Following is the list of Newsletters since the opening of the AMM in early 2008. The formats have migrated from broadcast emails to electronic to publish in a monthly newsletter.

AMM Featured on WFSU's Dimensions

We are proud to have been featured on WFSU's television show
Dimensions, which recently produced a story on our paddle wheeler restoration!

Click the image below to watch the video.

Click here to read more about this project.

Happy Holidays!

Visit the Museum Gift Shop for outstanding books, jewelry, art, antiques, brass bells, vintage replicas, and a variety of nautical gifts!

Support the Maritime Museum while getting some holiday shopping done. We have unique items with new inventory arriving daily! A new line of t-shirts and hats featuring our fleet will be arriving soon.

View from the Bow:
Paddle Wheeler Restoration Update through mid-December:
Work continues at a Vibrant Pace

The Jean Mary is a paddlewheel vessel donated to the AMM by the legendary actress Debbie Reynolds. She was originally powered by steam and has been since converted to diesel hydraulic. The Jean Mary was originally hauled out to begin repairs in May 2012 near Jacksonville, Florida and has been a hub of activity since actual renovation work started in September 2012.

It has been a while since we last provided an update. We have been planning to be launched and at the docks in Apalachicola weeks ago. But, alas, we are still on the marine rail in Mayport pushing hard to get this fine lady into the water. Some delays were due to illness which, at one point, had over half of our crew out sick. Some were due to rain. But mostly, the continuing delays are due to the plethora of unanticipated difficulty in completing some of the more complex tasks. We continue to utilize project management tools to organize tasks by the functional areas comprised of Welding, Carpentry, Electrical, Electronics, Plumbing, Painting, Engine, HVAC, Rigging, Safety, Purchasing and Drawings/Schematics. We track each task through to completion, inspection and close out while we expand on task plans as new items emerge. The good news is that the work on the Texas Deck (paddlewheel terminology for the second deck above waterline), where the passenger cabins are located, is nearly complete. The focus of our efforts have now been transitioned to the galley, pantry and lounge cabins of the Main Deck, the railing of the Hurricane Deck (the open deck on top also referred to as the Promenade Deck) and the Wheel House. Work continues on the engine and hydraulic systems where all components are in place and we are testing and troubleshooting the new equipment configurations.

We continue to be blessed by a hardworking and enthusiastic crew and are very appreciative of the contributions of our volunteers including Lynn Spohrer, owner of the Coombs House Inn in Apalachicola and Danny Itzkovitz, owner of Tamara's Café in Apalachicola. Lynn has been guiding the interior design efforts of all cabins with the greatest focus to date on the passenger cabins. Danny has guided the design of the galley. Overall, we continue with approximately twenty five artisans active on the renovation efforts. Following are photos of crew in action. A couple of the architectural plans that we utilize to guide our efforts in achieving a stunning result can be viewed by clicking the following links: Galley, Pantry, Crew Quarters and Main Deck Plans - Appliances.

  • Calliope pipes installed onto manifold in preparation for testing.

  • Paddlewheel being put into place by a crane

  • Paddlewheel plank painting underway

  • Main engine being placed into engine room.

  • The 15KW Onan generator being moved for final placement into the engine room.

  • The 50 KW Cummins generator being moved for final placement into the engine room

  • Railing being installed on the Hurricane deck

Once launched, the vessel will make the 800 mile journey to Apalachicola by traveling down the east coast waterway, through Lake Okeechobee, and then up the west coast waterway before making the open water transit from Tarpon Springs into her new home at the Apalachicola Maritime Museum docks, where the vessel will be re-christened as the Samuel Floyd. When she arrives, she will be ready to begin river travel all the way to Columbus, GA in the fashion of historical riverboats that once flourished between 1827 and 1927. She will carry up to 12 passengers and offer opulent accommodations, extraordinary dining and an unparalleled educational experience.

After a brief settling in period, we will quickly undertake promotional tours wherein educators, historians, writers and residents of the river basin will come together to create a travel journal and video documentary to bring back a connection to the glorious age of paddlewheel boats upon the Apalachicola River in what we expect will become a new and emerging force of commerce and economic opportunity based on river life and travel.

To learn more about the history of the boat, click here.

Year End Giving

We need your help to support our many worthy programs. We are a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and your gifts are tax deductible.

Checks can be made out to the Apalachicola Maritime Museum and mailed to:
103 Water St.
Apalachicola, FL 32320

Or give us a call to use your credit card:
(850) 653-2500

Thank you for your support!

Student Boat Building Program Receives State Recognition

Click the image above to watch the boat launch video!

The boat building program is a collaborative project between the Apalachicola Maritime Museum and Project Impact. It has been recognized as a "Spotlight" program by the Florida Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Center. It is an opportunity for students to enhance and reinforce academic lessons, while also allowing them to learn new skills and discover new opportunities outside of school.

In October, Project Impact Director Faye Johnson and AMM's Wooden Boat School Director Ron Dierolf presented this program at the 2013 Afterschool Alliance Conference in Orlando, where it was very well received.

The AMM in conjunction with the Project Impact After School Program of the Franklin County Public Schools and Franklin County Charter School started this program in April. In this initial phase, the students constructed scale models of the pirogue at 1/6th of actual size. A pirogue is a small, flat-bottomed boat of a design that allows easy movement through shallow water. A pirogue has "hard chines" which means that instead of a smooth curve from the gunwales to the keel, there is often a flat bottom which meets the plane of the side. The pirogue is usually propelled by paddles but can also be managed with a push pole in shallow water. The vibrantly painted models created by the students were on display during the Antique and Classic Boat Show in April, where they were admired by many.

Over the summer, the students began the adventure of building two full-sized versions of the pirogue under the direction of Wooden Boat School staff. The students learned lofting techniques, the use of measuring tools such as tape measures, builder's squares and bevel gauges, and the use of hand tools including planes, spokeshaves, and small power tools. Mathematics including measuring, angles, and geometry were included in the instruction. This is part of our hands-on teaching approach that incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into the process of learning traditional boat building skills.

Concepts such as using geometry to evaluate symmetry are put into practical use using tape measures. Bevel gauges and protractors are used to measure and transfer angles from one component to another and the concept of complementary angles and bisecting angles is used to lay out cuts on the boat stems. The students learn measuring techniques and the importance of accuracy during the lofting portion of the project.

While the Pirogue is a simple boat with only sixteen parts there are ample opportunities to teach many of the skills used in building larger plywood boats, and more traditional boats. The mathematics, science, technology, and engineering concepts are not taught in the abstract but are presented in a "real world" environment where theory is put into practical use.

Our Wooden Boat School Director, Ron Dierolf, brings a focus on math and science to the program by translating traditional techniques such as lofting into mathematical equation solving. Ron is a retired engineer and teaches mathematics at Gulf Coast State College.

Click the thumbnail image above to watch a great video created by Royce Ralstad of Forgotten Coast TV, which shows the students launching their boat after successfully completing the program. The launching ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate their achievement and paddle the boats for the first time. It was held at the St. George Island Yacht Basin and was attended by Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, Sr., who called the program "a real blessing to the kids."

We are tremendously proud of the students for all their hard work and all that they accomplished!

The project began in April with the building of model boats.

The project began in April with the building of model boats.

Students then applied what they learned building the models to building full scale pirogues.

Students then applied what they learned building the models to building full scale pirogues.

View from the Stern: Maritime Music

by Research and Education Director Augusta R. West


A tourist from Georgia who traveled on a paddle wheeler from Eufala, Alabama to Apalachicola in the late 1800s noted an interesting cultural aspect of life along the river in the 19th century: the use of sea shanties, work songs, chants, contemporary songs, and other forms of music by deck hands as they went about their work.

The year was 1884, and the traveler was the editor of the Americus Recorder, who "having heard much of the beauty and comfort of a trip down the Chattahoochee River" set off with his family by train to Eufala, Alabama, where they boarded a paddle wheeler for a trip to Apalachicola. His journey was on the Rebecca Everingham, "the largest and handsomest boat on the Chattahoochee."

He writes, "The boat being loaded, the lines were cast off, and we moved down the river, the deck hands singing, 'Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye.' We early sought the comfort of our state room and were soon rocked to sleep by the motion of the boat."

The song he refers to is probably one written two years earlier by T.H. Allen:

The ship goes sailing down the bay,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!
We may not meet for many a day,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!
My heart will evermore be true,
That now we sadly say adieu;
Oh, kisses sweet I leave with you,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!

CHORUS [sung after each verse]
The ship goes sailing down the bay,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!
'Tis sad to tear my heart away!
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!

I'll miss you on the stormy deep,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!
What can I do but ever weep?
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!
My heart is broken with regret!
But never dream that I'll forget;
I lov'd you once, I'll love you yet,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!
Then cheer up till we meet again,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!

I'll try to bear my weary pain,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!
Tho' far I roam across the sea,
My ev'ry thought of you shall be,
Oh, say you'll sometimes think of me,
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye!

I wonder if they sang this song as the Rebecca Everingham prepared for her last fateful journey. Just weeks later, an electrical fire caused her tragic demise in the early morning hours of April 3, 1884. When her cargo of 350 bales of cotton caught fire 40 miles south of Columbus, Georgia, the boat quickly became engulfed in flames and burned to the waterline in just half an hour. Twelve lives were lost. This was among the worst river boat tragedies of the time, and the story was carried by newspapers from New York to the west coast. Click here to read the New York Times article.

Over 100 years later, the United States Postal Service created a commemorative stamp to honor the graceful boat and her passengers, and the historic steamboat era.

Paddle wheelers capture the imagination with their combination of power, speed, and graceful elegance. Upon her launch, press coverage noted that Rebecca Everingham "sits on the water like a swan." She was called "elegant" and "a model of taste and beauty."Constructed in Columbus, she was declared "perhaps the finest steamer ever built in the south, and is pronounced by river men to be the finest boat that floats south of the Mason & Dixon's line." Her state rooms were "elegantly furnished and carpeted" with "painting in the cabin so well executed that it gives the inside the finish of highly polished marble."

She had Brussels carpet and four chandeliers in the hall. One writer proclaimed, "We have never seen such a model of beauty in the shape of a boat."

But for all her beauty, she was also a powerhouse for transporting cargo and passengers, built with two boilers 16 feet long and 38 inches in diameter with five flues each. Her electric lights made"the night as light as day." Her stern wheel measured 13 feet in diameter and produced an average speed of seven miles per hour. She could carry almost 1,000 bales of cotton and 120 passengers on the crucial transportation network that was the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system.

This era of travel and tourism on the river will be resurrected in early 2014 as we complete the restoration of an antique paddle wheeler donated to the museum by actress Debbie Reynolds. Like some of those earlier vessels, our paddle wheeler will combine elegance with the best technology of the modern day. Passengers will be able to travel from Apalachicola to our campus at Chattahoochee, at the site of the historic river boat landing there, and onward to our historic sister city of Columbus, Georgia, the northernmost navigable point on the Chattahoochee River. We will also conduct coastal cruises, recreating historic 19th century routes that carried tourists to Carabelle, St. George Island, and other locations.

Stay tuned for updates on our progress. Be sure to like our Facebook page for all the latest news, and visit our website.


Photos courtesy State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, and the State Archives of Georgia, Digital Library of Georgia.

Some High Falutin' History

by George Kirvin Floyd

A tourist from Georgia who traveled on a paddle wheeler from Eufala, Alabama to Apalachicola in the late 1800s noted an interesting cultural aspect of life along the river in the 19th century: the use of sea shanties, work songs, chants, contemporary songs, and other forms of music by deck hands as they went about their work.

The year was 1884, and the traveler was the editor of the Americus Recorder, who "having heard much of the beauty and comfort of a trip down the Chattahoochee River" set off with his family by train to Eufala, Alabama, where they boarded a paddle wheeler for a trip to Apalachicola. His journey was on the Rebecca Everingham, "the largest and handsomest boat on the Chattahoochee."

He writes, "The boat being loaded, the lines were cast off, and we moved down the river, the deck hands singing, 'Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye.' We early sought the comfort of our state room and were soon rocked to sleep by the motion of the boat."

The song he refers to is probably one written two years earlier by T.H. Allen:

In the South one often hears "fair to middlin'" in response to a greeting inquiry of "How are you do doing ?" In a recent lunch meeting, I made such an inquiry of an acquaintance and received that response. Delving into the congenial response, I asked my friend was he aware of the source of this idiom. Perplexed he looked at me and answered "No, but I have heard it used since I was a child." I then had the delight of explaining the source of the phrase as having originated from the cotton era where the grades of cotton range from "Ordinary" at the low end to the premium grade "Middling". Within that scale "Fair to Middling" was the standard commercial grade that was considered of good quality. I had learned this years ago from reading the book with that name, Fair to Middlin', written in Apalachicola by Lynn Willoughby, about the antebellum cotton economy of the 1800s where cotton grading was a major part of the processing of the product between arrival by riverboat from the upriver farms and the compacting of the graded product with a steam powered press to allow for more dense loading of the densely packed bales into the cargo holds of wooden sailing ships headed for European ports to supply the burgeoning industrial revolution there.

Another member of our luncheon group offered another phrase from the steamboat era that probably originated at about the same time. His description of "high falutin" was that it had a connotation of very important or serious behavior and was born of the "high flutes (or whistles)" of the calliope atop the wheelhouses of riverboats. The calliopes heralded their arrival into port in order to let everyone, especially customers, that they were coming into port and ready to do business. A quick search of the internet yielded a large number of alternative origins including an interpretation of the flame emitting from the tall smokestacks for the boilers that were fired by wood. Along with the smoke there would often be flaming embers coming up from the furnace and out of the top of the smokestack. Those embers could and did start fires when they landed on the top deck or cargo. Tall stacks would give the embers a better chance to burn out before reaching the deck. In addition, the top of the stacks were "fluted". Fluting consisted of wire or steel mesh and acted like a small fence that would break the embers into small pieces. Smaller embers were more likely to burn out faster than larger pieces. As fancier boats were built, the fluting became very ornamental and eventually came to be considered an essential decorative element of the smokestack. Those vessels with the fancy smokestacks and decorative flutes became known as high-falutin' boats.

As our luncheon discussion continued we discussed much more of the "language of the River" which has survived since the time of the paddlewheel riverboats. This discussion took us back in time to a simpler, but much more precarious era when the Apalachicola River was the source of a vibrant economy and the city of Apalachicola was an international seaport. We continued to ponder the meaning of other idioms and if they could have originated from this time and perhaps even our river, the Apalachicola. In following up on our discussions, I continued my research and found a number of others included in the list below.

Blow Your Stack - Steam powered paddlewheel boat smokestacks would often have a buildup of soot inside. This buildup could catch fire in time, and needed to be removed. Lines were installed to the smokestacks with a valve. To prevent the soot from building up to dangerous levels a valve would be opened, sending a blast of steam into the stacks. This would break the soot loose and send it out the top. Meanwhile the smoke and embers would still be coming up the stack from the furnace. Added to that was the violent hissing and vibration of the steam injection, resulting in a rain of soot falling from the sky. Passengers would often think the boat was blowing up. They would also be unhappy to find the soot landing on their clothes and chairs. Many captains would warn passengers of the event so they could go inside, then deckhands would clean up the mess on the deck. During special events on the outer decks the captain would often be asked not to "blow his stack."

Hitting Rock Bottom - This is a very common phrase that is normally used to describe a person who is down and out. It came from fear of sinking among steamboat pilots when running aground. If the riverbed was sandy or muddy, there is little chance hull damage if an accidental running aground occurred. However a grounding on a rocky bottom was much more likely to cause severe damages and possible sinking resulting in a total loss of the boat and worse yet, loss of life. Gradually, anyone at the lowest possible point in life was referred to as having hit rock bottom. The perilous stretch of the rocky bottom in the Apalachicola River are at Blountstown where a stretch of limestone outcroppings dominate the river landscape from Alum Bluff to just below the Highway 20 bridge and another at Chattahoochee where a large limestone shelf with freshwater springs emanating during times of low water. An encounter with these limestone outcroppings would be a very sad event indeed.

Come Hell or High Water - When people use this phrase they are usually not referring to navigation, but intend to complete a mission or goal regardless of the challenges. This is a phrase that began in the early days of paddlewheel steamboat and still applies today. Low water periods made navigation very difficult. Running aground and striking shoals were much more likely during low water. High water was almost always preferred for running steamboats, at least until low bridges were built. For a captain to state that he intended to make a run "Come hell or high water" was to intend to go, regardless of the river stage. Hell, of course is low water.

Hogwash - Paddlewheel boats of the 1800s often included the transportation included livestock as cargo. One of the least desirable animals to transport were hogs. They were stubborn to move, noisy, and would emit a foul odor. The captain would often order a deck hand to wash the hogs to at least reduce the odor and messiness. Afterward, the mess left on the deck had to be washed off. This mess was called hogwash. The job of washing the hogs and deck was one of the least desirable assignments among deckhands. In time, any undesirable task given to someone was called hogwash. This term eventually evolved into meaning something that is ridiculous, useless, or a lie.

Letting off Steam - This term is pretty easy to understand, since its present-day meaning is similar to the original use. Steamboats built up a head of steam when power was necessary, which was then let off when it wasn't needed to prevent dangerous build-up of pressure and subsequent explosions. Letting off steam relieved the pressure. Letting off steam today usually means to speak out to relieve the pressure of holding it in.

Hit a snag - We all have hit snags in a project, meaning something has caused a delay or worse abandonment of an objective. This meaning evolved from another form of hazard river voyages. A snag is a sunken tree with one end protruding above or just below the waterline. A paddlewheel boat, or for that matter, any boat, an encounter with a snag can cause hull damage, sudden stoppage and even sinking.

As we consider these and many other commonly encountered phrases we are reminded that our maritime heritage is more broadly present in our lives even though we may not appreciate or realize it. When using the terms described above it is interesting to take a moment and and seek to imagine what they meant to the early paddlewheel captain, crew and passengers as they traversed the Apalachicola Chattahoochee Flint river during the early 1800s when it was the ONLY means of transportation inland. Moreover, to consider why these idioms survive in common usage today ... is it our subconscious spirit clinging to our maritime history and forebears, is it that these are still ever present challenges whether on the river or on the land and that a maritime twist somehow better explains the nature of matter, is it ... (you provide the answer !!) ...

Whatever it is that explains the ongoing common use of this language of the river, it is often more eloquent and ads color to our expressions. And upon introspection, it carries us back to hallowed antiquity to imagine what life was like as these terms came forth from a maritime heritage. Apalachicola and indeed, all of Franklin County, is a place rich in maritime history that leads one's imagination to conjecture a scene in the 1800s era port where wooden paddlewheel boats with their tall stacks sent smoke, ember and steam forth in majestic columns and where the sounds of a calliope announce their arrival in melody that could be heard for miles.

At the Apalachicola Maritime Museum (AMM), we provide a time machine of sorts. Through museum displays including running steam engines and working steam whistles that our visitors can control, to a civil war display with era weaponry, uniforms and other artifacts. From a wooden boat school providing local youth in the After School Programs light craft with boatbuilding classes to recreational programs wherein we work with students and volunteers to build boats ranging from a 12' pirogue to assisting in the restoration of the Golden Ball 45' , a leeboard ketch designed by L. Francis Herreschoff for the shoal waters of the West Coast of Florida. From lecture events spanning archaeology, history, ecology to excursions aboard kayak, canoe, catamaran, sailboat or ... soon ... the arrival of an 86' paddlewheel boat.

We are nearing completion on our total restoration of the paddlewheel boat Jean Mary. She was a gift to the AMM by Debbie Reynolds as coordinated by her son Todd Fisher. From a complete re plating of her steel hull to a complete renovation of those "high falutin" brass calliope whistles she will soon be making passage through the Okeechobee Waterway on her approximate 500 mile journey to her new home port in Apalachicola. As long as we don't "hit rock bottom" along the way we will "blow off steam" upon arrival and have a "high falutin" good time celebration. Stay tuned for updates on our plans to resume commercial riverboat excursions between Apalachicola and Columbus, GA and other local ports.


Knots to You

By Capt. Peter Burgher

Seamanship consists of a lot of things. Weather knowledge, awareness of tides and depths, chart reading and plotting, avoidance of shoals, snags, floating hazards, and more. But the skill that "buffalos" the most landlubbers is how to secure lines (note there are only "lines" on boats, not ropes). For starters, there are three basic knots that will suffice in most situations. If you can do these three almost with your eyes closed, you can get by anywhere.


The first is the ubiquitous square knot. It will hold no matter what and is easy to tie and untie two similar sized pieces of line, or the two ends of one line wrapped around something. See how the square knot is essentially two interconnected loops, with the free ends passing parallel to the fixed line. If this is not done, the result is a difficult to untie "granny" knot. The granny cannot be counted upon to hold securely, but it's a mistake most kids make when in a hurry.


Next is the clove hitch, good for only temporary holds such as around a piling or some other longitudinal object.  See how tension on the line acts to pressure the portions surrounding the tied-in object. Without continuous tension, the hitch will loosen which is why it is used temporarily in most cases.


Finally, there is the bowline knot. It has the distinction of being the most utilitarian knot in the sailor's bag of tricks. Even lineman, climbers, riggers, truckers, farmers and aircraft owners rely on this easy-to-tie, easy-to-untie and safe knot. But remember, a knot has only about 60% of the strength of the line of which it is made--so pick your line carefully. Practice making a bowline with the loop to the left, with the loop to the right, or even int he bight (middle) of the line. Do it until you can make one with your eyes closed, and it will never let you down.

There are hundreds of special knots for all occasions, but these will serve you almost wherever you go.


News Briefs

The Apalachicola Maritime Museum is working with Gulf Coast State College to bring the art and science of boat building to a wider audience in the Florida panhandle. Beginning in the spring of 2014, the museum will offer boat building as an enrichment class through the college. This non-credit program is open to the public as well as enrolled students.  While all courses will be offered in Apalachicola during the spring, consideration is being given to offering building at other locations in the future.  Our thanks to our Wooden Boat School Director Ron Dierolf for forging this exciting partnership with Gulf Coast State College.


Passengers on our tour boat, the Starfish Enterprise, have been enjoying recently installed updates including roll-up vinyl and mesh screen sides for comfortable cruising in any weather. Captain Pete Burgher at the helm.


The film crew from WFSU-TV led by Michael Plummer visited the site of our paddle wheeler restoration. Below, they are standing next to the gorgeous 43 whistle brass calliope soon to be mounted on top of the Jean Mary pilothouse. WFSU-TV's Dimensions' segment on the project can be viewed on our website.

In other news, our future museum Director James Anderson Floyd has been a very good boy all year, and got a well-deserved high five from Santa.  The photo below was taken on the porch of the historic Raney House Museum, operated by the Apalachicola Historical Society. The Raney family had ties to the port of Apalachicola's cotton economy, as well as the Confederate Navy.
Click here to visit their website and learn more. Santa said he's been having milk and cookies here since 1838.

Reviews from our Visitors

"A great vision and great results. Go visit the museum and see." - Robert S.

"One-stop-shop for maritime history on Forgotten Coast. Solid seafarers' library, wooden boat building program, restored Hereshoff ketch and tender, reasonably priced river/estuary/bay/gulf excursions, evening lecture series on local history, low country boils, friendly relaxed people." - Laura M.

"Fantastic...totally impressed." - Clay W.

"Awesome museum with a lot of history. We had so much fun. This is a must see for the entire family, especially the nautical or history enthusiast." - Jessica L.

"You have touched the heart of the community...well done!" - Mark P.

"I've been visiting the museum and going on their sponsored trips for about 5 years. I have never seen an organization more dedicated to showcasing the history of a region. Just touring the museum is the least you should do. Get on a boat and see the river! I can't wait for the riverboat to start making trips. A sailing trip on The Heritage is a wonderful adventure. And the staff is so helpful and friendly. My hat is off to the Director and his folks for their astonishing progress." -Larry B.

"Thank you for bringing such outstanding programs of history to our communities!" - Mel K.

"Just want to congratulate you folks on a job well done. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Top notch." - JR M.

Tell us what you think!  Click here to submit your comments and suggestions.