KAMPSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) – It appears the fire that destroyed the old Goldenrod Showboat over the weekend was started by fireworks.
North Calhoun Fire Protection District Chief Gary Hall tells KMOX they found six or seven Roman candle containers near the site Sunday.
He says while they may never know for sure if the fireworks sparked the blaze, there were no other sources of ignition nearby.
The century-old wood superstructure was basically reduced to ashes in the fire, which was spotted from two miles downstream early Saturday morning.
Our earlier story:
Fire has claimed a St. Louis landmark. The old Goldenrod Showboat was destroyed early Saturday morning where it was moored about 70 miles north of St. Louis, at Kampsville, Illinois.
North Calhoun Fire Protection District Chief Gary Hall tells KMOX someone at the Kampsville Ferry reported seeing a glow about two miles upstream, at about 3 a.m. “When we got up there we found the old Goldenrod Showboat was on fire and was completely engulfed in flames.”
Hall says it was too late to save the old wooden superstructure. “It didn’t take but about an hour and it was all completely burned up and it had fell down on the inside of the old barge.”
Hall says the fire’s cause is not known.
According to the Historic Riverboat Preservation Association, the Goldenrod was built in 1909. It first docked in St. Louis in 1937, serving as a floating theater and then dinner theater. It was purchased by the city of St. Charles in 1989 and opened on that city’s riverfront in 1991, after a two-year renovation. It closed in 2001. It was sold to Pool 24 Tug Service for unpaid mooring fees in 2013.
The association has salvaged what it could from the interior and hopes to display the artifacts in the future.