Meeting Davy Crockett in person

When I was a boy, Davy Crockett was the “king of the wild frontier.” I would wear my own coonskin cap with a tail that snapped on and off as I watched Fess Parker on TV portray the man from a mountaintop in Tennessee.

Now, the name has a much different association. Davy Crockett is also the name of a barge (converted World War II Liberty Ship) that is being dismantled piece-by-piece in the Columbia River near Portland, Ore. This Davy Crockett is a derelict, and a dirty one at that.

Removing this decaying, dangerous deadbeat has become an enormous undertaking that has racked up costs to date of $16.6 million.

Tomorrow, I get to see the salvage operation in person. My contact at Ballard Diving & Salvage, the Seattle-based primary contractor for the salvage job, is meeting me in Camas on the north bank of the river. From there, we’ll get shuttled to and from the site by boat.

The Washington Department of Ecology has maintained a website with lots of photos and progress updates, so I’m already familiar with what’s being done there, but there’s no substitute for first-hand observation.

I’m looking forward to meeting Davy Crockett in person, but Fess Parker died last year, and I’m sure to be wearing a hardhat instead of a coonskin cap.

“Davy … Davy Crockett, leavin’ the big river!”

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

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