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Bill Young

Need Help with a Question on the Santa Maria

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I got an email a few days ago from a retired Navy guy who was stationed in Spain between 1961 and 1963. He said he took pictures of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria under construction somewhere in Spain. He was wondering if the Santa Maria displayed at the New York World's Fair was one of this trio.

I thought I had read somewhere that the other two replicas were built as well. But when I went to look through my stuff last night that I have on the Santa Maria, I couldn't find any reference to where it was built or if the sister ships were built along with her. I believe it is still docked on the riverfront in St. Louis.

Does anyone have any information about this that they could post? The guy is looking for an answer if we have one.

Thanks!

Bill

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I think that, as part of my tour, I mentioned that the replica of the Santa Maria was moored at the Worlds Fair Marina at Gate Two. But I don't know much about it.

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quote:


Originally posted by Bill Young:

I believe it is still docked on the riverfront in St. Louis.

Does anyone have any information about this that they could post?


Did some quick searches- the only info I could find was:

1) a storm in the St.Louis area on June 28, 1969, caused the Becky Thatcher and the Santa Maria to break loose from their moorings and go careening down the river. A later reference talks about the Becky Thatcher II being re-moored later that summer, but conspicously omits any mention of the Santa Maria.

2) a list of bios of major contributors to the Republican Party includes a wealthy St. Louis industrialist named Sam Fox (now the national RNC chairman!) who "purchased a sunken replica of the Santa Maria for $1 three decades ago, and he's been making a fortune from hidden treasures ever since." http://www.motherjones.com/web_exclusives/...400/23_fox.html

That's all I could find about the St. Louis Santa Maria.

There are also at least four later full-sized Santa Maria replicas, two of which were built in the early 90's for the anniversary of Columbus' voyage. The one on exhibit in Corpus Christi, Texas was built in Spain. The one in Columbus, Ohio was built locally.

There is also a full-sized replica in Barcelona, Spain, and the last one I could find a reference to is moored indoors at the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada!:

trav_big_mall.jpg

The Corpus Christi Santa Maria is displayed with the Pinta and the Niña, when the latter is not on one of its frequent nationwide waterway tours. These three were all built at the same time in Spain in the early 90's- so if you see a Niña cruising in your neighborhood, it's probably the Corpus Christi one, and not the Niña that the Navy fellow saw being constructed in Spain in the early 60's, which would probably be a sister to the NYWF Santa Maria.

Randy

[This message has been edited by c318137 (edited 01-22-2003).]

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A May 21, 2000 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch regarding Sam Fox included a tiny bit more about the Santa Maria-

"After various other business ventures, including the 1970 purchase of the sunken Santa Maria tourist boat on the riverfront, Sam Fox launched Harbour Group."

To this point, I still haven't seen any documentation trail showing that the sunken Santa Maria was the same one exhibited at the NYWF, or what Sam Fox did with it after buying it in 1970. It doesn't show up on any lists of current St. Louis-area attractions, or on the Jefferson Expansion Memorial website, where it was apparently docked (not at the website but the Arch smile.gif ) up 'til June '69.

Randy

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Whew! It took a bunch of searching, but I finally found the complete sad story of what became of the New York World's Fair's Santa Maria in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from July 5, 1998.

The article was discussing an incident the previous April where a unpowered gambling casino barge called the Admiral broke away from its moorings, sending 2,300 passengers on a wild ride down the river. The White Cloud was a 19th century steamboat which exploded at the St. Louis wharf.

Here's the portion of the article that explains what happened to the Santa Maria:

The Admiral mishap, small change by White Cloud standards, had an eerie resemblance to a near-calamity in late June 1969, involving the Becky Thatcher II. The Becky Thatcher, a sternwheel packet boat converted to a restaurant - and neutered like the Admiral - broke away from its levee moor ings in a severe storm with some 100 people aboard, most of them diners.

It floated helplessly downriver with another boat and a barge tied to it. The other boat was the most ill-fated of all riverfront craft, the Santa Maria, an 80-foot, 110-ton reproduction of the Christopher Columbus flagship.

The Santa Maria and Becky Thatcher restaurant, lashed to the St. Louis Visitors' Center barge, all swirled into the river's treacherous currents.

More than the recent Admiral scare, this had the potential for real death and destruction, what with the terrified diners aboard. Imagine what was going on in the minds of those in the Becky Thatcher's darkened restaurants; talk about a vision of the abyss.

But as with the Admiral, it ended without serious injury or death. Everything crashed into a Monsanto Co. off-loading pier, near its facility in Sauget, with the Becky Thatcher crushing the Santa Maria.

The Columbus-replica caravel, built in Hampton Roads, Va., was a brainchild of former Mayor Alfonso Juan Cervantes, a man passionate about installing things that would remind people of the city's Spanish period. The Santa Maria was purchased for St. Louis after it had appeared at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Both wrecked boats from the 1969 storm were resurrected and moved to other places. The Becky Thatcher was built in 1927 as an Army Corps of Engineers boat and was christened the Mississippi. Actually, it was the Becky Thatcher II; the original riverfront boat of that name sank in a flood on the riverfront in 1965.

After the accident, the Thatcher II - repossessed and caught up in a legal melodrama - escaped its travails here and moved to Marietta, Ohio. There, it sank but was pumped out and refloated. It remains a Marietta riverfront attraction.

The strange odyssey of the Santa Maria had a fiery ending. After it was raised from the Mississippi muck and slime, it was floated to a new home in Titusville, Fla. It came to a blazing finish in 1974. Said the Post-Dispatch: "The Santa Maria, apparently cursed by a witch at its christening, is dead."

In Memoriam:

the Santa Maria at the New York World's Fair, from Viewmaster reel photo

vmns17.JPG

on June 19, 1964, with teenage pop stars Peter & Gordon

today.gif

...note that the reference to the NYWF Santa Maria having been built in Hampton Roads, Virginia, would on the surface appear to put to rest the possibility that it was seen being built in Spain by the Navy fellow, which started this thread a couple of years ago.

However....the 1964 Official Guidebook says "the vessel was constructed in Barcelona after years of research in museums and naval archives, and brought to the United States on the deck of a freighter."

Perhaps the freighter was unloaded in Hampton Roads and the Santa Maria was trucked from there to New York (see Hoodlock's recent recollection of the Santa Maria arriving at the Fairgrounds on the back of a flatbed truck). This in turn might have supported a possible misconception by the Post-Dispatch reporter (or their 1964 predecessor) that if it came to New York from Hampton Roads then that must have been where it was built.

Since we've also tracked down the provenance of most of the other known full-scale Santa Maria replicas, it would now seem that there is a high probability that the Santa Maria seen being built in Spain in the early 60's by Bill Young's retired Navy correspondent was indeed the one which was displayed in New York at the World's Fair, was later sunk near St. Louis, and finally became a crispy critter in Florida. R.I.P.

[This message has been edited by c318137 (edited 01-22-2003).]

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<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by c318137:

from an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from July 5, 1998.

...Mayor Alfonso Juan Cervantes, a man passionate about installing things that would remind people of the city's Spanish period. The Santa Maria was purchased for St. Louis after it had appeared at the 1964 New York World's Fair...

<HR></blockquote>

Hmmm, a 1960's Mayor of St. Lou with a penchant for those things Spanish...

Who'd bet the Honorable Mister Cervantes brought the Spanish Pavilion to his city as well?

I would.

<a href="http://www.marriott.com/Epp/Images/TOUR_thumb1_STLPV_p.jpg" target="_blank">http://www.marriott.com/Epp/Images/TOUR_th...mb1_STLPV_p.jpg</a>

(see the teeny white section above street level...SPAIN '64-65)

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I recall reading that at first the Spanish Pavilion was reconstructed largely intact about 1966 as part of the Gateway Arch development but the city leaders could not fgure out quite what to do with it. It quickly became a white elephant and shuttered. The Marriot Pavilion development came later. I visited this complex a few years ago. The building is incorporated into the Marriot lobby and does not appear particularly pavilion-like. Except for the luxurious woodwork, it did not appear different from any other upscale hotel, nor do I remember any displays, signs, etc. comemorating its origins.

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On the back of a St. Louis postcard from the late 60's, showing the Spanish Pavilion as it was originally supposed to appear in St. Louis, it says:

"The most outstanding building at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. Presented to the city of St. Louis by the Spanish government. Funds for moving the building were raised by popular subscription."

So I guess the mayor didn't have to buy the Pavilion building like they had to buy the Santa Maria ship.

Randy

[This message has been edited by c318137 (edited 01-22-2003).]

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quote:

Originally posted by c318137:

On the back of a St. Louis postcard from the late 60's, showing the Spanish Pavilion as it was originally supposed to appear in St. Louis, it says...


Randy?

This is one Post Card I am dying to see the front and back of! eek.gif

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quote:


Originally posted by Park Bench:

Randy
?

This is one Post Card I am dying to see the front and back of!
eek.gif


I have the one that I described in my collection (and already scanned front and back)- publisher is St. Louis Color Post Card Co.- I'll try to post the two scans when I get home tonight (out from behind a corporate FTP firewall).

I also have a .jpg pic of the front of ANOTHER postcard that looks like it might be from the same series- maybe the same artist- that shows Busch Stadium right behind the Pavilion. I have no idea if it's a realistic depiction relative to the St. Louis proximity of the two buildings-

I've been to Busch Stadium twice on my frequent St. Louis business trips over the last few years (about 40 trips over the last 8 years!), but wasn't on the lookout for the Spanish Pavilion!

Randy

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Okay, here goes-

I have a bit of information on at least three different postcards showing the Spanish Pavilion in St. Louis.

First there are two published by St. Louis Color Postcard Co.

Card #A1221 shows a view of the Pavilion in New York, but the back talks about it in St. Louis. This is the card that I have.

Card #A1413 is said to show artwork of the proposed new St. Louis site.

The third card is numbered P69572. This looks like a typical number range associated with publisher Plastichrome/Colourpicture out of Boston. This card is said to show the Pavilion as relocated to St. Louis.

And now for the pictures.

Card #A1221

A1221_Spanish_International_Pavilion.jpg

A1221_Spanish_International_Pavilion-back.jpg

Then we have a picture of a postcard which I don't have myself. It might be one of the ones listed above. It's the one I mentioned this afternoon that shows Busch stadium in the background.

Spanish_International_Pavilion.jpg

Randy

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<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bill Young:

I believe it is still docked on the riverfront in St. Louis. Does anyone have any information about this that they could post?<HR></blockquote>

I believe we got the answers to what became of the Santa Maria a couple of months ago. However, at that time I also posted an inquiry on a steam-boating message board (since the fate of the Santa Maria is entertwined with the steamboat Becky Thatcher II), and I asked if anyone had a photo of the SANTA MARIA replica tied next to the steamboat BECKY THATCHER at St. Louis.

Today I received this e-mail:

Hello Randy,

I saw your request for a photo of the SANTA MARIA replica tied next to the steamboat BECKY THATCHER at St. Louis. I am a longtime collector of riverboat memorabilia and I well remember that episode when the boats broke loose during a storm in June of 1969. My good friend, the late Miss Ruth Ferris, was curator of the riverboat museum aboard the BECKY.

I think I have some news articles about the mishap and perhaps a few photos. I was aboard the SANTA MARIA in the summer of 1970 after they had placed her between two barges and returned her to the St. Louis riverfront.

Let me know how I can be of assistance.

Keith

mailto:keith@millerorgan.com

Of course I'll respond to Keith and see if I can get those photos, and share whatever I hear back with you PTUers.

[This message has been edited by c318137 (edited 03-20-2003).]

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more e-mail from Keith:

I will have to look at home tonight in my files, but I think I have a photo of the SANTA MARIA alongside the BECKY, taken from the river.

My friend, Miss Ferris, was not at all happy about the SM being alongside, because it blocked her view of the river from the museum door. The breakaway occurred just days away from the SM being moved to her own dock along the levee!

I had heard that the SM burned after being taken to Florida, but never heard any details of the fire, or even where in Florida the SM had gone.

I hadn't heard that story about the wreck being purchased for $1, but I know that St. Louis mayor, A.J. Cervantes, was highly criticized for purchasing the SM.

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more info from Keith:

dug into my archives last night and was rather surprised with what I found pertaining to the SANTA MARIA. I had more stuff than I remembered, including a number of news articles about the sinking. I also had an article about the fire! I found the photo of the SM alongside the steamer BECKY THATCHER, plus several other photos, including several of the SM sunk, one of her on a barge, and a picture I took of the SM in 1972 when she was back in operation at the St. Louis waterfront.

I will make copies of the articles today and send them, along with the photos (which I have either negs or slides for) so you can keep all of it if you wish.

Thanks for forwarding the photos to me of the SM at the fair. I printed them out and will add them to my files.

I hope the "stuff" I am sending will be helpful to you.

All the best,

Keith

I'll post the stuff here (or put it on my web page with links to it here) for PTUers to peruse, when I receive it from Keith.

Randy

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I got the package of Santa Maria "stuff" today from Keith.

And to boil it down to one word-....WOW!

Newspaper clippings galore, lots of photos- both in the newspaper clippings and original photos- some black & white and some color.

And yes, an article from 1974 that includes a photo of a fireman in Florida training a fire hose on the burning ship.

There's so much here that rather than trying to scan it all directly and posting it, probably ending up with mega-sized files, I think I'm gonna try to transcribe it into some web pages, and just scan the accompanying photos.

Maybe I'll call the pages "Whatever Happened to...the Santa Maria?"

Here are some tidbits of information:

Did you know that:

*The Santa Maria didn't go to St. Louis from New York. It went to Washington.

It was only after disastrous attendance there, that it went up for auction.

*Mayor Cervantes of St. Louis got into a bidding war with the Rockefeller family. The article doesn't say what the Rockefellers intended to do with it, but Cervantes ended up paying quite a bit more than its original $350K construction cost. Using St. Louis taxpayer money of course.

*The auction was held in a courtroom in Washington, and the courtroom that was "borrowed" for that purpose was assigned to a local judge by the name of John Sirica.

Probably that name doesn't ring a bell with any of you young whippersnappers, right? biggrin.gif

*The Santa Maria was trucked from Washington to St. Louis after the auction.

*A few days after the 1969 storm disaster, the statues of the sailors were salvaged from the sunken Santa Maria in the Mississippi before the ship itself was raised. They, along with other artifacts, were said to be worth a hundred grand. Unlike in a real Navy, "Admiral Columbus" was the first one to leave the ship! (after having already "gone down with it"!) smile.gif

*When the Santa Maria finally left St. Louis to head to its new home in Florida (on a barge), a second barge accompanied it, carrying the snack bar which had sat next to the Santa Maria in St. Louis after its resurrection. You guessed it. THAT barge never made it to Florida- it sunk- and apparently nobody ever bothered to raise the snack bar from the bottom of the Mississippi.

*There's an interesting 1974 interview with "former Mayor" Cervantes to get his reaction to the news of the Santa Maria burning up in Florida. At first he commented about how the ship seemed cursed, but then his politician side came through and he talked about how much it had contributed to the revitalization of the St. Louis waterfront.

*There is an interview with the Lease/operator in Florida, who talked about having to cut back employees and operating hours due to lagging attendance, and there is also mention of possible insurance coverage, but the reporter didn't seem to put two and two together and look into the possibility of arson...

Randy

[This message has been edited by c318137 (edited 03-26-2003).]

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Great stuff Randy, you have come up with some considerable material. Don't care much for the landfill info, however the research you do, as in the Santa Maria, is noteworthy.

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I like the landfill info.

Keeps us up to snuff on oddball stuff that shows up. Who's ever seen that Sidewalk Cafe placemat before today?

You are a "useless info machine" and I for one, enjoy it.

Thanks for your efforts for the greater good!

Doug

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As long as the landfill stuff stays (mostly) in the Collect the Fair forum, it shouldn't be a problem. People who read that forum should expect to see lots of landfill.

Most of the time when landfill is pictured or mentioned in another forum is to ask a question or point out something that doesn't have to do with the souvenir item itself, but something about the exhibit, the pavilion, or fair operations or whatever. (such as the International Silver Display brochure a few months ago).

There are, of course, occasions when we all get something posted to the wrong forum category!

Randy

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Hmmm... I must have missed a fascinating post that has apparently been deleted!

Anyway... Randy, you don't need to apologize for - or defend your landfill postings. You have as much right to post at PTU as anybody else. I'm SURE Bill and Marc would agree with THAT.

Not everybody looks at the hundreds of World's Fair items on eBay every day.

I love to see the stuff you ferret out.

Thanks... and keep up the good work!

Doug

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