ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A Confederate monument that stood for nearly 150 years in the Plaza de la Constitution in the heart of St. Augustine arrived Saturday at its new home at Trout Creek Fish Camp after a four-day journey.
The memorial, which honors 46 Confederate soldiers, was rolled from the Plaza to Avenida Menendez, about three blocks away, on Wednesday, where it was staged for transport on a barge. The journey down King Street from to the bayfront took about 90 minutes.
The monument was carefully loaded onto the barge Thursday after a crane spent hours creating a makeshift ramp to roll it aboard.
While the memorial’s new home is only 18 miles away from the Plaza by land -- about a 30-minute drive -- the decision was made to take the journey by water instead -- a 94-mile trip north on the Intracoastal Waterway, then into the St. Johns River near Mayport and south, past downtown Jacksonville and on to the fish camp along State Road 13.
Before the water journey began after 12 p.m. Thursday, the St. Johns County Veteran’s Council held a ceremony on the waterfront.
“It’s very important that we let everyone know that these veterans' lives were important," said Bill Dudley, chairman of the Veterans Council. "They’re important today to all the living veterans, and that’s our purpose for being here today.”
The trip was expected to take as much as 15 hours, but the delivery was delayed Friday morning because the crew opted to wait for daylight in the mouth of the creek before finishing the trip. The barge finally arrived just before 7:30 a.m on Friday -- more than 19 hours after it left the bayfront -- and docked west of the bridge because it couldn’t fit underneath to directly access to the fish camp property.
It took roughly two hours to unload the monument from the barge, along with the necessary equipment required to move it. That included a truck, a crane and a forklift.
Due to wet and muddy grounds, crews placed down steel plates and ramps to protect the 100,000-pound monument during the transport across State Road 13, which wasn’t completed until Saturday morning, when utility workers raised power lines to allow it to cross the highway and arrive at the fish camp.
And the journey still isn’t quite finished.
Crews poured concrete Saturday to hold the monument, but it still needs to settle, which will take several days.
The contractor said at the end of next week, the memorial will be taken off the dolly and placed in front of the pavilion before another layer of concrete is poured.
The property’s owner, Randy Ringhaver, said he will create a foundation to maintain the monument. He also proposed a park and sidewalks so future generations can visit the site.
In June, the St. Augustine City Commission voted 3-2 in favor of moving the Confederate monument that was built in 1872 in downtown St. Augustine.
Frederick DuPont Hopkins said his two great uncles were listed on the plaque next to the monument.
“William DuPont and Abraham DuPont’s names are on the plaque, the part that faces towards the river there, and I hate to see it moved, but I’m glad they’re donating the property over there to put it on Trout Creek," Hopkins said.
He said he plans to visit the monument at its new location.
“I have family on there, and they died at the battle of Olustee,” Hopkins said. “Thank God we’re keeping it and it’ll be back on display soon.”
There have been protests over the removal of the monument, but no protesters were out Wednesday for the first leg of the move. Spectators lined the streets and there was a heavy police presence.
The city said the move was expected to cost $236,000.
A statue of Confederate Gen. William Loring that was located feet away was also removed last month. The University of Florida, which owns the property where the Loring monument stood, relocated the statue to private property.
Before the move, contractors spent days securing the war memorial in an effort to protect the 30-foot stone pillar so it wouldn’t come apart when it was taken away.
Jeremy Patterson, vice president of Progressive Construction, said the diesel engine transporter the monument was loaded onto Wednesday features a hydraulic dolly system that drives itself via remote control. The monument -- dolly system and all -- was loaded onto the barge for the 94-mile trek by water.
Patterson’s crews spent time wrapping the monument up like a Christmas box to protect it for the journey. Clamps and support beams were also in place to reinforce the monument.
Patterson said the heat was a concern not just for his workers but for spectators who came out to watch the historic moving of the monument.
“We’ve handed out more water and Gatorade to people than you can imagine,” Patterson said.
Patterson said Wednesday that the monument was on 16-18 inches of thick granite, which made it heavier and a bigger challenge than they had anticipated. For safety reasons, the decision was made to use barge ramps to load the monument onto the barge.
“We’re saving history,” Patterson said of all the effort to carefully move the monument. “This thing is not going in storage. It’s going somewhere where everyone can enjoy it.”