By MARY POLETTI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
WEST QUINCY, Mo. -- A river barge that has sat at the edge of the West Quincy strip since the flood of 1993 is in the process of being demolished.
Crews have begun tearing down the massive barge that was meant to replace the Mississippi Grill restaurant along U.S. 24. The restaurant was destroyed in the flood.
A.J. Getz of B&W Truck confirmed that the company, headquartered across the street from the barge, bought the barge a few weeks ago.
The company's plans are to scrap the barge and salvage what it can, Getz said. Weather permitting, the timeline for the project is roughly two to three weeks.
Getz declined to comment on who sold B&W the barge or what the purchase price was.
The Mississippi Grill fell victim to the worst Mississippi River flood in modern history when the West Quincy levee was breached in July 1993.
Before the waters receded, restaurant owner Thomas Turner floated the barge through the levee breach and into place where the restaurant had once stood.
His aim was to convert the barge into a new, larger restaurant, one that would be staked on the spot and would float safely in place, the restaurant's contents sealed inside, if the river rose again.
The project never materialized, but the enormous barge remained.
A tree grew through the middle of the barge for many years, and Turner in 1997 pleaded guilty to stealing a 200-year-old oak tree from county property and transplanting it to the West Quincy property.
The barge has become a fixture along the highway, a rusty reminder of the flood that changed West Quincy forever.
"It's sure been a landscape of our community and especially ties us to that flood," Getz said. "I guess, from my standpoint, it's kind of the last remnants of the ‘93 flood that we're dealing with. I guess it's the last bastion of putting that flood behind us."
Perhaps for the same reason, Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode said it's time for the barge to go.
"Actually, I'm glad to hear they're cleaning it out," Bode said.