Landmark Tugboat Demolished In Gulfport

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- "We're getting ready to move it. Tear it down. Time for it to go," said owner Lucille Moody, as demolition crews prepared to tear down the S.S. Hurricane Camille tugboat.

Moody is bittersweet about losing the 72 foot long landmark.

Long a popular tourist attraction, in recent years the landmark deteriorated into more of an eyesore.

"It's rusty. It's been sitting there for 35 years. And it was built in 1943. So, it's time for it to go," said Moody.

As friends joined her in a champagne toast, a growing crowd gathered to watch or photograph this bit of coast history.

The trackhoe made quick work of the structure atop the steel hull. Badly rusting metal was no match for the heavy duty steel teeth which slowly tore it to pieces. The tug that survived two of the fiercest hurricanes ever, offered little resistance.

"It's been a landmark. I don't know if people are going to know where they are on this stretch of beach anymore without the boat being here. We're going to miss it for sure," said Chris Fore, whose company donated the demolition services.

Vanessa Clarke worked in the souvenir shop for years. The crowd reminded her of days gone by.

"I don't know how many times I came out of the shop to get pictures of people in front of the boat. A lot of times," she recalled.

For local residents, this familiar tugboat became a symbol of strength against the storms. For visitors, it was a favorite landmark and photo opportunity.

Katherine Trimnal is a frequent visitor from Columbia, South Carolina. She called the demolition a "sad day."

"This is a landmark that I've always enjoyed seeing. Because I remember Hurricane Camille, and I just think it's a shame. I don't understand the need to destroy a piece of history like this," she said.

The owner says it's time to move forward.

"Hurricane put me in business and a hurricane took me out of business," she said.