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Weekend Getaways

The most devastating shipwreck in Mississippi history

Read on to see this amazing video

Shipwrecks are not limited to oceans. Shipwrecks are also common in rivers and lakes. Did you know the Mississippi has seen about 50 shipwrecks and crashes? The Mississippi can be very dangerous, especially when the water is cold and rushing. Unfortunately, some of the worst shipwrecks in the world have happened in this river. But what is the deadliest shipwreck in Mississippi history and how did it happen? Read on to find out more.

Across the Mississippi

The Mississippi River is one of the most popular rivers in the United States. It is the third longest river in North America. This great river touches ten states, not just the Mississippi. The Mississippi is 2,340 miles long and 20 to 30 feet wide in some places. The widest part of the Mississippi is 11 miles across. The river is also very deep, reaching a depth of 200 feet near Algiers Point in New Orleans.

The Mississippi River is one of the most popular rivers in the United States.

©EyeTravel/Shutterstock.com

Animals that live in the Mississippi

The Mississippi River is a perfect environment for many animals. For example, over 360 species of fish, 326 species of birds and 145 species of amphibians call the river home. There are also about 50 species of mammals. You’ll find many great fishing spots along the Mississippi River. The most common fish found in the Mississippi include walleye, freshwater drum, white bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, carp, and largemouth bass.

Catfish, Fish, Mississippi, Underwater, USA
A flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris, at the bottom of the Mississippi River.

©iStock.com/stammphoto

Birds are also common. With binoculars you can go for a walk and watch birds. Some birds along the Mississippi include bald eagles, thrushes, mourning doves, peregrine falcons, Canadian geese, and great blue herons. Common mammals include wolves, striped skunks, beavers, otters, white-tailed deer, and coyotes.

Largest eagle in the world: American bald eagle
Bald eagles are some of the most common birds along the Mississippi River.

©Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

Is the Mississippi River Dangerous?

The Mississippi can be dangerous depending on where you choose to swim. The rough water can easily drown inexperienced swimmers. Even some of the strongest swimmers struggle to swim in the Mississippi. Some of the strongest currents occur near New Orleans, where the average flow rate is 600,000 cubic feet per second. Drowning isn’t the only fear swimmers in the Mississippi River have.

Even the strongest swimmer can slip and injure themselves in the Mississippi. For example, the current and the breaking waves can push you against craggy and sharp rocks, branches and debris. This is especially dangerous for kayakers. The Mississippi River also sometimes suddenly floods, resulting in countless deaths and injuries. Some of the animals in the Mississippi are also very dangerous. For example, alligators are common in some parts of the river. Alligators are apex predators, and while humans aren’t always on their radar, they will attack if they feel threatened. Bull sharks also swim in the Mississippi and may mistake your splashing for their usual prey.

alligator
Alligators are common in some parts of the river.

The most devastating shipwreck in the Mississippi

Did you know there was a great and tragic shipwreck in the Mississippi? This river has seen many boat crashes and shipwrecks over the past few centuries. Archaeologists have even found shipwrecks in the Mississippi that did not form in the river but slowly moved towards it. The deadliest and most devastating Mississippi shipwreck occurred on April 27, 1865. On that sad day, the steamship Sultana exploded and sank, killing about 1,800 people. On the day of the accident, the ship was en route to St. Louis.

The steamship was packed with Union soldiers recently freed from Confederate prison camps during the Civil War. There were some circumstances that caused the explosion. For example, the steamboat had a legal carrying capacity of 376 passengers, but there were almost 2,500 people on board. The river was flooded, with lots of debris and large pieces of trees. At around 2 a.m., a cauldron exploded, causing two others to also explode. The entire ship soon sank. Locals in the area tried their best to save people like Franklin Hardin Barton.

Sultana in Arkansas
The deadliest and most devastating Mississippi shipwreck occurred on April 27, 1865.

©3,757 × 2,217 pixels, file size: 2.18 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg – License

The world’s deadliest shipwreck

While shipwrecks like the Titanic are well known, the world’s deadliest shipwreck occurred on January 30, 1945. There were 10,000 people on the ship. About 9,000 people died on the Wilhelm Gustloff when a submarine S-13 sank the ship. This shipwreck is not very well known because the Nazi regime kept the shipwreck a secret. Another sad and devastating shipwreck was the 284-foot, 2,856-ton Arctic. On September 27, 1854, the ship collided with a smaller French steamer. The captain first tried to get the women and children onto the lifeboats, but many crew members and male passengers took the lifeboats. In the end, only 87 people out of 400 survived and none of them were women or children.

Wilhelm Gustloff
About 9,000 people died on the Wilhelm Gustloff when a submarine S-13 sank the ship.

©3,208 × 1,805 pixels, file size: 2.18 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg – License

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