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  Week 14   Various Topics   Program Menu
  Program 66 Camp Walton
      At the start of the Civil War, Confederate Florida looked to local militias to begin the difficult task of raising an army.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, with Unearthing Florida…

Most militias were made up of men from different social orders in the community- farmers, bricklayers, teachers, fisherman, lawyers and even some judges. Few had prior military service and in the beginning most had to supply their own weapons, clothing, and food.  

One such Confederate militia formed was the Walton Guards. In March of 1861 they set up Camp Walton in modern day Fort Walton Beach along a long narrow waterway called Santa Rosa Sound.

To defend the area from Union gunboats, the Walton Guards mounted a cannon on a small shell mound along the water’s edge. When the militia left in 1862 they disabled and buried it so Federal troops could not use it.

In 1932, the cannon was rediscovered. It’s the largest artifact from this Confederate militia. And, today it is on display along U.S. highway 98 at the very site, where they once camped.

  Program 67 Gordon Willey  
      Few archaeologists in the 20th century helped to further our understanding of Florida’s prehistory more than Gordon Willey.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, with Unearthing Florida…

While Willey had a distinguished career at Harvard studying the ancient Mayans, when he was a graduate student at Columbia, in the summer of 1940, he led a pioneering expedition across the largely undeveloped Northwest Florida Gulf
Coast.  Working in conditions that were extremely rough and wild, he discovered and studied sites that would soon become famous throughout eastern North America.

For example, he discovered the Temple Mound in Fort Walton Beach, the famous shell rings in Gulf Breeze, and clusters of ancient burial mounds from Panama City to St. Marks. He saw and recorded many of the region’s prehistoric sites just before they were destroyed.  Using only basic principles, he put the sites in the correct chronological order.

1n 1949, Willey published his research in a book that became an instant classic -- and to this day -- many still consider it “the bible” of Florida archaeology.

  Program 68 Rosario  
      In 1992 University of West Florida archaeologists discovered the remains of the Rosario, an early, 18th century Spanish fragata that sank in Pensacola Bay over 300 years ago.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

The “Rosario” was a large, 50-gun frigate that was built of mahogany and red cedar in Veracruz in the late 1600s. Its primary mission was to escort Spanish cargo vessels.  On September 3rd 1705, the “Rosario” stopped by Pensacola to pick up a load of ship masts and return to Veracruz.  But, the ship never left because it was run aground by a hurricane two days later and broke apart on a sandbar.

When archaeologists discovered the debris they suspected it was the “Rosario” because of its size, construction materials, and location.

After years of research and archaeological investigations we are almost certain it is the “Rosario.”  Among the materials recovered from the wreckage were scores of parts for pulleys, equipment that is essential for maneuvering those heavy logs into the ship.

  Program 69 USS Massachusetts  
      The USS Massachusetts rests silently beneath 26 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola- but unlike many shipwrecks she was put there on purpose.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

At one time Massachusetts was a marvel of modern engineering. First launched in 1893, and over a football field in length, she was one of the original heavily armored steel vessels in the US Navy. Following her service in the Spanish American war, she paraded around the world as part of the great white fleet celebrating the American victory. She then was used for gunnery exercises and as a training vessel. 

Deemed obsolete after WWI, Massachusetts was stripped down and scuttled a mile and a half from the Pensacola Pass. 

The state of Florida and citizens of Pensacola saved the ship from the scrap yard in the 195o’s.  With her massive hull and gun turrets still intact, today she is part of Florida’s underwater archaeological preserve for divers to explore and fishermen to enjoy.

  Program 70 Urban Artifacts  
      You would think that with all the building and rebuilding in cities across Florida, nothing would be left intact. But over and over we find just the opposite.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is unearthing Florida!

For example, the Sanborn insurance maps of downtown Pensacola show that between 1884 and 1906 there was a big brick Masonic lodge and a wooden building that sold lime for mortar and plaster.  Both buildings have long since been demolished for a parking lot.

However, excavations under the parking lot revealed the foundations and floors of the buildings are still intact, along with tell-tale artifacts from the activities conducted inside. For instance, near the Masonic lodge, we found a swastika lapel pin.  The swastika was a symbol of the masons, and prior to 1922, it meant good luck. Also, we found a lot of lime powder near the lime shop.

While most of the city is paved over, in reality, the pavement is just covering a plethora of artifacts and old building foundations.

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