by: Leslie Coursey Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The original site of the lost fort may have been found in the same area of a major port expansion project. State Rep. Lake Ray said the mystery of Fort Caroline is something that's fascinated him and his son for years.
The fort was destroyed centuries ago. And while its original site was always believed to be in Jacksonville, no one has ever found it, until now.
"We started looking and saw something that no one had ever seen before and it was the image of the fort," said Ray.
He started pulling out maps, taking measurements, and after some serious study, he said he's found the lost fort west of Mayport and east of St. Johns Bluff -- somewhere in the vicinity of the navigational hazard known as Mile Point.
"I really just think that's kind of minor issue," he said.
The Army Corps of Engineers is working to fix the hazard that limits the time large ships can come and go from Jaxport. Once that project is complete, it has the potential to bring thousands of new jobs to the city. The Corps said it's moving forward until the fort's discovery is more than just speculation.
"Shouldn't affect it," said Ray. "It's an exciting find, and exciting opportunity."
Craig Morris, with the National Park Service, agrees finding the site of the actual fort would be significant.
"It's somewhere out there," he said.
He teaches its history at the national park in Arlington. He said it was an area settled by French Protestants to escape religious persecution.
"They wanted the American dream back 450 years ago," Morris said.
"If Fort Caroline was not here, there would be no St. Augustine," said Ray.
Ray said archeological studies will begin soon.
He also said the site sits on federal property. Tampering with it could result in a felony charge.