USA/AR: Marion – Sultana Disaster Museum

You kind of struggle to find interesting attractions in Arkansas, but how about a museum commemorating the largest maritime disaster in the US history? The Sultana disaster happened in 1865 when a huge river-wheel steam boat exploded on the Mississippi River between Arkansas and Tennessee en route from New Orleans to St Louis. The four-deck ship was designed with capacity for 376 passengers, but was instead carrying 2,137 people, when the boilers exploded. This was the height of Civil War and the Confederate South release around 1500 Union soldiers,with US government offering $2.75 per prisoner to any steam boat operator willing to take them upriver. Instead of using multiple boats, a representative of the Union government approach the Captain Mason of Sultana with an offer for transporting all 1,500 on a single boat and getting a handsome kickback while doing this. More corruption happened at embarkation and a total on 2,137 people including soldiers and crew ended up on board. Around 2:00 AM on April 27, 1865, when Sultana was just 7 mi north of Memphis, the boilers exploded, and seven hours later sank. All in all, 1,259 people died, either burning alive on the boat or drowning in the Mississippi River.