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Museum Center moves rare cannon for new exhibit

Rearranging historical artifacts is nothing new at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  Temporary exhibits come and go.  But rarely is the move a big production as it was Tuesday morning.

Three employees of a rigging company set up a trestle overhead as they prepared to move 3,500 pounds of iron in the form of a 150-year-old cannon.  They placed blankets around the barrel; and connected straps to a chain pulley system.  They were as careful as they could be.

The cannon is a Parrott Rifle that dates back to the Civil War. Curator of History Objects David Conzett says it's named for Robert Parker Parrott, who developed it, and others like it, for the North during the war.

“The story that we got was that it had been with, and it’s a good story, that it had been with Admiral (David) Farragut on Mobile Bay,” Conzett says.  “But Admiral Farragut was on Mobile Bay in August of 1864.  The gun wasn’t made until 1865.”

This particular cannon was made at the West Point Foundry, but Conzett says it does have a local connection.

“This one, because of its size, more than likely would have been on a gunboat," he says.  "And the type of gunboat that was made in Cincinnati.  And there were a number of these made here during the Civil War.”

Conzett says this particular gun is a “30-pounder,” meaning it fired 30 pound shells.  It’s one of the smaller versions of the Parrott Rifles.  More common were 60-pounders and 100-pounders.  A few could fire shells weighing up to 300 pounds.

After the war, this Parrot Rifle was used as a memorial at the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery. Fifteen years ago it was donated to the Museum Center.  Conzett says it had to be moved now because it's needed elsewhere in the museum.

“This is going to be, really, the centerpiece of the Civil War section of 'Treasures of Our Military Past,'"  Conzett says. "And it will feature everything in Cincinnati military history from Fort Washington up to the present time.”

The new exhibit opens May 15.