Shipwrecked rudder returns to GTM Research Reserve

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The Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Research Reserve recently received an old ship rudder from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

“In 2005, this piece of shipwreck was uncovered on a Vilano Beach shore, just three miles from the reserve,” said Michael Shirley, director of the GTM Research Reserve.

The rudder, which was the primary steering mechanism for a large ship, is 12-feet long and weighs over several hundred pounds. Archaeologists suggest that it dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century. Chuck Meide, director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, suggested that the burn marks near the top of the rudder could indicate it was lost during a ship fire.

The rudder was sent to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum in 2006 to undergo a conservation procedure that installed a system of tubes used to funnel a wood adhesive into the rudder to hold it together.

Now housed in the reserve’s Environmental Education Center, the rudder was returned to make room for a new maritime research and education facility at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

Future reserve plans include building an interpretive display near the rudder featuring a description and historical information.

For information, call 823-4500.