With all the media coverage of the bridge collapse in Minnesota, I could not help but recall the many times I have driven over that very same bridge during frequent business trips to the Twin Cities over the past two decades. It’s a reminder that life is short and fleeting, and we need to live each minute to the fullest. Life is a gift, not an entitlement.
With that said, I turn my attention to another Mississippi River tragedy, one that, had CNN existed in 1865, would surely have been the major news story around the world. The steamship Sultana exploded and caught fire not far from Memphis as it was carrying released Union prisoners of war, many from Andersonville Prison. Few escaped the swirling waters, with their fast currents. Most of the former prisoners were emaciated and weak, and it’s doubtful that few were strong swimmers. Most probably did not know how to swim.
Among the thousand plus victims were hundreds of Ohio soldiers (my native state). The dead Buckeyes are commemorated with a series of plaques and markers in Cincinnati, their intended destination.
Today, the remains of the Sultana are in a field well from where the river runs today. The river has dramatically shifted course over the past century, isolating the rusting relics to what is now dry ground (privately owned – do not attempt to relic hunt or otherwise trespass).