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Effort to salvage and restore old riverboat gaining traction

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The effort to save the old Myra H riverboat from decades of weather-related decay is expected to make a giant step as early as the first week of the New Year.

The old 60-foot long riverboat built in 1932 by Floyd County resident Pierce Harris, was named after his daughter. It has been on display at the Lock and Dam Park off Black’s Bluff Road for years and has been suffering from exposure to the weather.

Floyd County Special Projects Manager Bruce Ivey said he has arranged for two companies to use cranes to load it up and transport it to a site off Redmond Circle where actual restoration work will take place.

Ivey said that Miller Crane Service out of Cedartown has agreed to handle the rigging while Taylor Transport of Taylorsville has agreed to provide the extra long lowboy trailer needed for the transport.

“Miller is working on a plan for his rigging to set it on a trailer,” Ivey said. “I hope we can schedule it for the middle or latter part of next week.”

The boat was based on property up the Oostanaula River but broke loose during a flood in the 1940s. It was recovered and remained on a farm off Collier Road for close to four decades before it was donated to the Junior Service League and moved to the Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home property. It was later moved to the Lock and Dam where it has been completely exposed to the weather for years.

Jimmy Lovelace, whose two step-sisters Kyle Vasser and Linda Studard were granddaughters of Pierce Harris, said his mother Beverly Chandler can remember riding on the boat and eating turtle soup.

Lovelace said the restoration plans — and cost — will become much clearer after the boat is moved inside on General Electric property and a more accurate assessment of its condition can be made.

“I think the inside seems to be in much better condition than the decking,” Lovelace said.

Ivey said at one point there was talk of trying to remove the old paddlewheel from the boat for transport. That idea was halted because of a question of the fragility of the apparatus and whether or not it would survive being dismantled.

That worry has been allayed because Taylor’s lowboy is long enough to transport the entire boat.

When the boat is moved, Ivey said he suspects it will be taken across the Coosa on the bypass and brought down Highway 20 to Redmond Circle with minimal disruption to traffic.