Some of my earliest childhood memories are from visiting the USS Olympia, the sole floating survivor of the Spanish-American War. It  has been a museum ship at Penn’s Landing for my entire life, and from the early childhood of my parents. I’ve taken almost anyone I know who visits Philadelphia to this ship. When Teddy Roosevelt talked about speaking softly, and carrying a big stick, the Olympia was the big stick.

I’m very distraught to hear that it’s time is very likely coming to and end because after decades of improper care, the Independence Seaport Museum can not afford the 20 million dollar price tag to fix all her problems. To me this is an icon of Philadelphia, and I agree with Wyatt hat we ought to be ashamed.

Where are the rich folks? A quality business jet can easily run you 30 million, not to mention operating cost. What’s 20 or 30 million to have your own late 19th century battle cruiser? Hell, I’d buy a 500 dollar ticket to take a cruise on that, especially if you let me blow the hell out of something with the guns. I’d hate to see this thing go to the bottom of the sea.

9 thoughts on “Travesty”

  1. I bought a $500 (well, nearly so) ticket for 20 minutes of B17 flight, I don’t see why not on the Olympia. 5 C notes for a evening dinner cruise?

    Lemme fire a broadside, we’re talking big money.

    I’m suddenly reminded of The Ayes of Texas. Time for PA to declare independence!

  2. The world’s oldest steel warship still afloat and one of only a handful of surviving protected cruisers in the world from the pre-Dreadnought era.

    I went aboard Olympia last year on a trip to Camden and the Navy Yard. The woodwork was beautiful and the volunteers very friendly and knowledgeable.

    If they want to reef a ship, why not the WWII sub sitting next to her? Free up some funds to save some history.

    Travesty does not begin to cover this.

  3. Different strokes for different folks.

    There is a bow, a stern, a port and a starboard. It’s a ship.
    I think we have so many conflicting museum demands. All this at a time we are losing VFWs and Veterans groups are dieing off.

    The city of Philly is broke, and obviously the moneys made on attendance in the past was squandered recklessly. That seems to be missing from the story.

    We can’t save everything from the past. And scuba divers need reefs.

  4. Hell, let Camden take it. They have done much more with their waterfront than Philly ever did. Considering its treatment of all things historical, Philly doesn’t deserve the Olympia.

  5. Dannytheman,

    I understand conflicting demands. However, the number of surviving, let alone still floating, 19th century steel ships of any kind is not a long list. If you’re going to make choices about what to preserve, I would argue more fervently for USS Olympia over USS New Jersey across the river in Camden.

    If Philly can’t keep her due to mismanagement, shortsightedness, etc, why not shake free a Congressional appropriation and have her towed to a different museum. I’m sure the USS Intrepid, Battleship Cove or the USS Barry in Washington DC could use a new berth mate.

    Hell, if I was wealthy, I’d buy her outright, have her restored and put her back on display and into service not unlike the John W. Brown and do tourist cruises.

  6. It will be a real loss if the Olympia becomes reef-fodder. If nothing else, as a sister (well, half-sister, or cousin) to the Maine, she ought to be preserved.

    I had not known she was in danger; Olympia has shown up on various documentaries often enough I know the ship (though not the location). A fascinating piece of history.

  7. All things are relative. Most corporations can buy a congress critter for > $50,000, senators go for under $100,000. Heck, BP bought a president for $997,000.
    They may think $20m too much for something they can’t park beside another corporation’s purchase.

    Agree that my Lottery Winnings would go to refit the Olympia. Which, of course, begs the question: Do we leave the original guns mounted or go with something more modern? “What gun for pyrates and drug smugglers?”

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