I spent most of yesterday over at Aquarena Center, riding herd on the media gathered to watch an unusual sight--the removal of the 400-plus-ton Submarine Theater from Spring Lake, the headwaters of the San Marcos River.
For those of you keeping score at home, the university, in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers, attempted to remove the old theater back in February using an assortment of heavy-duty construction cranes, the largest being a 500-tonner. They failed to lift the Submarine Theater after several days of trying. The pause button was hit and the situation re-evaluated. The Theater, it seems, was heavier than originally estimated, and the angle the cranes had to work at was too low for effective liftage.
Not so this time. Using one of the largest industrial cranes in the U.S. with an 1,800-ton lifting capacity (it took 100 semi trucks to bring it in and assemble in place), the massive underwater theater came out with nary a ripple. That's not an exaggeration--the crane lifted the huge bulk very slowly to guard against any accidents (lifting straps snapped on one attempted lift back in February, sending the Submarine Theater crashing back into the lake) but also to avoid stirring up sediments and polluting the river and lake. The lifting began around 9:30 a.m., paused around 10:15 for more counter-weights to be added, and by 11:30 the entire Submarine Theater had successfully moved to dry land. The slow pace also allowed an estimated 100 tons of lake water to drain from the enormous ballast tanks.
The old theater was once the centerpiece of the Aquarena Springs amusement park, and would submerge to treat audiences to "mermaid" shows in the crystal clear waters. By the time Texas State bought the park in the early '90s, competition from other entertainment destinations had nearly driven the park to bankruptcy. In 1996 the university closed Aquarena Springs for good and began the restoration project, converting it to Aquarena Center for the study of water science and the preservation of quite a few endangered species that live in the waters. The decaying theater needed to be removed because of its potential to contaminate the lake and river. Not to mention the fact that it'd become a dangerous eyesore. It will now be cut up and dismantled on shore, and trucked off for recycling. The glass windows may be removed and incorporated into an art project for a planned visitor's center at Aquarena, but not much else is salvageable. Personally, I think they should relocate it to Bobcat Stadium and renovate it into luxury suites. It'd be unique, if nothing else!
Me being me, I couldn't resist shooting a few images in infrared. The clouds drove me nuts by changing the light quality constantly, passing over the sun as they did, but ultimately I got a few images with some decent contrast. I never get tired of that white, infrared foliage on the trees!