LISTEN LIVE

St. Augustine

Lore had it that the SS Cotopaxi was swallowed by the infamous Bermuda Triangle after the steamship, and all 32 crew members on board, inexplicably vanished in 1925.

In the sci-fi film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, aliens are responsible for the ship's disappearance.

But a team of divers has identified the ship and debunked the fictions, theories and conspiracies that emerged over the years. And unlike in Close Encounters, the ship wasn't found in the Gobi desert, but rather 35 miles off St. Augustine in Florida.

The country's first Thanksgiving actually took place in Florida, 56 years before the one in Massachusetts with the Pilgrims. Speaking to Robin Sussingham, host of The Zest podcast, historian Rodney Kite-Powell said that Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés held a religious ceremony and feast of Thanksgiving in St. Augustine on Sept. 8th, 1565.

Police in St. Johns County are searching for a marker that had just been installed as a reminder of a lynching that had taken place on the site, off Shands Pier Road, in June of 1897.

Historic Markers Stolen from 2 St. Augustine Civil Rights Sites

Aug 9, 2018

Historic markers memorializing two sites important to St. Augustine’s civil rights movement of the 1960s were ripped off their buildings over the past few weeks.

Overnight Tuesday, a surging ocean pushed ashore a remarkably well-preserved, 48-foot section of the wooden hull of a sailing ship that could date back as far as the 1800s or even the 1700s.

J. Michael Francis / La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas

J. Michael Francis spent nearly a decade combing through thousands of scribbled notes, ship logs and dusty relics to chronicle Florida’s Spanish past. He hoped that one day he could bring that once hazy picture into sharp focus.

For the chair of the Florida Studies program at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, that day is Thursday, when the website, La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas, is formally unveiled. (Editor's Note: The website will go live 3/15)

Clyde and Corrita Warner came to St. Augustine on vacation from Louisville, Ky. They know their history.

"Well, I knew that this started before the Pilgrims landed and before Jamestown," says Corrita. "You know, this area was first."

St. Augustine treasures being the first — and oldest — city in the United States. So when the area around Jamestown, Va., adopted the title "America's First Region" a while back, the gloves came off.

On Florida's northeast coast, trams filled with families and school groups run constantly in St. Augustine, hitting nearly all of the old city's historic sites.

But down a side street lies an important piece of St. Augustine's history most visitors don't see, because it's only open one day a month.

"This is Tolomato Cemetery. It was formerly the parish cemetery for what is now the cathedral parish," says Elizabeth Gessner, who heads the cemetery's preservation association.