The truth: As interesting as fiction

The photo of the photo in question, which, according to its creator, was a hoax from the start.

The photo of the photo in question, which, according to its creator, was a hoax from the start.

As promised, this blog will keep Savannah River basin stakeholders informed on a number of topics, especially those dealing with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). An April 12 story by the Associated Press adds some curious insight into one mystery about the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia.

The CSS Georgia lies alongside the shipping channel in the Savannah River between Savannah and Tybee Island – right off of Old Fort Jackson. It hinders the harbor deepening so the Corps of Engineers must remove it from its current resting place.

In the process archeologists and historians want to study this locally-built vessel. No one has located any designs, blueprints, contemporary sketches or any photograph of the CSS Georgia.

Or did they?

One photograph of a stained, faded photograph has circulated for years sparking speculation the image might be of the CSS Georgia. Reports said the framed original appeared in a south Georgia garage sale but cost too much.

Instead, one would-be buyer snapped a quick photo of the original. Photos of photos, of course, lose quality, so scientists could not determine if the hulking mass in the photo represented the only image of the Georgia.

Who had the original image? What did it really show? The Savannah District archaeologist and the Corporate Communications Office set things in motion to track down the original for detailed study. Through the use of social media and a detailed story by an Associated Press reporter, the hunt for the truth started in January.

The hunt ended in April with a surprise.

The photo – original and its copy – was bogus. According to an updated story by the AP, the person who snapped the photo (allegedly at a garage sale) claimed he actually created the image as a teenage prank in the 1980s. Hoping to have an adult career in Hollywood special effects, the creator of the photo used scale models, glue and his brother standing in a marsh with a fishing pole to create what resembled an antique image.

The image’s creator perpetuated the hoax over the years and even talked about it with the AP for their January story. He finally fessed-up. The AP published an update in April after again talking with the creator and seeing the same old frame used in the original hoax (now containing a different photo). Numerous media outlets across the USA and overseas carried the January and April stories.

No predictions about reservoir levels this week. No discussion about fish passages. No rainfall updates. Not even a mention of the Comprehensive Study (well, except this one). This week’s blog just talks about finding out the truth – something everyone needs more of.

— Billy Birdwell, Corporate Communications Office

About US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multi-million dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on Facebook.com/SavannahCorps

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