Disaster on the Potomac: The Last Run of the Steamboat Wawaset

Disaster on the Potomac: The Last Run of the Steamboat Wawaset

by Alvin F. Oickle


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For passengers of the steamboat Wawaset, August 8, 1873, began with a pleasant cruise from Washington, D.C., down the Potomac River. As the Wawaset came into sight of a small Virginia landing, fire broke out below decks, and frantic passengers leapt from the flames only to be pulled down by the swift waters. Author Alvin F. Oickle puts a human face to the tragedy as he profiles some of the seventy-five who perished, among them young mother Alethea Gray and six members of the Reed family. With a fast-paced style and firsthand accounts, Oickle masterfully narrates the last run of the Wawaset against the backdrop of a tense post-Civil War society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596298132
Publisher: History Press, The
Publication date: 12/04/2009
Series: Disaster Series
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Alvin Oickle is the author of two other recent disaster books"? from The History Press: Disaster in Lawrence: The Fall of the Pemberton Mill and Disaster at Dawn: The Cedar Keys Hurricane of 1896. His other nineteenth-century history books include Jonathan Walker: The Man with the Branded Hand. Al has been an Associated Press feature writer, a daily newspaper editor and a writing instructor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His long career in journalism has also extended into broadcasting."

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 7

Introduction 11

Chapter 1 Boarding for an Excursion 15

Chapter 2 Down the Potomac 29

Chapter 3 Fire!!! 43

Chapter 4 Disaster on the Potomac 52

Chapter 5 The Body Count Continues 62

Chapter 6 What Went Wrong? 72

Chapter 7 Who Was at Fault? 78

Chapter 8 The Years After 88

Appendix A Passengers on the Wawaset 101

Appendix B The Steamboat Inspection Service Report 113

Notes 115

Bibliography 125

About the Author 128

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