Appomattox Hopes TV Show Will Save Historic Cannons - - ABC13

Appomattox Hopes TV Show Will Save Historic Cannons


Reporter: Rachel Schaerr | VIdeographer: Ira Quillen

Appomattox, VA - People in the town of Appomattox are hoping a TV show on the History Channel will save two Civil War cannons that are falling apart in courthouse square.

They've applied to be featured on "American Restoration," a show that restores old beat-up items to their original glory.

The canons have become town fixtures. They were donated in the early 1900's and for the last 100 years, they've called Appomattox home. One local man has taken it upon himself to be their caretaker and isn't giving up until they're restored.

Ask anyone about Wayne Phelps and they'll tell you he's a straight-shooter.

"Sometimes I think that's what brings me into it, I like a heated debate you might say," Phelps said from the Courthouse Square.

When a Civil War era cannon collapsed, he wasn't afraid to speak up. One wooden undercarriage has completely rotted out; the other, isn't far behind.

"She was pointing straight up in the air. It looked like we were hunting ducks," Phelps said of the canon.

Two Tredegar Ironworks cannons, used by the Confederacy during the Civil War, greet tourists in front of the Appomattox County Courthouse. Their pictures have traveled across the globe, as many people mistaken the Courthouse for the National Historical Park.

The cannons were repaired 16 years ago. Wayne Phelps convinced Appomattox County and the Sons of Confederate Veterans to split the $6,500 cost. Now, he has more work ahead. Phelps says they're considering replacing the wooden beams with steel or aluminum ones and preserving the barrels.

"If I lead the expedition on this, I suspect it'll be the third time," Phelps added.

The war memorial wall that overlooks the old dilapidated cannons is the reason Phelps won't let their story go.

"A lot of my kin people are on these wall memorials. And I figure that I owe it to them, the sacrifices they made and others of this great county, I owed it to them to tend to this thing," Phelps explained.

Phelps has led the charge to preserve history in Courthouse Square before and doesn't plan on stopping now.

Appomattox is still waiting to hear back from the History Channel to find out if they'll be featured on the show. In the meantime, Phelps is getting a committee together to try and raise money for the repairs. He says he's pretty sure he can convince the county to help out.

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