ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A coin to commemorate the worst disaster on US waterways has been proposed by Congressman Eric Crawford of Mississippi. Three of the Sultana riverboat’s boilers exploded on April 27, 1865 – killing nearly 1,200 of the 2,137 people on board. It sank on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee.
If House Resolution 4703 passes then three coins would be issued in 2023. Five-dollar gold coins, a one-dollar silver coin, and half-dollar coins would be minted. The coins minted under this act will be legal tender.
There is a $35 surcharge for the gold coin and $10 for the silver coin. This money will go to the Sultana Historical Preservation Society to establish a museum around the historic event.
For two years the steamship regularly traveled between New Orleans and St. Louis. It carried passengers and goods between destinations along the southern route of the Mississippi River.
The boat was carrying mostly Union soldiers from Confederate prisons. The prisoners of war were being transferred to Cairo, Illinois. The boat was dangerously overcrowded when it went under. The ship only had a capacity of 367 people.