Check out our Lecture Series Promotional Video:
Events Supported in Part By
Don't miss it! We are coordinating an exciting weekend of events May 17-19 to tell the story of the Civil War's impact here. This will coincide with the opening of a major new Civil War exhibit at the museum. The exhibit and events at venues in Apalachicola and on St. George Island will shed light on military and civilian experiences during the war period.
There will be encampments, weapons demonstrations, museum tours, cemetery tours, living history at several venues, displays, military drills and music, a camp-style worship service, outdoor theatre, activities for kids, and more. Be sure to visit all of our local partner organizations for special events and activities. See the article below for a schedule and more information.
Our Civil War exhibit will feature an impressive collection of artifacts. Click here to read the full article below, and make plans to attend this fun and educational weekend of events!
Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce "Business After Hours," May 9, 2013 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Enjoy a networking reception at the museum. Open to all Chamber members and their guests, free.
Lecture: Apalachicola in the Civil War, by Ken Johnston, Director of the National Civil War Naval Museum. May 17, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. Click here to pre-register for this event. $5 donation includes lecture followed by shrimp boil on the docks.
Civil War History Weekend, May 17-19, 2013
See the full article below.
Wooden Boat Building Classes available by request! Visit our Wooden Boat School web page, or email us for more information.
Boat Tours available daily! A variety of educational and recreational tours and excursions. Click here for more information. Book online with promo code "webstore" and get 20% off!
Civil War History Weekend (continued)
Join us for tours, living history at several venues, displays, weapons drills and demonstrations, music, a camp-style worship service featuring period music, outdoor theater, encampments, lectures, cemetery tours, and activities for kids.
We are proud to welcome our reenactors: the crew of the USS Fort Henry, the USS/CSS Waterwitch, and U.S. Marine Guard, Steam Sloop of War USS Pawnee. They will be providing a wide variety of demonstrations and activities all weekend. Come out and have fun while learning about Civil War history. We will also be joined by members of the R. Don McLeod Chapter 2469 United Daughters of the Confederacy, story teller Robin Rennick,and others. Partners include the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia, the St. George Island Lighthouse Association, the Orman House Museum, the Raney House Museum, the Apalachicola Historical Society, Historic Apalachicola Main Street, the City of Apalachicola, the Center for History, Culture and Art, and the Panhandle Players. This event is sponsored in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council.
We are also hosting several lecturers who are affiliated with Florida State University, the University of South Florida, Albany State University, the U.S. Naval War College, and our local Historical Society. Lectures will be held at the museum and at the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture, and Art.
Mayor Van Johnson will read the Emancipation Proclamation. He will be accompanied by an African American choir performing period music. Black History, slavery, and emancipation are integral parts of the story, and we endeavor to cover that history and do so with respect.
A shuttle van will run between all the Apalachicola venues on Saturday and Sunday. For one low price, get admission to the Maritime Museum plus unlimited shuttle rides all weekend. Passes will be available at the Maritime Museum. Details to be announced.
Click here to download the detailed schedule. You can also view the schedule on our webpage, or stop by the Maritime Museum for a copy.
Our Civil War exhibit continues to develop. Our latest news is that we have secured a temporary loan of a Civil War era signal cannon. Special thanks to Mark Parsley for his loan of other authentic artifacts and his extensive efforts on this exhibit. His expertise, dedication, enthusiasm, and perseverance made it possible. Thanks also to Homer Hirt for his loan of Confederate currency which will soon be on display. We are adding a flat screen television which will play a slideshow of historic images.
Call for Reenactors, Story tellers, and Living History Interpreters! It's not too late to get involved. Email us if you're interested in participating.
Make plans now to attend this fun and educational weekend of events! Come out and show your support for everyone's efforts to bring history to life. For more information, and event updates, please visit our website and follow us on facebook.
Sponsorships and Donations are Needed! Your support will help with accommodations for lecturers, exhibit expenses, logistical support, promotional costs, and more. We need your support to make this event a success!
Please click here to become an Event Sponsor at the $250 level. You will receive your name/logo on our website, e-newsletter, and banner at the event.
Please click here to become an Exhibit Sponsor at the $1,000 level. You will receive your name/logo on our website, e-newsletter, and banner at event, plus your name on a permanent plaque at the Maritime Museum's Civil War exhibit.
Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted. Please send a check made out to the Apalachicola Maritime Museum to 103 Water St., Apalachicola, FL 32320.
Thank you for your support!
View from the Bow
By George Kirvin Floyd
Maritime trades continue to evolve along our coastline in a rhythm as steady as the changing of the tides. The rich history of changing vocations paints a vibrant mural of the transitions in commerce supported by the Apalachicola River and the coastal areas affected by her flows. From Native American trade in flints and pottery, through early European exploration, the Antebellum cotton era , lumber and naval stores industries and more recently seafood and real estate, there have been transitions of flood and ebb tides for every maritime industry. These rise and fall are wrought as local resources change and the world around us morphs at an increasingly blinding pace. At the heart of our resilience in ever changing and challenging times is the Apalachicola River. Once heralded as the "Breadbasket of the South," the Apalachicola River was a major international port in the 1800s as it was the corridor of commerce into the interior of the Southeast and connected to the Appalachian ridgeline trail and thus all of the East Coast. This watery interstate highway was traversed by paddlewheel boats from 1827 through the 1920s where they met products were transferred to wooden brigs, barque and schooners to feed the industrial revolution taking place in Europe with a core raw ingredient, cotton. The journals of New York, Boston, London and Paris regularly reported on events in this critical world port as the global commercial industries were dependent on events affecting commerce here. One can imagine the scene at the docks in Apalachicola in those times. Captains and crew negotiating with the local warehouse owners. Multiple languages, cultures and objectives all mixing in a hustle of loading and unloading at the wharves. A calliope heralds the arrival amongst steam and smoke of the paddle wheel vessel with decks low to the water cotton bales stacked high. My paternal grandfather, Bert Floyd, was the boiler engineer on the Callahan, the last of the steamers to traverse the Apalachicola and his stories passed through my father come around in a mix of story and dream giving rise to a vision to what was and what can be.
The Civil War hastened the decline from the international spotlight that was already underway due to the competing transportation alternatives in the form of railways and then highways. The peak cotton export year was 1852 due to the opening of a Columbus to Savanna railway which saw cotton shipped up river for the more efficient delivery to an Atlantic coastal port where the international sailing vessels could avoid the treacherous straits of Florida and the threat of grounding in the reefs of the Florida Keys. Cotton was known as white gold among the wreckers there which made Key West the richest city in the US for a brief time in the mid 1800s. In the post civil war era, the natural resources of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers continued to be the dominant source of trade. Sawmills dominated the waterfront for many years where exports of lumber were used to build many European towns. And on it goes until we reach our current instant of time. From my years I have seen the changes since my youth here in the 1950s and 60s. I also have benefited from the stories passed down from my family that first settled here in the 1840s. The huge seine nets mullet fisheries run by my grandfather are but a memory with little to show of what once was. So too are vanishing the once numerous fleet of shrimp trawlers. Arguably this decline is due to cheap foreign imports grown through Asian aquaculture and the high price of fuel as much as a result of reduced water flows due to huge booms in population and agriculture use upstream. Either way, change continues and we are challenged to define a new future. It is widely acknowledged that the Seafood Industry is in the decline and even though it will not disappear as did the Antebellum cotton trade, it will be diminishing as an economic driver to our coastal community. Hardships have the most impact on those reliant on the seafood harvesting, processing and export. Immediate responses of charity have been good, but a proud and resourceful community needs new vocational opportunities more than handouts. Where will these new opportunities come from ?
When looking for the answer we must evaluate where we are, what we have, and where we have been. We must plot a course, much as our local mariners have done on a daily basis for many generations. Many factors go into course planning. In venturing out to sea, one must study closely the forecasts for wave height and period, wind and storm forecasts, the currents and the safe harbors along the way. We must study the charts, read the cruising guides and evaluate all of the other many technical resources of the web. We must check all equipment thoroughly and put in sufficient stores of food, water, fuel for the passage. So too, we must draw on our skill and experience as mariners in making the final course decision and selection of the ideal departure date. Sail to the weather window is the concept that recognizes that in business, timing is everything.
And so now, we are planning the course for the economic opportunities of the future. Looking at the present trends we see the continued emergence of information sharing via the internet, improved transportation which drives into increased international tourism, an aging populace where a more affluent and better educated international tourist is looking for world class heritage experience are all the key global drivers behind coming changes. In addition, with an increasingly urban world made of asphalt, concrete and planned space the human spirit will, as Aldo Leopold predicted, seek out places that allow reconnection with the diminishing wild places. Whether by paddle or paddlewheel, the treasure of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint river system will bring them to escape and find peace within the natural world of biodiversity that will see this area continue to emerge as a world heritage site on the same par as the South African Kruger Park, the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon where "adventure is the star we take to be our guide" (Robert Service, from the poem Jobson of the Star). In our crystal ball, we see education based on authenticity as a differentiating attribute to the Apalachicola river and coastal region. At the opposite end of the experiential spectrum are the fantasy worlds of theme parks and the manufactured appearance of the big cities. Our maritime trades must be authentic to be effective in global competition and appreciated by visitors.. This is the core theme to which the Apalachicola Maritime Museum (AMM) is organized.
As anyone walking down the southern end of Water Street between the courthouse and the bridge has certainly recognized by now, there is a lot going on at the AMM. The wooden boat school program is steadily active. Light craft projects have produced a small fleet including rowing wherry, kayak, stand up paddleboard, numerous pirogues.
Restoration work on the Golden Ball began in mid April. For the past six months we undertook preparations for the start of the restoration effort. The greatest effort came from locating appropriate framing and planking stock. The sawmill operations at Sinkola Plantation run by Gates Kirkham in Thomasville, GA, only two hours away emerged as a very creative and energetic resource for these needs. This sawmill supplies stock to other well known shipbuilding operations such as the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. Over the course of several visits and coordinated planning, work began on a shipment of longleaf pine heartwood planks milled from lightning struck century old trees. In addition, Gates was able to locate century old live oak trees being otherwise downed to identify appropriate stock that would fit the needs of this project and then milled the following timbers to the following speculations. The raw stock was hand selected and cut to eliminate the pith and ensure the sweep follows the natural
grain of the wood which greatly increases strength.
Fore Keel: 9 ft. long 7½ in. x 8 ½ in. timber with 4 in. sweep
Bow Stem: 8 ft. long 5 in. x 12 in. with 8 in. sweep
Anchor Stock: 4 ft. long 5 in. x 5 in. with no sweep
Framing Stock: 12 ft. long 2 ¼ in. x 10 in. with 4 in. sweep
The oak was delivered into back of the white hoop structure and
followed immediately with the Golden Ball. The longleaf pine has been stored in the Popham building to allow continued curing. For the coming months, our work will be focused on replacing the framing elements listed above with the new live oak stock. And then then on to the steam bending of the two inch heart pine planks. Our vision is that these boat building and restoration activities will ignite a significant new industry along our coast that focuses on the wooden boat building trades that were, until roughly 50 years ago, common in our community. A trip back in time, and into the future.
Complimenting the hands on authentic experiential essence of the AMM Wooden Boat School, is the ongoing lecture series which educates locals and visitors alike of the maritime culture and life which shaped the unique character of our region and perhaps provide glimpses into the future. Following the Antique Boat Show in April, we hosted a lecture and performance by The St. Pete Shanty Singers whose ditties traced the voyage on the Montezuma of the Black Ball line, the first shipping company to schedule trips, twice a month, across the Atlantic. These events are followed by a low country boil and reception on the docks where discussions range among maritime topics of the past and future. It is easy to imagine how similar crowds joined on the docks in long past years with the same image with only the attire differentiating then and now.
|One of our newly acquired steam vessels.|
Fleet expansions continue with the arrival of steam powered launches,and two new shoal draft traditional sailboats. Work continues on the paddlewheel vessel. New exhibits in the museum will present the times of war in Apalachicola when the port was blockaded, with weaponry and other authentic artifacts from that era. The arrival of a fleet of kayaks manufactured from recycled plastic set a new ethic of Recycle for Recreation while paddling the river delta from our upstream operations in Chattahoochee and Breakaway just north of Apalachicola. We also conducted another youth training program with the students at the Project Impact program where eight models of the pirogue were constructed from balsa wood stock at 1/6th of the actual size. The students will begin construction of the full scale boat in early June. Our Wooden Boat School Director, Ron Dierolf, brings a focus on math and science to the program by translating traditional techniques such as lofting into mathematical equation solving. Ron is a retired engineer who resides in Apalachicola and teaches mathematics at Gulf Coast State College.
And so, in conclusion, we hope that you will come and join us in this rising tide of adventure into the past and into the future. Come visit, volunteer and just become a part of a new energy on the waterfront. Tell your friends. Come learn, live and support through your presence the expansion of traditional trades and crafts to support fine wooden boat building and restoration that will come to compete with the best on the planet. A new form of community pride will emerge as Apalachicola comes to be known as a center for wooden boat excellence and a uniquely authentic center for water borne educational experiences that return riverboat transit between our sister city, Columbus, GA. Come aboard our wooden sailing vessels that offer the opportunity to learn the trades of wind borne travel into the bay and beyond. Come aboard our US Coast Guard inspected 40 passenger vessel, the Starfish Enterprise, to learn of the diversity of the river and bay ecosystems and see her spectacular beauty.
April saw an amazing expansion of the wooden boat fleet at the AMM. Four steam powered launches were acquired from the Maritime Museum in Welaka, FL. These vessels were constructed for the inland waterways and originally plied the waters of upstate New York and more recently, the St. Johns River. The most prominent of the four is the Eagle, which was built to resemble the African Queen. It is fitted with calliope whistles and may be fueled with wood or coal. As renovation to the large two story tin building erected by William Popham in the 1920s continues, we plan to locate these vessels in the interior for display and in the covered slips where they can be readily launched for a trip up the river, and back in time. Steam powered launches of this nature were common in the Apalachicola River and Bay during the 1800s and early 1900s. Following are the specifications on these four new steam powered additions. Eagle : A 26 ft. LOA (Length Overall) vessel with fire box with 1 cylinder, 10-HP steam engine. Constructed of walnut, ash, and mahogany. Utilizes a five bladed brass propeller tied to a counter balanced fly wheel. El Swan : A 24 ft. Elegant Launch with 7 ft. beam, 2 ft. draft and a 3200 pound displacements. Hull constructed of northern hardwoods with deck trim and sole of walnut. Kerosene fired boiler with a 2 cylinder 6 HP JHA Taylor Steam Engine. Inboard seating with elegant swan neck wicker seats. Linda B : A 20 ft. LOA Graceful Soft Chime Steam Launch constructed of northern hardwood hull and walnut trim. 1950 steam engine with single 3x3 KEELY 1 cylinder, 4 HP, oil fired in.Fire Tube in. boiler. All fittings are handmade brass. Fantail stern and dread naught style reverse bow. Brass bow rail, brass cleats, 2 elegant wicker chairs, wooden steering wheel, canvas canopy, unique thru bow brass rope tie. Tortola: A 19 ft. LOA launch constructed of northern hardwoods with walnut trim. A 1902, 1 cylinder gas Truscott engine provides the power. Turning chair allows for "Fire and Drive" operation. Steering wheel and engine was recovered and restored after being underwater for 52 years. Brass bow and aft rails, brass cleats, brass steering wheel. The vessels will reside primarily at the Chattahoochee Landing site of the AMM until the Popham renovations will enable them to be permanently located in Apalachicola.
In addition to the fleet of steam launches, two new wooden sailing vessels arrived into our fleet in late April. The first vessel is a 36 ft. Chapelle Sharpie named Fontaine. She originally hailed from Mobile Bay where she was built by a local artisan and launched in 1993. She features a gaff rigged ketch sail plan, centerboard rigged for shoal waters, a generous cabin for her size and a cross planked hull below the chine. The Fontaine is a gift from the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi, Missippi. Inspired by a visit to the AMM Wooden Boat School in June 2012 by Jean Wallet and Buddy Jumonville, founders of the Biloxi museum who went back to tell the board of "all the good things happening a AMM," whereupon the board "all agreed that we should donate this boat to AMM so she will be cared for." Upon arrival, we viewed her timbers and planking to be in relatively good shape and sporadic rot in the decking and dog house. She will be kept at the newly installed hoop structure at the Breakaway site with plans to launch later this year. The second vessel is the Two-Forty Clipper Bow Sloop built by an apprenticeship program in Rockport, Maine under the direction of Lance Lee to honor Robert Baker, considered the Deans of the Wooden Boat Renaissance in North America who captured the lines from traditional sailing craft in their designs. The stats of the Robert Baker: LOA: 20 ft.2 in., LWL: 18 ft.2 in., Beam: 7 ft.6 in., Draft: 2 ft. (board up), 4 ft.6 in. (board down), Displacement: 3600 lbs. Construction is cedar planking riveted on steam-bent white oak frames; decks are canvas over tongue-and-groove pine; cock pit coaming and other trim is varnished white oak. The boat has become part of the ever growing fleet of wooden vessels at the AMM through the generosity and caring of Jack and Dorothy Leppert who live on the banks of the Wakulla River in Crawfordville and who have spent many days at sail in our local waters. Jack has carefully maintained and protected the vessel throughout the years and like the good folks in Biloxi, felt that the AMM would be a good home where she would be well cared for and be accessible to the public for sail training and excursions out into the bay. Jack and Dorothy plan to stay involved with the boat as she goes through renovation to make her sail ready within the next month or two. We are very honored by the generosity of Jack and Dorothy and our friends in Biloxi.
And lastly, an update on the ongoing renovation story of the paddlewheel boat Jean Mary. With the arrival of May we mark the end of a year in the dry dock at Mayport. Far longer than anticipated, the good news is that we hope to achieve launch soon. The replacement of all steel plating is nearly complete, lacking only three more sheets as of this writing. The paddle wheel has been fabricated and will be set in place to be turned by a completely new hydraulic power system. Renovations to the cabins have been focused on replacement of the roof on the Texas deck and all siding. Replacement of rusted steel or rotted wood is nearing completion and attention will soon be focused on the interior cabin rebuilds. Since the second week of September, 2012, we have had a group of between twelve and twenty crew and volunteers steadily working on bringing this fine lady back up to top of the line shape. No expense was spared in preparing for a new life which returns commercial riverboat travel between Apalachicola and Columbus, GA, the former sister cities as they were know in the days of the antebellum south. The inaugural voyages will be coordinated with our partner organizations, Riverway South and the Tri Rivers Waterway Development Association, to host historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, ecologists and local leaders along with travel writers to help develop a journal of river travels that will, we believe, lead to the reviving of maritime commerce based on our river system. Our current best guess is for an arrival in June, but it is still too early to set a certain date.
by Capt. Peter Burgher
Primary Captain and Museum Volunteer
Our 250,000 acre estuary is the largest in the country. There are over 1300 species of flora (trees, grasses, flowers, and other vegetation) that call this habitat home. You can expect to see many different types of flora on one of our eco-tours, depending on the season. Right now we are in the most diverse season of the year.
For example, April is when tupelo trees start to bloom. They typically have a short season of about three weeks when the beekeepers go nuts working long hours to harvest the legendary tupelo honey. More about that honey in a later article. Some of the other highly visible flowers include:
Swamp Lilly: 3 foot high, star-like white flowers, 6 inches in diameter, May - September.
Water Lilly: Fragrant six inch flower found in ponds and streams, large green leaf pad, year round.
Wapato (Arrowhead): Three-petal flower, arrow-shaped leaf, ponds and slow streams, July - October.
Hooded Pitcher: Five-petal veined yellow flower that eats insects, April - July in bogs and wetlands.
Prickly Pear: A cactus that has yellow flowers, April - June, lives in dry areas and high ground.
Air Plant (Tillandsia): Two foot high non-parasitic plant that has a colored flower spike. Found high in trees, blooms January - August.
Cattail: High stalks common in marshes, ditches, and edges of lakes; flowers open in late summer; vital source of food for birds and wildlife.
Cardinal Flower: Brilliant red flower stalks up to four feet high; favorite of hummingbirds. Wet areas and waterways, June - October.
Swamp Milkweed: Favorite of Monarch butterflies. Four foot high stalks with pink star-like blooms. Moist and wet wooded areas.
Pine Lilly: Three foot high with red-orange petals. July - September. Swamps and wetlands.
Blazing Star: Up to six feet high, red spidery spike in moist woods, July - November; really stands out.
Rose Mallow: Large leafy plant with big crimson flowers. Swamps and marshes, June - September.
Iris: Short, slender stalks in groups, found along rivers and marshes, blue to white flowers appear in spring but last until summer.
Water Hyacinth: Short purple flowers floating in rivers and byways, considered a nuisance but consumed by manatees.
There are more, but these are typical of what we see (and smell) as we journey upriver. And don't forget our favorite, the Tupelo, which smells like a perfume factory when they are in bloom!
Boat Building for Kids and Adults
A group of students at the Project Impact program constructed eight models of a pirogue, a small, flat-bottomed boat, from balsa wood stock at 1/6th of the actual size. The students will begin construction of the full scale boat in early June. Our Wooden Boat School Director, Ron Dierolf, brings a focus on math and science to the program by translating traditional techniques such as lofting into mathematical equation solving. Ron is a retired engineer and teaches mathematics at Gulf Coast State College.
A celebration was held at Project Impact to mark the successful completion of all the boats. Each student received a certificate of achievement. Project Impact Director Faye Johnson reported that the kids had a great time and are looking forward to building the full size boat. When asked if they enjoyed the model building program, one student said, "Oh yes, I loved it. I worked very hard to be careful of the details so that my boat would be as beautiful as possible." Another said, " I feel like I have accomplished something." Each student painted his or her boat with a unique design. The models were on display during the Antique and Classic Boat Show, where they were admired by many. The boats are currently on display at the ABC Charter School and will be on display soon at the AMM. Faye Johnson gave a presentation on this successful program of teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through boat building at an education conference in Tallahassee.
|Working hard but having fun. |
|Proper sanding technique is a skill needed by all wooden boat builders.|
|Applying the finishing touches.|
|Model boats on display at the Antique & Classic Boat Show. A full size boat of the same design is in the background.|
|Project Impact Director Faye Johnson created a miniature wharf display for the eight model boats|
|We were impressed at the originality and creativity of the students, in addition to the skills learned in boat building, science, technology, engineering, and math. Nice work!|
The first students who signed up to build the full size pirogue in our Wooden Boat School were Ann Cowles of Carrabelle, and Jo and John Pearman of St. George Island. Their completed boats were also on display at the Antique & Classic Boat Show.
Ann named her boat Yellow Bird. Here's how she describes the inspiration for her distinctive design:
"The 'wise eyes' on her bow are from the children's book The Story About Ping. It was the favorite of all the many books I read to my children and grandchildren when they were little. Ping is a (slightly) naughty little yellow duck who lives on the 'yellow waters of the Yangtze River' in China. The story is so smooth and melodic and Ping's escapades ('paddle paddle, paddle paddle, Ping neared the shore; paddle paddle, paddle paddle, Ping reached the shore!') were so enchanting that I wanted the yellow boat that I built to have wise eyes too!" Ann uses her boat to explore Apalachicola Bay with her dog, Pepper.
Joellen and John Pearman's boat has also gone to the dogs. Named Miss Sunshine after a beloved canine companion, their paint design features a sunshine and marine life. "The biggest inspiration for me building the boat was my dogs," Jo writes, "They love to go out on the water. Mainly in the kayak. But I could only take one dog at a time. This was the perfect solution to taking them both. And as excited as they are when we get ready to go out in it, they have yet to tip it over. It's amazingly stable on the water... I used a kayak paddle and was impressed at how responsive it is. It turns very easily... I've enjoyed this boat thoroughly. I've started putting a pad in the bottom, and that just sweetens the deal for the old dog. He's 15. He gets in and eventually falls asleep...We had such a good time building it, and we're continuing to have fun with it!"
Founder & Chairman
Research & Education Director
Wooden Boat School Director