As the drought drags on and reservoirs are drawn down, all kinds of things are being discovered in the muck — human remains in Arizona’s Lake Mead, the remains of a ghost town in Utah and now a historic World War II-era boat hauled out of the dried muck of Shasta Lake, reports sfchronicle.com.
Shasta-Trinity Forest Service officials posted photos of what they call the “Ghost Boat” or a Higgins boat on social media and offered tales of the boat’s history, but admit that they have no idea how it got to what used to be the bottom of the state’s largest drinking-water reservoir.
According to a post on the forest’s Facebook page Sunday morning, the boat began to emerge from the lake last fall. When they pulled it from the mud, they discovered it had the markings “31-17,” an indication it had been assigned to the Monrovia, an attack transport ship that served as Gen. George Patton’s headquarters during the invasion of Sicily.
The Monrovia was launched in 1942, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command, and in 1943 was dispatched from Norfolk, Va., to the Mediterranean on its first assault mission, where it was the command ship for the Sicily invasion. According to the Facebook post, the ship participated in six other invasions.
The vessel went on to serve in the Pacific theater, transporting Marines to a variety of battles before bringing thousands home once the war ended. The Monrovia continued its service in the Korean War, then the Cold War era, before being decommissioned in 1968 and sold for scrap.
While the Monrovia’s active military history is well doceumented, how the Higgins boat, a craft used for amphibious landings, made its way to the bottom of Shasta Lake is unknown.
“The circumstance of its sinking remains a mystery,” Shasta-Trinity National Forest said in a tweet.
As for the future of Higgins boat 31-17, it’s headed to a museum in Nebraska, according to the Facebook post.
“It really is quite remarkable how it emerged from the lake with so many stories to tell,” national forest officials said on Facebook. “Any ‘restoration’ will be done to preserve as much of the integrity of the boat as possible and will hopefully preserve it in a weathered ‘combat fatigue’ look, and that is how it is intended to be displayed at a museum in Nebraska.”