worst maritime accident in the history of the Illinois River, the wreck of the
steamboat Columbia, is today a mostly forgotten tragedy. On the evening
of July 5, 1918, nearly 500 passengers embarked from Pekin, Illinois, on the Columbia
for a midnight cruise on the Illinois River. On the return trip a hole was
torn in the ship’s hull, the Columbia foundered, and 87 souls were lost.
Part of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
research collection in Springfield, author Ken
Zurski’s book, The Wreck of the Columbia, recounts the compelling true
story of the ill-fated Columbia.
writer Mark Henry Larson has adapted Zurski’s work for the stage. On March 18, at 2:00 p.m., the Glencoe
Public Library will host a performance of Larson’s new play, Broken
Beauty: The Wreck of the Steamer Columbia. Presented as a multi-media stage
reading, Broken Beauty features a cast of 15 actors portraying 57 roles
and an original musical score performed by live musicians.
Zurski and Mr. Larson will be on hand for a question-and-answer session after
the performance. Copies of The Wreck of the Columbia will be available
for purchase and signing.
The 90-minute production is for adults and young adults and
will be staged in the library’s Johnson Room.