Drought in Nebraska exposes wreckage of steamboat that sank in Missouri River 150 years ago

The boat can only be seen now because the water level of the Missouri River has dropped due to the drought in the Nebraska and South Dakota areas

Drought in Nebraska exposes wreckage of steamboat that sank in Missouri River 150 years ago
In a recent photo of the wreckage, a sandbar in the Missouri River can be seen in the background, a testament to the drought that states like Nebraska and South Dakota are facing this year (Missouri National Recreational River/ Facebook)
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CEDAR COUNTY, NEBRASKA: An 1870 steamboat wreck was discovered in the Missouri River after a drought in Nebraska caused the river's water level to drop dramatically. 'North Alabama,' a steamboat carrying winter supplies for military posts, sank on October 27, 1870, after a tree punctured the hull. The boat was only a few feet underwater in the Missouri River, which lies between its banks on the South Dakota-Nebraska border.

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Nebraska and South Dakota, both states that have suffered from recent drought and the river that is dwindling under a drought that began last fall, revealed the sunken vessel this summer. According to Missouri River National Park, the century-old steamboat known as 'The North Alabama' sank in the Missouri River near Goat Island, which straddles the border between the two aforementioned states.

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The steamer sank when it hit a tree stump, which made a hole in the bottom of the ship and caused it to sink. The ship was carrying a cargo of flour and whiskey worth $12,000 (at the time), which would be worth over $300,000 today, from Sioux City, Iowa to Montana. Unfortunately, the captain was killed in the tragedy, although it is not known if others were killed as well.

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An image of the previously submerged steamboat taken by the Missouri National Recreational River. The boat sank in 1870, and has now been revealed after drought in the area.
(credit: MISSOURI NATIONAL RECREATIONAL RIVER/ Facebook)
A picture of the formerly sunken steamboat was taken from the Missouri National Recreational River. The boat sank in 1870 and has now been uncovered after a drought in the area (Missouri National Recreational River/ Facebook)

"It wasn't until 1904 that 'The North Alabama' was exposed again and now when the water is low and the sands of time have shifted you might be able to catch a glimpse of her wreckage when you are out on the Missouri National Recreational River," said the Missouri National Recreational River in a Facebook post. “Now when the water is low and the sands of time have shifted you might be able to catch a glimpse of her wreckage when you are out on the Missouri National Recreational River,” the department added. 

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The decline of the water level in the Missouri River due to drought conditions in the Nebraska and South Dakota areas revealed the long-sunken boat. The wreck was found in the northernmost part of Cedar County, Nebraska, which is currently experiencing a "severe" drought, and "extreme" drought in the southern third.

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Other large parts of the United States are also currently experiencing drought conditions: while 64.43 per cent of the continental US is classified as "unusually dry" or "exceptional," 13.05 percent of the contiguous US is in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought.

This hot, dry weather has done one thing in particular: it has brought to light strange things in bodies of water that were previously hidden below the water line. Since Lake Mead was built, it has sunk to its lowest level in 2022, and five different sets of human remains have been discovered due to the receding water.

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In contrast, in the Texas Paluxy River, which normally flows through Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas, previously unseen dinosaur footprints have been discovered in the riverbed.

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