April 26, 1865
The only photograph of the Sultana was taken during a short stop at the waterfront at Helena (Phillips County). The photograph shows that the boat was astonishingly overloaded—in a vessel 260 feet long and forty-two feet wide, built in 1863 for 300 or so passengers, thousands of people could be seen, nearly all of them Union soldiers recently released from Confederate prisoner-of-war camps. Not long after the boat stopped briefly at Memphis, the boilers of the Sultana exploded near Mound City (Crittenden County) in the middle of the night on April 27. Approximately 2,000 to 2,300 people were killed. This remains the worst maritime disaster in North America.