Thursday, October 25, 2007

Volunteers work to spruce up, improve Batfish for tourists

By Keith Purtell
October 25, 2007

Even though it’s closed for the season, things are hopping at the USS Batfish Submarine and Military Museum.

Rick Dennis, Batfish park manager, said there are three main projects.

“On our Walk of Honor, Lanny Cartwright has been getting those brick cleaned up and organized for display,” he said. “Also, we’re working on the 52 Submarines Memorial that honors the 52 subs lost in World War II. The 2006 Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class donated a bench for that. We’re also getting the (internal) museum work done, both developing the additional room and freshening up the displays.”

The Batfish sank three enemy submarines and 11 ships before being sent to Muskogee as a museum in 1973. It was called “Killer Sub” for sinking more enemy vessels than any other submarine. It’s now a tourist attraction drawing people from across the country and the globe.

Fishermen and nature lovers may get a combination fishing pier and trail system.

“At the end of it, we may have a nice nature preserve with trails down to the river,” Dennis said. “There are definite fishing possibilities. Two weeks ago, I went up the river with one of the port guys, and we actually had a fish almost try to jump in the boat.”

Last Saturday, Cub Scout packs from Hilldale Elementary School and Fort Gibson volunteered their time to help at the museum.

“They did a phenomenal job,” Dennis said. “I was so proud of them.”

Joe Smythe, cub master for Cub Scout Pack 638 of Fort Gibson, said approximately 15 of his youngsters teamed up with a similar number from Hilldale, led by Janey Riddle.

“They cleaned out a fence row and bagged that up, cleaned the glass on the display cases, and polished the brass on the torpedo tube,” he said. “The kids I was with said the torpedo tube was their favorite. They were surprised that 80 people fit in that sub.”

The scouts were ages 6 to 10. Smythe, a teacher at Norwood Elementary, said the service project at the Batfish was important to the boys.

“They get to feel like they are actually doing something to help out,” he said. “That’s what scouting is all about.”

Rod Mish, a volunteer at the Batfish, said he’s excited to see the improvements at the museum.

“I went up in an airplane yesterday and got a fresh aerial view and took some pictures,” he said. “This spring we may be putting in a fishing pier. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea. That place is ripe. Things are growing out there.”

USS Batfish Submarine

WHAT: USS Batfish Submarine and Military Museum.

HOURS: Open March 15 to Oct. 15; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays and Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Closed Tuesdays.

LOCATION: Take Muskogee Turnpike to Exit 33, turn east, then turn north at the Batfish sign.

ADMISSION: Adults $5; children $2; adult group $4; senior citizens $3; children’s group (10 or more) $1; children under 6 free, except for groups.

PHONE: 682-6294.



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