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Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center

1800 Weedon Drive Northeast

Saint Petersburg, FL 33702

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Adventures in Downtown Tampa Archaeology – The Lost Fort Brooke Cemetery and 100-Year-Old Love Letters to the Steamer Gopher

Eric Prendergast, M.A. RPA
Senior Staff Archaeologist, Cardno

Almost everywhere you dig in southern downtown Tampa, near the water front, there are some remains from the infamous military installation that gave rise to the town of Tampa in the early 1800s. It has long been known that Fort Brooke had two cemeteries, but only one of them was ever found and excavated in the 1980s. Recent excavations across downtown Tampa have focused on the hunt for the second lost cemetery, among many other components of the fort. While testing the model designed to locate the cemetery, a sealed jar was discovered, crammed full of letters written in 1916. The letters were mailed to someone aboard C. B. Moore’s steamer Gopher, while the ship completed it’s 1916 expedition on the Mississippi River. What were they doing buried in a parking lot in Tampa?

Eric is a transplant from the northeast who has only lived in Tampa since 2012, when he came to graduate school at USF. Since then he has worked in CRM and has recently served as Principal Investigator for major excavations in Downtown Tampa and for the Zion Cemetery Project, Robles Park Village.

Questions or concerns? Please contact the WIP Cultural and Natural History Center at weedonisland@pinellascounty.org


Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this class you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Prior to two working days before the class, please contact the Office of Human Rights, 400 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Suite 500, Clearwater, FL 33756, (727) 464-4062 (Voice/TDD).

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Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center

1800 Weedon Drive Northeast

Saint Petersburg, FL 33702

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