Monday, July 14, 2014
About 17 miles downriver from Natchez, on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River, the rusty, vine-covered hulk of an abandoned steamboat rests in the shade of an old cottonwood tree near the small community of Deer Park, Louisiana, just a few yards away from a cut-off of the river.
It is truly a sight to behold, and when I saw it for the first time, it took my breath away.
The old steamer, known as the “Mamie S. Barrett,” was built in 1921, and its “claim to fame” occurred in 1942, when it proudly served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s headquarters as he toured and inspected the Mississippi River.
Through the years, the “Mamie” has been used as a towboat, a clubhouse and restaurant for a yacht club, a touring vessel, an attraction at a resort on a Kentucky lake, and was even owned by a Gulf Coast casino management company.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 28, 1983.
In 1987, the riverboat was purchased by John and Mary Hosemann, and was brought to Vicksburg, Mississippi, on November 5th of that year. She was converted to a showboat with a 120-seat theater on the main deck and a restaurant on the second deck. She remained in Vicksburg until 1991.
The following picture shows how the "Mamie" looked in 1921, and in 1983, when she was docked at Vicksburg.
The “Mamie” was eventually moved to Vidalia, Louisiana Dock and Storage, opposite Natchez, and in the mid-1990s, she was taken to the cut-off at Deer Park, some 17 miles downriver from Natchez.
She has remained there ever since … a 146-foot shell of a steamboat which once carried a President, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places … fated to become yet another piece of history, abandoned and forgotten, rapidly deteriorating and surrendering to the ravages of time and weather.
To read a more detailed account of the story of the “Mamie S. Barrett,” you can visit Steamboats.org at Mamie S. Barrett.
And to read about plans for its restoration, visit Historic Sternwheeler Preservation.