VIDEO: Archeologists find underwater remains of hospital, cemetery in Florida

Hospital was used to treat yellow fever patients at Fort Jefferson between 1890 and 1900, NPS officials said

KEY WEST, Fla. – Archaeologists made a historical underwater discovery last summer and now researchers are showing some of the findings in a recently released video.

Remains of a 19th-century quarantine hospital and cemetery were found submerged at Dry Tortugas National Park near the island of Garden Key, Florida in August 2022.

Video of some of the historic finds can be watched in the media player at the top of this article.

Park cultural resources staff, assisted by members of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center, the Southeast Archeological Center, and a University of Miami graduate student conducted a survey that led to the findings, according to a press release from the National Park Service.

“While only one grave has been identified, historical records indicate that dozens of people, mostly U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Jefferson, may have been buried there. The small quarantine hospital was used to treat yellow fever patients at the fort between 1890 and 1900,” the press release states.

Research has revealed that dozens of people were interred in the Fort Jefferson Post Cemetery. Most were military members serving or imprisoned at the Fort, but some have been identified as civilians.

One of those civilians, John Greer, was employed as a laborer at the fort and died there on Nov. 5, 1861.

“This intriguing find highlights the potential for untold stories in Dry Tortugas National Park, both above and below the water,” said Josh Marano, maritime archeologist for the South Florida national parks and project director for the survey. “Although much of the history of Fort Jefferson focuses on the fortification itself and some of its infamous prisoners, we are actively working to tell the stories of the enslaved people, women, children and civilian laborers.”

According to the press release, researchers are trying to learn more about Greer and the other people who were interred at the now-submerged cemetery.

Not all of Dry Tortugas is submerged. You can still visit the park, located 70 miles west of Key West.

“Dry Tortugas was established to protect the island and marine ecosystems of the Dry Tortugas, to preserve Fort Jefferson and submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks, and to allow for public access in a regulated manner,” according to the park website.

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