Early Work

In the late 1970's a few local Jacksonville citizens became interested in locating historic archaeological sites. Their goal was to find an undisturbed site with internal integrity. It soon became apparent to the group that an underwater site held the best possible chance for these conditions. Observing the fine condition of old pilings pulled from the St. Johns River, the group further concluded that riverine mud offered good preservation qualities. It also served to discourage looters and collectors that have impacted terrestrial sites and many easily accessible shipwreck sites. By 1980 an intensive literature search was underway to document the locations of vessels sunk in the river and determined if they had been salvaged, destroyed, or removed. Each vessel was evaluated by type and the cargo it carried in order to ascertain its historical significance. The field of candidates slowly dwindled leaving the Maple Leaf as the most likely prospect to contain the site integrity the group desired (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992).