What are coquina and tabby?

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The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida, stands sentinel over Matanzas Bay. The coquina structure remains sturdy after three centuries. (Photo credit: iStock Getty Images)

The Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument in St. Augustine, Florida, stands sentinel over Matanzas Bay. The coquina construction stays sturdy after three centuries.

Gazebo and oak tree at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. Photo courtesy Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

The pure coquina outcroppings at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park close to Palm Coast, Florida, are among the many largest on the Atlantic Coast. Credit score: Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Almost each youngster who’s performed on the seaside has constructed a easy sand fort by making a turret
with an upturned bucket of sand. Others, extra elaborate (and sometimes constructed with assist from an
formidable guardian), boast a number of buildings surrounded by moats and rivers that ebb and movement
with the movement of ocean waves.

However do you know that close to St. Augustine, Florida — the nation’s oldest metropolis — there exists an
precise “fort” manufactured from sand? Positioned on 20.5 acres on the western shore of Matanzas Bay, the
Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument is the oldest (circa 1695) and largest masonry fort in
the continental United States.

The Castillo’s masonry, or stonework, is basically comprised of coquina (Spanish for “small
shells”) — a pure concrete derived from the ocean. Coquina is a uncommon type of limestone
composed of the shell fragments of historical mollusks and different marine invertebrates, which, over
time, are glued collectively by dissolved calcium carbonate within the shells. Coquina can be the title of
a typical tiny clam discovered all over the place on Florida seashores. Their shells, which are available in
numerous colours, are mirrored within the Castillo’s muted hues.

As a constructing materials, coquina is light-weight, simple to seek out (it’s indigenous to the Florida coast),
simple to make use of, and practically indestructible. Not solely is coquina bullet-proof, it’s nearly cannon-ball-
proof! Resulting from its plentiful microscopic air pockets, coquina is definitely compressed. In days gone, cannon
balls fired on the Castillo merely lodged in its partitions. Which, one supposes, is why the previous fort nonetheless
stands after 300 years.

Among the finest locations to see coquina in its pure state is Washington Oaks Backyard State Park
close to Palm Coast, Florida, about 30 miles south of St. Augustine. The park’s picturesque coquina
outcroppings are among the largest on the Atlantic Coast.

A associated constructing materials is tabby, typically referred to as coastal concrete, which is mainly artifical
coquina. Tabby consists of the lime from burned oyster shells combined with sand, water, ash,
and different shells. Way back to the 1600s, Spanish and English settlers used tabby to construct their
properties and different buildings, and to pave their roads, all through the coastal Carolinas, Georgia,
and Florida.

Many tabby buildings nonetheless stand as we speak, together with Georgia’s Fort Pulaski close to Savannah and the
R.J. Reynolds mansion on Sapelo Island. These historic buildings, amongst many others, are
testomony to each the ingenuity of early Individuals and the untold bounty of the ocean.

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