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Red River Wreck

A Steamboat From ca. 1840 - Oklahoma's First Nautical Archaeology Project

The Oklahoma Historical Society became aware of the wreck of a side-paddle wheel steamboat in the Red River of Oklahoma in the fall of 1999. This find has been recognized as one of incredible archaeological and historical significance reaching far beyond the region of its discovery.

The OHS is involved in a multi-year archaeological research project on the wreck. This project is being conducted with the assistance of the Texas A&M University's Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Nautical Archaeology Program, and Conservation Research Laboratory.

The ship is approximately 140 feet in length. Portions of the drive machinery, main deck, and hull are preserved in the main channel of the Red River, with a substantial portion buried beneath the river floor. Analysis of the drive machinery on the wreck suggests that this vessel was constructed no later than 1840. Historical research also suggests that this steamboat was possibly bound for Fort Towson, Choctaw Nation, with military provisions, and that she was lost in 1838.

Goals of the OHS project are to conduct archaeological and historical research sufficient to fully document and understand this ship, and to recover representative portions of the vessel and any cargo for preservation and exhibit. Exhibits will be displayed in the new Oklahoma History Center scheduled to open in 2004, and at a future facility at the OHS Fort Towson Historic Site.

Funding for this project is through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation as provided in the Transportation Enhancement Program of PL 105-178, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21 program).



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