Mississippi River Shipwreck Exposed by Drought as Water Levels Plummet

A sunken casino boat has been uncovered in the Mississippi as severe drought pushes water levels in the Memphis section of the river to record lows.

Unlike many of the nautical discoveries in shrunken bodies of water, this boat only sank in 2021, having been overwhelmed by a vicious storm.

The boat, named "The Diamond Lady", was in operation during the 1990s, before being taken out of commission as a floating casino in 1999 and docked in the Riverside Park Marina in Memphis, Captain William Lozier, the president of Memphis Riverboats, told Action News 5.

steamship mississippi
Stock image of a steamship on the Mississippi. A sunken casino boat has been uncovered in Memphis due to the Mississippi's drought-driven receding water levels. iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Mississippi River, the second-longest river in the U.S., has faced declines in water levels due to the drought and heat waves affecting the country this summer, along with countless other reservoirs and rivers.

According to National Weather Service data, the Memphis section of the Mississippi reached record lows last week, with the water level dropping to 10.75 feet below the baseline average gauge level. As of October 31, the water levels are at minus 8.2 feet.

Despite having only been sunk for a year, the "Diamond Lady" is covered in a layer of rust.

"Erosion wise—brass/metal relics will oxidize over time (go rusty, depending on iron content) but also sometimes be burnished by any sediment (abrasion). Organic materials can preserve really well in river mud (due to low oxygen conditions)," Simon Turner, a geography researcher at University College London, told Newsweek.

Recently, older relics were discovered on the Memphis banks, with several bullets and a belt buckle dating back to the U.S. Civil War being found lying on the river banks.

"It has been a busy time for finds all along the river from St. Louis all the way down to Baton Rouge. Recently a 6th grader was walking his dog on an exposed sandbar in the river just south of Baton Rouge and found a previously unknown shipwreck. Quite the honor, they ended up naming it after him—Aaron's Shipwreck," Kory Konsoer, a geography and anthropology professor at Louisiana State University, told Newsweek.

Around the country and the world, declining water levels have revealed a variety of weird and wacky artifacts from a vast range of eras. In the river Tiber in Italy, two of the ancient piers of Nero's bridge were uncovered, while in Serbia's Danube river, a fleet of Nazi warships was found.

Some 600-year-old Buddhist statues were revealed in the Yangtze River in China, while in Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas, the dried-up Paluxy River uncovered unseen dinosaur tracks. In Lake Mead, more macabre discoveries were made throughout the summer, with five sets of human remains uncovered, one of which was found stuffed into a barrel.