Vintage Austin: Ben Hur Steamboat

Photo Credit: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library PICA 13016

This Vintage Austin image from the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, showcases the iconic Ben Hur steamboat navigating Lake McDonald, now known as Lake Austin. Starting in 1893, the Ben Hur steamboat offered two daily 60-mile trips around the lake, providing passengers with an array of dining experiences, dancing, picnics, and scenic excursions during these memorable cruises. With a remarkable capacity for up to 2,000 passengers, the steamboat was a true marvel of its time, offering grand adventures for large groups.

However, tragedy struck on April 6, 1900, when a torrential rainfall led to the disintegration of the dam, resulting in the destruction of the Ben Hur steamboat.  The crew was able to safely exit before it was ripped from its moorings and ended up broken atop a hill. This event marked the end of an era, with the loss of a beloved symbol of grandeur and entertainment on Lake McDonald.

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