The Two Harbors Edna G Commission received a report during a public meeting July 29 from AMI Consulting Engineers that explores the four viable options for removing the vessel from the water and one option for keeping it afloat. The options range in price estimates from $775,000 to $1.3 million.
Four options presented to the commission explore the removal of the vessel from the water to a display on land. The options vary in the methods used for removal, though all of them end with the tug placed on a concrete cradle.
Option 1 would use a temporary steel cradle to support the hull while the boat is lifted out of the water using a jack and rail system. The cost is estimated to be $955,000.
Option 2 also uses the steel cradle system, but the tug would be hauled out with trucks and comes with a slightly cheaper price tag at $860,000.
The next two options utilize a cofferdam — a structure that retains water and soil that allows the enclosed area to be pumped out and excavated dry.
Option 3 would allow the tug to stay roughly in its same location at the end of the dock, but above the water on a concrete slab built over the water. This option has a slightly higher price tag at $1.14 million.
Option 4 places the tug at an excavated shoreline rather than the end of the dock, which would reduce the price to roughly $775,000.
The last option explored in the AMI report details the estimated work and costs of towing the tug to the Fraser Shipyard in Superior and re-plate the entire hull. The report recommends replacing the entire hull due to the age of the vessel and its main support members and ribs. This is the only option included in the report which allows the tug to remain in the water and is estimated to cost $1.3 million.
In addition to the AMI report, the commission also heard two options from Stantec as to where the tug could be placed on land once removed from the water. Both sites would call for further waterfront development, according to the report.
To float or not to float
Now that the commission has received this report, it has brought back up the question of whether or not the tug should be removed from the water.
Commission member Hayes Scriven said he'd like to see more information on the costs of keeping the tug in the water before deciding.
"The AMI Stantec report was pretty focused on what it would take to take the boat out of the water and preserve it that way. It wasn't part of their original scope of work to look at what it would take to keep the tug in the water," Scriven said. "I’ve never been a fan of this whole process. I’ll just be quite blunt about that. It’s been looking at truly just one side. And I think there's more work to be done regarding options to keep it in the water."
Scriven said the nonprofit organization Friends of the Edna G is looking to consult with a local boat restoration enthusiast for estimates on costs involved in repairing the boat other than the hull replacement estimate in the report.
"We need more information on the hull and at what rate it's degrading before we make decisions," Scriven said. "And we need estimates on what it would cost to keep the boat in the water so we can do a direct cost analysis."
Scriven said he isn't concerned with the costs involved with keeping the boat in the water.
"My view is that money is not the problem. Because if you go into it thinking money is the problem, then you’re never going to get it done," he said. "We can raise funds and do what we need to do to get the tug fixed and preserved. There’s a greater community interested in the tug, we’ve seen that with our tours this summer. And I think they’ll support efforts to keep it going.”
Commission member Tom Koehler is focused on preserving the historic integrity of the tug.
“It’s a little bit like the old story where a person presents an ax to his audience and says, ‘This is my great-granddaddy’s ax. He built our homestead with it. Of course we replaced the head twice and the handle three times,’” Koehler said. “It’s not his grandfather’s ax anymore because no portion of it is the original ax. If we replace the hull of the tug, we’re erasing a considerable portion of the visible history of the tug, just like that ax.”
If the tug were removed from the water, the hull would be visible to the public, which Koehler said would tell the story of the tug.
“Every dent and ding and patch and tear in the hull is part of the tug and part of its history. If we eliminate that by completely replacing it, we’re defeating the idea behind preserving the original Edna G tugboat,” Koehler said. “So I am in favor of removing the tug from the water.”
He argues that the removal would slow the rate of degradation on the tug’s hull.
“There’s a reason the only option presented required the complete replacement of the hull. It’s no longer feasible to do patchwork fixes here and there on the thin spots,” Koehler said. “It’s most economical to replace the hull and that’s the most expensive of the estimates.”
One area where Hayes and Koehler agree is that more input is needed from the public before final decisions are made.
“There should be some kind of presentation made to the wider public,” Koehler said.
“That’s going to be the ultimate piece of it. What does the broader community want to see done with it? Because it’s truly their boat,” Scriven said.
The 110-foot-long tugboat was built in 1896 by Cleveland Shipbuilding Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. It came to Two Harbors later that year. The Edna G served Two Harbors from 1896 until its retirement in 1981. The city of Two Harbors has owned the tugboat since 1984.
The next Edna G Commission meeting is 7 p.m. Aug. 21.