After 100 years on the bottom of the Yazoo River, efforts were initiated to raise the USS Cairo. But over the years silt and river sediment had accumulated inside the vessel, and, as the Cairo was lifted from the bottom, it began to bend and buckle from the added weight. Without warning, the lifting cables sliced deep into its wooden hull cutting the boat into three sections.
The remains of the Cairo were lifted from the river, placed on barges and towed to Ingalls Shipyard located on the gulf coast in Pascagoula, Mississippi. There, it remained in storage until 1977, when the Cairo was donated to the National Park Service for preservation. The gunboat restoration project was completed in 1984, and the exhibit was opened to the public in 1985.