Monday, July 14, 2014

The Fate of the Mamie S. Barrett

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 at Mamie S. Barrett.


Stacey said...

Aw, it's a shame she's parked out in the pasture now. Looks like she could be restored for some purpose or another.

Carolyn said...

What a beautiful old boat. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos.

Beth said...

What a shame to let such a grand lady sit and crumble! You really captured her condition in these pictures as well as her "personality."

RachelD said...

What poignant pictures of a time not-to-far-ago gone by. This is even more saddening than the wreckage of the Sprague, somehow---this place of celebration and joy and music, all rusted and broken and gouged, like a forlorn tenement, lived in by wanderers, then smashed and vandalized by a hyena-pack of twitchy-fingered idiots with nothing else to destroy at that moment.

It could have come from Hell's Kitchen or the Bowery or Watts at its nadir, set down amongst the first trees of its life, and left to melt into the ground. What a waste, and what a shame. It's as if you happened upon an ancient battle-site, and photographed the marauded wreckage of the enemy's stronghold, rather than the bright, spanking-painted glory of a place of celebration and fun.

The years could not have destroyed such a gem in so short a time---there were willing, uncaring hands involved, stripping and smashing and enjoying the chaos, just for a giggle on a boring afternoon.

What a sad, tragic story it tells for all of us. Those shattered, empty eyes say it all, and you've captured its battle-scarred, still-flickering soul.

Unknown said...

I know I go by the boat everyday it is even more grown up

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of "The Rescuers" <3

Unknown said...

Could someone restore it and take care of it?

Unknown said...

The Year is 1988 month of May Day 22. The Mamas S Barrett witnessed two people so in love, get married
On the Stage Where Gold In Them Hills Was Performed For Decades Also!
Entering the bough of this historic paddlewheeler, I was the epitome of a Southern Belle Dressed in lavish lacy gown with hoop skirt
Meeting under the ships wheel hanging in the ceiling! Beautifully decorated with pink floral arrangements, we stood with a clergy vowing marriage till death do we part, and that we did! My husband died at age 54 after being married 23 years! Quite a dream wedding aboard that ol gal Mamie S. Barrett! It hurts me so bad to see this beautiful vessel decayed, put to pasture ( so to speak)
Thanks for the pics although bittersweet!
Laraine Brister-Lord.

Unknown said...

It actually had caught fire and burned in May of 2018 after the water Rose and broke her loose from her ropes. Don't know how the fire started but it is only a single story rusted hulk now with very little resemblance of it's once proud and glorious stance...

Norman Taylor said...

I just spent several hours looking for what's left of the grand old girl in Deer Park along a spur of the river but could not find her. I would love for some better directions than I had, as apparently she is still around there somewhere. Much thanks!! Norman Taylor

Norman Taylor said...

Thanks so much. Do you know where the single story rusted hulk is?

Skydancer said...

This was a recent write up from the Waterways Journal

They don't seem to know much more information either.