The mighty St. Johns River defines Jacksonville. Carving through the landscape, swelling and receding with the salty tide, its cadence sets the rhythm of life along its banks. The river often appears lazy on the surface, drifting along to empty in the great sea. Dive deep, however, and a swift current works silently, inescapable and treacherous, in service of an unknowable agenda. The city loves its river, the great driver of motion in an otherwise flat and still land. But the river’s gargantuan influence is both creative and destructive. Sink or swim, it is the river that decides.
The river’s claim does not always remain beneath the surface. Sunken refuse often pops up again among the marshes after weeks of swirling in underwater currents. Salvagers actively mine the river’s muddy bottom for logs that were cut and floated down river but never made it to port. The grim determination of divers willing to dig through 8 feet of mud has yielded a small quantity of artifacts from the Maple Leaf, a Union steamboat sunk in 1864 about a mile from where the Buckman Bridge now stands.
In the River City, many nautical items end up at Eco Relics, an architectural salvage company located a block from McCoy Creek, one of the St Johns’ many tributaries. From ships’ lamps to ship portraits, shrimp-boat hatches to pieces of the old Southbank Riverwalk, Eco Relics always has something to inspire nautically minded builders and decorators. You might even find Bill Cisco and the World Famous Drifters singing ‘Under the Boardwalk.’ The group recently delighted a crowd of supporters at the Paws for a Cause event, a charity fundraiser for First Coast No More Homeless Pets held at Eco Relics. So float on over to Eco Relics, and see what’s on the dock today!