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Broadside for a passing SUV.
Broadside for a passing SUV.

USS Water Witch (Gone)

Field review by the editors.

Columbus, Georgia

The USS Water Witch was a full-size, 160-foot-long recreation of an 1860s sidewheeler. It stood outside the National Civil War Naval Museum, which is devoted to the ironclad warships of that era. But the Water Witch was not an ironclad, because focus groups couldn't identify that an ironclad was even a ship. "We showed them drawings and they said, 'What is that thing?'" said Jon Ezzell, the museum's director of communication. "A bunker? A fort? A tank?"

USS Water Witch.
USS Water Witch.

The museum deep-sixed the ironclad idea, and instead had a Hollywood prop company build a Civil War boat that looked more like a boat. The Water Witch was unveiled with much fanfare in 2008. It was chosen because it was a Union vessel that had been captured by the Confederates. "It flew under both flags, so everybody's happy," said Jon.

Unfortunately, the museum soon learned that the prop company had built the new Water Witch out of untreated lumber. It began to rot, even though it stood on dry land. Over $100,000 was poured into repairing the ship, but the museum had to close it to visitors as unsafe in 2018, and then destroyed it with a backhoe in October 2019.

The museum's Water Witch lasted only 11 years, but that was still better than the original Water Witch, which had burned and sank before the Civil War ended.

USS Water Witch

Oct. 2019: Destroyed.

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