Shrimp Boat City: An illustrated essay of St. Augustine’s connections to commercial shipping & boatbuilding

In the glassy reflection of the San Sebastian River, whispers of a legacy are all that’s left of a bygone era in St. Augustine, Fla., industry and innovation. But for longtime residents like Ed Long and maritime historians like Brendan Burke, the waters hold a story worth telling.  

In the new book, Shrimp Boat City, Long and Burke capture a century’s worth of commercial shrimping and boatbuilding on the First Coast. Through a chronological narrative and a collection of photos preserved by Long, a former shrimp boat captain and DESCO employee, the book brings to life a worldwide commercial industry built by local hardworking families.

“It’s the story of American ingenuity in a place that you don’t necessarily expect for it to happen—this sleepy little fishing village in Florida,” said Burke, an archaeologist at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. 

When the industry began to decline in the 1980s, Long decided to preserve the stories of St. Augustine’s shrimping history from the early fishing families to the boatbuilding innovators. Photos and stories collected by Long eventually shaped an exhibit at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum as well as the Shrimp Boat City book.

“As a maritime historian, we’re used to looking at things that happened 200 years ago, but this is a very recent part of Northeast Florida and St. Augustine’s history,” said Burke. “If you come to town today, you won’t know what happened because a lot of it’s been paved over and changed. But the locals like Ed really know the story and until it’s written down, it’s at great risk of perishing with those who lived it.”

Your purchase of Shrimp Boat City supports the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Shrimp Boat City is available for $24.95 in the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum gift shop and online

Proceeds from the book benefit the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to preserving maritime history and providing educational maritime programs. Visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum to see model shrimp boats, photos, videos and other memorabilia from St. Augustine’s shrimping past.

Click on the thumbnails below to view sample pages from Shrimp Boat City:

Shrimp Boat City Cover   St. Augustine Shrimping History St. Augustine Shrimp BoatsSt. Augustine Florida Fishing History St. Augustine Shrimp Boat City St. Augustine Diesel Engine Sales Co DESCO St. Augustine Diesel Engine Sales Co DESCO

Thank you to Ring Power and the Ringhaver Family 
for supporting Shrimp Boat City


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