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Fisherman finds wreckage from possible 70-year-old shipwreck

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GRAND TOWER (WSIL) -- Not only did Shorty Masters catch a few fish on the Mississippi River Monday, he also made a discovery possibly decades in the making.

"My brother and I were fishing just upstream a little bit... I looked down and I saw the ribs," Masters said. "That immediately caught my attention... My attention was on this, not fishing."

What he found was astonishing. It was wooden wreckage from an old boat, complete with rusty cables, nails, and rope that held it together.

The Murphysboro resident and Grand Tower native took three photos and shared them to a pair of local Facebook groups. Among the flood of comments, one stood out in particular.

"Some say it could be the Golden Eagle that sank in 1947," Masters said. "It actually went down south of Grand Tower and this is north."

"So if it's not the Golden Eagle, then what is it?" Masters inquired.

The Golden Eagle, one of the last wooden-hulled ships to journey down the Mississippi River, began its first trip of the summer in May 1947.

In the early morning hours of May 18, the ship lost control and hit submerged rocks that damaged its portside, according to the Southeast Missourian.

In all, 91 crew members and passengers, most of whom were sleeping at the time, were rescued. But for the Golden Eagle, it was its final voyage.

Low levels on the Mississippi River made the discovery possible. Masters hopes someone can preserve the wreckage and unlock its mysteries before it goes underwater again.

"I just hope it remains, no one messes with it... and keep it for future generations," Masters said. "It's like a diamond in the rough."

It's still unclear whether the wreckage belongs to the Golden Eagle. News 3 sent photos and a video to the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis for further research.

Danny Valle

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