Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And She Sets Sail … Bon Voyage!

I catch glimpses of the news each morning as I walk between my room and the bath, occasionally peering in at the TV in the living room. The Admiral was back in the headlines Tuesday because she was officially moving on.

She wouldn’t be under her own power; a barge would push her to Columbia, Ill., and a waiting scrap heap. She’d already overstayed thanks to rising river levels so workers began stripping away the upper deck weeks ago so she could pass beneath the bridges in her path.

I took an early lunch and headed for the riverfront. I decided to seek a perch atop the garage just off Morgan Street.

It’s hard to see much at ground level except through an occasional opening in a garage wall, but I spied a glint of silver reflecting in the baking hot sun. She’s still there! I hadn’t missed it.

I snapped a few photos and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

By 10:45, I decided I could run to a nearby sandwich shop and then resume my perch. That way, I’d at least go back to the office with something to eat!

I was encouraged by movement of the crane, that had been atop the now decimated upper deck, being moved over to the side.

More preparations were under way and her departure seemed imminent. Occasionally, a barge would go by, even though traffic was supposed to be halted. Then, even the Tom Sawyer paddle-wheeler, its decks lined with spectators, floated by.
Shortly after 11, after baking in the sun for about 40 minutes, I knew I had to leave and go back. Begrudgingly, I snapped a few more photos, threw the Admiral a salute and a wave and walked back. Back at the office, I dealt with a few tasks and then checked out a conference room overlooking the river.

I was delighted to find that I could see enough of the Admiral to know when it was moving. Even from my desk, careful craning provided me with a tiny sliver of the hulking boat. Then, she began to move. First, she pulls away from her moorings just opposite the MLK Bridge.
Then, she cruises beneath the historic Eads one final time.

At that point, the boat is extremely close to shore but soon begins to make a wide turn to put it out farther into the Mississippi. I gulp and tear up a bit as I get my initial firsthand look at the devastated upper decks, a place which had been the site of many happy childhood times.

The Admiral begins to straighten her course and then … leaves downtown St. Louis forever. As she glides from view, an era in both downtown’s history and mine ends.

R.I.P. SS Admiral

The Albatross 1907-1937

SS Admiral 1940-2011

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at Cliff Cave park today with my girlfriend enjoying the weather. We ended up walking a small dirt trail up to the Mississippi River's edge and staring back at me from across the river was an old childhood friend almost gone. Only 1/3 of her shiny body is left intact for now. It's sad that St. Louis could not save her. Anyone that still wants a final photo should visit her there. R.I.P. old friend and thanks for the childhood memories.