FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The infamous “Museum Houseboat” is no longer an eyesore to Lake Lanier visitors.
The Lake Lanier Association in coordination with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Forsyth County removed and demolished the boat Feb. 27.
After the abandoned ship was declared debris by the Corps, funds were allocated by the state specifically for abandoned vessel removal along with matching money from the county. This is the third vessel the groups are getting rid of with those funds and the first in Forsyth.
This process started about a year ago, according to Lake Lanier Association Executive Director Joanna Cloud.
Due to the fragility of the boat, the terrain surrounding it and low lake levels, the extraction was land-based.
“At one point this vessel sank in the cove when there was a little more water,” Cloud said. “Then someone came out and floated it and set it up on shore. The actual vessel owner got a federal judgement against that person to rectify the situation. But the owner then left and the houseboat went into foreclosure and has been sitting here for years.”
The judge ordered the owner to reimburse the man who moved the boat, but did not tell the owner to get rid of the boat. So after years of sitting on the shore, the ship was dubbed the “Museum Houseboat” as it became a local attraction for people camping at the nearby Baldridge Campground, Cloud said.
But with time and neglect, it became a hazard both for children who liked to play in it and for water quality.
“This is public land,” Cloud said. “Imagine someone leaving a big piece of litter, which is what this is. When the lake levels are higher and the boat is in the water, it leaks contaminants like oil and gasoline into the lake. That is floating into our drinking water. It’s not just harmful for us drinking the water, but also the critters and plant life in the lake.”
Neighbors are also happy to see the shoreline blemish removed. Bruce Warmbrod has lived on the lake since 2001. His house has a direct view of the dilapidated houseboat and shares a shore.
“It’s nice to see it gone. It was almost a novelty,” Warmbrod said. “We were worried about children swimming around it as it became sort of an attraction. There are all kinds of sharp objects and ways to get stuck.”
Warmbrod said he was happy when the boat was moved onto the shore and out of the water, but then it sat there for years.
“It’ll be good to get it out of here,” he said. “It doesn’t belong. We’re looking forward to it being gone.”