Side A: In 1862, less than a mile upriver from this marker, the John Lithoberry Shipyard in Cincinnati constructed the Sultana, a 260-foot, wooden steam transport. At the end of the Civil War, the U.S. Government contracted the Sultana to transport recently freed Federal prisoners north from Confederate stockades. During the night of April 27, 1865, while carrying over 2,300 Union soldiers – over six times its capacity of 376 passengers – a steam boiler aboard the Sultana exploded. The ship erupted in a massive fireball and sank in the cold, flood-swollen Mississippi River ten miles north of Memphis, Tennessee. Over 1,700 individuals died – some 200 more than those lost aboard the Titanic in 1912 – in what remains the worst maritime disaster in American history. Of the total casualties, Ohio lost the most of any state, with 791 dead. Indiana lost 491 persons, with Kentucky suffering 194 dead. It is estimated that, of the Ohio casualties, over fifty were Cincinnatians.
Sponsors: Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company, Tim & Chris Heather, Colerain Township, Ohio, and The Ohio Historical Society
Location: Sawyer Point Park, Ohio River Front, just E (upriver) of the pedestrian bridge over the Ohio River