Mamie S. Barrett: Ghostly Abandoned Riverboat in Louisiana

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite; abandoned riverboatĀ Mamie S. Barrett)

Beached on the banks of an inlet miles from the Mississippi River, the empty, rotting carcass of the historic towboat Mamie S. Barrett cuts a sad and eerie form amid the Louisiana wetlands. Built in 1921 by the Howard Shipyard of Jeffersonville, Indiana, the abandoned paddle steamer is understood to have been used for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inspection of the majestic Mississippi in 1942. But for more than a decade, the decaying sternwheel vessel has been left to the mercy of the elements.

History of Abandoned RiverboatĀ Mamie S. Barrett


derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-2 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

According to, the 146-ft-long Mamie S. Barrett first entered service with the line of Oscar F. Barrett in Cincinnati in 1921. Two years later she was sold to the US Army Corps of Engineers for use as an inspection boat, and by 1935 had been renamed Penniman.

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-3 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

After her retirement from military service in 1947, during the early years of the Cold War, the old steamship reentered civilian life. She changed hands multiple times in the decades that followed World War Two, plying the waterways of the south for a construction company before a stint as a restaurant for the Harbor Point Yacht Club at Weston Alton, MO.

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-4 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

By the 1980s the Mamie S. Barrett had moved to Kentucky, where the now-abandoned paddle steamer again found herself in the restaurant business, following an extensive refurbishment. But by 1987 she had moved on again, this time to Vicksburg, Mississippi, poised to be transformed into a showboat.

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-5 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

After taking her place on the National Register of Historic Places, the sternwheel riverboat was outfitted with a 120 seat theatre on her main deck and a restaurant below. In 1990 she became a casino boat, but before anyone had the chance to gamble on her, the flood of 1993 saw Mamie S. Barrett lifted from the wide river and beached near Natchez.

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-6 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

It’s not surprising, then, that Mamie S. Barrett’s post-service afterlife has had its ups and downs. The years were beginning to take their toll on the historic vessel, and by 1999 the abandoned paddle steamer was in a state of decay. Now, almost two decades later, Mamie S. Barrett is little more than a derelict, ghostly shell.

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-8 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

According to, efforts to save the abandoned riverboat are ongoing. As these haunting photographs by Skyler Brown reveal, the 95-year-old hulk of Mamie S. Barrett survives, though her two steam engines, boilers and internal fixtures and fittings have all been well and truly stripped.

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-10 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

Her rusting superstructure has decayed to earthen hues and foliage consumes her shallow hull. The creepers that have conspired to strangle the abandoned paddle steamer wind like tentacles throughout her cabins are around the broken windows. Amid the humid wetlands of the Mississippi, the scene is blanketed by an eerie shroud of gloom and decay, as if echoing a time that’s long faded from local memory.

derelict-towboat-mamie-s-barrett-12 (Image: Skyler Brownwebsite)

Related – Abandoned Paddle Steamer PS Ryde: A Forgotten Ghost Ship of a Bygone Era


About the author: Tom





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