Last Fort Discovery exhibit torn down for scrap metal

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 11:50 AM
Last updated Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:27 AM
  • Follow Latest News

The 72-foot structure that stood for almost 15 years as a monument to science education became a pile of scrap metal Tuesday.

Danny Owen, of White Crane Company, cuts down the torsional wave exhibit outside the old Fort Discovery building. The 72-foot structure was dedicated in August 1997 by William J. Hilsman, a retired lieutenant general and former Fort Gordon commander.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Danny Owen, of White Crane Company, cuts down the torsional wave exhibit outside the old Fort Discovery building. The 72-foot structure was dedicated in August 1997 by William J. Hilsman, a retired lieutenant general and former Fort Gordon commander.

A demolition crew began taking down the towering red “torsional wave,” which stood off Reynolds Street at the gateway to the now defunct National Science Center’s Fort Discovery.

The structure, designed to demonstrate wave mechanics, was dedicated in August 1997 by William J. Hilsman, a retired lieutenant general and former Fort Gordon commander, who first envisioned the interactive science center that once occupied two floors in the Port Royal building.

A plaque at the tower’s base said the exhibit was dedicated to “the spirit of discovery for all children of the world by Lt. Gen. (R) William J. Hilsman and Mrs. Jean Hilsman and their children and grandchildren.”

On the day of its dedication, Hilsman called the structure “a beacon” for the education of children.

“As it sends out flashes of light in all directions, I think about the knowledge people can take from here,” he said, according to an article in The Augusta Chronicle.

Ann Davis, of Meybohm Commercial Properties, said the tower will be recycled as scrap.

“We tried to find another museum to take the exhibits, but we were unsuccessful,” said Davis, who is managing the property for the new owners, Silagi Development & Management, the California firm that bought the Fort Discovery property in January.

Rob Dennis, CEO of the National Science Center, said he hated to see the Fort Discovery story end on such a sad note.

He said the organization, which is now based in Washington, found homes for at least 80 percent of the exhibits, primarily in museums in Macon, Ga. and Greenwood, S.C.

“Macon wound up with the lion’s share, about six or seven trailer loads,” he said. “It is unfortunate that we couldn’t find a home for the torsional wave and the high-wire bicycle, but due to logistics and the sheer size of those two exhibits it just wasn’t feasible.”

Danny Owen, one of the workers taking down the torsional wave, used an acetylene torch to cut through the 18 bolts that held together the tower’s two sections before the crane lowered the top 11,000-pound half to the ground.

He intended to cut the tower’s steel legs into 5-foot sections and then haul them away in a dump truck.

Owen said they had taken apart the high-wire bicycle that stood outside the entrance about two weeks ago. That exhibit allowed users to ride a bike around a 17-foot-high metal track balanced with a counterweight.

“We only got about $600 for that,” he said.

Comments (14) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
raul
4566
Points
raul 06/05/12 - 03:46 pm
7
0
NSC

No telling how much the NSC cost the taxpayer with facilities, exhibits and high paying government jobs. I went 2-3 times with my daughter and half of the exhibits were inoperative. Write off another government wasteful project, however well intended.

TrulyWorried
13314
Points
TrulyWorried 06/05/12 - 12:27 pm
3
1
Sad

And yet it is sad - nothing seems to last any length of time anymore.
The world is changing a lot - from one day to the next - unfortunately not exactly in a good way.

museofsatie
586
Points
museofsatie 06/05/12 - 12:47 pm
3
0
I went to Fort Discovery many

I went to Fort Discovery many times over the years. There was only one time I went when some things weren't operating. Every other time it was all up and running, and I had a blast. When I heard about FD closing, I was sad because I'd wanted to take my son there sometime. *sigh* Oh well.

Rob Pavey
552
Points
Rob Pavey 06/05/12 - 01:19 pm
5
0
- a final breath from a

- a final breath from a downtown icon -

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/05/12 - 01:28 pm
6
0
retarded. how long could it

retarded. how long could it have stood if just left alone with a marker explaining its purpose?

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/05/12 - 02:03 pm
8
0
Sad
Unpublished

Is there anyone that still respects the acquisition of knowledge? Does anyone still value education?

dichotomy
32038
Points
dichotomy 06/05/12 - 03:08 pm
7
0
It never "waved".

The torsional wave never waved. I believe the story was that they forgot to run a power cable to the motor before the bus turnaround road was paved and then they said it would be too expensive to correct. Somebody correct me if I am wrong. No matter...it never waved. The center "ladder" was supposed to twist back and forth and the "rungs" were supposed to reflect light as they twisted. It would have really looked cool at night in floodlights. It was an omen for Fort Discovery. Oh well, another couple of hundred million or so of federal and state taxpayer money wasted from inception to scrap heap. A typical "hey, that sounds great" program that turned into "oh crap, we can't afford that".

And let's not forget the $millions that the RC taxpayers were conned into spending for the rush job of running water and sewer out to the National Science Foundation and the "science and techonology" park that was going to pop up between gates 1 and 2 on the Gordon Highway. All of this was tied together in the orginal plan and both turned into dismal failures.

I certainly hope that our politicians, especially our local commissioners, learn that when anyone, be it a private foundation, another branch of government, or Paul and his gang, come looking for funding for their next "great project" the taxpayers need to grab hold of their wallets and run. Any project that might actually work and be sustainable can and will be done with private development money. That includes "redevelopment" projects that are destined to immediately deteriorate back into their prior condition as soon as the taxpayer's maintenance dollars run out.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/05/12 - 02:26 pm
6
0
It is a sad time. I relate to

It is a sad time. I relate to it remembering how the newspaper ran these special inserts for weeks on Sunday before the opening. It was as if Disney was coming to Augusta. I'm not making fun of it either. It was simply a grand experiment that Augusta wasn't ready for.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/05/12 - 02:36 pm
6
0
dichotomy.. it waved. one

dichotomy.. it waved. one just used muscle power instead of Georgia Power

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/05/12 - 02:57 pm
1
0
I understand if the new

I understand if the new owners wanted it gone because of some liability or insurance issue though.

dichotomy
32038
Points
dichotomy 06/05/12 - 03:01 pm
4
0
Muscle power.

"dichotomy.. it waved. one just used muscle power instead of Georgia Power"

Yeh, I did that myself a couple of times just to see what it COULD have been. But I could never convince my wife to go down there at night and stand there shaking it while shining a spotlight up in the air so I could stand out on Reynolds St. and see what SHOULD have looked like at night.

I can't remember if that was one of the donated exhibits or one of the $10 million dollars worth of "anchor" exhibits bought with state taxpayer money.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/05/12 - 03:17 pm
2
0
If we are all honest, Raul

If we are all honest, Raul has the correct observation. Much as we wanted more, it was what it was. Sad.

Gage Creed
16722
Points
Gage Creed 06/05/12 - 08:29 pm
1
1
They should have saved the

They should have saved the mag-lev display for Countyman's CBD trolley!

debbiep38
421
Points
debbiep38 06/05/12 - 11:11 pm
0
0
urban renewal
Unpublished

urban renewal

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/06/12 - 04:41 am
2
0
He said he got $600 for the

He said he got $600 for the scrap metal. Symbolic words by the worker.

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 06/06/12 - 11:50 am
1
1
Glad to see private

Glad to see private developers continuing to improve downtown. Many vacant buildings have been renovated lately... The city needs to do more in terms of making downtown the 'destination'....

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs