The low water level of the Mississippi River reveals the shipwreck

BATON ROUGE (AP) – A shipwreck has appeared along the banks of the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as water levels drop – threatening to reach record lows in some areas.

The ship, which archaeologists believe is a ferry that sank in the late 1800s to early 1900s, was spotted by a Baton Rouge resident walking along the shore earlier this month. The discovery is the latest to surface from the tidal waters caused by the drought. Over the summer, receding water at Lake Mead National Recreation Area revealed several skeletal remains, countless dried fish, a graveyard of forgotten boats, and even a sunken World War II-era aircraft that once explored the lake.

“Eventually the river will come back and (the ship) will go back under water,” said Chip McGimsey, a Louisiana state archaeologist who has been investigating the wreck for the past two weeks. “That’s part of the reason why there’s a big effort this time to document it — because next time it might not be there.”

McGimsey believes it could be the Brookhill Ferry, which probably transported people and wagons from one side of the river to the other – before the main bridges were overwhelmed by the mighty Mississippi. Newspaper archives show that the ship sank in 1915 during a major storm.

But this is not the first time that low water levels have detected a ship. McGimsey said tiny pieces of the vessel were exposed in the 1990s.

“At the time the vessel was completely full of mud and there was mud all around it, so you could only see the tops of the sides, so (the archaeologists) really didn’t see much else. They had to move a lot of earth. just to get into the narrow windows to see bits and pieces,” McGimsey said.

Today, one-third of the boat, which is 95 feet (29 meters) long, is visible on a muddy shore near downtown Baton Rouge.

McGimsey expects more discoveries as water levels continue to drop, having already received calls about two more possible shipwrecks.

But unusually low water levels in the lower Mississippi River, where rainfall has been below normal since late August, have also wreaked havoc — causing barges to become stuck in mud and sand, leading to Coast Guard restrictions on waterways and disrupting river services. trips for boaters, recreational boaters and cruise passengers.

In Baton Rouge, the river is at about 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep, according to the National Weather Service – the lowest level since 2012.

Water levels are predicted to drop further in the coming weeks, dampening economic activity in the region and potentially putting jobs at risk.

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