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Volunteers work against time to save artifacts from Goldenrod Showboat

The Goldenrod sits along an Illinois river bank.
Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio
The Goldenrod Showboat suffered serious structural damage after being moved onto land last summer to protect it from the flooding Illinois River.

Volunteers have worked countless hours salvaging artifacts from the century-old Goldenrod Showboat that was once a fixture on the St. Louis riverfront, says Jake Medford, vice president of the nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association that’s been working to restore the vessel.

Crews have removed the grand light fixtures, mirrors and stained glass from the interior of the vessel and have until April 1 to complete their work, he said. The showboat will then be turned over to the owners of the dock on the Illinois River, near Kampsville, Ill., where it's been moored for several years.

“From there out, they will be in control of the vessel, and I’m not for sure what they’re going to do, but I do know that ultimately it will be scrapped -- what’s left of it, at least,’’ Medford said.

The group is putting the artifacts into storage, while they work on a plan to lend them temporarily to museums in the St. Louis area, he said.

The Goldenrod suffered severe structural damage last summer when it was moved onto land to protect it from the flooding river. But the hull of the vessel buckled because the ground was uneven. The group decided that repairs would be too costly and began focusing on preserving what they could.

“We weren’t able to save all of it, but we are able to save some of it,” Medford said. “It’s sad to see it go, but knowing that we’re going to save part of it is all worth it.”

The group hopes to eventually create a museum in St. Louis that would celebrate the city’s river history.

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