ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A St. Augustine memorial that honors 46 Confederate soldiers has finally been erected at its new home at the Trout Creek Fish Camp in western St. Johns County.
The memorial, which stood for nearly 150 years in the Plaza de la Constitution in the heart of St. Augustine, arrived 12 days ago at the fish camp but the cement where it’s now sitting needed to settle for the past week and crews were finally able to place it in its permanent position Thursday.
The journey from the plaza to the fish camp took four days and had to be undertaken carefully because the contractor charged with moving the 100,00-pound memorial wanted to be sure it arrived in one piece.
It will now sit in front of a pavilion on the fish camp grounds.
The contractor hired by the city told News4Jax another layer of concrete will be poured around the memorial Thursday to complete the project.
Crews still need to take the green beams off the top of the 30-foot stone pillar and plaques will then be placed once crews fill the bottom with dirt.
The property’s owner, Randy Ringhaver, also proposed a park and sidewalks so future generations can visit the site.
After contractors spent time carefully packing the memorial for the move, the journey began Sept. 9 with a three-block ride from the plaza to Avenida Menendez, where it was staged for transport on a barge the next day.
Jeremy Patterson, vice president of Progressive Construction, said the diesel engine transporter the monument was loaded onto featured 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 on Sept. 10 after a crane spent hours creating a makeshift ramp to roll it aboard.
While the memorial’s new home was 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 -- 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.
The trip was expected to take as much as 15 hours, but the delivery was delayed Sept. 11 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 that day -- more than 19 hours after it left the bayfront -- and docked west of the bridge because it couldn’t fit underneath to directly access 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 Sept. 12, when utility workers raised power lines to allow it to cross the highway and arrive at the fish camp.
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.
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.