Over 50 lighthouse stand as silent sentinels along Florida’s 1,300 miles of coast. From shifting sandbars to reef-strewn shallows lighthouses have endured hurricanes, earthquakes, even military attack. From the tops of lighthouses, keepers have watched ships come to grief and reported the destruction of U-boats during World War II. Taking many shapes and rising to various heights, Florida’s lighthouses are descendants of one of the earliest known aid-to-navigation systems in North America. From St. Augustine’s 16th century signal towers to an inland lighthouse in Lake George, Florida has a rich tradition in lighting its coast. The Sunshine State’s lighthouses have been a source or curiosity, folklore, and refuge. This presentation follows the history Florida’s lighthouses and includes select stories from our legacy of lighting the coast.
Brendan Burke works for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum as a maritime archaeologist with the museum’s research wing, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). Since 2007 he has researched the commercial shrimping history of Florida and in 2013 co-authored Shrimp Boat City with Ed Long, a St. Augustine native. Considering the book the ‘beginning of a conversation’ rather than the culmination, Burke continues his work to gather stories and information about commercial shrimping and wooden boatbuilding throughout Florida. When he is not researching commercial fishing, Brendan may be found underwater or onboard the research vessel ROPER, diving and excavating a shipwreck from the American Revolution off St. Augustine’s beach. He holds a B.A. in history/anthropology from Longwood University and an MA in historical archaeology from The College of William and Mary.
Event - 2/22/2018: “Lighthouses of the Sunshine State” by Brendan Burke
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