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At what price progress? $14 million -- to raise a Civil War ship

May 07, 2012|By Richard Fausset
  • The CSS Georgia was scuttled in 1864 by Confederate forces to keep it from being captured by advancing Union forces.
The CSS Georgia was scuttled in 1864 by Confederate forces to keep it from… (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…)

ATLANTA -- In certain quarters of the American South, it's common to hear complaints that the remnants of the old Confederacy are an impediment to progress.

In the old port town of Savannah, Ga., the remnants are iron-clad, and lying at the bottom of the Savannah River.

The Associated Press reports that an iron-sided Civil War shipwreck, the CSS Georgia, is getting in the way of a major plan to deepen Savannah's port, a $653-million project that will help Georgia capitalize on the huge cargo ships that will pass through an upgraded Panama Canal in the next couple of years.

The ship, the CSS Georgia, was sunk in 1864 by Confederate forces to keep it from being captured by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, whose Yankee forces captured Savannah in December 1864.

The AP's Russ Bynum reports that the Army Corps of Engineers will head up a plan to raise the Georgia, at a cost of $14 million to taxpayers. Personal effects from the era may still be on board. So could live explosives that run the risk of blowing up.

Proponents of the deepening project say it will benefit Georgia's economy. Environmentalists fear the dredging will harm freshwater wetlands and threaten the city's drinking water supply.

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richard.fausset@latimes.com

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