History and Culture

Lighthouse JPC

Home to abundant and rare wildlife and providing many recreational opportunities, the St. Marks NWR also encompasses and manages significant cultural resources. The mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats. This includes protecting, conserving and interpreting many important national cultural resources.

Mission of Cultural Resources at St Marks NWR

  • To professionally manage the cultural resources at St Marks NWR though identification, protection, conservation, and interpretation.
  • Educate the public about the delicate balance between man and nature by highlighting the historical benefits of wildlife and the importance of wildlife to the development of culture.


  1. The refuge is home to the St. Marks Lighthouse, which was built in 1842 (present tower) and has weathered over 100 storms.
  2. The "St. Marks Lighthouse" is a slideshow, originally given at the 2005 annual meeting of the Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA). It chronicles the 175 year history of St. Marks most recognized structure.
  3. "Build A Lighthouse Lamp" is a classroom activity for teachers explaining how early lighthouse lamps in the United States used properties of light to make a brighter navigational beacon. Students assist in making a model of an early lighthouse lamp using mirrors and lenses.
  4. Timeline: Archeological and historic sites recount the activities of humans in the refuge area from 12, 000 years ago to the present.
  5. The maritime history of Apalachee Bay is surveyed in a PowerPoint program "Navigating the Gulf" designed especially for teachers. Images, photographs and maps document the colorful coastal history of this area.

History Trail

In order to fulfill some of the goals the refuge listed in their Comprehensive Conservation Plan, the St. Marks Refuge Association received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to produce and install a series of interpretive signs and informational brochures about some of the resources. The brochures were compiled and edited by Refuge staff and volunteers. Additional assistance was provided by the Florida Division of Historical Resources, Bureau of Archaeological Research, the Wakulla County Historical Society, State Archives of Florida, Mays Leroy Gray, TexasBeyondHistory.net, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, and The University of Texas at Austin.

 History and Cultural Signs
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
      Location Historical Site G P S
( of sign)
1 Wakulla Beach Wakulla Beach Hotel
   West Goose Creek Seineyard    
N 30° 6.316'
   W 84° 15.703'   
2 Port Leon Rd. (near Visitor Center) Port Leon N 30° 9.099'
W 84° 8.892'
3 East River Pool CCC
Salt Works
N 30° 7.797'
W 84° 8.710'
4 Mounds Station Shell Mounds
Naval Stores
N 30° 5.282'
W 84° 9.869'
5    St. Marks Lighthouse    Lighthouse
Ft. Williams
Spanish Hole Shipwreck   
N 30° 4.658'
W 84° 10.955'
6 Mandalay Road Aucilla River N 30° 6.985'
W 83° 58.769'

USFWS Cultural Resources Program Overview

The mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats. This includes protecting, conserving and interpreting many important national cultural resources. Over 11,000 archaeological and historic sites have been identified on Fish and Wildlife Service lands including: the Battle of Midway National Memorial, southwest pueblo sites, a Civil War-era plantation, and lighthouses along the New England and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Studying cultural resources furnishes valuable data of environmental changes over thousands of years contributing directly to the Service's primary mission of managing wildlife and natural landscapes.

Definition: "Cultural resources are both physical manifestations and intangible values that connect us to our past, providing the means to study and reflect upon the events and processes that have shaped our nation, our communities and ourselves."

Value of Cultural Resources:

  • Scientific Information: Archaeological sites provide information about changes in vegetation patterns, wildlife populations, climate, and historic uses of the land by humans.
  • Interpretive Opportunities: Cultural resource interpretation programs explore the interaction of humans with their natural environment and the changes to landscapes over time.
  • Cultural Identity: In many refuges the Service protects and manages cultural resource sites that are important to adjacent communities and Indian tribes.

For more information on Cultural resources at the National wildlife Refuges see http://www.fws.gov/refuges/cultural/why.html.