Simp McGhee's

The Story of Simp McGhee

There are many tales told of Simp McGhee, the infamous river boat captain of Decatur at the turn-of-the-century. His boisterous ways, unconventional operations, and blustering manner made him a most picturesque legend of the Tennessee River.

Tales are told of Simp's pet pig that drank beer with him at his bar on Bank Street; of pranks he played on fishermen and hog drovers to acquire free food for feasts aboard his boat, and how every Thursday as he steamed into town he would blow the steam whistle as a signal to Miss Kate that he had arrived.

Simp, a Master Pilot, was as skillful and competent as the best. But in the Spring of 1917, Federal Agents lifted his license for "the reckless shooting of the rapids" near Chattanooga. No longer allowed to pilot his riverboats, he returned to Decatur and died at Miss Kate's house, June 16, 1917, at the age of 58...

William Simpson McGhee was buried on the bank of the Tennessee River near Guntersville.

Simp McGhee sitting at the bar with his beloved pig