Low Missouri River exposes 130-year-old wreck



BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – Levels on the Missouri River are the lowest in a long time. Drought and reduced discharges from the Garrison Dam have lowered the level by nearly two feet.

This is good news for history buffs.

The low water level gave the curious a glimpse of a nearly 130-year-old shipwreck.

Abner O’Neal(Joe Schell)

It’s a kayak trip that Nyk Edinger has dreamed of for years.

“I thought it would be a fantastic thing to see,” Edinger said.

The Abner O’Neal sank in 1892 while carrying 9,000 bushels of wheat from Washburn to Mandan. The steamboat has since been submerged in the waters of the Missouri River. Now, 129 years later, kayakers like Edinger are watching the ship up close.

“It’s pretty exciting to be so close to him, to see how he’s kept his form,” he said.

Since Edinger’s adventure a little over a week ago, the water level has dropped even more, making the Abner O’Neal even more visible.

“It’s just amazing that he’s still where he sank,” said Edinger.

It was the perfect adventure weekend for history buff Todd Sheldon and his brothers.

Abner O'Neal
Abner O’Neal(Joe Schell)

“It was pretty cool to see a piece of history that has been there for almost 130 years. You could lay it out and see where the boat was and which way it rolled, ”Sheldon said.

The wreckage is only visible from the water. It is becoming a staple for kayakers like the Sheldons. Several other curious kayakers made the trip, taking advantage of the low water levels to see this piece of history that has not budged for nearly 130 years.

The Abner O’Neal is about 25 miles north of Bismarck, about half a mile from the Steckel boat launch near Wilton.

The State Historical Society reminds you that if you venture out to see it, only take pictures.

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