City Quotient: Where's the Santa Maria, and When Is It Coming Back?

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Where is the Santa Maria, and is it ever coming back to the Downtown riverfront?A 15th century Spanish ship replica would be an odd thing to see floating in the Scioto River (which is not suitable for anything much bigger than a canoe), but for 23 years, Columbus got to enjoy exactly that. The Santa Maria, which was moored at Battelle Riverfront Park, was built for $2 million in private funds at Scarano Boat Building in Albany, New York, and was dedicated on Oct. 11, 1991, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage to America. Operated as a museum, it was especially popular with schoolkids and eventually was gifted to the city's Recreation and Parks Department. By 2014, the old girl was found to be in the way of the Scioto Greenways Project and needed repairs anyway, so it was carefully disassembled and moved to a "secure location" south of the city. There it awaits fundraising to pay for some badly needed repairs. Santa Maria Inc., a nonprofit organization, is raising money, and if they're successful, the ship could return to the Downtown riverfront. But, if for some reason our beloved three-master doesn't return, despair not. You have only to travel to Madeira, Spain, or West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to see other full-size Santa Maria replicas.

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to, and the answer might appear in a future column.