During recent construction activities Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) crews unearthed a nearly intact 19th-century shipwreck on State Road A1A near the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine.

The oil-fired lantern found inside the wreck. Credit: Daniel Fiore (SEARCH, Inc.) & FDOT, District Two.

“With every project we undertake, the Florida Department of Transportation is sensitive to the unique needs of the communities we serve, including the potential presence of historical sites and artifacts within construction sites,” said District 2 Secretary Greg Evans. “We are grateful to our partners at SEARCH for their careful efforts to preserve this vessel, and we look forward to learning more about its significance to the region.”

“We believe the vessel may have sank unexpectedly and, over time, was silted in. That is why it was preserved so well - it was encapsulated in soil and mud, so there was no air contact for it to decay. It’s truly an incredible find,” Evans continued.

SEARCH's Dr. James Delgado, who led the excavation and recovery, said “We believe the vessel to be a small single-masted, shallow-draft sailing craft of the 19th century that was likely used to extract fish and shellfish from coastal waterways and directly offshore.”

“With a dedicated team, including support from the local community and the on-site construction team, we were able to extract the vessel in order to allow the important work on the community’s infrastructure to continue. We greatly appreciate FDOT’s commitment to cultural resources and in retaining SEARCH for this project,” Delgado concluded.

High-resolution images and appropriate captions/credit can be downloaded here.