Low water levels reveal history in Mississippi and Missouri rivers

12:04 AM, Dec 24, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK)--Lower water levels on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers are uncovering history. A few boats that sank in the rivers are now visible.

That's peaked the curiosity of some people in the area, but it also comes with a warning. The Army Corps of Engineers says these boats may be interesting, but getting to see the history up close and personal should be done with caution.

In St. Louis, a World War II minesweeper that was once a museum before it sank can be seen clear as day along the Mississippi just south of the Poplar Street Bridge. And on the Missouri River, you can see the old riverboat-the Montana. Lower water levels on the rivers are to blame.

"...Just because of the history and the river itself really meandered for a long time. So we get to see some things pop out of the river when it gets this low that we normally wouldn't see," says Mike Peterson with Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs.

He tells us pieces of history popping up all over thanks to water levels.

The Montana has people in St. Charles talking. This is the first time it's been visible since 2006.

"The Montana has the dubious distinction of being one of the largest, or the largest, riverboat to go up the Missouri river," says Nelson Weber. "It was about 280 feet long."

And it was about 48 feet wide. Nelson Weber has kept up with the Montana since the 1960s and wrote a book about it.

"There was an article in the paper that talked about a little bit being exposed and people were out there digging for treasures. They thought there was going to be treasures on the boat. There wasn't."

But that's not stopping people from taking the hike to check it out now. Weber says they won't find much.

"Basically all that's left now is the hull of the boat."

In light of the low water levels, Mike Peterson warns anyone going to the rivers to avoid sand bars because they're not stable and could collapse. He also encourages people to leave the pieces of history as they are.

"As far as the artifacts go, that's common history. It's our shared cultural history. I encourage folks to look at it but leave it alone. Stay off the river and leave that history for the next time somebody gets a chance to see it."

The minesweeper can be seen on the Mississippi about a half mile south of the Poplar Street Bridge. And the Montana is on the St. Louis County bank of the Missouri River just upstream from the 370 Bridge.









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