Monday, July 18, 2011

The "Big Mama" of the Mississippi

On July 14th, I wrote about the world's largest steam-powered stern wheeler towboat ever built, the Sprague. I did some more research on the boat in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia of Dubuque.

It was built in 1901 by Captain Peter Sprague who obviously named it after himself. It's nickname was "Big Mama" and the ship was 276 feet long, had a 61-foot beam and draft of 7.4 feet., powered by coal-fired steam. It operated on the Mississippi and other rivers from 1902 to 1948 when it was decommissioned.

A model of it is at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium at Dubugue, Iowa, where it was built.

In 1948, Vicksburg, Mississippi bought the ship for a $1 and turned it into a restaurant, museum and theater until May 15, 1974 when it caught fire and was destroyed.

Pieces of the massive boat are scattered around Vicksburg. A group, the Friends of the Sprague sponsored a mural of the vessel which is located along Vicksburg's Riverfront Murals. Something to see the next time you're in Vicksburg to see the Civil War battlefield.

Interesting Story. --RoadDog

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