Monday, September 4, 2017

Arrr! Places to Enjoy the History of Pirates

Pirates have captured ships and our imagination. Stories of villains from the past mix with accounts of sanctioned actions of sailors on behalf of their King to create a heroic figure who committed treachery for honorable reasons. Books like Treasure Island and movie franchises like the Pirates of the Caribbean are evidence of the fascination pirates hold today. Events like “Talk like a Pirate” Day (September 19th)  reflect the lifelong appeal of pirates. 

You can follow your fascination with pirates to some interesting destinations.  Here are a few suggestions for you to consider.

West Yarmouth, Massachusetts

 The Whydah Pirate Museum  in West Yarmouth adopts a unique approach to sharing the history of pirates. The museum focuses on the history of the ship Whydah to tell the history of pirates. Exhibits explore the ship's history as both a slave ship and a pirate ship. 

Nassau, Bahamas

Pirates of Nassau, a pirate museum, is in the heart of downtown Nassau. This museum features a small ship and a self-guided tour. It looks at the history of piracy around the Bahamas.

Savannah, Georgia

The Pirates’ House in Savannah tells the story of an inn that began serving sailors in 1753. It is near the Savannah river. Over more than two centuries it has welcomed visitors from around the globe. Today it is a restaurant where you can enjoy a unique meal and a little pirate history.

Key West, Florida

The location of the Key West makes it an ideal spot for Pirates wanting to traverse the Caribbean and navigate the shores of the North America. Key West Pirate Museum tells the story of the golden age of piracy from 1690 to 1730. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum showcases the many treasures recovered from the waters around Key West. It uses artifacts from the past to share the story of Pirates and trade long ago.

St. Augustine, Florida

Tales of Pirates live on in St. Augustine. The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is an interactive experience for all ages. You can hoist a bar of gold and gaze upon wanted posters of Pirates from the past. Outside the museum, on the Matanzas river dramatic tour ships fire cannons and hoist the jolly roger.

Will you be hitting the road to enjoy pirate history soon? What places do you recommend of enjoying pirate history?  I have no doubt that pirate historic sites are as numerous as their legendary hideouts.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Digging Florida’s Treasure Coast

By Jeff Burns
         If you’re looking for a quiet sun-and-beach-filled vacation, you should consider Florida’s east coast. If you can tear yourself away from the beaches, there’s lots of interesting history to enjoy as well.

We stayed in an RV park in Fort Pierce, putting us in close proximity to a number of great sites in the St. Lucie County and Indian River County area.  It’s a quick drive to towns like Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Sebastian, and Melbourne, and not too far from Orlando and central Florida.  One morning of our week was overcast and stormy, so we decided to check out some museums.

            Vero Beach is home to the Indian River Citrus Museum, a small but interesting exhibit about the famous citrus agribusiness that began in the area in the 1880s and continues to be important today.  In addition to the tools and photos that present the evolution of the industry, there are great colorful labels on display used by the various packers and growers.


Just down the street is the Indian River County Historical Society , located in the historic railroad depot. There is another small collection of artifacts here, and an informative model train setup which takes the visitors through area history. 

The Vero Beach Art Museum was quite a surprise. Located on a beautiful campus, it is well worth a visit.  Enter the museum, and you are greeted by a couple of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns paintings on your way to the galleries. Apparently, the museum’s permanent collection is kind of small, so they focus on temporary exhibitions.  On our visit, we were treated to an exhibit of Deborah Butterfield’s horse sculptures in various media.  Larry Kagan is an artist who combines sculpted metal pieces with objects projected on the wall to make a unique 3D sculpture, and several of his pieces were on display in a show called Object/Shadow. My favorite exhibition though was The View Out His Window (and in his mind’s eye) Photographs by Jeffery Becton, an almost surreal collection of photos of interiors. (No Butterfield and Kagan pics because of restrictions) 

Just north in Sebastian is the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum.  Fisher and his company became famous in the 1980s for discovering and salvaging millions of dollars’ worth of gold, silver, and emeralds from shipwrecked Spanish ships off the Florida coast.  You can see a small portion of that treasure and other interesting artifacts here.


Back in Fort Pierce, a must-see is the National Navy SEAL and UDT Museum.  Turns out, Fort Pierce was the base on which the original underwater demolition teams of World War II were trained.  This was the genesis of the Navy SEAL program.  The museum is very interactive and thorough, detailing the story of the SEALs in very conflict since WWII and continuing in the war against terrorism.  Military buffs will be enthralled.  Even non-military buffs will find something to interest them.  As a bonus, many of the docents on hand to answer questions are former SEALS or UDT members themselves.

The St.Lucie County Regional History Center in Fort Pierce  tells the story of the area from the earliest inhabitants, Ais Indians to the early 1900s. 

            There’s still lots of wealth to discover on the Treasure Coast!