As people recapture the World War II era with the visit of the USS LST-325 docked at Wheeling's Heritage Port and the B-17 bomber Sentimental Journey on display at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport this weekend, area residents may not realize that part of another Landing Ship, Tank is a permanent fixture in the Northern Panhandle.
Wellsburg resident Ruby Greathouse, director of the Brooke County Museum and a leader of the Brooke Pioneer Trail development, reminded me of this fact last week and refreshed my memory of the strange saga of an LST mud anchor that came to rest in the Ohio River.
Greathouse related that when a crew dredged the river near Pike Island Dam a decade ago, workers found a massive, odd-looking anchor embedded in the river mud. Investigation revealed that the strange fixture - eight feet in length and weighing about a ton - was a mud anchor from an LST carrier ship that was built by Pittsburgh's Westinghouse Fabricators circa 1943. The large anchor had been fitted on a naval ship that traveled down the Ohio River en route to wartime service. Exactly when or how the anchor came to be "lost" in the river remains a mystery. Nor is it known when the ship's crew noticed the vital anchor was missing.
The recovered LST mud anchor was placed behind E-Z Pools & Marina in Beech Bottom. It was unveiled and dedicated in a special ceremony on Oct. 22, 2000.
Greathouse learned that the mud anchor is still in place behind the former marina, which is now home to the International Maritime Security Network, founded in 2007. She said Capt. Timothy D. Nease, chief operations officer of IMSN, related that the organization is having a new commemorative plaque made for the LST mud anchor and is considering moving the relic to a more prominent location at the front of the property, adjacent to the Brooke Pioneer Trail's flagpoles.
According to its website, "The International Maritime Security Network was created with safety and security on the high seas as its original and explicit goal ... Based in Wellsburg, W.Va., IMSN operates in several countries, including Panama and Vietnam, and has done business around the globe."
Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net