“Navigating Tampa Bay's Maritime Past"
For over a thousand years, an ancient dugout canoe lay buried under mangrove peat near a shoreline on Old Tampa Bay at Weedon Island Preserve. Since its discovery in 2001, archaeologists have excavated, analyzed, and conserved this ancient treasure.
In 2011, AWIARE coordinated the recovery of one of the most remarkable archaeological finds yet known in Pinellas County. This was the excavation of the 40-foot long prehistoric dugout canoe from the shallow waters of the Weedon Island Preserve. Not only is this the longest documented prehistoric canoe in Eastern North America, it is one of only several in Florida from an open saltwater environment. Assisted by a large team of eager volunteers and with the generous support of the Friends of Weedon Island (FOWI) and the Hough Family Foundation, AWIARE successfully removed the canoe and transferred it to a custom built conservation tank on the Preserve. We were committed to keeping this significant cultural resource in Pinellas County where it belongs, and committed to putting it on public display in the Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History Center.
After three years soaking in a tank filled with a preservative solution, and after further conservation and preservation efforts, the 1,100-year-old canoe is now on display in an exciting new exhibit, "Navigating Tampa Bay's Maritime Past”. This is Florida's longest (40 feet) and only saltwater dugout canoe. The Weedon Island canoe exhibit will attract well-deserved attention and will form a lasting contribution to public education and awareness about Pinellas County’s rich archaeological heritage. Come learn about this amazing discovery and how it expands our knowledge of the prehistory of the Tampa Bay region at Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, 1500 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702.