Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Maple Leaf Plaque Still Waiting in Storage; after Flourish, It Seems to Have Been Forgotten

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Maple Leaf Plaque Still Waiting in Storage; after Flourish, It Seems to Have Been Forgotten

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

The bronze plaque commemorating the National Historic Landmark status of the Civil War wreck of the Maple Leaf off Mandarin was received by the city with fanfare in 1994.

Then, like the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, it was rolled into a storeroom and forgotten.

A historic marker describing the sinking of the Union steamship by a Confederate mine didn't fare much better, stuck in a city warehouse on aptly named Confederate Street since 2002.

Now one of the men who led the exploration of the 1864 wreck wants the plaque and marker displayed as originally planned at The Jacksonville Landing, saying he's been very patient for a decade.

"They have had years to find the money -- 11 years for that one plaque, and it is still not up," said amateur archaeologist and Southside dentist Keith Holland. "I don't think I should pay to put up the plaque. I spent tens of thousands of dollars to make the wreck a national landmark. This the city's [responsibility]."

The city official who first received the plaque says he feels bad about the inaction surrounding it. But Joel McEachin, the city's senior historic planner, said funding wasn't available to install it. And even though the city also bought the historic marker to tell people of the wreck's history and location, the city's other historic matters took over.

"I wanted this to be put in a more publicly visible site near the Landing, securing the plaque to a decorative stone piece, then [have the marker] explain what the Maple Leaf was," McEachin said. "[But] things happen, you lose time and opportunity and realize, hey, we didn't do this."

The 181-foot-long Maple Leaf sank early April 1, 1864, when it hit a torpedo mine laid in the river near Mandarin Point. Fifty-eight survived, but four crewmen died when the ship went down with supplies for three Union regiments.

Holland and the St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions team found the wreck in 1984 under 20 feet of water and another 7 feet of mud, recovering thousands of artifacts like plates, cups, flutes, bottles and swords through 1994. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.