Local News

Aug 15, 2014 2:00 PM by Sara Donchey

Trade Center Owner Tells Story of Giant Orange Pods

CORPUS CHRISTI - Everyone has a theory about the orange pods outside the Corpus Christi Trade Center; they've been called submarines, orange hamburger-shaped sculptures, even spaceships.

"The first thing that we hear people say is that they think that they're space capsules," said Baltazar Garcia, assistant manager at the Trade Center.

Tom Pyle bought them years ago at a salvage auction because of his interest in extra terrestrial life.

They appealed to him because of their durability and use as a survival tool in the event of a major disaster.

They're not spaceships, though; they're fiberglass life boats used on offshore drilling rigs.

These two were used by Texaco and Chevron on a platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

In an emergency, approximately 28 people can climb in, fire up the diesel engine, and navigate to safety with a rudder on the floor of the craft.

They were manufactured in the 1970's in Southern California by the Whittaker Corporation; a company representative estimated that in their prime, they probably retailed for around $100 thousand dollars.

Their glory days are over though, and for the past several years they've been for sale at the Trade Center, with buyers few and far between.

A couple from Tilden, Texas with a flair for creativity bought one from the Pyle two years ago.

"They actually have it in the middle of their pond; it's submerged, and they're able to use it for parties and things of that sort," Garcia said. "I hope I get invited one of these days."

Local concert venue Concrete Street Amphitheater bought one too, and they keep it backstage for musical guests to lounge in.

But employees say finding someone with $4 thousand dollars to spend and a big backyard to put them hasn't been easy.

"I think our track record speaks for itself, unfortunately when it comes to these guys," Garcia said. "We've had them for five to six years and we've only sold half."

Pyle is taking them off the market for a few weeks to clean them up and renovate them.

He wants to turn them into an attraction for people to visit when they go to the Trade Center, but he said he would sell them to the right buyer--for the right price.

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