Sidebar 17: Yulee Sugar Mills - Robin Denson

The Gulf Archaeology Research Institute (GARI) has a simple mandate: connecting the past with our future. To this end, the staff of archaeologists and scientists involves teachers, students, and the public in all of their research projects in central and Gulf coastal Florida. At the 1851 Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins State Historic Site, in Homosassa, Florida, for example, GARI archaeologists and volunteers documented the mill's boiler, wells, grinding machinery, and cane-processing kettles. They prepared a floor plan of the mill and pieced together the process by which cane became sugar at the innovative steam-powered mill that employed one thousand people at its height. Based on GARI's research, park staff better interpret and manage the site visited by more than thirty-five thousand tourists each year. Thousands of school children are also benefiting from a new Florida Heritage Education lesson plan on Historic Mills. They are learning about the technology, social issues, and traditions that shaped agri-industry in Florida. By exploring the impacts of farming and milling on the environment, they begin to see how the past has left its imprint on the present, and to think about what they will do about that legacy in the future.