Historic mortar finds new home in Stockton

BY WILLIAM MOORE wmoore@gulfcoastnewspapers.com
Posted 7/23/13

BAY MINETTE – After 14 years in front of the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, a massive Civil War mortar made a 10-mile journey to its new home inside Bicentennial Park near Stockton on Thursday.

Last month, the city of Bay Minette donated …

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Historic mortar finds new home in Stockton

Posted

BAY MINETTE – After 14 years in front of the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, a massive Civil War mortar made a 10-mile journey to its new home inside Bicentennial Park near Stockton on Thursday.

Last month, the city of Bay Minette donated the nearly 9-ton artillery piece to the county, so it could be moved to the Veterans Memorial section of the park located on Highway 225. North Baldwin Utilities volunteered to move it.

 “We own our own crane, so there was no need for the county to contract with someone just to move it. We’re glad to help out,” said NBU director Jason Padgett. “Ironically, one of our guys, Pat Ryan, was in charge of moving it from the school office down here in 1999.”

The mortar was salvaged out of a cutoff in the Tensaw River in 1967 and sat outside the Baldwin County Schools central office in Bay Minette for more than 30 years. It moved when the central office needed to expand.

“That move was a lot less involved,” said Ryan. “We just picked it up and moved it. It’s not difficult, as long as you keep the crane close.”

This move had a little more production values. It was scheduled to be loaded in Bay Minette at 8 a.m. and unloaded in Stockton at 10 a.m. That would allow people to watch the event.

Ryan and his crew had the 25-ton crane attached to the mortar 20 minutes early. They then had to wait until 8:15 for the last of the dignitaries to arrive. The loading was straightforward and quick. It took just two and a half minutes to hoist the cannon up and swing it into the back of a waiting dump truck. The mortar was at the park by 9 a.m. The hour-long layover was handy to repair the oil line on the 35-year-old crane that burst about 2 miles from the destination.

While the crew was waiting for someone to arrive with several gallons of oil, Ryan and county Facilities Maintenance Coordinator Junius Long took measurements of the mortar carriage and placed marks to center the artillery piece on the concrete pad.

When the 10 o’clock hour arrived, the unloading only took about 10 minutes. The bulk of that was slowly lowering the mortar into place and then persuading it to move over slightly one way or the other to sit straight on the treated wood skids.

“This is a fine spot. It’s in the right place since it ended it’s history at Blakeley, about 20 miles away,” said Tom McMillan, who helped recover the mortar in 1967.