Coosa River Has Claims to The World's Most Famous Sailor


Popeye "The Sailor Man"

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copyright property of king Features Syndicate

The Coosa River can claim the world's most famous sailor as one of her own.

The story goes back to 1913. The lock and dam at Mayo's Bar had been completed by the Corps of Engineers and the level of the Coosa had been raised to make navigation over the trecherous Horseleg Shoals much easier. The dam successfully raised the water level about 10 feet.

Now the day to day task of keeping the channel clear fell to the Corps. They purchased the "Annie M" and renamed her "Leota". Her Captain was an Ohatchee, Alabama resident by the name of Sims. His son, Tom Sims, began drawing the comic strip "Thimble Theater" when it's creator Elzie Segar died in 1938.

The strip's story line dealt with the Oyl family that owned a shipping business. Commodore Oyl had a son, Castor, and a daughter, Olive. One of the sailors that worked for the Commodore was a "wise cracking, spinich eating, chap" named Popeye. Tom Sims took that character, spun him off and gave him his own strip thus creating "Popeye the Sailorman".

Tom Sims is quoted saying "Fantastic as Popeye is, the whole story is based on facts. As a boy I was raised on the Coosa River. When I began writing the script for Popeye I put my characters back on the old "Leota" that I knew as a boy, transformed it into a ship and made the Coosa River a salty sea."


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Absolute Popeye


thanks to Dennis Nordmen