Almost in ship shape
By Tim Chitwood
Columbus' National Civil War Naval Museum slowly is recapturing the USS Water Witch, the Union warship Confederate commandos seized on June 3, 1864, in Georgia's Ossabow Sound.
The museum is building a replica from the waterline up. And when the ship's up and running in place, paddlewheels will spin, smoke will drift from its stack and sails will blow in the wind.
Built in 1851, the Water Witch had both sails and steam -- masts about 90 feet tall, a 5-foot-wide smokestack rising 40 feet from a deck that at its widest spanned 24 feet between twin paddlewheels.
Each side paddlewheel was 6 feet wide and in a wheelbox 25 feet tall. The ship was 160 feet long.
It's now taking shape again outside the 1002 Victory Drive museum. The masts and smokestack are up; the hull is framed out and filling in; the paddlewheels await installation.