Brookhill Shipwreck
Staff from the Louisiana Division of Archaeology examining the remains of the Brookhill ferry along the bank of the Mississippi River in 2022.

The Brookhill is a double-hulled ferry that operated on the Mississippi River from 1896 to 1915.  Approximately 100 feet long and 30-40 feet wide, the ferry carried passengers and cargo between Baton Rouge and Port Allen, Louisiana.  The Istrouma served as the day ferry, while the Brookhill operated at night.  The two ferries operated out of the Main Street dock and traveled across the Mississippi River.  In 1906, the ferry franchise, owned by the Baton Rouge Ferry Company, operated offices in downtown Baton Rouge, LA. 

Photograph taken from the bank showing the Istrouma ferry boat docked along the bank of the Mississippi River with a bridge in the background crossing the river.
Image of the Istrouma from the Howard Steamboat Museum Collection.

In 1915, a severe storm, possibly a hurricane, struck Baton Rouge.  The Istrouma was freed from the dock and lost downstream, while the Brookhill sank at the dock.  The storm destroyed several other boats, barges, and structures along the river.  In 1916, the Baton Rouge Ferry Company lost the franchise and a new ferry called the City of Baton Rouge began operation.

Brookhill Aerial by Forte and Tablada
Aerial view of staff from the Division of Archaeology and Forte & Tablada, Inc. examining the remains of the Brookhill shipwreck along the bank of the Mississippi River.

In the fall of 2022, the Mississippi River dropped low enough to expose what remains of the Brookhill.  Although previously documented as an archaeological site over 25 years prior, the low water levels for an extended period of time allowed the Division of Archaeology to study the remains of the Brookhill to learn more about this local ferry.

Keelson Scarf Joint, Allen Saltus
Alan Saltus excavating a section of the Brookhill while the water levels remain low enough for further research on this archaeological site.

For a close-up, interactive view of the Brookhill, use the webviewer below:

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