Saturday, October 2, 2010

Maritime History Conference Report, Day Two

Thankfully, everyone really enjoyed my presentation today. I was followed by Sarah Watkins-Kenney with the QAR Conservation Lab. Her presentation wasn't really news to me, but I enjoyed looking at some of the photographs she showed. The final presentation was from ECU graduate student Theresa Hicks discussing an early 18th century plantation landing site along the Cashie River in Bertie County, which is the focus of her thesis research. I'm not too big on archaeological survey presentations, but she did a pretty good job and shared some interesting information. I also enjoyed a conversation with Dr. William Still this morning. Anyone who studies maritime history in North Carolina, particularly in the Civil War era will be familiar with Dr. Still. When, at the conclusion of my presentation, he said he wanted to speak with me, I thought I had really gotten something wrong. Turns out he wanted to talk about a totally unrelated issue involving his forthcoming book on North Carolina shipbuilding.

After the presentations we were given a special tour of the almost-but-not-quite-finished North Carolina History Education Center at Tryon Palace. Words cannot describe this place adequately. It is an absolutely gorgeous and ground breaking facility. The official opening is October 21 and I encourage all of you to go see this place soon afterward. Ticket prices are not cheap, but I think the experience will be worth the cost. That being said, they have a WHOLE LOT OF WORK to do for that place to be opened in three weeks.

All in all it was a very enjoyable conference. Dr. Craig Symonds' keynote address last night was wonderful. He was engaging, smart, funny, and very easy going. As the conference chairman said, he made the time melt away. We didn't even realize how late it was when we got out of there (almost 10 p.m.). Of course, there were things that were less interesting to me, but that's the case with most any conference. For a small organization with few members and little funding, the NC Maritime History Council did a great job putting this conference together and I would encourage anyone interested in maritime history to attend future conferences. Next year's conference will be either in Wilmington or somewhere on the Outer Banks.

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