Crew begins removing sunken barges at IVY Club

By WEEK Producer

July 19, 2013 Updated Jul 19, 2013 at 9:59 PM CDT

PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. -- Two sunken barges that have been anchored at the Illinois Valley Yacht & Canoe Club for decades are being removed. The work began Friday morning.

"We're getting them out of the way for a new expansion program for the marina," said Richard Hamm, whose company was hired for the job. "We were contracted to pump them up and dispose of them."

The barges are thought to have once been used to run coal up and down the Illinois River.

After they are raised they will be sent up to Chillicothe where they will be cut up for scrap.

According to Hamm, the entire process will take weeks and because they have been submerged for so long there could be complications.

"There could be unforeseen holes under the water which makes it difficult to bring them up," said Hamm.

The barges were built sometime in the 1940's and are known as hopper barges because of their open topside. Hamm estimates they have been stuck at the IVY Club for roughly 30 years, blocking part of the marina.

Barring a setback, it takes about four hours to pump the water out of each barge.

"We'll pump them up and get them to float and push them to Chillicothe, slide them up on the bank and cut them up for steel," Hamm said.

Hamm's tugboat will do the heavy work once he and his partner finish the heavy lifting.