2012-03-29 / News

Chief Dock To Be Torn Down Next Week

A construction company will take away the collapsed Chief Wawatam dock track elevator, probably the first part of next week, said City Manager Les Therrian. The company will add stone to the platform area to prevent erosion.

The city’s insurance company didn’t want to take on the liability of preserving the landmark, Mr. Therrian said, so he made the decision to have the elevator removed. City councilmen were aware of the decision, he said, although it was not made at a public meeting.

“We’re afraid something’s going to break and snap and could catch somebody walking by the dock,” he said. “Once you make the decision to leave it there and take the chances, that really leaves the city open” to liability.

The city’s insurance will cover the $57,000 cost of removing the pieces, and as part of the deal, the construction company will take the steel and wood, he said.

The counter-balanced wood structure raised and lowered the railroad track apron to the deck of the Chief Wawatam and Sainte Marie to facilitate loading and unloading rail cars. The elevator, last used in 1984 when the Chief was laid up at Mackinaw City, collapsed Wednesday, August 3, 2011, shortly before the 100th anniversary of the ship’s first arrival in St. Ignace. Following its collapse, concerned citizens petitioned the city to preserve it and made grassroots efforts to restore it.

At its August 15 meeting, the city council unanimously resolved “to attempt to preserve and restore the structure.”

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