Wrecked ship's story surfaces

Sunday, April 6th 2008, 9:06 pm
By: News 9

By Christian Price, News9.com INsite Team

An 1831 steamboat named the Heroine lays in the bed of Oklahoma's Red River.

The Institute of Nautical Archeology at  Texas A & M University has studied the river site and recovered artifacts from the wreckage. The Public Relations Director for the Oklahoma Historical Society Michael Dean said the institute was amazed by the historical find.

"In 1830, there were no plans on how to build a boat. You verbally told the boat maker what you wanted and they went by that," Dean said. "Anything prior to 1840-1841 was unknown. There were no known examples of what's designated a western river steam boat. This is the only one in existence."

The Heroine was discovered in 1999 by two fishermen who tied their fishing boat to a piece of the wreckage that was sticking out of the water. After several years of research, the story behind the Heroine was rediscovered.

"They were able to determine that it was bringing supplies to the army garrison," Dean said. "The army, doing research into their records found the contract that had been issued to the two businessmen from Columbus, Ohio to provide those specific supplies."

Researchers found tools, soap boxes and barrels filled with the remnants of pork products.

"We've brought up the shoes and boots that were being worn by soldiers and inside the boot, you can see the outline of the sailor's foot," Dean said.

There are plans to build a new museum at Ft. Towson for the Heroine. There is a permanent exhibit on display at the History Center in Oklahoma City.