Raising the Riverboat - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Raising the Riverboat

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Twice each decade something rather spectacular occurs under the Grant Marsh Bridge.

"There's really very few people that can do it," says Tracy Potter, Director of Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation.

She's only about twenty years old, but every five years her underbelly gets exposed with the raising of the Riverboat.  Now that she's passed her Coast Guard hull inspection and has her new paint job, it's time for the Lewis and Clark to take her rightful place on the Missouri River.  "This is about the only crane around here that has the capability to do this for us," says Potter.

But lots can go wrong.

"When the boat hits the water, you have the possibility of the current taking it away from you and pulling the crane into the River also," says Chris Golberg, Crane Operator, CJ Crane Service of Mandan.  It's a stressful situation for Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, who owns the Riverboat.  "From the time you decide you have to take it out of the water, until the time you can put it back in and bring it back to the dock, it's always nerve-wracking," says Potter.

"I have to drop her down fast and make sure the straps go underneath the rudders, the current pulls the straps down, and then pulls it.  Otherwise, they'll get caught in the rudders, and then you got more problems.  Then you got to have a scuba diver to get them off the rudders," says Chris Golberg.

But this year, she landed safely.  The entire crew breathed a collective sigh of relief.  "Nothing went wrong," says Golberg.  "This is a great relief," says Potter.  

It only took these crane experts about 30 minutes to lower her into the water.  They made it look easy.  "We usually do," says Golberg.  

"Come on aboard," says Potter.

The Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation says this is the only public cruise on the Missouri River in North and South Dakota.  They'll be underway beginning May 17th, and will run all the way through September.  The Riverboat accommodates fifteen to 20,000 passengers each season.


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