The Iron Mountain was a stern-wheeler that plied the Mississippi River for ten years until sinking in 1882. Built in 1872 on the Ohio River at Pittsburgh, the boat was 181 feet (55 m) long and had a 35 feet (11 m) beam. The ship ran aground and sank in 1882. However, a common legend claims that it mysteriously disappeared.
The Iron Mountain sailed from Vicksburg on March 25, 1882, and hit an obstruction at Stumpy Point, near Island 102, which holed her hull and sank her. The crew scrambled onto one of the barges and escaped. A chambermaid/ship stewardness named Mrs. Ellen Anderson was caught below decks and killed. Her body was recovered the next day with some wreckage, but of the ship itself there was no sign. Further wreckage was found on June 30, several miles from where the boat was lost. The sinking of the ship was reported locally, with articles appearing in the March 27 edition of the Vicksburg Daily Commercial, and the March 28 issue of the Daily Memphis Avalanche. The ship was not found until later, having apparently been refloated by flood waters and carried through a break in a levee, and grounded in a cotton field at Omega Landing, near Tallulah, Louisiana.
A common legend claims that it was travelling from New Orleans to Pittsburgh, loaded with cotton and sugar, when it disappeared. It sailed from Vicksburg, Mississippi, and headed north, towing a string of barges and with 55 crew and passengers aboard. Another steamer, the Iroquois Chief, found the Iron Mountain’s barges floating downriver, apparently having been cut loose, but the ship itself had vanished.
This legend is often repeated as fact, as in Frank Edward’s 1956 book, Strangest of All, Paul Begg’s Into Thin Air (1979), the Reader’s Digest’s Mysteries of the Unexplained (1982), Louis L’Amour’s The Haunted Mesa (1987), and Charles Berlitz’s World of Strange Phenomena (1988). Most versions of the story give the date of the “disappearance” as 1872, which was in fact the date of the ships launching.