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New Arrival in our Maritime Library
Shipwreck and Adventures of Monsieur Pierre Viaud
Translated and edited by Robin F. A. Fabel
"For a long time, my friend, you worried about my fate." Thus begins Pierre Viaud's memoir of survival on our coast.
In 1767, the French merchant vessel Le Tigre, en route from Haiti to New Orleans, wrecked off the coast of Dog Island. The memoir of their harrowing ordeal recounts death, starvation, and even cannabalism as the survivors face an inhospitable wilderness.
"We had thought ourselves lucky to escape the shipwreck," writes Viaud, "but reflecting on what lay ahead ended our complacency. We were on an unpeopled island. There was no beaten path to lead us to a settlement. We would have to cross extremely wide rivers and go through thick, inaccessible forests, in which it would be easy to get lost. There were encounters with wild beasts to fear, and certainly as perilous, meetings with Indians."
Viaud's account became a best-seller in Europe.
With an insightful introduction examining the historical veracity of the tale (the essential elements of which are confirmed), this book is a fascinating read.
Look for this and other interesting works in our growing maritime collection.
|View from the Bow: Upcoming Events|
|Our Spring Lecture Series Kicks off in March
Saturday, March 10 at 7 pm: Archaeologist
Price will give a presentation on the Flintlock site on the Apalachicola River.
This interesting archaeological site was discovered by river divers, and was found to contain a variety of artifacts spanning centuries, including stone projectile points, fragments of a wooden watercraft, a bayonet, a copper arrowhead, and flintlock gun barrels.
Price is a Senior Archaeologist with the Florida Division of Archaeological Resources in Tallahassee.
Reception on the docks to follow. Free.
Saturday, March 17 at 7 pm: Award-winning author Doug Alderson
Join us for a talk about paddling opportunities in the region as well as a look at endangered wildlife in the area.
Alderson is the Florida Paddling Trails Coordinator for Florida's Office of Greenways and Trails. He recently finished a three-year project scouting the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, a 1,500-plus mile sea kayaking trail around the entire state.
Alderson's books include Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast, Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife, Wild Florida Waters, and Seminole Freedom.
Read Donna Meredith's review of Wild Florida Waters in the Southern Literary Review by clicking here. You can learn more about Doug and read excerpts of his works by visiting his website.
Book signing and reception on the docks to follow. Free.
Thursday, March 22 at 4 pm: Chattahoochee Facility Planning Meeting
The public is invited to attend a discussion of ongoing planning of the maritime museum's facility at Chattahoochee, with a focus on evaluating the alternatives for wastewater treatment. When completed, the multi-use facility will provide a heritage museum, kayak outfitter, fishing bait and tackle operation, café, and events center. 500 River Landing Road, Chattahoochee, Florida.
Saturday, April 21 at 6 pm: Antique and Classic Boat Show Dinner and Lecture
The museum will host the dinner and lecture as part of the 14th annual boat show. Tickets are $25.
Call 850-653-9419 for reservations.
|View from the Stern|
The Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in
The 19th century prominence of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system as a major corridor of commerce, the explosive growth of plantation agriculture, and the corresponding establishment of Apalachicola as the third busiest port city on the Gulf could not possibly have been imagined by anyone who visited the area in the late 1700s. At that time, the river basin was almost entirely wilderness, broken only by scattered Indian settlements.
However, one notable traveller through the region in 1775 saw the potential for the success of agriculture in the rich southern soils, and noted that these three linked rivers could someday be a gateway to world commerce.
In his Travels, published in 1791, naturalist William Bartram chronicles his four years of exploration in the Southeast. He arrived in Savannah by schooner in 1775, and set out for Mobile along "the great trading path from Augusta to the Creek nation." In the excerpt below, he describes his experiences of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers while travelling on horseback through Georgia and Alabama. His route took him southwest through middle Georgia, fording the Flint River southwest of modern-day Macon, and crossing the Chattahoochee near present-day Columbus. He was approximately 150 miles above the confluence of these rivers, which forms the Apalachicola.
We crossed the Flint River by fording it, about two hundred and fifty yards over, and at evening came to camp near the banks of a large and deep creek, a branch of the Flint. The high land was excellent, affording grand forests, and the low ground vast timber and canes of great height and thickness. The adjacent low grounds and cane swamp afforded excellent food and range for our horses, who, by this time, through fatigue of constant travelling, heat of the climate and season, were tired and dispirited.
The territory lying upon this creek and the space between it and the river, presents every appearance of a delightful and fruitful region in some future day, it being a rich soil and exceedingly well situated for every branch of agriculture and grazing, diversified with hills and dales, savannas and vast cane meadows, and watered by innumerable rivulets and brooks, all contiguous to the Flint River: an arm of the great Chata Uche or Apalachucla offers an uninterrupted navigation to the bay of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, and thence to the West India islands and over the whole world.
After a few more days of travel, Bartram (in the company of traders) arrives at the Chattahoochee River:
After traversing a very delightful territory, exhibiting magnificent terraces supporting sublime forests, almost endless grassy fields, detatched groves and green lawns, we arrived at the banks of the Chata Uche river opposite the Uche town, where after unloading our horses, the Indians came over to us in large canoes, by means of which, with the cheerful and liberal assistance of the Indians, ferried over their merchandise, and afterwards driving our horses altogether into the river swam them over: the river here is about three or four hundred yards wide, carries fifteen or twenty feet water and flows down with an active current; the water is clear, cool and salubrious.
The Indian canoes Bartram describes were the first vessels of travel and trade on this river system. These long "dug out" canoes were made from hollowed out cypress logs. Several surviving examples of this type of vessel have been found throughout the region. An example is the 50 foot long "trader's canoe," which dates to the mid-1800s, on display in Apalachicola at the Cotton Exchange building.
When Apalachicola was officially founded in 1831, the Native American tribes Bartram encountered in the ACF river basin were largely gone, victims of Indian removal policies, war, and disease. Cotton was becoming a booming business in Georgia and Alabama, and planters began utilizing steamboats to ship their product downriver, fueling the growth of Apalachicola as a successful port town. Before long, Apalachicola established itself as the third busiest port on the gulf coast, and as gateway to international markets. Its success was due to the current of clear, cool water connecting the interior with "uninterrupted navigation to the bay of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, and thence... to the whole world" as described by Bartram decades before.
Caryl is from Hanover, New Hampshire, and spends 4 months a year on St. George Island. Growing up near the Hudson River, Caryl spent a lot of time boating on a variety of small vessels. Her love of being on the water has not faded. She still has a rowboat at her dock on the Connecticut River.
This is her second year of involvement with the museum. Her contributions include crewing on both our flagship vessel Heritage and our tour boat Starfish Enterprise, working in our wooden boat shop, painting, and stocking our growing maritime library. She is now directing her energy and enthusiasm to our new artifact displays.
Caryl first discovered this area over 20 years ago when she and her late husband went on a quest for the perfect vacation spot. They flew into Tampa and set out driving along the gulf coast looking for a place of peace, quiet, and beauty on the water. The couple stumbled upon Apalachicola and St. George Island along the way, spending a few nights here. After continuing all the way to Pensacola, they turned around and came back to St. George. "Once someone finds St. George, they always come back," she says. Luckily for us, Carol has been coming back every year since.
She is extremely active in our community, teaching bread-making classes, volunteering at the St. George Lighthouse visitor's center, and participating in line dancing classes, aerobics, and the quilting group. Last year she was also a valued volunteer at the National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Stop by the museum and say hello to Caryl.
|From the Founder|
As we embark on another season, we are finishing preparation of our flagship vessel for active sailing upon our local waters. We also begin our boatbuilding programs with local youth in conjunction with Project Impact. Our first project will be the sloop-rigged "Passagemaker," a lightweight dinghy that can be rowed or sailed. We have a number of educational events as well with our season kick off presentation on March 10th by Franklin Price of the Florida Division of Archaeological Resources on The Flintlock Site in the Apalachicola River. We welcome everyone to come visit and learn about our maritime heritage and the ecology of the Apalachicola River and Bay.