KAMPSVILLE, IL (KTVI) – The historic Goldenrod Showboat may be headed for the scrap heap.
After decades entertaining riverfront visitors in St. Louis and St. Charles, the 104-year-old boat will be sold Saturday to the highest bidder.
“It’s really in bad shape right now,” said Jacob Medford, 22, who lives in Jerseyville but has been volunteering to look after the boat, which is docked in Kampsville, Illinois, about 40 miles north of Alton, Illinois.
The Goldenrod Showboat has had a lot of owners, but these days it belongs to the Historic Riverboat Preservation Association, a not-for-profit group which has been trying, unsuccessfully to raise the money needed to restore the boat.
The problem is the group also does not have the money needed to pay the almost $70,000 in storage fees and other expenses owed to the owners of Pool 24, the dock where she has been parked since 2003.
So by court order, the Goldenrod will be sold to the highest bidder to help pay off that debt.
“I have been interested in this boat since 1974,” said Bob King, a retired theater technician who has come from his home in Whittier, California to place a bid.
“I want to make it happens like it is supposed to happen. It’s a showboat. It’s designed to do shows and I want it to travel (on the) 3,000 miles of inland waterways,” King said.
But with so much money owed to the owners of the dock, they may be bidding as well, saying while they would like to see someone save the Goldenrod, they would likely sell it for scrap.
“We are prepared to do whatever we’ve got to do with it to get our money back out of it,” said Ervin Oberjohann , co-owner of Pool 24. “We’ve got a lot of money sunk into this thing.”
In the meantime, Medford has gathered 300 signatures on a petition begging all the parties involved to find a way to save the Goldenrod.
“It’s not just the wood and steel, it`s the history behind it,” Medford explained.
As for Bob King, he says he’s using the equity in his house to bid on the boat. How much that is he will not say and whether it will be enough to win he does not know, “As my mother used to say when I wanted to do something she wasn’t sure of, ‘We’ll see honey.’”
Supporters had hoped the Goldenrod might be spared because it is a designated National Historic Landmark. The regional director of the Department of the Interior has written to the judge asking him to encourage whoever buys the boat to restore it.
The auction will be held at 11:00am Saturday.