The boat was originally constructed in 1932 by Pierce Harris and named after his daughter Myra. It was docked on property up the Oostanaula River but broke free and floated downstream during a flood in the 1940s. It was recovered and remained on a farm off Collier Road for nearly 40 years before it was donated to the Junior Service League.
Historian Bob Harris (no relation to Pierce), who was spearheaded the restoration, is hopeful that by the end of summer he will have a definitive plan in place as to where the boat will be displayed.
The Rome-Floyd ECO River Education Center seems to be the location favored by Harris and most of the volunteers. The idea of having more than 10,000 school kids a year exposed to the historic boat is exciting to Harris. The boat will never go back into the water, which is part of the arrangement made with the family of the late Pierce Harris, the original owner of the boat. Harris said he also hopes the boat can be visible from Riverside Parkway.
Jimmy Lovelace, who is related to the Pierce Harris family by marriage, said the work on the Myra H has truly been a labor of love.
"I think I have learned more about Mr. Harris in the cracks and crevices and the architecture of this boat than I ever knew face-to-face the times I was with him in years gone by," Lovelace said. “It's been a real education and an act of love in its own right."
Bob Harris said he anticipates that it could cost anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 to build a platform that will provide both security from vandalism and protection from the weather
A cadre of volunteers has been working weekly on the boat in a storage building on General Electric property in West Rome. They were hampered by extreme cold conditions during much of the month of January, but are back at work a couple of days a week since the weather turned for the better
Harris said that much of the exterior work has been completed.
“We have totally sanded and stripped the outside of the hull, the cabin area and put two coats of primer on there," Harris said.
Earlier this week volunteers were bleaching the interior walls to make sure all of the mold, the result of years of exposure to the weather at Lock and Dam Park, is eliminated before continuing work on the interior.
Once the interior has been completed Harris said the crews will redeck the bow (front) of the boat, something he hopes to accomplish by mid-March.
The paddle has also been pulled off along with the gear box. Beams that held the paddle have been replaced as have sideboards that run the length of the boat.
Lovelace encourages anyone who might be interested in volunteering to work on the Myra H to contact him by text at 706-844-2531 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.