March 23, 2007
Friends of the Sprague
"The Big Mama of the Mississippi"
largest and most powerful stern wheel towboat ever
launched (318 feet long, 61 feet wide), the steamer Sprague,
was constructed in 1901 by the Dubuque Boat and Boiler Works in Iowa
for the Monongehela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company.
the record for towing
when, in 1907, it pushed the largest tow of barges handled by a
steam-powered vessel- 60 units, 1,125 feet long, 312 feet wide, and
67,307 tons. Unfortunately it also broke
the record for the most tows lost-
53,200 tons of coal above Osceola, Arkansas.
April 1927, the steamer transported human cargo during the massive
Mississippi River flood, rescuing an estimated 20,000 people bringing
them to Vicksburg.
1948, the steamboat was decommissioned at Memphis having traveled a
distance equal to forty times around the equator and was to be
scraped. A reprieve came from the citizens of Vicksburg
who purchased the Sprague for use as a floating theater for the
melodrama Gold in the Hills and as the home of a river-related
museum and the Vicksburg Yacht Club.
called "Big Mama," the Sprague burned in 1974 and
eventually sank in 1979
to Home Back
to Murals Page