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Mound City Naval Station

Discussion in 'Civil War History - The Naval War' started by JPK Huson 1863, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    I remember a photo of a ship ( USS Daisy? Pretty sure ) off Mound City, and of course didn't put it together with these. I remember seeing the second, and thinking how un ' Naval Station ' it looked, or at least not like what you would imagine. Of course, Ted just posted a photo of a stable which did not look like one, it was a re-puposed house! I guess 150 years ago, it would have been whatever worked.


    cw naval station mound city w ship.jpg

    cw naval station mound city.jpg
     

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  3. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    I've been doing a lot of poking around about Mound City, as Walke (of course) was the station commander after the war, during what was effectively the draw-down and demobilization of the Mississippi Squadron's infrastructure (most of the gunboats were gone already, but there was still a lot around to deal with... Mound City had gone from nothing to the Navy's second or third largest shore installation in just a few years).

    The first photo is looking down-river, towards the southwest. The building in the distance (cross-wise to the view) was the sawmill; just beyond the sawmill but not visible are the marine ways, basically a number of rails almost like railroad tracks (but many of them, in parallel), with a couple of cradles that ran on them that were drawn up and down the rails by a powerful steam engine to haul boats out of the water for maintenance. The building closer to the camera is a machine shop, with a blacksmith shop just on the right side of the photo.

    The tinclad in the foreground has been identified as USS Tensas, but the unfortunate placement of the bell makes this not 100% certain (is that a zero or a nine behind it?). Astern/downstream of her is an unpowered barge of some sort, probably more repair facilities; and there's some sort of scow or barge in the river between the Tensas and the bank. The photo was taken from the deck of another vessel tied up upstream of the Tensas.

    The second photo is looking generally upstream, in a northerly direction (the Ohio River flows just about northeast to southwest where Mound City is located). The building on the far right is either offices or a gun carriage storage building (two maps disagree on this particular building [but it looks more like offices to me]). The small roofed-over structure that looks like a picnic pavilion is about where the maps say there should be a defensive battery. The most prominent building, with a sort of framework tower at one end, is the ordnance office. Immediately to the left of the ordnance office, you can see "The Mound," a portion of the levee protecting Mound City from the Mississippi; this might have been a pre-existing Indian burial mound (one of those that gave Mound City its name) that was incorporated into the levee system. The track-like structures set into the bank, I'm not 100% sure about; I know it's not the marine railway system, as that's located a few hundred yards downstream. The photo is possibly taken from the same vessel as the first photo, though of course in a different direction.

    (The buildings or houses just visible on the right side of the second photo are beyond the naval station and are part of Mound City proper. A little farther to the right would be the Hospital; too bad the photographer didn't include it in the image.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  4. ErnieMac

    ErnieMac Captain Forum Host Trivia Game Winner

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    Was the photo taken near or after the end of the war? It seems awfully empty for a major naval yard.
     
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  5. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    It does, doesn't it? I'm not sure of the exact date of the photos, but since the tinclads were all sold off and out of there by the end of 1865 (with perhaps one exception) it would have to be before that.

    I can spot a few people here and there in the photos; on the "Mound" appears to be a soldier in uniform; the light-colored cross-belt makes me suspect it's one of the Marine Guard of the station (there was guard post at a gate just behind the Mound).
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
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  6. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    Here's another view... this is taken almost parallel to the second photo, but much farther up the bank; you're looking right at the "Mound." The water is obviously considerably higher in this than in the previous photo. Note the framework tower of the ordnance office just behind the trees.

    I'm not sure what the odd-shaped pyramid-like building is in the left foreground; I'm guessing a guard shack but I don't really know.

    (This was probably taken from the deck of a boat as well, so you can REALLY see that the river stage is very high... also looks like there's flooding beyond the levee.)

    NavalStationFromLevee.jpg

    All the buildings clearly visible are part of the naval station; the less distinct ones in the background are Mound City proper. Again, on the right side of the picture is the battery that looks like a picnic pavilion and the offices-that-might-be-ordnance-storage. The gate I mentioned in connection with the second photo is just off the left side of the photo; kind of wish they'd included it in the shot.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  7. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    By the way, if you want to see what it looks like now... go to Google Earth or Google Maps, find Mound City, Illinois, and zoom in. At the downstream "corner" (southernmost point) of the town is the remains of the marine railway system (it was in use as late as WW2, for building landing craft). The land along the levee almost all the way up to the grain silos was the site of the naval station.
     
  8. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    AND.... This is an image of the marine ways in the early part of the 20th century. You can see the rails and the cradles quite clearly. The buildings around them have changed utterly since the Civil War days. (Looking upstream/northeast.)


    1150896_666651280011912_523595505_n.jpg
     
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  9. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Haven't been able to get back to this photo this week- gee whiz, the entire landscape changed completely. It's certainly uglier, I guess no one was thinking of anything more than utility in those days. You do tend to see an awful lot of dreadful landscaping on riverbanks- here on the Susquehanna, out in Pittsburg- places which began as perfectly lovely riverbanks once upon a time really took a hit through time.
     
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  10. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

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    Mark,
    To me that "track-like structure" in JPK's second photo looks more like a wooden walkway with the parallel slats to provide more traction. As the banks likely could be quite muddy and slick, depending on how the water level was changing, the walkway would allow workers to walk or roll wheelbarrow-like carts up/down the bank to get to the boats when the water level was low.
     
  11. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    That makes a lot of sense. You're most likely correct about it being a walkway.

    As for how it looks nowadays... a lot less industrial but perhaps not much better. Photos from my visit this summer:

    MCWays05_062413.JPG MCWays12_062413.JPG MCWays27_062413.JPG
     
  12. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Ha! Thanks for the pics. One of my favorite things is before/after ( unless there's a parking lot involved- detest those ). This seems peaceful, not down-at-the-heels like some of those water front places get to be after awhile.

    You do tend to forget about the mud- for all the mention of it, which is really frequent, in my head anyway I forget this would have been something they dealt with every, single day in some areas. That makes huge sense, there would have been a walkway for workers, thank you.

    In the 'old days ', in the forum, I see they used to break down photos endlessly- fun to bump into those. Frequntly find those threads when tooling around on the internet, get stuck on them for quite awhile. This is the kind of thing they'd find- down to a button on the ground ( just made that up, as an example of how detail oriented they could get ), amazing stuff.
     
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  13. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    The intense smell of rotting fish made it a bit less than idyllic. :sick:
     
  14. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Well heck that transcends decades on any waterfront. You just know the way technology is headed, one day someone is going to capture the whole ' smell here' feature. I'll be giving that one a miss- a LOT of places look better than they smell.
     
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  15. Flag Guy

    Flag Guy Private

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    Hello,

    This photograph is actually of the Eads Shipyard in Carondolet, Missouri just south of St. Louis. According to the Missouri Historical Society who owns the original image, this was taken in 1885.
     
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  16. Flag Guy

    Flag Guy Private

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    There is a project at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to map all known sites of the Mound City Naval Yard by a PhD member. I have read about this online and will email them for a copy of their report with detailed maps, images and more. This site is very important to US Navy history and I wish more could be done to develop this as a Civil War park where folks could come and learn about this.
     
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  17. mofederal

    mofederal Captain

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    I guess I have lived around river towns too long, they do tend to smell like rotten fish. Mound City is not a huge distance from me. Very little is left of the town. A National Cemetery is located there, but so much is just gone. The floods certainly haven't helped any. There have been some bad ones in the last 20 years. I make it sound terrible, but it is an interesting little town. I grew up in a small town like this. I have an interest in the Mississippian Mounds. Not many of those left either.
     
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  18. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    Before they cleaned up the Thames it was the smell of other rotting things that spoilt the idyll! Now we can smell the mud.
     
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  19. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Whoa, thank you! Thread is from 2013 so love it when new stuff comes up. Also love it when ' debunking ' comes up. That's quite a bit post war, thank you for correcting the date.

    Please, when you have the information on Mound City, would you begin a thread? It's also great to add it here but this one is already kinda corrupted because the image's date is so off. ( trying to remember where it came from- love ships without being at all good at it- in 2013 hit LoC and National Archives almost exclusively, in my mess of files somewhere )
     
  20. Josephussurf

    Josephussurf Cadet

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