In Apalachicola, anchors are big.
Augusta West, the research and education director at the Apalachicola Maritime Museum, said, “Apalachicola has been a port city for such a long time that the anchor is actually part of our city symbol and it’s on the Apalachicola flag.”
She said, the town first sprang up as a cotton port during the early 1800's.
“Before the days of railroads and highway networks, the rivers were the arteries of travel and transport, and so Apalachicola quickly became the third largest port on the gulf coast and had a lot of international traffic,” West said.
Since then, the town has been a hub for lumber shipping, oyster and sponge harvesting and fishing and shrimping. And in the course of all that maritime activity, at least 16 large anchors were left behind. They’re scattered through the city.
She said, “A lot of people remember these anchors from their childhoods, and they’ve been there are their lives, but they have no idea where they came from.”
This Saturday, they might get some answers. That’s when the Maritime Museum is hosting archeologists to lead the public on an anchor expedition. Franklin Price is one of them. He’s with the Florida Bureau of Archeological Research.
“It’ll be interesting to see how many of these anchors are from what century and what original country,” Price said.
He said, you can tell these things by the anchor’s size and shape. He’ll enter the exact locations and details of all the anchors into a worldwide database called the Big Anchor Project. Florida Public Archeology Network director William Lees said, Saturday’s event will let people see first-hand how artifacts shine a light on history.
“When you go up there and see the anchor and learn about it, you start to closer to that past, and it is sort of a time connection in a very real way,” Lees said.
Lees says the anchor project is just one of many hands-on archeological activities the group is leading around the state for the public. The anchor workshop will start with a lecture at the Apalachicola Maritime Museum at 10 a.m. on Saturday followed by the anchor field work. It’s free but registration is required.
To register, e-mail or call Barbara Hines at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 877-2206.