I was looking through my father’s old 35mm slides and found this rare photo taken around 1965.
The motor vessel George Prince was a free commuter ferry owned and operated by the Louisiana Department of Highways, and was designated as LA HWY 52. It was originally built in 1937 at Slidell and operated in Natchez, Miss. for years before it relocated to St. Charles Parish. This photo was taken in the mid 1960s and shows a wooden structure and partially covered deck.
It was converted to add a 21-foot-tall steel house structure on the original hull at Avondale Ship Yard not long after this photo was taken.
On the morning of Oct. 20, 1976, the George Prince was struck by the Norwegian tanker SS Frosta, which was traveling upriver. The collision occurred less than three-quarters of a mile from the construction site of the Hale Boggs Bridge, which would replace the ferry seven years later. The ferry was crossing from Destrehan on the East Bank to Luling on the West Bank.
Ninety-six passengers and crew were aboard the ferry when it was struck and 78 perished.
This accident was the deadliest ferry disaster in United States history and remains the largest loss of life on board a maritime vessel in U.S. waters since the USS Thresher Submarine Disaster in 1963.
Visit the “Back in the Day, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office” Facebook page for more information on St. Charles Parish history at www.facebook.com/BackInTheDayStCharlesSheriffsOffice.
Historic photos needed for Looking Back series
The St. Charles Herald-Guide is beginning a “Looking Back” series on the history of St. Charles Parish featuring the stories of those who built the parish, the business they ran and the families they raised. Specifically, we are looking for old photos those in the community may have of the parish along with the history entailed in those photos.
To submit your photo or story, please contact Lifestyles Editor Kyle Barnett at (985) 758-2795 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.