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1843: Paddlewheel Steamboats of New Orleans

The steamboat Sultana, a frequent visitor to New Orleans, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River just north of Memphis in April 1865, killing more than 1,500 people. The ship was packed with former Union prisoners of war. It was the worst maritime disaster in the nation's history. The paddlewheel steamboat was at the heart of culture and commerce on the river three decades after its invention, helping make New Orleans one of the wealthiest cities in the nation. But explosions, fires and foul weather were constant worries, with many lives lost to catastrophe. The Civil War interrupted operations at the port, and many steamships were destroyed. After the war, cargo shipping gradually began shifting to railroads. Click Here for more Photos and Information