The Dork-O-Motive Podcast

1.16: The Forgotten Disaster - How America’s Worst Maritime Nightmare Happened In 1865 And Who It Happened To

May 4, 2020

The sinking of the SS Sultana in 1865 to this day stands as the greatest maritime disaster in the history of the United States. More people died in the middle of the Mississippi river on an April night than would die some 50 years later on the Titanic in the depths of the North Atlantic. This is a story of steam, a story of greed, a story of sadness, and a story of the astonishing lengths some people will go to make a dollar. 

Incredibly this nightmare is known by very few people in America. At the time that it happened, the civil war had just ended and 1,700 people dying in a night was not large enough news to displace stuff like the end of the Civil War, the assassination of Lincoln, and other large moments in history that were all happening at the same time. 

In this show host Brian Lohnes tells the story of the nightmare, reveals the characters involved, talks 1860s technology, and explains how a boat rated for 376 people ended up with nearly 2,000 rebased former Union POWs jammed onto it. 

This is truly one of the most macabre and stunning mechanical disasters in America history. 

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