WNRR Augusta (Press Release)
Museum to host 15th Anniversary of the reconstruction and launch of Petersburg Boat
Event to include recap and memories from crew members who took the 8 day voyage from Augusta to Savannah
Augusta, Georgia (11/7/08) – One hundred years after working crafts navigated down the Savannah River, a crew of fourteen took an eight-day voyage from Augusta to Savannah on a reconstructed Petersburg Boat. On Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 2:00 pm, a roundtable discussion will be held at the Augusta Museum of History to honor the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Christening of the Petersburg Boat, and will feature presentations and discussion from crew members, the boat builders and designers.
Project initiator and native Augustan, Mr. George Barrett, had a passion for the history of boats and a dream – to build a replica of the Petersburg Boats he heard of through childhood stories. His dream became a reality thanks to support from the Augusta Canal Authority and donations from area citizens and companies.
With no model to work from, and only a faded postcard from the 1860s, an 1875 photo of a Petersburg vessel docked in the Augusta Canal, and the account of J.P. Carson, a surveyor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who spent a year abroad the boats, Mr. Mark Newell, a historian at the University of South Carolina, used the same measurements and performance capabilities as the boats described by Carson to develop a historically accurate plan to reconstruct the vessel. The boat could carry the same load – up to 10,000 pounds of cotton. The vessel took three months to construct in summer of 1993 on the banks of the Augusta Canal, across from Sibley and King Mills. Draped with flowers, she was christened “Fort Augusta” and launched with the power of a dozen men and four mules in front of hundreds of people on September 18, 1993.
Newell, said at the time of the landmark trip, “This is experimental archaeology on the Savannah River. At the same time, its’ a celebration of the history of the river…it’s a way of studying how small craft were built and operated.”
The Southern pine boat is a reconstruction of one of the most successful designs of outland transportation ever on the Savannah River, which hauled tobacco and cotton between Augusta and Petersburg, a community located about 16 miles upstream, and Augusta to Savannah.
In 1998 “Fort Augusta”, on loan from the Augusta Canal Authority, found a home at the Augusta Museum of History and the artifact resides in the Museum’s permanent exhibit, Augusta’s Story, which chronicles 12,000 years of the region’s rich history, including the heydays when tobacco and cotton were king. Augusta’s Story went on to win Exhibit of the Year from the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries, the prestigious Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History, and the Georgia Historical Society Local Achievement Award.
Upon the anniversary of the monumental trip, Barrett said, “None of us fifteen years ago would have expected that today Petersburg Boats would cruise up and down the Augusta Canal daily, carrying passengers on guided tours. It shows how important history is in bridging the past to the future.”
Learn of the incredible three-month process of reconstructing the Petersburg Boat, take a trip down memory lane, and see “Fort Augusta” today. The Fifteenth Anniversary of the Christening of the Petersburg Boat is free of charge to the public.
Augusta Museum of History, the only Museum in the CSRA accredited by the American Association of Museums, was established in 1937 for the purpose of preserving and sharing the material history of Augusta and the region. From a 10,000 year-old projectile point to a 1914 locomotive, the collections chronicle a rich and fascinating past. The museum is located at 560 Reynolds Street in downtown Augusta. Please call (706) 722-8454 for more information or visit our website www.augustamuseum.org.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sunday 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm; Closed Monday
Admission: Adult: $4 • Senior: $3 • Child (6-18): $2 • Child (5 & under): Free