Surveying the Florida ReefIslamorada, FL – Keys History & Discovery Center Presents…Taming the Reef: The Coast Survey in the Keys, on Wednesday, April 14 at the Keys History & Discovery Center. Doors open at 5 p.m., presentation begins at 6 p.m. Lecture is free for all.

Join Historian James Tilghman as he discusses the development of the U.S. Coast Survey and its efforts to tame the Florida Reef referred to as the “great American danger to navigation.” Once home to an estimated wreck a week, in 1807 the U.S. Coast Survey was charged with charting the Florida coast and adjacent waters. Scarce resources and some earlier, not quite state of the art British charts of the area, kept work from being done in the Keys, and was further challenged by the lack of day marks and poor lighting.

A breakthrough came in 1848 when, as a result of the Second Seminole War, a growing desire to drain the Everglades and some deft political maneuvering by Alexander Bache, the Coast Survey’s superintendent at the time, the Survey was able to do some reconnaissance in the Keys and ultimately procure the funding needed to chart the area.

Tilhman will explore the nearly four decades of work by an eclectic group of men and how their labors resulted in charts so advanced they underlie what we use today; lights on the reef still operating; and day mark coverage we take for granted.

Lecture is sponsored by Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys and held in held in conjunction with the opening of Treasures of NOAA’s Ark, a traveling exhibit on display at Keys History & Discovery Center through February 2019.

Light appetizers and a cash bar will be available. Reservations are recommended and can be made at 305-922-2237 or

The Discovery Center is in Islamorada, MM 82, located at the Islander Resort. The Center is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $12. Admission for seniors is $10 and children 13-under are free. Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization operating the Keys History & Discovery Center.

For more information, call 305-922-2237 or contact us.