Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Shipwreck Found In Missouri River believed to have sunk in 1870



The Missouri River near Vermillion, South Dakota and Obert, Nebraska is currently at its low ebb. With years of drought to compound the low levels, the river has revealed the wreck of a steamship that sank more than a century ago.It must have been a grand sight, steamships carrying supplies and people up the Missouri River.

We know the journey was dangerous, 250 or more vessels shipwrecked. With the Missouri low, the river has revealed one of its ghosts, the skeleton of a steamship believed to have sunk 134 years ago.

Delighted historians and scientists are studying the wreckage. "The sides of the vessel are visible, you can see them under the water," said University of South Dakota Prof. Larry Bradly. Now that the wreckage is visible, experts have surmised why it sank.

There are tree trunks jutting from the river, known as snags, and steamboat captains knew they were treacherous. Hiding just under the surface of the water, they would rip big holes in the bottom of steamboats.

An enormous inverted oak tree is at the front of the hull. It's believed to have sealed the boat's fate. "It's as if the shell collapsed, the back broke, and it fell just like that," said University of South Dakota Prof. Brian Molyneaux.Scientists hope to determine exactly which steamship this is, possibly the Morrow, a military vessel, or the North Alabama, which was headed to Montana and sank October 27, 1870.

Nearby, on the Nebraska side of the river, steamships used to get wood from a man named Wieseman. A memorial to his five children who were killed by Indians still stands. "That's one of the landmarks we use to estimate this was the North Alabama, because the reference was it was above Wieseman's wood yard and below Bow Creek," said Bradly.

The mighty Missouri current long ago carried away the ship's cargo. The steamship's remains are being studied and photographed, but excavation is nearly impossible.

Soon the river will take back what it took more than a century ago. "When the water rises, we won't see it again and give somebody, another generation, the experience we're enjoying today," said Paul Hedron with the National Park Service, which is exploring what it can do to protect the wreck until the river rises again.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?