Glimpsing the Remains of the Charm

by Margie Riddle Bearss

 

     The air was chilly and the water even cooler as I waded into the debris around the Charm. The river was low - knee deep in spots - and at one spot only ankle deep - and the engine could be seen. The ruins were lying horizontally so one could walk from end to end.
     The discomfort of the chilly air and water dissipated rapidly as the thrill of seeing and touching one of the engines resting in the water on a blanket of mud rushed over me.
     No other Civil War steamboat engine was extant except the Cairo and it was much larger. I stood on the engine and imagined the gallant Charm rising intact in its gleaming splendor beside me - 165 feet long with a 26 foot floor and 5 feet depth of hold. She had two 25-foot paddle wheels with seven foot buckets. Her capacity was 1,500 bales of cotton. Her fittings had been opulent - a chandelier, silver service, lovely dishes and beautiful pewter platters.
     Standing amidst the ruins was like stepping back in time - to the antebellum days of long ago. I patted the engine and waded out of the water - feeling that I had made a long journey - a journey that would forever burn vividly in my mind.

 

 

 

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Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake, Margie Riddle Bearss, 2005.  All Rights Reserved.