This one shows how they used to get train cars across the Mississippi before the bridge was built in 1930. The "ferries for trains" were called tranfser boats. The inclines at Kleinstown in Vicksburg and Delta Point, Louisiana were built in 1885 with a "cradle" that could be raised or lowered with the rise and fall of the river.
On April 24, 1865 the Sultana left Vicksburg with over 2,300 Union soldiers, many of whom were former prisoners of war. Some 200 civilians were also on board, despite a legal limit of 376 people. Due to a faulty boiler, it exploded north of Memphis kiling at least 1800, the greatest maritime disaster in U.S. history.
The Sprague was the largest and most powerful sternwheeler ever launched. It was 318 feet long, 61 feet wide and was built in 1901 in Dubuque, Iowa. It broke the record for towing in 1907 when it pushed the largest tow of barges handled by a steam-powered vessel, 60 units (1,125 feet long, 312 feet wide, 67,307 tons). It also broke the record for most tows lost (53,200 tons of coal). During the massive Mississippi River Flood of 1927 it rescued an estimated 20,000 people to Vicksburg. It was decomissioned in 1948 having traveled a distance equal to 40 times around the equator. It was to be scrapped, but the citizens of Vicksburg bought it and made it into a floating theater for the melodrama Gold in the Hills, a river museum and a yacht club. It was called "Big Mama" and burned in 1974 and finally sank in 1979. Gold in the Hills is still playing at another locale and is the longest running melodrama ever, according to the Guiness Book of World Records.Behind the levee wall is this river boat and the flood markings on the wall next to it. There is a boat launch ramp here and a boat that gives historical river tours.
Just across the street is Art Park at Catfish Row, a really neat park for children with lots of walls where they can display their paintings. The playgrounds are designed to look like riverboats. A couple blocks away is the Doll & Toy Museum with over a thousand dolls, including collections of Michael Jackson, Shirley Temple, Barbies, Cabbage Patch and a Liz Taylor, Princess Diana, Elvis and Laurel & Hardy. Dolls from all over the world including Germany and France, some worth many thousands of dollars, over a million dollars inventory just for toys. There are also G.I. Joes, Tonkas, cars, trains, cowboy & Indian stuff, etc. I'm sure you recognize Rhett, Scarlett, Ashley, Melanie and Mammy. There was even a Tara Plantation doll house. I thought this horse trike was pretty neat.
We spent a half day at the Old Courthouse Museum, which is way on top of a hill about six blocks up from the river. It was closed in 1939 when the new one opened up across the street. There is a stairway on all four sides to the four entrances and a small round building at each corner of the building. They used to be for cisterns, but are now restrooms and storage. Inside is this iron staircase and an iron railing in the courtroom that were built in Ohio and shipped down the Mississippi by steam boat. There are 9 rooms of exhibits including Indian artifacts, Civil War, 1800s china, attire & furnishings, a confederate flag that was never surrendered and quilts made by slaves. Jefferson Davis launched his political career here with his first speech for a campaign that he lost. The museum curator is Bubba Bohm and he says, "There are many viewpoints about how the war affected Vicksburg. We like our version." We saw this bumper sticker on a car parked in front of the courthouse. "Fighting Terrorism since 1861" with the confederate flag. It gives you an idea how some folks still feel about the Civil War.
We camped at a casino campground just across the road from this riverboat casino. There were gun emplacements on either side of the casino with the cannons aimed toward each other. This one was Confederate, the other Union. This is part of the Military Park, but about three miles from the main part. The park was established in 1899 to commemorate the siege and defense of Vicksburg and was the fifth military park. It sprawls over 1800 acres and used to be connected, but in the late 1950s almost 13 acres were transferred to the city as a local park along Confederate Avenue and the frontage road in exchange for closing local roads that ran thru the main part of the Military Park. It also allowed for construction of I-20. The monuments along Confederate Avenue are still maintained by the National Park Service. They get over a million visitors each year to the park. I walked up here several evenings and sat on the hill to watch the sunset and the barges.