Graffiti Artists Tag U.S.S. Inaugural as River Waters Recede

Categories: Arts

inaugural 1
Leah Greenbaum
St. Louis street art has finally hit the river. Graffiti taggers recently left their marks on the rusting hulk of the U.S.S. Inaugural, a World War II-era minesweeper that now rests on the banks of the Mississippi River, about a mile south of the Poplar Street Bridge.

Water levels on the river between St. Louis and Cairo, MO are expected to reach record-lows this year, exposing more than just an industry in peril. Inaugural has been fully exposed this fall and accessible to intrepid taggers looking to lay claim to this sunken treasure.

Daily RFT went down to the U.S.S. Inaugural yesterday after noticing the handiwork of "Rat Fag" in recent news photos. A set of photos of the vessel that appeared in the Post-Dispatch last month show a bare deck, so the graffiti work appears to be quite recent.

Related content:
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- Color of Law: St. Louis officials have more power than ever to regulate public art

The decommissioned minesweeper was a tourist attraction docked just in front of the Arch for 25 years until severe flooding in 1993 swept Inaugural straight into the Poplar Street Bridge--and an untimely watery grave (check out RFT's 2007 feature story for a full history of this strange vessel).

Usually when water levels are low about two-thirds of Inaugural is visible from vantage points along the shore (read on for directions). But after an especially brutal summer, river levels around St. Louis are nearing minus 5 feet and the entire hull is not only visible, but approachable (if you are careful, lucky and don't mind getting your toes wet).

Leah Greenbaum

Check out our photos:

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I remember this boat well, from back when the riverfront actually HAD things to do on it.  Sad that now all it is used for is something to tag.  Really wish they would pull it out of that grave its in and do SOMETHING better for it.  Would give me something to visit again when I am in town.


The U.S.S. Inaugural is in the Mississippi River, not the Missouri. May want to fix this post...

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