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.
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.
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.