Did you know the cartoon character "Popeye" was an Alabama native?
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 treacherous 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,
spinach eating, chap" named Popeye. Tom Sims took that character, spun
him off and gave him his own strip thus creating "Popeye the
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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