ohio river tragedy

Ohio riverTragedy

The steamboat in this old print is the America. Two miles above Warsaw, there's an historical marker that notes the site of the crash of the Steamboat America with the Steamboat United States on December 4, 1868. It is easily the worst tragedy ever in Gallatin County, with over 40, 80, or 170 deaths, depending on which source you believe.  The Official Historical Marker says 162, but a later report by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission claims 74. There's a textual account of  the tragedy, here, and another one here (pdf). The New York Times covered the story for four consecutive days, here, here, here and here. (All pdf's.) Contemporary local coverage is here. The aftermath, in Warsaw, “beggars description.”

Veteran riverman Capt. Perry McNeeley, opines on the America-United States crash, here.

newThere are tombstones in the Madison, Indiana cemetery that simply read “Victim of the Disaster of the United States and America.” because of the number of bodies that floated down the river.


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Map of the collision. Here's what happened. Harper's Weekly published this illustration of the collision. This is the United States  after the collision. This is the United States at Lock #1 in Carrollton, on August 10, 1883, re-built.
Scavenging the disaster wreck in low water, 1895, here.


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Maps of Sugar Creek River Disasters

Ohio riverTragedy

from Niles' Weekly Register, June 18, 1831

Details on the wreck of the Sylph.

Ohio riverTragedy


The C. T. Dumont wrecks in a hurricane in Warsaw, here.

Read an article from the August 3, 1855, NY Times about the sinking of the Kentucky Home Steamer at Sugar Creek, here. Thirty-five die as the Belle of the West burns to the water, just below Warsaw, in April of 1850.  The story is here.
newAn heroic episode from the Belle of the West fire.

“On Monday night last the steamboat Telegraph ran into the stern-wheeler Kentucky Home, breaking her in two and sinking her in twenty feet of water.  The Kentucky Home was a new boat, running from Pittsburgh to Louisville, and was insured.  The collision took place between Sugar creek and Warsaw, a short time after eight o'clock.  Several lives were lost.”  from the Vevay Reveille, August 8, 1855

More on the Telegraph Disaster is here.

“The local inspectors of Cincinnati have suspended the license of John W. Hawkins, pilot of the Prairie Rose, for six months, for causing a collision between the Queen of the West and the Prairie Rose, at Sugar Creek.” Daily Courier, January 28, 1861
“The steamer Rainbow was burned about ten miles above Napoleon, Ky., on the Ohio river, last Saturday morning, and from fifty to seventy lives were lost, including all the officers. The boats cargo, books, and papers are a total loss.” Pittsfield Sun, November 26, 1857
“On Friday night last the Quaker City encountered a storm, and struck a snag at Warsaw, Ky., which caused her to leak badly.” Evansville (Indiana) Journal, February 18, 1858
The Herald burns, in 1838, here. 1838
Warsaw Patriot, January 11, 1838
“Last night, about 8 o'clock, during a heavy fog, the steamer Dr. Kane, having on board the skeleton of the Webster Regiment, collided with the Telegraph #3, on her way up from Louisville, a short distance above Warsaw .   The latter steamer sustained no serious damage, and the officers called out to the Dr. Kane, asking if they wanted assistance.  The answered returned was“Yes!” but before the Telegraph reached her, the Kane had drifted out of sight.  The fog was very heavy, and it was impossible to follow her.  the extent of the damage to the Kane is not known, and nothing more was seen or heard from here.”  Cincinnati Daily Press, November 29, 1861

“The Submarine No. 6 is at work at the wreck of the Kentucky Home, recently sunk near Warsaw, Ky.  The cabin and boiler deck have been torn off,  and part of the machinery and freight taken out.  One hundred kegs nails, fifteen tons dry goods, and eight hundred barrels of flour was a part of the freight taken on last week.”  from the Vevay Reveille, August 29, 1855

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Bodies from Pennsylvania's Johnstown flood (Wikipedia) wash to Warsaw:

“Two floaters were caught in the river at Warsaw, Ky., on Sunday, supposed to be from Johnstown. Bodies of animals and a cart were also seen passing.” Indianapolis Journal, June 10, 1889

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