Demolition Begins on Texas Columbus Replica Ships

Texas workers have started to demolish deteriorating replicas of the ships sailed by Christopher Columbus.

Work began on the two replica ships, the Pinta and Santa Maria, on Monday, said spokeswoman Holly Winston of the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.

Museum director Carol Rehtmeyer said the replicas were built more than 25 years ago and naturally deteriorated, because they are made from pine and not hardwood.

"A lot of people say, `Oh it's so sad,' but we were actually delighted they were here as long as they were," she told the told the San Antonio Express-News.

Spain built the replicas of the three ships in the late 1980s to mark the 500th anniversary of the explorer's voyage. The vessels were permanently docked in Corpus Christi after a tour in the 1990s to honor Columbus' expedition.

Rehtmeyer said the Pinta and Santa Maria were purchased by a foundation and donated to Corpus Christi. In 1994, a barge crashed into the two ships in the bay. The museum later dry docked them.

The Nina, the third ship of the fleet, is owned by the Columbus Sailing Association and remains docked at an area marina.

This summer, city officials moved to destroy the two ships instead of paying for repairs. The plaza where the ships once stood will be transformed into an interactive exhibit, and renovations are set to be finished by 2015.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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