Ancient canoe preserved for future generations - FOX 13 News

Ancient canoe preserved for future generations

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WEEDON ISLAND (FOX 13) -

Under a black tarp is a key piece of Weedon Island history that is being brought back to life.

"This first section here is probably the most intact," said Dr.Robert Austin with the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education.

Four sections of a 40-foot canoe dating back a thousand years ago are submerged in a murky diluted wax substance.

"The wax penetrates the wood and fills up the pores," Dr. Austin said.

Austin and other volunteers are restoring the canoe. He said the wax will keep it from collapsing.

"It's not over-technical, but it does take some attention," he said.

The canoe is the first one found in salt water and the longest one discovered in Florida.

Harry Koran stumbled upon it in 2001, and ten years later it was dug up. Since 2011, it's been soaking in the liquid mixture.

"There are probably going to be others found someday, but at least we can say we were the first," said Dr. Austin.

The group plans to have the canoe finished and put on display at the Weedon Island Cultural Center by late next year, but they still have a long way to go.

"It takes a long time for the preservative material to soak into that wood and to dry," he said.

In fact, it will take six months to dry. Leaving some to reflect on it's history.

"We're just another generation passing through, and I feel a connection to them when I see that artifact," said Bill Dotterer, a volunteer at the center.

Doctor Austin and the other volunteers are excited and on edge as they put the pieces of history back together.

"There is going to be a certain amount of nervousness to make sure it is intact and will not fall apart on us. I don't think it will," Austin said.

The preservation of the canoe will end up costing about $30,000. It is being funded by Friends of Weedon Island and other organizations.

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