There’s a rusted, decrepit, and moldy old 1901 boat sitting in a creek along the Ohio River, stuck in the shallows in mud, back in the thick woods. It was briefly seen in the Madonna video for Papa Don’t Preach back in 1986 and is repeatedly referred to as being haunted. Haunted? Just because it sits in an eerie setting and looks like a ghost ship does not make it haunted. And it isn’t.

The old USS Sachem originated in 1901 as a luxury steam yacht, built in Delaware. It began its life being used by a millionaire to cruise and view his racing yachts around Long Island.

When WW1 kicked in, the navy commissioned the boat to help defend against German submarines. It became armed with a slew of weaponry including depth charges and patrolled the east coast beginning in 1917. Afterward, it was handed over to inventor Thomas Edison.

97.9 WGRD logo
Get our free mobile app

After Edison was through using it as his private floating laboratory, the boat became a Prohibition rumrunner, followed by a stint as a charter deep-sea fishing boat. When it was threatened to become scrap, a former owner bought the boat to a company that did water tours in the New York Harbor and Manhattan.

31 years later, it was removed from the fleet, stripped of parts, and left to deteriorate. In 1986, it was restored to a point where it was seaworthy once again.

It was during this time that it was used in brief scenes in Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach video. One of Madonna’s representatives saw the boat being repaired in the New York Harbor, pulled up in a limo, and asked “hey, can we use yer boat in a video for Madonna?” Of course the owner said ‘yes’ and there it is, next time you watch the video.

Afterward, the ship owner somehow got this aging old grandpa boat up the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal, through Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan, to the Chicago River, the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and finally to Taylor Creek.....and that was it. It would go no further. Hoping to leave it there for repairs, it just didn’t happen – and now sits eerily back in the thick brush stuck in the mud, all tattered, rusted, and mostly forgotten. If it weren’t for Madonna fanatics, the USS Sachem would probably still be ignored and forgotten.

But haunted? Baloney.
Creepy? Definitely.

Creepy Abandoned Boat Used in Madonna Video: Ohio River, Kentucky


Inside Madonna's Childhood House in Rochester

Inside the Shipwreck Daniel J. Morrell

Shipwrecks in the Straits of Mackinac


More From 97.9 WGRD