Uncategorized Florida Public Archaeology Network, History, Lures, Lures and Legends, Mission San Luis, Pokemon Go, Preservation, Tallahassee, Trainers, VisitTallahassee
Are you a fan of PokemonGo? Well, so are we! We took a ride around Tallahassee and discovered that there are quite a few historic sites in town that offer numerous poke stops and gyms. You may have seen us at one of our Lures and Legends events over the summer. We were setting up our booth at some of the various locations around town and dropping lures. We have discovered that PokemonGo gives folks a reason and incentive to go out and explore new places they may have never been before. At our Lures and Legends event at Mission San Luis we had a few people come up to us and tell us that they have never been there before until we “lured” them there! Maybe you are a parent who’s child is obsessed with PokemonGo, and you are looking for a way to engage you child’s interest in the game in a meaningful way. Well, we hear you and we get it! Perhaps you are a huge PokemonGo fan and you have been wanting to explore your community to get to know it better. Well, we hear you, and again, we get it! One of our goals here at FPAN is to promote heritage tourism. So we figured we would use PokemonGo as a public outreach tool to get folks out and about exploring some of our local heritage sites. So, with that intention, below is a map we have created with the locations of heritage sites in our community with the number of gyms and stops at each location. We hope you will use this to get out, get moving and to learn about Tallahassee’s rich history. With that in mind, please remember that these sites are not renewable. You can’t grow another historic Spanish mission or another antebellum plantation. So please, be respectful of these sites and mind all the rules. They are there for your safety and to protect the historic resource. Additionally, a few of these sites require a fee to enter. Please do not try to get out of paying this fee. The money they collect goes towards preserving and protecting the site and providing you with a unique and educational experience. So, with that being said, we hope you will get out and explore Tallahassee while catching pokemon! And while you are out there, if you see something cool, learn something new or catch a rare pokemon, we would like to hear from you! Feel free to post about your discoveries in the comments below!
Uncategorized Apalachicola, Apalachicola Center for History Art and Culture, Apalachicola Maritime Museum, Apalachicola River, Archaeology, Canoes, Dugout Canoes, Florida Archaeology, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, Florida Department of State, Florida Division of Historical Resources, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Florida Tourism, FPAN, FWC, Public Archaeology
This past Saturday we had the privilege of visiting the Apalachicola Center for History, Art and Culture , as they were host to a wonderful lecture on local history. While there we finally got to see the infamous Apalachicola
The 50 foot long Apalachicola Traders’ Canoe is made of a single cypress log and is the longest dugout on record in Florida. (Photo courtesy of the Florida Master Site File)
Traders’ Canoe. I have heard mention of it before and I have always been curious to see it. You are probably wondering why I would be so excited about a dugout canoe, right? What if I told you that it was the longest dugout canoe ever recovered, in one piece, in the state of Florida? It is over 50 feet long! 50 feet, 4 inches to be exact! Imagine trying to paddle such a beast upstream! This dugout was initially found in 2006 by two gentleman that were out bass fishing on the Apalachicola River. While they were loading their boat onto a trailer they noticed what appeared to be a board sticking out of the water. When their trailer struck it the object floated higher out of the water and they knew immediately they had come across an old dugout canoe. They attempted to pull it out of the water to load it onto their trailer, but soon realized it was too long. One of the gentleman operated a nearby sawmill, and so was able to arrange for a logging truck to transport it to the sawmill for safe keeping. They then reported the find to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They recognized the potential significance of their find and wanted to do the right thing by reporting it to the proper authorities. The dugout quickly became a local celebrity, receiving numerous visitors wanting to witness this behemoth firsthand. A few days after the initial discovery archaeologists from the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research were able to visit the dugout and work with other state officials and the individuals who discovered the dugout to come up with a plan to make sure that it was properly cared for and preserved.
Archaeologists generally discourage people from removing dugouts or other wooden artifacts from water or muck. These objects are usually quite saturated and have been that way for a long time. The state usually receives calls about dugouts becoming exposed during drought events, when water levels drop and they are found sticking out of the mud. Once they are removed they start to dry out quickly and can degrade into a pile of nothing more than saw dust quite rapidly. It takes a trained conservator to ensure that the wooden object is dried carefully and in a controlled manner so that damage is kept to a minimum. Additionally, in some cases various conservation treatments are applied to ensure that the cellular structure of the object remains stable for years to come. These treatments can be very lengthy and sometimes expensive, and until the object can be treated properly, it is best preserved in place. If you are ever in a situation where you find a dugout canoe or any other archaeological remains, you may call the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research to report it. You can also contact your local FPAN office, as all of us work closely with the folks at the Bureau of Archaeological Research.
After the the Apalachicola Traders’ Canoe was properly conserved, archaeologists could see tool marks on the boat which indicated that it was made using metal tools, but with techniques commonly used by Native Americans. The fact that metal tools were used, along with the shape of the canoe, suggest that it was manufactured sometime between 1750 and 1850. Dugout canoes had long since been used by Native Americans but the technology was adapted and modified to meet the needs of Florida’s many early European settlers. It is possible that it was made by Native American craftsmen under the direction of Americans, the British or the Spanish.
The Apalachicola Traders’ Canoe is currently on display at the Apalachicola Center for History, Art and Culture. (Photo courtesy of the Apalachicola Center for History, Art and Culture)
Hundreds of dugout canoes have been recovered from Florida’s lakes and rivers. Some of you may remember the dugout that was recovered from Lake Munson a few years ago. During the 2000 drought event, hundreds of dugouts and dugout fragments were recorded in Newnan Lake near Gainesville. Forty wood samples were taken from the Newnan canoes and were found to be between 3,200 and 5,000 years old. Most dugout canoes measure between 18 and 20 feet. The traders’ canoe is more than twice that length! The traders’ canoe was also manufactured from a single cypress log. The majority of dugouts that have been recorded in Florida have been carved from pine logs, although cypress dugouts are not unheard of in Florida. It is quite possible that Florida has the largest concentration of dugout canoes in the Americans, possibly the world. Our state’s unique aquatic environment, complete with anaerobic muck river and lake bottoms, lends itself to the preservation of these delicate artifacts. In an anaerobic environment, few bacteria can survive and thus, they cannot contribute to the deterioration of organic material. In other words, there are less bacteria nibbling on the wooden artifacts and so objects that might otherwise degrade are preserved and provide archaeologists and the public a unique glimpse of our past.
If you want to check out the Apalachicola Traders’ Canoe for yourself, and I encourage you to do so, it is on display at the Apalachicola Center for History, Art and Culture! Their hours of operation are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12 noon to 5 PM. It is located on the corner of Avenue E and Water Street in one of the beautifully restored cotton warehouses on the Apalachicola River. You can make a day trip out of it and continue your forays into the local maritime culture by visiting the Apalachicola Maritime Museum as well!
Uncategorized DeSoto Winter Encampment, Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, History, Lures and Legends, Mission San Luis, Old City Cemetery, Pokemon Go, Tallahassee, The Edison
So I know that we have a bunch of Pokemon Go fans out there, so we have decided to have some fun with it to help promote heritage tourism and hopefully make our followers aware of some places they may not have
Follow us on Facebook to see where we will be dropping the next lure!
visited before. According to a study published in 2010 by the State of Florida, Department of State, heritage tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. Here in Tallahassee we have a wealth of heritage sites. So get out your phone, open up your Pokemon Go app and get ready to explore some of them! Many sites in the area have poke stops and gyms! Mission San Luis, for example, has 17 stops and two gyms! If you haven’t been to Mission San Luis yet, then what are you waiting for?! It is an amazing living history museum and now you have one more reason to visit.
Saturday, July 23 2016, from 9am-1pm we will be dropping lures near The Edison in Cascades Park. Stop by our table to learn about all the various historic sites in Tallahassee that have stops and gyms. While there you can explore Cascades Park, which has a very rich history, and perhaps stop in at The Edison for a delicious brunch! You can follow us on our facebook page to learn of other places we will be dropping lures in the coming weeks. There is a good chance that you will learn of places you didn’t know existed!
The DeSoto Winter Encampment Site is the location of a Pokemon Go gym.
With that being said, we need to caution you. All historic sites are non-renewable resources. While searching for stops and gyms is harmless, we urge you to be aware of your surroundings and to be respectful of the sites you are visiting. The Old City Cemetery in downtown Tallahassee has six stops and we encourage you to go check out this amazing historic cemetery, but keep in mind that it is a place of rest for some of our most notable residents from history and is deserving of respect. Likewise, some places are only open at certain hours or require a minimal entrance fee. Please be respectful of that. In the case of entrance fees, those fees are used to help support that site. As for hours of operation, they are in place not only for the safety and security of the site, but also for your safety as well. So go out and enjoy, but please be respectful of our communities wonderful (and non-renewable) historic resources!
As a side note, our office at the DeSoto Winter Encampment is the site of a gym. If you stop by, come on into our office and say hi! If you are visiting during office hours, M-F 8-5 there is more information about the site inside the Governor Martin House/Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research.
Uncategorized Archaeology, Dig It!, Dig-It Games, Educational Video Games, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Game Mechanics, Gaming, Interpretation, Video Games
Video games are a medium that can express some difficult or complicated subjects, yet archaeology is poorly represented. In this post I will briefly discuss new trends in educational games, followed by a breakdown of a particularly promising archaeology game with a responsible message.
Video games are a creative medium that are here to stay. In just a few decades we have seen this relatively new art form develop from being little more than a toy into a medium that communicates whole ideas and perspectives. From jumping on little mushroom men 30 years ago to tackling difficult subjects in a dystopic paperwork simulator (Papers, Please) developers and consumers have begun to recognice the interpretive idea that enjoyable is not necessarily the same as fun.
Apoapsis? Delta V? Real life concepts that only mean anything to me because of this game. (Image by Tyler Raiz, accessed March 2016)
Even our understanding of what makes an educational game is changing. We are no longer restricted to educational games that simply try to disguise learning as a video game such as Math Blaster or Mario Teaches Typing. One of the most successful games of 2015 was Kerbal Space Program, a game that teaches orbital mechanics by letting you build a rocket and launching little green men into space (usually to return as debris).
WARNING! Does not represent real archaeology.
This ability to be a game while teaching is impressive. If a game about orbital mechanics can be successful, why not archaeology? When people think of archaeology in video games they are usually thinking of relic hunters like Lara Croft (Indiana Jones in short shorts) or blatant site looting for profit in rpgs (role playing games). Of course, one of the main problems is not with video games, but with popular culture itself. When we tell people that we are interested in archaeology and they immediately think of Indiana Jones or Ric Savage in American Digger we should not fault a new medium for failing to buck the trend.
Fortunately, I have found an example that I feel particularly represents the potential to teach archaeology through video games. Can U Dig It! (by Dig-It Games) is an excellent, if flawed, example of how games can teach archaeology through its mechanics, represent archaeology ethically, and still be enjoyable.
When you fire up Can U Dig It! you get a little introductory cutscene for the game. A brother and sister are headed to an archaeological site and the sister can’t wait to start digging, but the brother wants to plan things carefully. This sets up the premise nicely and makes the theme very clear: Careful planning is a vital part of archaeology.
The game itself works a little like a reverse Minesweeper. I won’t try to describe the mechanics here, but essentially you have to use number clues to select where you want to dig around
One of the more advanced maps in Can U Dig It! Note the orange box. Image by Dig-It Games, accessed March 2016.
the artifacts. Select the brother on the left and you are in planning mode. Select the sister on the right and you are in digging mode where the boxes are dug as you select them. Here’s the bit that I particularly like: make a mistake and you’ll break the artifact! These mechanics teach the need for careful planning in archaeology, the fragility of many artifacts, and the permanency of our decisions. Almost.
While these lessons are certainly present, the execution of these mechanics unfortunately weakens the message. The biggest problem is that once you have solved the game in the planning mode, the site is automatically dug for you, so there is no real chance of breaking an artifact. A related issue is that the highlighted box is in orange if you have the incorrect number of squares. Again, making it impossible to make an error.
Crush this in real life and there are no do-overs. Image by Wessex Archaeology, accessed March, 2016.
The final issue is that a broken artifact, and the excavation, is not actually permanent. Make too many mistakes and you have to try again. Also, you have the option to go back to any of the completed levels. There might be no way around this for video games, being able to fail and learn from your mistakes is a fundamental element, but I would like to see later levels or an advanced mode that makes a mistake permanent for that game.
In a nutshell, this is a wonderful example of the potential for video games to let players experience archaeological principles in a fun way, instead of just being told about them. Despite some flaws in the execution, the potential for a truly excellent game is there. To be completely fair, I only played the first 18 free levels and it is entirely possible that my criticisms are addressed later on, but I can only talk about what I have experienced. I have been in contact with Dig-It Games and apparently they are currently reworking some of Can U Dig It!, here’s hoping the result are an even stronger game about archaeology.
Uncategorized Archaeology, Commonly Used Words, Florida Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Randall Munroe, Ten Hundred Most Commonly Used Words
In this post I will explain what archaeology is, and the importance of context, using only the ten hundred most commonly used words in the English language. This is inspired by Randall Munroe’s comic and book doing the same thing with other complex ideas. As he so aptly puts it (following the ten hundred rule which you will note I am not using in this introductory paragraph):
“Sometimes I would use those big words because they were different from the small words in an important way. But a lot of the time, I was really worried that if I used the small words, someone might think I didn’t know the big ones.”
Though I would add that sometimes we use jargon because we understand it so thoroughly that we forget others may not know what we are saying. I decided to write this post partly for fun, partly to practice avoiding jargon, and partly to force myself to really think about what these words mean.
Past people learners look for places people lived and learn about them from what they left behind. Sometimes these people lived a long time ago, sometimes they are still living today. Many think past people learners study loud rain animals. However, loud rain animals never stepped on people, they are too old (and possibly made up).
When we think about the past we often think of the most important people. People who wrote things down or who had others write about them. Past people learning tells us about those who did not write things down because they did not know how, did not have time, or were not allowed to. This is very important for the new people who came from these old people.
To learn about people in the past we need to find their things next to their other things. Look at your living room. If you have a TV then your chairs and couches tell us that you like to sit while you watch. Are all your TV changers next to one chair? This tells us what your favorite chair probably is. This still works for people who lived long ago, but it gets very hard.
Imagine if someone, after you were gone, cleaned your house and moved your TV changers. Now we will never know what your favorite chair is. Every time old things are taken or killed, by people or the wind and the rain, we have lost part of the story of these old people’s lives for all time. If you find old things the best thing you can do is take a picture (or make a drawing), tell past people learners, and leave it in place!
How did I do? I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I did writing it! If you have any archaeological concepts you would like me to explain, leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.
A special thanks to Randal Munroe for the inspiration and to Splasho’s excellent web tool (http://splasho.com/upgoer5/) for making this far easier than it would have been otherwise.
Uncategorized Comprehensive Plan, Florida Department of State, Florida Division of Historic Resources, Florida's Comprehensive Statewide Historic Preservation Plan, Historic Preservation, National Historic Preservation Act, Preservation50, State Historic Preservation Officer
Many folks are familiar with comprehensive plans. Most communities guide their development and infrastructure planning based on information provided in these documents. But are you aware that the State of Florida has a comprehensive plan dedicated to the planning for historic preservation of our state’s cultural resources? As you can imagine, any comprehensive plan requires updating on a regular basis in order to reflect the most recent concerns and planning issues. The Florida Division of Historical Resources, within the Florida Department of State, is seeking public input for the latest update to the Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan. The Division Director, otherwise known as the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) directs the Division of Historical Resources to cooperate with state, federal and local agencies and governments, as well as private organizations and individuals to conduct a comprehensive statewide survey of Florida’s historic resources, to maintain an inventory of these resources and to develop a statewide historic preservation plan.
The comprehensive plan provides guidance for the implementation of sound planning procedures for the location, identification, and protection of the state’s cultural resources. As part of this process, the state is requesting your input. You may attend one of the meetings that will be held around the state and you can also provide feedback by completing an online survey. The survey only takes approximately ten minutes and your input will contribute greatly towards preservation planning and protection of our state’s resources. This also ties in with the year-long Preservation 50 celebration, which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the signing of the National Historic Preservation Act on October 15, 1966.
Uncategorized Archaeology Code of Ethics, Artifact Collecting, Avocational Archaeology, Chapter 267, Citizen Archaeology Permit, Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Law, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Isolated Finds, Oppose HB803, Oppose SB1054, Public Archaeology, SB1054, SB803
According to the Florida Historical Resources Act (Ch. 267 of the Florida Statutes), historical and archaeological sites and artifacts located on State-owned lands, including submerged lands, belong to the people of Florida. Excavating, disturbing, or collecting is prohibited in order to protect information about our State’s past. Recently a bill has been filed with the Florida House (HB803) and it’s companion bill was filed with the Florida Senate (SB1054) that would allow for collectors to obtain a $100 permit that would then entitle them to collect on state submerged lands. This bill allows for the excavation of “isolated finds” with hand tools. There are many issues concerning this bill. First and foremost, these lands are protected because of their sensitive nature and that is why they have been protected under Ch. 267. They are held in the public trust for all Florida citizens and the cultural and natural resources on these lands (both submerged and terrestrial) are protected for everyone to enjoy. Additionally, the use of excavation tools by non-professionals (or untrained/unsupervised avocationals) could lead to the permanent destruction of significant archaeological sites through non-scientific methodological excavation. These sites, unlike most natural resources, do not grow back over time. Once they are lost, they are gone forever, along with the potentially significant information about the past which they contain. Even isolated finds, those that are no longer in their original context, have the potential to provide us with information and one cannot confirm that an artifact is indeed isolated unless they excavate (thus risk destroying the site in the process).
Many of us grow up finding arrowheads on family farms or other places, and that is how many of us initially become interested in archaeology. The problem here isn’t little kids picking up arrowheads on grandpa’s farm. The problem is that these objects are a part of our common past and belong to everyone, not just to people who want to take them. Just like sea oats belong to everyone and provide a vital role for our beaches and so are protected by law, artifacts belong to everyone and provide vital information about our heritage and so are protected by law. It is currently legal to collect on private lands with permission of the landowner. There are also organizations like FPAN and the Florida Anthropological Society that invite and encourage those that are interested in archaeology to get involved by volunteering. Legitimate avocational organizations will have a strict code of ethics that they expect their members and volunteers to abide by and will encourage also the participation of professionals that are interested in working and teaching the public about archaeology. Archaeology is not about collecting things – it’s about what those “things” can tell us about the people who made and used them. Archaeologists care about past human behaviors and activities, and we learn about that through the objects people left behind. When those objects are collected willy-nilly and are removed from the surrounding landscape and other artifacts, we lose information. Organizations and academic programs like the Florida Anthropological Society and FPAN provide many ways for citizens to assist and become involved in meaningful archaeological research that provides information about our past, not simply picking up random objects.
If you take the time to read the bills, which I encourage you to do, you will notice that it requires that permit holders report on their findings. That seems like a good idea, right? The problem is that it’s been tried before in Florida and failed – the Isolated Finds program was implemented so that people could certain keep artifacts they found in Florida rivers and all they had to do was turn in information, and it was free! Very few IF reports were sent in, however, and the state discontinued IF due to wide-spread non-compliance among the river diver collecting community. Issuing permits would make tracking collectors easier for the state, but also would require additional staffing as well as additional law enforcement time, a cost which will ultimately be paid by tax payers. In order to pay for the program by charging for permits, each permit would cost hundreds of dollars, making them out of range for most citizens, which would defeat the purpose of a “citizen’s” permit.
On our website we have compiled various resources and answers to common questions about these bills and other previously proposed legislation regarding the collection of artifacts on public lands. I hope that you will take the time to read the bills and read what we have compiled. Ultimately the responsibility of protecting our state’s cultural resources falls to the citizens and we encourage your participation. Included in our list of resources is a link where you can find your local representatives. We hope that you will educate yourself and be encouraged to write, call or email them to express your concerns.
Uncategorized 123DCatch, 3D printing, 3D scanner, Agisoft PhotoScan, Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, mapping, photogrammetry, Preservation, Underwater Archaeology
In recent years, 3D modeling has become easier than it ever has been before. In the past, we had to use an expensive 3D scanner, though these still have their uses. Now, however, anybody with a smartphone can make a reasonable 3D model using a program called 123D Catch. With a little more time and financial investment, we can make a model that is accurate enough to draw data from (https://sketchfab.com/models/22623871f783442a8f1779f5e52841fe).
This magical process is called “photogrammetry.” Essentially, this uses a collection of photographs from a variety of angles to create a three dimensional model of an object. What has really changed in recent years is the ease of use. Even with the professional version of Agisoft PhotoScan (a more robust, paid version of 123D Catch) the process of going from photos to a three dimensional model takes only a few steps.
There are a few limitations to this technique, however. Tall objects (such as buildings) are difficult to fully cover due to their height and size (without some creativity or a drone anyways) and the program has difficulty dealing with patterns such as plaid or other subjects that are not distinct enough, like grass. The biggest restriction is in the program’s inability to deal with movement, so live subjects are nearly impossible to record without a large and expensive rig of cameras to take all the pictures in a single instant. Fortunately, most of our subjects in archaeology are not very lively, so this is a fairly minor restriction.
The uses for such a program in archaeology are incredibly exciting, especially for underwater archaeology. Due to limitations on dives caused by weather and human endurance, it can easily take a decade to fully map a complex shipwreck. However, with five days of photographing and a few hours of processing time archaeologists can now have a highly detailed and accurate three dimensional map (https://sketchfab.com/models/6d22d91ea0f24967831e395f321477d0 https://sketchfab.com/models/3b40e2c6d8ce40a19e07f43a5ee5a2f1).
Preservation is another excellent use for photogrammetry. If an historic building is about to be demolished, a day or two photographing every possible inch inside and out can result in detailed models for the building. Alternatively, if the current political climate (hypothetically) expanded from the removal of a statue in D.C. (link) to the removal of other Civil War monuments, we have a method of preserving these monuments in a more detailed form than photographs (https://sketchfab.com/models/f9901b07e8e44207a51fc7df6d622702).
While the effect this method will have on archaeological research is impressive, imagining how it will contribute to public outreach is what I find particularly exciting. So often a site or artifact cannot be used in public outreach beyond a photograph and our enthusiastic descriptions. Three dimensional models (like this one) does more than allow someone to see it from all sides, it adds depth and texture to the image, immediately making it feel more real. Alternatively, digital site tours (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcQfzuQXcq8) become relatively simple to make, and accessible to anyone in the world. If we pair these models with 3D printers, then there is almost no limit to what we could do.
A special thanks to Kotaro Yamafune for getting everybody I know excited about the potential uses for photogrammetry in archaeology.
Uncategorized Daughters of the American Revolution, Education, Historic Preservation, Patriotism, Speical Project Grants
FPAN North Central has just been made aware of a grant available through the Daughters of the American Revolution. This grant supports community projects relating to historic preservation, education and patriotism. The Special Grants Program is open to organizations determined by the IRS to be public charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. They encourage grants of $1,000 to $2,000 but the maximum amount available to an organization is $10,000. Applicants are required to match the amount 1:1 to maximize the funds distribution. However, you are allowed to use other grant funds as match. Projects funded through this grant must be completed within a year of initial funding. In order to be considered, the qualifying organization must submit a letter of intent to the Fort San Luis Chapter of the DAR, which is the local chapter in Tallahassee. This letter of intent is due on October 15 and should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter must include the entity’s name, lead person in charge of grant, contact information, intent to apply for the grand and affirmation that the applicant is a 501(c)(3) public charity organization.
The grant application and requirements are available at www.dar.org/grants. Projects that are eligible for funding through this grant include historic building restoration, cemetery headstone conservation, historic marker erection, document preservation, veteran rehabilitation programs, support projects for veterans and their families, veteran’s memorials or monuments, military museum exhibits, literacy programs, historical books or displays, children’s mentoring programs and interactive exhibits. Please visit the DAR website for further information and to apply.
Uncategorized Apalachicola National Forest, Every Kid in a Park, Federal Lands, Federal Waters, Fort Gadsden, Fourth Grade, Lighthouse, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, War of 1812
If you are or know a 4th grader, then this is for you! Beginning September 1, 2015, all U.S. 4th graders, including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years old, can download their own pass to gain unlimited free access to any federal lands or waters.This initiative is called “Every Kid in a Park” and it is such a wonderful opportunity for kids and their guests to experience both the cultural and natural wonders these sites offer. At sites where visitors are charged per vehicle, anybody in the vehicle with the 4th grader gets in for free. For locations that charge per person, up to three accompanying adults are admitted for free with the 4th grader. To download a pass, go to www.everykidinapark.gov. Here the 4th grader will complete an online game and can download a personalized voucher and print it out. The paper voucher can be exchanged for a more durable pass at certain federal lands or water sites. This pass is good for one year! That is free entry into all public lands or waters for an entire year! How awesome is that?
The tower of the St. Marks Lighthouse at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
Many of our federal lands are protected not just for their natural resources, but also because they contain unique historic or prehistoric resources as well. They also offer opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, paddling and more! Here in the North Central region we are lucky to have access to a ton of federal land and water. Two great examples are the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the Apalachicola Nation Forest. The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is not only home to a variety of wildlife but also to the historic St. Marks Lighthouse, which has been an important icon in maritime history in St. Marks since the early 1800s. The currently lighthouse tower was constructed in the 1840s and is 82 feet tall. It is still an active beacon and the Fresnel lens is still intact, however is no longer lit. Instead a modern solar powered beacon is used as the light. There are also numerous prehistoric Native American sites at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge as well!
Fort Gadsden in the Apalachicola National Forest is another site that is well worth a visit! It was first constructed by the British during the War of 1812 and was the site of a devastating massacre of about 300 African-Americans that had taken refuge at the fort under the British flag. On July 27, 1816 a heated shot was fired from a gunboat on the Apalachicola River and landed in the power magazine of the fort causing a massive explosion. Only 33 people survived the blast. At the site there are detailed interpretive signage, the remains of the fort and a cemetery with the burials of those killed in 1816.
These are just two of the many places that 4th graders and their accompanying adults can visit for free. To print up a pass and plan a trip, or for more information go to www.everykidinapark.gov. Let us know what you do, where you go and what you see. We would enjoy nothing more than hearing about your experience and hearing about what you learned during your visit!