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40 Years Ago - River Queen Sinking at St. Louis

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Old 11-30-2007, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: On the "Beautiful Ohio" at New Albany, Indiana, opposite Louisville, Kentucky
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Default 40 Years Ago - River Queen Sinking at St. Louis

December 2nd marks the 40th anniversary of the 1967 sinking of the RIVER QUEEN, formerly the Eagle Packet Company steamer CAPE GIRARDEAU and later the well known Greene Line tourist steamboat GORDON C. GREENE. The last packet boat built by the Howard Shipyards at Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1923, the revered riverboat operated until 1952 when she began a new career as a permanently moored hotel/restaurant/bar/museum/gift shop - under the names of SARAH LEE, THE STERNWHEELER and RIVER QUEEN - at such locations as Portmouth, Ohio, Owensboro, Kentucky, Bradenton, Florida, New Orleans, Hannibal Missouri and, finally in 1964, returned "home" to St. Louis where she was a very popular attraction moored above the Eads Bridge. Directly across the street from her landing was the old Eagle Boat Store / Eagle Packet Company office building where Capt. Buck Leyhe and his brother, Capt. Henry Leyhe, had directed their river operations for decades.

The RIVER QUEEN went down in the very early morning hours and I well recall hearing the radio report later that day saying, "The famous riverboat used in the movie Gone with the Wind is sinking on the St. Louis riverfront today." Although salvage was attempted, high water, ice and other problems made saving the old boat impossible and she quickly broke up. The city later brought in a scoop shovel and demolished what remained, leaving the steel hull in place. Quite a number of steamboat enthusiasts have made pilgrimages to the hull when it comes out for air during extreme low water periods. In early 1968 a portion of the pilotwheel was sold at auction for $140 and the anchor went to the now closed Golden Eagle River Museum (artifacts donated to the new Cape Girardeau Museum) with other prize artifacts being scattered far and wide -- in other museums and private collections.

Here are three images taken the day of the sinking by Miss Ruth Ferris and Mr. Rudy Gerber, St, Louis steamboat historians of the highest order!
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Last edited by Keith Norrington; 01-18-2008 at 07:32 AM.
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