Sugar Mills of Florida

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There are at least 14 historic sugar mills ruins in Florida, many of which are protected and managed by state and federal agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's park system, and the National Park Service. These mill structures are built of coquina, tabby, or limestone, and have been adversely impacted by long-term environmental and human degradation factors. The physical and chemical weathering of the stone is caused by direct contact with atmospheric conditions. Annual visitors also create additional wear and stresses on the structures, the surrounding park grounds, and the overall infrastructure. Previous attempts at repair or renovation have, in some cases, caused problems for the buildings. For example, re-pointing, or the renewing of mortar joints in masonry construction, had been done in many cases using Portland cement and other materials that have proven to be problematic for the preservation and integrity of the structure. Detailed baseline data that accurately documents the physical conditions of the facilities are crucial when making evaluations. The University of South Florida, under the direction of Principal Investigators Drs. Lori Collins and Travis Doering, have been utilizing 3D laser scanning and imaging technologies to document a number of these fragile and imperiled sites, including documentation of a number of the Plantation landscapes of which they are a part. These data and information can be utilized to promote practical and effective management plans that can identify, assess, and prioritize conservation and protection efforts that are critical to the maintenance and preservation of these historic structures. Their work has also proven useful in heritage tourism and virtual visitation areas, with a number of these sites not readily accessible except through these digital means.