'May God Bless Memphis'

June 18, 1858

When boilers on the steamboat Pennsylvania exploded downriver 70 miles, the newspaper painted a dramatic picture of the horror that took hundreds of lives.

The whole of the superstructure of the boat from the wheels was dashed to ruin, and a considerable part, including the chimneys, was blown overboard, and the wheel houses were broken to pieces.

Days later, author Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) revealed he found his 20-year-old brother, Henry, at an improvised hospital in Memphis where he died a few days later. In a letter to his sister, Twain wrote:

I must tell you the truth, Mollie — three hundred human beings perished in that fearful disaster. But may God bless Memphis, the noblest city on the face of the earth. She has done her duty by the poor afflicted creatures ...