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Riverboat disaster to be topic of Table Talk


Special to The Dispatch



The Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library continues its Table Talk series Wednesday with a presentation by local historian and Dispatch columnist Rufus Ward. 


Active in the fields of history and historic preservation for more than 35 years, Ward divides his time between lectures on history-related topics and consulting on cultural projects. Last fall the History Press of Charleston, S.C., published "Tombigbee River Steamboats: Rollodores, Dead Heads and Side-Wheelers," Ward''s look at the 19th and early 20th century steamboat river trade along the Tombigbee. 


During the Table Talk session, Ward will discuss the tragic burning and sinking of the steamboat "Eliza Battle" in February 1858. The disaster, in which 30 lives were lost, was so horrific that the New York Times carried the story for two days, and it was even covered in the New Zealand press. The "Eliza Battle" is now listed by Wikipedia as one of the most famous ghost ships. 


"The history of this area is fascinating, and we are lucky to have someone as talented as Rufus Ward to explore and preserve it. His talks make the past come alive and this presentation will be an eye-opener for anyone interested in our history," said Friends board member Jo Shumake. 


Doors open at 11:30 a.m. for those wishing to bring their lunch and socialize before the program begins at noon. The Friends will serve iced tea. The library is located at 314 Seventh St. N. 


Table Talk is presented each Wednesday in February. For more information on the series, contact the Friends at [email protected]



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