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Romans serious about protecting history of river vessels

March 24, 2017 GMT

Romans interested in the history of the local waterways are getting serious about efforts to preserve the old Myra H riverboat along with artifacts from the steamboat Dixie.

“All of our concerns are exposed to the atmosphere and they’re just not suited for that anymore,” said Dennis Norde­man during a meeting at the Rome Area History Museum to try to organize an effort to salvage pieces of Rome’s history.

The Myra H, a 60-foot long, 14-foot wide riverboat is sitting out exposed to the elements at Lock and Dam Park on the Coosa River. Parts from the Dixie, including the paddlewheel shaft, parts of the drive shaft and drive chain, are all sitting out completely exposed to the elements at an industrial site in West Rome.

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Nordeman has suggested developing a historic plaza at the confluence of the rivers for both. Robert Harris., who has been leading an effort to restore the Myra H, has favored a location adjacent to the Rome-Floyd County ECO Center at Ridge Ferry Park.

Both Nordeman and Harris agreed the first priority is to find a place where the Myra H and parts of the Dixie can be worked on in a protected environment.

Joe Cook, advocacy and communications director for Coosa River Basin Initiative, suggested the easiest way to handle work on the Myra H might involve building a metal carport over it and working on it where it sits.

Harris said the flooring and some of the lumber in the riverboat have rotted so badly that it really needs to be completely protected from the weather.

Jim Dixon, a retired Rome assistant city manager, said he had a couple of leads on possible locations to store the items, and Chris Jenkins, with Rome Public Works, said he could inquire about possibly using city crews and equipment to physically move both the boat and the Dixie parts.

Dixon said city staff was utilized to move the Myra H from Chieftains Museum on Riverside Parkway to the Lock & Dam Park more than 20 years ago.

A citizens group will hold a follow-up meeting April 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the Roma Area History Museum on Broad Street in downtown Rome.