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‘Museum Houseboat’ removed from Lake Lanier shoreline
boat print 2
Crews used an excavator to drag the locally proclaimed “Museum Houseboat” hundreds of yards from where it has sat since at least 2010. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Timeline of events

2008-2009
During the historic drought on Lake Lanier, the boat sinks with the lake and does not resurface

About 2010
A vendor floats the boat but leaves it on the bank of a small lake cove near Sinclair Shores Road east of Cumming after the owner doesn’t pay – his home was foreclosed on and he has since left the area

Feb. 2013
The Lake Lanier Association removes another derelict houseboat from a northeast Forsyth shoreline, which is scrapped for metal

Aug. 2015
An abandoned boat is removed by the association from East Bank Park after a yearlong legal process involving several agencies

July 2016
Forsyth County commissioners approve up to $5,000 for the cleanup of abandoned docks and vessels. The state had previously contributed $25,000

Feb. 27, 2016
The “Museum Houseboat,” as it has come to be known, is removed from Bald Ridge Campground by crews from Marine Specialties and Renfroe Mining and Grading

After approximately eight years, an abandoned houseboat has been removed from the shoreline of Lake Lanier near Sinclair Shores Road.

On Monday, crews used an excavator to drag the locally proclaimed “Museum Houseboat” hundreds of yards from where it has sat since at least 2010, removing most of its parts, placing them in a rollaway Dumpster and loading the hull of the boat on a trailer for removal.

“We are removing an abandoned vessel that has been really problematic for about eight years now on Lake Lanier. Specifically it has been on our radar for two years trying to figure how to get it out of here,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of advocacy group The Lake Lanier Association. “It is a 32-foot, steel-hulled houseboat.”

The boat was abandoned on the shoreline after a vendor floated the vessel, but the owner refused to pay, so it was left before being removed.

Before that, the boat had sunk after following the dropping lake level during the 2007-08 drought, when it receded to about 20 feet below its normal line, and staying on the floor when water rose again.

“That person left town and the house went into bankruptcy. We as the citizens got left sort of holding the bag on that whole scene,” Cloud said.

Cloud had previously said the owner did not have a dock permit and kept his boat in a cove in Bald Ridge Creek. The Army Corps of Engineers eventually filed a lawsuit against the owner to have him pay to remove the boat, but he had “very little assets.” He then disappeared, had his house foreclosed on and stopped answering phone calls.

The boat, meanwhile, gained its own local lore.

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“A long time coming”

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“They called it the Museum Houseboat because it was such an attraction for the campground people [who] would paddle over in their kayaks and canoes to get a look at it,” Cloud said. “That’s neat to have an oddity, but quite frankly, we as a community don’t need a big piece of debris like that on public land. It is sort of a target for vandals and for just a whole host of unsavory.”

Clyde Morris, an attorney from Hall County who does work with the association, was among those on hand who witnessed the removal.

“I knew the Lake Lanier Association was going to be hauling this boat off the shoreline and, frankly, it seemed like it would be interesting to watch,” he said. “I have never seen anything like this in my life.”

In 2016, Forsyth County commissioners approved up to $5,000 for the removal of abandoned docks and vessels on the lake after the state approved $25,000. The boat was the third, and first in Forsyth, to be removed from the lake with state funds.

“This has really been a long time coming,” Cloud said, “It’s been two years wringing our hands trying to figure out the best way to get this.”

The Lake Lanier Association, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Corps and Forsyth County coordinated efforts and financial resources to complete the land-based extraction.

District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson, who was also present, said she and the community is happy to see the boat gone.

“It’s been an eye sore and a bit of a hazard for many years,” she said. “Every time one of these derelict vessels can be removed from the lake, it improves not just the appearance of the community but also the safety and quality of the water because these older boats are often leaking oil, fuel and chemicals and basically degrading into the water.”