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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 its the capsized hull was found just south of the Municipal Bridge.  The Inaugural Launched in 1944 saw action in World War Two, but when the war ended, the ship was considered surplus and decommissioned.  In 1968, the warship was sold to St. Louis investors as 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 from her hull.  The Inaugural can easily be 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 when 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 the morning of December 2, 1967, the River Queen began to sink.  Several attempts were made 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 upper decks of the ship in 1968.  Salvaged pieces of the River Queen were sold off to museums and collectors, but the remainder of the ship was sold off as scrap.  During very low water levels, the hull of the River Queen becomes visible.  The hull continues to remain in its final resting place nearly fifty years later between the Ead’s and the Martin Luther King Bridges.












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