In 1849 St. Louis was ravaged by both pestilence and flame. Early in the year an outbreak of cholera spread rapidly through the city, due in part to the underdeveloped sewer and waste system. By the end of the epidemic, ten percent of St. Louis' population had perished and the city, recognizing the source of the problem, had begun to plan for its own municipal renovation. The installation of a complex system of sewers was, perhaps, made simpler when, in the spring of 1849, the steamship White Cloud made its way up the muddy waters of the Mississippi (few suspecting the steamer would bring its own namesake's antithesis) and docked in St. Louis. While in port, a fire broke out on the Cloud and severed the unfortunate ship's moorings. As the blazing White Cloud drifted upon the Mississippi's current, it set 22 of its fellow craft aflame.