Shipwreck found in Mississippi River near Grand Tower, Ill.

Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 5:39 PM CDT
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GRAND TOWER, Ill. (KFVS) - The remains of an old shipwreck have been found in Grand Tower, Ill. due to the Mississippi River’s low water level.

Some residents believe the sunken ship is the remains of a world famous steamboat named Golden Eagle.

“Some believe it could be the Golden Eagle, but there is conflicting opinions on that. Because they believe that particular ship ran the ground south of Grand Tower. This is obviously north of Grand Tower.”

Long-time Grand Tower resident, Shorty Masters, discovered the boat a week ago.

“We were fishing, and I looked over to my left. I saw the wooden ribs. I said, ‘that’s kind of neat,’" Masters said.

As neat as the sunken boat on the side of the riverbed is, Grand Tower resident and local historian Carl Wilson said it’s not the Golden Eagle.

“No, this definitely could not be the Golden Eagle. The Golden Eagle was sunk about three and a half, four, maybe even five miles south of where this keel boat was found. And I can attest to that, because I was at the Golden Eagle at the time of it’s sinking,” stated Wilson.

On May 19, 1947, the Golden Eagle left St. Louis on the Mississippi River and headed for Nashville.

When it got to Grand Tower Ill. catastrophe struck.

“Somebody had came by and notified us that a boat had sunk over on the river. My parents got the wagon out and we took it over there. There was quite a few people over there from Grand Tower because they came down in motorboats and stuff like this,” said Wilson.

He said that after the accident, many residents salvaged items off the boat before it went under.

Those on the Golden Eagle were rescued, or got themselves to safety.

“They brought boats down, originally from Grand Tower, and put the people on the boats, and brought them up, put them on busses and took them to St. Louis,” stated Wilson.

Weeks later the boat was removed.

“A corps of engineers later came down and dismantled it. The pilot house off of it went to St. Louis. And people around Grand Tower still have relics of things that came off of the Golden Eagle, which they are very proud of and should be,” he said.

Wilson stated that currently there are no plans to have the remains of the boat removed from its location.

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