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      Historic ship finds new home

      A ship, called 'Welcome', weighs 33 tons. The Maritime Heritage Alliance (MHA) used an Elmer's crane to lower it onto steel beams and have it carried by a semi-truck.

      A ship, called 'Welcome', weighs 33 tons. The Maritime Heritage Alliance (MHA) used an Elmer's crane to lower it onto steel beams and have it carried by a semi-truck.

      Welcome was sold after over 20 years of use, due to high costs of maintenance, to a new Emmet County Museum for only $1.

      "Emmet County contacted us,?? James Graczyk, an original Welcome mate, said. "They're building a museum up in Dark Sky Park and they offered to take the boat from us and make it part of the museum."

      "We are hauling it over and building a garage in Mackinac to store it in the meantime," said Laurie Gaetano, Emmet County Parks and Recreation Director.

      Welcome is a replica built after the original ship, which was the backbone of Mackinac Island in the late 1700's.

      "(The Mackinac Island State Park Commission) rebuild(ed) the vessel called the Welcome," Graczyk said. "It was a fur trading vessel built in about 1774 by John Askins, a fur trader up in the straights."

      Leelanau County is saying goodbye to Welcome, but there are many memories people still cherish.

      "We had a pirate wedding," Mike Antioch, Retired Traverse City Resident, said. "Everybody had a ball...got married right here at the dock and then went out for a cruise, fired the cannons, fired the muskets. It was a ball. Everybody dressed up like pirates."

      Both the MHA and Emmet County agree that the moving of Welcome is a win-win situation for both parties.

      "We are really thrilled to have it," Gaetano said. "I know that MHA is happy that we were able to take it over for them and didn't have to be sunk in the bay. I think all around everybody's happy. We're excited and ready to get the project rolling."

      "It's going to be a sad thing for MHA to say goodbye to her," Randy McClure, Welcome committee leader, said. "But I'm glad that she's going to a new home where she'll be appreciated by hopefully many in the near future."