Monday, July 30, 2012

Gold and Silver Found - July disaster

It will have been 297 years to this date that a treasure fleet disaster of epic proportions occurred off the Central Florida coast.

In 1715 a fleet of ships carrying treasure from the New World to Spain was destroyed in a huge hurricane. It was in the evening of July 30, 1715 , seven days after departing from Havana, Cuba, eleven of the twelve ships of this fleet were sunk dumping their precious cargo of gold, silver and other expensive commodities along Florida’s East Coast. Most of the ships went down in the Fort Pierce and Wabasso beach ares but many experts agree that there is evidence that some wrecked further North. Nearly 700 sailors perished while a small number survived by drifting ashore on wreckage and lifeboats.

Spain immediately sent their salvage ships, employed local Indians for salvage work, and then
came the pirates that helped themselves. The British governor of Jamaica sent out his left-hand man Henry Jennings but the sight of all treasure turned him into a privateer,and later a full pirate. This event launched the dawning of the “Golden Age of Piracy on the Caribbean. Decades later the legend faded away only to leave evidence in oral stories and a map notation by Englishman Bernard Romans.

Rumors abound and perhaps some private discoveries were made but it wasn't till the early 1960's that a retired building contractor by the name of Kip Wagner made the find of a lifetime. It all started when he found some little flat black stones that he would skip along the water until somebody told him that that was Spanish silver coins he was throwing. Kip did some investigating and bought a metal detector and found more.  One thing led to another and the right eight people with the right skills got together and formed a company called the Real Eight Company. The word was out and gold and silver were on a lot of people's minds. Even the state of Florida got involved and proper salvage operations began.

To be continued; The Treasure Map which marked the spot, the National Geographic Society get involved, a Treasure Exhibit and more.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Launching rockets to the Moon and deep space has always attracted a lot visitors. Beaches and roads were packed with spectators to watch our nation’s boldest endeavor into the final frontier of space.

The limelight of America’s space program brought many VIP's and celebrities to experience the awesome rush and excitement of watching firsthand the thunderous liftoffs of our country’s quest into Space

The list of stars visiting and witnessing rockets launches include: Charles Lindberg, Jack Benny, Johnny Carson, Robert Gullet, Cary Grant,Festus Parker, Vincent Price, Michael York, Frank Sinatra and many others. A regular cluster of stars.

Many film actors visited the area for active roles they were playing on the set with scene shots in the Brevard County area.  Movies where space exploration was the theme and scenes from the Space Coast area include:

*  Marooned  a 1969 American film directed by John Sturges and starring Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, David Janssen, James Franciscus, and Gene Hackman.

* Armageddon - Cast included Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, Will Patton, Peter Stormare, William Fichtner,  Michael Clarke Duncan, Keith David and Steve Buscemi.

* Space Cowboys-2000 science fiction film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood also stars in the film alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner as four older "ex-test pilots" who are sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite. Filming started in July 1999.

* Contact a 1997 American science fiction drama film adapted from the Carl Sagan novel
of the same name and directed by Robert Zemeckis. Both Sagan and wife Ann Druyan.

* Apollo 13 is a 1995 American drama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan and Ed Harris.

Even a TV series entitled The Cape ran in 1996-1997 starring Corbin Bernsen of "L.A. Law" 
fame and Ben Affleck.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

30th Anniversary of an amazing discovery in Titusville

30 years ago - an amazing archaeological discovery was made by accident. A backhoe operator whose plan was to continue with a building project in Titusville Florida uncovered a 7,000 year old graveyard. The artifacts found rocked the academic world on archaeology and anthropology. 

Among the remains and relics found were weaved fabrics that were used to wrap the dead, seeds of what their people ate, tools made from animal teeth, and most amazing of all - brain tissue found in the skulls.  Even a child’s bones were found that had her favorite toys in her arms.

The reason for the astounding preservation is that this burial was in a peat bog which was covered by water which helped preserve the remains for thousands of years. "The pond has proved to be one of the most important and productive "wet" archaeological site in the history of the nation. Scientists from around the world have taken part in the study, preservation, and analysis of materials taken from the pond.” said the The NBBD website.

This Friday May 18th, readers can learn more by enjoying a  a guided tour through the museum and a talk by noted archaeologist Dr. Rachel Wentz, author of "Life and Death at Windover: Excavations of a 7,000-year-old Pond Cemetery".  Funds raised from this event will be used to support the museum containing the Windover exhibit.

Don't miss it May 18, 2012
6:pm to 8:pm
Prices $30 Includes: Lecture & Guided Tour of Museum
$45 includes all of the above plus Dr. Wentz's new book.

Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science
2201 Michigan Avenue
Cocoa, FL 32926
"Where history comes alive"
For more information call 321-632-1830

Joe Richardson
NBBD website