Steamboat Memphis

This panel depicts the Steamboat Memphis. Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, co-piloted the vessel starting in circa 1860 . The fate of the steamboat was not a pleasant one. On May 31, 1866 the boilers on the Steamboat Memphis exploded with eleven passengers losing their lives.  The steamboat was hauled to Saint Louis and later dismantled.


Clemens himself is quoted as saying “I am also lucky in having a berth, while all the young pilots are idle. This is the luckiest circumstance that ever befell me. Not on account of the wages - for that is a secondary consideration - but from the fact that the CITY OF MEMPHIS is the largest boat in the trade and the hardest to pilot, and consequently I can get a reputation on her, which is a thing I never could accomplish on a transient boat. I can "bank" in the neighborhood of $100 a month on her, and that will satisfy me for the present (principally because the other youngsters are sucking their fingers.) Bless me! what a pleasure there is in revenge! and what vast respect Prosperity commands! Why, six months ago, I could enter the "Rooms," and receive only a customary fraternal greeting - but now they say, "Why, how are you, old fellow - when did you get in?"

- Letter to Orion Clemens, June 1860


The stained glass panel highlighted here once hung in the east window of Kent Library when it was originally installed in 1939. In 1968, the panes were placed into walnut frames and displayed on the mezzanine level of the renovated library until 2007 when they were removed for safety during library remodeling.



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