Friday, May 8, 2009
Pictured here is a historic vessel on the Hatchie river. The vessel has been tentatively identified as a Civil War era steam ship. Dr. Stephen James, a nautical Archeologist with PanAmerican Resources Inc. of Memphis has studied the site along with other State and Federal officials. The State of Tennessee has officially designated the vessel as a registered archeological site. It is protected by Federal Law.
This discovery was made at an unusually low river stage. As a result, the vessel is extreamly well preserved. Fragments of paint were found showing the ship to have been white with a red undercoat.
In March 2008, Dr. Stephen James wrote in a preleminary report :
"...the historic remains are the lower hull of what appears to be a sidewheel steamboat. The main deck and any upperworks (if any originally existed) are no longer extant. As illustrated in Figures 1 and 2, the stern of the vessel lies exposed downstream. The port side of the vessel and the upriver bow are buried under the riverbank, while the starboard side of the vessel is free of all overburden with the exception of the extreme bow area. Covered by approximately five feet of overburden, protruding wooden elements and probing the centerline of the bow area indicate the remains have an overall length of at least 204 feet from the stern to the last positive probe. The vessel has an approximate beam of 34 feet, the distance amidships from the center of the keelson to the chine measuring 17 feet."
Yes, the ship is 204 feet long! Those of us who know the Hatchie river can not imagine a vessel of this size navigating through the bends and curves. However, the development of the interrior of West Tennessee was done almost exclusively through rivers terminating in the Mississippi. The Hatchie is the ONLY Mississippi river tributary below Cario Illinois to remain much as it was when Native Americans first began to explore her waters. More on that later...