A St. Louis landmark was destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon. The Robert E. Lee, a riverboat echoing days gone by, caught fire just as it was to begin a new life in St. Charles, Mo.
The Robert E. Lee holds a strong history in St. Louis. The original steamboat raced often against The Natchez on the Mississippi between New Orleans and St. Louis. In 1870, the Robert E. Lee won the race in 3 days, 18 hours, and 13 minutes. That record still stands.
While the original met its fate in 1882 in much the same way, the most recent Robert E. Lee held a different kind of history. In the 1970s, it toured the river from downtown St. Louis, offering dinner cruises. In 1993, it shuttered its doors. Since then, the Robert E. Lee has had a tough go. It moved from downtown St. Louis to the small community of Kimmswick. There is suffered and was finally sold to start a new life in St. Charles.
But it was not meant to be.
The history of the steamboat for the St. Louis area should never be forgotten. Steamboats brought this area into prominence. They were also the downfall. While the Robert E. Lee will never sail these waters again, the memory of those steamboats carrying the name will live on.