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Treasure Hunting in Florida – Part 3: Amelia Island

by Matt
Categories: Treasure
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Published on: July 29, 2010

Known as the ‘Isle of Eight Flags’, Amelia Island is the southernmost of the Sea Islands that stretch as far north as South Carolina.  As the nickname suggests, Amelia Island has seen eight different flags fly on its shores, even those which may be rather obscure and short-lived.  Doubtless, its prime location as natural port on the Atlantic led to the conflicts that occurred here.  Where there’s conflict, there’s treasure.

Since 1562 eight flags have flown on this island: France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Patriots of Amelia Island, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States.  Because it bordered the United States, it was the perfect location to land and smuggle illegal goods and people from colonial Spain into the county.  As such, merchant ships were always sailing in and out of Amelia – and, as it was back then – ships inevitably ran aground or sank in the harbor due to bad weather.  1811 was a particular bad year:

March 2, 1811: British merchantman Minerva, sailing from Londonderry to Amelia Island ran aground.  Crew was saved.
Later that year: A ship identified only as North Star ran aground.
Another ship of unknown nationality known as the Horatio wrecked on the island.
May 9, 1811: A ship known as Lady Provost ran aground on a sand bar.
Again, later that year:  The Windsor and Maria, both British merchant vessels, from Liverpool and London, respectively both were wrecked on the shores of Amelia Island.
1813: Spanish merchantship Flor de Guadiana was driven ashore – all cargo lost.
And list goes on and on…

Obviously, this wasn’t the easiest port to sail into in rough weather.  However, this means that much may still remain of the wrecks – either off the coast or washed up on the shore.  Granted, much of Amelia Island is now private property, and some belongs to the state.  Unconfirmed reports put the total value of recovered items on Amelia as high as $170,000.  What more could we find on the coast?  Given it’s strategic location in the colonial era, what research could we conduct to begin a search for the remains of these lost ships and their cargo?  Discuss…

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