WTHS April Meeting – Sultana

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the sinking of the Sultana, the greatest maritime disaster in US history.

sultanacolThe WTHS April Meeting, Monday April 6, 2015 at 7 pm will feature a presentation by Jerry O. Potter, Memphis attorney and author of The Sultana Tragedy. The Sultana Historic Preservation Society has designed a weekend packed with great activities April 23-25, 2015, to educate you on the Sultana disaster. Mrs. Rosalind O’Neal  will fill us in on the details of this event which include lectures, boat tour, bus tour, and much more, at our meeting.

The Sultana was a Mississippi River steamboat paddle wheeler destroyed in an explosion on April 27, 1865. This resulted in the greatest maritime disaster in United States history. An estimated 1,800 of the 2,400 passengers were killed when three of the boat’s four boilers exploded and the Sultana sank near Memphis. This disaster received little public attention, as it took place soon after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and about three weeks after the end of the Civil War.

In 1982, a local archaeological expedition, led by Potter, uncovered what was believed to be the wreckage of Sultana. Blackened wooden deck planks and timbers were found about 32 feet under a soybean field on the Arkansas side, about 4 miles from Memphis. The Mississippi River has changed course several times since the disaster, leaving the wreck under dry land and far from the Mississippi River. The main channel now flows about 2 miles east of its 1865 position


In July 2013, thanks to author-historians Andrew Carroll and Jerry Potter, the missing Tennessee Historical Commission’s marker commemorating the horrific explosion and sinking of the SS Sultana was replaced.

Please join us Monday April 6, 2015 at 7 pm at  Wunderlich Auditorium at Memphis University School. Enter from Park Ave. and follow the WTHS signs.



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