Walking along the Delaware River in Penn’s Landing can be a wonderful experience. If you have an interest in boats or big ships, then Penn’s Landing is for you. Watching the local boaters, checking out the docks and Philadelphia’s famous Duck boats giving tours, visiting the Seaport Museum, seeing the Submarine Becuna, the excitement of dining at or would that be, aboard Moshula? And finally, seeing the grand Olympia ~ perhaps not even realizing that her fate is at stake, gives the river its history.
The Olympia, built in 1890 and launched in 1892 has seen better days. Talk of sinking her is in this river air. What a shame that would be! But neglected she is. Most ship of her caliber spends a portion of their lives in the water and then, out of the water. Dry docking is essential for the health of a boat, yet the Olympia has been sitting in the water since 1945! That’s a long time ~ time enough for a lot of damage to her hull to take place.
Apparently millions of dollars has already been spent in the care, upkeep, restoration and storage of Olympia. But it is not enough. History has it that hundreds of thousands of dollars were pilfered away from the Seaport Museum (the caretaker of Olympia and Becuna) by once Senator Vincent Fumo. He was charged and found guilty and is serving time for this embezzlement of funds. To read more about the scoundrel and how he duped Philadelphians, click here. In the meantime, what about now? Museum officials have sent out newsletters pleading her case, asking for funds to no avail. In hard economic times, we give up? Forget our history? I hope not.
A Little History on Olympia
How many ships that were built in 1890 are still around today, especially ships that served our country and the U.S. Navy during the Spanish- American War of 1892? The answere is one. Olympia is a one of a kind ship; no other ships were built like her. She was Admiral Dewey’s Flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay, thrusting America into world power. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, Olympia is also a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, and part of the Save America’s Treasures program (Philly Seaport). With so much history and so many titles, doesn’t is seem a shame to sink her? You bet.
A Solution for Saving Olympia
With all the vacant land in Philadelphia available along the river, wouldn’t it make sense to dry dock the old gal permanently? Clean her up at a fraction of the cost that it would take to maintain her soundness in the water, and make a museum out of her? Sounds like a plan. To simply “get rid of her” or “sink” her is unfathomable. Her historic records show that she is worthy. Visitors to the city, to Penn’s Landing in particular, would certainly pay a fee to board her for a tour. Perhaps a swampy parcel inland could be dredged out? A paint job could spruce her up and the money saved would be far cheaper than upkeep in the water. Not too difficult a task if the city is still interested in maintaining the history it boasts about so much, and a loving gesture too boot. A perfect combo for the city of Brotherly Love.