War ship creates tourism victory for Hannibal

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
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HANNIBAL (WGEM) - Hannibal is entering the fall tourism season with a boost from the past.

More than 12,000 people flocked to America’s Hometown this past weekend to get a look at a part of U.S. history that happened years after Mark Twain and Molly Brown lived.

Landing Ship Tank 325, also known as LST-325, was instrumental in claiming victory during World War II.

Now it’s ringing in even more wins up and down the Mississippi River.

The Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau calls the ship’s 4-day visit a success in more ways than one.

“The LST-325 participated in several missions in Salerno and Sicily, Italy and ran multiple missions across the English Channel, bringing supplies and helping transport wounded troops,” HCVB sales and marketing manager Trevor McDonald said. “It could hold 20 Sherman tanks, many troops, but also get these vital supplies to troops who needed them and participate in wide variety of missions - the one that is best known as the Normandy invasion. The LSC-325 was part of that.”

A crowd of 12,337 people, spanning in ages from school-aged children to WWII veterans.

“Several veterans just really appreciated that kind of living history,” McDonald said. “Everything on the ship was completely authentic as far as their condition.”

The LST-325 is usually docked in Evansville, Indiana, but spent the summer traveling and docking along U.S. riverfronts, including Hannibal. The ship attracted even more visitors to an already busy riverfront.

“The American Symphony was also there, so we had a very unique double docking with a riverboat with hundreds of passengers, so it was very neat to see,” McDonald said. “All of the stores that were open were very busy. The restaurants were packed. We think we had a lot of people who came and wanted to stick around for a while and see what else was going on downtown. The riverfront itself was just very full of activity.”

Not to mention a way for thousands of people to pay tribute to the nation’s veterans.

“It’s important for young people to see what we’ve done and why our country is here along with the sacrifices that have been made for it,” Tony Yates of Monroe City, Missouri said.

This is not the first time the LST-325 visited Hannibal.

McDonald said it docked in America’s Hometown about 10 years ago.

The LST-325 is the only operational long-standing tank in a WWII configuration afloat in U.S. waters.

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