freshwater environment of the Suwannee. The City of Hawkinsville has reached a state of equilibrium with its surroundings and has stabilized.

The City of Hawkinsville is located on a ledge in the middle of the Suwannee River on the Dixie County side about 100 yards south of the railroad trestle at Old Town. The City of Hawkinsville lies in a dynamic river environment with limited underwater visibility and requires divers with advanced open water certification. Penetration of the hull is not allowed and diving is not recommended for novices or when there is high water. Mooring buoys have been placed at the wreck site to protect it from anchor damage. The shipwreck has been designated a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Maple Leaf (shipwreck site)

Constructed in Kingston, Ontario, the Great Lakes passenger steamship Maple Leaf set out to sea on June 18, 1851. Its first owner, Donald Bethune and Company, used the Maple Leaf as a passenger ship until the company started to flounder. Mr. Bethune subsequently fled the country and the remaining partners sold the vessel to a company based in Rochester, New York, in 1855. At the time, a new reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada temporarily revitalized Lake Ontario shipping but by the end of the decade the United States found itself in a depression. Although the shipping trade went into decline, the charter market for steamers rose as a result of the Civil War. In 1862 the Maple Leaf was sold to Bostonians J.H.B. Lang and Charles Spear who chartered it to the U.S. Army.

The Maple Leaf was used as a transport vessel, bringing Union troops south to Virginia. In 1863, Confederate prisoners-of-war (POWs) on the ship overpowered their guards and took control of the vessel. After landing, the POWs escaped to Richmond. The Union recovered the boat and continued to use it to transport troops along the East Coast until 1864. In April of that year, the Maple Leaf struck a Confederate "torpedo" (what we would now call a mine) off Mandarin Point in the St. John's River. The explosion tore the bow of the ship apart, ripping through the deck and killing four soldiers. The vessel sank quickly, but apart from those lost in the explosion there were no other fatalities.

The Maple Leaf was never salvaged and, while the U.S. Treasury Department attempted to sell the wreck and signed two contracts in 1873 and 1876 that required removal of the wreck, no sale occurred. Since the remains of the Maple Leaf were blocking a portion of the river and were a serious threat to other vessels, in 1882 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracted to move the wreck to its present location. The Maple Leaf is 181 feet long by 25 feet wide and weighs 398 tons. The wreck is buried beneath 7 feet of mud in 20 feet of water. It is extremely well preserved under the mud with the hull virtually intact save for the starboard box and deck, which were damaged in the explosion. However, what makes the wreck of the Maple Leaf truly amazing is the vast amount of cargo associated with the submerged steamer. More than 3,000 individual artifacts have been recovered from the Maple Leaf and are on public display at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History.

The Maple Leaf wreck, a National Historic Landmark, lies in the middle of the St. John's River about 12 miles south of downtown Jacksonville. Unlike other shipwrecks on this itinerary, the public is not permitted to dive on the Maple Leaf. The St. John's River is extremely muddy and the visibility in the area around the Maple Leaf is extremely poor. It is possible to view the artifacts recovered from the Maple Leaf at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History. The exhibit contains the largest single collection of Civil War artifacts in the world, along with recovered sections of the wreck. For more information visit www.mapleleafshipwreck.com

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Urca De Lima (shipwreck)

The Urca De Lima is a wooden-hulled sailing ship that was part of a Spanish plate flota (fleet) sunk by a hurricane off the east coast of Florida in 1715. A flat-bottomed and round-bellied ship, the vessel was ideal for transporting goods across the Atlantic because of its large cargo capacity. The 11 vessels of the merchant convoy were traveling from Havana, Cuba, to Spain loaded with products from Mexico and Manila, including vanilla, chocolate and incense. While there was no royal treasure on the boat, the Urca De Lima did contain private chests of silver. After it was grounded by the storm, the Urca De Lima was one of the first vessels to be salvaged by the Spanish, who subsequently burned the hull down to the waterline to hide its location from English freebooters.

The Urca De Lima was rediscovered in 1928. For the next half century the wreck was heavily salvaged. In the 1980s, the state of Florida stopped issuing salvage permits on the Urca De Lima and opened the wreck to the public as the state’s first Underwater Archaeological Preserve. To recreate a visual sense of the original state of the wreck, five cement replicas of cannons and an anchor were positioned around the sunken ship. All that remains of the ship is the 100-foot by 50-foot ballast mound which covers the hull timbers. Bottom sediments constantly cover and uncover the vessel as a result of wave action, storms and currents. The remains of the Urca De Lima are especially significant because the ship is extremely well preserved and it is the only surviving wreck from that 1715 flota. The Urca De Lima is in good condition and has stabilized, reaching a state of equilibrium with its environment.

The Urca De Lima is located 200 yards offshore in 10-15 ft. of water about 1,000 yards north of Pepper Beach Park near Fort Pierce with its axis pointing from the northeast to the southwest. A mooring buoy placed at the site should be used in lieu of anchoring to protect the shipwreck from anchor damage. The shipwreck is located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Lofthus (shipwreck)

The Lofthus shipwreck is one of the few remaining examples of iron-hulled sailing vessels that plied the waters of Florida, and the world, in the late 19th century. Originally named the Cashmere, the vessel was built in Sunderland, England, by T.R. Oswald and launched on October 5, 1868. Owned by the Liverpool Shipping Company and managed by H. Fernie & Sons, the Cashmere was intended to travel the globe; false gunports were painted along her sides to deter Sumatran and Javanese pirates. Constructed of riveted iron, the barque measured 222 feet in length, 36.7 feet in beam and had a depth of hold of 22.7 feet. The ship was rated at 1,277 gross tons with two decks and one cemented bulkhead. In 1897, Cashmere was sold to a Norwegian named Henschien, renamed Lofthus, and transferred to the American trade.

On February 4, 1898, while en route from Pensacola to Buenos Aires with a cargo of lumber, Lofthus wrecked on the east coast of Florida. The local sea-going tug Three Friends (which usually was engaged in running guns to Cuba) attempted to assist the stranded barque, which was high on the beach and quickly being pounded to pieces by waves. The crew of 16 men was saved but the vessel was a total loss. While stranded on the beach, Lofthus' Captain Fromberg, traveling with his family, entertained local residents and gave the ship's dog and cat to one family. After being stripped of all useable items, the wreck was sold along with 800,000 feet of lumber stowed in the hold for $1,000. In September 1898, the hull, which was not nearly as valuable as the cargo, was dynamited so that the lumber could be salvaged.

The blasting of the hull produced a scattered wreck site approximately 290 feet long by 50 feet wide, with three main areas of wreckage. The ship's bow is at the north end of the site and includes deck beams and hull elements. Visible in the midships area are deck beams and deck plates together with fasteners, hanging knees and a worm gear (possibly associated with the vessel's steering mechanism or with a deck-mounted donkey engine). Toward the stern, a section of iron mast as well as additional pieces of decking and beams protrude from the sand. The Lofthus has stabilized in the marine environment and can, through future archeological investigation, provide additional information about late 19th-century merchant ships, the combination of metal hulls and sail propulsion in sea-going vessels and coastal maritime commerce and transportation.

The Lofthus is located approximately 3/4 of a mile north of Boynton Beach and 175 yards off-shore of Manalapan. It rests in 15-20 feet of water, with wreckage rising as much as six feet off the sea floor depending on sand movement. The shipwreck is located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge. To avoid anchor loss or damage to the shipwreck, please anchor in the sand.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

SS Copenhagen (shipwreck)

A 19th-century steel-hulled schooner-rigged screw steamship, the SS Copenhagen was constructed in Sunderland, England. It was registered in Glasgow, Scotland, to the Glasgow Shipowners Company, Ltd., which used the vessel to transport cargo across the Atlantic. Launched in 1898, the Copenhagen met a watery grave only two years later during a voyage between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Havana, Cuba. The Copenhagen was transporting some 4,940 tons of coal when, without warning, it ran aground and became stranded on a reef. The crew began to unload cargo and efforts were made to free the ship from the reef but, ultimately, the vessel was abandoned.

An investigation into the sinking of the Copenhagen reported that the official cause of the accident was "improper navigation" by the ship's captain, William S. Jones. The wreck remained visible above the water for a prolonged period of a time, and the Navy used it for target practice during World War II before it sunk under the water. While the 325-foot by 47-foot ship has been stripped of its engine, boilers, propeller and other machinery, it is well preserved, and many of its features are still recognizable. However, the bow section was removed during an excavation attempt and presently lies 200 yards southeast of the wreck. Today, the Copenhagen has become an artificial reef, and has stabilized, reaching a state of equilibrium with its environment.

The SS Copenhagen rests on the ledge of a reef in 16-31 ft. of water with its bow facing south and is located ¾ of a nautical mile offshore of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, south of Hillsboro Inlet. No anchoring is allowed at the wreck site but mooring buoys have been placed nearby. Located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Half Moon (shipwreck)

Built in Kiel, Germany, in 1908, the Half Moon (originally named the Germania) was designed by the famous engineer Dr. Max Oertz. The racing yacht, constructed of chrome-nickel steel, was a wedding present from Bertha Krupp to her husband, Count Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach. An extremely fast ship, the Germania participated in the prestigious regattas at Cowes, England, and Kiel, Germany, before it was seized by the British as a prize of war at Southampton, England, in 1914, when the ship's captain brought it into port without knowing war had been declared.

The vessel sat and deteriorated in port until 1917 when it was auctioned off for £10,000 sterling to Mr. H. Hannevig who renamed it Exen and sailed it across the Atlantic. When Hannevig went bankrupt three years later, it was sold again and renamed the Half Moon. It was then purchased by Gordon Woodbury, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who set about refurbishing it. The yacht was badly damaged in 1922, but was repaired and sold to Charles Vail and served as a floating saloon and restaurant during Prohibition. In 1926, the yacht sank in the Miami River but was raised soon thereafter. In 1928, Captain Ernest Smiley acquired the Half Moon and used it as a fishing barge until the ship wrecked in a 1930 storm and sunk for the last time. The Half Moon was discovered in 1987 and positively identified three years later. It is approximately 155 feet long by 40 feet wide and rests on its port side. Although the starboard edge has been struck by another boat and is damaged at the amidships, the Half Moon is in relatively good condition. However, there are not many artifacts associated with the wreck as it was used as a fishing platform before being designated as the state's seventh Underwater Archaeological Preserve.

The Half Moon is located on a shoal off of Key Biscayne near Miami, resting in eight-ten ft. of water, three-four ft. below the surface. The shipwreck is located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

USCG Cutter Duane

The USCG Cutter Duane was built in 1936 at the U.S. Naval Yard in Philadelphia. At 327 feet long, the Duane was one of only seven Treasury class cutters, all named after Secretaries of the Treasury. Duane was third in the series to be built, named for the 11th Secretary of the Treasury, William J. Duane, who served under President Andrew Jackson. The vessel had various assignments before joining the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in 1941. Duane served with distinction during several important wartime and peacetime missions. On April 17, 1943, the Duane and sister ship Spencer sank a German U-Boat. The Duane participated in four rescues at sea, picking up a total of 346 survivors. In 1980, she was an escort vessel for thousands of Cuban refugees coming to the United States. The cutter's last assignments included search and rescue work and drug enforcement.

After being decommissioned on August l, 1985, as the oldest active U.S. military vessel, the Duane was intentionally sunk for use as an artificial reef in 1987. The ship's hatches were opened and the holds pumped full of water to sink the ship. On a clear day, the outline of Duane's intact hull can be seen from above. The mast and crow's nest, protruding high above the hull, can be seen at 60 feet below the water line. The navigating bridge is located at 70 feet, just forward of amidships. The superstructure deck is at 90 feet and the main deck lies at l00 feet. The hull structure, completely intact with the original rudders, screws, railings, ladders and ports, makes an impressive display. Duane offers advanced divers an exciting opportunity to explore an intact sunken ship that hosts an impressive community of pelagic and sedentary marine life.

The USCG Cutter Duane lies upright on a sandy bottom in 125 feet of water one mile south of Molasses Reef off Key Largo. Located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the wreck is marked by two mooring buoys, one on the bow and one on the stern, at 24° 59.388' N and 80° 22.888' W. The ship receives thousands of visitors annually; check with local dive shops for further information.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

USS Alligator

The USS Alligator, a U.S. Navy schooner constructed in 1820 at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts, is an excellent example of an American warship from this period. The Alligator was primarily used to combat the slave trade off the coast of Africa and protect merchant ships in the West Indies from pirates, two of the most significant issues on President James Monroe's agenda. By the time Monroe took office, it was illegal to transport new slaves to the United States from Africa and the U.S. Navy was called upon to enforce that law. The Alligator was one of many ships that patrolled the shores of West Africa in an attempt to curtail illegal slave trading. The Alligator also transported Dr. Eli Ayres, a representative of the American Colonization Society, and Lt. Robert Field Stockton, the captain of the ship, to West Africa in 1821 to negotiate the purchase of land that became a colony for freed African American slaves. From these roots, the State of Liberia was formed in 1847.

The Alligator was also used to combat piracy in the Caribbean, which became an issue when Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819. Suddenly it was the responsibility of the United States to protect merchant ships off the coast of Florida from pirates, who were rampant in the Gulf of Mexico at the time. The Alligator met a number of pirate ships in combat during the spring and summer of 1822, but in November of that year it ran aground while escorting a convoy of merchant ships. After unsuccessfully attempting to refloat the vessel, the crew of the Alligator set it afire to prevent pirates from salvaging the schooner. The Alligator is 86 feet in length and 25 feet at the beam and the wreck site consists of two ballast piles and associated coral heads and rubble. The primary ballast pile consists of the remains of the lower hull, which are preserved in situ. The second pile contains artifacts from the vessel, as well as components of the Alligator that were jettisoned overboard when the crew attempted to refloat the ship. Today, the Alligator has stabilized and is in a fair state of preservation.

The USS Alligator wreck lies 200 ft. southwest of Alligator Reef lighthouse off of Islamorada. Located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the wreck is submerged in 3-12 ft. of water.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

San Pedro (shipwreck)

The San Pedro, a wooden-hulled Dutch-built sailing ship, was one of 21 merchant ships loaded with tanned hides, spices, jewels, silver and gold in a flota (fleet) headed to Spain from Havana, Cuba, in the summer of 1733 when a hurricane off the coast of the Florida Keys wrecked all but one of the ships. The ships were salvaged for their precious cargo and those vessels that could be refloated were taken back to Havana. Those ships that could not make the journey, including the San Pedro, were burned down to the waterline. It took years to complete the salvage effort but eventually more treasure was recovered from the wrecks of the 1733 flota than had been recorded on the ships' manifests, evidence of illegal smuggling.

The wreck of the San Pedro was rediscovered in the 1960s and proved to be very profitable for those involved in the modern day salvage effort as the sunken vessel contained thousands of silver coins and other artifacts. Bottom sediments cover the wreck of the vessel, which is made up of a ballast mound 90 feet long by 30 feet wide and lies from the northwest to the southeast. The remains of the ship that were not covered by sand have long since been consumed by sea worms or carried away with the current. In 1977, the wreck site was surveyed by Florida's Underwater Archaeological Research Section and the ballast mound was recorded and mapped. In 1989, it became the state's second Underwater Archeological Preserve. Today, the wreck is stable and has reached a state of equilibrium with its environment. The San Pedro is among Florida's oldest artificial reefs.

The San Pedro rests in 18-20 ft. of water about 1¼ nautical miles south of Indian Key. The ship shelters a wide variety of marine organisms and lies within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The shipwreck is part of a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Windjammer Site (Avanti)

Located within Dry Tortugas National Park, the Windjammer site (also known as "Steel Wreck," "Dutch Wreck" and "French Wreck") is the nickname of an iron-hulled ship-rigged sailing vessel known as the Avanti. In 1875, John Reid & Co. constructed the ship, originally named the Killean, in Port Glasgow, Scotland. The first owners of the Killean, Mackinnon, Frew & Co. sold the vessel to Antoine-Dominique Bordes & Fils of Dunkirk, France, in 1893, which promptly renamed it the Antonin after the owner's son. Although there is no historical evidence, it is safe to assume that at this time the vessel was employed in the Chilean nitrate fertilizer trade, as Bordes & Fils was one of the major participants in this industry. When Bordes & Fils purchased a larger, more economical ship in 1901, the Antonin was sold to a Norwegian company, Acties Avanti, owned by partners C. Zernichow & O. Gotaas. The new owners renamed it Avanti and sent the vessel to Pensacola where the burgeoning lumber export industry was in desperate need of transport ships to carry cargo around the Caribbean.

The Avanti sunk on January 22, 1907, as it was transporting lumber from Pensacola to Montevideo, Uruguay. The details of the sinking of the ship are unknown, as there are no historical documents on the event. The ship is 261 feet long by 39 feet wide with three masts, two decks and cement ballast. The Avanti is in excellent condition as a result of iron's resistance to corrosion. There are two main wreckage fields with the bow section oriented east-west and the stern section aligned north-south.

The Avanti, located within Dry Tortugas National Park, rests at a depth of 22 ft. some 1,100 yards southwest of Loggerhead Key. A laminated trail guide is available for use by divers. Fish and marine fauna are highly visible at the wreck; after the vessel was discovered it was used for biological research before it was examined by underwater archeologists.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Bird Key wreck

The Bird Key wreck, also known as the "Brick Wreck," is a screw-driven, narrow-beamed, shallow draft, flat-bottomed steamboat. While the ship has not been positively identified, it is likely that it was transporting bricks to Garden Key for the construction of nearby Fort Jefferson. It is possibly the Scottish Chief, which was owned and operated by the Tift brothers out of Key West, who were the principal suppliers of bricks for Fort Jefferson at this time. There are three types of brick associated with the wreck; yellow bricks identical to those used to construct the curtains, bastions and other major portions of Fort Jefferson; and two other types of brick that were used in the firebox of the vessel.

There is no specific information on the circumstances surrounding the wreck. All that is known is that the grounding and loss occurred sometime between 1857, the first date that the firebricks found on the wreck were manufactured, and 1861, the last date that the yellow construction bricks were produced for the Federal government. It is evident that the wreck was salvaged, as the engine and much of the ship's machinery have been removed. The remains of the ship have been scattered around the area by storms. The wreck measures about 107 feet in length, 17 feet wide and is listing starboard lying with its bow facing the shore of the key. The composite hull is made up of a wrought iron frame with iron plates on the bottom and a wood exterior.

The Bird Key Wreck, located within Dry Tortugas National Park, is located in 4-9 ft. of water on the Bird Key bank, ½ a nautical mile southwest of Garden Key. Marine life is in abundance around the Bird Key wreck, especially fire coral.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Learn More

By clicking on one of these links, you can go directly to a particular section:

Links to Florida Maritime History, Tourism and Preservation Websites
Links to Websites of Shipwrecks Featured in this Itinerary
Selected Bibliography for Florida Shipwrecks
Children's Literature

Links to Florida Maritime History, Tourism and Preservation Websites

Florida Maritime Heritage Trail
The inspiration for this National Register travel itinerary, the Florida Maritime Heritage Trail includes several of the shipwrecks featured in this itinerary, as well as forts, lighthouses, ports, coastal communities and environments.

VisitFlorida
Florida's Official Travel Planning Website to plan your vacation in the Sunshine State.

Florida Archaeology: Underwater Archaeological Preserves
A statewide system of underwater parks featuring shipwrecks and other historic sites.

NPS Submerged Resources Center
This program inventories and evaluates submerged resources in the National Park System and assists other agencies, nationally and internationally, with underwater heritage resource issues.

NPS Maritime Heritage Program
Advancing awareness and understanding of the role of maritime affairs in the history of the United States.

NPS Archeology and Ethnograghy Program: Preserving a Submerged Legacy
Inventory of online articles and technical assistance for the preservation of underwater archeology.

NPS Southeast Archeological Center: Underwater Archeology
Investigates and protects significant shipwrecks and other submerged resources in our National Parks.

Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP)
Learn more about maritime archaeology in America's oldest port, St. Augustine, conducted by archaeologists at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. Visit the museum to see the historic light station and displays of artifacts from shipwrecks lost on Florida's First Coast.

Marine Archaeological Research and Conservation (MARC)
A non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness of our maritime heritage.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Explore, discover and experience the Florida Keys marine environment, particularly through the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail.

National Parks in Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne National Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore protect several shipwrecks.

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER)
The HABS/HAER program documents important architectural, engineering and industrial sites throughout the United States and its territories. Their collections are archived at the Library of Congress and available online.

National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers
The professional association of the State government officials who carry out the national historic preservation program as delegates of the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended.

National Trust for Historic Preservation
Learn about the programs of and membership in the oldest national nonprofit preservation organization.

Historic Hotels of America
A feature of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Heritage Traveler program that provides information on historic hotels and package tours in the vicinity of this itinerary.

National Park Service Office of Tourism
National Parks have been interwoven with tourism from their earliest days. This website highlights the ways in which the National Park Service promotes and supports sustainable, responsible, informed, and managed visitor use through cooperation and coordination with the tourism industry.

National Scenic Byways Program
This website, maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, includes information on state and nationally designated byway routes throughout America based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities. Visit the America’s Byways Florida Keys Scenic Highway website for more ideas.

Links to Websites of Wrecks Featured in this Itinerary 

Selected Bibliography for Florida Shipwrecks

Berg, Daniel. Florida Shipwrecks: The Diver's Guide to Shipwrecks Around the State of Florida and the Florida Keys. Baldwin, New York: Aqua Explorers, 1991.

de San Miguel, Fray Andrés. An Early Florida Adventure Story. Translated by John H. Hann. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2000.

Gould, Richard A. Archaeology and the Social History of Ships. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Lenihan, Daniel J. and John D. Brooks. Underwater Wonders of the National Parks. Oakland, California: Compass American Guides, 1998.

Marx, Robert F. Shipwrecks of the Western Hemisphere: 1492-1825. New York: D. McKay Co, 1975.

Shepard, Birse. Lore of the Wreckers. Boston: Beacon Press, 1961.

Singer, Steven D. Shipwrecks of Florida: A Comprehensive Listing. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, 1998.

Children's Literature

Blackman, Steve. Ships and Shipwrecks. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

Delgado, James P. Native American Shipwrecks. Danbury, Connecticut: Franklin Watts, 2000.

-----------. Shipwrecks from the Westward Movement. Danbury, Connecticut: Franklin Watts, 2000.

-----------.Wrecks of American Warships. Danbury, Connecticut: Franklin Watts, 2000.

Smith, K.C. Ancient Shipwrecks. Danbury, Connecticut: Franklin Watts, 2000.

-----------. Exploring for Shipwrecks. Danbury, Connecticut: Franklin Watts, 2000.

-----------. Shipwrecks of the Explorers. Danbury, Connecticut: Franklin Watts, 2000.

Please Remember

When diving, always display the "diver down" flag and use mooring buoys to prevent anchor damage to the wreck sites. Brochures and laminated underwater field guides are available from dive shops for many of the shipwrecks included in this travel itinerary.

All of the shipwreck sites mentioned in this travel itinerary are historic properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As with all historic and archeological sites on public uplands or submerged bottomlands, the shipwreck sites are protected by Federal and/or Florida laws that forbid disturbance, excavation or removal of artifacts without proper authorization. Living coral also are protected by law in Florida and must not be disturbed. Violators of Federal and/or Florida laws are subject to prosecution. For information about Florida's requirements, contact:

Bureau of Archaeological Research
Division of Historical Resources
Florida Department of State
500 South Bronough St .
Tallahassee , FL 32399-0250

Credits

Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History was produced by the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Archeology Program and Submerged Resources Center in partnership with the Florida Division of Historical Resources, Underwater Archaeological Section of the Bureau of Archaeological Research and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO). It was created under the direction of Carol D. Shull, Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Patrick W. Andrus, Heritage Tourism Program Manager, and Beth L. Savage, Publications Managing Editor. Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History is based on Florida's Maritime Heritage Trail: Historic Shipwrecks, a brochure previously published by the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, Bureau of Archaeological Research, and information in the files of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks collections. These materials are kept at 1201 Eye St., NW, Washington, D.C., and are open to the public from 9:00am to 12:00pm, Monday through Thursday.

National Park Service Archeologists Barbara Little and Erika Martin Seibert conceptualized this itinerary and worked with interns Alec Bennett (College of William and Mary) and Victor Boniface (University of Maryland, College Park) to compile materials for the project. National Register web production team members included Jeff Joeckel, who designed the itinerary, Rustin Quaide and Shannon Bell (all of NCSHPO). The map was designed by Rustin Quaide. Property descriptions were written by Alec Bennett and Victor Boniface, edited by Michele C. Aubry (NPS Archeologist) and Shannon Bell. Essays were written by Michele C. Aubry (Maritime History), Kevin Foster, Chief of the NPS Maritime Heritage Program (Partners in Preservation) and Victor Boniface (Why Preserve Shipwrecks). Special thanks to Barbara Mattick, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, Florida Division of Historical Resources; Roger Smith, State Underwater Archaeologist, and Della Scott-Ireton, Underwater Archaeologist, of the Florida Underwater Archaeological Section of the Bureau of Archaeological Research; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; and the National Park Service's Archaeology Program, Southeast Archeological Center and Dry Tortugas National Park.

[graphic] Florida Shipwrecks' Essays

[graphic] National Park Service Arrowhead and link to NPS.gov