The Mississippi River Is Drying Out… And Just Revealed A 100-Year-Old Shipwreck

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: July 18, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The Mississippi River’s water levels are at a record low, which frequently causes ships to become stranded and results in millions of dollars worth of destruction and lost jobs.
  • A newly found shipwreck on the Mississippi River bank has sparked intense curiosity from the general public and turned Baton Rouge temporarily into a tourist destination.
  • A man walking along the river came across what appeared to be a piece of a wooden boat submerged in the muck.
Mississippi River infographic
The discovery of a shipwreck along the Mississippi River bank has spiked public curiosity, transforming Baton Rouge into a temporary tourist hotspot.

​​In some places, the Mississippi River’s water levels are at a record low, which frequently causes ships to become stranded and results in millions of dollars worth of destruction and lost jobs. The bad that low water levels bring also bring something positive: hidden treasure! 

A newly found shipwreck on the Mississippi River bank has sparked intense curiosity from the general public and turned Baton Rouge temporarily into a tourist destination. A man walking along the river came across what appeared to be a piece of a wooden boat submerged in the muck. 

He notified the authorities right away, and they started looking into the history of the yacht. The Louisiana State Archaeologist, Dr. Chip McGimsey, is certain that these are the remnants of the Brookhill ferry, which sank over a century ago. 

History Reveals Itself

There was a major storm there on September 29th, 1915. The Brookhill sank directly at the wharf after a raft of logs crashed into her outside edge. One of the two pontoons that kept the boat afloat, measuring 93 feet in length, is all that is left of the boat today. The Brookhill has attracted Baton Rouge’s interest despite its modest size and absence of historical importance. 

“The opportunity now is to get a much better idea of how they actually built these early boats,” McGimsey mentions. “For the most part, there are not good documents on boat-building, especially when you get back into the area of wooden ships.”

A Tourist Attraction

Day after day, thousands of people visit the wreckage, the majority of whom snap pictures, board the vessel, or even search the shore for metal artifacts. Dr. McGimsey claims that several planks, including one that is 30 feet long, have been taken from the vessel.

One viewer of the video below comments that they believe it’s been there longer. They say, “It looks like an older ship and it also looks like it’s been there a lot longer than 106-7 years ago. That really wasn’t that long ago!”

landscape of dry earth and viaduct, extreme drought in Entrepenas reservoir, in Guadalajara, Castilla, Spain

Dry, cracked earth near the river shows the effects of a drought.

©Quintanilla/Shutterstock.com

Water levels of some of the biggest rivers in the globe, like the Yangtze in China and the Rhine in Europe, reached unprecedented lows in 2022. Midway through October, the Mississippi River in nearby Tennessee dropped so low that barges could not float, necessitating excavation and special water transfers from upstream reservoirs to maintain passable channels. 

Because water needs to travel great distances to get to the area, stream flow in the lower Mississippi could be slow to adjust to shifts in precipitation. Yet, during the current flash droughts, the river’s water levels drastically decreased from August through October, hitting a record-breaking low on October 20, 2022, near Memphis. In just over a month, the river dropped 20 feet.

​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hFXDvVZTd8

The photo featured at the top of this post is © lazyllama/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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