WW II Alligator tank featured in films is first to be hauled off

5:02 PM, Jul 22, 2011   |    comments
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By Kathleen Berger

Alton, IL (KSDK) - The one place you can find a unique collection of retired military vehicles, equipment, and memorabilia is packing up and moving out. The Armed Forces Museum of St. Louis is leaving its most recent location of Alton, Illinois to join resources with another museum some 45 miles outside St. Louis.

It's the rumble of the 'Alligator,' a nickname for a 1943 amphibious tank. Built to run in water and on land, the vehicle rolled out on battlefields during World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Weighing in at 27,400 pounds, it's the largest piece of history preserved by the St. Louis Armed Forces Museum.

But few know about it. The museum's location in Alton, Illinois turned out to be a bad move.

"The building is an old building and they don't get much traffic going by here," said Charles Linnemeyer, President and CEO of Alton Steel. 

Alton Steel donated $37,000 for the relocation to Greenville, Illinois.  Its new home is in the open spaces of the American Farm Heritage Museum.

"They'll have good visibility right from Highway 70," Linnemeyer said.

But the museum's move all starts with loading up the Alligator. There's more of a history behind the vehicle. It was used in "Flags of Our Fathers", directed by Clint Eastwood in 2006. The movie studio leased the Alligator for filming in Iceland. When they shipped it back, they marked its destination - Alton.
And it leaves Alton for the last time. The Museum president hopes to grow the museum.

"They have events, they have seven, eight events every year, the public comes in," said George Lawrence.

And there's room to grow. The move is expected to take a few weeks. The organization needs volunteers to help them move another 15 vehicles, and two cannons: one from the Civil War, another from World War II.


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