The Forgotten Shipwrecks of the St. Louis Riverfront

There are two shipwrecks along the St. Louis Riverfront. The first is the Mine Sweeper, U.S.S. Inaugural, which was swept away by the Flood of 1993. During the flood, the Inaugural broke free of her moorings and floated downriver. The Inaugural was lost for several months until the river receded and its capsized hull emerged south of the Municipal Bridge. Commissioned in 1944, the Inaugural saw action during World War Two but was decommissioned when the war ended and reclassified as surplus. In 1968, St. Louis investors bought the warship and converted it into a floating attraction. Ever since the Inaugural capsized in 1993, the ship has been photographed, documented, vandalized, fought over, and scrappers have even attempted to steal pieces of her. The Inaugural is easily seen when the river is at moderate levels.


The other shipwreck that litters the St. Louis Riverfront is the S.S. River Queen. Built-in 1923, the ship became famous for its appearance in the movie "Gone With the Wind." The River Queen operated in several cities as an excursion ship until it was permanently moored along the St. Louis Riverfront in 1964. For unknown reasons, on December 2, 1967, the River Queen began to sink. Work crews made several attempts to salvage the steamship, but ice and high water levels prevented the ship from being saved. The fast current of the Mississippi River finally started breaking up the River Queen, forcing The City of St. Louis to demolish the ship's upper decks in 1968. Salvaged pieces of the River Queen were sold to museums and collectors, and what remained of the boat was sold off as scrap. The hull remains in its final resting place nearly fifty years later between the Ead's and the Martin Luther King Bridges. During low water levels, the hull of the River Queen becomes visible.


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