Daily Event for June 24

Around midnight on June 24, 1860 the sidewheeler Ben W. Lewis exploded, burned and sank on the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. Soon after unloading passengers the boiler exploded setting the ship ablaze, she drifted down river until she was burned to the waterline, rolled over and sank. About forty lives, including that of the captain were lost. It is possible more could have been saved if the captain of the Bay City had come alongside to help. However her captain refused to take his ship near the blazing wreck fearing his ship would catch fire as well. Locals who were watching family and friends burn to death on the Lewis offered to insure his ship, but he still refused. One frantic man, whose wife and children were still aboard offered any price to the captain, yet he was unmoved. His ship did leave Cairo, but only after he was threatened by the locals, some were heard to say that they were going to hang him and his crew from the nearest tree. He did not, however, move to aid those poor souls on the Lewis. He and his crew were later censured for failing to render assistance.
© 2009 Michael W. Pocock

2006 Daily Event