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Keith Norrington 04-15-2014 11:46 AM

Str. SPRAGUE Burned 40 Years Ago
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Forty years ago tonight, on April 15, 1974, the Str. SPRAGUE burned on the Vicksburg waterfront, where she had been a tourist attraction since being retired by the Standard Oil Company in 1948.

My Old Boat Column in this week's issue of The Waterways Journal recounts the blaze and aftermath.

"Big Mama" was truly an AWESOME lady of the river. She 'rests in pieces' along the Yazoo and in museums and private collections. It was my delight and privilege to visit the mammoth sternwheeler four times before the fire, and on numerous occasions afterward. I especially loved that HUGE pilothouse with its 13.5 foot pilotwheel!

A long and two shorts to the memory of the largest steam towboat ever built!

Ron Anderson 04-15-2014 12:26 PM

And I'm still bitter about it.

R. Dale Flick 04-15-2014 04:56 PM

*Tragic loss of the SPRAGUE 40 Years Ago*
Steamboating colleagues:
Thanks, Keith, for jolting my memory RE: loss of the SPRAGUE 40 years ago by fire. I saw the SPRAGUE in motion once here on the Ohio--but not under her own steam--being towed up to Pittsburgh for the big civic event. Her huge stermwheel had been fitted not with conventional bucket planks but open wood like slats. Seems to me I 'think' I heard they had to do that to prevent forward movement from rolling the wheel no matter how much they tried to secure it with lashings. Sliding by in the Cincinnati harbor here people gawked, stopped cars to watch.

I'm sure you well remember when Jack and Sandie Custer showed those color movies years ago taken from the DELTA QUEEN the following day as the DQ moved in to land at Vicksburg. The SPRAGUE was still 'hot' and smoldering from the fire. I have here in my junk several short letters, post cards written by Gene Hampton who served on her so long. Hampton was later on the DELTA QUEEN as I am sure a few here remember. That was a LONG time ago now in the scheme of things.

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati

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