In the dark of night on February 12, 1869, the “Mittie Stephens” caught fire, burned to the water line and sank in Caddo Lake en route to Jefferson from New Orleans.
Sixty-one of the 107 passengers and crew perished in the disaster, most of them pulled under by the paddle wheels in only three feet of water.
The year was 1890 and the place was Fort Worth, a boom town of 23,000. The former frontier outpost had never had a real disaster nor a bona fide hero until that tragic night.
This is the subject of my column for the week of Wednesday, June 5 thru Tuesday the 11th. Check your local paper, which hopefully carries “This Week in Texas History,” to read the fascinating story of the Spring Palace fire.