The Tazewell County Museum, on June 30, will observe the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Columbia steamboat tragedy with a special memorial service honoring victims and survivors of the accident.
On July 5, 1918, the excursion steamboat Columbia split up and sank on the Illinois River after striking an obstruction in a dense fog. Of the nearly 500 passengers aboard, 87 perished in the disaster. Most of the victims were from Pekin. The wreck of the Columbia was the worst riverboat disaster on the Illinois River.
The ceremony honoring victims and survivors will be held at 10 a.m. at Pekin Riverfront Park at the foot of Court Street.
“It is a way of showing respect not only to the families of victims and survivors, but to all the communities that were affected by the disaster,” said Christal Dagit, president and director of the Tazewell County Museum. “Families still hear stories of the wreck from parents and grandparents, so it still lives in their memories.”
The Pekin Public Library will observe the tragedy’s centennial with a special screening of WTVP’s original documentary “The Sinking of the Columbia,” at 11 a.m. on Friday and at 2 p.m. on July 3.