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a I b R.AFLY 




On tlie Wafer Way fo io^sva 

Steam Doatmg 

On ttke Upper Mississippi 

Tlie Water Way to Iowa 

Some^ River history 

Ic^m. J. Tetersen-. 

Publisked &i Iowa City Iowa in 1937 
ly TLe State Historical Society of Iowa 




I o the memory of 'Unaries L. IPefersen 

wno spent tniriy-eiglii years of aaven- 
forevriflu trie Jjianiomic! Jo JLioc Ofcanmers 


i'^Foan ilie ll/diitoF 

Xiie Cjrreai l\iver 

aicr 'vray io ioiva 
it s m a mamr! 
From sky fjiiiae wafers 

Manj sicamlboais 
oteamlDoait capiaios 
oteamaooai cargoes 

ofeamLlttoat excuarsions 

VamsJnimg red men 
lijucliaii treaty groTumcls 
Jrrontier military Jtorts 
ooicliers come audi go 

Jh/migrant pioneers 
vV estward tliey go 
C^rossmg tke river 
Visions ok empire 

Benj. F« bliamljaugii 
Stftfe oistoracal aocicty oil Iowa 
Iowa i^liy loyva. 




























2-i PIGS OF LEAD 204 








_^'32 THE GRAND EXCURSION OF 18^4 271 ^ 


















INDEX 553 


iMLississippi ° I lie virrcait JKivcr 

From the Laud of the Ojibway 

Far flung and powerful was the Algonquian nation, 
ranging all the way from the Passamaquoddy Indians of 
Maine to the Arapaho of Montana, and from the Cree 
around Hudson Bay to the Pamlico in North Carolina. Of 
the many tribes that composed this great woodland stock 
of North American Indians none was more powerful than 
the Ojibway. 

Fierce warriors of the lake and forest, the Ojibway be- 
came the scourge of surrounding tribes once they secured 
firearms from the French traders late in the seventeenth 
century. They drove the Fox Indians from northern Wis- 
consin. They sent the Sioux scurrying across the Missis- 
sippi and on to the Minnesota River. They were likewise 
successful in battle against the dreaded Iroquois. Finally, 
the Ojibway occupied the vast range of territory between 
Lake Superior and the Red River of the North. '^ 

Knowing that the lakes and streams which they trav- 
ersed in birch canoes paid tribute to a mighty rivets, the 
Ojibway called this waterway the Mississippi, which means 
Great River.l This name, at first used only in reference 
to the headwaters of the Great River, was passed on by 
the various Algonquian tribes to the French fur traders 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and missionaries, who in turn applied it to the river as it 
coursed southward. In time the name Mississippi dis- 
placed the various Indian names in use along the lower 
river, such as Chucagua, Tamaliseu, Tapatu, and Mico. 

At least thirty or more names had been applied to the 
Mississippi, such as Rio Grande, Palisado, and Escondido 
by the Spanish; and St. Louis, Conception, Buade, and 
Colbert by the French. Adopting a spelling based on the 
Indian sound, Hennepin called it Meschasipi on his map 
of 1697; while William Delisle, the brilliant cartographer 
to the French king, spelled it uniformly Mississipi on his 
maps of 1703, 1718, and 1750. Jonathan Carver used the 
present spelling, and later writers and map-makers have 
followed his example.^ 

For many years the boundary between war-like tribes 
and mighty nations, the Mississippi served as the main 
highway in the discovery and exploration of an inland 
empire. Over its waters passed wave upon wave of pio- 
neers eager to build enduring Commonwealths west of 
the Great River. Upon its placid bosom floated rich 
argosies of grain and merchandise. (To this day the Missis- 
sippi remains for the white man what it was to the dusky 
Ojibway — the Great River.) 



Veritas C^apot I Jllasca 

What's in a Name 

Many notable men ventured into the wilderness to dis- 
cover the true source of the Mississippi. Their exploits 
have been recorded in history; and the names of many of 
them may still be found on the map of the Upper Missis- 
sippi Valley. The achievements of Zebulon M. Pike, Lewis 
Cass, Giacomo C. Beltrami, and Henry R. Schoolcraft 
form part of this dramatic story of exploration : faced by 
starvation and the danger of Indian attack, each modestly 
inscribed his name in the story of the discovery of the 
headwaters of the Mississippi. 

First to carry the flag of discovery to the sources of the 
Mississippi was Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike. Braving the 
frozen northland in the dead of winter. Pike managed to 
reach Leech Lake on January 31, 1806. Fourteen years 
later, Lewis Cass, with a party of thirty-eight men, among 
whom was Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, entered Cass Lake 
but failed to reach the headwaters of the Mississippi. Cass 
learned, however, from the "best information" obtainable, 
that the Mississippi had its origin in a lake called "La 
Biche" or Elk Lake. In 1823 Beltrami, a man of courage 
and endurance (even though he may have been a "hero- 
^ worshipper, with but one hero, and that himself") , placed 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the sources of the Mississippi in Lake Julia, a tributary of 
Turtle Lake. \It was not until 1832 that the true source 
of the Great River was discovered by Henry Rowe School- 

Schoolcraft was born in Albany County, New York, on 
March 28, 1793. Trained in languages and the natural 
sciences, he began his career as an explorer in the mineral 
region of Missouri and Arkansas in 1817-1818. His pub- 
lished account of this expedition won instant recognition; 
and in 1820 the government requested him to join Gover- 
nor Lewis Cass of Michigan on what turned out to be an 
unsuccessful exploration of the Upper Mississippi. 

Ten years later (in 1830) Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, 
then serving as Indian Agent, was ordered to "proceed into 
the Chippewa country, to endeavor to put an end to the 
hostilities between the Chippewas and Sioux." Schoolcraft 
set out in June of 1831 with twenty-six men, but low 
water caused him to change his plans. After holding In- 
dian conferences on the St. Croix and Chippewa rivers, 
he paddled down the Mississippi and up the Fever River 
to Galena. Here the party divided, some returning by the 
Wisconsin River, others by way of the Pecatonica and its 
branches to Fort Winnebago, the Fox River, and Green 

In the following spring the War Department again or- 
dered Schoolcraft to "proceed to the country upon the 
heads of the Mississippi, and visit as many of the Indians 
in that, and the intermediate region, as circumstances will 
permit." Accordingly, on June 7, 1832, Schoolcraft set 


Veritas Caput : Itasca 

out with a force of thirty men, including Lieutenant 
James Allen and ten soldiers detached for topographical 
duty, Dr. Douglas Houghton, a surgeon and geologist, and 
George Johnston, a half-breed interpreter. Reverend Wil- 
liam T. Boutwell, a missionary to the northwestern In- 
dians, was invited to accompany the exploring party: he 
was destined to play a unique role in the expedition. 

The Schoolcraft expedition reached the Mississippi from 
Lake Superior by ascending the St. Louis River and por- 
taging into and descending the Sandy Lake River. Begin- 
ning the ascent of the Mississippi on July 4, 1832, the 
party passed through Thundering [Grand] Rapids, Poke- 
gama Falls, Lake Winnebagoshish, and on to Cass Lake. 

It was at Cass Lake that Schoolcraft chose a "select 
party" to explore the source of the Mississippi. A Chip- 
pewa Indian named Ozawindib (The Yellowhead) acted 
as guide. The party of sixteen included Schoolcraft, Allen, 
Houghton, Boutwell, George Johnston, three Indians, 
seven engages, and a cook. "These, with their travelling 
beds", Schoolcraft relates, "were distributed among five 
canoes, with provisions for ten days, a tent and poles, oil 
cloth, mess basket, tea-kettle, flag and stafif, a medicine 
chest, some instruments, an herbarium, fowling pieces, 
and a few Indian presents." 

Ozawindib guided Schoolcraft and his men up the 
hitherto unknown east fork of the Mississippi to its source. 
Thence the party made a six-mile portage which required 
thirteen stops (called by the voyageurs a '^pose" or "place 
of putting down the burthen") . Despite heavy loads, the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

expedition pressed on eagerly. Suddenly, on turning out 
of a thicket into a small weedy opening, Schoolcraft came 
upon the "cheering sight of a transparent body of 
water . . .'It was Itasca Lake i— the source of the Mis- 
; sissippi." 

' Everyone was delighted with the picturesque surround- 
ings. Schoolcraft noted that "Itasca Lake, the Lac la Bicbe 
[Elk] of the French, is, in every respect, a beautiful sheet 
of water, seven or eight miles in extent, lying among hills 
of diluvial formation, surmounted with pines, which 
fringe the distant horizon . . . The waters are transparent 
and bright, and reflect a foliage produced by the elm, 
lynn, maple, and cherry". The lake had a "single island" 
upon which the exploring party landed and raised the 
American emblem on a flagstaff. The island is known to 
^ this day as Schoolcraft Island. 

After a scant three hours the expedition departed down 
the Mississippi through the outlet of Lake Itasca, which 
Schoolcraft described as "perhaps ten to twelve feet broad, 
with an apparent depth of twelve to eighteen inches. The 
discharge of water appears to be copious, compared to its 
inlet. Springs may, however, produce accessions which 
are not visible, and this is probable both from the geolog- 
ical character of the country, and the transparency and 
coolness of the water." 

Jubilant over the success of his expedition, Schoolcraft 
paddled swiftly down the Mississippi from Lake Itasca, 
holding occasional conferences with Indians on the way. 
Upon his return to Sault Ste. Marie he prepared his "Nar- 


Veritas Caput : Itasca 

rative of an Expedition Through the Upper Mississippi to 
Itasca Lake, the Actual Source of this River" in 1832." 

Four years later (in 1836) the distinguished French 
scholar, J. N. Nicollet, found other "inconsiderable afflu- 
ents" of Lake Itasca, but contended that this lake was 
the "principal reservoir". Nicollet generously declared 
that "the honor of having first explored the sources of the 
Mississippi, and introduced a knowledge of them in phys- 
ical geography, belongs to Mr. Schoolcraft and Lieutenant 
Allen. I come only after these gentlemen; but I may be 
permitted to claim some merit for having completed what 
was wanting for a full geographical account of these 
sources . 

Whence came the beautiful name Itasca? That is a 
question which has kept historians in a quandary for sev- 
eral generations. At the time neither Schoolcraft, nor 
Allen, nor Houghton, nor Boutwell, seem to have given a 
satisfactory explanation of the origin and use of this name. 
In 1853 Mrs. Mary H. Eastman published the American 
Aboriginal Portfolio in which she recounts that Itasca was 
the daughter of Nanabozho, the Spirit God of the Chip- 
pewa, whose falling tears formed the lake. Mrs. Eastman 
declared that Schoolcraft had received the story from his 
Chippewa guide and had told it to her. Schoolcraft a 
little later confirmed this theory when he himself wrote 
a poem on the lovely Itasca which was included in his 
Summary Narrative of the expeditions of 1820 and 1832 
published in 185 5. In the same book, however, he states 
that Ozawindib had given the Indian name for the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

lake as Omushkos, which was the Chippewa name for elk. 

In 1872 new light was shed on the origin of the name 
by Reverend William T. Boutwell. Replying to an in- 
quiry as to the origin of the word Itasca, Boutwell declared 
that while paddling slowly westward across Lake Superior, 
Schoolcraft had turned to him and said : "I would like to 
give a name to Elk Lake that will be significant or expres- 
sive, as the head or true source of the Mississi[ppi]. Can 
you give me any word in Latin or Greek that will convey 
the idea. I replied no one word will express the idea — the 
nearest I can come to it is Veritus Caput — or if you pre- 
fer the noun Veritas — you may coin something that will 
meet your wishes. In less than five minutes he replied I 
have got the thing — handing me a slip of paper on which 
was the word Itasca ... It was then & there & in just this 
manner the word, the name Itasca was coined. The Ojib- 
was invariably called the lake Omushkos Sagaeigun [Elk 

Thus, at the suggestion of Boutwell, the name Itasca 
was coined by Schoolcraft, by taking from the expression 
Veritas caput the last four letters {Has) of the word 
Veritas and combining them with the first two letters 
{ca) of the word caput — which gives the new word 
Itasca. It may be added that the fanciful creation of new 
words or names by dividing two familiar words and com- 
bining the parts as in the case of Itasca was not uncommon 
in the period of the Schoolcraft explorations. 

Although the Boutwell explanation of the name Itasca 
was generally accepted in the years that followed, some 


Veritas Caput : Itasca 

writers still clung to the Chippewa legend. And there 
were others who believed that the word might have been 
derived from the O jib way words ia (to be), totosh (the 
female breast, implying origin), and ka (terminal sub- 
inflection) , the whole ia-tofosh-ka signifying a fount. 
This explanation was actually accepted in the 1882 edition 
of Webster's Dictionary. Students of the Dakota Indians 
also pointed to a possible origin from the language of that 

Meanwhile, Boutwell's explanation received further cor- 
roboration from Reverend Jeremiah Porter in a letter to 
Jacob V. Brower in the early nineties. Porter declared that 
upon the return of Schoolcraft, Houghton, and Allen in 
1832 "they told me how they had named so beautifully 
the lake from two Latin words." ^ 

After a period of sixty years the question still remained 
unsolved in 1932 when the Minnesota Historical Society 
and other organizations celebrated at Itasca State Park 
the centennial of the discovery of the source of the Mis- 
sissippi.* Hundreds of pages had been written about the 
park and its name, but the matter still lay open to debate. 
After a careful evaluation of the problem, Dr. Theodore 
C. Blegen, superintendent of the Minnesota Historical 
Society, concluded : "In the light of Porter's corrobora- 
tion, the case at present seems to lean toward the Boutwell 
explanation, though the episode of the Latin words may 
possibly have occurred on the return journey rather than 
on the trip west. It is obvious that something is lacking in 
the evidence, however. It is an intriguing little problem 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and it is to be hoped that from some source will come the 
key that will unlock the mystery." * 

That key — a contemporary verification of Boutwell's 
Veritas Caput by a member of the expedition — may now 
be presented. It comes from Schoolcraft himself! Leaving 
Lake Itasca on July 13, 1832, the day of the discovery, 
Schoolcraft hastened down the Mississippi, arriving at 
Fort Snelling eleven days later. On the following day 
(July 25, 1832) he wrote a letter to Dr. Addison Philleo, 
editor of a Galena newspaper, describing the expedition to 
the true source of the Mississippi River. The concluding 
paragraphs of Schoolcraft's letter furnish all the evidence 
needed to substantiate the Boutwell explanation.^" 

"The Mississippi [above Cass Lake], expands into sev- 
eral lakes, the largest of which is called lac Traverse. A few 
miles above this it forms into a south west and north west 
branch. We ascended the latter [sic], through a number of 
lakes to its source in a small creek. From thence we made 
a portage of 6 miles, with our canoes, into La Biche or 
Itasca Lake (from a derivation of the expression Veritas 
caput) which is the true source of this celebrated stream, 
being at the same time, its most western and northern 
head. This lake is about 7 miles long, having somewhat 
the shape of the letter Y. It has clear water and pleasant 
woody shores. It has a single island, upon which I landed, 
caused some trees to be felled, and hoisted the national 
flag. I left this flag flying, and proceeded down the N. W. 
or main fork. A descent of about 180 miles brought us 
back to our party at Red Cedar, a Cape [or Cass] lake." 


Veritas Caput : Itasca 

Ver itas ca put! The letter signed by Schoolcraft him- 
self solves the riddle of the naming of Lake Itasca. No 
longer need there be even a shadow of doubt cast upon the 
origin of the name of the lovely Lake Itasca — the head- 
waters of the Mississippi. 

The Schoolcraft letter of July 25, 1852, as first published in the August 22, 1832, 
issue of The Galenian and later copied in the December 1, 1832, issue of Niles' 
Register, was discovered in November, 1936, by Dr. VC^illiam J. Petersen, Research 
Associate in the State Historical Society of Iowa and author of the pages of this 
book. — The Editor. 


1 lie Joorney oi the VV alters 

One may think of the Great River of the Ojibway as 
comprising the Upper Mississippi, which includes the jour- 
ney of the waters all the way from Lake Itasca to the 
mouth of the Missouri, and the Lower Mississippi as Old 
Man River rolls along from the mouth of the Missouri to 
the Gulf of Mexico. The Falls of St. Anthony abruptly 
breaks this journey of the waters, separating the Upper 
Mississippi in its flow through the "land of the sky blue 
waters" from its course southward into the heart of the 
Great Valley which shares the glory of its name. 

Rising almost imperceptibly in north central Minnesota 
out of the multitude of lakes and streams that empty into 
Lake Itasca (the most remote of which is Lake Hernando 
de Soto with an elevation of 1571 feet above sea level) , and 
flowing swiftly through pine forests interspersed with 
birch, balsam, and tamarack, the Upper Mississippi glides 
peacefully through Cass Lake and Winnebagoshish Lake 
and then swiftly passes Grand Rapids, Little Falls, and St. 
Cloud. Its precipitate flight through the land of ten thou- 
sand lakes once reached a thundering climax at the Falls of 
St. Anthony. But now the hand of man has robbed the 
Great River of much of its pristine grandeur by restrain- 
ing its wild course with walls of concrete. 

By the time St. Paul is reached the Mississippi has 


The Journey of the Waters 

dropped almost 900 feet in the 600 mile journey from its 
source. Already it has flowed a hundred miles farther than 
the renowned Seine, and three times as far as the historic 
Jordan in its entire course. And yet at St. Paul this Great 
River has barely reached adolescence : its journey has just 

After leaving the land of sky blue waters (a region re- 
nowned in fable and history) the Mississippi flows south- 
ward for 660 miles from the Falls of St. Anthony to the 
mouth of the Missouri : six hundred miles of water and a 
thousand reminders of history and romance. For this is 
the Mississippi of Joliet and Marquette; the Mississippi of 
Julien Dubuque and the mines of Spain; the Mississippi 
that played a role in the Revolutionary War and the War 
of 1812; the Mississippi that resounded with the war call 
of Black Hawk and swallowed the blood of his fellow 
tribesmen. On its banks at Hannibal, Mark Twain grew 
to man's estate; and at Le Claire, Buffalo Bill went to 
school and developed his "love for skiff riding on the 
Mississippi". This is the river which the pioneers of Iowa 
had to cross. Here is the true "Upper Mississippi" on 
which the steamboats War Eagle, Grey Eagle, Itasca, and 
Hawkeye State and many others carried the rich argosies 
which nurtured to maturity the newly-born Common- 
wealths of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Min- 

It is here that the Mississippi winds through a valley 
that bears mute evidence of millions of years of scouring 
and polishing. Towering ramparts, such as Maiden Rock 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and Trempealeau in Wisconsin, Barn Bluff and Dresbach 
in Minnesota, Capoli Bluff and Pike's Peak in Iowa, stand 
like sentinels on guard. Below Dubuque the river flows 
past the historic towns of Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, 
Burlington, Fort Madison, Nauvoo, Keokuk, Quincy, 
Hannibal, and on to St. Louis. During the course of the 
660 mile journey from St. Paul to St. Louis the Great 
River drops from 680 to 384 feet above sea level. With 
the exception of occasional outcroppings (like Cap au 
Gris, Elsah, and Piasa Rock) the river below Keokuk runs 
through wide valleys hemmed in by low-lying bluffs. 

Between the Falls of St. Anthony and the mouth of the 
Missouri, the Mississippi presents a wonderland of natural 
and rugged beauty. In the early days visitors from foreign 
lands stood spellbound on the decks of steamboats as the 
grandeurs of an ever-changing panorama unfolded be- 
fore them. Europeans invariably compared the river be- 
tween Dubuque and Lake Pepin with the historic BJiine; 
while Americans likened its fantastic bluflFs to the palisades 
of the lordly Hudson. 

In width, but not in depth, this middle section of the 
Father of Waters actually surpasses the Lower Mississippi. 
And small wonder, for on its way it has been nourished by 
the St. Croix, the Chippewa, the Black, the WapsipinicoM, 
the Rock, the Iowa, the Skunk, and scores of smaller 
streams; and it has been fed by the Illinois, the Wisconsin, 
the Minnesota, and the Des Moines, streams which in 
length surpass the Delaware and the Hudson. 

Just above St. Louis the Mississippi receives the muddy 


The Journey of the Waters 

waters of the Missouri whose yellow silt has been pilfered 
from the soil during the course of its almost three thousand 
mile journey from the Rocky Mountains. 

Between the mouth of the Missouri and the Gulf of 
Mexico the Mississippi enters the final lap of its journey to 
the sea. For over twelve hundred miles it flows past cotton 
plantations and squalid homes of negroes and poor white 
folk. This is the Mississippi of De Soto and La Salle, of 
Antoine Crozat, of John Law and the Mississippi Bubble. 
This is the river over which Napoleon and Jefferson hag- 
gled after years of French and Spanish intrigue. Here 
courses the Mississippi that tempted Aaron Burr, led Ful- 
ton and Livingston to dream of monopoly, and inspired 
Andrew Jackson in his heroic defense of New Orleans. 
Down this mighty waterway went the youthful Lincoln 
to get his first glimpse of the slave block. Around tower- 
ing Vicksburg the remorseless Ulysses S. Grant forged a 
ring of steel that split the Confederacy in twain and 
doomed the cause of the South. Along this great highway 
floated keelboats and flatboats, steamboats and showboats. 
Up its swift current raced the Natchez and the Robert E. 
Lee while a nation cheered them on. _/ 

The Great River below St. Louis has reached strong 
maturity; but an interesting journey is still before it. 
Fifty-five miles downstream from the metropolis of the 
Mississippi lies Ste. Genevieve, the oldest white settlement 
in Missouri : it was settled in 1735, almost a century before 
the Black Hawk War opened the Iowa prairies to the white 
pioneers. Farther downstream at the confluence of the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Ohio with the Mississippi lies Cairo, where Charles Dickens 
learned to his sorrow the hazards of American land spec- 

For over one thousand miles below Cairo, the Mississippi 
winds through a level flood plain from fifty to one hun- 
dred miles wide. Behind high-banked levees cowers many 
a hapless river town : none more fearful than New Madrid 
when Old Man River goes on a rampage. Mighty tribu- 
taries like the Arkansas and the Red rivers join the swirling 
waters — to whose volume the Ohio has contributed 
thirty-one per cent, the Upper Mississippi nineteen per 
cent, and the Missouri only fourteen per cent. Flood losses 
along the Lower Mississippi are immense : in 1922 they 
were set at $17,087,790; in 1927 at about $285,000,000; 
and in 1937 floods along the Ohio-Lower Mississippi 
reached a staggering total which will run far in excess of 
these sums. During low water the Lower Mississippi dis- 
charges into the Gulf of Mexico about 70,000 cubic feet 
of water per second, compared with 2,300,000 cubic feet 
during flood stage. Measured by the volume of water car- 
ried, the renowned St. Lawrence pales before the Father 
of Waters.^^ 

Ancient is this river : geologists place its beginnings 
some sixty million years ago. But those who dwell upon 
its banks are prone to think of it in terms of modern com- 
merce, industry, and power. Thus the mighty Mississippi 
and its more than fifty navigable tributaries furnish about 
14,000 miles of waterways which border or traverse twen- 
ty-seven States, seventeen of which are entirely or very 


The Journey of the Waters 

largely within the Mississippi drainage system. If one in- 
cludes the Great Lakes cities, which are economically and 
politically a part of it, the Mississippi Valley now produces 
almost half the manufactured goods of the nation. The 
gigantic dam at Keokuk ranks as one of the great power 
plants of the world. 

This fertile basin of the Mississippi, which has been aptly 
called the "body of the nation", surpasses in area the his- 
toric valley of the Nile. It is twice as large as the valley 
of the Volga, and fourteen times greater than the Rhine 
basin. In extent it is exceeded only by the Amazon and 
the Kongo. Here, in this breadbasket of the nation, is 
found sixty-five per cent of the improved land and over 
half of the population of the United States. No other 
section of this vast inland empire can compare in wealth ^ 
and fertility with the five States of the Upper Mississippi 



Under Jroiir Flags 

The discovery and exploration of the Mississippi River is 
a story of epic proportions. The colorful pageant opens 
with the swash-buckling De Soto hacking his way through 
the wilderness in 1541 : it concludes with the discovery 
of Lake Itasca by Schoolcraft in 1832. Throughout the 
drama intrepid soldiers, hardy fur traders and miners, and 
black-robed Catholic priests stalk across the stage.; Of 
the many actors who played a part none showed greater 
courage than did Hernando de Soto under the flag of 

De Soto is said to have begun his career with nothing 
but his sword and shield. Possessing rare qualities of leader- 
ship, this courageous Spaniard so distinguished himself with 
Pizarro that he returned from Peru with over one hun- 
dred thousand pesos of gold. He was appointed governor 
of Cuba and commissioned to conquer and settle at his 
own expense what is now the southern part of the United 

In May, 15 39, De Soto left Havana with 620 men and 
223 horses. Landing at Tampa Bay he moved slowly in a 
northwesterly direction, fighting Indians, enduring sick- 
ness and disease, "determined to send no newes of himself 
until hee had found some rich country." From the Chicka- 
saw Bluffs below present-day Memphis, De Soto and his 


Under Four Flags 

ragged army first viewed the Mississippi River on May 8, 
1 541. As a member of this expedition a Portuguese gentle- 
man from Elvas has left what is perhaps the earliest re- 
corded description of the Mississippi: 

"The River was almost halfe a league broad. If a man 
stood still on the other side, it could not be discerned 
whether he were a man or no. The River was of great 
depth, and of a strong current; the water was alwaies mud- 
die; there came downe the River continually many trees 
and timber." 

De Soto spent a month building barges with which the 
expedition crossed the Mississippi. Traveling for almost 
a year in what is now Arkansas De Soto finally returned 
to the banks of the Great River, broken in health and de- 
pressed in spirit. There he died on May 21, 1542. His 
body was wrapped in blankets weighted with sand, 
"wherein he was carried in a canoe, and thrown into the 
middest of the River." " 

More than a century passed before the curtain rises on 
the next act. The scene is shifted to the St. Lawrence 
Valley and the Great Lakes, where the French were search- 
ing for the Western Sea. By 1634 Jean Nicolet had reached 
the Winnebago Indians in the Green Bay region. Upon 
his return to Quebec, Nicolet observed that "if he had 
sailed three days' journey farther upon a great river which 
issues from this lake [Michigan] he would have found the 
sea" which led to distant China.'^ 

A generation later Radisson and Groseilliers, two ob- 
scure French coureurs de bois, plunged into the wilderness 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

beyond Lake Superior and Green Bay. Of his third jour- 
ney, made about 1660, Radisson wrote : "We weare 4 
moneths in our voyage wi^'out doeing any thing but goe 
from river to river. We mett severall sorts of people . . . 
we went into ye great river that . . . has 2 branches, the 
one towards the west, the other towards the South, whi''^ 
we beheve runns toward Mexico, by the tokens they gave 
us." This description led some scholars to believe Radisson 
and Groseilliers actually entered the Mississippi. If so, 
their accomplishment was unknown to the French officials 
and the Jesuits. Indeed, the first reference to the Missis- 
sippi by its present name was not made until 1666 when 
Father Allouez referred to the "great river named Messipi" 
in a letter to his Jesuit superiors.^® 

It remained for Joliet and Marquette to give the first 
definite account of the Upper Mississippi. Setting out 
from the Jesuit Mission of St. Ignace on May 17, 1673, 
with five French companions, Joliet and Marquette pad- 
dled steadily westward through Lake Michigan, Green 
Bay, and the Fox River. On June 7th they reached a vil- 
lage of Miami, Mascoutens, and Kickapoo Indians. Ac- 
cording to their journal no Frenchman had "yet gone any 
farther" than this "Maskoutens" village of the "fire Na- 
tion" (after whom Muscatine County takes its name). 
Pressing onward, Joliet and Marquette portaged from the 
Fox to the "Meskousing" or Wisconsin River and "safely 
entered Missisipi" on June 17, 1673. 

As they glided down this "renowned River", Marquette 
observed that the Mississippi took its "rise in various lakes 



Under Four Flags 

in the country of the Northern nations." They saw deer, 
wild cattle or buffalo, swans, turkeys, bustards, and many 
other wild birds and animals. Huge catfish struck their 
frail craft with such violence as "about to break the Canoe 
to pieces". For eight days they saw no trace of Indians. 
Finally, on June 25, 1673, they "perceived on the water's 
BCge some tracks of men" and followed them to a village 
of the "Peouarea" or Illinois Indians. This first meeting of 
the white man and the red man on the Upper Mississippi 
is believed to have occurred near the mouth of the Iowa 
River?* After a few days Joliet and Marquette continued 
downstream as far as the mouth of the Arkansas whence, 
learning of the presence of Spaniards and fearing capture, 
they returned up the Mississippi to Lake Michigan by way 
of the Illinois River.^^ 

Between 1673 and 1762 France extended and strength- 
ened her grip on the Mississippi Valley. La Salle dispatched 
the prudent and courageous Michel Aco to reconnoiter 
the Upper Mississippi in 1680. Aco was the first white 
man to explore the Mississippi up to the Falls of St. An- 
thony (so named by the mendacious Louis Hennepin in 
honor of his patron Saint) .^* 

In 1685 Nicolas Perrot was appointed "Commander of 
the West": he immediately commenced building Fort St. 
Nicolas at the mouth of the Wisconsin River. Thus 
prairie du Chien traces its history back to the period that 
witnessed the beginnings of Philadelphia. Perrot also built 
forts farther up the Mississippi at Lake Pepin. On May 8, 
1689, seven years after La Salle stood at the mouth of the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Mississippi and took possession of the land drained by 
the Father of Waters, Nicolas Perrot went through the 
same colorful ceremony on the shore of Lake Pepin, amid 
the chanting of Latin hymns, shouts of "vive le roi", and 
salvos of musketry. Hastening to the mineral region in 
1690 at the urgent request of the Miami Indians, this 
energetic Frenchman is the first white man known to ha^ 
mined lead in the Galena-Dubuque region/^ 

France secretly ceded her land west of the Mississippi 
to Spain in 1762 and relinquished her claim to Canada and 
the country east of the Mississippi to England the follow- 
ing year. Thereupon two new flags were planted on the 
banks of the Great River. 

The English flag on the Upper Mississippi was most ably 
carried by two Connecticut Yankees, Jonathan Carver 
and Peter Pond. Both were veterans of the French and 
Indian Wars and loyal subjects of George III : both visited 
the Upper Mississippi on the eve of the American Revolu- 

Carver was the first to reach the Mississippi, setting out 
from Boston in June, 1766, to explore the wilderness be- 
yond the Great Lakes and acquire a "knowledge that 
promised to be so useful" to both his King and his coun- 
try. On October 15, 1766, he "entered that extensive 
river the Mississippi" with a party of fur traders. Pad- 
dling up the Mississippi, Carver wintered among the Sioux 
Indians on the Minnesota River. The following spring he 
returned to the Falls of St. Anthony to secure supplies to 
enable him to continue to Oregon. When these failed to 


Under Four Flags 

arrive, he returned to Prairie du Chien in May, 1767, and 
spent the remainder of the summer exploring the "Chipe- 
way" River country. In 1768 he returned to Boston and 
set out for England where he died a pauper. His book, 
Travels Through the Inferior Parts of North America, 
published in London in 1778, went through many editions. 

On May 1, 1767, at Carver's Cave in the lower part of 
Dayton Bluff (now included in modern St. Paul), two 
Sioux chiefs granted Carver and his heirs a large tract of 
land in the present States of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The 
litigation which ensued highly publicized Carver's Cave, 
which later became a show place for steamboat passengers 
bound for St. Paul.'" 

Peter Pond visited the Mississippi as a fur trader in 1773. 
Pond was brave in heart, if poor in spelling. He traded 
with the Sioux on the Minnesota River, returning to Prairie 
du Chien in the spring of 1774. There he saw a "Large 
Colection [of Indians and traders] from Eavery Part of 
the Misseppey who had arived Before us — Even from 
Orleans Eight Hundred Leages Belowe us." ^^ 

The Spanish flag flew over the west bank of the Mis- 
sissippi from 1762 until that region was transferred to 
France following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Spain 
endeavored to tighten her grip on the Upper Mississippi 
through a system of land grants. Thus Julien Dubuque 
was granted the right to work a princely tract in the lead 
district in 1796; and subsequently grants were made to 
Basil Giard on the present site of McGregor, and to Louis 
Honore Tesson in what is now Lee County, Iowa." 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Meanwhile England did not fare so well on the east bank 
of the Mississippi. It was during the American Revolution 
that George Rogers Clark wrested Post Vincennes and the 
French settlements in southern Illinois from the English. 
At the close of the struggle England recognized the claim 
of the Americans to the east bank of the Mississippi. "With 
the consummation of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the 
American flag was planted on both banks of the Mis- 

The United States lost no time in securing a firm hold 
on these new possessions. In 1803 Jefferson ordered Lewis 
and Clark to explore the Missouri and the streams leading 
from its headwaters into the Pacific Ocean. Two years 
later Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike was sent to discover the 
source of the Mississippi. Both expeditions resorted to 
much the same means of transportation that had been in 
use during the Spanish and French periods of exploration. 
Lewis and Clark had a large boat and two pirogues, all 
complete with sails, oars, poles, and rope. Pike had a 
seventy-foot keelboat, with which he could make some 
twenty miles a day upstream in a favorable wind." 

After a winter in the wilds of Minnesota, Pike returned 
to St. Louis on April 30, 1806, having gotten no farther 
than Leech Lake. He had failed in his quest. On the very 
day Pike was being welcomed at St. Louis, Lewis and Clark 
were leaving their camp at the mouth of the Walla Walla 
River on their journey home. Battling their way back 
over the Rockies and down the Missouri, Lewis and Clark 
did not reach St. Louis until September 23, 1806. By that 


Under Four Flags 

time even Jefferson had given them up for lost. Their re- 
turn was hailed with delight and their exploits were still 
ringing in the ears of Americans when Robert Fulton in- 
augurated an entirely new mode of transportation.'* 


Fulfon s Folly : A Mississippi Orcain 

A CLOUDLESS blue sky hung over lower Manhattan on 
^ 1 August 17;"l807. Early risers did not suspect that the day 
was destined to be particularly eventful. At breakfast, 
however, many smug New Yorkers sat up in amazement 
upon reading the following notice in the Ainerican 
Citizen : 

"Mr. Fulton's ingenious steamboat, invented with a view 
to the navigation of the Mississippi from New Orleans up- 
ward, sails to-day from the North River, near State's 
Prison, to Albany. The velocity is calculated at four miles 
an hour. It is said it will make a progress of two against 
the current of the Mississippi and if so it will certainly be 
a very valuable acquisition to the commerce of Western 

News of the departure of Lindbergh in the Spirit of St. 
Louis on his trans- Atlantic flight in 1927 could scarcely 
have created greater excitement than this steamboat an- 
nouncement. A large crowd hastily assembled on the dock 
at Greenwich Village where the Clermont lay steaming up. 
The most sanguine spectator might readily be forgiven 
for not waxing enthusiastic over the rude craft which had 
been dubbed "Fulton's Folly". Compared with the pala- 
tial vessels of the halcyon days of steamboating, the Cler- 
mont was aptly described as a "Long Island skiff". 


Fulton's Folly : A Mississippi Dream 

The Clermont was 133 feet long, had an 18-foot beam, 
a 7-foot hold, and measured about 160 tons. The diameter 
of her cylinder was two feet and she had a four-foot 
stroke of the piston. She was decked for a short distance 
at stem and stern; but her Boulton & Watt engine, which 
was placed in the hold in the center of the boat, lay open 
to view. From the engine aft a rude cabin covered the 
boiler and the apartment for the officers. Her side wheels 
were equipped with twelve huge paddles. There were no 
paddle-boxes, and the wheels, when in motion, sent water 
splashing on deck with every revolution. The Clermont's 
rudder was shaped like that of a sailing vessel, and was 
moved by a tiller. Her boiler was set in masonry, and the 
condenser stood in a large cold-water cistern — the two 
greatly diminishing the buoyancy of the vessel. The thirty- 
foot smokestack rose almost as high as her two masts. 
Should her engine fail, Fulton could hoist sails on the two 

Skeptics were not slow to point out the weaknesses of 
the Clermont. There were doubting Thomases even among 
Fulton's guests, whose anxiety increased as the hour for 
departure approached. The inventor alone remained calm 
and serene. Tall, slender, and very handsome, Fulton 
moved about the boat with an air of confidence, making 
last minute adjustments. "The morning I left New York", 
he wrote afterwards, "there were not perhaps thirty per- 
sons in the city who believed that the boat would ever 
move one mile an hour, or be of the least utility, and while 
we were putting off from the wharf, which was crowded 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

with spectators, I heard a number of sarcastic remarks." 
But the sneers were changed to tumultuous cheers as the 
Clermont swung out into the current at one o'clock in the 
afternoon and churned proudly upstream. A new era had 
dawned in American transportation."' 
/ The progress of the Clermont up the Hudson was viewed 
Avith mingled fear and astonishment. Sailors gazed in 
amazement at the novel craft driven by a "tea-kettle" 
which, without the use of sails, rapidly overhauled their 
river sloops. Some of the more timid actually ran their 
boats ashore and fled to the woods in terror. On a high 
bluff opposite Poughkeepsie a group of villagers stood as 
though transfixed. Some thought the Clermont a sea 
monster, while others believed her to be a sign of the ap- 
proaching judgment. One eye-witness considered her a 
"backwoods saw-mUl mounted on a scow and set on fire." 
Coughing and wheezing as she plowed along, the Clermont 
reached Albany in thirty-two hours. "^ 

Fulton was pleased with the performance. To his friend 
Joel Barlow,^* poet-statesman, he wrote exultantly upon 
his return : "The distance from New-York to Albany is 
one hundred and fifty miles : I ran it up in thirty-two 
hours, and down in thirty. I had a light breeze against me 
the whole way, both going and coming, and the voyage 
has been performed wholly by the power of the steam- 
engine. I overtook many sloops and schooners beating to 
windward, and parted with them as if they had been at 
anchor . . . The power of propelling boats by steam is 
now fully proved." '° 


Fulton's Folly : A Mississippi Dream 

A guest aboard the Clermont was equally delighted with 
her performance : "As we passed the farms on the bor- 
ders of the river, every eye was intent, and from village 
to village, the heights and conspicuous places were oc- 
cupied by the sentinels of curiosity, not viewing a thing 
they could possibly anticipate any idea of, but conjectur- 
ing about the possibility of the motion. As we passed and 
repassed the towns of Athens and Hudson, we were polite- 
ly saluted by the inhabitants and several vessels, and at 
Albany we were visited by his excellency, the governor, 
and many citizens . . . She is unquestionably the most 
pleasant boat I ever went in. In her the mind is free from 
suspense. Perpetual motion authorizes you to calculate on 
a certain time to land; her works move with all the facility 
of a clock; and the noise when on board is not greater 
than that of a vessel sailing with a good breeze." ^^ 

An unforeseen incident occurred at Albany. The chief 
engineer, a Scotchman, went ashore and imbibed too 
freely in celebration of the successful voyage. He was 
promptly discharged. Fortunately the assistant engineer 
was familiar with the engine, and so the return trip was 
made without mishap. 

/ The voyage of the Clermo7it marked an epoch in more 
than Hudson River navigation. Robert Fulton and his 
financial supporter. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, had 
broader visions : both had turned their eyes westward 
toward the Mississippi Valley where American pioneers 
were hewing out a mighty empire in the wilderness. 
"Whatever may be the fate of steamboats for the Hud- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

son", Fulton reminded Livingston after a successful trial 
run, "every thing is completely proved for the Mississippi, 
and the object is immense." To Barlow he declared that 
steamboats would "give a cheap and quick conveyance to 
the merchandise on the Mississippi, Missouri and other great 
rivers, which are now laying open their treasures to the 
enterprise of our countrymen; and although the prospect 
of personal emolument has been some inducement to me, 
yet I feel infinitely more pleasure in reflecting on the im- 
mense advantage my country will derive from the in- 
vention." ^^ 

But it would take more than Fulton's enthusiasm and 
inventive genius to establish a line of steamboats on the 
western waters : a little hard cash would also be needed. 
Fortunately Fulton had won the support of Robert Liv- 
ingston, a statesman and diplomat as well as an experi- 
menter in his own name. Livingston himself had been 
intrigued for a number of years by the possibilities of steam 
navigation. He had been associated with the attempts of 
such men as John Fitch, Samuel Morey, John Stevens, and 
Nicholas J. Roosevelt. The construction of the Clermont 
had been made possible by the liberal donations of Living- 
ston, and in gratitude Fulton had named the boat after 
the Chancellor's estate on the Hudson. ^^ 


i^lonopoly on tne i'»'Jiississippi 

As THE Clermotjf was steaming merrily up the Hudson 
on her maiden voyage, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston 
made a strange prophecy. Before the end of the century, 
he assured his listeners, vessels propelled by steam alone 
might make the voyage to Europe! His guests were too 
polite to laugh outright, but John R. Livingston is said to 
have whispered to a cousin : "Bob has had many a bee in 
his bonnet before now, but this steam folly will prove the 
worst yet!" But history records that the American steam- 
ship Savannah crossed the Atlantic as early as 1819.^* 

If Thomas Jefferson did not provide the bee for Living- 
ston's steam folly, he at least may have focused the Chan- 
cellor's attention on our western waters. In 1801 Jefferson 
had sent Livingston as minister to France with instructions 
to forestall the rumored retrocession of Louisiana to 
France. The following year, the retrocession having been 
confirmed, Jefferson wrote Livingston that "There is on 
the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our 
natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through 
which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must 
pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere long yield 
more than half of our whole produce and contain more 
than half of our inhabitants." Jefferson concluded his 
letter by threatening to marry the United States to the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

British fleet and nation the day France took possession of 
New Orleans.^^ 

But Napoleon Bonaparte did not relish the idea of fair 
Columbia embarking on the holy sea of matrimony with 
John Bull. War with England was impending. And Na- 
poleon, suddenly changing his tack, offered to sell all of 
Louisiana to the United States. The Louisiana Purchase 
was officially consummated on April 30, 1803. As Living- 
ston was affixing his signature to the treaty he observed 
to James Monroe : "We have lived long, but this is the 
noblest work of our whole lives." He went on to prophesy 
that the Louisiana Purchase would "change vast solitudes 
into flourishing districts" which would cause the United 
States to take its place "among the powers of the first 

There was little in the previous development of the 
Mississippi Valley to support this rosy vision. At the time 
of the Louisiana Purchase only three States — Kentucky, 
Tennessee, and Ohio — had been admitted into the Union. 
Less than four hundred thousand settlers occupied the ter- 
ritory between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi, with 
Kentucky alone boasting over half the total. In 1800 New 
Orleans with a population of 9650 inhabitants dominated 
the entire valley. Pittsburgh contained only 1565 souls; 
Cincinnati had but 750; and a scant 600 had settled at 
Louisville. In 1799 Governor Carlos Dehault de Lassus 
found only 6028 people in Upper or Spanish Louisiana. 
St. Louis could count only 925 inhabitants, one-third of 
whom were colored." 


Monopoly on the Mississippi 

Following the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson 
divided his new acquisition into two territories. He ap- 
pointed William C. C. Claiborne as governor of Orleans 
Territory, which included nearly the same boundaries as 
presen t-day Louisiana. All the remaining wilderness north- 
ward to the Canadian line between the Mississippi River 
and the Rocky Mountains was designated Louisiana Ter- 
ritory. Out of this vast domain four States were destined 
to be carved along the Mississippi. But in 1807 Arkansas, 
Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota were not even geographical 

^hen Governor Claiborne visited New York City in 
the autumn of 1810 he discussed with Fulton and Living- 
ston the possibilities of introducing steamboats on the 
Mississippi.^^ Both men demanded a complete monopoly 
for steam transportation before embarking on such an en- 
terprise. Claiborne apparently was sympathetic. Where- 
upon Fulton and Livingston opened a correspondence 
with the various governments along the Ohio and Mis- 
sissippi to secure similar monopolies. At that time Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee were the only States bordering on 
the Mississippi, and their western borders were far beyond 
the fringe of settlement. Mississippi Territory, which com- 
prised what is now Mississippi and Alabama, lay directly 
below Tennessee. North of the mouth of the Ohio lay 
Illinois Territory, which embraced present-day Illinois, 
Wisconsin, and Minnesota east of the Mississippi.'* 

Because of his great influence Livingston experienced 
little difficulty in pushing the desired monopoly through 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

s^ the New York legislature. But consummate skill would be 
needed to secure similar grants from western States and 
Territories. Livingston's technique was brought to light 
a quarter of a century ago when two small boys stumbled 
upon a box of papers yellowed with age in an unused loft 
in Galena, Illinois. The signatures on one of the letters 
quickly caught their attention.^® 

Clermont, State of New York, August 20th, 1810. 
To his Excellency, The Governor of Upper Mississippi; 

Wishing to extend the benefit of steamboat navigation to the Mississip- 
pi River, a capital approaching to two hundred thousand dollars will be 
required, which capital must be raised by subscription; but subscribers 
cannot be obtained until an effectual law presents a fair prospect of 
securing to them such exclusive right as will return emolument equal 
to the risk and trouble. In this point the patent law of the United 
States is at present imperfect, hence after the example of encouragement 
granted by the State of New York we have applied to the different 
governments bordering on the Mississippi for their protection and 
patronage and thus take the liberty to transmit to you our petition. 
To improve the navigation of the Mississippi by transporting goods for 
three fourths of the sum which is now paid and in three fourths of the 
time; to render such an establishment periodical, uniform and secure 
is an object of such immense importance to the states bordering on the 
Mississippi, a work of so much labor and hazard to the undertakers as 
we hope will excite the most lively feeHngs of patronage and protection 
both in your Excellency and the Honourable, the Legislature of Upper 
Louisiana. On the receipt of these papers we shall esteem it a particular 
favor to be honored with an answer from your Excellency, expressing 
your opinion on this subject. 

We have the honor to be respectfully, 
Your Excellencies most obedient, 
RoBT. R. Livingston. 
RoBT. Fulton. 


Monopoly on the Mississippi 

\Only one government hearkened to Fulton and Living- 
ston, despite their adroit plea. On April 19, 1811, the 
legislature of Orleans Territory passed an act granting 
Livingston and Fulton "the sole and exclusive right and 
privilege to build, construct, make use, employ and navi- 
gate boats, vessels and water crafts, urged or propelled 
through the water by fire or steam, in all the creeks, rivers, 
bays and waters whatsoever, within the jurisdiction of the 
territory, during eighteen years from the first of January, 

All might have gone well for the monopolists had not 
Congress in April, 1812, declared that as a condition for 
the admission of Louisiana "the river Mississippi, and the 
navigable waters leading into it, and into the gulf of 
Mexico, should be common highways, and forever free, as 
well to the inhabitants of that state as to those of the other 
states and territories of the United States, without any 
tax, duty, impost or toll". Fortunately for Livingston and 
Fulton, however, the new State apparently saw fit to con- 
tinue the monopoly.*" 

It would be a mistake to think that Livingston and Ful- 
ton were blind to the many hazards of their undertaking. 
They were fully aware of the great distances and the 
archaic means of traveling in the West. Louisville was ten 
times as far from New Orleans as Albany was from New 
York. And Pittsburgh was some six hundred miles farther 
up the Ohio from Louisville. 

The commerce of this inland empire was largely de- 
pendent on crude river craft capable of floating down- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

stream but unable to stem the swift currents of the Mis- 
sissippi and Ohio rivers. Only a few models — such as 
keelboats and barges — could return upstream. Freight 
barges required a year for the round trip between one 
of the Ohio towns and New Orleans. It took three 
months of back-breaking labor to shove and pull a barge 
from Louisville to Pittsburgh. Keelboats were much fas- 
ter. These sleek crafts could run from Louisville to New 
Orleans in six weeks; but they consumed four and one- 
half months on the return trip. It required unusual effort 
to pole a keelboat from Louisville to Pittsburgh in less than 
a month.*^ 

The voyage of the Clermont meant little to most of the 
people of that day. Even the most sanguine could scarcely 
conceive of a time when (in 1844) the steamboat /. M. 
White would make the round trip between St. Louis and 
New Orleans in nine days. On this same trip the /. M. 
White made the upstream voyage between New Orleans 
and St. Louis in three days, twenty-three hours and nine 
minutes — a record which stood until 1870 when the 
Robert E. Lee and the Natchez battled for supremacy. 
Nor could they envision in that very same year (1844) 
the Sultana running from New Orleans to Louisville in 
five and one-half days. This record was destined to be grad- 
ually lowered until 1853 when the Eclipse came snorting 
up to Louisville in four days, nine hours, and thirty min- 
utes, averaging fourteen miles an hour upstream.*^ 

But to talk of such feats in 1809 would have elicited 
derisive guffaws. In their wildest dreams Fulton and Liv- 


Monopoly on the Mississippi 

ingston could only conceive of a steamboat traveling dis- 
tances in three-fourths of the time required by cruder 
river craft. Even then.-they felt the western waterways 
ought to be studied from the standpoint of the commerce / 
offered as well as from the practicability of navigation it- 
self. What they needed was a competent, courageous part- 
ner to study these western waters and report to them. 
They found such a man in Nicholas J^Roosevelt.N. 


A FLiloaf Odyssey 

Nicholas J. Roosevelt was molded upon the genuine 
Roosevelt pattern. Of sturdy Dutch stock, members of 
the Roosevelt clan have usually manifested an adventurous, 
bold, courageous, and self-reliant spirit. Many social and 
political reformers have come from their ranks. Some 
displayed inventive genius; many harbored a deep and 
abiding love for the sea and ships. Nicholas Roosevelt was 
an inventor and an engineer in his own right. His courage 
and enthusiasm and his vision and enterprising spirit were 
well known to Fulton and Livingston. 

Nicholas Roosevelt was no novice in steam transporta- 
tion. In 1782, at the age of fifteen, he had built a model 
boat, propelled by paddle wheels over the sides which were 
revolved by hickory and whalebone springs unwinding a 
cord wrapped around the axles. At the age of thirty he 
entered into an agreement with Chancellor Livingston and 
John Stevens to build a steamboat. On October 21, 1798, 
this boat, which was named the Polacca, made a successful 
trial trip, attaining a speed equivalent to three miles an 
hour in still water.- Just before the trip Roosevelt had 
proposed to Livingston (an ardent proponent of stern- 
wheelers) that they "throw two wheels of wood over the 
sides", but the Chancellor sharply replied that such a plan 
was "out of the question!" 


A Flatboat Odyssey 

When Livingston became minister to France in 1801 
their experiments ceased. Meanwhile Roosevelt found his 
business on the verge of collapse. He had erected a rolling 
mill to supply the government with rolled and drawn cop- 
per for six 74-gun ships only to be suddenly "cut off" by a 
change of administration. By 1809 he seems to have re- 
couped some of his losses, for when Livingston and Fulton 
outlined their scheme to him he was eager to join in the 
venture. It was agreed that Roosevelt should set out for 
the West at once. His pretty bride of six months, Lydia 
Latrobe of Baltimore, determined to accompany him." 

Transportation was just emerging from a pristine state 
when Roosevelt arrived at Pittsburgh in May, 1809. The 
creation of the Northwest Territory in 1787 had been fol- 
lowed by a flood of immigrants into the Ohio Valley. As 
the years rolled on, thousands of land-hungry settlers were 
floated down the Ohio on a flotilla of fantastic craft. 
Boat yards and outfitting establishments did a thriving 
business in the embryonic towns on the Ohio, Mononga- 
hela, and Allegheny rivers. Some boats were strongly con- 
structed, but any of them might fall a victim to snags, 
sandbars, or hidden boulders. Pittsburgh, Wheeling, and 
Brownsville were the principal points of embarkation and 
many famous Upper Mississippi steamboats were destined 
to be launched from their boat yards. When Nicholas 
Roosevelt arrived these cities were still in the flatboat era, 
although keelboats and barges were in general use." 

The first problem confronting Roosevelt was the type 
of craft best suited for his work. The most simple boat 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

was the log canoe which could be bought for three dollars 
or less. Then there was the pirogue, which was a large 
canoe often forty or fifty feet long, from six to eight feet 
wide, and capable of carrying a family and several tons of 
household goods. Both the canoe and pirogue were un- 
popular for long trips on western streams not only because 
they were unwieldy and heavy on portages but also be- 
cause of the danger of Indian attack. They were much too 
small for Roosevelt. 

Another type was the flat-bottomed skiff in which two 
or three might venture on a long trip; Roosevelt did not 
overlook this possibility. Then there was the bateau, a 
big skiff capable of carrying an entire family. Several pairs 
of long oars or sweeps propelled the bateau downstream, 
while poles were used for ascending the river. Since 
Roosevelt did not intend to return upstream he quickly 
discarded the bateau as a possible means of transportation." 

The resourceful Dutchman found that the flatboat, a 
creation of the Ohio Valley, was the most popular craft 
for pioneer families. Flatboats varied greatly in size, 
measuring from twenty to sixty feet in length and from 
ten to twenty feet in width. The smaller flatboats were 
usually called "Kentucky boats", after their destination in 
Kentucky or the lower Ohio. The big "flats" bound for 
the Lower Mississippi were generally called "New Orleans" 
boats. Some flatboats had two large sweeps projecting like 
horns from each side; these were called "broadhorns". 
Emigrants sometimes compared the Kentucky "broad- 
horn" to a "New England pig-sty set afloat". Flatboats 


A Flatboat Odyssey 

cost from a dollar to a dollar and a half for each foot of 

The hull of the flatboat was constructed of large squared 
pine or hardwood timbers hewn from the forests of west- 
ern Pennsylvania. The average craft rose from three to 
six feet above the water's surface and drew from one to 
two and one-half feet of water when fully laden. As they 
floated down the Ohio loaded with men, women, and 
children, horses and cows, cats, chickens, and dogs, grind- 
stones, powder, household furniture, and farm imple- 
ments, the flatboats resembled a "mixture of log cabin, fort, 
floating barnyard and country grocery." Their rugged 
construction made them bullet-proof, while withering vol- 
leys could be poured through loopholes on marauding 
bands of Indians or the murderous white riffraff of the 
Ohio-Mississippi country. Such a boat presented the qual- 
ities most needed by Roosevelt." 

There were, however, two other types of craft (the 
keelboat and the barge) which could not be overlooked. 
These resembled each other closely and were capable of 
upstream navigation. Keelboats were sharp at bow and 
stern, and although of light draft they could carry from 
twenty to forty tons of freight. They were called keel- 
boats because of the heavy four-inch square timber that 
extended from the bow to the stern along the bottom of 
the boat. This timber was placed so as to take the shock 
of a collision with a submerged snag or other obstruction. 

Keelboats were constructed of heavy planks and had 
planked ribs like a ship. They were usually from forty- 

Steamboatlng on Upper Mississippi 

five to seventy-five feet long and from seven to nine feet 
wide. Sometimes they carried a mast and sails to take ad- 
vantage of any favoring breeze. A captain or steersman 
and two men at the sweeps could propel a keelboat down- 
stream, but upstream navigation required a steersman and 
from six to ten men provided with poles. The work of 
these men was hard and fatiguing : it developed a hardy 
and robust type of riverman who bore a striking resem- 
blance to the Upper Mississippi log raftsmen. 

Although keelboat transportation was tedious and ex- 
pensive it was as superior to horse-packing as the steam- 
boat was destined to be to the keelboat. A man with five 
horses could transport one-half a ton of freight about 
twenty miles in one day. A keelboatman could pole two 
or three tons the same distance upstream in the same time. 
In trutlylceelboats were the rapid transit express boats until 
the advent of the steamboat.**) 

Barges cost about five dollars for each foot of length and 
were modeled somewhat after a ship's longboat. They 
were usually from thirty to seventy feet long, from seven 
to twelve feet in width, and carried a mast, sails, and rud- 
der. Four long oars accelerated progress downstream which 
ordinarily ranged from four to five miles an hour. Poles 
were used for upstream navigation but barge captains 
availed themselves of every favorable breeze to aid the 
sweating crew. Even then two miles an hour against the 
current was considered good time. Because of their com- 
parative celerity both barges and keels were often used by 
business men, land speculators, and government officials. 


A Flatboat Odyssey 

After surveying the types of craft in use, Roosevelt de- 
termined to use a flatboat. Since accuracy rather than 
speed was important, and since he would be obliged to live 
in his craft for six months, Roosevelt built a flatboat that 
contained all the "necessary comforts for himself and 
wife". The young bride described her new home as "a 
huge box containing a comfortable bed room, dining room, 
pantry, and a room in front for the crew, with a fire-place 
where the cooking was done. The top of the boat was flat, 
with seats and an awning." 

Securing a pilot, three hands, and a male cook, Roose- 
velt and his young bride left Pittsburgh with its more than 
four thousand inhabitants and started down the Ohio. 
Cincinnati, Louisville, and Natchez were the only points 
of importance in the entire distance between Pittsburgh 
and New Orleans. Cincinnati had a population of twenty- 
five hundred in 1810, while Louisville was about one-half 
the size of Cincinnati. 

As they drifted down the Ohio, Roosevelt constantly^ 
studied the rapidity of the current. He carried letters of 
introduction to the leading citizens, and he was received 
kindly and hospitably entertained. At Louisville he re- 
mained on shore some three weeks. The westerners listened 
respectfully to his explanation of the purpose of the 
voyage and the benefits of steam navigation. But no one, 
merchant or boatman, gave him a single word of encour- 
agement. In answer to his stories of the experiments on the 
Hudson and other eastern rivers, the rough river pilots 
would simply point to the turbid, whirling Ohio as a con- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

elusive answer to all his reasoning. Undaunted, Roosevelt 
continued his studies of the Ohio and Mississippi. "He 
gauged them,: he measured their velocity at different sea- 
sons; he obtained all the statistical information within his 
reach, and formed a judgment with respect to the future 
development of the country".*^ 

Fortunately Roosevelt did find a few sources of infor- 
mation. Thus, below Louisville lay the Falls of the Ohio — 
a particularly dangerous spot which required the services 
of special pilots during low water. These pilots kept an 
account of the number of boats and the amount of pro- 
ducts they piloted over the Falls. During the seven-month 
^ period beginning October 5, 1810, regular pilots took 743 
boats over the Falls. They estimated that fully one-third 
as many more passed over the Falls during high water. 
Among the commodities listed were flour, bacon, pork, 
lard, corn, oats, butter, and $35 5,624 worth of merchan- 
dise. Over nine thousand barrels of whiskey and almost 
four thousand barrels of cider were also included in the 
estimate. Lumber, hemp, yarn, cordage, shoe thread, 
country linen, apples and dried fruit, beans, onions, and 
tobacco, horses, hogs, and a miscellaneous assortment of 
articles complete the merchandise which Fulton, Living- 
ston, and Roosevelt sought to offer a cheap, speedy, and 
safe transport to New Orleans.*® 

Leaving Louisville and the Falls of the Ohio behind, the 
flatboat continued down La Belle Riviere. Gliding silently 
along they passed "many a scene of revelry and blood- 
shed". One night, as their boat lay tied to the bank of the 


A Flatboat Odyssey 

Mississippi, Roosevelt was aroused by two Indians in his 
bedroom, calling for whiskey. Nor would the dusky red 
men leave until Roosevelt gave them firewater."'' 

As they floated lazily downstream with the current they 
encountered many drinking, cursing, fighting rivermen. 
Bitter rivalry existed among the crews on the flats, keels, 
and barges. Each had its own bully or champion who 
usually stood ready to challenge a rival — particularly if 
the chances of winning were good. 

Typical of the keelboatmen was that justly famous 
character, Mike Fink. What Daniel Boone was to Ken- 
tucky or Sam Houston to Texas, Mike Fink was in legend 
and fact to the story of keelboating on the Ohio and Mis- 

As king of the keelboatmen, this is how Mike was wont 
to modestly describe himself to a foe who dared question 
his supremacy. "I'm a Salt River roarer! Fm a ring-tailed 
squealer! I'm a reg'lar screamer from the ol' Massassip'! 
Whoop! I'm the very infant that refused his milk before 
its eyes were open, and called out for a bottle of old 
Rye! I love the women an' I'm chockful o' fight! I'm 
half wild horse and half cock-eyed alligator and the 
rest o' me is crooked snags an' red-hot snappin' turkle. I 
can hit like fourth-proof lightnin' an' every lick I make in 
the woods lets in an acre o' sunshine. I can out-run, out- 
jump, out-shoot, out-brag, out-drink, an' out-fight, 
rought-an'-tumble, no holts barred, ary man on both sides 
the river from Pittsburgh to New Orleans an' back ag'in 
to St. Louiee. Come on, you flatters, you bargers, you 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

milk-white mechanics, a.n' see how tough I am to chaw! 
I ain't had a fight for two days an' I'm spilein' for exercise. 
Cock-a-doodle-doo!" " 

Such were the characters encountered by Roosevelt on 
the Mississippi and in the unkempt western settlements. A 
few days were spent at Natchez, where Roosevelt con- 
ferred with leading citizens and disposed of the flatboat. 
Nor was Natchez the most genteel place in which to 
sojourn. According to one account, "Natchez is a land of 
fevers, alligators, niggers, and cotton bales . . . where to 
refuse grog before breakfast would degrade you below 
the brute creation . . . where bears, the size of young 
jackasses, are fondled in lieu of pet dogs; and knives, the 
length of a barber's pole, usurp the place of toothpicks 
. . . where nigger women are knocked down by the auc- 

From Natchez-under-the-hill the Roosevelts set out in 
their skiff down the Mississippi to New Orleans, which 
they reached in early December after a nine day trip. At 
New Orleans they took passage on the first vessel ready 
to sail for New York. It was a hard voyage, for the captain 
took sick and yellow fever broke out aboard the vessel. 
They were allowed to leave the ship at Old Point Comfort; 
and they completed their journey by stagecoach, arriving 
in New York about the middle of January." 



Tlie Voyage of ilic VSslv Orleans 

Both Livingston and Fulton were delighted when the 
heavy stagecoach that carried Roosevelt and his young 
wife rumbled into New York City. Did Roosevelt bring 
good news or bad news? Were their hopes and dreams to 
be shattered by a gloomy report? The grave anxieties 
which they must have entertained during Roosevelt's long 
absence were quickly dispelled as that enthusiastic gentle- 
man painted a rosy picture of the prospects for steam 
navigation in the Mississippi Valley. Then, ^ while Roose- 
velt hurried back to Pittsburgh, his partners lost no time 
incorporating the Ohio Steamboat Navigation Company 
to operate a fleet of vessels on the western waters under the 
Fulton-Livingston patents.*? 

Roosevelt arrived in Pittsburgh in the spring of 1810 
and commenced building a steamboat according to plans 
furnished by Fulton. He established a boat yard under a 
lofty bluff on the Monongahela about a mile from the 
"Point". The hull was constructed of native white pine. 
The copper boiler was made in New York and transported 
across the Alleghenies, but skilled eastern mechanics were 
required to install the engine. Named the New Orleans 
after the port of her destination, the boat was launched 
in March, 1811. The pioneer steamboat of the Mississippi 
Valley was ready to start on her maiden voyage the fol- 
lowing October. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

The New Orleans was a side-wheeler, measuring be- 
tween 300 and 400 tons burden. The bow of the boat 
was reserved for freight; the engine and smokestack stood 
exposed in the center; and the cabin was built in the rear. 
This cabin was divided, one aft for the ladies and a larger 
one forward for gentlemen. The ladies' cabin contained 
only four berths, but was comfortably furnished. The 
New Orleans also carried two masts equipped with sails. 
It has been said that she was "a large and heavy boat com- 
bining incongruous features of marine and river craft". 
The cost of the New Orleans was said to be $38,000, but 
it seems unlikely that anywhere near this sum was ex- 

The construction of the New Orleans produced con- 
siderable speculation and wonder. "It will be a novel sight, 
and as pleasing as novel", Zadok Cramer observed in The 
Navigator^ "to see a huge boat working her way up the 
windings of the Ohio, without the appearance of sail, oar, 
pole, or any manual labour about her — moving within 
the secrets of her own wonderful mechanism, and pro- 
pelled by power undiscoverable! This plan if it succeeds, 
must open to view flattering prospects to an immense 
country, an interior of not less than two thousand miles 
of as fine a soil and climate, as the world can produce, and 
to a people worthy of all the advantages that nature and 
art can give them".^^ 

A large crowd gathered at Pittsburgh to witness the 
departure of the New Orleans on Sunday, October 20, 
1811. Skeptics shook their heads gravely, and experienced 


The Voyage of the Neii' Orleans 

rivermen expressed concern for the safety of those on 
board. But neither Roosevelt nor his young wife could 
be dissuaded from the rash adventure; and handkerchiefs 
and hats waved "God speed" as the boat swung out in the 
current. Puffing bravely upstream a short distance, the 
Neic Orleans triumphantly arched around in the current 
and sped past the cheering throng. A moment later she 
disappeared behind the first headlands on the right bank 
of the Ohio. 

It was a small crew that served under Captain Nicholas 
Roosevelt on this epoch-making voyage of the New Or- 
leans. Nicholas Baker acted as engineer, and his faithful 
performance of this important duty led to his promotion 
to the captaincy by the time the boat reached New Or- 
leans. Andrew Jack served as pilot. There were also "six 
hands, two female servants, a man waiter, a cook, and an 
immense Newfoundland dog, named Tiger." °^ 

The progress of the New Orleans down the Ohio was 
viewed with amazement. Backwoodsmen flockeu to the 
banks of the Ohio to catch a glimpse of the strange craft. 
At Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, 
Roosevelt cajoled the keeper of the "Traveller's Rest" to 
part with some cordwood. "While the wood was being 
toted aboard the singular craft," a local historian relates, 
"nearly all the one hundred inhabitants examined, com- 
mented, criticized. Some claimed it was an attempt to 
chain nature's forces and would end in disaster to crew 
and owners, a mere invention of the Devil's. Others 
watched every movement, took notes of all machinery, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and resolved to 'make a like machine or spoil a home'." '^ 
Steaming downstream at a speed of eight to ten miles an 
hour, the Neiu Orleans cast anchor at Cincinnati two days 
later amid the plaudits of the townsmen who had as- 
sembled on the bank. "Well, you are as good as your 
word; you have visited us in a steamboat, but we see you 
for the last time", said many of those who had met Roose- 
velt on his former visit. "Your boat may go down the 
river; but, as to coming up it, the very idea is an absurd 
one." Rugged keelboatmen, their shoulders toughened 
by poling many weary miles against the current,shook 
their heads disparagingly. All agreed that the steamboat 
would never return. 

After taking on a supply of wood the New Orleans pro- 
ceeded to Louisville which was reached at midnight on the 
fourth day in "sixty-four hours sailing from Pittsburg." 
A brilliant moon flooded the shimmering surface of the 
Ohio as the boat dropped anchor opposite the quiet town. 
The roar of escaping steam caused the sleeping inhabitants 
to spring from their beds and rush down to the river to 
discover the cause of this weird sound. Some insisted that 
the comet of 1811 had fallen into the Ohio and produced 
the hubbub.'^ 

The next morning many citizens came aboard to ex- 
press their congratulations "accompanied by regrets that 
it was the first and last time a steamboat would be seen 
above the falls of the Ohio." A local newspaper declared 
that the boat, could "accommodate from sixty to eighty 
cabin and steerage passengers, in a style not inferior to any 


The Voyage of the New Orleans 

packet in the union." A public dinner was tendered 
Roosevelt a few days later. Then Roosevelt invited his 
hosts to dine aboard the New Orleans. While the feast 
was at its height the guests suddenly heard rumbling ac- 
companied by a very perceptible motion in the boat. 
Panic-stricken at the thought that the boat had slipped 
her anchor and was drifting toward the Falls and almost 
certain destruction, all rushed to the deck only to find the 
Netc Orleans churning bravely upstream leaving Louis- 
ville far behind. Thus did Roosevelt convince his "incred- 
ulous guests" to their own "surprise and delight". 

Low water prevented the New Orleans from crossing 
the Falls of the Ohio, so Roosevelt ran an excursion to 
Cincinnati where he was hailed with wild enthusiasm. On 
one occasion the New Orleans ran thirteen miles in two 
and one-half hours in the presence of a number of "re- 
spectable gentlemen". These trial runs upstream did much 
to promote confidence in steam navigation.'''^ 

Rain in the upper Ohio Valley finally allowed Roosevelt 
to risk the perilous descent of the Falls. Just before the 
start Mrs. Roosevelt gave birth to a child but this could 
not deter her from joining her husband. Soon all hands 
were on deck; an experienced "rapids pilot" took his place 
beside the regular pilot in the bow; and the New Orleans 
weighed anchor. Steam had been crowded into the boiler 
in order that the speed of the boat would permit easier 
guidance through the swift current. With her safety 
valve shrieking and her wheels lashing the Ohio into a 
foam, the Neiv Orleans made a wide circuit for the In- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

diana channel and then headed downstream. "Instinc- 
tively, each one on board now grasped the nearest object, 
and with bated breath awaited the result. Black ledges of 
rock appeared only to disappear as the New Orleans flashed 
by them. The waters whirled and eddied, and threw their 
spray upon the deck, as a more rapid descent caused the 
vessel to pitch forward to what at times seemed inevitable 
destruction. Not a word was spoken. The pilots directed 
the men at the helm by motions of their hands. Even the 
great Newfoundland dog seemed affected by the apprehen- 
sion of danger, and came and crouched at Mrs. Roose- 
velt's feet." But the crucial passage was finally made; and, 
with feelings of "profound gratitude to the Almighty", 
Roosevelt ordered the New Orleans to round to below the 
Falls. There the rapids pilot bade them adieu, while prep- 
arations were made to continue the journey downstream. 

As the New Orleans churned on down the Ohio the 
consternation of the scattered settlements increased. Op- 
posite William Henry Harrison's farm at North Bend a 
family was "much alarmed" when a neighbor came dashing 
up shouting, "The British are coming down the river." 
All rushed to the bank only to see something resembling a 
"saw mill" making its "slow but solemn progress with 
the current." The frightened family breathed a sigh of 
relief upon learning it was one of those new "contrap- 
tions" called a steamboat.*'^ 

Nicholas Roosevelt had looked forward to "plain sail- 
ing" after passing the Falls of the Ohio. Instead he was 
subjected to "days of horror" as the first tremors of the 


The Voyage of the Netc Orleans 

New Madrid earthquake shook the cable and boat as the 
New Orleans lay at anchor, causing those aboard to expe- 
rience a "nausea resembHng sea sickness." The shocks con- 
tinued throughout the night; and it was some time before 
the true character of the "dread visitor" was reaHzed. 
When the Neu' Orleans resumed her journey the next 
morning the machinery prevented those aboard from 
noting any disturbance — that is, all save Tiger, who 
"prowled about, moaning and growling" whenever he 
seemed to become aware of the shocks/' 

The passengers aboard the New Orleans found the Mis- 
sissippi a raging flood with the bottom lands submerged. 
Once a large canoe of Chickasaw Indians darted from the 
forest and set out in pursuit of the boat. Greatly out- 
numbered by the redskins, Roosevelt crowded on steam. 
A close race ensued from which the New Orleans finally 
emerged victorious. Screaming their disappointment, the 
enraged Chickasaw gave up the chase and turned back 
into the forest whence they had come. • 

Shortly after this incident Roosevelt was aroused one 
night by loud shouts and the scuffling of many feet. 
Springing from his bed, he seized the nearest weapon 
(which proved to be a sword) and dashed out of the 
cabin to do battle with the Chickasaw. Instead he met a 
more dangerous enemy — the forward cabin of the New 
Orleans was on fire! After great exertion the fire was 
extinguished, but the incident did little to soothe the 
jaded nerves of the crew already worn by the terrors of 
the earthquake. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Each afternoon Roosevelt allowed the crew to go ashore 
and cut enough wood for the next day. Squatters often 
came aboard to tell their harrowing experiences as the 
ground trembled beneath their feet. At New Madrid 
many panic-stricken settlers begged to be taken aboard, 
but Roosevelt was forced to turn "a deaf ear to the cries 
of the terrified inhabitants of the doomed town." One 
night an island to which the Neiv Orleans had been an- 
chored was swallowed by an earthquake : it was necessary 
to cut the hawser to free the boat. The ravages of flood 
and earthquake so changed the normal features of the 
river that the pilot was often at a loss as to which way to 
steer. During this period of "anxiety and terror" Mrs. 
Roosevelt records that she "lived in a constant fright, 
unable to sleep or sew, or read." ^' 

At last the terrors of the New Madrid earthquake were 
left behind and the New Orleans soon hove in sight of 
Natchez. "Expecting to remain here for a day or two, 
the engineer had allowed his fires to go down, so that 
when the boat turned its head upstream, it lost headway 
altogether, and was being carried down by the current far 
below the intended landing. Thousands were assembled on 
the bluff and at the foot of it; and for a moment it would 
have seemed that the New Orleans had achieved what she 
had done, so far, only that she might be overcome at last. 
Fresh fuel however was added, — the engine was stopped 
that steam might accumulate, presently the safety valve 
lifted — a few turns of the wheels steadied the boat, — a 
few more gave her headway; and, overcoming even the 


The Voyage of the New Orleans 

Mississippi, she gained the shore amid shouts of exultation 
and applause." 

The remainder of the journey was made without inci- 
dent. Once the New Orleans was "detained by the break- 
ing of one of her wheels"; but on the evening of January 
10, 18 12, she arrived at the port for which she was 
named- ^Although the New Orleans was eighty-two days 
out of Pittsburgh the captain stated that the boat had 
actually consumed only ten days and nineteen hours run- 
ning time^^His work as the pioneer steamboat captain on 
western waters completed, Roosevelt left the New Orleans 
^ in charge of Captain Baker to run in the New Orleans- 
Natchez trade. She continued in this trade for two years, 
until snagged on July 14, 1814, two miles above Baton 
Rouge. Her boiler and part of her machinery were sal- 
vaged and placed in the second New Orleans.^^ 

A grateful nation did not forget the work of this trail- 
blazer on the American steamboat frontier. A century 
later, on October 31, 1911, a colorful flotilla of steam- 
boats lay marshaled along the Monongahela at Pittsburgh. 
Gaily festooned in flags and bunting an armada of some 
fifty vessels had assembled to celebrate the centennial of 
western steamboat navigation. President William Howard 
Taf t and a group of other dignitaries were aboard the V/r- 
ginia which served as flagship of the squadron. The nearest 
lineal descendants of the Livingston, Fulton, and Fitch 
families, together with some sixty thousand people, were 
present to witness the christening of the "quaint" little 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

New Orleans by Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of 
Theodore Roosevelt whose grand uncle Nicholas J. Roose- 
velt had launched the first steamboat on western waters 
exactly a century before. Built by the city of Pittsburgh 
at a cost of $10,500, the diminutive craft was as close a 
replica of the New Orleans of 1811 as steamboat inspec- 
tion laws and fragmentary information would permit. 

Following the christening of the new boat, President 
Taft spoke briefly. At the conclusion of his address the 
whistles of the entire fleet saluted the little side-wheeler 
with wild acclaim. The Netv Orleans then led the flotilla 
in a spectacular review before the President.^*' In 1811 the 
first New Orleans had ushered in an era in river transpor- 
tation whose halcyon days could still be remembered in 
1911 by many a hoary-headed riverman as he watched 
with tear-dimmed eyes this colorful pageant of the packets. 
As the replica of the New Orleans churned proudly by 
with her sister ships in the line, the scene doubtless brought 
back phantom memories of such sleek floating palaces as 
the Eclipse, the Baltic, and the /. M. White; the Sultana, 
the Princess, and the Southern Belle; the Peytona, the 
Natchez, and the Robert E. Lee. 

X. A century had witnessed many changes in the Missis- 
sippi Valley. The centennial celebration of 1911 attracted 
a throng that doubled the combined population of Pitts- 
burgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, and New Orleans 
in 1810. Pittsburgh in 1911 could boast three times the 
population living in what is now the States of Indiana, 
Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in 


The Voyage of the New Orleans 

1811. Illinois and Indiana contained a million more in- 
habitants than did the entire United States in 1810. There 
were more people munching corn pone in Arkansas than 
there were inhabitants west of the Alleghenies a century, 
before. \The steamboat had played a significant and dra- 
matic role in the settlement and development of the Mis- 
sissippi Valley.y' 


HeiirT dialler oLreve 

For the Mississippi Valley the voyage of the Neiv Or- 
leans was as distinct a triumph as the Fulton-Livingston 
monopoly was a severe blow. Were the builders of the 
other steamboats already under construction destined to 
lose all? The answer of at least one man, Henry Miller 
Shreve, was an emphatic No! In the bitter struggle 
against the Fulton-Livingston monopoly no name ranks 
higher than Shreve's. No man contributed more than he 
to the popularization of steamboating during the first 
decade of steam navigation on western waters. 

Henry M. Shreve (after whom Shreveport, Louisiana, 
is named) was born in New Jersey in 1785. He settled with 
his parents at Perryopolis in western Pennsylvania in 1788, 
the same year that Julien Dubuque commenced mining 
lead in Iowa. In 1807 Captain Shreve took a 3 5 -ton barge 
to St. Louis, returning to Pittsburgh with one of the first 
cargoes of furs destined for Philadelphia by that route. 
In 1810, the year Julien Dubuque died, Shreve took his 
barge to Fever River and returned with a cargo of lead. 
This venture, which marks the beginnings of the Ameri- 
can lead traflSc on the Upper Mississippi, netted Shreve 
about $11,000. With these profits he was able to inaug- 
urate a thriving barge service between Pittsburgh and 
New Orleans.*^ 


Henry Miller Shreve 

Between 1811 and 1815, while Shreve was engaged in 
the New Orleans trade, the Ohio Steamboat Navigation 
Company launched four steamboats — the first New Or- 
leans^ the Vesuvius^ the Etna, and the second Ne^u Orleans. 
Before the Yesui/ius left the ways, another enterprising 
American, Daniel French, launched the 2 5 -ton Comet, a 
stern-wheel steamboat featuring the vibrating cylinder. 
Shreve was an impelling force in French's venture, contri- 
buting one-iif th of the capital to the company. The Cainet 
steamed to Louisville in the summer of 1813, and the 
following spring descended to New Orleans. After mak- 
ing two trips to Natchez, she was sold, taken apart, and 
her engine installed in a cotton factory. 

The fate of the Comet, together with the threat of con- 
fiscation on the part of the monopoly, only stiffened 
Shreve's resistance to the Fulton-Livingston corporation. 
While at New Orleans with a barge in 1814, he secured 
the legal services of A. L. Duncan, a prominent member 
of the Louisiana bar. The Livingston interests already 
had the service of every other lawyer in New Orleans, but 
failed in their effort to entice Duncan away from Shreve. 

Meanwhile French launched the Enterprise on the Mo- 
nongahela at Brownsville. The new boat made two trips to 
Louisville during the summer of 1814. On December first 
Shreve assumed command and steamed to New Orleans 
in fourteen days. Upon his arrival he procured bail in 
case of seizure — which actually took place the follow- 
ing day. But martial law had been proclaimed; and An- 
drew Jackson, who was delighted with Shreve's celerity, 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

promptly pressed the Enterprise into government service. 

General Jackson knew that some keelboats were mak- 
ing their way slowly down the Mississippi with additional 
supplies; and he sent Shreve upstream to meet them. 
Shreve performed this service with great dispatch. The 
Enterprise returned with the military stores in six and one- 
half days, having traveled 654 miles. 

Jackson then ordered Shreve to run the British blockade 
of the Mississippi under cover of darkness in order to 
carry supplies to destitute Fort St. Philip. He executed 
this dangerous mission without being discovered. The 
next night, however, while endeavoring to return past the 
bristling batteries, the Enterprise was sighted and the 
British opened fire. Fortunately only a few cannon balls 
struck the boat and these bounced harmlessly off the 
cotton bales with which the Enterprise had been pro- 
tected. This daring feat was loudly acclaimed by Jackson 
and his troops; and Shreve was the hero of the hour. On 
January 8, 18H, the Enterprise did effective work in re- 
pulsing the British at the battle of New Orleans.^^ 

In the following spring the Enterprise advertised her 
departure from New Orleans for Pittsburgh on May 6th. 
The Fulton-Livingston monopoly again had her seized, 
but Attorney Duncan was ready with bail and Shreve 
'. went on his way rejoicing. The Enterprise was the first 
steamboat to ascend the Mississippi and Ohio, reaching 
Louisville in twenty-five days. Continuing upstream she 
steamed into Brownsville fifty-four days out of New Or- 
leans, twenty days having been spent in taking on and dis- 


Henry Miller Shreve 

charging freight at the various ports along the way/" 
Soon after his return Shreve determined to superintend 
the construction of a steamboat upon a design radically 
different from any thus far used. His vivid imagination 
and rare inventive genius had di'scover gd many flaws^in 
the Enfer^risCy as well as in the half dozen other craft jchat 
had appeared on western waters. Every steamboat that 
had been built thus far was simply a keelboat with engine 
and boilers dumped in the hold. The freight and passengers' 
also found their way into the holds of these crudely fash- 
ioned craft. Such sharply modelled vessels usually drew 
from six to ten feet of water, far more than the floating 
palaces of the sixties measuring a thousand tons. Fur- 
thermore, Shreve found that low-pressure engines did not 
develop sufficient power : the Enterprise had made slow 
time upstream even when the Mississippi was overflowing 
its banks. Finally, passenger accommodations were inad- 
equate and even hazardous, particularly if a boat was 
suddenly snagged or if she exploded. 

In August of 1815 the timbers of the Washington were 
"growing in the woods". When some New York gentle- 
men inspected her the following summer they declared 
that her accommodations exceeded anything on the Hud- 
son. The Washington measured 403 tons — the largest 
steamboat afloat on western waters. She was the first "two 
pecker" to be built in the West — a design that was dis- 
tinctly Shreve's. Her cabin was placed between the decks, 
the main cabin being sixty feet long. She also had three 
"handsome private rooms" and a commodious barroom, 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Her boilers were placed on the main deck instead of in the 
hold — a plan speedily adopted by other boat builders. 
In place of Fulton's vertical stationary cylinders or the 
vibrating cylinders invented by French, Shreve substituted 
horizontal cylinders with the vibrations to the pitmans. 
Both Fulton and French had used single low-pressure en- 
gines. Shreve employed a double high-pressure engine, 
the first of its kind on western waters. 

When the Washington arrived at New Orleans, Ed- 
ward Livingston is said to have remarked to Shreve after 
a critical examination : "You deserve well of your coun- 
try, young man; but we shall be compelled to beat you if 
we can." 

But Livingston reckoned without his competitor. An 
angry mob formed when Shreve was arrested at New 
Orleans for trespassing upon Fulton-Livingston waters. 
Shreve, however, expressed the wish that no demonstra- 
tion take place. Upon reaching Livingston's office the 
popular skipper was immediately released. His attorney 
applied for an order to give bail for damages caused by 
the Washington's detention and the court granted it. 
Livingston was panic-stricken. He offered to admit 
Shreve on an equal share in the monopoly with his com- 
pany if only he would "instruct his counsel so to arrange 
the business that a verdict might be found against him." 
Shreve rejected this bait "with scorn and indignation", 
for he realized that "the West looked to him for the free 
navigation of its waters". ^^ 

The originality of his improvements over those of both 


Henry Miller Shreve 

Fulton and French was demonstrated throughout the 
legal struggle; and it was "further shown that western 
commerce could never have benefited under either the 
Fulton or French patent." But Judge Dominick A. Hall 
of the United States District Court for the Louisiana Dis- 
trict dismissed the case in 1817 on the ground that neither 
the plaintiff nor the defendant was a resident of Louisiana. 
y [Thanks to Shreve the monopoly claims of Fulton and 
Livingston with relation to the Mississippi were finally i 
withdrawn in 1819.*^ Five years later Chief Justice Mar-i 
shall put an end to the Fulton-Livingston monopoly in 
New York in the celebrated case of Gibbons vs. Ogden.l 
From that, time on no further attempt was made to par- 
cel out American waters to private individuals." 

In addition to introducing an almost entirely new 
steamboat and breaking the Fulton-Livingston monopoly, 
Shreve deserves to be remembered for one more important 
thing. Prior to 1817 no steamboat had conclusively 
demonstrated the practicability of upstream navigation. 
Western settlers had never considered the trip of the En- 
terprise as convincing because it had been made when the 
Mississippi overflowed its banks and the boat had made 
many short cuts, often in still water. But the arrival of 
the Washington at Louisville in twenty-one days from 
New Orleans in the spring of 1817 marked an era in steam 
transportation : it removed all doubt as to the future of 
upstream navigation. At a public dinner tendered 
Shreve by the citizens of Louisville the ingenious captain 
predicted that the time would come when the trip would 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

be made in ten days : in 1853 the Eclipse steamed from 
New Orleans to Louisville in four days and nine hours. 

When Henry Miller Shreve died in 1851 the St. Louis 
Republican declared that his name had been "for nearly 
forty years closely identified with the commerce of the 
West, either in flatboat or steam navigation." To his Post 
Boy went the honor of first attempting (in 1819) to 
carry mail by steamboat on western waters. A decade 
later Shreve built the Heliopolis, the first successful snag- 
boat in the Mississippi Valley. During the thirties he was 
busy removing the great Red River raft, and it was while 
thus engaged that his name became associated with the 
city of Shreveport. 

To Shreve of St. Louis went the honor of sending (in 
1848) the first message eastward to the President of the 
United States over the newly erected telegraph line. But 
the defeat of the Fulton-Livingston monopoly and the 
trip upstream with the Washington are Shreve's greatest 
achievements. ^'To him", declared the St. Louis Kepnb- 
licojty "belongs the honor of demonstrating the practicabil- 
ity of navigating the Mississippi with steamboats." " ■ 




St, Loiais : A Port of Call 

Twelve years before the signing of the Declaration of 
Independence, a French fur trader, Pierre Laclede Liguest, 
estabHshed a trading post on the present site of St. Louis. 
For two generations following 1764 the history of St. 
Louis was as colorful as her growth was slow. During the 
American Revolution it was St. Louis that beat off a su- 
perior force of British and their Indian allies. On April 
9, 1804, her citizens witnessed the transfer of Upper 
Louisiana from Spain to France; and on the following day 
they saw France turn it over to the United States. In 1806 
they welcomed Zebulon M. Pike upon his return from the 
Upper Mississippi; and they cheered Lewis and Clark when 
those two trail-blazers returned from their conquest of 
the Missouri. From St. Louis the intrepid Manuel Lisa 
sallied forth up the Missouri in quest of furs and pelts for 
tiie Missouri Fur Company. From this same frontier com- 
munity Wilson Price Hunt, at the behest of John Jacob 
Astor, set out in a keelboat in 1811 to establish Astoria. 
Lead from the Herculaneum shot tower below St. Louis 
helped Andrew Jackson to victory over the British at New 

Out of such dramatic episodes is the warp and woof of 
the early history of St. Louis patterned. But this romantic 
record stands in sharp contrast with her economic growth. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

It was not until July 12, 1808, that the first newspaper 
west of the Mississippi was printed at St. Louis. The pub- 
lication of the Missouri Gazette was a hazardous economic 
venture, for St. Louis had scarcely a thousand souls at 
that time. A post office was established the same year, 
but mail service was costly and irregular : in 1809 St. 
Louis received no mail from the East for two months. 

By 1816, however, the Missouri Gazette could describe 
the place as an "opulent city" with lead, soap, and candle 
factories, and one million dollars in capital. But the city 
needed factories, steam mills, seminaries, churches, banks, 
and steamboats. She lacked a courthouse and a city hall. 
The Gazette believed a distillery ought also to be counted 
among her liquid assets, for St. Louis bought annually more 
than five thousand barrels of whiskey. 

The dreams of the Missotiri Gazette began to be realized 
in 1817 when the first Presbyterian Church was organized, 
a public school system inaugurated, the Bank of Missouri 
incorporated, and a courthouse erected. One vitally im- 
portant thing was still lacking : not a single steamboat had 
ventured north of the mouth of the Ohio. The reasons 
for their non-appearance are not hard to find.'* 
/ Between 1811 and 1816 the evolution and growth of 
steamboating was slow. Not more than ten steamboats 
i had been built on the Ohio and Lower Mississippi, and the 
mortality rate was very high. The great cost, the danger 
from snags and sandbars, the difficulty of passing the Falls 
of the Ohio, the War of 1812, and the Fulton-Livingston 
monopoly all served to hinder construction and navigation 

St. Louis : A Port of Call 

on these streams. The danger of explosions during these 
experimental years also made navigators wary. Finally the 
westward movement, as evidenced by the admission of 
States, had not yet reached its high tide. Indiana was ad- 
mitted as a State in 1816, Illinois in 1818, and Missouri in 
1821. The influence of the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers 
on Indiana and Illinois is indicated by the manner in which 
the pioneers clung to the banks of these waterways, leav- 
ing the northern two-thirds of each State virtually un- 

It is not strange, therefore,'^hat steamboats did not ven- 
ture above the mouth of the Ohio before 1817. The small 
number of boats and the increasing volume of trade seem 
to have kept them on the Ohio and Lower Mississippi^ 
When eight steamboats were launched on western waters 
in 1817, news trickled west to St. Louis that a steamboat 
would soon visit that port. The announcement was hailed 
with delight. 

Weeks passed and no steamboat came. Finally, on Au- 
gust 2, 1817, just as the people of St. Louis had given up 
hope of seeing a steamboat that year. Captain James Read 
docked the Zebulon M. Pike at the foot of Market Street 
amid the enthusiastic cheers of the citizens who had as- 
sembled on the bank. The red man alone did not welcome 
her : indeed, the glare of her furnace fire, coupled with 
the black smoke rolling from her lone smokestack, so 
alarmed the Indians that they fled to the rear of the village 
and could not be induced to approach the evil monster." 

The advent of the Zebulon M. Pike was a landmark in 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

(St. Louis and Upper Mississippi Valley history. The boat 
was scarcely a paragon of beauty; nor did she represent 
any advance in construction. On the contrary, she was a 
dingy little scow built on the model of a barge at Hen- 
derson, Kentucky, in 1815 : she measured only 31.76 tons. 
Next to the Comet, she was the smallest steamboat docu- 
mented in the Mississippi Valley. Her cabin was situated 
on the lower deck; her paddles had no wheelhouses. Since 
her low-pressure engine was scarcely able to stem the cur- 
rent of the Mississippi, the crew frequently resorted to 
poles and the running boards as in keelboating. Six weeks 
had been required to make the trip from Louisville to St. 

During the years 1818 and 1819 over sixty steamboats 
i were built for western commerce. That was four times 
the number constructed in the previous seven years. It was 
quite natural, therefore, that there should be a gradual 
increase and expansion in their use, but even with this 
I a;dded number it is not likely that more than a third of 
B the total trade on western waters was carried by steam- 
I boats. Earlier, however, in 1817, nine-tenths of the trade 
^had been carried by other types of boats." 
1 ■Cj'he port of St. Louis kept pace with this rapid expan- 
sion of steam commerce. /The Pike was not the only steam- 
boat to arrive in 1817. In October of the same year the 
Constitution appeared^ During 1818 there were several 
arrivals; and from that time on the number gradually in- 
creased. \Few cities have been more advantageously located 
to command the inland commerce of an empire. St. Louis 


St. Louis : A Port of Call 

served as the hub of a system of waterways which in- 
cluded the Upper and Lower Mississippi, the Ohio, the 
Missouri, and the Illinois. Over these rivers and their tribu- 
taries there was destined to pass a steam tonnage greater 
than that of the entire British Empire in 1843. 

In 1817 St. Louis had clamored for a steamboat. \By 
1819 the arrival of a steamboat had become commonplace. 
But it was not only steamboats that made St. Louis a port 
of call. Ocean steamers also docked at her wharves!^ 

Early in 1819 the Maid of Orleans steamed from Phila- 
delphia to New Orleans. The steamer Sea-Horse arrived 
from New York about the same time. These were prob- 
ably the first steam craft to make an ocean voyage of any 
length, since the Savannah (the first steamer to cross the 
Atlantic) did not set out for Liverpool until May 26, 1819. 
Several weeks before the departure of the Savannah the 
captain of the Maid of Orleans^ not content with his deep- x. 
sea honors, brought his trim craft snorting up the Mis- 
sissippi to St. Louis, arriving there about the first of May." 

It was only human that St. Louis should become enthu- 
siastic over her commercial prospects. "In 1817, less than 
two years ago", crowed the Missouri Gazette, "the first 
steamboat arrived at St. Louis. We hailed it as the day 
of small things, but the glorious consummation of all our 
wishes is daily arriving. Already during the present season 
we have seen on our shores five steamboats and several 
more daily expected. Who would or could have dared to 
conjecture that in 1819 we would have witnessed the ar- 
rival of a steamboat from Philadelphia or New York?" 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

But St. Louis was destined to even greater things in 1819 
as this "great American invention" opened up a "new 
arena" for her merchants. With pardonable pride the M/5- 
souri Gazette declared that "A steamboat . . . has started 
from St. Louis for Franklin, two hundred miles up the 
Missouri, and two others are now here destined for the 
Yellowstone. The time is fast approaching when a journey 
to the Pacific will become as familiar, and indeed more so, 
than it was fifteen or twenty years ago to Kentucky or 
Ohio." '' 

The Yellowstone expedition was more than a landmark 
in Misouri River history. It was the steamboat Western 
Engineer which first ascended the Big Muddy as far as 
present-day Omaha and Council Bluffs. It was this same 
diminutive craft which, in 1820, ascended the Upper Mis- 
sissippi to what is now Keokuk, blazing a trail and pointing 
the way for the steamboat Virginia and her epoch-making 
voyage to Fort Snelling three years later. The story of the 
Western Engineer is a unique chapter in Upper Mississippi 



Tke Story of tike 'Western Engineer ^ 

On the eve of the American Revolution Daniel Boone 
led a party of pioneers out of the Yadkin Valley in North 
Carolina and into the blue grass region of Kentucky, 
where one might live the life of a backwoodsman. By 
1795 Boone found Kentucky becoming too crowded for 
comfort. Disliking to have a neighbor so close that he 
could see the smoke from his cabin, Boone once more 
moved westward, this time building a cabin fifty miles 
up the Missouri River in Spanish territory. He was then 
sixty years old. During the next twenty-five years he 
hunted and trapped along the Missouri. He died at the 
home of his son Nathan Boone in St. Charles County, Mis- 
souri, in 1820." 

At the time of Boone's death pioneer cabins were 
sprinkled for two hundred miles along both banks of the 
Missouri as far as Franklin and Chariton. Beyond lay a 
wilderness expanse inhabited by red men and dominated 
by the straggling trading posts of such empire builders as 
the Chouteaus of St. Louis and John Jacob Astor and his 
American Fur Company. Kansas City was yet unborn; 
and Joseph Robidoux did not found St. Joseph until 1826. 
Even in the settled area below Franklin, Jefferson City 
had not been laid out and six years were to pass before it 
became the permanent capital of Missouri. But hope and 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

enthusiasm were not lacking among the pioneers. "Almost 
every settler, who has established himself on the Missouri", 
an eye-witness relates, "is confidently expecting that his 
farm is, in a few years, to become the seat of wealth and 
business, and the mart for an extensive district." ®^ 

St. Louis had waited five long years after the voyage of 
the New Orleans before the arrival of the first steamboat 
at her port. But the mushroom settlements along the 
lower Missouri welcomed their first steamboat only two 
years after the Zebulon M. Pike reached St. Louis. It was 
on May 21, 1819, that the departure from St. Louis of the 
steamboat Independence for Franklin and Chariton, Mis- 
souri, was announced by the Missouri Intelligencer. A 
week later the same newspaper recorded "with no ordi- 
nary sensations of pride and pleasure", the arrival of the 
Independence with passengers and a cargo of flour, whis- 
key, sugar, and iron castings. The Independence required 
only seven "sailing days" to reach Franklin : she was joy- 
fully received by the inhabitants of that enterprising 
frontier community. Heavy artillery roared a salute of 
welcome from the shore and the Independence boomed a 
triumphant reply with her cannon. 

The captain and passengers aboard the Independence 
were regaled with a grand dinner, and toasts were drunk 
in honor of the first steamboat to ascend the Missouri. 
"The grand desideratum^ the important fact is now ascer- 
tained, that steam boats can safely navigate the Missouri 
river", declared the Intelligencer exultantly. "At no dis- 
tant period may we see the industrious cultivator making 


The Story of the Weslent Engineef 

his way as nigh as the Yellow Stone, and offering to the 
enterprising merchant and trader a surplus worthy of the 
fertile banks of the Missouri, yielding wealth to industry 
and enterprise." " 

But this enthusiasm was short lived. The Missouri River 
was not yet conquered : the Judepeudence may have ar- 
rived at Franklin in seven "sailing days", but she had 
actually been thirteen days en route. At that very moment 
a fleet of steamboats was steaming down the Ohio and up 
the Mississippi bent on conquering the Big Muddy. The 
expedition was financed by the government and had the 
backing of the army. Yet only one of these steamboats 
(the Western Engineer) was destined to stem the swift 
current of the Missouri successfully, as far as present-day 
Council Bluffs. 

The story of the Western Engineer is linked with the 
expansion of the military frontier on both the Missouri 
and the Upper Mississippi. Late in 1817 President James 
Monroe appointed John C. Calhoun as his Secretary of 
War. Calhoun immediately dispatched expeditions to 
establish what later became Fort Snelling on the Upper 
Mississippi and Fort Atkinson on the Missouri. During 
the winter of 1818-1819 preparations went on apace. To 
Colonel James Johnson of Kentucky went three contracts : 
the first to transport clothing, ordnance, and military stores 
from Pittsburgh to St. Louis; the second to furnish sup- 
plies; and the third to transport supplies and troops by 
steamboat up the Missouri. It was the first time the gov- 
ernment had dared to charter steam craft, and Calhoun 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

was bitterly criticized for risking the success of the expe- 
dition on such a new and untried means of transporta- 

While James Johnson was securing steamboats to carry- 
out his part of the contract the government suddenly 
decided to construct a steamboat at the United States 
Arsenal on the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh. It is not 
known whether this rash project was condemned as un- 
fair to private capital. At any rate the new boat was 
launched on March 28, 1819, and christened the Western ^ 
Engineer in honor of the engineering corps and her ulti- 
mate destination. Eye-witnesses declared she "embraced 
the watery element in the most graceful manner, under a 
national salute." She was a dingy looking craft, measuring 
only thirty tons and drawing but nineteen inches of water 
light. Her equipment was calculated to strike terror in 
the hearts of the Indians. In form she resembled a black, 
scaly serpent, rising out of the water, with waste steam 
escaping from her sculptured figurehead. 

A mineralogist, a botanist, a geographer, and a painter, 
together with a considerable force of troops were aboard 
with Major Stephen H. Long when the boat steamed down 
the Ohio from Pittsburgh on May 5, 1819. The diminu- 
tive craft had no difficulty in descending the Falls of the 
Ohio; and she reached St. Louis on June 9th, thirty-six 
days after her departure from Pittsburgh. The Western 
Engineer^ according to a St. Louis account of her arrival, 
anchored at the upper end of the town. "In passing the 
Independence and St. Louis, then at anchor before the 


The Story of the Western Engineer 

town, she was saluted by these vessels . . . Her equipment 
is at once calculated to attract and to awe the savage. Ob- 
jects pleasing and terrifying are at once before him : — 
artillery; the flag of the republic; portraits of a white man 
and an Indian shaking hands; the calumet of peace; a 
sword; then the apparent monster with a painted vessel 
on his back, the sides gaping with port-holes, and bristling 
with guns. Taken altogether, and without intelligence of 
her composition and design, it would require a daring 
savage to approach and accost her".*° ^ ?''^f 

The boat left St. Louis on June 21st and entered the 
mouth of the Missouri the following morning. In ascend- 
ing to Fort Bellefontaine, a distance of four miles, she 
twice grounded on sandbars and had difficulty in getting 
afloat. Retarded by the strong current, impeded by sand- 
bars and rafts of driftwood, the valves of her crude en- 
gine worn by the fine sand which hung suspended in the 
yellow, turgid Missouri, the Western Engineer toiled past 
Charbonniere, St. Charles, Cote sans Dessein, and on to 
Franklin. At Franklin the Indians recoiled in horror at 
the "monster of the deep" that smoked with fatigue and 
lashed the waves with violent exertion. Said one red man: 
"White man bad man, keep a great spirit chained and 
build fire under it to make it work a boat". 

Leaving Franklin the Western Engineer churned past 
Chariton, Fort Osa ge, and on to the mouth of the "Kon- 
zas" River where Kansas City now stands. Nearby they 
found a party of "abandoned and worthless" white hunters 
whose deportment and dress appeared to surpass in un- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

couthness those of the rudest savages hving in the vicinity. 

Puffing bravely up the sandbar-studded Missouri, the 
boat glided past Cow Island and the Nodaway River. She 
reached the mouth of Wolf River on September 1st. Here 
some hunters were sent ashore and returned with a "deer, 
a turkey, and three swarms of bees." Three days later 
many large catfish were caught, some of them weighing as 
much as fifty pounds. Finally, on September 17, 1819, the 
Western Engineer arrived at Fort Lisa, a trading post of 
the Missouri Fur Company located on the west bank of 
the Missouri a few miles above present-day Omaha. Here 
she went into winter quarters at a point which was desig- 
nated as Engineer Cantonment — having ascended the 
Missouri farther than any other steamboat.^^ 

Meanwhile the Johnson, the Calhoun, the Expedition, 
and the Jefferson had failed in their efforts to ascend the 
Missouri for any considerable distance. Despite his failure 
to fulfill his contract. Colonel Johnson estimated the cost 
of this service at $256,818.15. The amount staggered the 
committee appointed to investigate the bill; but it was 
endorsed by Quartermaster General Thomas S. Jesup. For 
the forty-day detention of the Expedition at the mouth 
of the Missouri, Johnson demanded of the goverrmient 
$13,333.33, or more than double the value of the boat. 
At the same time he asked $7200 for the thirty-six day 
delay of the Johnson. Such sums received the support of 
the Monroe administration, but drew a stern rebuke from 
the House Committee appointed to investigate this "Tea 
Pot Dome" of the "Era of Good Feeling". The committee 


The Story of the Western Engineer 

actually passed a resolution directing the Attorney Gen- 
eral to "use all legal means" to recover $76,372.65 due 
the government.'^ 

The difficulty of navigating the Missouri and the failure 
of the other steamboats to follow the Western Engineer 
necessitated a change in plans, and Lieutenant James D. 
Graham was ordered to steam down the Missouri to St. 
Louis with the Western Engineer^ thence up the Mississippi 
to the "De Moyen rapids", and then down the same stream 
to Cape Girardeau, "taking such observations and sketches 
on the voyage as are requisite in constructing a chart of 
that part of the river and the adjacent country." '*^ 

If the ascent of the Missouri thwarted Colonel Johnson's 
steamboats in 1819, the problems of navigating the Upper 
Mississippi were hardly less difficult, during 1819 the 
War Department had ordered Major Thomas Forsyth to 
ship $2000 worth of goods by steamboat to the Sioux In- 
dians above Prairie du Chien in payment for the site on 
which Fort Snelling was to be established. But at that time 
it was believed that the rapids could not be stemmed by 
steamboats, and so keelboats were used. The conquest of 
the Mississippi as far as the Des Moines Rapids would be 
no mean feat and would bring hope to an area even less 
populated than the banks of the Missouri.*^ 

Little is known of this voyage on the Upper Mississippi, 
for in making his report Major Long merely states the re- 
sults of the surveys of those aboard the Western Engineer. 
"The bottoms on the Upper Mississippi", Long reported, 
"contain less woodland, in proportion to their extent, than 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

those of the Missouri. The prairies upon this river also 
become more numerous and extensive as we proceed up- 
ward." The land was fertile, though hilly, and timbered 
in spots with cottonwood, blue and white ash, hackberry, 
black walnut, cherry, mulberry, hickory, and several 
varieties of oak. The population was located almost ex- 
clusively in the river valley and extended upwards about 
160 miles. Especially numerous were the Salt River set- 
tlements around Louisiana, Missouri; but Long felt that 
the scarcity of timber, mill sites, and springs of water 
would prove a serious impediment to settlement in that 



It was left for Captain Stephen Watts Kearny to record 
the presence of the first steamboat known to have as- 
cended the Upper Mississippi River as far as Keokuk. In 
\J his journal of August 15, 1820, Kearny wrote: 

"At 8 A. M. we embarked on board our canoe & de- 
scended one mile, to the mouth of the Des Moines, where 
we found the Steam Boat, "Western Engineer", com- 
manded by Lieut. Graham, who came here a week since, 
for the purpose of taking observations, &c. Put our 
baggage on board, & fastened the canoe to her. Near this 
saw a coflSn containing the bones of an Indian tied fast to 
the centre of a large tree which was done at the request 
of the deceased to preserve his fame after the extinction 
of his body. 

"Proceded at 10 & run about 15 miles when about 
1 P. M. we found ourselves on the Sand bar & from which 
we endeavored, but without success, to extricate ourselves. 


The Story of the Western Engineer 

The boat has but few hands & those sick with fevers. 
August 16th 

"At 8 A. M. we succeeded after much exertion in get- 
ting off the Sandbar & in endeavoring to cross to the op- 
posite shore to reach the channel, we ran on another bar 
about 200 yards from the one we left, & found ourselves 
even faster than before. 

"At 2 P. M., aware of the uncertainty of the Steam Boat 
reaching St. Louis, and our party being desirous to pro- 
ceed without loss of time we took to our canoe, & having 
a favorable breeze hoisted sail." ^^ 

Such unfavorable reports were doubtless responsible for 
the failure of steamboats to attempt the navigation of the 
Mississippi above the Des Moines Rapids before the voyage 
of the Virginia. Indeed the land was so sparsely populated 
below the rapids that there was little cause for steamboats 
to ascend above the mouth of the Missouri. Quincy and 
Keokuk were still unborn and even the site of Hannibal 
was beyond the fringe of settlement. Fifteen years were 
to pass before Mark Twain saw the light of day at Florida, 
Missouri; and it was not until 1839 that the four-year-old 
lad was to view the Mississippi at Hannibal. 




TJke Voyage of the IJirginia^' 

A MOTLEY crowd had gathered on the St. Louis levee on 
April 21, 1823. SquaHd Indians intermingled with rough- 
ly clad immigrants, levee loungers, lead miners, and fur 
traders. A sprinkling of soldiers and officials added color 
to the general confusion and bustle. All eyes were centered 
on the steamboat Virginia which lay at the levee with 
steam in her boilers, preparing to carry government sup- 
plies to the posts on the Upper Mississippi.^^ 

Built at Wheeling, Virginia, in 1819, the Virginia was 
a small stern-wheeler of 109.32 tons, owned by Redick 
McKee, James Pemberton, and seven others. She was 118 
feet long, 18 feet 10 inches beam, and her depth was 5 
feet 2 inches. She had a small cabin on deck but no pilot 
house, being guided by a tiller at the stern. James Pem- 
berton acted as master occasionally, and John Crawford, 
it seems, held the official position of captain.^* 

Among the passengers aboard the boat was Major Law- 
rence Taliaferro, the Indian Agent at Fort St. Anthony 
(renamed Fort Snelling in 1824). Taliaferro superin- 
tended the movement of supplies. He no doubt imparted 
a great deal of information about the trip to Giacomo 
Constantine Beltrami, the Italian exile and explorer who 
was the sole chronicler of the events of the journey.^^ An- 
other passenger was Great Eagle, a Sauk Indian chief, 



The Voyage of the Virginia 

whom William Clark had induced to come on board while 
his less fortunate tribesmen made their way along the 
banks. A Kentucky family bound for the lead mines at 
Galena was on board "with their arms and baggage, cats 
and dogs, hens and turkeys; the children too had their own 
stock." A woman missionary bound for the lead mines 
to work among the Indians completes the list of known 

Finally all was in readiness : the last passenger had hasti- 
ly scrambled aboard. Amid cries of farewell and the good 
wishes of those gathered on the levee to see her off, the 
Virginia swung gracefully out into the channel on an "en- 
terprise of the boldest, of the most extraordinary nature; 
and probably unparalleled." Many skeptics shook their 
heads, doubtful of the practicability of steamboats cross- 
ing the rapids of the Mississippi. For days after the de- 
parture of the boat "there was a great speculation as to 
whether the steamboat would ever return".^*' 

The current of the Mississippi seemed to grow swifter 
as the Virginia entered the Chain of Rocks channel a few 
miles above St. Louis. "We were approaching the mouth 
of the Missouri, which is only eighteen miles from that 
town", Beltrami remarked, "and notwithstanding the 
power of our steam-boat, we did not come in sight of 
this river before eight o'clock the following morning." 
The ease with which the boat passed the mouth of the Mis- 
souri was attributed to the presence of an island which 
obstructed the flow of that mighty stream, thereby break- 
ing the pressure of its enormous volume. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Sixteen miles above the mouth of the Missouri a series 
of towering bluffs attracted the attention of the venture- 
some ItaHan. "The eastern bank of the Mississippi, op- 
posite the village called Portage des Sioux, leading from the 
Illinois to the Missouri", he noted, "rises in abrupt rocks, 
hewn by nature into perpendicular pillars." Piasa Bluff 
gave him an illusion of viewing the palaces of Pompey and 
Domitian on Lake Albano. 

A few miles above the mouth of the Illinois, the Vir- 
ginia entered the great bend of the Mississippi. Leaving 
picturesque Cap an Gris rock behind, she churned on past 
Clarksville to Louisiana, "two pretty rising villages" on the 
Missouri shore — the latter being about a hundred miles 
from St. Louis. With the exception of the forts along the 
way, Louisiana was the "last vestige of civilization" before 
Prairie du Chien was reached. 

Beltrami designated the woodland region about present- 
day Quincy, Illinois, as the Prairie des Liards because of "^ 
the extensive growth of poplar and cottonwood. He was 
amazed by the thick masses of trees which covered the 
islands and flood plains and stretched as far as the eye 
could see to the low-lying hills beyond. It would be a bad 
country in which to get lost, he thought. 

One day while the Virginia was wooding up, Beltrami 
ventured alone into the forest. A flock of wild turkeys 
having eluded his pursuit, he continued his walk, solilo- 
quizing on the beauty of the plant and animal life about 
him. Suddenly realizing that considerable time had 
elapsed, he hurried back to the river only to find the boat 


The Voyage of the Virginia 

gone. Panic-stricken, he discharged his gun frantically, 
hoping to attract attention. The echoes resounded vainly 
in the great forest. Fortunately the boat struck a sandbar 
and Beltrami's absence was discovered. A canoe, sent to 
the rescue, brought him back completely exhausted from 
his mad rush through the heavy underbrush along the 
muddy bank in pursuit of the boat. 

When Beltrami returned to the Virginia he found that 
Great Eagle and the pilot had quarreled because the Indian 
had recommended taking a certain channel while the pilot 
insisted on taking another. When the boat struck the 
sandbar Great Eagle was so vexed that without further 
ado he plunged into the stream, swam ashore, and joined 
his fellow tribesmen who were making their way along the 
bank. This incident probably occurred in the "Channel 
of the Foxes" a short distance below Fort Edwards. 

The following day the Virginia arrived at Fort Edwards, 
where Great Eagle was found surrounded by members of 
his tribe. They had arrived before the boat, had set up a 
temporary encampment, and "were exchanging furs with 
the traders of the South-west Company." Great Eagle 
came aboard to get his bow, quiver, and gun. He was 
still exasperated with the officers of the boat but greeted 
Beltrami warmly. The latter, coveting the scalp of a Sioux 
chief that Great Eagle carried "suspended by the hair to 
the handle of his tomahawk", took advantage of this 
favorable moment to secure the much prized trophy. Up- 
on visiting the Sauk lodges, Beltrami was struck by the 
perfect equality exhibited by the Indians : even their dogs 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and their young bears and otters were treated as belonging 
to the community. 

Beltrami carefully observed the position of the fort, 
"built upon a promontory on the eastern bank of the 
Mississippi; its situation, which is very pleasant, commands 
a great extent of the river and the surrounding country, as 
well as the mouth of the river Le Moine [Des Moines] 
which descends from the west and is navigable for three 
hundred miles into the interior. The banks of this river 
are inhabited by the Yawohas [lowas], a savage people, 
who have been almost entirely destroyed by the Sioux." 

At the time of the voyage of the Virginia the land west 
of the Mississippi and north of the Missouri boundary line 
was "distinguished only under the name of Savage Lands". 
No traces of white civilization existed in what is now Iowa 
and Minnesota, other than a few scattered huts belonging 
to half-breed traders. 

After being pleasantly entertained by the ojQScers of the 
garrison, the visitors boarded the Virginia and continued 
on their journey to the foot of the Des Moines or Lower 
Rapids, a hitherto impassable barrier for steamboats. In 
1820 the steamboat Western Engineer had proceeded to 
this point, but even the conqueror of the Missouri did not 
dare venture farther. Indeed, she had repeatedly grounded 
in the channel below Fort Edwards and had returned to 
St. Louis only with the greatest difficulty. 

In spite of an excellent stage of water, the Virginia pro- 
ceeded cautiously, since the sharp jutting rock could easily 
crush the hull of the stoutest steamboat. For nine miles 


The Voyage of the Virginia 

the perilous ascent continued, until the boat succeeded in 
squirming her way up to the "Middle of the Rapids of the 
Moine". There she was forced to return, her heavy load 
and draught being too great to effect the passage; it was 
only by sheer good luck that the vessel escaped a rock and 
was saved from being dashed to pieces. Fortunately the 
damage was slight. Two days later, with a considerably 
lightened cargo, the Virginia succeeded in reaching the 
head of the rapids, where a party of Sauk Indians was 
encamped on the east bank of the river, near the present 
site of Nauvoo, Illinois. 

Nine miles farther upstream the ruins of old Fort Madi- 
son on the west bank attracted Beltrami's attention. It 
had been established in 1808 as an entrepot for the In- 
dian trade of that region. The government had abandoned 
its factory system in 1822, thus leaving the field open to 
the "South West Company" which, together with a rival 
organization, monopolized the commerce of almost the 
whole Indian region. 

A short distance above Fort Madison the Virginia glided 
by the mouth of the "Bete Puante" or Skunk River. The 
Indian name for the precipitous "Yellow Hills" on the 
east bank of the river is perpetuated in the town of 
Oquawka, Illinois. Not far above the yellow banks, the 
mouth of the "Yahowas" or Iowa River came in view on 
the west side. From this point on the beauty of the Mis- 
sissippi held Beltrami spellbound. "Wooded islands, dis- 
posed in beautiful order by the hand of nature, continually 
varied the picture : the course of the river, which had 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

become calm and smooth, reflected the dazzling rays of 
the sun like glass; smiling hills formed a delightful con- 
trast with the immense prairies, which are like oceans, and 
the monotony of which is relieved by isolated clusters of 
thick and massy trees." 

Leaving the Grande Prairie Mascotin in her wake, the 
Virginia rounded a bend in the river just in time for Bel- 
trami to gain a "distant and exquisitely blended view" of 
Rock Island. Fort Armstrong stood at the foot of this 
island on a plateau about fifty feet above the level of the 
river. The eastern bank of the Mississippi above the mouth 
of Rock River was lined with an encampment of Fox In- 
dians, allies of the Sauk and resembling them in features, 
dress, weapons, customs, and language. On the western 
shore of the Mississippi *'a semicircular hill, clothed with 
trees and underwood", enclosed a fertile spot carefully 
cultivated into fields and kitchen gardens. The fort 
saluted with four discharges of cannon, and the Indians 
paid the same compliment with their muskets. 

While the Virginia lay at Fort Armstrong preparing for 
the ascent of the Upper Rapids, Beltrami paid a visit to 
the Indian village of Saukenuk. Situated about three miles 
to the southeast on the north bank of the Rock River, 
this was the largest village of the Sauk tribe in the Mis- 
sissippi Valley. 

Beltrami was astonished at the skill exhibited by the 
youthful Sauk Indians with their bows and arrows : they 
almost exhausted his supply of coins by hitting with ease 
small pieces twenty-five paces distant. To prevent the 


The Voyage of the Virginia 

utter depletion of his purse he was forced to remove these 
costly targets to a distance of thirty-five paces. Smoked 
bear and highly flavored roots served as welcome refresh- 
ments during this sport. 

The Sauk had never heard of any people other than the 
French, English, Spaniards, and Americans. They were 
surprised to learn that Beltrami was of a different na- 
tionality; their surprise turned to veneration when he told 
them that he had come from the moon; but when the wily 
Italian attempted to gain a "clandestine entrance" to the 
medicine dance he was promptly ejected. Nor did his 
celestial homeland enable him to secure a medicine bag 
until he had made a present of "good whiskey" both to the 
person who gave it to him and to the high priest whose 
sanction was necessary to secure it. 

The following day, with the assistance of Colonel 
George Davenport and his "Patroon Debuts" or steersman, 
the Virginia began the ascent of the Rock Island or Upper 
Rapids, which Beltrami observed were longer and swifter 
than the Des Moines or Lower Rapids.^^ Suddenly the 
boat struck a rock and stuck fast. Every hand was in- 
stantly at work endeavoring to free the stranded craft. 
The fact that the river had been rising for two days helped 
the boat, which Beltrami believed would otherwise have 
remained "nailed" fast. 

The crew was entirely exhausted by the labor involved 
in getting the boat over the rapids, so the captain held her 
over for a few hours near the present site of Le Claire, 
Iowa, in order to give the men an opportunity to recover 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

from their fatigue. Beltrami went ashore and succeeded 
in shooting a large rattlesnake with which he returned in 
triumph to his fellow travelers. 

Six miles above the rapids the Virginia passed a village 
of Foxes on the west bank of the river. A little higher up 
she passed the Wapsipinicon River flowing into the Mis- 
sissippi from the west and the "Marais d'Oge" or Marais 
Dosier Slough on the east bank. Steaming on past the 
present site of Clinton, Beltrami observed the "Potatoe 
Prairie" on the west side known today as Pomme de Terre 
Prairie. Higher up, after passing the rivers La Pomme and 
La Garde which ran westward, he "saw a place called the 
Death's-heads; a field of battle where the Foxes defeated 
the Kikassias [Kaskaskia], whose heads they fixed upon 
poles as trophies of their victory." This was at Tetes des 
Morts Creek, which empties into the Mississippi at the 
northern boundary of Jackson County. 

The Virginia stopped at the mouth of the Fever (Ga- 
lena) River and Beltrami considered its name "in perfect 
conformity with the effect of the bad air which prevails 
there." The family from Kentucky and the woman mis- 
sionary debarked, while the other passengers spent a few 
hours visiting the lead mines. 

Twelve miles above the mouth of the Fever River the 
lead mines of Dubuque came into view. The Italian visitor 
was again obliged to resort to the use of "all-powerful 
whiskey" to obtain permission to see the mines. He found 
that the Indians were carrying on just enough mining to 
satisfy their needs in trade. They melted the lead in holes 


The Voyage of the Virginia 

dug in the rock and reduced it to pigs in this manner. It 
was then carried across the river, for they would permit 
no white man to come to the mines to get lead. Despite 
these precautions Beltrami considered the mines so valua- 
ble and the Americans so enterprising that he doubted 
whether the Indians would long retain possession of them. 
His canny forecast was realized exactly a decade later. 

Leaving the mines of Dubuque, the Virginia wound her 
way through a country of ever increasing beauty. Bel- 
trami's pen was "struck motionless" as for forty miles the 
variety of scenes and objects attracted his attention and 
excited his astonishment. Rude and unkempt in its pristine 
grandeur, Eagle Point opened the way to "Prairie Macot- 
che", as Beltrami labelled present-day Maquoketa Chute. 
At length a place which he felt might be called Longue 
Vue [Buena Vista?], elicited this description: 

"Twelve small isolated mountains present themselves in 
defile, and project one behind another, like side-scenes. 
They are intersected by small valleys; each has its rivulet, 
which divides it, and reflects from its limpid streams the 
beauty of the trees by which its banks are adorned. These 
hills exhibit a mixture of the gloomy and the gay, while 
those which appear at the back of the scene are veiled with 
magical effect in the transparent mist of the horizon. On 
the eastern bank a verdant meadow rises with gentle slope 
to a distant prospect, formed and bounded by a small chain 
of abrupt mountains. Little islands, studded with clumps 
of trees, among which the steamboat was winding its 
course, appeared like the most enchanting gardens." 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

A deserted Fox village was seen on the banks of the Tur- 
key River, Eight miles farther up, the Virginia passed the 
"Old Village de la Port" where Guttenberg now stands. 
There the pretended territorial jurisdiction of the Foxes 
was said to terminate, but these red warriors often hunted 
beyond their domain, thus frequently precipitating bloody 
wars with the Sioux. 

The importance of the Wisconsin River as a highway 
for the fur trader was noted as the Virginia passed the 
confluence of that stream with the Mississippi. Six miles 
above this point the boat hove in sight of Prairie du Chien. 
She had traveled almost five hundred miles, and this little 
French settlement was the only village to present any of 
the earmarks of white civilization. South of Prairie du 
Chien stood a "wretched wooden fort, named fort Craw- 

The passengers lost no time in poking about the inter- 
esting French settlement. Some "gloomy and ferocious" 
Winnebago Indians caught Beltrami's eye, but he refused 
to shake hands with "Mai-Pock" upon learning that he had 
regaled his friends with human flesh. This was "an ex- 
pression of contempt the most severe and humiliating an 
Indian" could receive. The industrious and friendly Me- 
nominee were commended for their refusal to join the 
English in the War of 1812. 

Bidding farewell to Prairie du Chien, where Joseph 
Rolette had politely entertained them, the voyagers began 
the last lap of the long journey to the northernmost mili- 
tary post on the Upper Mississippi. An uncharted channel 


The Voyage of the Virginia 

fully two hundred miles in extent remained to be traversed 
before Captain Crawford could discharge the last of his 
cargo and once more turn the bow of his gallant little 
craft downstream. 

About six miles from Prairie du Chien, near the mouth 
of the Yellow River, stood a rock which was painted red 
and yellow every year and which the Indians looked upon 
with veneration. The Mississippi at this point presented 
scenes of peculiar novelty. "The hills disappear, the num- 
ber of islands increases, the waters divide into various 
branches, and the bed of the river in some places extends 
to a breadth of nearly three miles, which is greater by one 
half than at St. Louis; and, what is very remarkable, its 
depth is not diminished". 

Conspicuous landmarks were noted as the boat threaded 
this network of channels. At the foot of Winneshiek 
Slough a mighty rampart called "Cape Winebegos" still 
stands guard over what is now Lynxville, Wisconsin. 
Cone-shaped Capoli Bluff, a few miles below present-day 
Lansing, was described as Cape a I'Ail Sauvage. The whole 
region is known to-day as the Winneshiek Bottoms and 
forms an important section of the Upper Mississippi Wild 
Life Refuge. 

The Virginia usually stopped at dusk, since it would 
have been foolhardy to proceed in an unknown channel 
hitherto unnavigated by a steamboat. But one evening as 
they were about to tie up for the night it was found pos- 
sible to go on, for suddenly the entire river was illuminated 
by the distant glow of a gigantic forest fire. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

"It was perfectly dark, and we were at the mouth of 
the river Yahowa [Upper Iowa]", wrote Beltrami, "when 
we saw at a great distance all the combined images of the 
infernal regions in full perfection . . . The venerable trees 
of these eternal forests were on fire, which had communi- 
cated to the grass and brushwood, and these had been borne 
by a violent north-west wind to the adjacent plains and 
valleys. The flames towering above the tops of the hills 
and mountains, where the wind raged with most violence, 
gave them the appearance of volcanoes, at the moment of 
their most terrific eruptions; and the fire winding in its 
descent through places covered with grass, exhibited an 
exact resemblance of the undulating lava of Vesuvius or 
^tna . . . This fire accompanied us with some variations 
for fifteen miles . . . Showers of large sparks, which fell 
upon us, excited terror in some, and laughter in others. I 
do not believe that I shall ever again witness such astonish- 
ing contrasts of light and darkness, of the pathetic and the 
comic, the formidable and the amusing, the wonderful and 
the grotesque." 

The Virginia traveled all night by the aid of this superb 
torch. During the night she passed the Bad Axe and Rac- 
coon rivers, but at dawn the tired craft ran aground "by 
way of resting herself". 

A few miles above the river Ajix Kacines [Root], Bel- 
trami noticed a place called "Casse-Fusils" (broken musk- 
ets) from the fact that a party of Indians, jealous of 
another band armed with English guns, attacked them and 
broke their muskets. This incident probably occurred 


The Voyage of the Virginia 

opposite the present site of La Crosse, Wisconsin, near a 
point now known as Broken Arrow Slough. 

Puffing on past the mouth of the Black River, the Vir- 
ginia entered the beautiful and romantic country around 
what is now the city of Winona. The majestic bluffs were 
likened to those on the Rhine between Bingen and Co- 
blenz. All Beltrami's powers of expression were exhausted 
by mighty Trempealeau, the mountain that walks in the 
water. "Amid a number of delightful little islands, en- 
circled by the river, rises a mountain of conical form 
equally isolated. You climb amid cedars and cypresses, 
strikingly contrasted with the rocks that intersect them, 
and from the summit you command a view of valleys, 
prairies, and distances in which the eye loses itself. From 
this point I saw both the last and the first rays of a splendid 
sun gild the lovely picture. The western bank presents 
another illusion to the eye. Mountains, ruggedly broken 
into abrupt rocks, which appear cut perpendicularly into 
towers, steeples, cottages, &c., appear precisely like towns 
and villages." 

A Sioux Indian encampment was observed at "la Prairie 
aux Ailes" [Winona], and here the Virginia landed. 
Wrapped in a wretched buffalo skin. Chief Wabasha came 
on board followed by a motley array of warriors. Major 
Taliaferro greeted Wabasha with "plenty of shakes by the 
hand", and smoked the calumet of peace while Beltrami 
acted as "ape" to this "troop of comedians". Wabasha was 
greatly impressed with the construction and performance 
of the white man's boat. The intricacy of the engine espe- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

cially appealed to him. When members of the Stephen H. 
Long expedition passed his village in keelboats a short time 
later he expressed deep interest in the Virginia and was 
particularly curious about the construction of the engine 
and the principle on which it worked.^* 

Leaving Chief Wabasha behind, the Virginia entered a 
section of the Mississippi that was "diversified by hills, 
plains, meadows, and forests." The Buffalo and Chippewa 
rivers were seen flowing into the Mississippi from the east. 
Below modern Wabasha the Embarras or Zumbro River 
drained a region called the Great Encampment. 

Just above the mouth of the Chippewa, the boat en- 
tered an "elliptical amphitheatre" known as Lake Pepin. 
Encircled by little hills and varying from one to three 
miles in width throughout its course of twenty-two miles, 
Lake Pepin is so deep that boats have no difficulty in navi- 
gating it even during seasons of low water. In stormy 
weather its waters are lashed into a fury and steamboats 
seldom venture upon it. As the Virginia was plowing her 
way through, a terrific squall struck the lake and it was 
only by means of skillful navigation on the part of Captain 
Crawford that she was able to wallow her way to safety. 
Staring Indians, transfixed with astonishment upon the 
bank, were the only spectators of this thrilling and almost 
fatal incident. 

On the eastern shore near the head of Lake Pepin towers 
romantic Maiden Rock. Another Sioux village hove in 
sight at the Mountain of the Grange, now known as Barn 
Bluff at Red Wing. Here again the chief and his leading 


The Voyage of the Virgmia 

warriors came on board. After the travelers solemnly 
smoked the peace pipe and gave ear to some long and woe- 
fully dull speeches, the Virginia continued upstream. 

Above the mouth of the Cannon River the Mississippi 
became narrower and less studded with islands, while the 
bluffs were steeper and more imposing. All on board must 
have experienced a thrill as they passed the St. Croix River 
and realized that the long journey was almost at an end. 
Medicine Wood, Pine Bend, and Little Crow's Village at 
the Grand Marais were soon left behind. While the boat 
was wooding up, the passengers were told of a small valley 
of cedars, firs, and cypresses leading to a cavern named in 
honor of Jonathan Carver. 

On May 10, 1823, the Virginia nosed her way into the 
St. Peter's or Minnesota River and came to a well-earned 
rest under the frowning cliffs upon which Fort St. An- 
thony was built. When the Indians saw the boat "cut its 
way without oars or sails against the current of the great 
river, some thought it a monster vomiting fire, others the 
dwelling of the Manitous, but all approached it with rev- 
erence or fear." When the tired boat began to blow off 
steam the frightened Indians "took to the woods, men, 
women, and children, with their blankets flying in the 
wind, some tumbling in the brush which entangled their 
feet as they ran away — some hallooing, some crying, to 
the great amusement of the people on board the steam- 

The Virginia made the long journey of seven hundred ' ^ 
miles in twenty days. She met with many delays. During | 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the course of the journey she struck five sandbars, four 
below Prairie du Chien and one above. Approximately five 
days had been spent in getting over the Des Moines and the 
Rock Island rapids. Wood was burned for fuel, and since 
none had been prepared in advance the boat had been 
forced to lay over while fresh supplies were cut by the 
crew. Several days must have been lost in the process of 
wooding up. Moreover, with the exception of the night of 
the forest fire, the engines had stopped each day at sun- 

XThe voyage of the Yirginia established the practicability 
of navigating the Upper Mississippi by steamboat. Later 
? in the year she completed two more trips above the rapids, 
one to the mouth of the St. Peter's and another to Fort 
Crawford. After these trips the government did not hesi- 
tate to utilize this quicker and more reliable way of mov- 
/ ing troops and supplies^ 

J '^With the advent of steam navigation it became evident 

j| that the Mississippi provided the most expeditious and 

\y\/ jl natural outlet for the huge quantities of lead that were 

pi just beginning to be produced and were soon to reach 

!^ enormous volumes. The river was to become also the main 


I artery along which the great waves of imrriigration moved 

steadily northward into the Upper Mississippi Valley. No 

other means of transportation before the advent of the 

railroad was capable of serving this region so welb 



Xne Inaian ana tlie oteamDoat 

The progress of the Virginia up the Mississippi was 
viewed with alarm by the Indians. Beltrami was impressed 
by the fright they displayed at Fort Snelling : "I know 
not what impression the first sight of the Phoenician ves- 
sels might make on the inhabitants of the coast of Greece; 
or the Triremi of the Romans on the wild natives of 
Iberia, Gaul, or Britain; but I am sure it could not be 
stronger than that which I saw on the countenance of 
these savages at the arrival of our steamboat." ^^ 

If the Indians at Fort Snelling were frightened, their 
white brothers who first saw such steamboats were equally 
startled. In Europe the peasants of Walachia fled (in 1830) 

o at the sight of the first steamboat on the Danube, believing 
it to be the work of Satan. These same Walachians, like 
Beltrami himself, traced their lineage back to Imperial 
Rome and gloried in it. Less than six years later, in the 
spring of 1836, the Walachians anxiously awaited the ar- 
rival of the first steamboat. Eight craft then plied on the 

y Danube, and little colonies were springing up at each 
steamboat landing. In 1836 a score of steamboats were 
churning between St. Louis and the mineral region.^"" 

But the Indians soon became accustomed to the steam- 
boats puffing up and down the Mississippi. They even 
came to look on with characteristic apathy while these 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

boats discharged troops and supplies, and loaded up with 
furs and passengers for below. As the years rolled on and 
the Indians came to associate the steamboat with the ar- 
rival of their yearly annuities, they became even more 
strongly attached to the craft which plied regularly in the 
trade. They were especially fond of such steamboats as 
the Lynx, the Otter, the Osprey, and the Argo. Indeed, 
when the Argo sank in 1847, the Indians felt it was as 
much their loss as the owners'. "It became known". Cap- 
tain Blakeley relates, "that we had bought the Dr. Frank- 
lin, called by them the Great Medicine, before that steam- 
boat arrived. When she landed at Red Wing on her first 
trip, the traders sung out that the Great Medicine was 
coming. This cry raised everyone in the village, men, 
women, and children, and all rushed to the bank of the 
river and onto the boat, shouting 'How! how! how!' " ^°^ 

The arrival of the steamboat at an Indian village was 
always a signal for a rush to meet her. On July 16, 1847, 
Harriet E. Bishop, a woman missionary, arrived at Kaposia 
on the Lynx. "The ringing of the bell", declared this bad- 
ly frightened servant of the Lord, "occasioned a grand 
rush, and with telegraphic speed, every man, woman, and 
child flew to the landing. 

"To an unsophisticated eye like mine, the scene on shore 
was novel and grotesque, not to say repulsive; blankets 
and hair streaming in the wind; limbs uncovered; children 
nearly naked, the smaller ones entirely so, while a papoose 
was ludicrously peeping over the shoulder of nearly every 

5> 102 



The Indian and the Steamboat 

During the removal of the Winnebago from Iowa in 
1848 an incident occurred which was remembered with 
deep chagrin by the Winnebago for several years. It ap- 
pears that the Dr. Franklin was the first boat on the Upper 
Mississippi to have a steam whistle. On one occasion, after 
the boat had discharged her red passengers, the whole 
tribe gathered on the bank to watch the "Great Medicine" 
back out. Sensing the possibilities for some fun, the en- 
gineer, Bill Myers, pulled the cord of the whistle "which 
gave a terrible screech, and instantly every Indian man, 
woman, and child jumped, shed their blankets, and rushed 
for the top of the bank or some place to hide." 

This incident made the poor Winnebago the laughing 
stock of the tribes on the Minnesota River. But in 1851 
they had their revenge. When the Dr. Franklin went up 
to Traverse des Sioux, the Winnebago plotted with Cap- 
tain Russell Blakeley to frighten the Sioux. The Dr. 
Franklin snorted up to the Sioux village under a full head 
of steam, and as the boat touched the shore a hideous blast 
sent every Sioux flying for cover. Indeed, so great was 

-J their fright that the Winnebago poked no little fun at their 
former mockers and thanked Captain Blakeley for squar- 
ing accounts.^''' 

y^ Steamboats played an important part in the relations 
of the Indian and the white man for almost half a cen- 
tury. The Indian even found courage to travel by steam- 
boat. He seldom traveled alone, however, but factors 
other than fear and distrust accounted for this. Only on 
rare occasions did the Indian have funds to procure a pas- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

sage; the desire for whiskey, generously diluted with river 
water, proved more tempting to his fancy. Moreover, by 
the time the steamboat had become common, the reserva- 
tion system and the trading house, both under the close 
supervision of the Indian Agent, tended to discourage trav- 
el by the red men. 

Despite this fact/ the Indian played an important 
role, both directly and indirectly, in the development of 
steamboating on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. 
Steamboating was stimulated directly by the necessity of 
transporting delegations to treaty grounds, by the delivery 
of annuity goods as provided by these treaties, and by the 
ultimate removal of whole tribes to new reservations.^ 

IEach of these processes tended to weaken the Indians' hold 
on the lands of the Upper Mississippi Valley and to stim- 
ulate the advance of white settlers into the region. /in- 
directly, the Indian stimulated steamboating through the 
presence of the fur trader and the soldier on the Indian 



1 o 1 reaty Ijrrouncls nj otfeamiDoat 

A FOX WARRIOR was Stealing furtively down the Missis- 
sippi below Prairie du Chien. Desperately wounded and 
half-starved, he staggered along, wading streams and skulk- 
ing through the underbrush. His strength was ebbing 
fast as he approached the Fox village at the mouth of Cat- 
fish Creek below present-day Dubuque. Fortunately he 
managed to reach his kindred and friends just in time to 
tell of the ambuscade and massacre of their principal 
chiefs and headmen by the Sioux and Menominee. Then 
the lone survivor himself departed to the happy hunting 

A paroxysm of fear gripped the leaderless Fox Indians, 
and they fled precipitately to Rock Island. When the 
news of the bloody tragedy reached Washington, the gov- 
ernment ordered General William Clark, Superintendent 
of Indian Affairs, to assemble the warring tribes at Prairie 
du Chien. William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) was 
deeply venerated by his many red children in the Missis- 
sippi Valley. They trusted this courageous "red-haired 
chief" with "iron in the blood and granite in the back- 
bone". And well might they trust him as a friend, for as 
early as 1826 Clark had urged the Secretary of War to 
adopt a more humane policy toward his red charges : 
"While strong and hostile", Clark wrote, "it has been our 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

obvious policy to weaken them; now that they are weak 
and harmless, and most of their lands fallen into our hands, 
justice and humanity require us to befriend and cherish 
them." "= 

Clark set out from St. Louis on the steamboat Planet 
with a motley cargo of Indians from the Missouri River. 
When the steamboat reached Rock Island, the Sauk and 
Fox, with recent atrocities still fresh in their minds, stub- 
bornly refused to attend the peace negotiations. But Clark 
had learned the subtle techniques for the successful cajol- 
ing of red men. Long years before he had once remarked: 
"It requires time and a little smoking with Indians if you 
wish to have peace with them." The recalcitrant Foxes, 
their grief assuaged with a liberal supply of presents to 
the friends and relatives of the victims, finally agreed to 
proceed to Prairie du Chien on the Planet. When the boat 
reached Galena, she had some three hundred members of 
the Sauk, Fox, Iowa, and Oto tribes jammed aboard. In 
addition to these, a small delegation of Missouri, Sioux, 
and Winnebago lent color and confusion to the heterogen- 
eous array of Indians that swarmed over Captain Butler's 
diminutive craft. 

At Prairie du Chien "time and smoking" finally brought 
the warring factions to an understanding after two weeks 
of negotiations. On July 15, 1830, the Sioux and the con- 
federated tribes of Sauk and Fox agreed to mark off be- 
tween them a neutral strip forty miles in width in what is 
now northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. Shortly 
afterwards Clark returned the Indians to their homes 


To Treaty Grounds by Steamboat 

aboard the steamboat Ked Rover, Joseph Throckmorton 
commanding. A total of $24,265.83 was appropriated for 
this treaty, and only $840.94 was left unspent.^"* 

Before 1823 the Indian had traveled long distances by 
canoe or on foot to attend a treaty meeting. With the 
arrival of the steamboat the red man was transported to 
the scene of the council and fed while away from his vil- 
lage. He found the Great White Father quite willing to 
do this, particularly when spurred on by the hope of more 
land cessions. Prior to the Black Hawk War most of the 
councils in the Upper Mississippi Valley were called at 
some point near a military post. Fort Crawford and Fort 
Armstrong were favorite treaty grounds, but a number of 
councils were also held at Fort Snelling. 

The gradual withdrawal of the Indians northward to 
the land of the sky blue waters can be measured by the 
points at which the treaties were signed. In 1842 the Sauk 
and Fox Indians gave up all claim to land in the Territory 
of Iowa by a treaty signed at Agency, six miles east of 
Ottumwa on the Des Moines River. Nine years later, at 
Traverse des Sioux and Mendota, the Sioux ceded large 
tracts of land in the Territory of Minnesota and smaller 
patches in northern Iowa."' 

Despite accounts found in contemporary newspapers of 
the palatial appointments and speed of Upper Mississippi 
craft, the journeys of the commissioners, clerks, and inter- 
preters were seldom pleasant. Thus, in 1829 Caleb At- 
water, a resident of Ohio, was appointed commissioner to 
act with Brigadier General John McNeil and Colonel 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Pierre Menard. After a tiresome journey down the Ohio 
and up the Mississippi, Atwater finally reached St. Louis 
where he busied himself for days in securing quantities of 
food and supplies. These he sent on by steamboat as quick- 
ly as they were purchased. When all was in readiness 
Atwater boarded the steamboat Missouri (John Culver 
commanding) and set out for Prairie du Chien. It took 
the Missouri almost a week to reach the Lower Rapids. 
Here the journey was interrupted by the low stage of the 
water. While making his way on foot along the river from 
Fort Edwards to the head of the rapids, Atwater found 
many of the packages, which had been forwarded several 
weeks before, scattered along the bank and exposed to the 
elements. A large part of these were stowed aboard Cap- 
tain Throckmorton's Red Rover which lay at the head of 
the Lower Rapids, hopefully waiting for a cargo with 
which to return upstream.^°® 

Fort Armstrong was not reached until noon of the third 
day. Here a delegation of two hundred Winnebago sur- 
rounded Atwater and demanded "flour, hog meat, and 
whisky." Eleven barrels of pork, two hundred pipes, and 
a plentiful supply of tobacco appeased their anger, and 
the Red Rover continued upstream. Learning at Galena 
that an unprecedented number of Indians had gathered at 
Fort Crawford, Atwater purchased an additional five 
hundred bushels of corn. 

The Indians at Prairie du Chien greeted the commis- 
sioners warmly. According to Atwater : "As soon as we 
were discovered by our red friends, a few miles below the 


To Treaty Grounds by Steamboat 

fort, opposite to their encampment, they fired into the 
air, about fifteen hundred rifles to honor us. Our powder 
had become wet, and, to our extreme mortification and 
regret, we could not answer them by our cannon. Having 
fired their arms, some run on foot, some rode on their 
small horses furiously along over the prairie to meet us 
where we landed." As soon as her cargo was discharged, 
the Ked Rover departed downstream for the remaining 
annuities and treaty supplies."" 

Orations were followed by unrestrained feasting; fa- 
vorite Indian games were interspersed with murders. All 
the tribes appeared contented, save the Winnebago whose 
chief grievance was that $20,000 in annuity goods had not 
been delivered. They demanded that this debt be wiped 
out before the government enter into new obligations. 
Low water had delayed the delivery of these annuities, 
but this explanation did not placate the Winnebago who, 
even after the goods did arrive, threatened to murder 
every white man present. 

At this crucial moment the two chiefs, Keokuk and 
Morgan, appeared with two hundred Sauk and Fox war- 
riors and began their war dance for the United States. 
They informed the unruly Winnebago that thirty steam- 
boats with cannon and troops and four hundred of their 
own warriors were close at hand. This silenced the Win- 
nebago and brought the negotiations to a close. The suc- 
cessful termination of the treaty of 1829 may be attributed 
to the timely arrival of the long delayed annuities and to 
Keokuk's extravagant fabrication of the approach of 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

thirty steamboats loaded with well armed white troops/^" 

In 1837 Governor Henry Dodge of the Territory of 
Wisconsin set out on the steamboat Irene for Fort Snelling 
to negotiate a treaty with the Chippewa, whereby they 
surrendered their choicest lands to the white man. Among 
the signatories to this treaty were Henry H. Sibley and 
Hercules L. Dousman of the American Fur Company; 
J. N. Nicollet, the noted French scientist; and Joseph 
Emerson, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A., owner of the famous 
slave, Dred Scott/^^ 

The signing of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux on July 
23, 1851, was the prelude to the final extinction of Indian 
land title in the Upper Mississippi Valley. Many steam- 
boats were required to carry the Indians to and from the 
treaty ground and in transporting food and gifts. Thirty 
braves from Red Wing's band went up on the Dr. Frank- 
lin, while the Nominee carried Wabasha's warriors. 

The steamboat Excelsior (James Ward commanding) 
arrived at St. Paul on June 20, 1851, with Commissioner 
Luke Lea on board and the next morning proceeded to 
Mendota where the party was joined by a number of 
traders and chiefs of the lower Sioux bands. According to 
a passenger, the Sioux managed "to conform here on the 
boat without murmuring to our pernicious habit of eat- 
ing three meals a day." A drove of cattle and a supply of 
provisions were taken on board at Mendota to furnish sub- 
sistence for the Indians expected at the treaty. 

Leaving Mendota, the Excelsior steamed over to Fort 
Snelling where Governor Alexander Ramsey came on 


To Treaty Grounds by Steamboat 

board. But a company of dragoons who were to accom- 
pany the commission as a guard was not ready so the 
Excelsior departed without them. Among the passengers 
were James M. Goodhue, the first editor in Minnesota, and 
Frank B. Mayer, a Maryland artist whose famous painting 
of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux has been preserved to 
this day. On July 20th, the Dr. Franklin brought a party 
from St. Paul to witness the signing of the treaty. 

The year 1851 marks the last time a large body of In- 
dians was carried by steamboat to sign a treaty in the 
Upper Mississippi region. Henceforth the activity of 
steamboats, so far as Indian councils were concerned, 
shifted to the Missouri River.^" 



Visiting tike Cjreat vVliife Jraflier 

Indian councils in the West were never exclusive gather- 
ings of the chiefs and headmen : the whole tribe attended. 
Braves came accompanied by their squaws and dirty- 
faced papooses. Old men and women, bent and withered 
with age, hobbled about the treaty grounds and scolded 
crossly at the slightest pretext. Even the dogs, half- 
starved on account of the lack of food, accompanied the 
tribe : they barked incessantly during the day and howled 
so dismally at night that the Indian orators called atten- 
tion to their pitiful condition, the better to illustrate their 
own sad plight."^ 

Bitter quarrels among the Indians or with the commis- 
sioners and the interminably long speeches, together with 
the cost involved in transporting and feeding whole tribes 
of hungry Indians, led the government to inaugurate the 
policy of transporting small delegations to Washington. 
Limiting the number of orators tended to bring negotia- 
tions to an earlier conclusion. The amount saved on food 
and presents, it was estimated, would actually pay the cost 
of transportation; at the same time the bewildered Indians 
would be overawed by the power of the government. Such 
methods, it was hoped, would hasten the extinction of 
Indian land titles and work to the advantage of the white 


Visiting the Great White Father 

The payments to steamboat captains formed no small 
portion of the expense of taking the Indian delegations to 
Washington. William Clark's estimate of the cost of tak- 
ing his delegation of Sauk, Fox, Iowa, and Piankashaw 
Indians to Washington in 1824 was $2,908.80. Included 
in the party was one agent, three interpreters, one servant, 
one hired man, and eighteen Indians. Transportation from 
St. Louis to Washington required $1,231.75; while pro- 
visions and tavern expenses amounted to $772.74. 

Lawrence Taliaferro estimated $857.23 for transporting 
his Sioux, Chippewa, and Menominee Indians from St. 
Peter's to Washington in 1824. He figured $482.00 for 
transportation, $149.84 for provisions, $199.00 for hired 
men, $24.39 for sundries, $19.00 for presents, and $13.00 
for medicine. It would be difficult to explain this differ- 
ence. Still more confusing is Taliaferro's estimate of 
$2,992.00 for the journey home — especially since only 
$150 of this was needed to make the trip from Prairie du 
Chien to Fort Snelling. The difference can hardly be at- 
tributed to up- and downstream tariffs."* 

For the Indian, a trip to Washington was like the first 
visit of a country boy to a big city. But it was no easy 
task for the Indian Agent. Even aboard the steamboat it 
was necessary to be constantly on the alert to prevent the 
Indians from securing firewater : vigilance had to be re- 
doubled whenever the steamboat landed and the Indians 
went ashore. On one occasion, Marcpee, a Sioux from the 
Fort Snelling district, had a bad dream while ascending 
the Ohio River, dived overboard, and swam ashore. He 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

reached St. Charles, Missouri, in safety, but there the 
thrust of a Sauk dagger changed the course of his journey 
to the happy hunting grounds."' 

Amusing incidents were without number. In 1831 
Colonel Samuel C. Stambaugh departed from Washington 
with a group of Menominee warriors. The journey home 
was to be made after visiting the principal cities of the 
East. At Philadelphia a theater party was arranged with 
a special section reserved for the warriors. During the 
course of the program a gigantic elephant from Siam was 
led on the stage. The astonished Menominee gave one 
loud, discordant shriek which almost precipitated a riot. 
Terrified whites and blacks hastily sought cover. But the 
Indians were not without a defender : a local newspaper 
declared that such a reception was no worse than the cus- 
tom of fashionable gentlemen in Philadelphia theaters who 
beat boxes with their canes."^ 

Somewhat different was Black Hawk's visit to the Great 
White Father in 1833. At the conclusion of his ill-fated 
war he was carried in chains aboard the steamboat Win- 
nebago and taken to Jefferson Barracks. On his journey 
downstream, the defeated Sauk leader was placed in charge 
of Lieutenant Jefferson Davis (the man who later became 
President of the Southern Confederacy) . Of his treat- 
v/ ment by Davis aboard the Winnebago, Black Hawk after- 
wards declared : "We remained here [Prairie du Chien] 
a short time, and then started to Jefferson Barracks, in a 
steam boat, under the charge of a young war chief 
[Davis], who treated all with much kindness. He is a 


Visiting the Great White Father 

good and brave young chief, with whose conduct I was 
much pleased. On our way down, we called at Galena, 
and remained a short time. The people crowded to the 
boat to see us; but the war chief would not permit them 
to enter the apartment where we were — knowing, from 
what his own feelings would have been, if he had been 
placed in a similar situation, that we did not wish to have 
a gaping crowd around us." "^ 

Black Hawk and his two sons, the Prophet, and nine 
braves were aboard the Winnebago when she arrived at 
St. Louis. Fifty warriors had been landed at the foot of 
the Lower Rapids upon pledging to remain at peace."^ 

Held with ball and chain Black Hawk languished in 
Jefferson Barracks until spring. Then he made a steamboat 
journey by way of the Ohio to Pittsburgh, and thence 
overland to Washington. The trip was arranged to im- 
press the fallen chieftain with the power of the white 
man : it turned out to be somewhat of a triumphant tour 
as related by Black Hawk in his Autobiography}^^ 

"In a little while all were ready, and left Jefferson bar- 
racks on board of a steam boat, under charge of a young 
war chief, whom the White Beaver sent along as a guide 
to Washington. He carried with him an interpreter and 
one soldier. On our way up the Ohio, we passed several 
large villages, the names of which were explained to me. 
The first is called Louisville, and is a very pretty village, 
situate on the bank of the Ohio river. The next is 
Cincinnati, which stands on the bank of the same river. 
This is a large and beautiful village, and seemed to be in 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

a thriving condition. The people gathered on the bank 
as we passed, in great crowds, apparently anxious to see us. 

"On our arrival at Wheeling, the streets and river's 
bank were crowded with people, who flocked from every 
direction to see us. WhUe we remained here, many called 
upon us, and treated us with kindness — no one offering 
to molest or misuse us. This village is not so large as either 
of those before mentioned, but is quite a pretty village. 

"We left the steam boat here, having travelled a long 
distance on the prettiest river (except our Mississippi,) 
that I ever saw — and took the stage. Being unaccustomed 
to this mode of travelling, we soon got tired, and wished 
ourselves seated in a canoe on one of our own rivers, that 
we might return to our friends. We had travelled but a 
short distance, before our carriage turned over, from which 
I received a slight injury, and the soldier had one arm 
broken. I was sorry for this accident, as the young man 
had behaved well." 

Upon meeting President Andrew Jackson the red war- 
rior said to his Great White Father : "I am a man and 
you are another." This may have been sufficient for send- 
ing Black Hawk to Fortress Monroe as the guest-prisoner 
of the government. Upon his release Black Hawk returned 
to his home in Iowa by way of the Great Lakes and Prairie 
du Chien. 

Three delegations of Upper Mississippi Indians went to 
Washington in 1837. Unknown to the representatives of 
the American Fur Company who were attempting to 
force the Sioux to sign certain papers acknowledging their 


Visiting the Great White Father 

debts, Major Taliaferro arranged with Captain James Laf- 
ferty of the steamboat Ariel to be at Fort SnelHng on a 
certain day. Luckily for the Sioux, the steamboat was on 
time and they set out downstream before the Fur Com- 
pany became aware of their departure. At Kaposia the 
Ariel was boarded by Big Thunder and his pipe bearer. 
The great Wahkoota and his war chief clambered aboard 
at what is now Red Wing; and at the present site of Wino- 
na, Wabasha and Etuzepah joined the delegation. Twen- 
ty-one Sioux were on the Ariel when she reached Galena. 
An editor described them as a motley and curious set of 
"varmints". Leaving Galena on August 23, 1837, the Ariel 
made her way down the Mississippi and up the Ohio to 
Pittsburgh, whence the Indians journeyed overland to 

Secretary of War Joel R. Poinsett met the Sioux at 
Washington. Henry Hastings Sibley, Alexis Bailly, Joseph 
Laframboise, and AJexander and Oliver Faribault were 
present to "protect" the interests of the American Fur 
Company. After solemn deliberations, a treaty was signed 
on September 29, 1837, by which the Sioux relinquished 
all claims to the pine forests of the St. Croix Valley, thus 
clearing the way for the organization of the future Ter- 
ritory of Minnesota. The representatives of the Fur Com- 
pany were able to include a provision whereby a sum of 
$90,000 was set aside for the payment of the "just" debts 
which they claimed the Indians owed them."° 

After viewing some of the wonders of the East, the 
Sioux returned by way of the Ohio and the Mississippi to 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

St. Louis where the steamboat Rolla was chartered to 
transport the delegation to Fort SneHing. Leaving Galena 
on November 7, 1837, the Indians began the last lap of 
their three thousand mile journey. About twenty miles 
below Pine River, the flue of the boiler suddenly collapsed. 
The fireman of the Kolla^ a negro, and a valuable horse 
were killed; but the Sioux escaped without injury, and the 
delegation was safely landed at Fort Snelling the next 

Before the Kolla turned her nose downstream Major 
Taliaferro paid Captain Dwyer $1450 "for transportation 
& fare of a delegation of Sioux Indians & their Interpreters 
& attendants by contract from St. Louis to the Agency 
at St. Peters". The government paid $5 5 per passage for 
the twenty-six Indians and their attendants aboard the 
Kolla, which was almost double the amount usually 
charged for such a trip. Not even the late season could 
justify such a payment. This sum, added to the income 
from freight and passage received from other sources, 
probably yielded the Kolla her most profitable trip of the 
season. Even if Captain Dwyer had creditors before he 
reached Fort Snelling he must have left for St. Louis with 
a light heart.^" 

Two other Indian delegations went to Washington in 
1837. The Sauk and Fox under Joseph M. Street signed 
a treaty on October 21st, relinquishing 1,250,000 acres of 
Iowa land. This is known today as The Second Purchase. 
Then, on November 1st, the Winnebago, under Agent 
Thomas A. Boyd, ceded all their lands east of the Missis- 


Visiting the Great White Father 

sippi, together with a portion of the Neutral Strip. Three 
delegations in one year, together with the special annuity 
goods usually provided for in the treaties, brought rich 
returns to the enterprising steamboat captains who plied 
the Upper Mississippi/"' 


Tlie 1 ransporiation ot iiiai&n. Aniniiif les 

A LARGE BAND of Chippcwa had assembled on the St. 
Croix River near present-day Stillwater. A year before, 
in July of 1837, they had made a treaty at Fort Snelling 
with their Great White Father. They had been solemnly 
promised that their first yearly annuity would be paid on 
this very spot. A year had passed and the Chippewa, with 
child-like simplicity, had gathered to receive their sup- 
plies. But long-winded Congressmen, inefficient depart- 
mental employees, the stage of the water, and the season 
of the year often delayed the delivery of annuity goods. 
These factors, together with an inherent dislike of the 
Indians for raising their own crops, often led to distress- 
ing hardships. 

Delay in the delivery of Indian annuities was common, 
but few tribes suffered more than did the Chippewa in 
1838. By the middle of July the Chippewa began to feel 
genuine concern as their annuities still remained unde- 
livered. Suddenly the steamboat Palmyra (W. Middleton 
commanding) was spied puffing proudly up the St. Croix. 
She was the first steamboat to churn the waters of that 
river. The assembled tribesmen dashed down to greet her 
and to receive their long-awaited annuities. Their stock 
of provisions was running low : indeed, many of the 
Chippewa were in dire need of food. But Captain Mid- 


The Transportation of Indian Annuities 

dleton carried no annuities for the Chippewa aboard the 
Palmyra. Instead he brought a party of workmen with 
equipment to erect the first mill in the St. Croix Valley. 
The red man might cede his home; land pirates might im- 
mediately enter and denude the rich valley of its wealth 
of timber; but the Indian must await the delivery of his 

It was not until the first week of November that the 
steamboat Gipsey arrived with the Indian goods. By that 
time the plight of the red men was desperate. An account 
of the first payment has been left by Levi W. Stratton, a 
St. Croix lumberman: 

"The old stern wheel Gipsey brought the goods and 
landed them on the beach. The Chippewas came there to 
the number of 1,100 in their canoes, nearly starved by 
waiting for their payment. While there receiving it the 
river and lake froze up, and a deep snow came on; thus 
all their supplies, including one hundred barrels of flour, 
twenty-five of pork, kegs of tobacco, bales of blankets, 
guns and ammunition, casks of Mexican dollars, etc., all 
were sacrificed except what they could carry off on their 
backs through the snow hundreds of miles away. Their 
fleet of birch canoes they destroyed before leaving, lest the 
Sioux might have the satisfaction of doing the same after 
they left. 

"Many of the old as well as the young died from over- 
eating, they being nearly starved. Thus their first pay- 
ment became a curse rather than a blessing to them, for 
their supplies soon gave out, the season for hunting was 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

past, they were away from home and had no means of 
getting there, except by wading through the deep snow. 
Many perished in the attempt. As is usual in such cases, 
I suppose, no one was to blame, but the poor Indians had 
to suffer the consequence of somebody's neglect. The Old 
Gipsey had scarcely time to get through the lake before 
the ice formed." ^'* 

The delivery of Indian annuities formed an important 
cargo for enterprising steamboat captains. Each year 
steamboats churned up the Mississippi and its tributaries 
to deliver a varied assortment of Indian goods. Steamboat 
captains who secured contracts to deliver annuities were 
considered extremely fortunate for, while the movement 
of delegations and tribes usually required but one trip, the 
traffic in annuities called for many trips to the points 

Before the voyage of the Virginia the government fre- 
quently sent presents to the Indians by means of keelboats. 
Thus, when the keelboat Amelia stopped at the mouth of 
the Upper Iowa River in 1821 Indian Agent Lawrence 
Taliaferro was visited by Chief Wabasha and a band of 
seventy-eight warriors. After explaining the views of the 
government. Major Taliaferro gave the "respectable" 
Wabasha a present which brought "visible" pleasure to his 
eyes. Although the value of such presents was usually 
small they proved a tempting bait which produced the de- 
sired effect. His appetite whetted, the Indian asked for 
more; it was then but a short step to the actual sale of 
lands. The steamboat was the chief means of transporting 


The Transportation of Indian Annuities 

such annuity goods before the coming of the railroad/" 
It should be pointed out, however, that until the steam- 
boat had become a means of communication with points 
on the Upper Mississippi it was not possible to deliver huge 
quantities of annuities at the very doors of the tribes. For 
example, in 1824 provision was made to convey the Sauk, 
Fox, and the Iowa Indian goods only as far as St. Louis; 
but later treaties called for the transportation of goods to 
designated points on the Upper Mississippi. In 1829 the 
Winnebago were to receive immediately $18,000 in specie 
and $30,000 in goods and presents at Prairie du Chien and 
Fort Winnebago. Three thousand pounds of tobacco and 
fifty barrels of salt were also to be delivered at the same 
points annually for a period of thirty years. Likewise the 
amount of iron, tools, and steel required by a blacksmith 
called for annual shipments during the next three decades. 
Three years later the Winnebago were granted additional 
annuities for a period of twenty-seven years. At the same 
time the Black Hawk Purchase provided that annuity 
goods be delivered yearly at the mouth of the Iowa River. 
Both treaties specified that the government defray the 
cost of transportation.^"^ 

While eastern markets furnished a considerable portion 
of the Indian goods carried by Upper Mississippi steam- 
boats, it was bustling St. Louis that claimed the lion's 
share of the trade. Indeed, in 1829 Atwater observed that 
the Indian Department had expended millions of dollars 
in St. Louis.'"' Ten years later a Davenport newspaper 
viewed with envy the departure from St. Louis of the 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

steamboat Pizarro which was bound up the Missouri River 
to its confluence with the Kansas with 20 spinning wheels, 
20 looms and their "appendages", 300 axes, 100 plows, and 
$10,000 in specie. This "pretty little outfit" was destined 
for the Iowa and other Indians/"® 

While the entire western country was included in this 
commerce no small share belonged to the Upper Missis- 
sippi. In the thirties, especially, with Sauk and Fox, Win- 
nebago and Potawatomi, Chippewa and Sioux, and other 
tribes gradually giving way before the westward tide of 
immigration, treaties called for an ever increasing ship- 
ment of annuities. By 1844 four tribes alone were being 
supplied annually with goods valued at $218,910 : the 
Sioux received $40,510; the Sauk and Fox $85,540; 
while the Winnebago rejoiced over annuities valued at 

The importance of the Indian trade is further illustrated 
by a comparison v/ith the commerce from the white settle- 
ments on the frontier. "About $80,000", declared a St. 
Paul newspaper in 1852, "has been paid out to the lower 
bands of Indians in accordance with the treaty stipula- 
tions for the purchase of their land : also about $20,000 
worth of goods. The Governor has gone to Traverse des 
Sioux, where he is to meet the upper bands of Indians, and 
will pay them, it is said, over $300,000. The effect of the 
payment is easily observed in St. Paul. The merchants are 
reaping a rich harvest. The Indians are as plentiful in 
town as mosquitoes in summer; but they are more wel- 
come, for they bring the cash, while mosquitoes settle 


The Transportation of Indian Annuities 

their bills in another way." '^° At St. Paul the trade in 
general merchandise during the year 185 3 was estimated 
at $390,000. This represented the goods purchased by the 
citizens of St. Paul and by white settlers throughout the 
surrounding country. But the government trade during 
the same year amounted to fully $400,000.'"' 

Each flourishing community between St. Louis and St. 
Paul made strong bids for a portion of this trade and often 
received a generous share. For a long time Galena played 
a leading role; but in the decade preceding the Civil War 
other river towns cut deeply into her trade. In 1857 
Davenport and the surrounding territory in Iowa fur- 
nished goods for the Sioux of the Minnesota River to the 
value of $28,000."' 

The delivery of Indian annuities was usually a colorful 
spectacle. Captain Edwin Bell recalls a particularly 
dramatic episode following the arrival of the steamboat 

"In 18551 had command of the steamer Globe, making 
trips on the Minnesota river, and in the early fall of that 
year we carried supplies to the Sioux at Redwood Agency. 
The Indians would come down the river several miles to 
meet the boat. They were like a lot of children, and when 
the steamboat approached they would shout, 'Nitonka 
pata-wata washta', meaning, 'Your big fire-canoe is good.' 
They would then cut across the bend, yelling until we 
reached the landing. 

"In the fall of that year, 185 5, their supplies were late, 
when I received orders from Agent Murphy to turn over 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

to the Indians twelve barrels of pork, and twelve barrels of 
flour. As soon as we landed, we rolled the supplies on 
shore. I was informed that the Indians were in a starving 
condition. It was amusing to see five or six of them rolling 
a barrel of pork up the bank, when two of our deck hands 
would do the work in half the time. 

"When the flour and pork were on the level ground, the 
barrel heads were knocked in, and the pork cut in small 
strips and thrown in a pile. Two hundred squaws then 
formed a circle, and several Indians handed the pieces of 
pork to the squaws until the pile was disposed of. The 
flour was placed in tin pans, each squaw receiving a 

"Later, in the same season we had an unfortunate trip. 
The boat was loaded deep. Luckily Agent Murphy and 
Capt. Louis Robert were on board. We had in the cabin 
of the boat ninety thousand dollars in gold. About three 
miles below the Agency, we ran on a large boulder. After 
much effort, we got the boat afloat. Major Murphy gave 
orders to land the goods, so that they might be hauled to 
the Agency. We landed and unloaded, covering the goods 
with tarpaulins. There were about fifty kegs of powder 
with the goods. While we were unloading, the agent sent 
for a team to take Captain Robert and himself, with the 
gold, to the Agency. Then we started down the river. 
We had gone only a few miles, when we discovered a 
dense smoke, caused by a prairie fire. The smoke was 
rolling toward the pile of goods which we had left in 
charge of two men. When we reached the ferry at Red 


The Transportation of Indian Annuities 

Bank, a man on horseback motioned to us to land, and 
told us that the goods we left were all burnt up and the 
powder exploded. This was a sad blow to the Indians." 

Late in April, 1857, the Fire Canoe (R. M. Spencer 
commanding) lay at the foot of Lake Pepin loaded with 
three hundred tons of flour, pork, and lard for the Indian 
Agency at Redwood. This consignment, which was part 
of a contract of $28,000, had been produced in Iowa. Wil- 
liam Wood of Davenport, a member of the firm of Wood 
and Barclay of St. Paul, was the successful bidder for these 
annuities. The Fire Canoe arrived at the St. Paul levee on 
May 6, 1857, with two barges in tow and 1800 barrels of 
flour, 600 barrels of pork, 100 barrels of lard, and 3000 
bushels of corn. The voyage to Redwood took thirteen 
days; the Indians were almost starved when the Fire Canoe 
arrived. Averaging barely fifteen miles per day upstream, 
the Fire Canoe returned to St. Paul after an absence of 
twenty days.^"^ 

The yearly delivery of Indian annuities gave steamboat y 
captains a rich source of revenue during the early years 
of steamboating on the Upper Mississippi. But the com- 
ing of the railroad, together with the removal of the tribes 
westward across the Missouri, had well nigh destroyed this 
traffic by the opening of the Civil War. 



1 Jlip JLasf JRecl 'Uargoes 

The dramatic migration known as the westward move- 
ment reached what is now Keokuk on the Upper Missis- 
sippi in the decade preceding the Black Hawk War. By 
1860 both banks of the Mississippi between St. Louis and 
St. Paul were well populated. The scattered Indian tribes 
that had occupied the area had been carried back on the 
crest of the immigrant waves, first across the Mississippi 
and then across the Missouri. A generation of pioneers 
witnessed the removal of the Winnebago from Wisconsin 
to Iowa and to northern Minnesota. During the same 
period the Sauk and Fox moved from Illinois to Iowa and 
thence on to Kansas. 

Weary and vanquished, bewildered and embittered, the 
Indians trekked westward. Sometimes the movement was 
made on foot, sometimes by wagon teams, and not infre- 
quently by steamboat. Late in 1832 over two thousand 
Choctaw Indians arrived at Memphis and embarked on a 
steamboat for Rock Roe on the White River : wagon 
trains carried them west of Arkansas Territory. A dele- 
gation of Seminoles arrived at Memphis in 1832 on the 
steamboat Little Rocky and from there set out overland 
for Fort Gibson. Four years later 511 Creek Indians ar- 
rived at Little Rock on the steamboat Alpha. The tragic 
story of the dispossession of the red men was reenacted over 


The Last Red Cargoes 
and over again on a frontier more than two thousand miles 

in extent."' 

Not all the Indian tribes of the Upper Mississippi Val- 
ley were removed to their new homes by means of steam- 
boats. Many tribes were forced to migrate overland. But 
steamboat captains reaped a harvest whenever whole tribes 
were transported on their boats. The removal of the Win- 
nebago during the summer of 1848 was one of the most 
colorful incidents in Upper Mississippi steamboat history. 
It was a difficult task; but, if newspaper accounts can be 
relied upon, the profits accruing to the owners of the Dr. 
Franklin amply repaid them for their work. 

By the treaty of 1846 the Winnebago had agreed to cede 
their claims and privileges in the Neutral Ground and 
remove northward to a spot provided by the government. 
A strip of land at the mouth of the Crow Wing River was 
finally designated. Since over two thousand Winnebago 
were involved in this transfer, a detachment of troops 
from Fort Atkinson was ordered to accompany them. 
Five hundred head of cattle were taken along for sub- 
sistence; while three hundred teams were required to haul 
the baggage which made up this Indian camp. At Wa- 
basha's village the party was to be picked up by steamboat 
and carried as far as St. Paul, but when the Indians assem- 
bled on the prairie just below Wabasha's village, they re- 
fused to move another foot. Captain Russell Blakeley has 
left a report of the episode. 

"After the agent had nearly despaired of success, the 
only alternative left was to send to Capt. Eastman of Fort 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Snelling for additional troops, which, with a six-pounder, 
were sent under the command of Lieut. Hall, to see wheth- 
er he could encourage the fellows to go. In canvassing 
the situation, Lieut. Hall became suspicious that the chief, 
Wabasha, whose village was just above the prairie upon 
the Rolling Stone creek, had in some way encouraged the 
Winnebagoes not to go. He arrested Wabasha and brought 
him on board the Dr. Franklin, and chained him to one of 
the stanchions of the boat on the boiler deck, evidently 
with the intention of frightening him; but after a short 
time he thought better of it, and released him. This was 
regarded as a great outrage to this proud chief, and it was 
not regarded in favorable light by those having charge of 
the Winnebagoes, who numbered over two thousand souls, 
besides Wabasha's band; but it finally passed without 
trouble. All the men in charge of the Indians were con- 
stantly urging them to consent to the removal, and talks 
were almost of daily occurrence, which would always end 
in Commissary Lieut. J. H. McKenny's sending down to 
the camp more flour, sugar, meat and coffee, realizing that 
when their stomachs were full they were more peaceable. 
"One morning the troops, agent, and all in charge, were 
astounded to find the Indian camp deserted; not an In- 
dian, dog or pony was left. The canoes that had brought 
part of them were gone as well. Everything in camp that 
could hunt was started to find them. The Dr. Franklin 
was sent down the river to overtake them if they had gone 
in that direction, and I think it was three days before they 
were found. They had taken their canoes and gone down 


The Last Red Cargoes 

the river to the mouth of the Slough, and thence had gone 
over into Wisconsin and were comfortably encamped on 
the islands and shores of the river, but were nearly starved. 
They promised to return to their camp the next day in 
their canoes. About ten o'clock the next day those on 
watch saw them coming out of the head of the Slough 
some three miles above the steamboat landing. It was one 
of our beautiful summer mornings, with not a ripple on 
the water; and when these two thousand men, women, 
children, and dogs, passed down, floating without even 
using a paddle, except to keep in the stream, all dressed in 
their best, they presented such a picture as I have not seen 
equaled since. They were disposed to show themselves at 
their best. Lieut. McKenny met them at their camp with 
provisions, and the old status quo was reestablished." 

The Winnebago were fearful lest the Sioux should ob- 
ject to this removal into their country, and so it was 
decided to send the Dr. Franklin to St. Paul for the pur- 
pose of picking up the principal Sioux chiefs to meet the 
Winnebago in council. When the Sioux were gathered 
together they presented a colorful spectacle. Each chief 
was fitted out from head to foot with a new suit consist- 
ing of blue frock coat, leggins, moccasins, silk plug hat, 
white ruffled shirt, and a small American flag. After sev- 
eral days of orations the Winnebago finally agreed to go. 
Several trips were required to remove the whole tribe and 
its equipment. ^^® 

But some of the Indians were obdurate and steadfastly 
refused to leave their homes and migrate with the rest of 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the tribe. An old Winnebago settled on the bank of the 
Wisconsin River, denied any relationship to his tribe, and 
presented three land office certificates for forty acres of 
land. Despite every effort on his part to remain behind, 
the Dr. Fraftklin carried him northward.^" 

During the exodus the newspapers in the mining dis- 
trict were filled with reports of the progress of the Dr. 
Franklin. Charges were made that the Winnebago were 
carried back and forth several times and the government 
assessed with the cost. The Indians, it appears, enjoyed 
the novelty of the steamboat trip : it was said they rode 
up the river, disembarked, sprang into their canoes, and 
paddled back to Wabasha, a distance of over one hundred 
miles, in order to enjoy the excellent food and accommo- 
dations of the steamboat. 

Some of the Indians, however, remained behind; in 1849 
the Senator picked up at Prairie du Chien one hundred 
Winnebago who had refused to leave the preceding year. 
They were a motley array of braves, squaws, papooses, lean 
and battered ponies, dogs, traps, and tin kettles. When 
the Senator reached St. Paul the squaws set to work un- 
loading the goods while their indifferent braves looked on. 
The following spring Governor Alexander Ramsey was 
again bitterly assailed for estimating the cost of removing 
the Winnebago at $5000 and then demanding $100,000.''* 

Following the uprising of the Sioux in 1862 the govern- 
ment contracted with the Minnesota Packet Company to 
remove some of the Indians from Mankato to Fort Snell- 
ing. Captain Joseph B. Wilcox was sent by the packet 


The Last Red Cargoes 

company with the steamboat Flora to transport the In- 
dians. Commodore William F. Davidson also contracted 
to remove a part of the Sioux on the Favorite. 

At Mankato the Flora took aboard several hundred Sioux 
with their camp equipment and headed down the Min- 
nesota. Near Carver she struck a piling that had been 
driven into the river for bridge purposes and sank in 
about three feet of water. The Flora was an open hull 
boat, and much of the Indian equipment which lay in 
her hold was damaged. Since there were no siphons in 
those days the ship's carpenter had to repair the break as 
best he could with his men working up to their waists 
in water in the hold of the boat. The hole was finally 
patched and the crew commenced bailing out the water. 
This was slow work. Captain Wilcox asked the Indians 
to help, but they refused. 

"Bill" True, the engineer on the Flora, believed he could 
frighten the Sioux into helping. He ordered the firemen 
to raise steam in the boilers, and motioned to the Indians 
to watch him as he dramatically lifted the safety valves. 
The Sioux trembled, but remained firm. Not to be denied. 
True again appealed to the Great Spirit and opened the 
mud-drum valves which roared so hideously and shook the 
Flora from stem to stern so violently that the Sioux capit- 
ulated and set to work with their huge camp kettles. 
They soon tired, however, and it was not long before the 
braves were seen signaling their squaws to take their places. 
The squaws bailed with a will while their dusky mates 
looked on approvingly. The Flora was soon able to steam 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

to St. Paul where the Indians were landed temporarily/^^ 

From St. Paul, the Northern Line contracted to carry 
the Sioux down the Mississippi to Davenport where they 
were taken to Camp McClellan and occupied a part of the 
area later known as Camp Kearny. Here they remained 
until March 29, 1866, when they were ordered removed 
to Fort Randall, Nebraska. This was perhaps the last time 
a large body of Indians was transported by steamboat down 
the Mississippi River.^^" 

The removal of Indian tribes elicited considerable com- 
ment in the local press. News of the arrival of a steamboat 
at a river town with its picturesque red cargo was the 
signal for a rush to the levee. 

Fifteen years after their removal into Minnesota a por- 
tion of the Winnebago were transported to Fort Randall 
in Nebraska. It was a scant two hundred miles overland 
in a southwesterly direction to the new home, or no far- 
ther than the Winnebago might go on a summer's hunt. 
It was well nigh ten times as far by steamboat down the 
Minnesota and Mississippi rivers and up the Missouri. But 
the Winnebago enjoyed the easy motion and good food of 
the steamboat, and so the government agreed to transport 
them in this way. Proceeding down the Minnesota River 
from Mankato, the Winnebago boarded the steamboat 
Canada at St. Paul. A local editor has left this impression 
of the Winnebago: 

"Their looks indicate anything but the 'good Indians' 
that we read about in missionary works, and it is probable 
that Satan would not have great difficulty in selecting and 


The Last Red Cargoes 

officering at leasf a full company, who would be admirably 
adapted for his body-guard. It is very charming, indeed, 
to read in Hiawatha verse of the 'noble Indian,' but we ac- 
quit Longfellow of any intention to personify the Winne- 
bagoes. He must have alluded to some tribe now extinct, 
as that class of Indians don't roam in this region at pres- 
ent. — The only nobility we could discover consisted of 
half-dressed bodies with ugly, devilish faces, hideously 
daubed with paint. 

"As usual, the squaws were occupied with housework, 
washing, cooking, &c., while the men and boys participated 
in various kinds of amusements, a large number being 
industriously engaged in doing nothing. The 'moccasin 
game,' as it is called, was their favorite sport, though oc- 
casionally a deck of cards would be called into requisition 
to while away the hours. We saw none of the devotional 
exercises for which the Sioux are so celebrated, and fear 
that they were not able to bring their religion away from 
the reservation. 

"Near the centre of the encampment they had placed 
a young sapling and fastened to this the keep-sakes that 
had been captured from the Sioux who were murdered by 
them last week. They consisted of two scalps stretched 
upon hoops and attached to long poles, the skins of fingers 
with nails pendent, tufts of hair, pieces of flesh, &c., fast- 
ened upon bushes, all ornamented with fancy colored bits 
of cloth. Some of the half breeds and 'good Sioux' who 
are at the Fort examined them and gave it as their opinion 
that the scalps were taken from Sioux who were living 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

with the Winnebagoes, as those upon the plains never wear 
such short hair. They looked savage when viewing the 
relics of their brethren and vow vengeance. 

"During the forenoon they participated in one of their 
grand scalp dances, forming a circle about the sapling, 
the men beating upon drums and sticks, while the squaws 
carried the scalps and other relics, and all shouted and 
sung their wild war cadence as they moved in the 'misty 
maze of the dance'." ^*^ 

There were 756 Winnebago aboard the Canada when 
she arrived at Davenport. An editor who visited the boat 
while in port described them as a "squalid, wretched look- 
ing set" of "Injins". Unfortunately history has not left a 
record of the Winnebago opinion of the citizens of that 
thriving Iowa community.^*^ 

The removal of whole tribes does not compare in im- 
portance with the transportation of delegations or the J 
delivery of annuities. The three combined, hov/ever, were 
a constant source of profit to steamboats. When the sea- 
son was dull in the settled areas below the lead mines or 
when competition became keen, a tramp voyage to Fort 
Snelling or the tributaries of the Mississippi always brought 
with it a handsome return. Furthermore, captains became 
familiar with the channel of the Mississippi and its tribu- 
taries — a fact which was to stand them in good stead a 
little later. More important still, Atwater and other In- 
dian Commissioners wrote glowing accounts of the rich 
lands of the Upper Mississippi which were eagerly read 
by the discontented in the more settled areas of the United 


The Last Red Cargoes 

States. It was such accounts that turned the tide of im- 
migration northward. The news that the Indians had been 
removed from this region so suited to agriculture and in- 
dustry also encouraged white settlement. 



Facts, Jrigiires, Jrnirs, ancl jBuirialo IvoDes 

The fur trader on the Upper Mississippi created a lucra- 
tive steamboat traffic. Supplies and equipment for traders 
and goods to be used in the Indian trade formed the prin- 
cipal upstream cargo, while large quantities of furs and 
peltries were shipped downstream. In 1822 the United 
States factory system was abolished. A St. Louis news- 
paper noted a marked activity in the fur trade : "Those 
formerly engaged in it, have increased their capital and 
extended their enterprize, many new firms have engaged 
in it, and others are preparing to do so. It is computed 
that a thousand men, chiefly from this place, are now em- 
ployed in this trade on the waters of the Missouri, and half 
that number on the Upper Mississippi." ^** 

Trading posts were planted at strategic points along the 
Upper Mississippi and its tributaries. Those on the Mis- 
sissippi were usually established at the confluence of a 
tributary stream, such as the Des Moines, the Skunk, the 
Iowa, the Rock, the Fever, the Wisconsin, the Chippewa, 
and the St. Peter's rivers. Late in the fall of 1824 Thomas 
Forsyth, Indian Agent at Rock Island, appointed six li- 
censed traders in his district; David G. Bates and Amos 
Farrar were granted permits to trade with Sauk, Fox, and 
Winnebago Indians at the Fever River settlements; Russell 
Farnham received a license to trade with Sauk and Fox at 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

Flint Hills on the site of Burlington, Iowa; Maurice Blon- 
deau procured the right to traffic with the same Indians at 
Dirt Lodge on the Des Moines River; George Davenport 
obtained the privilege of bartering with the Sauk, Fox, 
and Winnebago at Rock Island; and Antoine Gautier, at 
the special request of the Winnebago, was located at a 
point fifty miles east of Davenport's post on the Rock 

Few places exhibited a greater activity "than the region 
about the Falls of St. Anthony. In 1826 Lawrence Talia- 
ferro, Indian Agent at Fort Snelling, reported that he had 
made seven locations on the waters of the Mississippi 
alone : "one at the mouth of Chippeway River, one at the 
Falls of S'. Croix, one on Crow Island, one at Sandy Lake, 
one at Leaf Lake, one at Leach Lake and one at Red Lake." 
At the same time ten other posts of the Columbia, the 
Cheyenne American, and the American Fur companies 
were located at strategic points within Taliaferro's juris- 
diction. Fort Snelling served as the entrepot for most of 
these posts, and from there the seasonal catch was shipped 

Each decade witnessed the abandonment of posts along 
the Mississippi as the northerly tide of immigration grad- 
ually pushed back the fur traders. By 1829 the country 
which Giacomo C. Beltrami described as wasteland in 1823 '^ 
seemed to Caleb Atwater to be growing populous. What 
was considered a wilderness by Captain Frederick Marryat 
in 1837 had become a thriving settled area when Fredrika 
Bremer visited it in 18 51. By the turn of the half century 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the posts which formerly extended from Galena almost to 
St. Louis had disappeared. St. Paul and Prairie du Chien 
alone remained the chief fur centers on the Upper Mis- 

Abundant and colorful information about Upper Mis- 
sissippi steamboats is entombed in the correspondence 
between Hercules L. Dousman and Henry H. Sibley. The 
former was born at Mackinac in 1800 and educated in 
New Jersey. He entered a mercantile house in New York 
in 1818, but returned to Mackinac two years later to assist 
his father who was a fur trader. In 1826 he removed to 
Prairie du Chien and became an agent of the American 
Fur Company and a partner of Joseph Rolette. When the 
latter died in 1844, Dousman put the final stamp on his 
reputation as a shrewd business man by marrying his part- 
ner's widow. Steamboats puffed up to the wharf at Dous- 
man's home, "Chateau Brilliante", discharging cargoes of 
goods and luxuries for Wisconsin's wealthiest citizen be- 
fore the Civil War. Dousman was the outstanding repre- 
sentative of the American Fur Company on the Upper 

Sibley, the other representative of the American Fur 
Company, was located after 1834 at Mendota directly 
across the Minnesota River from Fort Snelling. He played 
an important role in the district about the Falls of St. 
Anthony. Franklin Steele, Joseph Laframboise, Martin 
McLeod, Alexis Bailly, and Norman W. Kittson also were 
important characters in the fur trade of this district. 
Dousman, Sibley, and Steele were especially interested in 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

encouraging steamboating : each held shares in Upper 
Mississippi craft.'*" 

While no record is known which would indicate that 
the Virginia and the Rambler in 1823, or the Maiidan and 
the Indiana in 1824, carried the employees or cargoes of 
the fur companies to the Upper Mississippi, it is altogether 
possible that they did. On April 2, 1825, Captain David 
G. Bates took the Rufus Putnam to Fort Snelling. Four 
weeks later this craft carried goods to the Columbia Fur 
Company's post at Land's End, about a mile above the 
fort on the Minnesota River. The Rufus Putnam is the 
first steamboat known to have carried such supplies up- 
stream to Fort Snelling, as well as the first to ascend the 
Minnesota River.''° 

St. Louis was the entrepot for the fur trade on the 
Upper Mississippi, as well as on the Missouri. "The Amer- 
ican Fur Company", noted Atwater in 1829, "have here a 
large establishment, and the furs, skins and peltry cannot 
amount to less than one million dollars annually, which are 
brought down the Mississippi and Missouri rivers . . . The 
Indian goods sold by this company, all come from Eng- 
land, and are of the best quality." ^^^ 

Not all the furs from the Upper Mississippi, however, 
went to St. Louis. Before 1840 the trading posts below 
Prairie du Chien shipped their pelts downstream, but the 
seasonal catch of the American Fur Company on the Wis- 
consin and Minnesota rivers was concentrated in Dous- 
man's warehouse, counted and sorted, loaded on keel or 
Durham boats, and forwarded to New York by way of 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the Wisconsin and Fox rivers and Green Bay. This was a 
difficult course to travel, for the boats were so badly bat- 
tered by snags and sandbars on the Fox and Wisconsin 
rivers and from being dragged across the portage at Fort 
Winnebago that they were generally worthless at the close 
of the first season. Provisions were often wasted and 
spoiled. The route lessened the receipts of Upper Missis- 
sippi steamboats, since they usually carried the furs only 
from St. Peter's at the mouth of the Minnesota River to 
Prairie du Chien and were obliged to depend on lead and 
miscellaneous cargoes of freight for the remainder of the 
trip to St. Louis. Each year it became more apparent to 
traders on the Upper Mississippi that St. Louis was the 
logical point from which to ship furs eastward. 

In 1835 Dousman informed Ramsay Crooks, president 
of the American Fur Company, that it was almost impos- 
sible to ship pelts by way of Green Bay because of the 
damage to the furs and the great expense involved in trans- 
porting them over this route. To reduce the cost of 
transportation, Dousman proposed that Prairie du Chien 
be made the entrepot for the inspection of furs, that he 
be granted the "privilege of the St. Louis markets, previous 
to sending them on to New York", and that Crooks should 
set a fair price on the furs shipped to him. 

No immediate action was taken on this proposal, but the 
subject was revived each year. In 1838, for example, 
Dousman urged Crooks to ship trade goods by way of St. 
Louis, Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania Canal and rail- 
road; and he recommended that certain heavy articles be 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

purchased in St. Louis. Dousman considered the New Or- 
leans route too long; and he asserted that "from Green Bay 
here the conveyances are so uncertain that it will not do 
to trust to them." 

As the traffic on the Upper Mississippi increased, ship- 
ments to St. Louis by steamboat became more certain and 
the wisdom of Dousman's suggestions was soon recognized. 
Bundles of furs were a part of almost every steamboat 
cargo after 1840. The Malta left St. Peter's on June 8, 
1 840, in command of William P. Gorman, with ten packs 
of skins for St. Louis. According to a bill of lading signed 
by E. F. Chouteau, clerk of the Malta, the downstream 
tariff was a dollar a pack.^^' 

Since the traffic above Galena occasioned by the pres- 
ence of Indians, fur companies, and military posts was 
small, it rarely warranted the services of more than one or 
two boats. Moreover, a goodly portion of the supplies for 
the Upper Mississippi Valley was taken from St. Louis and 
the Ohio River by transient craft, although regular boats 
plying between Galena and St. Louis captured an occa- 
sional cargo. 

Such a consignment was carried by the Bellview to Sib- 
ley in 1836 for the Sioux Outfit. Besides the customary 
assortment of blankets, cloth, and strouding, the Bellview 
took to the Upper Mississippi a number of other items of 
dress, including three blue cloth frock coats and six pairs 
of cloth pantaloons, presumably intended for some of the 
notable Sioux chiefs. Then there were also aboard two 
dozen common horn combs, a dozen dressing combs, 1600 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

pairs of earbobs, 400 large and 2000 small common 
broaches, 160 pierced broaches, 14 bunches of garnets, 
27,000 white and 25,000 black wampum, 14 pairs of arm 
bands, and 1 5 pairs of wrist bands. 

Hunting and war equipment included 20 North West 
guns four feet long, 10 North West guns three and one- 
half feet long, 16 kegs of gunpowder, 3000 percussion 
caps, 5 3 pigs of lead, 6 dozen cartouche knives, and 24 
dozen scalping knives — the latter possibly to be used on 
the crowns of luckless Chippewa braves. Firewater, in the 
form of a basket of champagne, four kegs of Spanish 
Brown, and five gallons of old port wine, probably dis- 
appeared all too soon. Four kegs and three boxes of tobac- 
co may have enabled the Sioux to spend many hours in 
reverie over the delightfully "civilizing" sensations result- 
ing from an intimate and perhaps too liberal use of the 

Foodstuffs included 18 barrels of pork, 25 barrels of 
flour, 2 kegs of lard, 3 barrels of New Orleans sugar, 50 
bags of corn, a chest of tea, and 12 bags of peas. The mis- 
cellaneous material included 12 boxes of soap, square irons, 
nail rods, flat irons, steel, a set of wagon harness, 4 kegs of 
white lead, a stove and pipe, a barrel of linseed oil, 10 bars 
of iron, an ox plough, 4 kegs of nails, 5 brass kettles, a 
coil grass rope, and a trunk.'" 

The cost of transporting such consignments from St. 
Louis to Prairie du Chien and St. Peter's on Upper Mis- 
sissippi steamboats was slight compared with the expense 
incurred in bringing the goods to St. Louis. Although 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

trade goods were less bulky than food supplies, the amount 
paid for importing goods from England to Prairie du Chien 
almost equaled the original price of the goods in England. 
In 1835, for example, the cost of a single shipment of 
goods in England was $11,238.53. The itemized bill for 
conveying this merchandise from England to Prairie du 
Chien was as follows : packing, shipping, and other charges, 
$93 5.29; exchange and insurance to New York, $1,241.49; 
duties and other charges in New York, $5,228.95; com- 
mission at five per cent, $904.94; freight to New Orleans 
and charges there, $204.8 5; freight to St. Louis and 
charges there, $229.50; freight to Prairie du Chien, 
$105.78; and the total, including five per cent interest, 
was $9,050.80. When the goods reached Prairie du Chien 
the cost was $20,289.33, or almost double the original 

The tariff on the English goods shipped from St. Louis 
to Prairie du Chien was slightly more than a hundred dol- 
lars. But imported trade goods were insignificant com- 
pared with the commodities such as flour, sugar, corn, 
dried fruit, meats, liquor, powder, and lead (all products 
of the Mississippi Valley) which made up the bulk of the 
shipments. Steamboats obtained a generous return on 
freight of this kind, since charges of a dollar and more per 
hundred pounds was the general rule.^^" 

After goods arrived at Prairie du Chien, Dousman took 
the portion belonging to his outfit and forwarded the re- 
mainder to Sibley at St. Peter's. In 183 5 Captain Joseph 
Throckmorton carried Sibley's supplies upstream on the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Warrior. Foodstuffs aboard included 33 barrels of New 
Orleans sugar, 12 kegs of lard, 11 barrels of molasses, a 
barrel of dried peaches and another of apples, 2 bags and 
12 sacks of coffee, a barrel of crackers, a box of bacon 
hams, 10 shoulders of bacon, 33 barrels of "One Hog 
Pork", 200 sacks and 400 bushels of corn, and 4 barrels of 
salt. Two dozen bales of blankets, strouding, and pieces 
of gaudy colored cloth were also stored aboard. The cargo 
included 2 "Chiefs Guns", 10 North West guns, 129 kegs 
of gunpowder, 170 pigs of lead, 310 rat traps, and 36 
beaver traps. A box of Cavendish tobacco, 2 boxes and 2 
kegs of common plug tobacco, 4 boxes of British soap, 6 
boxes of glass, 12 barrels of porter, 10,000 pine shingles, 
a barrel of tallow, 5 demijohns of sperm oil, a crate and a 
cask of tinware, a bundle of square irons and another of 
round irons, and a bundle of German steel made up the 
miscellaneous articles that were shipped to Sibley on the 
Warrior in 1835.''' 

After the trip of the Rufus Putnam in 1825, the ar- 
rival at Fort Snelling of the first steamboat of the season 
was awaited with impatience. Under date of March 31, 
1826, Taliaferro noted that the weather was moderate and 
the ice firm. Six days later the ice was still thick but weak. 
Flocks of wild geese flew honking over Fort Snelling on 
April 14th, but the ice remained intact despite a twelve 
foot rise in the river. The following day the Minnesota 
River broke up, but the Mississippi remained firm. A 
bateau carrying peltries, the first boat of the season, ar- 
rived from Lac qui Parle on April 17th. With the Missis- 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

sippi twenty feet above its normal level, the ice finally 
started out from above Fort Snelling on April 21st, sweep- 
ing away the crude huts that stood clustered along the 
bank. A second bateau arrived from the Minnesota River 
on April 26th; but still no steamboat appeared. Finally, 
on May 2nd, the steamboat Lawrence (Captain D. F. 
Reeder commanding) arrived with a heavy cargo of 
freight and a considerable number of passengers.*" 

Steamboat captains (whether they were the first to ar- 
rive, the last to depart, or simply made flying mid-season 
trips) were always held in high regard by the pioneers — 
especially on the fur-trading frontier. If a captain arrived 
twice during a season he was welcomed as a friend; if he 
made several trips he was looked upon as a brother; and if 
he appeared in the trade two successive seasons he was al- 
most deified. Such men as Daniel Smith Harris, Joseph 
Throckmorton, John and George W. Atchison, David G. 
Bates, James Lafferty, Orrin Smith, and Hiram Bersie 
made several trips during the course of a season or plied in 
the trade more than one year. By 1850 Harris and Throck- 
morton had each averaged about fifteen years on the Up- 
per Mississippi, and the combined record of the Atchison 
brothers was equally good.^^® 

Before the creation of Minnesota Territory in 1849, ar- 
rivals of steamboats at Fort Snelling were extremely irreg- 
ular; while the arrivals at Prairie du Chien were likened 
by a settler to "angel's visits, 'few, and far between'." The 
scarcity of cargoes often led captains to demand exorbitant 
rates : in 1840 Dousman "blackguarded" Captain James 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Laflferty for charging Sibley excessive freight rates for 
goods shipped on the Omega. Trips were made only when 
a sufficient cargo was offered. In 1844 forty-one craft 
reached Fort Snelling, while in the five years preceding 
1849 an average of forty-four boats docked there. The 
exact number of trips to St. Peter's between 183 5 and 1844 
is unknown, but it is not likely that the average was more 
than twenty-five a year.''^* 

When Stephen R. Riggs, a missionary to the Sioux, ar- 
rived in St. Louis in 1837 he was told that less than a half 
dozen craft reached Fort Snelling each season. Riggs was 
horrified to learn that the steamboat Vavilion left St. ^ 
Louis every Sunday : he hoped to avoid breaking the Sab- 
bath by boarding a boat at Alton. When the Olive Branch 
arrived he took passage on it. Saturday night found the 
Olive Branch near Davenport, and Riggs, refusing to trav- 
el on the Lord's Day, got off and spent the night in a 
room where his slumber was broken by intermittent vol- 
leys of profanity from an adjoining "doggery". The mis- 
sionary reached Galena without mishap; but there he was 
forced to await the arrival of a boat destined for Fort 
Snelling. The Pavilion arrived at Galena on a Saturday 
night, where fervent prayers, coupled with a dearth of 
freight, held the boat over until Monday. The remainder 
of the journey was made by the missionary without in- 
terruption. ^*'° 

Some regularity of service might have been attained had 
one or two boats taken over the trade of the Upper Mis- 
sissippi and transient craft remained below. Since, how- 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

ever, captains of "tramp" vessels were not imbued with 
any such altruistic spirit, much rivalry resulted. The 
American Fur Company was interested in encouraging 
regular service, and so found it necessary to make a choice 
of captains. Both Throckmorton and Atchison were of a 
temperament more tractable than that of the fiery 
"Smith" Harris, and the lion's share of the fur trade traffic 
went to them. This was a bitter blow for Harris; but he 
continued in the trade throughout the forties with the 
Otter, the War Eagle, the Senator, and the Dr. Franklin 
No. 2. His skill and daring, his genial disposition, and his 
dogged and often ruthless determination in the face of 
competition were a constant source of annoyance to his 
competitors. During the forties Throckmorton ran the 
Malta, the General Brooke, the Nimrod, the Cecilia, and 
the Cora, while John Atchison commanded the Lynx and 
the Highland Mary. Throckmorton withdrew from the 
Upper Mississippi in 1848 and Atchison died of cholera in 
St. Louis two years later.^*^ 

For four or five months each year the Mississippi froze 
over, leaving the fur traders almost completely isolated in 
their frozen northland until the following spring. When- 7 
ever the steamboats failed to bring them their winter sup- 
plies the plight of the fur traders became desperate. 

The importance of steamboats to the fur-trading fron- 
tier is graphically revealed in a letter of Dousman dated 
November 20, 183 8, and replying to Sibley's plea for aid. 

"I sent off another Boat with Provisions for you on the 
6th Inst but the Ice commenced running in the river the 

Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

next day & they only got a few miles above Painted 
Rock — [mouth of Yellow River] the cold weather came 
on so suddenly that the Boat could not even get back here 
and she now lies frozen up a few miles above this place — 
from below I hear that the Burlington left St. Louis on 
the 2nd Inst with our supplies & that the Ariel would meet 
her at the Lower Rapids to bring the loading here & St. 
Peters if the weather permitted — how far the[y] got 
up we have not learnt — the[y] have not yet reached 
Du Buque as we have heard from there — the River is 
now completely closed so as to preclude all hope of see- 
ing a Boat here this fall — Horses now cross the River on 
the Ice and the weather continues cold. We are not the 
only persons who have been disappointed by the extreme 
low water on the Rapids & the Winter closing in on us 
So early and unexpectedly — there is not a pound of Pork, 
Sugar, Tea, Coffee, Lard, Butter for sale in this place — 
all the merchants are entirely destitute of groceries & have 
all been caught with their supplies on the way up — Ga- 
lena, Dubuque &c are even worse off than this place — 
the People in the mining country will have to kill all their 
Cattle & eat Corn Bread — luckily the Corn Crop is good 
this year — I was fortunate in getting from the Winne- 
bagos 250 Bbls Flour which they did not want till Spring, 
as otherwise we should have actually been in a starving 
condition at this time — You will see that I had put on 
board of the two Boats near 100 Bbls out of this quantity 
for you — You will naturally enough say, all this does not 
fill our Bellies".^^' 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

Since the fur-trading frontier was dependent upon the 
steamboat, Dousman, Sibley, and other members of the 
American Fur Company did not hesitate to assume heavy 
financial interests in the Upper Mississippi craft. Perhaps 
the earliest boat in which the fur company had an interest 
was the Biirlingtou, which was built at Pittsburgh in 1837. 
She was owned by Throckmorton, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., 
and the firm of Hempstead and Beebe — all of St. Louis. 
These men, with Captain George McNeil and Isaac New- 
ton Waggoner who hailed from Illinois, had an interest in 
the Ariel, also built at Pittsburgh in 1837. Two years later 
the Malta slid from the "ways" at Pittsburgh. She was 
owned by Throckmorton and Chouteau.^^^ 

Dousman seems to have taken his first financial interest 
in an Upper Mississippi steamboat in 1840, when he and 
Throckmorton bought the 107-ton Chippetva. In 1844 
Sibley, Franklin Steele, B. W. Brisbois, and Captain Wil- 
liam H. Hooper each owned an eighth in the Lynx\ Dous- 
man possessed the remaining half. The American Fur 
Company held an interest in the Nivirod and the General 
Brooke, but Throckmorton was the sole owner of the 
Cecilia and the Cora. In 1850 Brisbois, Dousman, and 
Henry M. Rice of St. Paul had a part interest in Captain 
Orrin Smith's Nominee.^^* Dousman continued his inter- 
est in Upper Mississippi steamboating until his death. In 
18 57 he owned a hundred and sixty shares of stock in the 
Prairie du Chien, Hudson, and St. Paul Packet Company, 
and was making payments on three hundred additional 
shares. The members of the Northern Outfit were in- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

strumental in organizing the Minnesota Packet Company, 
which twenty years later absorbed almost all the other 
steamboat lines on the river.'"^ 

Throckmorton was a great favorite with the agents of 
the Northern Outfit. In 1839 Dousman notified Crooks 
that he had authorized Throckmorton to draw on him for 
a thousand dollars.^*"* Six years later he wrote Sibley that 
Throckmorton (then in command of the General Brooke) 
wished to form a steamboat line between St. Louis and 
Fort Snelling with Captain John Atchison of the Lynx. 
"I am in favor of it", concluded Dousman, "& shall en- 
courage him to do so, as it will be of benefit to the Outfit 
& hurt the Harris's which I desire very much. I want 
you to give Throckmorton a part of your Freight so as to 
encourage him to run regular. He is just off and I have 
not time to say more at present." ^®^ 

Atchison was also a favorite with the fur company, al- 
though he was by no means so popular as Throckmorton. 
In 1845 Dousman wrote Sibley that Captain Harris had 
just gone up to St. Peter's with the Otter and urged him 
to restrain his people from buying anything from this 
boat, as Atchison had left St. Louis with the Ly?ix and 
would arrive shortly with "every thing you stand in need 
of." ''' 

It is not likely that either Dousman or Sibley, anxious 
as they were for supplies from below and news from the 
outside world, would expect Atchison or Throckmorton to 
make a trip when no freight was offered. Nevertheless, 
the opening of spring navigation always found the two 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

traders hopefully awaiting the arrival of their yearly ship- 
ment of supplies. In the spring of 183 8 Dousman wrote 
Sibley that Throckmorton was at Prairie du Chien with 
the Bjirlingfoii, that he had just left for below to procure 
a cargo of supplies for Sibley, but that none of the reg- 
ular spring stock had come up. The following April he 
informed Sibley that the Ariel was expected shortly with 
all their goods and provisions.^*'^ Sometimes it was neces- 
sary to offer special inducements to persuade a captain to 
make a trip.^^° 

Competitors of the American Fur Company often sent 
buyers north to attempt to break the company's monopoly. 
On such occasions steamboat captains often carried letters 
warning members of the Northern Outfit of the presence 
of such buyers. In 1844 S. W. McMaster gave Captain 
Harris a note for Franklin Steele informing him that com- 
petitors were going up on the Offer for the purpose of 
buying furs and advising him of a rising market in which 
most furs had gone up fifty to a hundred per cent.^^^ 

It would be impossible to estimate the earnings of steam- 
boats directly engaged in the fur trade. Governed largely 
by the amount of freight on hand, the stage of the water, 
the season of the year, and the number of craft in the 
trade, rates varied greatly; but as a rule they were high. 
Before 1850 the cost of transportation between Galena 
and Fort Snelling was generally higher than it was a dec- 
ade later between St. Louis and St. Paul. Charges from 
Galena upstream were seldom less than fifty cents a hun- 
dred pounds; usually more was asked. In 1840 the Mai fa 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

demanded a dollar a barrel for transporting five barrels of 
beer from Prairie du Chien to Fort Snelling. The Demoine 
charged seventy-five cents a hundred pounds for trans- 
porting the freight of the Ag72es from Galena to St. 
Peter's. In June, 1845, the Otter carried a trundle bed, a 
tin boiler, and a musket bar for one dollar. Captain 
Throckmorton in October of the same year conveyed six 
kegs of powder from Galena to Fort Snelling on the Ce- 
cilia at the rate of a dollar per keg. 

Captains sometimes collected the amount due on an 
article as well as the regular transportation fee. In 1845 
the Agnes took 75 kegs of butter from Louisiana, Missouri, 
to St. Peter's at the rate of $1.75 per hundred pounds. 
Clerk B. F. Wood was required to collect $1,375.00 from 
Franklin Steele in payment for the butter. A sum of 
$205.82 was paid Captain W. P. Gorman of the Chippewa 
for 4989 pounds of miscellaneous freight, 16 pigs of lead, 
5 barrels of apples, and the passage of a man and servant 
from St. Louis to St. Peter's. Pound freight was trans- 
ported at the rate of $2.50 per hundred.^^' 

Despite such exorbitant prices, Upper Mississippi steam- 
boats did not always reap rich profits. In 1844 the Lynx 
netted only $161.04 for the season, after deducting losses 
sustained by injury to the boat. The following year, how- 
ever, the same boat earned $11,194.73 with a considerable 
amount still due her from tardy shippers. This was prob- 
ably near the average yearly earnings. Since the fur com- 
pany had a seven-eighths interest in the Lynx, it shared in 
the dividends. While Captain John Atchison delayed in 


Facts, Figures, Furs, and Buffalo Robes 

apportioning the earnings of the Lynx, Dousman frequent- 
ly suggested to Sibley that a final settlement be made. 
This misunderstanding was a subject of much written and 
verbal controversy over a period of several months.''' 

Important as was the Mississippi traffic in furs, it never- 
theless dwindles into insignificance when compared, both 
in value and bulk of shipments, with the lead trade. 
Neither was it as profitable as the government shipments 
to the Indian and military frontiers. Then, too, the 
shipment of a large portion of the furs by way of the Wis- 
consin and Fox rivers and Green Bay route deprived steam- 
boats of a considerable cargo. The fur trade, however, 
was significant because it offered a supplementary cargo 
to the stores shipped by the government to the Indians and 
troops of the Upper Mississippi. Likewise the financial 
encouragement of the American Fur Company was of 
importance, supplying a subsidy that neither the Indian 
nor the military frontier offered to steamboat captains. 
Finally, it should be pointed out that the considerable \ 
stimulus given by the fur trade to steamboating on the 
Upper Mississippi and its tributaries contributed to the 
spread of general information about the region. This in 
turn played its part in attracting the settlers and immi- 
grants who were soon to transform the fur-traders' fron- 
tier into an agricultural and industrial domain. 



Freiglit lor Red jRiver Oxcarts 

More unique than the Upper Mississippi fur traffic was 
the trade which resulted from the planting of a settlement 
on the Red River of the North by the Earl of Selkirk. In 
1811 this philanthropic Scotchman acquired from the 
Hudson's Bay Company a tract of about 116,000 square 
miles. Here in the immense inland empire, known as As- 
siniboia and comprising roughly Manitoba and the north- 
ern part of Minnesota and North Dakota, Selkirk planned 
to establish colonies of evicted Scotch peasants. On Au- 
gust 30, 1812, an advance guard of Scotch, with a few 
Irish, arrived at the confluence of the Assiniboine with the 
Red River, where Winnipeg now stands. The colony grew 
despite many hardships and adversities. By 1821 a com- 
pany of Swiss mechanics and tradesmen had been induced 
to seek their fortunes in this frontier land. 

A more remote site for a settlement could scarcely have 
been chosen. Fully five hundred miles from the Falls of 
St. Anthony, the Selkirk colonies were so isolated that the 
Upper Mississippi offered the best means of transportation 
to and from the outside world. When news of the arrival 
of the steamboat Virginia at Fort Snelling reached these 
lonely colonists it was hailed with delight.^^* 

As early as 1819 a party of men had left the Selkirk 
settlement for Prairie du Chien to buy seed grain. After 


Freight for Red River Oxcarts 

making the desired purchases they began their homeward 
journey on April 20, 1820, in three Mackinaw boats 
loaded with two hundred bushels of wheat, a hundred 
bushels of oats, and thirty bushels of peas. Ascending the 
Minnesota River to its source, they dragged their boats 
and supplies over the portage to Lake Traverse, descended 
the Bois des Sioux and Red rivers, and reached the Selkirk 
colony sometime in June/^" 

The advent of the Virginia on the Upper Mississippi in 
1823 ushered in a new era for the Red River settlements. 
When the Rambler left St. Peter's in 1823 she took down 
two Swiss families from the Selkirk colony to St. Louis. 
They had left because of the constant dread of Indian 
attack and the severe winters and short summers; but with 
uncanny foresight they prophesied the development of a 
lucrative steamboat traffic in provisions from St. Louis 
to be exchanged for furs and peltries. A herd of two hun- 
dred cattle had been driven to the Red River settlement 
in 1823 and sold for six thousand dollars. The drovers 
made the round trip in five months."* 

The people in the Red River area drew a large portion 
of their incomes from furs and peltries — especially from 
buffalo hides. Indeed the prowess of the Pembina group 
in the chase became proverbial : they were often referred 
to as the Red River hunters. Fort Snelling, and later St. 
Paul, became the entrepot for the Red River Valley trade. 
Heavily loaded with the spoils of the chase, long caravans 
of oxcarts jolted southward each spring to the head of 
navigation, there to await the arrival of supplies on Upper 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Mississippi steamboats. Several months were required to 
make the round trip overland. The creaking of the lum- 
bering oxcarts could be heard for miles. On July 10, 1847, 
a caravan of 120 carts arrived at St. Paul in single file, 
"wearily moving along by the moonlight". The caravan 
had been nineteen days on its way through a region 
abounding with buffalo : and so the hunters had a choice 
assortment of "well dressed" buffalo robes which they 
sold in St. Paul by the lot at $3.50 each. The caravan re- 
mained in St. Paul several days awaiting the arrival of a 
steamboat load of flour and groceries.^" 

Before 1850 St. Louis, Galena, and Dubuque were term- 
ini for the trade of the Red River Valley. Galena fur- 
nished goods valued at fifteen thousand dollars to the 
settlements in 1848. At the same time the traders from 
the Red River were urged to take buffalo packs farther 
south if Henry Sibley and Henry Rice did not offer fair 
prices. In 1849 the steamboat Senator arrived at Galena 
with a hundred packs of buffalo robes from the Red River 

In 1853 it took thirty-two days for a caravan of 133 
oxcarts to make the journey from "Grant Cote" in Pem- 
bina County to Traverse des Sioux. Norman W. Kittson, 
Joseph Rolette, and Peter Hayden were among the traders 
who went to Mendota on the Clarion; Charles Cavileer, 
the United States collector at Pembina, also was a pas- 
senger. Kittson had over four thousand buffalo robes as his 
share of the spoils of the chase. The number of buffaloes 
on the plains (said to be unprecedented) seemed almost 


Freight for Red River Oxcarts 

to verify the Indian theory that they sprang from out 
of the earth.''" 

After 1850 St. Paul sought a complete monopoly of the 
Red River trade. The Minnesota Democrat of July 22, 
1851, complained bitterly of a duty of twenty or thirty 
per cent on goods of the Red River settlers and urged that 
it be speedily removed or a valuable trade would be lost. 
Interest in the Red River country became national in 
character; and during the winter of 1857-1858 arrange- 
ments were made with the U. S. Secretary of the Treasury 
to enable the Hudson's Bay Company to ship its goods in 
bond through the United States to St. Paul. The St. Paul 
Chamber of Commerce paid Anson Northup two thousand 
dollars for putting a steamboat in operation on the Red 
River in 1859. At the same time the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany asked Burbank and Company of St. Paul for aid in 
transporting across the Minnesota country one hundred 
and twenty tons of goods from England and thirty tons 
of tobacco, sugar, and other commodities from New York. 
Two hundred tons of freight were carried by the steam- 
boat Enterprize on the Mississippi to St. Cloud, whence 
it was teamed to Georgetown and thence taken on the Red 
River to Fort Garry on the Anson Northup. In 1862 the 
Enterprize contracted to carry seven hundred tons of 
freight for the Hudson's Bay Company from St. Paul to 
St. Cloud.^^° 

Steamboats on the Upper Mississippi continued to trans- 
port goods destined for the Red River country after the 
Civil War. An item in a Dubuque newspaper in 1866 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

reads : "There is stored in the depot at Dunieith, 1,600 
packages of goods for the Hudson Bay Company up the 
Red River, in the British American possessions. They are 
the neatest and best done up packages ever seen in that 
depot, and Americans could learn something by inspecting 
them. They consist of teas, sugars, dry goods, clothing, 
hardware, shot, and a general assortment of articles of use 
for the comfort of men. An agent accompanies them on 
their transit, pays the freight bill over each road, in British 
gold, sees that they are not molested, and keeps the articles 
together. They were shipped from London to Halifax, 
from thence to Dunieith, and will be shipped this week 
to St. Paul on a packet. Each package has the duty 
stamped upon it, and is covered with sealing wax to detect 
fraud, and all packages encased with cloth are bound firm- 
ly with cords tied in a flat knot and the ends connected 
together with lead. Any of the goods could be bought in 
Dunieith or Dubuque for half what the freight has cost." 
Later an additional shipment of one hundred tons of 
goods arrived at Dunieith, destined for the Red River 
country.^^^ Although the Red River freight transported 
by Upper Mississippi steamboats was of little consequence 
when compared with the traffic in lead or grain or with 
the passenger trade; it made, nevertheless, one of the most 
picturesque of steamboat cargoes by virtue of its nature 
and destination. 



Ofeamlbofiiils on Clip MUlii fi'iry Fromiier 

Shortly before the opening of the War of 1812 the 
Sauk and Fox Indians were at war with the Winnebago, 
and the life of every fur trader was endangered. Robert 
Grant, a friend of the Sauk and Fox, made his headquar- 
ters at Prairie du Chien but traveled much through the 
lead district. Seldom sleeping two nights in the same place. 
Grant traversed the hilly, heavily wooded country in quest 
of furs. Stream and forest supplied this self-reliant trapper 
with food prepared in a brass bowl tucked unceremonious- 
ly under his fur cap when not in use. 

One day Grant met a party of Winnebago who instantly 
recognized him as a friend of the Sauk and Fox. Grant 
fled, but was overtaken by a Winnebago who drew his 
tomahawk and struck a terrific blow on Grant's head. A 
sharp, metallic click was the only result. Sensing the situa- 
tion, the hardy pioneer calmly turned around and con- 
fronted the astonished Indians who recoiled in terror cry- 
ing "Manitou! Manitou!" Henceforth Grant went his way 
unmolested. Grant County, Wisconsin, bounded for sixty 
miles along its western border by the Mississippi, is named 
in honor of hard-headed Robert Grant.^^^ 

Long before the arrival of the first steamboat, the con- 
stantly recurring outbreaks between the various Indian 
tribes and friction between Indians and fur traders made 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

necessary the erection of military posts at strategic points 
along the Upper Mississippi/*^ As early as 1808 the first 
American fort on the Upper Mississippi had been erected in 
what was to become Iowa. It was named Fort Madison 
but was abandoned and destroyed during the War of 1812. 
At the conclusion of that struggle, three new forts were 
erected along the Upper Mississippi. Fort Edwards was 
constructed on the east side of the Mississippi at the mouth 
of the Des Moines River near the foot of the Lower 
Rapids. Fort Armstrong was situated on Rock Island at 
the foot of the Upper Rapids. Fort Crawford was located 
on the outskirts of the little French village of Prairie du 
Chien, six miles above the junction of the Wisconsin and 
the Mississippi. In 1819, Fort Snelling was buUt on a tow- 
ering bluff on the west bank of the Mississippi at its junc- 
tion with the St. Peter's or Minnesota River : a site almost 
seven hundred miles from what was to be its chief source 
of supply and reenf orcement — Jefferson Barracks, Mis- 

Equally dependent on the Upper Mississippi steamboats 
were the posts situated on the various tributaries of the 
Mississippi. The second Fort Des Moines (at the Raccoon 
Fork of the Des Moines River) , Fort Atkinson in north- 
eastern Iowa, Fort Ridgely and Fort Ripley in Minnesota, 
and Fort Winnebago in Wisconsin were important military 
posts in the period which preceded the Civil War.^®* Ap- 
proximately four decades intervened between the erection 
of Fort Armstrong and Fort Crawford and such posts as 
Fort Ridgely on the Minnesota River and Fort Ripley on 


Steamboats on the Military Frontier 

the Mississippi River above the Falls of St. Anthony. As 
the Indian and fur trader frontier receded before the on- 
coming waves of immigration, the military frontier fol- 
lowed and the distance which steamboats had to travel 
was consequently increased. 

The presence of troops on the frontier gave steamboat- 
ing its initial impetus. Both the Virginia and the Rambler 
carried public stores as far north as Fort Snelling in 1823. 
Prior to this time keelboats were used to transport troops 
and supplies to the newly erected forts. To complete the 
entire journey upstream to Fort Snelling (the most remote 
point on the Upper Mississippi) the keelboat sometimes 
took only forty days, but often as many as sixty were 
required. As early as 1819 the War Department ordered 
Major Thomas Forsyth to ship $2000 worth of goods by 
steamboat to the Sioux Indians above Prairie du Chien in 
payment for the site on which Fort Snelling was to be 
established. But at that time it was believed that the 
rapids could not be navigated by steamboats, and so keel- 
boats were used. By the summer of 1826 fourteen steam- 
boats had followed in the wake of the Virginia and the 
Kambler : each had ventured northward primarily because 
of the trajS&c in troops and military supplies.^^^ 

The advent of the steamboat on the Upper Mississippi 
was of strategic importance to the government. Trans- 
portation by keelboat had been slow, uncertain, and expen- 
sive; and the risk was great. For example, in 1819 James 
Johnson charged three cents per pound to transport 
goods from Bellefontaine, Missouri, to Fort Crawford. At 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

$3.00 per hundred the 389,946 pounds (194 tons) netted 
$11,699.28. Despite the fact that St. Peter's was only two 
hundred miles farther upstream the rate from Bellefon- 
taine to that place was seven cents per pound : $9,810.50 
was paid for the transportation of seventy tons of provi- 
sions to that post. This was more than seven times the 
usual charge later made by steamboats.^®® 

Steamboats on the Upper Mississippi were afforded .sev- 
eral ways of reaping profits. Scientific and exploring 
expeditions were generally dependent on steamboats for 
transportation of equipment and supplies. Three years 
before the voyage of the Virginia, the steamboat Western 
Ejigineer had ascended the Upper Mississippi as far as the 
present site of Keokuk. This was not only the first steam- 
boat to ascend to the Lower Rapids; she was also the first 
steamboat to ascend the Mississippi on a scientific expedi- 

Despite the expenses incurred, scientific expeditions 
were frequently undertaken. Indeed, the same year 
(1820) that the Western Engineer was ascending the 
Upper Mississippi to the Des Moines Rapids, Henry R. 
Schoolcraft set out in a canoe to discover the source of the 
Mississippi. In 1823 William H. Keating led a division of 
one of Stephen H. Long's expeditions down the Wisconsin 
in keelboats and^up the Mississippi to the source of the St. 
Peter's River. ;' Engineers were constantly dispatched to 
make surveys, soundings, and maps of the river, and for 
these equipment was provided./ The Upper and Lower 
rapids were especially troublesome : in 1837 Lieutenant 


Steamboats on the Military Frontier 

Robert E. Lee was sent to report on the best means of 
eliminating them.^" 

In 1852 a Dubuque newspaper announced the departure 
of the steamboat Lamartiue with a large party of surveyors 
employed in establishing the northern boundary of Iowa. 
The men were under the personal direction of Captain 
Andrew Talcott who performed his work under instruc- 
tions from the United States Surveyor General for Wis- 
consin and Iowa. The Lamartine carried the surveyors, 
with supplies suflScient for six months, to Lansing in Alla- 
makee County. Active field operations began at the 
monument "heretofore established by Captain Lee a few 
miles from Lansing." It was expected that with "great 
exertions" the survey might be completed that very sea- 

When the northern route for a transcontinental railroadX "%> 
was surveyed by Isaac I. Stevens in 1853, steamboats car- 
ried members of the expedition, scientific equipment, food, 
clothing, and scores of draft animals to St. Paul. Stevens 
arrived at St. Paul on May 27, 185 3, on board the 
Nominee^ having purchased all the draft mules offered in 
the ports along the way. Such expeditions offered a lucra- 
tive income to steamboat captains.^®" 

Another source of profit came from the frequent tours 
of inspection of the various military posts. In the spring 
of 1824 Brigadier General Winfield Scott left St. Louis 
for the Upper Mississippi on the steamboat Man dan (Cap- 
tain William Linn commanding) . It was on this trip that 
Scott recommended that the name of Fort St. Anthony be 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

changed to Fort Snelling. Six weeks later the Mandan 
returned to St. Louis in sixty-two and one-half hours 
running time. Captain Linn expressed the belief that he 
could make the round trip of fifteen hundred miles in ten 
days. Shortly afterwards the Mandan ascended the Mis- 
souri River to Fort Atkinson. 

Jefferson Barracks was the entrepot for such expedi- 
tions. The trips were made when a good stage of water was 
assured. In the fall of 1831 Brigadier General Henry 
Leavenworth and his officers (having completed their in- 
spection of the posts on the Upper Mississippi) left St. 
Louis on board the Enterprise for Cantonment Jesup near 
Natchitoches, Louisiana. Though the number of passen- 
gers carried was small, such trips afforded a welcome addi- 
tion to the business of the Upper Mississippi steamboats.^^^ 
/ Troops escorted Indian delegates to treaty grounds 
and conducted tribes to new reservations^ Bound for the 
conference at Prairie du Chien, a detachment of troops 
under Colonel Willoughby Morgan accompanied the three 
hundred Indians on board Captain Butler's Vianet when 
she arrived at Galena in 1830. Dragoons and regulars 
were aboard the T)r. Franklin as she steamed back and 
forth from Wabasha's prairie to St. Paul during the re- 
moval of the Winnebago in 1848. Troops were also aboard 
the Excelsior when she conveyed the lower tribe of Sioux 
to Traverse des Sioux in 1851. After the massacre at New 
Ulm, Minnesota, in 1862, a heavy military force escorted 
the Sioux prisoners down the Minnesota and Mississippi 
rivers to Davenport."^ 


Steamboats on the Military Frontier 

Surveys and scientific expeditions, tours of inspection 
and military escorts for the red man, all afforded profitable 
returns to the enterprising steamboat captains. More im- 
portant, however, was the transportation of troops in time 
of war, the yearly movement of troops from post to post 
during times of peace, and the transportation of supplies 
and equipment. From these three sources steamboat cap- 
tains secured their richest gains. 



YV ars and Rmimors oi VV ar 

The transportation of troops by steamboats during war 
times was usually more profitable than during times of 
peace, because the work was done under pressure when no 

l^ime could be lost in obtaining competitive bids. The 
first military sortie transported by steamboat occurred in 
July, 1827, when the Hamilton, the Indiana, and the Essex 
departed from Jefferson Barracks with a detachment of 
five hundred soldiers under Brigadier General Henry At- 
kinson to chastise the Winnebago for attacking white 
settlers. The progress of this formidable flotilla up the 
Mississippi was interrupted by the low stage of water at 
the Des Moines Rapids; the remainder of the journey was 
made by keelboat. Four years later (in 1831) six com- 
panies from the Third and Sixth Regiments left Jefferson 
Barracks on Captain James May's Enterprise to quell dis- 
turbances of Sauk, Fox, and Winnebago Indians at Rock 


In addition to serving the nation well during minor 
disturbances, Upper Mississippi steamboats played an im- 
portant role in three major conflicts — the Black Hawk 
War, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. During the 
Black Hawk and Mexican wars the Mississippi was the 
chief avenue of transportation and communication; while 
throughout the Civil War steamboats conveyed thousands 


Wars and Rumors of War 
of troops to the war zone and brought back the wounded. / 

With the outbreak of the Black Hawk War in 1832 the 
Indian question became a national problem. Steamboats 
were promptly pressed into the service of the government. 
Early in April, 1832, the Sixth Regiment of United States 
Infantry left Jefferson Barracks on board the Enterprise 
and the Chieftain, with strict orders to force the Sauk and 
Fox to surrender the murderers of twenty-eight Menom- 
inee Indians in the village of Prairie du Chien. Undeterred 
by this movement. Black Hawk and his followers started 
up the Rock River where the defeat of the militia at Still- 
man's Run was followed by Governor John Reynolds' 
proclamation asking for two thousand mounted volun-' 
teers. Thoroughly aroused by this reverse, both State and 
national governments moved frantically to crush the up- 

Throughout the hostilities, conflicting reports trickled 
into St. Louis from steamboats running on the Illinois and 
Upper Mississippi rivers : crowds lounged about the levee 
awaiting each arrival. Anxious wives and mothers lingered 
patiently, hopeful for news from passengers and news- 
papers brought down on the steamboats. Captains and 
clerks, always extolled for their kindness and gentlemanly 
virtues, became more popular than ever. While the pilots 
received fabulous salaries, the lowly clerk received the 
plaudits of the press. Editors spared neither space nor ink 
in extolling him.^^" 

Steamboating was not without its attendant thrills in 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

those days. Dangers of snags, explosions, or fires now be- 
came of secondary importance. Passengers and crews lived 
in constant fear of attack by bands of Indians. While 
making her way downstream from Galena to St. Louis the 
steamboat Dove was suddenly attacked by Indians hidden 
along the bank of the river. Her sides and upper works 
were splattered with lead, but she managed to run safely 
through the gauntlet of fire without serious injury. Pilot- 
ing under such conditions became a real art. To lose one's 
head and run the boat on a sandbar or into the bank might 
easily invite a massacre. Throughout the struggle, how- 
ever, pilots and captains exhibited a skill and daring indi- 
cative of the character of the men who operated Upper 
Mississippi steamboats.^^° 

That steamboating was perilous in war times is revealed 
by the fact that fewer boats ventured on the Upper Mis- 
sissippi during the year 1832. But the services of the steam- 
boat Warrior during the Black Hawk War entitle her to 
be ranked among the dozen most historic boats to ply the 
waters of the Upper Mississippi. Launched at Pittsburgh 
in the summer of 1832, the Warrior was commanded by 
Joseph Throckmorton. A veteran of four years service on 
the Upper Mississippi, Throckmorton brought the Warrior 
and her safety barge to St. Louis in mid-summer of 1832, 
and set out immediately for the war zone.^" 

The Warrior arrived at Prairie du Chien just as Black 
Hawk and his band were retreating toward the Mississippi. 
She was pressed into service and Throckmorton was given 
orders to patrol the river above the fort to prevent the 


Wars and Rumors of War 

Indians from crossing. Lieutenants James W. Kingsbury 
and Reuben Holmes, with a detachment of fifteen regulars 
and six volunteers, were sent aboard; and a small six- 
pounder was placed on the bow. 

The Warrior first steamed north to Wabasha's village 
where about one hundred and fifty Winnebago Indians 
were enlisted to help patrol the river. Proceeding down- 
stream Throckmorton reached the spot where De Soto 
now stands just as Black Hawk and his warriors were pour- 
ing out through the hills to the river. A white flag was 
raised by Black Hawk, and Throckmorton was invited to 
land. Fearing treachery upon the part of the wily Sauk 
chief, Throckmorton refused to leave the boat. Black 
Hawk in turn refused to board the Warrior; whereupon 
hostilities began. During the brief engagement the In- 
dians fired hundreds of shots, only sixty of which reached 
their mark. One white man was wounded. Four shots of 
grape sent the Indians scurrying for shelter. 

Having halted the retreat of the Indians the Warrior 
steamed down to Fort Crawford for a fresh supply of fuel. 
While this brief skirmish was of no great significance in 
itself it served to check the Indians sufficiently to allow the 
troops to come up a little later and completely rout them 
at Bad Axe. Shortly afterwards the Winnebago Indians 
captured Black Hawk and brought him to Prairie du Chien 
whence he and eleven of his warriors were taken down to 
Jefferson Barracks on the steamboat Wiuuebago.^^^ 

Throughout the Black Hawk War the picturesque com- 
manders and their forces used steamboats. Inscribed in the 


Steamboating on Upp>er Mississippi 

cabin registers of such boats as the Chief tain, the Dove, the 
Enterprise, the Warrior, the Winnebago, and the William 
Wallace, were the names of Colonel Zachary Taylor, who 
was to become President of the United States, and Lieu- 
tenant Jefferson Davis, who achieved the same distinction 
in the Confederacy. After the battle of Bad Axe, Brigadier 
General Henry Atkinson took passage on the Warrior to 
Jefferson Barracks; while Brigadier General Winfield Scott 
in forwarding Atkinson's two reports of the battle, dated 
the letter "steamboat Warrior, near Galena, Aug. 10".^*° 

There were other wars. On May 15, 1846, the Tempest 
whisked up to the Galena levee with news of the outbreak 
of the Mexican War. The /. M. White had brought this 
news from New Orleans to St. Louis, whence the Tempest 
had steamed upstream to spread the news throughout the 
Upper Mississippi Valley. Four days later the Ked Wtng 
brought newspaper accounts of the destruction of Mata- 
moros and the killing of seven hundred Mexicans; while 
the Atlas, the Uncle Toby, and the Prairie Bird arrived 
almost in her wake with further dispatches. 

Since the telegraph did not reach the Upper Mississippi 
around Galena and Dubuque until 1848, and since the 
railroads were not destined to reach Chicago from the East 
for another six years, the Upper Mississippi Valley relied 
on the steamboat to transmit the latest news from the 
front. Many river towns had contributed young men to 
the struggle, and so the levee was constantly thronged with 
people awaiting the arrival of steamboats. There was gen- 


Wars and Rumors of War 

eral rejoicing at Galena when in the spring of 1847 the 
War Eagle came snorting up the Fever River with news of 
Major General Zachary Taylor's victory at Buena Vista.""* 

The outbreak of hostilities with Mexico demanded a 
hasty concentration of troops throughout the Mississippi 
Valley. Steamboats were immediately pressed into service. 
Almost every downstream craft was crowded with reg- 
ulars and volunteers. Early in June, 1846, the dragoons 
stationed at Fort Crawford and Fort Atkinson passed down 
on Captain Throckmorton's Cecilia. Shortly afterwards 
volunteers from Galena and Jo Daviess County, composed 
chiefly of young miners, departed for Alton on the St. 
Anthony. During the winter it was necessary for troops 
to march overland; on February 2, 1847, a company of 
weather-beaten but healthy soldiers arrived at Galena after 
a four hundred mile tramp from St. Peter's. 

Spring brought a revival of traffic on the river : Cap- 
tain John H. King recruited sixty-four men in Galena 
and departed immediately on the War Eagle. Two weeks 
later one hundred Illinois volunteers left Galena and Sa- 
vanna for Cairo. Of the sixty and more craft which plied 
the Upper Mississippi during the period of the Mexican 
War, few failed to secure a fair share of the troops and 
supplies moving southward. ^°^ 

During the winter of 1860 the importance of the 
impending struggle to Upper Mississippi steamboats was 
quickly recognized. Eastern newspapers sympathized with 
the northwestern States because they felt that the Con- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

federates would close the Mississippi River and prevent 
western products from moving southward. But a Du- 
buque newspaper editor thought this unlikely : he believed 
that the South would grant free trade at both New Or- 
leans and Mobile, which was exactly what the East did not 
want. A week later the same editor observed that the 
prospect of being blocked by the South was a problem of 
less importance for Senator James W. Grimes and other 
Iowa Congressmen to solve than was the urgent need of 
appropriations for improving the Upper and Lower 

Excitement was at a fever pitch during the early days 
of the Civil War. Galena citizens were thoroughly alarmed 
when the steamboat La Crosse arrived at their levee with 
224 kegs of powder from the Platteville powder mills, 
presumably destined for Pike's Peak. Fearful lest the pow- 
der should fall into the hands of Confederates at Hannibal 
or St. Louis, the mayor of Galena forbade the captain of 
the La Crosse to take it downstream. This was in accord- 
ance with the Illinois Governor's telegram to "detain it by 
all means". A little later the powder was ordered to be 
forwarded to La Salle, Illinois.""^ 

Thousands of regulars and volunteers were transported 
by steamboat during the Civil War. Generous quotas of 
troops were contributed by the various towns along the 
Mississippi and its tributaries as far north as St. Paul. 
Late in April the Sucker State left Dubuque with a dozen 
members of the Governor's Greys on board; while her sister 
ship, the Hawkeye State, carried a portion of the First 


Wars and Rumors of War 

Iowa Regiment from Davenport to Keokuk. Eight boxes 
of uniforms for the Dubuque "Greys" were shipped to 
Keokuk on board the Key City. Early in June the Canada 
passed Dubuque with three hundred recruits from Mc- 
Gregor. On her next trip she brought three companies of 
volunteers from further upstream. Met at the levee by 
the Dubuque volunteers, they made a "grand appearance" 
parading through the streets. Shortly afterwards the 
Washington Guards of Dubuque, the Pioneer Greys of 
Black Hawk County, and the Union Guards of Butler 
County left Dubuque on the Key City. Throughout the 
season the Jea/iie Deans, the Denmark, the Henry Clay, 
the Pembina, the Bill Henderson, and two score other craft 
took companies of volunteers to the various points below. 
So gratifying were the returns from such employment 
during the first few months of the war that the Northern 
Line Packet Company of St. Louis did an unprecedented 
thing : it reduced the fare for transporting troops !'°* 

A unique upstream traffic developed during the early 
months of the Civil War as steamboats brought north- 
ward hundreds of Southern refugees. A Davenport editor 
noted : 

"Coming in from the South yesterday afternoon the 
steamer Key City came up loaded to the guards with 
Southern passengers fleeing from the wrath to come. They 
were mostly of the laboring class, and probably some of 
those which left this country for the South when hard 
times came on here. The Key City left not less than one 
hundred men, women and children at the levee. Every 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

boat coming up brings along good numbers of Southern 
folks. Capt. Marden [Worden] says he left about fifty 
at Muscatine on this trip up. A few weeks of such arrivals 
will make change in our population. We are glad to see it. 
This is the country for the laboring people — and we wel- 
come them back to Iowa soil where there is abundant 
chance for them to earn an honest living and something 
besides. Unless martial law goes into effect soon on the 
Lower Mississippi, our city and other cities along the Iowa 
shore will receive large additions to their population in the 
course of a few days. The arrival yesterday was made up 
of hardy looking chaps with their families and household 
goods. Let them come. They are all wanted here." '"^ 

Despite the activity in transporting troops, the war had 
at first a depressing effect on steamboating. In comment- 
ing on an item in the Keokuk press the Dubuque Herald 
of June 2, 1861, declared that a similar situation would 
soon exist all along the river if the war continued. The 
Keokuk dispatch commented: 

"To sustain a river news column with the business that's 
now doing and the number of boats running, would be an 
impossibility. If our soldiers were not daily exercising on 
the Levee we would see grass grow there in abundance. 
The public can judge what business there is when six reg- 
ular liners do the whole of it from St. Louis to the upper 
Lakes. Only for the mail the Keokuk and St. Louis Packet 
could not make expenses to run one boat and make weekly 
trips. The Northern Line boats bring up a great many 
passengers but little freight, and their return freights are 


Wars and Rumors of War 

equally meagre, and totally destitute of passengers. Pro- 
duce finds no outlet below us, and merchants just order 
sufficient to keep their stock assorted." 

So many steamboats lay idle at the various ports that 
the Dubuque Herald of June 11, 1861, proposed that an 
excursion be run to Keokuk to allow the relatives and 
friends an opportunity to visit the three hundred volun- 
teers encamped at that point. 

Navigation slowly revived as the summer wore on : a 
better stage of water and the movement of grain south- 
ward once more called steamboats into action. Captain 
Datus E. Coon's company of sixty-five cavalrymen was 
given a rousing farewell when the Denmark departed from 
Dubuque in August. The cheers of the company from the 
hurricane deck of the Denmark were heard on the bluffs 
of the city half a mile distant. "°® 

In November, 1861, a flotilla of steamboats carried the 
Third Regiment of Minnesota Volunteers southward from 
St. Paul. Throngs of cheering people gathered at the 
various towns along the Mississippi to see the troops. The 
levee at Red Wing was "jammed" with the largest crowd 
that ever gathered there. Each boat was greeted with 
cheers and salutes. When the steamboat with the Goodhue 
County volunteers arrived, an immense bonfire was 
lighted near the point where the boat landed. The soldiers 
were allowed half an hour ashore, which was spent in hur- 
ried greetings and farewells to relatives and friends.'"^ 

Keokuk was a grand rendezvous for the army during 
the Civil War : scores of steamboats departed from this 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Iowa town for St. Louis and points below. In addition to 
receiving raw recruits from the various points above, Keo- 
kuk almost daily dispatched companies southward aboard 
such boats as the Jeanie Deans, the Die Yernon, the Han- 
nibal City, and the Jennie Whipple.'°^ The first casualty 
for the Seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry occurred while 
the Jennie Whipple was en route from Keokuk to St. 
Louis : during the night a member of Company A while 
sleeping rolled off the boat into the river and was 

When the South finally blocked the Mississippi a severe 
blight was cast on the commerce of Keokuk, Davenport, 
Dubuque, and other upriver ports. Davenport chronicled 
73 steamboat arrivals in March and 134 in April, 1861. 
By the latter part of April, however, freight became so 
scarce that even such regular steamboats as the Denmark 
and Henry Clay laid up until times became better. Early 
in May business was described by a Davenport editor as 
"extremely dull and unprofitable". It was believed that 
a "general stagnation in freight" would follow for an 
indeterminate period. "The eflFect this will have on pro- 
ducers, shippers, grain and produce dealers, and business 
generally will be ascertained too soon, and its realization 
will be anything but agreeable." *^° 

The resentment of northern towns grew more bitter 
with each passing month. As early as May, Captain J. W. 
Parker of the steamboat Canada reported that the mayor 
of Burlington had issued a proclamation compelling all 
steamboats to hoist the stars and stripes when passing that 


Wars and Rumors of War 

city. The same hatred was manifested in the South where 
the captain of the Adelaide Bell sued the editors of the 
New Orleans Crescent for $50,000 damages for alleging 
that the boat had unfurled a "Black Republican flag". By 
July of 1861 it was announced that 20,000 steamboatmen 
were out of work at St. Louis.'^^ 

The departure of cheering volunteers was in sharp con- 
trast to the return of the sick and wounded, the dying 
and the dead. A single illustration will suffice. The fron- 
tier State of Iowa furnished 78,000 men out of a popula- 
tion of less than 700,000. This represented half the able 
bodied men in the State, or more than Washington had 
in his armies during the American Revolution. Twelve 
thousand lowans were killed in the Civil War, or almost 
one-fourth the total losses of the United States during 
the World War. In addition, nearly nine thousand were 
wounded in battle and almost ten thousand were dis- 
charged because of ill health. Steamboats bound upstream 
during the Civil War carried gruesome cargoes as mute 
evidence of the bloody struggle that was being enacted to 
prove that all men are "created equal".^^~ 

On April 19, 1862, the steamboat Express arrived at 
Keokuk with about 300 sick and wounded soldiers, in- 
cluding four who had died en route. Four days later the 
D. A. January came up with 300 wounded; and a month 
later the same steamboat put into port with 311 more. 
In three trips the City of Memphis brought 928 sick and 
wounded soldiers to Keokuk. When the steamboat Deca- 
tur docked in mid-July, Keokuk had opened its fourth 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

hospital in a public school house. Twice within a week in 
October the Fanny Bullitt arrived carrying almost 700 

By the close of the year 1862 it was estimated that more 
than seven thousand men were being treated in Keokuk. 
The same scenes were reenacted in 1863 : the Diligent, the 
Schuyler, the Glasgow, the Sunnyside, and the Gladiator, 
came in jammed to their guards with the sick and 
wounded. On December 24, 1863, the record showed that 
7396 sick and wounded soldiers had been brought by 
steamboats from the South to Keokuk. Of these, 617 had 
already died.'^^ 

Early in April, 1863, the regular Keokuk packet Sam 
Gaty, while carrying government supplies and passengers 
up the Missouri River, was overtaken by a band of fifty- 
six guerrillas at Sibley's Landing, thirty-seven miles below 
Kansas City. Led by George Todd, Dick Yager, and Cole 
Younger, the guerrillas ordered the pilot to land his boat, 
threatening to fire into her if they were not obeyed. Since 
the Sam Gaty was only fifty feet from shore, the pilot 
was compelled to "round to" and land his boat. The offi- 
cers and passengers left the following composite picture 
of the episode: 

"They ordered the Captain ashore, and then rushed 
aboard, presenting pistols to the heads of the passengers 
and demanding all their money and valuables. They drove 
all the soldiers and negroes ashore, killing nine negro men, 
two soldiers, and wounding a third, who escaped to In- 
dependence. They then rifled all the baggage and public 


Wars and Rumors of War 

and private property, exchanged coats and hats with some 
of the passengers, and ordered all the women and children 
ashore, with the intention of burning the boat, but were 
finally prevailed upon by the Captain to spare her on con- 
dition that all the government freight would be destroyed, 
which was consented to. 

"The crew and passengers were compelled to assist in 
throwing overboard 300 sacks of flour, 48 wagon-beds and 
considerable private property. The boat was then re- 
leased and allowed to proceed on her way up at 8 o'clock in 
the morning." 

The guerrillas had intended to capture the Sam Gaty at 
Napoleon; but having arrived too late, they chased her all 
the way to Sibley's Landing. Fully $2285 was taken, of 
which $600 belonged to the boat. One passenger lost 

Upper Mississippi steamboats did heroic work during 
the Civil War. Many of the boats were requisitioned into 
service by the government. In this group were such well 
known steamboats as the Kate Cassel^ the Jennie Whipple^ 
and the Ad Hine. In this way transportation was often 
crippled — at least temporarily. There was general re- 
joicing when General Grant permitted the Jennie Whip- 
ple to continue plying between Fort Madison and Rock 

The news of the surrender of Vicksburg was hailed with 
delight. "The Father of Waters flowed peacefully to the 
sea, free and untrammelled", wrote Admiral David D. 
Porter. "The great chain of slavery was broken, never to 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

be again united. The work of setting free the great artery 
of the North and South, so essential to our nationaUty, had 
been accomplished, and the foul blot of human slavery had 
disappeared forever from our escutcheon. The squadrons 
of the Upper and Lower Mississippi had shaken hands in 
New Orleans, and the great highway between Cincinnati 
and the Queen City of the South was once more open to 
the commerce with the North and with foreign coun- 
tries." "« 

By 1864 the movement of steamboats was again in full 
swing up and downstream. On April 18th more than one 
hundred soldiers from the Keokuk hospitals left on the 
steamboat Lucy Bertram to rejoin their regiments. Nine 
days later the Die Yernon took the Fifteenth Iowa to the 
front ; and a month later the Lucy Bertram took the Forty- 
fifth Iowa Regiment downstream. On July 10th the Kate 
Kearney arrived with over a hundred invalid soldiers. 
Throughout the year steamboats brought wounded sol- 
diers to Keokuk and the ports above. They departed with 
fresh troops for below.*^^ 

At the close of the war the reception accorded the war- 
weary troops was as heart-felt as it was tumultuous. Joy 
reigned supreme in the various Upper Mississippi ports. 
Cannon roared, bands blared, and flags waved as the boys 
in blue marched firmly down the stage of the steamboat. 
But their thinned ranks left many a welcoming eye tear- 
dimmed for those who would not return. As troop trans- 
ports and hospital boats, as conveyors of ammunition and 
supplies, and as auxiliary forces in the battles which re- 


Wars and Rumors of War 

opened the Mississippi to commerce, Upper Mississippi 
steamboats had played a dramatic role. With the return 
of peace, commerce, industry, and agriculture resumed 
their normal place in the life of the people. The Mississippi 
River again furnished a peaceful waterway from St. Paul 
to the Gulf of Mexico. 



M-Ovcmenf of 1 roops m JPeacc 1 imies 

The movement of troops during times of peace was more 
profitable to steamboats than in times of war, when viewed 
over a period of three or four decades. Before the voyage 
of the Virginia troops had been transported by keelboat — 
a method which was as costly as it was slow. Thus, in 1821 
it took the keelboat James Ross sixteen days to convey a 
detachment of the Fifth United States Infantry from 
Prairie du Chien to St. Peter's. Although no rapids im- 
peded its progress the keelboat averaged but thirteen miles 
per day for the two hundred and twelve miles between 
Fort Crawford and Fort St. Anthony."^® 

Keelboats generally descended the river with great facil- 
ity. On October 13, 1821, the Saiicy Jack left St. Peter's 
with Colonel Snelling on board. Gliding along at a rate of 
eight miles an hour, the Saucy Jack traveled throughout 
the night and by sunrise reached the foot of Lake Pepin, 
a distance of eighty miles. Four days were required to 
reach Prairie du Chien. This exceptionally good time 
meant that wind and water were favorable. The Saucy 
Jack probably consumed about sixty-five hours running 
time, so that the average rate of speed was approximately 
three miles per hour downstream. Three years later (in 
1824) the steamboat Mandan ran from St. Peter's to St. 
Louis in sixty-two and one-half hours running time, an 


Movement of Troops in Peace Times 

average of almost twelve miles per hour downstream.^'" 
That keelboat transportation was unsatisfactory as well 
as costly and slow is demonstrated by the efforts of a cele- 
brated army officer to facilitate the transportation of 
troops and supplies. A new type of boat, invented by 
Brigadier General Henry Atkinson in 1824, made the trip 
from St. Louis to St. Charles on the Missouri River in two 
days or half the time usually consumed by the keelboat. 
It was estimated that General Atkinson's boat could 
average twenty miles a day, and make thirty in an emer- 
gency. A description of Atkinson's strange craft has been 
preserved: '^° 

"The machinery consists of a shaft, thrown across the 
centre of the boat, with a water wheel at each end — a 
five feet cog wheel in the centre of the shaft, and put in 
motion by another cog wheel, three feet four inches, rest- 
ing on an iron shaft, which supports a fly wheel at one 
end, of eight feet in diameter. The fly and small cog wheel 
are moved by a crank, projecting from an arm of the fly 
wheel, with two pitmans, which are impelled by soldiers, 
seated on from eight to ten benches, four abreast, with a 
succession of cross bars before each bench, contained in 
a frame that moves on slides, with a three feet stroke 
of the crank. The men are comfortably seated under 
an awning, sheltered from the sun and rain — the labor 
much lighter than rowing with a common oar, and the 
boats are propelled with a velocity sufficient to stem the 
most rapid current of the Missouri." 

After the successful navigation of the Upper Mississippi 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

by the Virghiia it was only on rare occasions that the army 
resorted to keelboats and similar craft. Thus, in 1826, 
thirty-five keelboats arrived at St. Louis from Green Bay 
bringing the Third Regiment of Infantry. During the 
driest season the flotilla had to portage only twenty-five 
hundred yards between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. 
Again, the low stage of water in 1827 forced the troops 
under Brigadier General Atkinson to disembark from the 
steamboats Missouri and Illinois at the foot of the Lower 
Rapids and complete the remainder of the journey to 
Prairie du Chien by keelboat. With only a few such ex- 
ceptions the transportation of troops after 182 5 was ac- 
complished by steamboat.'"^ 

Attacks were often made in Congress against the ex- 
penditure of large sums yearly for transporting soldiers 
from post to post; but Major General Jacob Brown warm- 
ly defended the policy. He asserted that the army looked 
to the government for "justice and impartiality" in the 
distribution of troops, some of whom would (if no 
changes were made) be located in unhealthy surround- 
ings for long periods with no hope of a transfer. The oc- 
casional movement of troops was also necessary for the 
"preservation of discipline and efficiency": it was held 
that the morale and general condition of the troops was 
kept at such a high level that the good results more than 
compensated for the expenditures involved in transporta- 

Despite these occasional outbursts in Congress the move- 
ment of troops continued, and the steamboats reaped rich 


Movement of Troops in Peace Times 

profits. The steamboats Missouri and Illinois were particu- 
larly busy in the spring of 1828 transporting troops to the 
various military posts on the Upper Mississippi and Mis- 
souri rivers. When the season came to a close four com- 
panies of the First United States Infantry had been trans- 
ferred to Fort Crawford and four additional companies 
from the same regiment had been carried to Fort Snelling. 
At the same time eight companies of the Fifth Regiment 
were taken from these two posts. Two companies of the 
Third United States Infantry were left at Fort Armstrong 
and the two seasoned companies of the Fifth removed. 
The steamboat Illinois ascended the Missouri River for 
Cantonment Leavenworth where eight companies of the 
Third Infantry were posted under Colonel Henry Leaven- 

In 1837 the entire First Regiment of Infantry stationed 
at Fort Crawford and Fort Snelling was ordered south to 
the Red River where a half dozen regiments had already 
been concentrated."* Two years later the Pike arrived at 
Galena bound for Fort Snelling with eighty new recruits 
from Covington, Kentucky. Shortly afterwards the Pike 
returned to Prairie du Chien to pick up one hundred 
troops destined for Fort Snelling. At that time there were 
two hundred soldiers at Fort Crawford and three hun- 
dred at Fort Snelling."'* 

Steamboats engaged in conveying troops on the Upper 
Mississippi occasionally met with accidents, but the cas- 
ualties were only minor in character. In April, 1842, the 
Illinois sank on the Lower Rapids while ascending the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Mississippi with troops from Jefferson Barracks. At the 
same time the Galena passed upstream with 358 soldiers 
on board, 130 of whom were destined for Fort SneUing 
while the remainder were to be discharged at Fort Craw- 
ford. The Galena broke her machinery on the way up, 
and blew a cylinder while bound downstream. She was 
towed from Galena to St. Louis by the New Brazil. On 
April 27, 1865, the Sultana exploded on the Lower Mis- 
sissippi with a loss of 1 647 lives — the worst disaster ever 
to befall a steamboat on western waters. Most of those 
aboard were exchanged Union soldiers who were home- 
ward bound."" 

The profit reaped by steamboats transporting soldiers 
in time of peace sometimes exceeded that gained from the 
regular passenger trade. The Canada passed Dubuque in 
July of 1860 with the largest load of the season : she had 
on board deck passengers who had paid $ 1 672 in fares and 
cabin passengers whose fares amounted to $2000; and at 
the same time towed two barges loaded to the water's edge 
with freight. On her way up from St. Louis the Canada 
was obliged to refuse both freight and passengers at every 
port below Dubuque. Most of her passengers were United 
States troops bound for some point upstream."^ 

Two factors are essential in estimating the cost of trans- 
porting troops during the times of peace preceding the 
outbreak of the Civil War : the number of troops, carried 
and the distance traveled. Although the exact number of 
soldiers conveyed is not known, it would seem fair to as- 
sume that on an average at least five hundred troops were 


Movement of Troops in Peace Times 

moved about each year to the half dozen posts in existence 
at one point or another throughout this period. 

In estimating the distance traveled one must take into 
consideration the fact that the steady influx of immigrants 
swept back the frontier line. Fort Edwards, two hundred 
miles distant from St. Louis, was the post closest to Jef- 
ferson Barracks in 1823 and was beyond the settled area. 
By 1861 Fort Snelling was the fort on the Upper Missis- 
sippi nearest to Jefferson Barracks; while Fort Ripley and 
Fort Ridgely were located on the outer fringe of settle- 
ment. With this in mind the average distance traveled was 
possibly about six hundred miles. If the government were 
to pay Upper Mississippi steamboats $40 a round trip fare, 
it would expend approximately $20,000 annually for 
transporting five hundred soldiers six hundred miles. At 
this rate about three quarters of a million dollars might 
well have been expended in transporting troops by steam- 
boat in the decades preceding the Civil War."^ 


I ransporiaf ion oiF oiippiies 

More prosaic than the movement of troops, but equally 
important, was the transportation of supplies and equip- 
ment to the various posts on the Upper Mississippi. Each 
year newspapers carried advertisements inviting merchants 
to submit bids for furnishing huge quantities of pork, 
flour, whiskey, beans, soap, candles, vinegar, and salt to the 
forts on the frontier. Separate bids were also solicited for 
furnishing fresh beef on the hoof. Sometimes the cattle 
were driven overland, but usually they were transported 
northward in pens constructed on the lower decks of 
steamboats. Even though such stock was not seen, its 
presence was otherwise noticed by the deck and cabin pas- 
sengers who were forced to locate near the cattle pen. 

In 1823 the Missouri Republican advertised for bids 
for the posts at New Orleans, Pensacola, Baton Rouge, 
Natchitoches, Fort Smith (Arkansas), Council Bluffs, 
Green Bay, Saginaw Bay, Superior, Mackinac, Pittsburgh, 
Niagara, Fort Edwards, Fort Armstrong, Prairie du 
Chien, and St. Peter's. The provisions were to pass St. 
Louis for their ultimate destination by April 15, 1824; 
and if destined for posts above St. Louis, such as St. Peter's, 
they were to be aboard the boat and ready at that time. 
A definite time limit was set for final delivery at each post. 
Thus, Fort Edwards and Fort Armstrong were to receive 


Transportation of Supplies 

their goods by May 15th, Fort Crawford by June 1st; 
while June 15 th was set as the date for final delivery at 
St. Peter's.'-'^" 

The amount of provisions and supplies was of course 
governed by the number of troops at each post. In 1824 
Fort Edwards received 60 barrels of pork, 125 barrels of 
fine fresh flour, 700 gallons of good proof whiskey, 5 5 
bushels of good sound beans, 880 pounds of good hand 
soap, 220 pounds of tallow candles with cotton wicks, 14 
bushels of salt, and 225 gallons of cider vinegar. The con- 
signments that year for the posts above were as follows: ^^° 











































Similar announcements were made in succeeding years. 
The Missouri Republican of July 26, 1827, requested bids 
for supplies and provisions for Upper Mississippi posts; 
and on October first the same paper called for separate 
and sealed proposals for furnishing 3 5,000 pounds of fresh 
beef to Fort Snelling, 30,000 to Fort Crawford, and 
15,000 to Fort Armstrong. The beef was to be delivered 
on the hoof before June 1, 1828. 

Early each spring Upper Mississippi steamboats began 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

transporting military supplies. On April 1, 1824, Captain 
William Linn, commanding the Mandan, arrived at St. 
Louis from New Orleans. After spending five days in 
port loading a cargo of military supplies, the boat de- 
parted on April 5 th for St. Peter's with her guards drip- 
ping. She returned to St. Louis on May 17th, having taken 
forty-two days for the round trip. A low stage of water 
on the rapids, an ice-locked Lake Pepin, some unforeseen 
engine trouble, or a channel studded with sandbars must 
have delayed the Mandan on her voyage upstream, since 
she required less than three days running time to return. 
On her way down she met the Indiana bound for St. 
Peter's with a cargo of provisions and supplies from Louis- 
ville. The Indiana left St. Louis on May 13th, commanded 
by S. Craig, and returned on June 5, 1824, having con- 
sumed twenty-three days in making the round trip. The 
Virginia had taken twenty days to complete the journey 
upstream the previous year. 

Low water made the passage over the rapids difficult 
and often dangerous. The time of arrival and departure 
of steamboats was extremely uncertain under such con- 
ditions, since their speed was reduced by one-half; while 
the delay occasioned by sandbars tended to quadruple the 
time of a trip. Early in April, 1824, the Indiana carried 
military supplies to Fort Edwards. It took sixteen days to 
complete the round trip of four hundred miles. Late in 
June she departed for the same post with an immense 
cargo and returned in six days! On a previous voyage, 
the Indiana had made the run to Fort Armstrong and back 


Transportation of Supplies 

to St. Louis in the astonishing time of five days, running 
two hundred miles farther and picking her way up and 
back over a fourteen mile stretch of the Lower Rapids! ''^ 

By July 31, 1824, four steamboats (the Virginia, the 
Rambler, the Mamlati, and the hidiaua) had visited Fort 
Snclling. Two years later, under date of May 17, 1826, 
Major Lawrence Taliaferro recorded three of these to- 
gether with the General Neville, the Rufus 'Putnam, the 
Lati/rence, the Scioto, the Eclipse, the Josephine, the Ful- 
ton, the Red Rover, the Black Rover, the Warrior, the En- 
terprise, and the Volant. Most of the goods received at 
Fort Snelling on these steamboats consisted of supplies 
and provisions for the military. Taliaferro notes that the 
steamboat Scioto arrived on Friday, May 26, 1826, with 
public stores and some Indian goods for him and the Co- 
lumbia Fur Company. Among the passengers were Mr. 
Langham, the Sub-Agent at St. Peter's, and Major John 
Fowle of the Fifth Infantry. The Scioto left for Prairie 
du Chien the next day to bring up the balance of the pub- 
lic stores : she returned on June first, having made the 
round trip in six days."^^ 

During the thirties the steamboat Warrior (Joseph 
Throckmorton commanding) was one of perhaps a dozen 
craft that carried large quantities of military supplies to 
Fort Snelling and the various posts on the Upper Missis- 
sippi. "These supplies", as Colonel John H. Bliss later 
recalled, *'were chiefly clothing, salt beef and pork, flour 
and beans." Bliss, as a lad of nine, had accompanied his 
father. Major John Bliss, to Fort Snelling. He relates that 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

besides the regular supplies for the post the steamboats 
carried also the personal luxuries of the officers of the post. 
In 1832, for example, before setting out for Fort Snelling, 
Major Bliss, the newly appointed commandant, purchased 
"quantities of hams, dried beef, tongues, rice, macaroni, 
family groceries in general, furniture, crockery, and what 
in these days would be considered a huge supply of wines 
and liquors". 

After leaving the port of St. Louis, young Bliss recalls 
stopping at "Hannibal, Quincy, Des Moines [Rapids] and 
Galena, all very small places". At Prairie du Chien he 
found Colonel Zachary Taylor in command of Fort Craw- 
ford. At that time Colonel Taylor was very much upset 
because a dashing young army officer. Lieutenant Jeffer- 
son Davis, was "violently in love" with his daughter Sarah 
Knox. Old "Rough and Ready", it seems, " 'would none 
of it' — he did not like a single bone in his [Davis'] body." 
His objections, however, seem to have been no more effec- 
tive than those of modern parents. 

Before leaving Prairie du Chien, young Bliss relates that 
all "available space" in the Warrior was "filled with cord 
wood, and when that gave out we were obliged to lay by 
and cut fresh supplies, for not a house or a white man did 
we see until our arrival at Fort Snelling, so the trip of 
course was a long one ... At Lake Pepin, on account of a 
heavy wind, we were obliged to tie up for nearly two days 
in sight of 'Maiden Rock,' or 'Lovers' Leap,' as in those 
days it was unromantically called. I shall never forget the 
clear transparency of the waters, and beautiful wild shores 


Transportation of Supplies 

of that lovely river, long before its charms were ruined 
and outraged by hard practical civilization. On our way 
we overhauled and took on board a canoe with five sol- 
diers, conveying the monthly mail to Fort Snelling, and 
thus saved the boys many a weary pull. A sight never to 
be forgotten was when on turning a point in the river 
there suddenly appeared, a mile or so before us, the im- 
posing and beautiful white walls of Fort Snelling, holding, 
as though by main force, its position on a high precipitous 
bluff, and proudly floating the stripes and stars. It was 
a fortified oasis of civilization in a lovely desert of bar- 

b>> 'jas 

According to an estimate made by Secretary of War 
William Wilkins on March 22, 1844, the public property 
transported annually on the waters of the Upper Missis- 
sippi was valued at $272,213.90. The clothing and quar- 
termaster's stores furnished annually to the troops on the 
Mississippi and its tributaries above the mouth of the 
Missouri amounted to $25,000. Clothing and equipment 
for Fort Snelling was valued at $4,041.93; for Fort Craw- 
ford $5,389.24; for Fort Des Moines $3,579.78; for Fort 
Atkinson $3,579.78; and for Fort Winnebago $1,347.31; 
or a total of $17,938.04. The quartermaster's stores for 
the same posts amounted to $7,061.98. Small arms, am- 
munition, and paints for gun carriages, to the amount of 
$5,910.00, were also sent to the companies stationed at 
Fort Atkinson, Fort Des Moines, and Prairie du Chien in 
1844. The quantity and value of the subsistence shipped 
to the same posts in 1 844 were as follows: 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^ Bulk _. 

Post Companies „ value 

IN Barrels 

Fort Snelling 3 822 $ 5,992.30 

Fort Crawford 4 1073 7,481.40 

Fort Atkinson 2 530 3,757.40 

Fort Des Moines 2 530 3,791.20 

Fort Winnebago 1 270 2,371.60 

Total 12 3225 $23,393.90 

In concluding his report, Commissioner of General Sub- 
sistence George Gibson complained bitterly that the rapids 
made it necessary to ship a whole year's supply early each 
spring during a good stage of water."* 

While steamboats continued to be actively engaged in 
transporting troops and supplies in the decade before the 
Civil War, their trips were confined chiefly to Fort Snell- 
ing and the posts above. Destined for service among the 
Indians on the Des Moines River where Fort Clarke was 
being established, 150 soldiers embarked from Fort Snelling 
on the Highland Mary in May of 1850. Three years later 
the Ben Campbell arrived at St. Paul with a cargo of five 
hundred tons of freight, most of which was consigned to 
the government. Fort Madison and Burlington provided 
these goods — the largest cargo to reach St. Paul that 
season. On August 1, 1857, the Northern Light came 
booming up to the St. Paul wharf with Company L of the 
Second ArtUlery in command of Major William (?) Fiays. 
The troops had traveled sixteen hundred miles in six days, 
"giving a fair impression of the celerity with which troops 


Transportation of Supplies 

can be concentrated in exposed parts of the country, by 
means of railroads and steamboats." '^'^ 

It would be difficult to overestiniate the relative im- 
portance of the trade for which the presence of the mili- 
tary was responsible. In 185 3 the St. Paul trade in gov- 
ernment supplies actually exceeded that of supplying 
goods to settlers."^^ Although the exact amount is not 
known, the receipts from transporting supplies was per- 
haps as great as those derived from conveying troops 
during times of peace; so one might estimate that approx- 
imately $1,500,000 was earned by steamboats engaged in 
this work. An additional sum of $500,000 was probably 
netted during the Black Hawk War, the Mexican War, 
and the Civil War. The total income from transporting 
scientific expeditions, assisting in engineering projects, and 
conveying United States Army officers on tours of inspec- 
tion of the military posts was perhaps $750,000. 

The commerce arising from the military frontier before 
the close of the Civil War may have yielded Upper Mis- 
sissippi steamboats almost $3,000,000. While the trade 
arising from the Indian and the fur trader did not equal 
this steady traffic in military forces and supplies, the three 
combined were significant factors in stimulating steam- 
boating on waters far beyond the settlers' frontier. 



Pigs of ILeaa 

The fabulous wealth of John Jacob Astor, the boundless 
energy and endurance of Manuel Lisa, and the matchless 
strength and courage of hairy-chested Hugh Glass are 
dramatic chapters in the epic of the American fur trade. 
No less colorful are the exploits of William Becknell and 
Josiah Gregg in the Santa Fe trade. But the story of the 
lead traffic on the Upper Mississippi has yet to be told. 
Even that prince of raconteurs, the benevolent, kindly 
George Merrick, failed to chronicle the hardworking, tur- 
bulent steamboatmen who plied in the lead trade for a 
quarter of a century. 

The lead miners, like the men on the fur-trading fron- 
tier, were "laughers at time and space". Fully a decade 
before the northern half of Indiana and Illinois began to 
receive settlers, lead miners formed an island of population 
far beyond the fringe of settlement. Lead was found in 
abundance in northwestern Illinois, southwestern Wis- 
consin, and in that portion of eastern Iowa immediately 
adjoining these two States. More precisely, it was found 
in what are now Jo Daviess and Carroll counties in Illi- 
nois; Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette counties in Wisconsin; 
and Dubuque County in Iowa."" 

The first white man known to have mined lead in the 
Upper Mississippi Valley was Nicolas Perrot. This French 


Pigs of Lead 

soldier had been named "Commander of the West" in 
1685; and it was at the urgent request of the Miami In- 
dians in 1690 that he had hastened to the lead mines. A 
century later (in 1788) Julien Dubuque secured permis- 
sion from the Fox Indians to work the mines west of the 
Mississippi. When Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike arrived at 
these mines in 1805, Dubuque told him that he manufac- 
tured from 20,000 to 40,0000 pounds of lead yearly. Pike 
considered this a very low estimate and thought that the 
wily Frenchman was merely trying to keep secret the real 
wealth of his land."^^ 

At the time of Dubuque's death in 1810 the Fox Indians 
were melting 400,000 pounds of mineral annually at Fever 
River. That same year Henry Miller Shreve won for him- 
self the distinction of being the first American to take a 
barge of lead out of Fever River. Five years later there 
were twenty rude Indian furnaces in the neighborhood of 
Galena. In 1816 the first flatboat cargo of lead to emanate 
from the Fever River mines was sent to St. Louis by George 
Davenport; and by 1821 it was not an uncommon sight 
to see these unwieldy craft heavily laden with lead slowly 
making their way down the Mississippi.'^^ 

The movement to the lead mines in the vicinity of 
Galena had begun as early as 1819. A government agent 
was soon appointed to supervise the district. When the 
Virginia arrived at the mines in 1823 the region was still 
in a wild state, populated only by Indians roaming about 
at will. In the Iowa country they held undisputed sway; 
while in the Wisconsin and Illinois areas all land north of 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

a line drawn due west from the southern tip of Lake 
Michigan to the Mississippi belonged to them — with the 
exception of one or two small tracts in the vicinity of 
Prairie du Chien and Chicago. In 1828 the right to the 
lead district was secured from the Indians for a considera- 
tion of $20,000. Then, in the following year at Prairie du 
Chien, the whole territory east of the Mississippi River 
between the Rock and Wisconsin rivers was ceded to the 
United States by the Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and 
Winnebago Indians. Finally, the last Indian barrier to the 
settlement and development of the entire lead region was 
removed by the Black Hawk Purchase of 1832.^*° 

The establishment of a government mineral agent at 
Fever River was the signal for a slow but steady influx of 
squatters from Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and south- 
ern Illinois. While many of these pioneers came up the 
Mississippi in keelboats, a considerable number came over- 
land from the South through Fort Clark (Peoria) , Illinois. 
The first mining lease was granted on January 4, 1822. 
Later in that same year three more leases were granted. 
Nine leases were given in 1823. At the same time those 
who operated without license could be numbered by the 
score. As a rule the lessee was granted 160 acres for the 
period of three years, during which time the government 
was to receive one-tenth of all the mineral mined. This 
was reduced to five per cent in 1830. But the whole system 
proved very unsatisfactory, and by an act of Congress of 
July 11, 1846, the lands were brought into the market and 



Pigs of Lead 

From the very start, the growth of population in the 
mining region was phenomenal. On July 1, 1825, there 
were 100 miners at the Fever River mines. On August 31, 
1826, there were 453, with the number steadily increasing. 
The population of Galena alone (in 1830) was almost 
1000; while that of the surrounding lead district was 
about 10,000. Of the total population of 11,683 in Wis- 
consin in 1836, 5234 were in the lead district. The popu- 
lation of the whole lead mining region that year was about 
16,000. The paralyzing elQfect of the tariff law of 1829 
upon lead production makes this growth all the more re- 

The history of lead mining from 1823 to 1848 may be 
divided into three distinct stages. The period from 1823 
to 1829 is one of beginnings in which the whole mineral 
region witnessed a rapid and steady growth both in popu- 
lation and in production. A period of decline and uncer- 
tainty is noted from 1829 to 183 5, with the production 
far below normal but with a steady influx of people to the 
district. The years 1835 to 1848 may be termed the stage 
of greatest activity when the annual production rose from 
11,000,000 to 5 5,000,000 pounds with a total valuation ^ 
of $1,654,077.60.'" 

Enthusiasm was at a fever pitch as production rose by 
leaps and bounds. In 1824 it appears that 175,220 pounds 
of lead were taken from the mines; but by 1829 the 
amount had increased to 13,994,432 pounds. The total 
production down to March 31, 1829, was 31,764,862 
pounds. Then a deep gloom shrouded the mineral region: 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the unfavorable tariff of 1829, together with a glutted 
market, led to a period of depression. Both miners and 
steamboat captains felt the withering effects of hard times. 
But one man, at least, retained his enthusiasm. Hidden 
away in a yellowed lead book for the years 1828 to 1830 
appears the following wager between John Atchison, noted 
lead miner and steamboatman, and Colonel William S. 
Hamilton, the son of Alexander Hamilton, who was min- 
ing lead near present-day Wiota, Wisconsin: 

A Bett between J. A. [John Atchison] & W S H [WiUiam S. 
Hamilton] of a suit of Cloaths for [from] Head to foot that there 
will not be 6,000,000 of Lead made at Fever River Lead mines. 

J. A. affirmative 

The records do not tell whether Colonel Hamilton paid 
the "bett"; but in 1829 and 1830 the production of lead 
far exceeded the amount in the wager.'*^ 

The total amount of lead produced from 1829 to Sep- 
tember 20, 1834, was 34,901,205 pounds. Had conditions 
been more favorable, the same proportionate increase 
in production prior to 1829 would have made this amount 
close to 100,000,000 pounds by the end of 1834. After 
1835 the production of lead steadily increased : the total 
lead mined to 1844 was 192,000,000 pounds; and in the 
following four years the total equaled 204,000,000 pounds 
— an amount almost equal to that produced during the 
preceding twenty years. 

Within the brief space of a quarter of a century approx- 
imately 472,000,000 pounds (6,728,000 pigs) of lead had 
been mined and shipped down the Mississippi River — 


Pigs of Lead 

cargoes which must have brought much gain and comfort 
to steamboat captains and owners. The value of the lead 
mined from 1841 to 1848 was $8,676,647.39; while the 
total of the lead mined throughout the quarter century- 
was approximately $14,178,000. Compare this with the 
trade in furs and produce. In 1848 the value of the fur 
trade at St. Louis was estimated at $300,000, while the 
value of the produce on the Santa Fe Trail amounted to 
$500,000. For the year 1847 alone, the total value of lead 
mined was $1,654,077.60."* No other single factor dur- 
ing the quarter century between 1823 and 1848 was so 
important in developing steamboating on the Upper Mis- 
sissippi as the shipment of lead. < 



1 lue JPever IxiTcr Sctoement 

Early in the month of April, 1823, a band of forty- 
three men, women, and children, with three dogs, assem- 
bled on the levee at Cincinnati. Led by Moses Meeker, an 
enterprising lead manufacturer and mining prospector, 
they were prepared to board the keelboat Colonel Bom- 
ford headed for the Fever River lead mines eleven hundred 
miles distant. During the preceding winter they had pur- 
chased their supplies, which all together totaled fully 
seventy-five tons of freight. Meeker's outfit alone had 
cost $7000. 

Everyone waited patiently while the last of the trap- 
pings were safely stored in the hold of the keelboat. 
Flushed and stimulated by a liberal draught of whiskey 
(the usual prelude to a day's work) each rugged boatman 
stood nonchalantly at his post on the runway with pole 
"set" awaiting the signal of the captain or steersman. 
Finally all was in readiness. The last passenger had scram- 
bled hastily on board. As the poles of the boatmen bit 
deep into the river bottom the Colonel Bomford slipped 
slowly from its moorings and glided downstream. Among 
the passengers was one James Harris. He was accompanied 
by his son Daniel Smith Harris, a pleasant-faced youth of 
fifteen who was destined to become the most picturesque 
of Upper Mississippi steamboat captains. 


The Fever Raver Settlement 

Propelled by the skill of the boatmen, the Colonel Bom- 
ford sped down the Ohio River. Numerous villages dotted 
the banks and newly erected, rough-hewn farmhouses 
studded the shores. But the country became more sparsely 
populated as the keelboat proceeded up the Mississippi. 

At Grand Tower, about eighty miles above the mouth of 
the Ohio River, the steamboat Virginia passed the Colonel 
Bomford. Meeker tried to get the Virginia to tow his keel- 
boat, but Captain John Crawford refused because the 
swift current often brought his own craft to a standstill. 
Despite these difficulties the Virginia was able to complete 
her trip to Fort Snelling, return to St. Louis, reload, and 
steam northward again before the Colonel Bomford 
reached Fever River.^" 

At that time St. Louis, with its five thousand nonde- 
script inhabitants, was the point of departure for all 
expeditions destined for the Missouri, the Illinois, or the 
Upper Mississippi. At Hannibal (which was to become 
the boyhood home of Mark Twain) a solitary backwoods- 
man deserted his shack and boarded the Colonel Bomford. 
Quincy, Illinois, boasted of one lone settler (John Wood) 
who subsequently became Governor of Illinois. With the 
exception of a few government posts and fur-trading 
establishments the country above St. Louis was uninhab- 
ited by white men. 

From dawn till dusk the crew of the Colonel Bo tn ford 
toiled up the broad expanse of the Mississippi, sometimes 
pushing with their poles and at other times pulling the 
boat along by means of the brush growing along the bank. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

This latter method of making headway was called "bush- 
whacking". When these methods failed the crew resorted 
to "warping" to stem the swift current : a rope was at^ 
tached to a tree or anchor some distance ahead, and then 
each boatman would grasp the rope, or warp, as it was 
called, and walk to the stern, pulling as he went. As each 
man reached the stern he would "break off" and run to the 
bow for a new grip. In this fashion the men continued 
until the tree or anchor was reached. It was hard work, 
and progress was so slow that dusk frequently found the 
boat barely out of sight of the previous night's stop. Oc- 
casionally a breeze would enable the boat to sail for a few 
miles; but since the wind did not shift with the bends of 
the river such respites from labor were all too brief. It 
took thirty-one days for Moses Meeker and his companions 
to travel the four hundred miles from St. Louis to Galena 
— an average of but thirteen mUes a day, or less than one 
mile per hour.'*® 

When the Colonel Boinford arrived at Fever River with 
her passengers there were less than one hundred miners 
and traders and only one white woman at this pioneer 
settlement. Prominent among the settlers were Dr. Sam- 
uel C. Muir, Thomas H. January, Amos Farrar, Jesse W. 
Shull, Francois Bouthillier, A. P. Vanmatre, David G; 
Bates, James Johnson, and John and Cuyler Armstrong. 
The real beginning of Galena is usually associated with 
the advent of the Meeker colony at the Fever River mines. 

The increase in population and in the production of 
lead at the Fever River settlement had a pronounced effect 


The Fever River Settlement 

upon the number of steamboats arriving at the lead mines. 
During the course of the year 1823 the Virginia made 
three trips above the rapids. Late in the same year the 
Rambler (Captain Bruce commanding) after making a 
hasty trip to St. Peter's returned to St. Louis early in 
September. The Virginia and the Rambler are the only 
boats known to have passed the rapids that year : their 
trips mark the beginning of steamboating on the Upper 

During the next three years only a small quantity of 
lead was produced and steamboats plying the Upper Missis- 
sippi were engaged chiefly in transporting troops and sup- 
plies. Indeed the steamboats usually carried only such lead 
on their downstream trips as keelboats were unable to 
move. In 1824 only 175,220 pounds had been mined; and 
this had increased to but 95 8,842 pounds two years later. 
Prior to the year 1827 scarcely a dozen different steam- 
boats frequented the waters of the Upper Mississippi, and 
not one of the number was engaged solely in the lead 

But Moses Meeker and other enterprising lead miners 
were not long in realizing the retarding effect of so fore- 
boding a name as Fever River. Despite their efforts to 
point out that Fever was really a corruption of the French 
word Febre, meaning bean, the story persisted that a band 
of Indians had perished miserably of the smallpox at that 
point. Even Beltrami alluded to the stench around the 
lead mines. Considerable alarm was therefore manifested 
when a post office was established on June 4, 1826, and 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

called "Fever River". The following year the name was 
changed to Galena after the mineral deposits found there. 
Prior to 18 50 no other Upper Mississippi town was more 
widely known than Galena — the metropolis of the min- 
eral region."*" 



Xlie P^ort of Cjialcna 

A wrLD STAMPEDE foF the Fever River lead mines began 
in the spring of 1827 : the traffic at the St. Louis levee was 
immense. By March 15 th one steamboat had already left 
for the mines, three were advertised, and it was estimated 
that at the rate people were pouring into the city several 
thousand would head northward before navigation ceased. 
By the close of the week ending April 19th, restless knots 
of determined men thronged the levee, anxious to reach 
the mines and try their fortunes. Prominent among the 
men who arrived in Galena in 1827 were H. H. Gear, John 
G. Hughlett, Horatio Newhall, James G. Soulard, Thomas 
Ford (a future Governor of Illinois) , John Atchison, Wil- 
liam Hempstead, D. B. Morehouse, and Lucius and Ed- 
ward Langworthy."*" 

The influx of lead miners was reflected in the number 
of steamboats engaged in the trade. The hidiana and the 
Shamrock arrived at St. Louis on April 19th heavily 
freighted with lead. Several keelboats arrived the same day 
with similar cargoes. Before the close of navigation al- 
most 7,000,000 pounds of lead had been mined and trans- 
ported down the river. During the season the steamboats 
Lexington, General Hamilton, Indiana, Lawrence, Mexico, 
Muskingufn, Mechanic, Pilot, Shamrock, Scioto, St. Louis 
and Galena Packet, and Velocipede had visited the Upper 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Mississippi, and practically all of them had plied fairly 
regularly in the lead trade. This was a larger number than 
had visited the Upper Mississippi during the preceding 
four years."^ 

Galena became the great entrepot for the lead traffic. 
St. Louis lay over four hundred miles downstream, and 
Fort Snelling nearly three hundred miles above. On July 8, 
1828 (more than five years before Chicago was born and 
could boast its first newspaper) , citizens of Galena were 
reading the first issue of the Miner's Journal. The aston- 
ishing growth of this rough little mining community was 
aided by the number of steamboats in the trade."^ 

In 1828 and again in 1829 some 13,000,000 pounds of 
lead were produced. Galena already boasted a weekly 
paper and seven hundred aggressive pioneers. "There are 
forty- two stores and warehouses; twenty-two porter cel- 
lars and groceries; a goodly number of lawyers and physi- 
cians, and a general assortment of mechanics, &c. The 
number of dwelling houses and stores is 195; and 46 new 
buildings are going up. There have been 75 steamboat 
and 38 keel boat arrivals since 1st. March. Almost eight 
million pounds of lead were exported during the year end- 
ing 1st of June last. The population in the neighborhood 
of the mines is estimated at 10,000." "'' Goods were con- 
stantly being dumped upon the Galena levee by incoming 
steamboats; and a cargo of lead was soon loaded aboard 
each one, sinking the boat to her guards. Five steamboats 
heavily laden with lead left the city in one day during the 
month of March, 1828.*" When the season came to a close 


The Port of Galena 

almost one hundred trips had been made to Fever River."" 
About the same number of steamboats appeared in the 
lead trade during 1829. By the end of that year approx- 
imately thirty different boats had visited the mineral re- 
gion since the trip of the Virginia. Many of these had gone 
as far north as Prairie du Chien, and even to St. Peter's. 
During the period from 1823 to 1829 inclusive, approx- 
imately three hundred trips had been made by steamboat 
to the Upper Mississippi. Between October 1, 1823, and 
July 1, 1824, there had been only fifty-one arrivals at St. 
Louis from all ports on western waters; while during the 
year 1828, some ninety-nine steamboat arrivals were re- 
corded at the lead mines."''*' 

From 1830 to 1834 the unfavorable tariff held down 
lead production, but despite this fact there was an average 
of about eleven different steamboats each season. During 
the Black Hawk War only six boats ventured above the 
Upper Rapids into the war zone. The defeat of Black 
Hawk at Bad Axe brought more promising conditions, and 
the number quickly rose to eighteen the following year. 
In 1834 there were 127 steamboat arrivals at Galena; 
while Cassville chronicled 52 the same year. The Galen- 
ian, the O'Connelly the Olive Branch, the Warrior, the 
William Wallace, the Winnebago, the Wisconsin, the Vet- 
eran, the Yellowstone, and the Springfield appeared in the 
trade that year. Approximately 35 steamboats made about 
5 50 trips during this period; while from 1823 to 1834 in- 
clusive, about 65 steamboats made approximately 850 
trips above the rapids."" 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

In 183 5 a Galena editor complained of the difficulty of 
keeping a correct list of boats; but 176 steamboat arrivals 
were chronicled for the season. Seven boats were plying 
regularly in the trade, with no serious accidents during the 
season of navigation. Emigrants from below were highly 
pleased with the upward trip and were loud in their praise 
of the splendid facilities afforded.''^ With the exception 
of periods of extreme low water, the number of steam- 
boats continued to show a healthy increase after 183 5. 

So dependent was the lead district upon the steamboat 
for its supplies that after the long winter months the open- 
ing of navigation was awaited with impatience. There 
was much discussion and wagering as to the exact date 
when the ice would break up. Not infrequently the local 
paper would entertain hopes for the great day late in Jan- 
uary. From the middle of February the weather condi- 
tions were watched with eager eyes. 

"Contrary to our expectations", observed the North- 
western Gazette and Galena Advertiser of April 1, 1837, 
"the River opened earlier this season than usual. On Tues- 
day afternoon, the 28th [of March], the joyful cry of 'a 
boat! a boat!' was echoed through town, making glad the 
hearts of our citizens — sure enough, upon casting our 
eyes down the river, the splendid steamer Palmyra, Capt. 
Gleim, was observed booming her way up to town laden 
with freight and passengers. Immediately in her wake 
came other boats thick and fast — the next was the Du 
Buque, Capt. Atchison — the Pavillion, Capt. Laff erty — 
the Adventure the same evening and the Emeral[d] the 


The Port of Galena 

morning after. The arrivals have filled our town with peo- 
ple, and gives a very animated appearance to Galena." 

Thirty different steamboats appeared in the trade dur- 
ing 1837 (a number equal to the total during the first 
seven years of steamboating on the Upper Mississippi), 
while the total arrivals for that year exceeded by fifty the 
total from 1823 to 1829.'" 

By 1847 approximately forty different steamboats were 
visiting the lead mines, thirty of which were regulars in 
the trade. In that year, nine steamboats arrived at the 
Galena levee on June 29th; during the week a total of 
twenty arrivals were registered; and thirty-two different 
boats were recorded by the end of June. A total of 662 
steamboats docked at St. Louis from the Upper Mississippi 
in 1846 — fully one-fourth of the total reaching that 
port. During the same year 395 steamboats came from 
New Orleans and the Lower Mississippi River, 420 from -^ ^ ' 

the Ohio, 446 from the Illinois, 25 6 from the Missouri, ^ 

while 232 arrived from other ports. In 1847 the total Z ■'^ 

from the Upper Mississippi was 717, with the same approx- 
imate ratio to the other ports and rivers. An aggregate 
of 697 steamboats reached St. Louis from the Upper Mis- 
sissippi in 1848.''° 

Thus, within the brief space of a quarter of a century 
the activity of steamboats on the Upper Mississippi River 
far surpassed that of either the Ohio or Lower Mississippi 
rivers when measured by the total arrivals at St. Louis 
from the port of Galena. 

Not all the steamboats listed in the last figures came to 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Galena : a few were employed in plying between St. Louis 
and Keokuk or points below the Upper Rapids. The great 
majority, however, represented steamboats which had run 
as far north as Galena, Dubuque, Potosi, and Cassville, and 
were engaged in the lead trade. Thus, the total number 
of boats reaching Bloomington, now Muscatine, in the 
Territory of Iowa during the first week in May, 1846, 
was nineteen. Of this number one was engaged between 
St. Louis and St. Peter's, three were in the St. Louis and 
Bloomington trade, while fifteen were plying between St. 
Louis and the Galena lead district. The total arrivals and 
departures from Bloomington during the month of May 
numbered 124, of which approximately 100 risked both 
the Upper and the Lower rapids in order to engage in the 
lead trade.'" In 1847 the number of boats regularly visit- 
ing the mining region was thirty. 

During the period from 1823 to 1848 approximately 
365 different steamboats made their way above the Lower 
and Upper rapids. About 200 of these had been engaged 
primarily in transporting lead; while the remainder, which 
included either transient or excursion boats, must have 
carried a fair proportion of the lead on their downstream 
trips. During this same quarter of a century approximate- 
ly 7645 trips were made to the lead mines of the Upper 
Mississippi by steamboats.^^" 

While the activity on the Upper Mississippi was greater 
than that on either the Lower Mississippi or any of its 
tributaries, the tonnage of boats on the larger waterways 
was greater. The impediment which the rapids presented 


The Port of Galena 

during low water was an important factor in governing 
the size of the boats in the Upper Mississippi trade. The 
average tonnage of the first fifty-one steamboats built and 
documented on western waters up to 1819 was 198. The 
smallest of this group was the Pike of 31.76 tons; while 
the largest was the CoJuttibus of 450 tons.'"®* A list of 
twenty-two steamboats which engaged in the Galena trade 
during the years 1841 to 1843 inclusive shows a tonnage 
varying from 92 to 200, with an average for the total 
number of 129 tons. The Agnes, the Offer, and the Jasper 
varied from 92 to 98 tons, while the Netv Brazil and the 
Amaranfh measured 200 tons each.'*'* 

Thus, the Upper Mississippi steamboats of the early 
forties actually showed a decrease, both in average ton^ 
nage and size, over the boats which plied the Ohio and ,/ 
the Lower Mississippi Biver a quarter of a century before. 
On the other hand, a list of 146 steamboats which docked 
at St. Louis during the year 1848 reveals ten boats whose 
tonnage exceeded 500. The Autocrat was of 847 tons bur- 
den, the Missouri of 886 tons, while the Sultana measured 
924 tons. These figures indicate that a steady increase in 
the size of steamboats had taken place on the Ohio and 
the Lower Mississippi. 

Forty-five of the 146 steamboats which landed at St. 
Louis in 1848 were either regular or transient visitors to 
the region above the Upper Rapids. They ranged in size 
from the little Vearl of only 64 tons to the Highlander of 
346 tons, with an average tonnage for the group of 160.'" 
The higher average is due to the greater size of the tran- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

sient steamboats which were able to visit the Upper Missis- 
sippi during seasons of high water. But for most practical 
purposes the boats which averaged about 140 tons were 
best suited to the lead-carrying trade. 

Keelboats were used in order to facilitate the passage of 
steamboats over the rapids and also to increase their carry- 
ing capacity. These were lashed to the sides or bow of the 
steamboat, and while they impeded the speed and added 
to the difficulty of piloting, these disadvantages were more 
than counterbalanced by the additional cargoes carried. 
Almost all captains engaged in the lead trade made use of 
keelboats, especially when the water was low or when the 
amount of freight required an increase in the carrying 

Keelboats usually bore names. In May, 1826, the ar- 
rivals of the John AdamSy the Belvidere, and the Rock 
Island were chronicled at St. Louis. These engaged in the 
Fever River trade in competition with the few steamboats 
which then visited the mining region. Early in the spring 
of 1828 a steamboat successfully towed two keels of forty 
tons burden — a feat heralded with joy by the St. Louis 
paper, which immediately urged the improvement of the 
rapids as a further aid to steamboating. This event was 
the final blow to keelboating, and in July of that year the 
Belvidere was listed for sale at a low price.'®® 

On June 7, 1827, the steamboat Indiana advertised its 
regular departure for Fever River during low water on 
Sunday morning of each week, emphasizing the fact that 
a sufficient number of keels would be on hand to transfer 


The Port of Galena 

passengers and cargo from the Lower Rapids to the min- 
ing region. On February 1, 1827, Captain John Newman 
of the Indiana was the first to advertise a steamboat for the 
lead mines."**^ A distinct innovation on the Upper Missis- 
sippi was noted the same year when Captain S. Shallcross 
of the steamboat St. Louis and Galena Packet advertised 
his boat for Prairie du Chien with the safety barge Lady 
Washington. The latter drew but eleven inches light. "^* 

On March 4, 1828, Captain Culver of the steamboat 
Missouri advertised for Fever River with a safety barge 
which allowed him to carry and tow 200 tons and run light 
on twenty-two inches of water.'*'"' A third safety barge 
was introduced in 1832, when Captain Joseph Throck- 
morton brought out the steamboat Warrior and safety 
barge."" While the safety barges were introduced primari- 
ly because of the large number of steamboat explosions 
which were occurring on western waters, they fill an 
important place in the evolution of Upper Mississippi 
steamboating since they demonstrated the value of flat- 
bottomed boats as a means of overcoming the dangers of 
navigating the rapids. 

Despite the precautions on the part of steamboat cap- 
tains many keelboats were lost on the Lower and Upper 
rapids. In 1842 the steamboat New Brazil sank two keels 
of lead on the Sycamore chain of the Upper Rapids, and 
the Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser bitterly 
complained that the losses incurred would have sufficed to 
improve the entire rapids."^ In July, 1846, the Fortune 
sank a keel with 1800 pigs of lead at the mouth of Fever 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

River in eighteen feet of water."" In April, 1848, the 
barge of the steamboat Montauk sprang a leak on the Up- 
per Rapids and damaged about $25,000 worth of goods.""' 
While accidents such as these were common, the keels not 
only increased the carrying capacity of steamboats but 
also served as a means of protection to the latter. Nearly 
400 tons of lead left Galena in 1839 — carried by the 
steamboat lone and her three keelboats."* Such cargoes 
often paid the cost of a steamboat in one round trip and 
helped to make up the deficit incurred when keels were 
sunk on the sharp-toothed rocks of the rapids. By the mid- 
dle of the century, the keelboat was discarded and the 
barge took its place as the auxiliary of the steamboat. 

But Galena's days, like those of the keelboat, were num- 
bered. As early as 1848 a Galena editor had pointed out 
that the Fever River must be improved or other cities 
would get Galena's trade. The rapid flow of settlers into 
the Upper Mississippi Valley was calling for larger steam- 
boats and it was becoming increasingly difl&cult, if not im- 
possible, for steamboats to squirm up the narrow Fever 

When Mrs. Elizabeth Fries Ellet arrived at Galena in 
1852 she described it as a "rough-looking place 'jammed 
in' between rocky hills" with houses looking "like a drove 
of sheep going down to water." According to Mrs. Ellet: 
"It was a novel amusement in the evenings to sit by the 
window and see rushing under it, with the noise made by 
the Western high-pressure boats, steamers so large as ap- 
parently to fill up the little river that skirts the city, and 


The Port of Galena 
is now shrunken by the drought into half its accustomed 

1*^ >> 276 

The arrival of the railroad at Galena in 18 54 brought 
momentary prosperity; but its construction to the Mis- 
sissippi opposite Dubuque the following year was the death 
blow to any hopes Galena may have entertained for her 
future growth and prosperity."" 

After the turn of the half century Dubuque surpassed 
Galena. Nor did the "Key City" of Iowa let Galena forget 
this fact. In 185 8 a Dubuque editor referred to Galena as 
the "Niobe of the West", pointing out that Dubuque was 
shipping to Galena on the Galena packets because the St. 
Louis boats found it "inconvenient to go out of their way 
in order to reach Galena." '^^ Two years later (in 1860) 
Dubuque poked more fun at Galena and branded her as 
an "inland town" because the steamboat W. L. Etuing had 
been "unable to get up the Fever River on account of the 
mud." At a meeting of the Dubuque city council a sug- 
gestion was made in the form of a resolution that the bed 
of Fever River "be plowed up and potatoes planted." It 
is asserted this resolution would have passed had not some- 
one in the council chamber remarked that the ground was 
too dry.'^ 

To such an end came the "Port of Galena". Once ac- 
claimed as the mighty commercial emporium of the north- 
west, the home of General Ulysses S. Grant and eight other 
Civil War generals, the community made famous by the 
visits of Abraham Lincoln and Jenny Lind, the chief port 
of call for scores of steamboats from points as far flung 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

as Pittsburgh and New Orleans, this once flourishing 
metropolis of 9241 souls had dwindled to 3878 inhabitants 
by 1930. Like many another mining community Galena 
today finds her greatest comfort in a glory that is past. 
Such dreams must be as pleasant as her history was great. ^^° 



ofeannDoai JDonanziris 

Steamboating on the Mississippi under a blistering hot 
sun was not always pleasant. Frederick Marryat knew 
something about the trials of steamboat captains. This 
adventurous British sea captain and author, who traveled 
several thousand miles aboard steamboats on the western 
waters, arrived in the mineral region on the Burlington in 

Of steamboating in the summer time the observative 
Marryat records : "I have often heard the expression 'Hell 
afloat' applied to very uncomfortable ships in the service, 
but this metaphor ought to have been reserved for a small 
high pressure steam-boat in the summer months in Amer- 
ica; the sun darting his fierce rays down upon the roof 
above you, which is only half-inch plank, and rendering 
it so hot that you quickly remove your hand if, by chance, 
you put it there; the deck beneath your feet so heated by 
the furnaces below that you cannot walk with slippers; 
you are panting and exhausted between these two fires, 
without a breath of air to cool your forehead. Go for- 
ward, and the chimnies radiate a heat which is even more 
intolerable. Go — but there is no where to go, except 
overboard, and then you lose your passage. It is, really, a 
fiery furnace, and, day or night, it is in vain to seek a cool 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Galena, it is said, became infernally hot in the summer. 

Particularly in July and August the life of a roustabout 

became well-nigh intolerable. Pigs of lead piled along the 

banks of the Fever River were exposed to the merciless rays 

of the sun. These became so hot it was impossible to pick 

one up and the luckless rousters would, instead, go into 

the warehouses and shoulder a seventy pound ingot that 

had lain in the shade. "He would start on the run for 

the boat, but the lead would melt and run down his back 

so that when he got on board he would have to cool the 

lead, after which the engineer would cut it off his person 

with a cold chisel." '*' 
I — 

Despite the torrid weather the lead traffic afforded a 

veritable bonanza in freight earnings for steamboat cap- 
tains. Sometimes a single trip paid for the original cost of 
a steamboat. On the other hand, unforeseen circumstances 
sometimes made the labors of a whole season profitless. For 
one thing the earnings of steamboat captains were depend- 
ent upon freight rates that were constantly fluctuating. 
These rates were governed in the main by four factors: 
the amount of freight on hand, the number of steamboats 
in the trade, the stage of the water, and the season of the 

The first two factors were subject to competition and 
the law of supply and demand. With a plentiful supply of 
lead on hand and a good stage of water, the regular boats 
usually charged a rate sufficiently high to yield a handsome 
return. Thereupon transient, or "wild boats" as they were 
commonly called, would put in an appearance and seek 


Steamboat Bonanzas 

to capture a share of the trade. So long as freight was 
plentiful and competition did not prevail, the traffic re- 
mained normal. But when freight became scarce either 
the regular or the "wild boats" would begin to "cut un- 
der". Cut-throat competition would then become the 
order of the day; and a season which might have started 
out with a normal downstream tariff of twenty-five cents 
per hundred pounds would soon find the rate as low as 
five or six cents per hundred. While this price was ruinous 
to steamboat owners, it was hailed with joy by the shipper 
who pocketed the savings. On April 15, 1843, for in- 
stance, the rate was eighteen cents per hundred pounds. 
By June 1 5 th it had dropped to the low figure of six and 
one-fourth cents. *^^ 

The St. Louis Reveille comments that "During the last 
three years, there has been a regular declension in the rates 
of freight to this port, from above. In 1841, ninety-tico 
cents per 100 lbs. were paid for freight on lead from 
Galena, and now, we hear of lots being brought from Ga- 
lena for three cents." '^* For a period of two months, the 
rate per hundred pounds averaged less than eight cents."*' 
The captains and owners who had the most capital sur- 
vived, but their less fortunate competitors were either 
bought out or wisely withdrew from the trade. After such 
withdrawals the old rates were immediately resumed. 

Nor was competition limited merely to rate wars. Riv- 
alry often became so intense that serious altercations some- 
times put the lives of innocent people in danger. In Octo- 
ber, 1843, the whole lead district was aroused by a quarrel 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

between two regular participants in the trade. During the 
season a feud had existed between Captain Thomas Cul- 
bertson of the steamboat Potosi and Captain Charles Ross 
of the St. Louis Oak, and each trip served to increase the 
bitterness. Late in September the two boats left St. Louis 
for Galena only a few hours apart. They did not enter a 
port together until Montrose, Iowa, was reached. Between 
Montrose and Savanna, Illinois, the Potosi passed the St. 
Louis Oak several times. By the time Muscatine was 
reached, both captains realized that it would be a lively 
port-to-port race and that the first boat to arrive would 
secure the lion's share of the freight and passengers. 

A desperate contest ensued, in the course of which the 
passengers of both steamboats crowded the decks and 
urged the crews of their respective ships to redouble their 
efforts. About thirty-five miles below Galena the St. Louis 
Oak, while endeavoring to pass her rival at a bend in the 
river, rammed the Potosi, tearing away her wheel and a 
part of her guards. Proceeding en her way, the St. Louis 
Oak reached Galena first and departed downstream before 
the badly crippled Potosi came into port. The incident 
created much bad blood between the partisans of the two 
boats and brought about an exchange of bitter recrimina- 
tions in the press."^*' 

The third factor influencing freight rates was the stage 
of the water. The average downstream rate from Galena 
to St. Louis, over a period of eight years from 1836 to 
1843, was thirty-two cents per hundred-weight. The up- 
stream rate during the same period averaged sixty-three 


Steamboat Bonanzas 

cents. Six of these years were normal, with the rate averag- 
ing around thirty-two cents for the season; only the stage 
of the water and the season of the year caused any devia- 
tion from that figure. In 1839, however, the water in the 
Mississippi was very low, and the average downstream 
rate was fifty cents per hundred for the year, while the 
upstream figure reached one dollar per hundred. The 
highest rate that year for shipment from Galena to St. 
Louis was about eighty cents, with $1.50 prevailing for 
upstream freight."^^ 

The chief difficulties in navigating the Mississippi dur- 
ing low water were the cost of lighting the cargo over 
the rapids and time spent on sandbars in the river and the 
reefs of the rapids. "The river has risen 15 inches in 
the last 48 hours", noted an editor in the spring of 1847. 
"Several boats have been stuck fast on the rapids for a 
number of days. They will now be able to get off, like- 
2y» 288 j)m.jj^g 1q^ water the rapids at times became so 
treacherous that even the cost of lighting did not always 
save the steamboat from being grounded indefinitely or 
from being sunk by some hidden rock. In July, 1846, the 
Sahtt Anthony struck a rock on the Lower Rapids and was 
sunk. The War Eagle experienced the same misfortune on 
the Upper Rapids, but was raised after much difficulty 
and towed to Rock Island for repairs."*® When two such 
accidents occurred within the space of a week, the larger 
boats usually withdrew from the trade and awaited a more 
favorable stage of water. 

The final factor which might affect freight rates was the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

season in which the shipment was made. A sHghtly higher 
price prevailed during the first month in spring when 
navigation opened. This was due to the unusually large 
amount of lead left over from the preceding fall or mined 
during the winter months. The spring thaw, with the con- 
sequent rise in the river, sent the price slowly down, al- 
though the fluctuation during the first three months of 
navigation was comparatively small. During August and 
September the low stage of the water brought out the 
much-feared sandbars and the navigation of the rapids 
became so difficult that the freight rate rose rapidly. A 
slight drop in October, during the fall rise in the river, was 
followed by extremely high rates as the season of naviga- 
tion came to a close in November or early December. 

Last-minute shipments were hurriedly sent on their 
way, while belated travelers scurried home before the river 
should freeze. At such times the freight and passenger 
charges often reached fabulous figures — frequently ex- 
ceeding the low water rates. Over a period of four years, 
the average rate in the month of November was higher 
than for any other month of the year. In 1841 the down- 
stream rate from Galena to St. Louis went as high as 
sixty-five cents per hundred-weight, or double the average 
charge for the season."°° The Otter (Captain Daniel Smith 
Harris commanding), the last boat to depart that year, 
left the Galena levee on November 22nd. ^^^ Late in 
November, 1845, the Iron City battered her way up the 
ice-choked Mississippi and succeeded in gaining the port of 
Galena. The cargo was quickly discharged, and at eleven 


Steamboat Bonanzas 

o'clock on the night of November 23rd, the vessel de- 
parted. In the face of a biting wind she succeeded in 
plowing her way through a thin layer of ice on Fever 
River and entered upon a mad race with the weather for 
warmer and friendlier waters.'^" 

With such conditions and the great risks which steam- 
boat captains ran in making these hazardous trips, it is 
no wonder that freight rates reached high levels. Dangers 
from ice and the extravagant (though justifiable) wages 
demanded by crews in making the last trip of the season, 
together with the possibility of not completing the voyage, 
served to make the late season charges very high. 

The returns reaped in transporting lead from Galena to 
St. Louis from 1823 to 1848 were enormous. With a 
knowledge of the amount of lead shipped and complete 
statistics on freight rates and averages for most of the 
years, a fairly accurate estimate of these receipts can be 
made. In 1826 a shipment of 150,000 pounds of lead was x' 
made from Galena to St. Louis for $600 which was forty 
cents per hundredweight,*^^ The total amount of lead 
mined that year was 1,560,534 pounds; so that at the above 
rate the total receipts of the boats engaged in the traffic 
during the season were about $6000. The average rate for 
the period from 1823 to 183 5 is not known, but it is safe 
to estimate it as slightly higher than that of the following 
eight years. The total receipts for the period must have 
been around $227,000.'" 

During the years 1836 to 1843, inclusive, the average 
rate was thirty-two cents per hundredweight, and the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

total amount shipped was 192,000,000 pounds. The re- 
ceipts for these years, therefore, amounted to about 
$526,000. From 1843 to 1847 inclusive, the receipts on the 
204,508,400 pounds shipped were $511,000, or an average 
yearly revenue of over $125,000. A total of $1,250,000 is 
a fair estimate of the amount paid to steamboat captains 
for hauling lead from Galena to St. Louis during the first 
quarter of a century of steamboating on the Upper Mis- 

The profits reaped by steamboat captains for a single 
trip were often immense. Early in 183 5 the Wisconsin 
(Captain Henry Crossle commanding) arrived at Galena 
heavily laden with freight and passengers. She had two 
keels in tow, and after discharging a considerable amount 
of freight on the way up carried 234 tons of freight and 
130 passengers. The Wisconsin departed downstream with 
a cargo consisting of 9000 pigs of lead. The Heroine (Cap- 
tain Orrin Smith commanding) also brought up a large 
freight cargo and some 300 passengers. The Heroine broke 
her shafts just below the mouth of Fever River and had 
to be towed up by the Wisconsin.'^^ 

The following summary of the earnings of the steamboat 
lone for a single trip is preserved : "She arrived here with 
three keels in tow, and with 240 tons freight, having dis- 
charged 110 tons on her way. The probable amount re- 
ceived for freight on her trip up, after paying expenses 
and dividing with other boats, was about $5,000. This 
morning the lo7ie leaves for St. Louis, with her three keels 
loaded with near 400 tons of lead, and one hundred thou- 


Steamboat Bonanzas 

sand dollars in specie. Her freight-bills will amount to 
$5,200 more.'"" 

Perhaps one of the largest freights ever carried by a 
steamboat on the Upper Mississippi during this period was 
that of the Amaranth in command of Captain George W. 
Atchison. This boat left the Galena levee on May 1, 1843, 
crowded with passengers and with a freight of 13,000 pigs 
of lead amounting to 910,000 pounds or 455 tons. Since 
the Amaranth was a boat of only 200 tons burden, a trip 
such as this would ordinarily have brought a profit almost 
sufficient to pay for its original cost. Unfortunately for 
Captain Atchison, the freight rate on that day was only 
fifteen cents per hundredweight. His receipts for the lead 
alone amounted to $1265 for the trip down. Two months 
later competition had become so intense that this immense 
cargo would have netted him less than $500. On the other 
hand, the same cargo would have netted him $45 50 dur- 
ing the season of low water in 1839.'®^ 

The receipts of twenty-two regular and eleven transient 
steamboats on freight and passengers of all kind for the 
period from 1841 to 1843 inclusive were $610,000. Of 
this amount about $236,000 was made by transporting 
lead, $156,000 by upstream freight (which usually doubled 
the tariff of downstream freight), and $228,000 in up- 
stream and downstream passenger traffic. The receipts of 
steamboats from the lead trade were, therefore, about two- 
fifths of the total gross receipts. Assuming that this pro- 
portion held throughout the period from 1823 to 1848, 
the total revenue of steamboats was about $3,000,000."°' 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

In 1841 the Otter (Captain Daniel Smith Harris com- 
manding) made fifteen trips from Galena to St. Louis, 
towing nine keelboats up the river during the season. At 
its close, the receipts were found to be $15,000 from 
freight and $7000 from passengers. Her small size and 
light draught enabled the Otter to ply the Mississippi at all 
seasons of the year; and when navigation finally closed 
she had cleared an amount equal to over four times her 
value. During 1842 the Otter made eleven trips, towed 
six keels, and cleared $13,000 on freight and passengers. 

The season of 1843 witnessed a period of competition in 
which freight was carried for less than half the price of 
former years. The Otter squirmed out of the Fever River 
nineteen times during the season, with her keels and lower 
deck creaking under the heavy lead freight and with pas- 
sengers crowding the upper decks. When the boat was 
laid up for the winter in the slough near Galena, her profits 
for the season were found to be only $6000 on freight and 
$4000 on passengers. Had the rates of 1841 been in force. 
Captain Harris would have cleared close to $30,000; 
while a profit of almost $45,000 would have resulted from 
the low water rate of 1839. 

During the same season the Iowa, a 112-ton steamboat 
in command of Captain D. B. Morehouse, made twenty- 
three trips from Galena to St. Louis, towed ten keels, and 
cleared $10,000 on freight and $8000 on passengers. From 
1841 to 1843 inclusive, the loiva made a total of sixty-two 
trips, towed thirty-eight keelboats, and cleared $43,000 
on freight and $28,000 on passengers.^"* 


Steamboat Bonanzas 

A gradual increase in the average number of trips by" 
steamboats is noted during these years, while the number 
of keels towed shows a decrease of over fifty per cent. 
The average receipts for sixteen steamboats during 1841 
were about $11,118, while the average trip netted about 
$1446. Although the length of time taken for a trip 
varied with each boat, the approximate time required for 
a round trip under ordinary circumstances was, let us say, 
eight days. About two days were required for the down 
trip, four days for the upstream passage, and the remain- 
ing two days were spent in port loading and unloading 

A colorful pageant of steamboats plied between St. 
Louis and the ports of Galena, Dubuque, Potosi, and Cass- 
ville in the mineral region. In 1846 fully thirty-eight 
different steamboats squirmed up the Fever River to Ga- 
lena; in the following year thirty-seven were recorded. 
These two years marked the peak when measured by the 
number of different boats; by 1849 the number of dif- 
ferent craft had dropped to twenty-eight. In that year 
the Anthony Wayne, the Cora, the Dubnqite, the Mon- 
fauk, the Kevenue, the St. Peters, the Time and Tide, and 
the Senator had been plying three years in the trade; the 
Bon Accord and the Kcd Wing had seen four years of ser- 
vice; the War Eagle had snorted up and down the Missis- 
sippi for five seasons; while the archaic St. Croix and the 
decrepit, wheezing Uncle Toby had toiled six years in the 
lead traffic.^"" Their services were manifold : they pro- 
vided the mineral region with its best means of transpor- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

tation and communication; they left their tribute of 
passengers and freight at the many river ports along the 
way; and they provided rich bonanzas to many enterpris- 
ing steamboat captains. The fortunes reaped in the lead 
traffic laid the foundation for a still more picturesque 
pageant of the packets which began in the fifties. 


Ivace Oorses in the Lead Xraae 

The names of such steamboats as the /. M. White, the 
Sulfana, the A. L. Shofwell, the Eclipse, the Natchez, and 
the Robert E. Lee bring memories of the halcyon days of 
steamboating on western waters. Their great races, against 
each other or against time, were talked of throughout the 
Mississippi Valley : they even attracted national and 
world-wide attention. The records of fast time established 
by the boats in the lead trade have been neglected, al- 
though many of them compare favorably with those of 
the race horses of the lower river. It was not until the 
middle forties that steamboats began to reach that point 
of perfection in construction both of hull and of engine 
which allow them to be compared with the splendid 
models of a later day. 

It was a combination of a famous lower-river and an 
upper-river boat which established a record from New 
Orleans to St. Louis to Galena of seven days, three hours, 
and twenty minutes. In April, 1844, the /. M. White made 
the run from New Orleans to St. Louis in four days and 
eighteen hours. The Lewis F. Linn took her cargo and 
passengers at St. Louis and carried them on to Galena in 
two days, nine hours, and twenty minutes. Thus the en- 
tire time was a little more than one week. A little later 
the /. M. White lowered her time between New Orleans 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and St. Louis to three days, twenty-three hours, and nine 
minutes — a mark which stood until 1870.^°' 

Fast time on the Upper Mississippi was inaugurated by 
Captain Daniel Smith Harris and his long string of race 
horses. In July, 1836, Harris ran the Frontier from St. 
Louis to Galena in three days and six hours, having stopped 
between twenty and thirty hours on the way up. In 1840 
the Omega was able to negotiate the distance between the 
two points in an even three days. The following year, the 
Indian Queen ran the distance in three days and twelve 
hours with a keel in tow; while the Little Ben surprised the 
citizens of the mining community on July 3rd by bring- 
ing up St. Louis papers of June 29th. The Little Ben^ an 
Ohio River boat, made the run in two days and twelve 
hours — the fastest time on record to that date. In the 
same year the steamboat Iowa, commanded by Captain 
D. B. Morehouse, made the round trip between Galena and 
St. Louis in six days and fifteen hours. This feat was 
beaten in 1845 by Captain Young of tke Monona who 
made the trip in four days and twelve hours — the fastest 
time on record.^"* 

All previous records between St. Louis and Galena were 
broken in quick succession during a few months of the 
year 1845. On March 28th Captain Harris's War Eagle 
arrived at Galena from St. Louis in fifty-six hours, and in 
the following month lowered this to forty-nine hours. 
Within a month the St. Croix came panting up to the 
Galena levee from St. Louis in forty-five hours and forty- 
five minutes. Undaunted by this feat. Captain Harris set 


Race Horses in the Lead Trade 

out from St. Louis almost in the wake of the Sf. Croix 
and brought his War Eagle to Galena in the astonishing 
time of forty-three hours and forty-five minutes — a rec- 
ord which was not surpassed for many years. Some of the 
passengers on this trip expressed dissatisfaction with the 
treatment accorded them. Upon inquiry it was found 
that Captain Harris was considered too parsimonious with 
the meals, since only one dinner had been served on the trip. 
Further examinations showed that the War Eagle had left 
St. Louis after dinner on Tuesday and had reached Galena 
before noon on Thursday. The disgruntled passengers 
were immediately informed that if they were traveling 
for dinners they would have to take a slower boat/"' 

In May, 1843, the Iowa made the trip from Galena to 
St. Louis in forty-four hours. This was lowered by Cap- 
tain Harris and his famous War Eagle in 1849 when the 
distance was run in thirty-three hours.^°'' 

Record runs such as these were not the rule, however, 
for some captains refused to race their boats even though 
they were capable of making high speed. Most of the boats 
were comparatively slow, since they were built primarily 
for the transportation of freight. It was only after the 
admission of Iowa and Wisconsin as States and the creation 
of the Territory of Minnesota that the Upper Mississippi 
steamboats began to reach a point in construction where 
speed and beauty became as important as capacity. Al- 
though no hard and fast line can be drawn, it seems safe 
to say that the turn of the half-century marks this trans- 
formation period. 



Rival Xraae Routes 

Bitter rivalry sprang up as the Great Lakes cities jeal- 
ously watched the lead traffic glide down the Mississippi 
to fatten the pocket-books of St. Louis and New Orleans 
merchants. Because of the high and unstable freight rates 
and the dangers of ascending and descending the rapids, it 
was quite natural that a cheaper and more certain route 
should be sought. Indeed, as early as 1822 a cargo of 
12,000 pounds of lead reached Detroit from Green Bay : 
with the exception of a short portage between the Wis- 
consin and Fox rivers, it had been transported the entire 
distance by water.^"^ 

With the practicability of navigating the Mississippi by 
steamboat established by the Virginia, agitation began for 
a general improvement of the channel of the river and for 
the elimination of the Upper and Lower rapids as obstacles 
to navigation. In his recommendation to the Secretary of 
War, Lieutenant Martin Thomas, the Superintendent of 
Mines, estimated that this work could be done at a cost 
of not more than $30,000. Not only would these improve- 
ments be of inestimable benefit in the transportation of 
lead, but they would also be important in facilitating the 
movement of troops and supplies. While the strategic im- 
portance of the latter was not lost sight of, the improve- 
ment of the rapids was not immediately undertaken.^°^ 


Rival Trade Routes 

In 1829, Henry Dodge decided to convey a portion of 
his lead via the Wisconsin-Fox rivers and Green Bay route. 
Huge oxcarts were employed to carry the lead from 
Dodgeville to the Wisconsin River where it was conveyed 
as far as Fort Winnebago, hauled across the portage, and 
transported down the Fox River on the little twenty-five- 
ton steamboat Winnebago Chief to Green Bay/°° 

Naturally the people of Galena were opposed to this 
route which, if successful, would have a disastrous effect 
on their prosperity. "Considerable quantities of lead", 
said the Miner's Journal of Galena, "have been brought 
down the Ouisconsin [Wisconsin], in flat-boats, and 
thence down the Mississippi to St. Louis. Steam boat navi- 
gation will be difficult in the Ouisconsin river, if not 
impracticable. The steam boat St. Louis and Galena pack- 
et, bound for the portage, made an attempt, in April last, 
to ascend the Ouisconsin; but was not able to make more 
than 6 or 7 miles up, when she was compelled to return. 
The river is full of sand bars, and has been somewhat 
compared to the Missouri, as the channel frequently 
shifts." ^^° By such unfavorable reports Galena hoped to 
discourage any attempts to adopt the Wisconsin-Fox 

A further stimulus to this route was given by the erec- 
tion of a shot tower near Helena on the Wisconsin River. 
In 1831 it was purchased by Daniel Whitney, a merchant 
of Green Bay, and held by him until 1836. While it was 
natural for him to favor this route, a more significant fac- 
tor was that the older and more strategically located shot 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

tower at Herculaneum, Missouri, controlled the market of 
the Lower Mississippi Valley. The Green Bay route con- 
tinued to be favored after the Helena shot tower was 
purchased by merchants from Buffalo, New York, but the 
amount of lead sent by this route was negligible when 
compared with the vast quantities sent down the Missis- 
sippi. A poor river channel, the circuitousness of the route, 
and the number of necessary rehandlings doomed it to 
failure from the start. ^^^ 

A second route lay by land over rough corduroy roads 
to Milwaukee. In 1841 the Milwaukee Courier heralded 
the arrival of four wagons loaded with ten tons of lead 
from Muscoda, Grant County, Wisconsin. The cost of 
conveying lead overland had been ninety-three cents per 
hundred pounds. An additional fifty cents per hundred 
would be required to ship it by way of the Great Lakes 
and the Erie Canal to New York. The total cost per hun- 
dred was $1.50 or $30 a ton, while shipment by way of 
New Orleans cost around $40 per ton. The wagons had 
returned loaded with salt which was bought at $2.50 a 
barrel and sold at the mines for $7 a barrel. No difficulty 
had been experienced in getting over the roads despite the 
fact that each wagon contained over two tons of lead. 
The route was not so favorable, however, as its advocates 
claimed. It was not until the railroad was built that an 
overland route gained any share of the trade."" 

A third route clamored for by Great Lakes cities was 
the Illinois-Lake Michigan Canal. As early as 1836 Chi- 
cago had developed a plan to increase her future pros- 


Rival Trade Routes 

perity by constructing a railroad to Galena and a canal 
to connect with the Illinois River. To aid this project 120 
merchants of St. Louis and Alton went so far as to sign 
a contract to import their goods by means of a transporta- 
tion company which had been formed to develop the new 
route.^^' The Wisconsin Herald (Lancaster) warmly en- 
dorsed the Illinois River route — a further mark of the 
indifference with which towns located almost on the Mis- 
sissippi viewed that great waterway as a means of trans- 
portation.^'* The canal was not completed until 1848, 
but the interest manifested in it for fifteen years prior 
to its completion and the quantity of goods shipped over- 
land to and from the Illinois River made it a logical route. 
By 1848 the number of steamboat arrivals at St. Louis 
from the Illinois River was almost equal to those arriving 
from the Upper Mississippi.^'^ 

Strenuous efforts were made by the lake cities to divert 
the course of lead eastward over these routes. Milwaukee 
and Chicago were especially active; but in spite of their 
best efforts only a very small amount of lead trickled 
through. On January 21, 1842, Governor James Doty of 
Wisconsin urged and obtained the reduction of Erie Canal 
tolls in order to encourage shipments of lead by that route. 
But even this failed to divert the trade, and the Buffalo 
Advertiser bewailed the fact that the number of pigs 
of lead received at that port had dropped from 23,926 in 
1844 to 6276 in 1846 and acknowledged that all efforts 
seemed to have been in vain.^'® 

Over ninety-five per cent of the lead shipped eastward 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

during the period which followed the year 1823 made its 
way down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and 
thence by ocean to the eastern markets. ^^' Notwithstand- 
ing the objection to high and fluctuating freight rates, the 
obstructions and difficulties which confronted the steam- 
boat, and the comparatively short season for transporta- 
tion, the Mississippi offered the most logical route and the 
best facilities for transporting the lead output. 

The influence of the lead mines upon the development 
of steamboating on the Upper Mississippi in the first quar- 
ter of a century of navigation on the river is apparent. 
First, it encouraged the immigration of thousands of hardy 
and adventurous settlers, most of whom came up the Mis- 
sissippi from St. Louis to a point far in advance of the 
frontier line and thereby caused it to be extended. Sec- 
ondly, the influx made necessary an ever-increasing supply 
of importations to a region which, for a large part of the 
period under survey was not self-sufficient. Thirdly, it 
created an article for exportation which gave to the steam- 
boat owners approximately two-fifths of the total revenue 
from upstream trade. Finally, the large number of steam- 
boats which were required on the Upper Mississippi for 
the lead trade prepared them for an even more lucrative 
traffic — the transportation of the steady waves of immi- 
grants which poured into the region after the creation of 
the Territory of Minnesota, the commodities required by 
them for consumption, and the vast quantities of agricul- 
tural products which found their way to markets down 
the broad highway of the Mississippi. 


Rival Trade Routes 

Had the steamboat failed to establish itself as the dom- 
inant factor in transportation and in communication with 
the Upper Mississippi as early as it did, the construction 
of railroads might have taken place a decade earlier and 
a picturesque phase of Upper Mississippi Valley life would 
have been lost to posterity. After 1848 the steamboat was 
so strongly intrenched in the economic life of the region 
that it was able to wage a thrilling, albeit a losing, battle 
against the railroad. 



. Oatiin ancl tlnie JrasikioiiLalDie 1 oiir 

Prior to the Civil War no steamboat excursion was so 
popular as that which George Catlin designated as the 
"Fashionable Tour". It represented a colorful phase of 
Upper Mississippi steamboating that stood in sharp con- 
trast to the drab though lucrative lead trade. George Cat- 
lin, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1796, studied and 
practiced law as a young man; but his greatest renown 
was achieved as an artist. In 1823 Catlin shoved aside his 
law books and moved to Philadelphia to devote himself 
to portrait painting in oil and miniatures. During the 
next five years he painted portraits of such notables as De 
Witt Clinton and Dolly Madison. Upon seeing a group 
of red men from the western wilds in Philadelphia, Catlin 
resolved "to use my art and so much of the labors of my 
future life as might be required in rescuing from oblivion 
the looks and customs of the vanishing races of native man 
in America." 

Between 1829 and 1837 Catlin was almost constantly 
in the West, during which time he painted some six hun- 
dred Indian sketches, including portraits, pictures of vil- 
lages, domestic habits, games, mysteries, and religious 
ceremonies of the red men. By exhibiting his original 
collection of paintings in many cities of the United States 
and Europe he achieved an international reputation. ^^* 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

During the course of his wanderings in the West, CatHn 
made several steamboat trips on western waters. Thrilled 
by the wild beauty of the Upper Mississippi, he wrote from 
Fort Snelling in 183 5 : "The Upper Mississippi, like the 
Upper Missouri, must be approached to be appreciated; 
for all that can be seen on the Mississippi below St. Louis 
or for several miles above it, gives no hint or clue to the 
magnificence of the scenes which are continually opening 
to the view of the traveller, and riveting him to the deck 
of the steamer, through sunshine, lightning or rain, from 
the mouth of the Ouisconsin to the Fall of St. Anthony." 

From day to day Catlin stood with eyes transfixed in 
"tireless admiration, upon the thousand bluffs which tower 
in majesty above the river on either side". As the enrap- 
tured artist later relates : "The scenes that are passed 
between Prairie du Chien and St. Peters, including Lake 
Pepin, between whose magnificently turretted shores one 
passes for twenty-two miles, will amply reward the tour- 
ist for the time and expense of a visit to them. And to 
him or her of too little relish for Nature's rude works, 
to profit as they pass, there will be found a redeeming 
pleasure at the mouth of St. Peters and the Fall of St. An- 
thony. This scene has often been described, and I leave 
it for the world to come and gaze upon for themselves; 
recommending to them at the same time, to denominate 
the next Tashionable Tour,' a trip to St. Louis; thence by 
steamer to Rock Island, Galena, Dubuque, Prairie du 
Chien, Lake Pepin, St. Peters, Fall of St. Anthony, back 
to Prairie du Chien, from thence to Fort Winnebago, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Green Bay, Mackinaw, Sault de St. Mary, Detroit, Buffalo, 
Niagara, and home." ^^° 

But Catlin was not the first to extol the beauties of the 
Upper Mississippi. The first to visit the Falls of St. An- 
thony by steamboat and to describe them was Giacomo 
Constantine Beltrami. Arriving at Fort Snelling aboard 
the Virginia on May 10, 1823, the picturesque Italian exile 
and explorer quickly set out to view the scene which 
Hennepin had described 143 years before. "What a new 
scene presents itself to my eyes", Beltrami exclaimed. 
"Seated on the top of an elevated promontory, I see, at 
half a mile distance, two great masses of water unite at 
the foot of an island which they encircle, and whose 
majestic trees deck them with the loveliest hues, in which 
all the magic play of light and shade are reflected on their 
brilliant surface. From this point they rush down a rapid 
descent about two hundred feet long, and, breaking against 
the scattered rocks which obstruct their passage, they 
spray up and dash together in a thousand varied forms. 
They then fall into a transverse basin, in the form of a 
cradle, and are urged upwards by the force of gravitation 
against the side of a precipice, which seems to stop them a 
moment only to encrease the violence with which they 
fling themselves down a depth of twenty feet. The rocks 
against which these great volumes of water dash, throw 
them back in white foam and glittering spray; then, plung- 
ing into the cavities which this mighty fall has hollowed, 
they rush forth again in tumultuous waves, and once more 
break against a great mass of sandstone forming a little 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

island in the midst of their bed, on which two thick maples 
spread their shady branches." ^"° 

Perhaps the earliest and shortest pleasure-seeking trip 
on record to the Falls of St. Anthony was that of the 
steamboat Lawrence in 1826. With Captain D. F. Reeder 
in command, this 120-ton craft reached Fort Snelling on 
the second of May. The following day Captain Reeder 
invited all the ladies and gentlemen of Fort Snelling to 
take a pleasure trip to the Falls. The offer was accepted 
by a large party. Accompanied by a band, the Latcrence 
steamed up the swift current to within three and one-half 
miles of the Falls : she did not dare to venture nearer. 
While some of the party played games, others danced to 
the music of the military band. Staring Indians came 
to view the Lawrence with mingled wonder and aston- 

In later years other craft may have ventured near the 
Falls on similar excursions from Fort Snelling. Before 
1850, however, the season of low water (during which ex- 
cursions were made) together with the swift current and 
jagged rocks immediately below the Falls forced steam- 
boats to discharge their passengers at St. Peter's. From 
there they were carried to the Falls in such vehicles as a 
straggling frontier community was able to provide. Often 
an eight mile tramp was made across the plains. 

Finally, in May of 18 50, the Lamartine (Captain J. W. 
Marsh commanding) stemmed the Mississippi to Steele's 
Point, a quarter of a mile below the Falls. Captain Daniel 
Able followed almost in the wake of the Lamartine with 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the Anthony Wayne^ ascending to the city of St. Anthony, 
directly at the foot of the Falls. Governor Alexander 
Ramsey was among the invited guests and a number of 
notables were picked up at Fort Snelling. The Anthony 
Wayne employed a band which provided lively dance 
music throughout the trip. Captain Marsh received a purse 
of $200 for reaching Steele's Point; while Captain Able 
rejoiced over a purse of $250 for venturing to the Falls.'^^ 
Although the Lamartine and the Anthony Wayne 
demonstrated the possibility of navigating the Upper Mis- 
sissippi from the mouth of the Minnesota to the Falls 
during a good stage of water, steamboats continued to 
discharge tourists at St. Paul. Indeed, in 1854 it was neces- 
sary to convey twelve hundred eastern visitors to the Falls 
in every conceivable form of vehicle. Throughout the 
decade St. Paul mocked the citizens of St. Anthony for 
claiming to be at the head of navigation.^"^ 
I Steamboats made occasional trips from Galena, St. 
Louis, and from points below, but only a few tourists were 
among their regular passengers. Until the Black Hawk 
\ War had eliminated the danger of Indian attack, only 
[transitory voyages were made during the summer months. 
/Even as late as 183 5 trips were governed by the cargoes 
/offered. Thus, when Charles Augustus Murray, a noted 
English traveler, reached Prairie du Chien early in October, 
he was unable to secure a steamboat passage to the Falls. 
Murray had to content himself with a hunting expedition 
from Fort Crawford to the headwaters of Turkey River 
before descending the Mississippi to St. Louis.^'* 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

Generally speaking, however, steamboats arrived more 
regularly at Fort Snelling after 1832 and a number of 
pleasure-seekers were usually found on every boat. Col- 
onel John H. Bliss recalls that whenever the steamboat 
Warrior appeared she had her hold filled with military sup- 
plies and her cabins crowded with "delightful and delighted 
tourists who were making an excursion, considered more 
wonderful in those days than would be a trip to the 
Hawaiian Islands now." ^■' On June 24, 1835, Captain 
Joseph Throckmorton arrived at Fort Snelling with a 
cargo of supplies and a lively throng of excursionists aboard 
the Warrior and her safety barge. Among the passengers 
were Captain William Day, George W. Jones, a member 
of Congress from the Territory of Michigan, J. Farns- 
worth and daughter, Mrs. Felix St. Vrain, and the re- 
nowned artist, George Catlin, and his wife.^'^ 

If travelers were thrilled by the scenic splendors of the 
Upper Mississippi, their joy upon reaching St. Peter's was 
limited only by the brevity of their visit. Most of those 
who made the Fashionable Tour were obliged — either 
through their own limited time or the anxiety of the steam- 
boat captain to depart downstream — to confine them- 
selves to a fleeting glimpse of St. Anthony and Minnehaha 
Falls and an even more hurried glance about the fort. To 
miss a boat prior to 1850 might entail a sojourn of a week 
or more before another craft appeared. So the joy of the 
pleasure-seekers was always tempered by the constant 
dread of failing to hear the last bell of the steamboat, 
calling belated stragglers aboard. 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Other excursionists who were fortunate enough to spend 
several days or weeks about Fort Snelling were amply re- 
warded. After a day of viewing St. Anthony in all its 
moods, and another near Minnehaha, the tourist could turn 
his attention to the activities about Fort Snelling. Officers 
and soldiers were always communicative (their ladies 
equally if not doubly so), and so a social hour would 
quickly run into two. The Indian Agency and the Amer- 
ican Fur Company post also attracted visitors. Here fur 
trader and voyageur vied with Chippewa and Sioux in 
entertaining the pleasure-seekers. The traders always 
made amiable and valuable guides to some nearby stream 
or lake where fish might be caught; the Indians were 
equally delighted to dance, sing, and play their games for 
a small consideration. 

The Fourth of July, 1835, was memorable for the ex- 
cursionists who, with Catlin, awaited the return of the 
Warrior to Fort Snelling. Major Lawrence Taliaferro, the 
Indian Agent at Fort Snelling, had informed the Sioux 
and Chippewa that Catlin was a great medicine man, and 
he promised to fire the "^/g gun" twenty-one times (the 
customary salute of the day) if they would come and 
entertain the tourists with a ball game and some of their 
dances. Highly flattered by this compliment, hundreds of 
Indians appeared at Fort Snelling where Catlin presented 
them with a barrel of flour and a quantity of pork and 

For two hours Sioux and Chippewa exerted every effort 
to demonstrate to Catlin that they were as skillful at ball 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

as any tribe he had ever seen in the West. They then per- 
formed the beggar's dance, the buffalo dance, the bear 
dance, the eagle dance, and the dance of the braves which 
Catlin felt was "peculiarly beautiful, and exciting to the 
feelings in the highest degree." When Major General Rob- 
ert Patterson arrived on the Warrior a short time later the 
games and dances were repeated. "The greater part of the 
inhabitants of these bands", Catlin records, "are assembled 
here at this time, affording us, who are visitors here, a fine 
and wild scene of dances, amusements, &c. They seem to 
take great pleasure in 'showing off' in these scenes, to the 
amusement of the many fashionable visitors, both ladies 
and gentlemen, who are in the habit of reaching this post, 
as steamers are arriving at this place every week in the 
summer from St. Louis." ^" 

Next to the scenery the Indian offered the most inter- 
esting entertainment and diversion to the visitors, and 
as late as 1845 a Dubuque newspaper urged the trip as the 
most convenient and certain way of seeing the red man 
as he actually lived.^"^ Catlin painted many pictures of 
the Sioux and Chippewa at their games and dances; of 
chiefs and warriors; of squaws and papooses; of canoes, 
snowshoes, and other equipment. Then, while his wife 
journeyed downstream on the Warrtory he paddled leisure- 
ly along in a canoe to record with his brush such pictures 
as the Falls of St. Anthony, Fort Snelling, Maiden Rock, 
the Winona hills, Capoli Bluff, and Cornice Rocks; Pike's 
Peak at McGregor; Fort Crawford and the island-studded 
Mississippi; and Dubuque's grave and the lead mines above 


StearTfljoating on Upper Mississippi 

Catfish Creek — a panorama of the Upper Mississippi.^^ 
The yearly arrival of steamboats loaded with excur- 
sionists became more marked following Catlin's return to 
the East from this trip. Early in June, 1836, the Pahuyra 
arrived at Fort Snelling with a party of pleasure-seekers. 
A journal kept by one of the party described the scenery 
en route, the Falls of St. Anthony, and a three mile ex- 
cursion up the Minnesota River. Two months later Captain 
Throckmorton carried a pleasure party on board the St. 
Peters — a 119-ton craft built at Pittsburgh the previous 
winter. She was owned by Throckmorton and the firm of 
Hempstead and Beebe of St. Louis. One of the ladies on 
board the St. Peters wrote a letter to a friend in Buffalo 
describing the beauties of the Upper Mississippi and the 
rapid growth of population in the country between Du- 
buque and St. Louis.^^° 

By 1837 Upper Mississippi steamboat captains adver- 
tised excursion trips in the various river towns throughout 
the summer months. Early in May, Daniel Smith Harris 
informed citizens of Galena, Dubuque, and Belmont that 
he would make a trip to the Falls of St. Anthony in the 
Smelter^ should a sufficient number of passengers present 
themselves. A week later Captain James Lafferty advised 
Galenians that he expected to run a similar excursion on 
the Pavilion. ^^' 

Despite the panic of 1837 the Fashionable Tour at- 
tracted hundreds of pilgrims ; indeed their number some- 
times exceeded the immigrants on board the steamboat. 
A card of thanks signed by over forty passengers aboard 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

the Missouri Fulton commended Captain I. Perrin on the 
success of the trip and the kind attention and gentlemanly 
treatment of the officers and the crew. Seven of the 
signers came from New York State; while Pennsylvania, 
Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio were represented 
by one or more. A number hailed from Illinois. Missouri 
and Wisconsin Territory were strongly represented. John 
Plumbe, Jr., claimed by some to be the first man to con- 
ceive the need for a trans-continental railroad, was among 
the Dubuque tourists."" 

Not only did many notable Americans grace the deck 
of Upper Mississippi steamboats, but travelers from Eng- 
land, France, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, and other coun- 
tries were attracted by the tour. The season of 1837 found 
George Catlin and his wife again with Captain Throck- 
morton on board the Burlington with Colonel John Bliss 
and family as fellow pasengers. During the same year 
J. N. Nicollet, John C. Fremont, Henry Atkinson, and 
Franklin Steele, together with many other prominent per- 
sonages took passage with Throckmorton. Captain Fred- 
erick Marryat, the English novelist and sea captain, also 
paced the deck of the Burlington. Sweet and serene in the 
dignity of her eighty years came Elizabeth Schuyler Ham- 
ilton, the widow of Alexander Hamilton, braving the 
wilderness with its many discomforts to visit her son, 
Colonel William S. Hamilton, then located in the Wis- 
consin lead district at Wiota. Her visit elicited a warm 
reception wherever the Burlington stopped. Many other 
notables were carried aboard such craft as the Pavilion^ the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Missouri Ftiltoti, the Irene, the RoUa and the Smelter.^^^ 
Before 1840 none of the embryo cities above St. Louis 
had a sufficient number of wealthy citizens capable of 
chartering a vessel for a private excursion. Since boats 
were generally limited to a score or two of excursionists, 
captains reserved the right to pick up such freight and 
passengers as would not interfere with the comforts of the 
pleasure-seekers. Even as late as 1847 the Lynx carried a 
heavy consignment of government supplies and transient 
passengers along with a merry party from New Orleans. ^^* 
The decade of the "Fabulous Forties" witnessed many 
excursions from thriving towns on the Ohio and the Lower 
Mississippi. In 1840 the Louisville Journal in expressing 
delight at the prospects of a large and fashionable excur- 
sion party on the Dayton, declared the trip to be the most 
interesting in the United States. A similar excursion left 
St. Louis on the Y alley Forge, the first iron-hulled steam- 
boat on the Ohio and Mississippi. Built at Pittsburgh in 
1839, the Valley Forge was 150 feet long, had a 25-foot 
beam, a 5^-ioot hold, and measured 199 tons. She was 
owned by William Robinson, Benjamin Mines, and Reuben 
Miller, Jr., of Pittsburgh. Thomas Baldwin served as skip- 
per in 1840. During the same year a large party bound 
from Pittsburgh to the Falls of St. Anthony stopped at 
Cincinnati to greet General William Henry Harrison.^" 

Daniel Stanchfield found St. Louis sweltering hot fol- 
lowing the sale of a lumber raft in 1847. This pioneer 
Upper Mississippi lumberman accordingly joined a merry 
party from New Orleans aboard Captain John Atchison's 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

Lynx. A brass band entertained the excursionists by day, 
while an orchestra provided excellent music for dancing 
at night. At Fort Snelling the group was met by Franklin 
Steele with carriages for transporting the party across the 
plains to the Falls where the steward of the Lynx served 
a tempting dinner on the grass. The ladies had also pre- 
pared delicacies which were distributed to the tourists. 
Wines flowed freely for two hilarious hours when a storm 
sent the excursionists racing for shelter beneath the ledge 
of Minnehaha Falls.^'^ 

While steamboats brought tourists from points as wide- 
ly separated as Pittsburgh and New Orleans, the budding 
towns along the Upper Mississippi began to contribute a 
greater volume of passengers each year. By carefully ad- 
vertising excursions several weeks in advance in such towns 
as Alton, Clarksville, Louisiana, Hannibal, Quincy, Keo- 
kuk, Fort Madison, Burlington, Muscatine, Davenport, 
Rock Island, Clinton, and Galena, the captains engaged 
in the trade usually made several profitable voyages each 



Newspaper editors, with personal motives often out- 
stripping their civic pride, encouraged their readers to 
patronize certain boats making excursions. Thus, when 
Captain Orrin Smith announced in the lotc'a Neivs that 
the Brazil would leave Dubuque for St. Peter's on June 10, 
1838, an editorial in the same issue praised Captain Smith 
and recommended the Brazil to all. A little later, after 
the Brazil had steamed past Dubuque on her way to the 
Falls, the editor spoke wistfully of the gay crowd aboard, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the music and dancing, the "splendor" of the new boat, 
and expressed a hope that an invitation might be extended 
to him for a similar frolic. "Who'll invite us to take a 
trip . . . don't all speak at once", this weary editor pined. 
"Yet the first one who asks us is a gentleman of the pure 
water, and a scholar and a dancing master into the bar- 
gain." If the lavish use of printer's ink was any induce- 
ment, he probably received an invitation.^^^ 

In later years many steamboats paddled northward with 
gaily attired vacationists promenading their decks by day 
and dancing, visiting, and courting by night. The Rosalie, 
the Knickerbocker, the Malta, and the Brazil announced 
trips from Galena in 1839; while the Malta, Loyal Hanua, 
Brazil, lone. Monsoon, and Valley Forge ran similar notices 
during the year following. Within the space of three 
weeks in 1845 the Lynx (Captain John Atchison com- 
manding) , the St. Croix (Captain Hiram Bersie command- 
ing) , the Iowa (Captain D. B. Morehouse commanding) , 
and the War Eagle, commanded by Daniel Smith Harris, 
advertised trips for the Falls. Crowded with happy ex- 
cursionists, the War Eagle and the Time left the mouth of 
Fever River and proceeded briskly upstream with their 
bows lashed together.'^® 

Little attention was paid to passenger accommodations 
until the late thirties, for steamboats were engaged pri- 
marily in hauling lead, supplies for military posts and 
Indian agencies, goods for the fur traders, and such cargoes 
i^s the steady infiltration of immigrants required. Strange 
M. Palmer described the steamboat Adventure bound for 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

Prairie du Chien in 1836 as "a very small, dilapidated and 
filthy boat". Measured by the standards of that day, how- 
ever, most captains probably tried to keep their boats 
clean and comfortable.^**^ 

The regular upstream craft upon which Theodore Ro- 
dolf, a pioneer in the lead region, found himself in 1834 
was "a high-pressure steamer, whose puffing could be heard 
miles ahead. The cabin was plainly but substantially fur- 
nished, and kept very clean. There were no state rooms; 
but two tiers of bunks, containing the beds, ran along the 
side of the boat and were separated at night from the 
saloon by curtains. The fare was substantial, plentiful, 
and good, and the officers were pleasant and gentle- 
manly." '*' 

No factor was so important in bringing about a change 
in steamboat accommodations as the "Fashionable Tour" 
which George Catlin had urged Americans to make in 
183 5. Realizing that most tourists would patronize those 
boats which offered the best facilities, Captain Daniel 
Smith Harris and his brother Robert Scribe Harris built 
private staterooms in the Smelter — a speedy side- wheeler 
launched at Cincinnati in the spring of 1837. She was 
described as the fastest, the most luxurious, and the largest 
craft on the Upper Mississippi. According to W. H. C. 
Folsom the Harris brothers were "greatly delighted in her 
speed, decorated her gaily with evergreens, and [when] 
rounding to at landings, or meeting with other boats, 
fired a cannon from her prow to announce her imperial 
presence." "^ 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Two years later the Harris brothers (Smith and Scribe) 
brought out the Pizarro, a 107-ton craft built at Cincin- 
nati at a cost of $16,000. While her cabin was not so spa- 
cious as those in some of the other crafts, this boat was 
"commodious" and had the usual staterooms. She also 
boasted a fire engine and hose attached to her main engine 
and ready for imm.ediate use in case of fire.^*^ 

Captain Orrin Smith was also responsible for many im- 
provements in steamboat architecture. In 1838 he brought 
out the Brazil "completely fitted up with staterooms, two 
berths in each, with doorways leading both into the cabin 
and out upon the deck." The rooms were said to be suffi- 
ciently spacious, and each had a "wash-stand and other 
necessary articles of toilet", besides the regular "sleeping 
apparatus". When the Brazil struck a rock on the Upper 
Rapids in the spring of 1841, Smith built the light draught 
New Brazil at Cincinnati. She was 144 feet long, had a 
22-foot beam, a 5 -foot hold, and measured 166 tons. 
Her cabin contained 30 staterooms, and her 22-foot pad- 
dle wheel was propelled by a double engine with three 

Always a leader in new ventures. Captain Joseph Throck- 
morton is credited with introducing spring mattresses on 
his beautiful $18,000 craft, the Malta. Launched at Pitts- 
burgh in 1839, the Malta was 140 feet long, had a 22-foot 
beam, a 5 -foot hold, measured 114 tons, and had i lire 
pump and hose attached to her double engine.^*' 

A novel improvement, generally adopted by other cap- 
tains, was introduced in 1845 by Robert A. Reilly of the 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

Wiofa. Instead of locating the stairs which led to the 
boiler deck on each side of the boat, as was customary in 
all the old side-wheelers, Reilly had a flight placed in front. 
The Wiofa was built at Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, in 
1845, and was owned by Captain Reilly, Henry Corwith, 
and William Hempstead of Galena. She was 170 feet long, 
twenty-five feet and six inches broad, five feet and three 
inches hold, and had a displacement of 219 tons. Her two 
engines had three boilers, each twenty-six feet long and 
forty inches in diameter; the cylinders were eighteen 
inches in diameter and had a seven foot stroke; and her 
wheels were twenty-two feet in diameter with ten foot 

Although steamboat captains felt they were keeping 
apace with the times some of the traveling public did not 
think so. As late as 18 52 a Minnesota editor complained : 
"One of the first reforms needed on steamboats in the west, 
is good comfortable beds, with so much clothing that you 
do not have to spread a newspaper over you at night, to 
prevent freezing. Why should a boat spread an extra table 
and fine carpets, and then send a poor fellow to a hard 
straw mattress, to shiver all night and take a severe cold, 
under a dirty sheet and a narrow comforter?" ^" 

Increasing competition forced captains to offer still 
other inducements. By the middle of the century few 
steamboats dared compete without the aid of a band or 
orchestra — usually comprised of cabin boys, deck hands, 
and roustabouts. These were modestly heralded as the 
finest musicians on the Upper Mississippi and equal to any 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

in the United States. Stewards were ever mindful that 
tables must be suppHed with the best that money could 
buy, and vacationists soon learned which craft served the 
best meals. Furthermore, excursionists liked nothing bet- 
ter than a chance to prowl about historic or legendary 
spots, such as Maiden Rock. Tourists who were so in- 
clined had numerous opportunities, since steamboats 
"wooded up" about every thirty miles. Besides a Sunday 
lay-over at St. Peter's, Captain Hiram Bersie promised that 
the SL Croix would stop at points of interest on the down- 
stream trip.^** 

A typical notice apprised the citizens of Dubuque of 
such an excursion in 1845.^" 


From Dubuque to St. Peters and 

The Falls of St. Anthony. 

Passenger Steamer 


D. S. Harris, Master 

Will leave for the above and intermediate Ports on Friday the 27th 
inst. at 10 o'clock A. M. 

The War Eagle is a new and Splendid Boat, and will be two weeks 
making the trip. Capt. Harris intends to make a pleasure excursion in 
reality, and will stop at all places of curiosity or amusement as long 
as the passengers may desire. A Band of Music will be on Board. 
Strangers and Travelers will have a fine opportunity of visiting one 
of the most beautiful and romantic countries in the world. For Freight 
or Passage, apply on Board. 

For more than a generation the pioneers of the Upper 
Mississippi Valley enjoyed steamboat excursions to the 


Catlin and the Fashionable Tour 

Falls of St. Anthony. In 1849 the Clermont carried a ^ 
large pleasure party upstream from Quincy. Two years 
later the Die Vernon ran several excursions to the Falls 
from St. Louis. Commenting on these excursions a Galena 
editor pointed out that such a "summer jaunt" answered 
the onerous problems of those harassed as to where to go 
on a vacation. In 1853 the Die Vernon, the New St. Paul, 
and the Dr. Franklin arrived at the St. Paul levee with 
merry excursionists who were carted off to the Falls in 
buggies. Captain Preston Lodwick invited the leading 
citizens of St. Paul to join his party aboard the Dr. Frank- 
lin for two hours of recreation and dancing. 

Four years later (in 18 57) the masters of the Henry 
Clay and Northern Belle brought pleasure parties from 
St. Louis and Dubuque and tendered a "grand ball" for 
the principal citizens of St. Paul while in port. The Har- 
inonia, the Rescue, the Rosalie, the Orb, the Sam Young, 
the Conewago, the Denmark, and the Key City were only 
a few of the boats that gladdened the hearts of excursion- 
ists that year. In good times and bad, the Fashionable Tour 
provided an enjoyable and inexpensive outing for travelers 
on Upper Mississippi steamboats.^^° 



Tlie In) est J^wton vs. die T>ie Vernon 

An era of intense rivalry began in 1848 and did not end 
until the Minnesota Packet Company was formally or- 
ganized at the close of the season of 1852.^'^ The Fashion- 
able Tour became more popular each year for vacationists 
who found traveling on steamboats cheaper than living in 
hotels. "The boats continue to come loaded with pas- 
sengers, many of them seeking only recreation", declared 
a St. Paul editor in 1852. "Boats are crowded down and 
up. Some travel for the sake of economy and save the 
expense of tavern bills at home. Who that is idle v/ould 
be caged up between walls of burning brick and mortar; 
in dog-days, down the river, if at less daily expense, he 
could be hurried through the valley of the Mississippi, its 
shores studded with towns and farms, flying by islands, 
prairies, woodlands, bluffs — an ever varied scene of beau- 
ty, away up into the lands of the wild Dakota, and of 
cascades and pine forests, and cooling breezes?" "" 

Nor was rivalry limited to the packets running above 
Galena. During the summer of 1852 the Keokuk Packet 
Company extended its operations to Galena and occa- 
sionally ran an excursion to the Falls. Realizing that a 
death struggle was in the offing for its boats — the Nom- 
inee^ the Ben Campbell, the Dr. Franklin No. 2, and the 
Black Hawk — the Minnesota Packet Company invited 


The West Newton vs. the Die Vernon 

Daniel Smith Harris to join their Hne with his speedy West 
Newton. It was a wise move, for in addition to being the 
most popular skipper on the river, Harris was a skillful 
pilot, a demon in competition, and, what was most im- 
portant, he was perhaps the only man whose boat could 
always be counted on to out-race an opponent."^ 

Pitted against the West Newton was the Die Vernon, 
floating palace of the Keokuk Packet Line and, perhaps, 
the fastest craft on western waters. Built at St. Louis in 
18 50 at a cost of $50,000, the Die Vernon was 25 5 feet 
long, thirty-one feet two inches beam, five feet nine inches 
hold, and measured 45 5 tons. She had over 100 berths 
and was more than a match for any boat owned by the 
Minnesota Packet Company."* 

The round-trip fare on the Die Vernon for the excur- 
sion was fixed at $25. There was no free list : even Com- 
modore John S. McCune and the directors of the line paid 
their passage. An "army" of waiters was hired, and the 
steward was ordered to spare no luxury, including Long- 
worth's Sparkling Cabinet and Still Catawba wine. A 
brass band was to render martial music — especially when 
in port or in passing rival boats. Twenty-five firemen 
were shipped aboard the Die Vernon to ensure hot boilers. 
The ever watchful steward had a barrel of old butter — 
presumably for soap grease — but actually for extra fuel 
should the emergency arise."' 

Late Monday afternoon, June 13, 1853, the Die Vernon, 
commanded by Rufus Ford, left St. Louis as handkerchiefs 
waved and the band blared "Yankee Doodle". Alton was 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

passed in record time. Every craft below Keokuk gave 
the boat a brush just to see her run. And run she did. The 
Lower Rapids were crossed on Tuesday afternoon. Twen- 
ty-five cords of white oak were taken aboard at Bellevue 
on Wednesday afternoon. At dusk she came snorting up 
the Fever River to Galena where the West Newton lay 
awaiting her arrival. 

Captain Harris did not conceal his intention of either 
outstripping the Die Nernon or of blowing up his boat 
in the attempt. All the tar and rosin in Galena was aboard 
the West Newton, and every wood boat for 150 miles up 
the river was pledged to sell only to him. Galenians oflFered 
bets at heavy odds that the West Newton would pass the 
Die Vernon under way and lead her to St. Paul. 

When the Die Vernon backed out of Fever River the 
West Newton followed, "blowing off steam and making 
more noise than a stalled freight train", intent on passing 
her rival on the Mississippi before she was fairly under 
way. But half the "niggers" on the Die Vernon were hang- 
ing on the safety valves and Captain Ford had the boilers 
so hot that his boat led the way to Dubuque. The Die 
Vernon stopped a few moments at Dubuque, but the 
West Newton continued upstream and was soon out of 
sight. It was evidently Harris's intention to lead the way 
to Lake Pepin, one hundred and ninety miles above, and 
there await the Die Vernon for a twenty-two mile race 
through the lake. It would then be but fifty-five miles 
to St. Paul with the victory in favor of the winner through 
Lake Pepin. 


The West Newton vs. the Die Vernon 

Captain Ford tarried but a moment in Dubuque, hoping 
to pass Harris within a few hours. Despite the fact that 
her twenty-five firemen worked frantically throughout 
the night and were plied with "whisky toddies to assist 
them in making steam", the West Newton was not sighted 
until after breakfast the following morning a short dis- 
tance above La Crosse. A bitter race ensued. The Die 
Vernon fairly trembled under the terrific pressure of 
steam, but she slowly closed the gap between the two boats 
until only a few scant yards separated them. According 
to a passenger aboard the Die Vernon, the West Newton 
was finally forced to land to keep from being passed under 
way, a fact which Harris's friends vigorously deny. Be 
that as it may, the Die Vernon did pass the West Newton, 
and, what was worse, for it was still anybody's race, she 
obtained through the connivance of Louis Robert, at that 
time master of the Greek Slave and a bitter enemy of 
Captain Harris, possession of two wood flats loaded with 
choice dry fuel for the West Netvton. Harris drew abreast 
of the Die Vernon while she was towing the flats; it was 
then that the crew quickly tossed the wood aboard and 
cast the flats loose before the West Neivton was able to 
forge ahead. It is perhaps as well that history does not 
record Captain Harris's remarks when he learned how 
Louis Robert had tricked and probably beaten him."* 

While he ran a gallant race against a boat which was 
much faster than his own, Harris took the defeat bitterly 
and departed from St. Paul without leaving the hurricane 
deck. The Die Vernon made a record run of eighty-four 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

hours counting all stops from St. Louis to St. Paul. Her 
time from Dubuque was twenty-eight hours for 265 miles 
or nine and four-tenths miles per hour upstream. The 
West Newtoit averaged nine and one-tenth miles per hour 
upstream from Galena to St. Paul, covering the 288 miles 
in thirty-one hours and forty-six minutes. She returned to 
Galena in twenty-one hours and seven minutes, averaging 
thirteen and seven-tenths miles per hour downstream.^" 

It was left for the pious and temperate Nominee^ com- 
manded by Russell Blakeley, to take the measure of the 
Die 'Vernon and avenge the defeat of the West Newton. 
While the St. Louis excursionists were celebrating their 
victory at Maiden Rock with Sparkling Cabinet and Still 
Catawba, the Nominee hove in sight and blew a shrill 
challenge. Although her owner, Orrin Smith, was a strict 
Sabbath observer and follower of the Maine Law, the 
Nominee was a fast boat and led the Die Yernon all 
the way, disappearing around the bend at Catfish Creek as 
the latter reached Dubuque. Despite the fact that the 
Keokuk Packet Company received almost $4000 in cabin 
passages, the excursion of the Die Yernon left a deficit of 

The spirited fight of the Minnesota Packet Company 
forced a compromise, and when the season of 1854 opened 
its boats carried the celebrated excursion of the Chicago 
and Rock Island Railroad — probably the most colorful 
gathering of notable Americans that had assembled in the 
West before the CivJ War."' 



XLe GranJ Kxcursion of 1854 

The first railroad to unite the Atlantic with the Mis- 
sissippi River reached Rock Island on February 22, 1854. 
To celebrate this event leading citizens of the country 
were invited by the firm of Sheffield and Farnam, contrac- 
tors for the construction of the Chicago and Rock Island 
Railroad, to participate in a joint railroad and steamboat 
excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony. The response was 
so hearty and the requests for passes were so numerous that 
the Minnesota Packet Company was obliged to increase the 
number of steamboats chartered from one to five."® 

So lavish were the preparations that an eastern paper 
declared the aflfair "could not be rivalled by the mightiest 
among the potentates of Europe." The account continues: 
"Without bustle or noise, in a simple but grand manner, 
like everything resulting from the combined action of 
liberty and association — guests have been brought hither 
free of charge from different places, distant thousands of 
miles, invited by hosts to them unknown, simple contrac- 
tors and directors of railroads and steamboats." ^*'° 

John H. Kinzie was chairman of the reception commit- 
tee in Chicago, where the Tremont House served as head- 
quarters for the assembled guests. There, Millard Fill- 
more, a President by accident, met Samuel J. Tilden, who 
later failed by accident to achieve the presidency. Prom- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

inent western leaders such as Ninian Edwards (former 
Governor of Illinois) and Edward Bates of Missouri (later 
Attorney General in Lincoln's cabinet) exchanged views 
with notable Easterners such as John A. Dix, John A. 
Granger, J. C. Ten Eyck, and Elbridge Gerry. Francis P. 
Blair of Maryland greeted his son, Francis P. Blair, Jr., 
of St. Louis. New Haven and Yale University sent Profes- 
sors Benjamin Silliman, A. C. Twining, Leonard Bacon, 
and Eleazar Thompson to match wits with Judge Joel 
Parker of Harvard and Professor Henry Hubbard of Dart- 
mouth. George Bancroft, a Harvard graduate and already 
a national historian, accepted an invitation to make the 
"fashionable tour": he was repeatedly called upon to ad- 
dress the crowds which gathered to greet the Easterners. 
Catherine M. Sedgwick was one of the more notable wom- 
en to make the trip.^^^ 

No profession was so ably and numerously represented 
as was the press. Almost every metropolitan paper of the 
East had sent a writer to accompany the excursion. 
Charles Hudson of the Boston Aflas and Thurlow Weed 
of the Albany Evening Journal were seasoned and national- 
ly known editors. Samuel Bowles of the Springfield R^- 
publican and Charles A. Dana of the New York Tribune 
were at the threshold of long and famous careers. Hiram 
Fuller of the New York Mirror, Epes Sargent of the Boston 
Transcript, Charles Hale of the Boston Advertiser, and 
W. C. Prime of the New York Journal of Commerce were 
other eastern reporters. The West was represented by such 
editors as William Schouler of the Cincinnati Gazette and 


The Grand Excursion of 18 54 

C. Gather FKnt from the staff of the Ghicago Trihune^'^' 
Early on the morning of June fifth the excursionists 
assembled at the Rock Island station in Ghicago. Shortly 
after eight o'clock two trains of nine coaches each, 
gaily decorated with flowers, flags, and streamers, and 
drawn by powerful locomotives, left the city. Speeches, 
military parades, and the discharge of cannon greeted 
the excursionists on every hand. A free lunch was dis- 
tributed at Sheffield, Illinois. Notwithstanding frequent 
stops, the trains reached Rock Island at 4 P. M. There 
the Golden Era (Gaptain Hiram Bersie commanding), 
the G. W. Spar-Hawk (Gaptain Montreville Green 
commanding) , the Lady Franklin (Gaptain Le Grand 
Morehouse commanding) , the Galena (Gaptain D. B. 
Morehouse commanding), and the War Eagle, in com- 
mand of Daniel Smith Harris, lay waiting to take the 
excursionists aboard.'^^ 

So large was the number of unexpected or uninvited 
guests that the five boats were quickly jammed, and it 
was necessary to charter two additional craft — the Jenny 
Lind and the Black Hawk. But accommodations still 
proved insufficient. According to Dana "state-rooms had 
been allotted at Ghicago, where the names had been reg- 
istered; but many of the tickets had been lost, and many 
persons had none at all. Besides there had been some 
errors — husbands and wives were appointed to different 
boats, and several young fellows were obliged to part 
from the fair ladies about whom they had hitherto re- 
volved with the most laudable devotedness." The lack of 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

berths caused fully one-third of the guests to renounce 
the steamboat trip and return to Chicago. Despite this 
fact at least twelve hundred remained aboard the boats, 
where they were served a "sumptuous feast" that was said 
to equal any afforded by the best hotels in the country.^^^ 

After listening to brief speeches at Rock Island and 
Davenport (including two addresses by Fillmore on inter- 
nal improvements and the Great West) , the passengers 
were entertained with a brilliant display of fireworks from 
Fort Armstrong. Bells rang and whistles sounded as the 
boats, decorated with prairie flowers and evergreens, left 
Davenport at ten o'clock "and sailed with music on their 
decks, like birds by their own song, lighted by the moon, 
and saluted by the gay fireworks from the Old Fort." 
Captain Harris led off with the War Eagle; while the 
Golden Era, with the former President aboard, brought 
up the rear.^°^ 

Everyone was delighted with the bright moonlight and 
the refreshing river breeze which greeted the boats as they 
puffed upstream against the powerful current. Shortly 
after midnight a violent thunderstorm occurred. Accord- 
ing to one passenger : "Impenetrable darkness enshrouded 
us, and nothing could be seen of our fleet of seven 
steamers, save the lurid glare of their furnaces shining 
upon the agitated waves, and their red and blue lights 
suspended from their bows. A sudden flash of vivid 
lightning would illumine the entire scene for a moment, 
and then as suddenly would it be blotted from view. At 
such moments, so intense was the light, and so vivid the 


The Grand Excursion of 18 54 

impression produced, that each separate leaf upon the 
trees on shore, each crevice in the bank, the form of each 
steamer, and even the countenances of those upon the 
guards, could be seen as plainly as if printed upon a can- 
vas." After a few hours the storm subsided and the weary 
travelers were soon lulled to rest/"" 

The night was spent with varying degrees of comfort, 
for many of the young men were obliged to "rough it" 
on mattresses on the cabin floors. But none of them was 
heard to complain; Miss Sedgwick praised them for their 
good-natured and manly attitude. Another passenger, 
less optimistic, declared : "Through the whole trip many 
gentlemen who should by all means have had comfortable 
places have had no opportunity to sleep, except on mat- 
tresses on the cabin floor. As these could never be laid 
down before midnight, and must be removed before 5 
o'clock in the morning, and were never very favorable to 
repose, their occupants have had but from two to four 
hours sleep at night, while sleeping by day was even more 
out of the question." ^" 

Dawn found the boats a few miles below Bellevue, 
whence the War Eagle led the fleet booming up Fever 
River to Galena. A trip to the lead mines was followed 
by a picnic dinner in the woods. "Wines of Ohio and of 
France stood upon the board, sparkling Catawba the fa- 
vorite, and glasses were drained to the health and prosper- 
ity of Galena and its citizens." Dana noted with regret 
"that total abstinence is not the rule of the Mississippi 
Valley, everybody feeling it to be a sort of duty to temper 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the limestone water of the country with a Httle brandy, 
or other equally ardent corrective." ^^^ 

After leaving Galena the boats proceeded to Dubuque 
where, despite a heavy downpour, they were met by a 
throng of people. Fillmore, Silliman, Bancroft, Bates, 
Hudson, and others addressed the citizens of Dubuque. 
La Crosse was described by Dana as "a wooding-place on 
the eastern shore, with two or three frame houses." A 
dozen excursionists climbed a lofty cliff overlooking the 
embryonic settlement while the boats were "wooding up". 
According to Dana "Wide prairies, marked by Indian 
trails, or dotted with the plowed patches of here and there 
a chance settler, interrupted by oak forests, or by inland 
ranges of lower bluffs and knolls, made up the scene, 
with the river, its shores and islands, for the center of the 
whole." '"' 

\ Frequent landings were made at the scattered settle- 
ments along the river, and wherever the boats stopped to 
"wood up", the excursionists invariably trooped ashore. ^ 
"Our light boats", notes Miss Sedgwick, "skimmed the sur- 
face of the water like birds; and, with the ease and grace 
of birds, they dipped down to the shore, and took up their 
food, their fiery throats devouring it with marvellous 
rapidity." The process of "wooding up" always attracted 
the attention of passengers who were not inclined to go 
ashore and wander about. President Fillmore's daughter 

(while her steamboat was "wooding up" at Trempealeau) 
mounted a horse and scaled that "mighty rampart". Her 
appearance at the summit was greeted with a salvo of 


The Grand Excursion of 18 54 

steamboat whistles and the prolonged cheers of those 

Amusements aboard the boats were as varied as human 
ingenuity could devise. Racing was prohibited; but the 
boats were often lashed together, and passengers enjoyed 
the opportunity of visiting with old friends and making 
new ones. Promenading on deck and allowing the ever- 
changing landscape on shore to "daguerreotype new pic- 
tures on the mind" formed the principal pastime for most 
of the travelers. When the boats were lashed together 
"dancing in one cabin would draw together the dancers 
or a conversazione in another, the listeners and talkers." 

Slavery was probably the chief topic of conversation, 
for the Kansas-Nebraska bill had just been passed, and 
abolitionists were deeply aroused by the Boston slave case 
as a result of which a Negro named Burns had been sent 
back into slavery. The closing of stores in Boston, the 
hanging of eflSgies, the tolling of bells, the festooning of 
buildings in black, and the floating of the flag with the 
Union down were events that doubtless made the Boston 
newspapermen (Hale, Sargent, and Hudson) centers of at- 
traction. The Austrian alliance, reciprocity or annexation 
with regard to Canada, and the influence of the discovery 
of gold in California and Australia in maintaining high 
prices elicited editorial comment in the New York Tribtuie 
of the day. Rioting of native Americans and Irishmen in 
Brooklyn, and the wreck of the Powhatan with a loss of 
over three hundred passengers were news items featured 
in the newspapers. The scientifically inclined probably 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

found special interest in such inventions as a compact and 
almost frictionless steam engine, Ralston's portable saw- 
mill, a new patent for making nails, and gas for country 
use — all of which were on display at the Crystal Palace 
Exhibition in New York. The distinguished Yale scientist. 
Professor Silllman, had a large audience one evening; but 
Dana was "attracted by gayer sounds from another boat" 
and was unable to report Silliman's speech to the readers of 
his paper."'^ 

When Lake Pepin was reached at eleven o'clock on 
Wednesday night four boats were lashed together; and 
they then proceeded upstream shooting brilliant shafts of 
light that streamed and danced on the waters and shores 
of the lake. The remainder of the night was spent in 
"dancing, music, flirtations, et ceteraJ'^ "" Then as now 
there were romantic souls who found their greatest joy 
on the upper deck with only the moon to disturb a tryst. 

A mock trial was held in the cabin of the G. W. Spar- 
Hawk one rainy and disagreeable evening. Schouler of the 
Cincinnati Gazette was tried for assault and battery on 
the person of Dr. Kennedy. The prisoner pleaded not 
guilty, and Moses Kimball of Boston was selected to de- 
fend him. Prime of the New York Journal of Commerce 
acted as prosecutor. Both Kimball and Prime appeared be- 
fore the court heavily armed with dueling pistols and 
bowie knives. The closing speech of Kimball lasted three- 
quarters of an hour and was listened to with profound 
attention. Both attorneys attempted to bribe the jury. 
Happily the evidence showed that the plaintiff had been 


The Grand Excursion of 18 54 

injured when a berth broke down while both he and the 
defendant were asleep. The case was promptly dis- 

The appearance of the fleet when it rounded the bend 
below St. Paul was described as "grand beyond precedent". 
The steamboats approached like an armed squadron taking 
its position in line of battle. "Two full bands of music 
were on board, both of which struck up lively airs as the 
boats neared the landing. This, with the rays of the bright 
June sun which broke forth in all his glory after three days* 
storm; the animation of the company on board the boats, 
and the enthusiasm of the assembled hundreds on shore and 
on the decks of the Admiral, then lying at the landing, 
produced a scene of excitement which St. Paul has never 
before witnessed, and perhaps will not again for many 
years." "^ 

Although little more than six years old, St. Paul boasted 
six thousand inhabitants and made a fine appearance from 
the decks of the approaching vessels. According to Dana 
there were "brick dwellings and stone warehouses, a brick 
capitol with stout, white pillars, a county court-house, a 
jail, several churches, a market, school-houses, a billiard- 
room, a ten-pin alley, dry goods' stores, groceries, confec- 
tioners and ice-creamers, a numerous array of those 
establishments to which the Maine law is especially hostile, 
and a glorious, boundless country behind." "^ 

Shortly after the excursionists arrived they were bun- 
dled into every conceivable class and variety of vehicle 
and trundled away at various rates of speed to the Falls 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

of St, Anthony. Three prominent New York editors 
were seen perched precariously upon a one-horse water 
cart. The editor of the Galena Jejfersonian declared that 
"The 'March to Finley' was nothing compared to our mot- 
ley cavalcade. Here was a Governor bestride a sorry 
Rozinante of which even the Great Don would have been 
ashamed; here an U. S. Senator, acting the part of foot- 
man, stood bolt upright in the baggage boot of a coach, 
holding on by the iron rail surrounding the top, here the 
historian of which the country is justly proud, squatted 
on his haunches on the top of a crazy van, unmindful of 
everything but himself, his book, his hat and spectacles; 
there a hot house flower, nursed in some eastern conserva- 
tory, so delicate and fragile that a falling leaf might crush 
it, but a beautiful specimen of the feminine gender, with- 
al, would be seated over the hind axle of a lumber wagon, 
supported on either side by opera glass exquisites, who only 
wondered 'why the h — 1 the people in this country didn't 
send to New York for better carriages.' " ^'^ 

After viewing the Falls of St. Anthony, the excursionists 
visited Lake Calhoun, Minnehaha Falls, and Fort Snelling. 
In the evening a reception was held in the Capitol, where 
Henry H. Sibley welcomed the visitors. Fillmore thanked 
the citizens of St. Paul for their cordial reception, and 
pointed out the significance of the city as a central point 
on one of the routes leading from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific. Bancroft responded on behalf of the railroad 
directors and bade Minnesota become "the North Star of 
the Union, shining forever in unquenchable luster." At 


The Grand Excursion of 18 54 

eleven o'clock the tired tourists returned to the landing, 
where the boats lay illuminated and with steam hissing 
from their boilers. Shortly after midnight the fleet cast 
off from St. Paul, whose hills and lighted windows dis- 
appeared as the boats rounded Dayton's Bluff.^'^ 

While speeding downstream at the rate of ten miles an 
hour, the passengers found time passing all too fast. In 
addition to the usual dances, lectures, and musical enter- 
tainments in the cabins, meetings were called for the pur- 
pose of drawing up resolutions of thanks to the railroad 
directors and steamboat captains. Not only were many 
toasts drunk to the directors, captains, and boats, but gen- 
erous contributions were made for the presentation of 
loving cups and gold plate to the officers. Fillmore pre- 
sided over a meeting on the Golden Era where three 
hundred dollars were raised to purchase a silver pitcher 
for Captain Bersie."^ According to the Chicago Tribune 
the pitcher bore the following inscription : "Presented to 
Hiram Bersie, Master of the Golden Era, by the passengers 
of that Steamer, on their Excursion to the Falls of St. 
Anthony, while guests of the Chicago & Rock Island Rail- 
road Company, as a slight testimonial of their respect and 
their grateful appreciation of his urbanity, vigilance, and 
professional abilities, June, 1854." 

A cup of solid gold, beautifully engraved, was awarded 
to Henry W. Farnam (then a well-behaved baby in his 
mother's arms) who many years later became professor 
of economics in Yale University. John A. Rockwell of 
Norwich, Connecticut, made the address of presentation, 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and Professor A. C. Twining responded for the six-months- 
old infant : "I, Henry W. Farnam, being young in years, 
and wholly unaccustomed to public speaking, feel incom- 
petent to discharge in suitable terms the duty imposed 
upon me on this interesting occasion. When I came on 
board this boat, it was farthest from my expectation to 
make a speech. 'Man wants but little here below,' and 
babies still less. All my wants may be confined within this 
little cup which you propose to give me. Its contents are 
a baby's world — his universe. Heaven and earth and 
ocean plundered of their sweets may be compressed within 
the golden rim of this little measure. Some babies might 
cry for joy over my good fortune, but I am as unused to 
crying as to public speaking. I give you my best smile 
of thanks for your kindness, while I rely upon my inter- 
preter for a further and more mature expression of the 
grateful emotion of my joyful little heart." ^'* 

Resolutions gave unstinted praise to the lesser officers 
and to the crews for their efforts to make the travelers 
comfortable and happy. Miss Sedgwick was delighted with 
the courtesy of Captain Morehouse and the "civil lads" 
aboard the Lady Franklin who performed their work as if 
it was "a dainty task, to be done daintily." Nor did Dana 
forget Captain Bersie and Clerk Dawley of the Golden 
Era, whose "many civilities and attentions" were grate- 
fully acknowledged in the New York Tribune.^^^ The 
other captains probably received similar recognition from 
the writers who graced the decks of their boats. 

The responsibility for providing varied and well-pre- 


The Grand Excursion of 18 54 

pared meals fell upon stewards who never before had been 
called upon to serve such an array of notable guests. Since 
the floors of the cabins were covered with sleepers, it was 
the stewards' duty to awaken them gently and diplomat- 
ically in order that the mattresses might be removed and 
the tables set for breakfast by seven o'clock. (No deck 
hand or roustabout could perform so delicate a task.) 
Breakfast over, the cooks were given the menu for dinner. 
Meats and vegetables were prepared in one kitchen, while 
pastry and desserts were made ready in another. When 
needed, fish, game, eggs, and vegetables were bought at 
the various towns along the way. At Trempealeau, two 
bushels of speckled trout were purchased; the fish proved 
a rare treat for the excursionists. Supplies of fresh meat 
(a dozen lambs or pigs) were picked up from time to time. 

James F. Babcock of the New Haven Palladium de- 
scribed the meals aboard the Golden Era : "We have had 
oysters and lobsters daily, though two thousand miles from 
the sea. These, of course, were brought in sealed cans. 
Hens, turkeys, and ducks have given their last squeak every 
morning. Two cows on the lower deck furnish us with 
fresh milk twice a day. Beets are cooked, and every variety 
of stuff, and the dessert consists of all kinds of fruits, nuts, 
cakes, confection ices, and other things too numerous to 
mention. Such is our daily fare. Then there are meats 
for supper, with tea and coffee, with toast, dry and wet, 
cold bread, warm bread, Indian bread, biscuits, rolls, 
etc." '" 

The excursionists were never Invited to visit the meat 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and vegetable kitchen, for the scenes enacted there might 
well have caused a loss in appetite : they were cordially 
urged to drop into the pastry and dessert kitchen at any 
time. The number and variety of puddings, pies, ice 
creams, custards, and jellies was astonishing. Miss Sedg- 
wick declared : "Morning, noon and night a table was 
spread, that in most of its appointments and supplies 
would have done honor to our first class hotels, and its 
confections would not have disgraced a French artiste 
with all the appliances and means of a French cuisine. By 
what magic art such ices, jellies, cakes, and pyramids, 
veiled in showers of candied sugar, were compounded in 
that smallest of tophets, a steamer's kitchen, is a mystery 
yet to be solved." '"' 

The notables who made the fashionable tour of 1854 
were almost unanimous in their praise of the Upper Mis- 
sissippi steamboats. Only one adverse (but by no means 
harsh) criticism was made by an anonymous writer in the 
New York Tribune. He observed : "As the Upper Mis- 
sissippi must now become a route for fashionable Summer 
travel, it is only proper to say that those who resort here 
must not yet expect to find all the conveniences and 
comforts which abound on our North River steamers. 
Everything is very plain; the staterooms are imperfectly 
furnished, but the berths are roomy; the table is abundant, 
but butter-knives and sugar-tongs are not among its lux- 
uries. But those who know how to overlook these little 
deficiencies cannot hope anywhere to behold nature in 
such multiform loveliness and grandeur as on the waters of 


The Grand Excursion of 18 54 

the Mississippi, between Rock Island and St. Paul, nor in 
traveling to pass a week or fortnight of more genuine and 
constant enjoyment." ^*' 

But sugar tongs or no sugar tongs, the excursion of 1854 
was by far the most brilliant event of its kind that the 
West had ever witnessed. Millard Fillmore declared it to 
be one for which "history had no parallel, and such as no 
prince could possibly undertake." Bancroft dwelt at 
length on the easy and agreeable manner in which more 
than a thousand people had been conducted a greater dis- 
tance than from New York to Liverpool. The Chicago 
Tribune described the trip as "the most magnificent ex- 
cursion, in every respect, which has ever taken place in 
America." ''' 

On June 23, 1854, the New York Tribune urged travel- 
ers to follow "in the wake of the just completed Railroad 
Excursion, ascend the Upper Mississippi, the grandest river 
of the world, flowing for a thousand miles between shores 
of incomparable beauty — the boundaries of States des- 
tined to wealth, population and power almost without 
rivals in the Union." Miss Sedgwick observed that as a 
result of the completion of the railroad to the Mississippi, 
"the fashionable tour will be in the track of our happy 
'excursion party, to the Falls of St. Anthony.' The foreign 
traveller must go there, and the song of the bridegroom, 
to many a 'Lizzie Lee' will be *Ho! for the Falls of St. 
Anthony.' " ''' 

In the years that followed, hundreds of excursions were 
made to this garden spot of the West. Solitary travelers, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

tired business men and their families, private parties, and 
various religious, political, and social organizations made 
pilgrimages to this Mecca of the Upper Mississippi. When 
the Milwaukee and La Crosse Railroad was completed to 
the Mississippi in 185 8, a similar though less colorful party 
than that which constituted the excursion of 1854 was 
conveyed to the Falls aboard the Northern Belle, the War 
Eagle, and the Northern Light. 

During the campaign of 1860 William H. Seward ar- 
rived at St. Paul with Charles Francis Adams and his son 
Charles Francis, Jr. Upon visiting the Falls, Adams com- 
plained that the beauty of former years was in danger of 
being spoiled because the sawmills had drawn off so much 
water. In the same year the "Governor's Greys", a unit of 
the Iowa National Guard from Dubuque, generously sup- 
plied with fiddles and champagne baskets, made the trip 
upstream on the Milwaukee and downstream on the 
Northern Belle. Four omnibuses and sixteen carriages were 
required to convey the "Greys" and their ladies to the 
Falls. Six years later (in 1866) the Phil Sheridan and the 
Milwaukee were but two of a score of boats which ran 
excursions to St. Paul and the Falls of St. Anthony. Prob- 
ably no other single factor was so important in populariz- 
ing the fashionable tour with Easterners as was the grand 
excursion of the Rock Island Railroad in 1854.^*° 


JVlicI JPieasTures on JPaiaces 

The floating palaces that churned the waters of the 
Upper Mississippi provided -a vehicle for fun and frohc. 
Steamboats had engaged in the (excursion trade from the 
start. Thus the voyage of the ClevTJtont from New York 
to Albany in 1807 was an outing as well as a trial run. In 
1811 the New Orleans carried excursions out of both 
Louisville and Cincinnati — Captain Nicholas Roosevelt 
charging one dollar "per head" for a short run from 
Cincinnati to Columbia.^^^ 

Perhaps the earliest excursion on the Upper Mississippi 
occurred in 1819 when the steamboat St. Louis "gratified 
the citizens of St. Louis with a sail to the mouth of the 
Missouri". The company on board the boat is said to have 
been "large and genteel" and the entertainment provided 
by Captain Hewes was described as "very elegant".^*^ Al- 
most every steamboat took one or more parties on a pleas- 
ure excursion up or down the river during the course of 
the season of navigation. 

No holiday was more universally observed on the fron- 
tier than the Fourth of July. Steamboats played a lead- 
ing role in the celebration of Independence Day. The 
first known Fourth of July steamboat excursion on the 
Upper Mississippi took place in 1828. A committee of 
Galenians issued special invitations to the leading citizens 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

to join an Independence Day excursion on the Indiana. 

On the morning of July Fourth the Indiana sHpped 
down the Fever River and steamed proudly up the Mis- 
sissippi on what was probably the first Independence Day 
steamboat excursion above Alton. The excursionists dis- 
embarked at the mouth of the Catfish Creek in the shad- 
ow of Julien Dubuque's grave. These Galena excursionists 
were the first white settlers known to have observed the 
Fourth of July on Iowa soil. The American flag was raised 
opposite the "tepee" of an Indian maiden in the "aristo- 
cratic quarter" of the Fox village, which is said to be 
the first time the Stars and Stripes was floated by private 
citizens in what is now lowa.^^^ 

Fourth of July steamboat excursions were always pop- 
^ ular on the Upper Mississippi. In 1839 "Many Citizens" 
of Galena signified by an advertisement their intention of 
attending a Fourth of July excursion on the steamboat 
Pizarro from Galena to Cassville. "There will be a splen- 
did band of music on board the boat, and arrangements 
will be made for dancing; — four sets of cotillions can be 
accommodated. A superb dinner will be served up, with 
the best lemonade and liquors. Every attention will be 
paid, to make the day one of comfort — and to celebrate 
the glorious day in a style worthy of the Far West." Tick- 
ets for the trip cost five dollars.^^'' 

Steamboat excursions were also sponsored by various 
civic, political, fraternal, and religious groups. Of these 
not one was more popular than those held by Sabbath 
Schools. Frequently Sabbath School excursions were held 


Mid Pleasures on Palaces 

on the Fourth of July. Captains reaped rich profits and 
warm praise — and none more than the skipper of the 
Uncle Toby who in 1 849 expressed a "willingness" to take 
the Galena Sabbath Schools to Dubuque free of charge 
for the Fourth. A local editor observed that such a gen- 
erous invitation would require more than one boat as both 
young and old would respond with alacrity.^^^ 

By 1856 youthful Winona sponsored its first annual 
Sabbath School outing when it chartered the Tishomingo 
to run a Fourth of July excursion to Minneiska and pos- 
sibly to Wabasha. Tickets, which included dinner, were 
two dollars for single gentlemen or three dollars for a lady 
and a gentleman. After the expenses were paid the surplus 
(if any) was to be donated to the various Sunday Schools. 
The excursionists landed to listen to the reading of the 
Declaration of Independence and an oration. On the re- 
turn journey the Tishomingo climbed a sandbar near 
Fountain City : the Golden State took off her passengers 
and was then able to pull the "noble" Tish off. A Winona 
editor heard many complaints about the poor food served 
aboard the Tishom-ingo.^^' 

Late in the afternoon of July 4, 1860, some thirty 
couples of gay young Dubuquers set out for Cassville on 
the Pe-osta (Captain Tom Levens commanding). A lone 
Dubuque newspaperman accompanied the merry party. 
After the heat of the day the evening ride was "heavenly", 
enriched as it was by the "superb music" of Torbet's 
String Band. For two hours "fairy feet and lightsome 
forms moved in harmony with the most magnificent music 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

ever produced from a conjunct of horse hair and cat gut." 
The party reached Cassville about ten that evening and 
marched to the hotel where gay "CassviUians" were danc- 
ing. "All hands took a cotillion, gave three hearty cheers 
for the citizens of Cassville and returned to the boat." 
The "stag at eve" found the return trip a "little different", 
as the full effects of the moonlight began to be felt by the 
romantic souls aboard the Peosta. Wistfully, this lone 
wolf records: 

"Overcome by the delicious music, the crowd paired off, 
and in every shaded nook of the boat nestled a pair of 
turtle doves. More disconsolate and unsettled than Old 
Banquo in his ghostly life were we thereafter. Did we go 
forward to see where the boat had reached, we ran afoul 
of some couple about four feet apart, who of course were 
looking very stiff and unconcerned as if they had not 
spoken for a month — if we went aft to smoke a segar 
and watch the long sparkling wake of the boat, we were 
sure to be malapropos by again disturbing some cooing 
harmony — if we went aloft and went around the smoke 
stack, we again got our foot in it; if we rounded the 
wheel-house or ascended the texas we were always equally 
and severely unfortunate". When the Peosta docked at 
Dubuque at three o'clock in the morning the lone excur- 
sionist vowed to go prepared in the future "with a remedy 
against the frightful loneliness of the return." 

The Fanny Harris took Dubuquers and the Northern 
Light carried citizens of both Dubuque and Galena on a 
Fourth of July excursion to CassvUle in 1860. Upon arriv- 


Mid Pleasures on Palaces 

ing at Cassville the Reverend Mr. Mason was informed 
that a pair of excursionists aboard the Fanny Harris 
"needed his services. He immediately called upon the 
waiting ones, and was informed that they desired to cement 
a long existing friendship, by the inseparable process of 
matrimony. The Squire went ahead, and the couple were 
speedily reduced to one." A Dubuque editor doubted the 
wisdom of a man binding himself "with the fetters of 
matrimony" on a day of "universal freedom" but hoped 
the "fates" would "avert all harmful results." '"" 

Fourth of July excursions continued popular after the 
Civil War. In 1866 the Lansing ran an excursion from 
Dubuque to Savanna at a charge of only one dollar for 
the round trip. Steamboats were usually chartered for 
such occasions. In 1867 the Dubuque chairman of a pros- 
pective excursion aboard the Itasca was obliged to inform 
Captain Webb that the party had "played out". It ap- 
pears that the company asked $400 for the use of the 
boat and the local committee intended to secure a party 
of fifty couples at eight dollars per couple. This proved 
to be too high for most Dubuquers and the contract was 
cancelled. When the Andy Johnson reached Keokuk in 
May of 1874 she had less than a hundred aboard from 
Quincy. The "slim turnout" was attributed to the fact 
that the weather "was more suggestive of warm stoves and 
heavy wearing apparel than of steamboat excursions". ^^* 

A somewhat difiFerent type of excursion was sponsored 
in 1841 by W. A. Wentworth and P. M. Pinckard, two 
enterprising Alton citizens. Learning that four negroes 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 


were to be hanged "on the point of Duncan's Island, just 

below St. Louis", Wentworth and Pinckard chartered the 
steamboat Eagle, "repaired and fitted her up for the occa- 
sion", and offered for the sum of $1.50 to transport citi- 
zens to the scene of the gruesome affair. The obliging 
gentlemen guaranteed to "drop along side, so that all 
CAN SEE WITHOUT DIFFICULTY" and "reach home the same 

_>> 395 

evenmg . 

But the excursionists aboard the Eagle were by no means 
the earliest to witness the hanging of a criminal on the 
Upper Mississippi. On June 20, 1834, two steamboats 
brought passengers from Prairie du Chien and Galena to v 
witness the execution of Patrick O'Connor by the Du- 
buque lead miners. The steamboats swelled the list of 
spectators at Dubuque to not "less than one thousand".^^^ 

Steamboats were also employed in carrying excursionists 
to fairs and celebrations in nearby river towns. In 1858 
Captain R. C. Gray of the steamboat Denmark advertised 
in a Dubuque paper that he would run an excursion to the 
Missouri State Fair at St. Louis. A few days later the boat 
left loaded to the guards with freight and crowded with 
passengers. The Metropolitan also advertised an excursion 
for the same fair. Eleven years later (in 1869) Captain 
Abe Hutchinson of the Phil Sheridan advertised that he 
would take passengers to the St. Louis Fair at two-thirds 
the regular rate. "This is an opportunity", an editor re- 
marked, "that no doubt many will improve." ^'^ 

In 1 867 steamboats carried excursionists from the various 
river towns to witness the Independence Day races at the 


Mid Pleasures on Palaces 

Dubuque Driving Park. The Davenport brought a merry 
throng from Davenport; the Bill Hendersojz carried vis- 
itors from Savanna, Sabula, and Believue; the Bannock 
City arrived at Dubuque with excursionists from De Witt 
and Chnton; and the Milwaukee steamed in crowded with 
passengers from above. Steamboats were important fac- 
tors in giving Dubuque a larger crowd "than on any 
previous Fourth for years." In 1868 steamboats were busy 
carrying passengers to and from the State Fair which was 
held at Clinton that year.^^^ 

Despite the sobering effect of the Civil War a Dubuque 
editor declared that steamboat excursions were "great in- 
stitutions" and that there were not "half enough of them". 
Ordinarily no expense or effort was spared to make a 
steamboat attractive for the occasion. In 1861 the Canada 
was chartered to take the Catholic Institute of Dubuque 
to Prairie du Chien on the Fourth. An editor described 
the Canada as "evergreened and summer-greened until she 
looked like a small wooded island with an undergrowth of 
Star Spangled Banners fluttering their little stars and turn- 
ing their little faces this that and the other way to enjoy 
the breath of freedom. If the exterior of the Canada is 
pleasant to see, the interior is beautiful, decorated as the 
cabins are with evergreens and flags, almost lining the 
whole interior of the boat. A piano will pour forth its 
music under the hands of some of the fair musicians who 
will grace the party, and a vocal concert will be one of the 
afternoon attractions". Dance music was furnished by 
the Germania Band. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Some steamboats carried material more exhilarating than 
flags and evergreens. "The Adelia^\ notes the Dubuque 
Herald of August 6, 1861, "took a large party to Gutten- 
burg last Sunday, there being over 400 persons aboard. 
They consumed fifty half barrels of Lager, two whiskey 
barrels of Lemonade and twelve hundred pounds of ice, 
and wanted as much more. The party was too large for 
the boat, and all whom we have conversed with that went, 
say they never want to go again. A few got sunstruck, 
and when the boat was about to land on her return a 
couple of men walked overboard." Much more decorous 
was the excursion of a party of teachers from Dubuque v 
to St. Paul in 1867. 

If excursion parties were well-behaved the captain 
would frequently reward his passengers for leaving the 
boat intact. In 1868 the captain of the War Eagle invited 
a few couples to remain and participate in "the nicest little 
impromptu party of the season. Six sets of cotillions took 
possession of the cabin and danced until two o'clock, to 
the music of Steward Buckley's band, which has no su- 
perior, and few equals, ashore or afloat. Capt. Painter 
with other officers of the boat moved among the guests 
and did their best to make the party pleasant." ^^^ 

Politics and politicians were responsible for some steam- 
boat excursions. On August 25, 185 8, the "spacious and 
finely fitted-up" steamboat Peosta took a large party of 
Dubuque citizens on an excursion to Galena to hear 
Stephen A. Douglas. A fare of one dollar was charged 
to hear the "little giant" who "personates all the elements 


Mid Pleasures on Palaces 

of a masterly intellect, and is also the greatest orator of 
the United States". 

In 1860 five hundred delegates from the Chicago Con- 
vention that had just nominated Abraham Lincoln came 
all the way by railroad to Dubuque to enjoy an outing on 
the Mississippi. All political parties joined in welcoming 
the distinguished visitors who departed the next day on 
the steamboats Fanny Harris and Alhambra for Clinton.*"" 

The "Fashionable Tour" to the Falls of St. Anthony 
formed a unique phase of steamboating and did much to 
advertise the Upper Mississippi. But the hundreds of ex- 
cursions which yearly were run from the various river 
ports afforded captains a richer profit. Socially, as well as 
economically, steamboats played a significant part in the 
Upper Mississippi excursion trade. 



Sraths of Jc^rjnpire 

The dramatic migration known as the westward move- 
ment is a colorful chapter in American history. It took 
almost two hundred years to plant the thirteen original 
colonies along the narrow Atlantic seaboard. It took less 
than a century to span the two thousand miles of trackless 
wilderness between the Allegheny Mountains and the 
Pacific Ocean. Spurred on by hopes, enthusiasms, and am- 
bitions that would not brook denial, the rugged pioneers 
trekked westward. Grim tragedy stalked them every mile 
of the way. Some who died of cholera on steamboats were 
flung into the muddy river or left to rot in shallow graves 
along the bank. Others sprinkled the desert with their 
bleached bones — a mute but somber warning to those who 
followed. Not infrequently the spring thaws disclosed the 
congealed bodies of pioneers who had been caught the pre- 
vious winter in some snow-clad mountain pass. Only the 
strong, the resourceful, and the self-reliant were destined 
to survive in the conquest of a mighty empire. 

Steamboats played a leading role in the settlement of 
the Upper Mississippi Valley — itself a distinct segment 
in the westward movement. Indeed, the growth in popu- 
lation of the counties adjoining the Mississippi between St. 
Louis and St. Paul before 1870 presents in miniature the 
development of the entire Upper Mississippi Valley. Thus, 


Paths of Empire 

in 1820 the area around St. Louis was well-populated; by 
1830 the frontier line had reached Keokuk; by 1840 it 
included the mineral region around Dubuque and Galena; 
and by 1850 it had reached the northern boundary of 
Iowa. During the fifties steamboats shoved the frontier 
line a short distance beyond St. Paul. By 1870 a fairly 
dense population extended for many miles inland along 
both banks of the Father of Waters.^"^ 

Although steamboating was important other modes of 
transportation were used. A large percentage of the Amer- 
ican pioneers came overland in covered wagons — fre- 
quently using the Cumberland Road which extended to 
Columbus, Ohio, in 1833, and was completed to its west- 
ern terminus in Illinois by the mid -forties. Those who 
came in covered wagons, however, were forced to use the 
ferries stationed at strategic points along the Mississippi. 
These ferries were so crowded at times that steamboats 
transported large numbers of covered wagons across the 
river.*°^ ] 

A smaller number of pioneers came by the Ohio and 
Lower Mississippi steamboats as far as St. Louis, whence 
they continued northward on Upper Mississippi boats. 
The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825,*°' the Welland 
Canal in 1847,*°* and the Illinois-Lake Michigan Canal in 
1848 *°^ provided still another way of reaching the Upper 
Mississippi before the coming of the railroad. 

Somewhat less numerous, but fully as interesting was 
the migration of foreigners. While most of the American- 
born pioneers probably came overland, it is equally true 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

that the majority of the foreigners, who came to America 
and the Upper Mississippi Valley between 1830 and 1870, 
used the steamboat for all or part of their journey. Foreign- 
ers came westward over four highways : two of these, 
the St. Lawrence River and the Erie Canal, served as 
important arteries for the Great Lakes. The Pennsylvania 
Canal fed the Ohio River until the construction of the 
railroad across the mountains supplanted it. The Missis- 
sippi from New Orleans northward to the Falls of St. 
Anthony afforded a cheap highway for both Europeans 
and Americans who preferred a route that would not 
necessitate the constant transfer of trunks, baggage, and 
household goods. All of these routes to the Upper Mis- 
sissippi were affected by the construction of the railroad 
westward to the Mississippi.^"^ 

Only six thousand miles of railroads had been con- 
structed in the United States by 1848. It was not until 
1852 that the Michigan Southern and the Michigan Cen- 
tral gave Chicago through rail service to the Atlantic 
seaboard. In the meantime, while Chicago was impatiently 
awaiting the coming of the railroad from the East, a num- 
ber of railroads were projected westward to the Mississippi. 
On February 22, 1854, the neigh of the iron horse was first 
heard on the Father of Waters when the Rock Island was 
completed to the Mississippi opposite Davenport. This 
was the first railroad to link the Mississippi with the East, 
and there was general rejoicing throughout the country.*"^ 

During the year 185 5 the railroad reached the Mississippi 
at three different points opposite Iowa. On March 17th 


Paths of Empire 

the road was opened for traffic between Chicago and East 
Burhngton. Ten *'superb" passenger cars drawn by the 
"huge and gallant iron horse" arrived opposite Burlington 
on May 31st with Lewis Cass, Stephen A. Douglas, and 
Mayor Boone of Chicago aboard to help celebrate the com- 
pletion of this second link with the East.**'® 

Early in June, 185 5, the Illinois Central reached Dun- 
leith opposite Dubuque. By a previous arrangement the 
Illinois Central had agreed to construct the road from 
Freeport to Dunleith and use this track with the Galena & 
Chicago Union Railroad. The latter ran between Free- 
port and Chicago, providing direct communication be- 
tween the mineral region and the Great Lakes. The 
following December the iron horse of the Galena & Chi- 
cago Union puffed proudly up to the banks of the 
Mississippi at Fulton to slake his thirst in the icy waters 
of the Father of Waters opposite Clinton. In the space 
of a single year this railroad (now known as the North 
Western) forged two links between the Mississippi and 

The mad race of the "robber barons" to monopolize the 
trade of the country west of the Mississippi did not end in 
185 5. On January 31, 1856, the Burlington tapped the 
Mississippi at Quincy;*^° in 18 57 Milwaukee and Prairie du 
Chien were welded together by iron rails ;*'^^ and in 18 58 
a railroad linked Milwaukee with La Crosse.*^' Thus, by 
1860 seven Upper Mississippi ports had been united with 
the Atlantic seaboard by the railroad. The withering effect 
of the panic of 18 57 prevented the railroad from reach- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

ing other points along the Upper Mississippi until later. 

Meanwhile, only three points below Quincy (St. Louis, 
Cairo, and Memphis) had been joined to the East by rail. 
New Orleans had no direct connection with the Atlantic 
cities, being forced to secure access to the East by means 
of the lines tapping the Illinois Central at Memphis, Cairo, 
or Chicago.*^^ 

Between 1850 and 1870 the westward trek of immi- 
grants was influenced by the unprecedented railroad con- 
struction in the Mississippi Valley. But steamboating on 
the Upper Mississippi continued to flourish, since no com- 
petitive north and south system had been constructed. 
St. Paul did not greet the iron horse until 1867, when it 
was linked through La Crosse with the Great Lakes.*^* 
Instead of hindering, the railroads actually augmented 
steamboating, transporting carloads of immigrants to the 
various ports along the Mississippi to be carried upstream. 
After the seventies, however, the railroads linked St. Louis J 
with St. Paul, bracketed the river to gradually cut oflf 
southbound commerce, and absorbed the east and west 
bound traffic with a network of bridges which trussed the 
river at strategic points. 

By 1890 the Diamond Jo Line (the lone survivor of 
twenty years of cut-throat competition for the freight 
and passenger trade) was unable to declare a reasonable 
dividend. But the heyday of steamboating between 1850 
and 1870 witnessed a veritable Armada of palatial river 
craft, carrying their tribute of settlers to the States of the 
Upper Mississippi Valley. 



Tliey Orossecl tJke iViississippi 

"Westward the course of empire takes its way", said 
Bishop Berkeley as Englishmen sailed westward to found 
new homes and culture in America. But the exodus of 
Englishmen across the Atlantic pales before the American 
migrations into the Mississippi Valley a century later. 
Cold census figures for 1860 show that the main-traveled 
highway for this mighty army of occupation followed 
the Ohio River and the Great Lakes. Thus, between 1830 
and 1860 the five States of the Old Northwest jumped in 
population from 1,470,018 to 6,926,884. In fact the gain 
in population in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri al- 
most equaled the increase in population of the whole 
United States from the settlement of Jamestown in 1607 
to the election of Jefferson in 1800. 

The supremacy of the Upper Mississippi Valley is 
demonstrated by the fact that when the westward-bound 
pioneers reached the Mississippi at St. Louis they spread 
out fan-like in every direction : some continued westward; 
others moved south; but most of the migrants headed 
northward. By 1860 the 2,028,948 inhabitants of Mis- 
souri, Iowa, and Minnesota exceeded by almost four 
hundred thousand the total population of Arkansas, Texas, 
New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, 
Utah, and Colorado. In 1860 Iowa surpassed Texas in 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

population; while Minnesota could count more settlers 
than Kansas and Nebraska with Colorado thrown in for 
good measure/^^ 

Visitors from foreign lands were amazed at the migra- 
tory tendencies of the Americans. "The American agri- 
culturalists", observed Charles Augustus Murray in 1839, 
"seem to have little local attachment. A New Englander 
or Virginian, though proud and vain of his state, will move 
off to Missouri or Illinois, and leave the home of his child- 
hood without any visible effort or symptom of regret, if 
by so doing he can make ten dollars where he before made 
eight. I have seen such repeated instances of this that 
I cannot help considering it a national feature." "° 

"The Americans are such locomotives themselves", said 
Captain Frederick Marryat, "that it is useless to attempt 
the incognito in any part except the west side of the Mis- 
sissippi, or the Rocky Mountains. Once known at New 
York, and you are known every where, for in every place 
you will meet with some one whom you have met walk- 
ing in Broadway." *" 

The "passion for turning up new soils and clearing the 
wilderness" appeared to increase with years. Basil Hall 
observed very little individual regard for "particular 
spots". "There is a strong love of country". Hall admitted, 
"but this is quite a different affair, as it seems to be en- 
tirely unconnected with any permanent fondness for one 
spot more than another." *^* 

Nor was this tendency to migrate unnoticed by Amer- 
icans. "What a restless, but enterprising spirit character- 


They Crossed the Mississippi 

izes the American people!" exclaimed an editor of the 
forties. "They are ever ready to follow to the world's end 
the bright promises of ambition, or wealth, or charity." *^® 

In 1843 James K. Paulding described this migratory 
tendency of the Americans in the following words : "Our 
people have more of the locomotive principle than any 
other not excepting the Israelites and Arabs. Our fore- 
fathers wandered here and their jwsterity have been 
wandering ever since. But the people of the 'Great West' 
beat all the rest together. I hardly met a man, or indeed 
a woman who had not traveled from Dan to Beersheba, 
and back again, and 'settled', as they are pleased to term it, 
in half a dozen places, some hundreds, perhaps thousands, 
of miles distant from each other." *'° 

A bird's-eye view of this movement may be obtained 
from the musty newspaper files of the period. Since 
Illinois attracted the largest number of settlers one may 
examine the influx into that State. "The rapid tide of 
emigration — the rushing flood of population that is con- 
stantly pouring in upon our Western borders, has been to 
us, an oft-told tale", declared the editor of the Chicago 
Democrat in November, 1833. "To it we have never given 
full faith and credit. We have supposed it but the fruit 
of an overheated brain, or the offspring of uncontrolled 
exaggeration." Suddenly the "reality" of the westward 
movement was impressed upon this "Doubting Thomas". 
"Chicago, nay the very spot of ground where we are now 
writing", he wrote, "a few months since was the abode 
of the savage; and where are now seen a long line of 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

habitations for wliite men, a short time ago was unoc- 
cupied save by the wigwam of the Indian. The change 
has been wrought by magic. More than eight hundred 
souls may now be found within the Hmits that within a 
few short months since included less than one tenth of 
that number." Seven years later Chicago counted 4479 
people within its limits; in 1860 the census revealed 

The editor of another Illinois newspaper, the Sangamo 
Journal, was equally impressed by the rush of emigrants 
into Illinois in 1833. "Emigrants are coming by thou- 
sands into Illinois, and from all quarters of the Union. — 
On Friday last fifteen large wagons, from St. Lawrence 
County, N. York, loaded with emigrants, arrived in our 
village, and drove up in front of the market house, in 
grand style. — These emigrants had been about ten weeks 
on the journey, and enjoyed good health during the time. 
They design to settle in Sangamo County — to which we 
bid them welcome. — A few days previous a company of 
emigrants from Vermont for Green County, passed thro' 
this place. Our northern counties are daily receiving in- 
habitants from New York, Ohio, and the Eastern States. 
Kentucky is pouring out her population upon us — which 
generally passes over to the military tract. Tennessee also 
contributes largely to the current of emigration; and even 
some of the wandering sons of Illinois, who were driven 
oflf to the Paradise of Arkansaw by a certain cold winter, 
are bending their weary steps back to the sucker land. We 
calculate that Illinois will increase her number of inhab- 


They Crossed the Mississippi 

itants the present season by emigration between 20 and 

A Kentucky paper chronicled the passing of large num- 
bers over the Ohio River into IlHnois in 1833. "The 
number of persons that daily pass thro' this place, on their 
way to the State of lUinois is immense. Many of these 
people seem to be much more wealthy and respectable, 
than those we have observed moving to that State in 
former years. A company passed, in which were five 
large well built and heavily laden wagons, and six neat 
two horse carriages, filled with females. The fertile lands 
of Illinois must invite men of enterprise and capital; and 
e'er long we expect that this young State will take a con- 
spicuous rank among her sisters of the Union." A few 
years later over two hundred wagons passed through Ve- 
vay, Indiana, from Kentucky "all full of emigrants, dis- 
couraged from continuing among these lawless people. "*^^ 

Emigrant guides and books of travel yield similar pic- 
tures. Captain Marryat was amazed at the stream of 
emigration flowing from North Carolina into Indiana, 
Illinois, and Missouri during the thirties. "Every hour", 
he declared, "you meet with a caravan of emigrants from 
that sterile but healthy state. Every night the banks of 
the Ohio are lighted up with their fires, where they have 
bivouacked previously to crossing the river; but they are 
not like the poor German or Irish settlers; they are well 
prepared, and have nothing to do, apparently, but to sit 
down upon their land. These caravans consist of two or 
three covered waggons, full of women and children, fur- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

niture, and other necessaries, each drawn by a team of 
horses; brood mares, with foals by their sides, following; 
half a dozen or more cows, flanked on each side by the 
men with their long rifles on their shoulders; sometimes a 
boy or two, or a half -grown girl on horseback. Occa- 
sionally they wear an appearance of more refinement and 
cultivation, as well as wealth, the principals travelling in 
a sort of worn-out old carriage, the remains of the com- 
petence of former days." ^"* 

Not infrequently emigrants came by covered wagon to 
some port like Buffalo or Pittsburgh and there contracted 
for passage on a Great Lakes steamer or Ohio River craft. 
James Hall, editor of the Illinois Monthly Magazine^ urged 
emigrants to travel by steamboat, particularly if they con- 
templated coming west in the spring. "The streams are 
then swollen. The largest rivers rise from thirty to fifty 
feet above the low water mark; rocks, snags, sawyers, and 
sandbars, those formidable obstacles to navigation, are now 
all buried far below the surface; the steamboat glides 
without interruption from port to port, ascends even the 
smallest river, and finds her way to places far distant 
from the ordinary channels of navigation. Business is now 
active; the number of boats are increased, to meet the 
demand for transportation; and the traveller by water 
meets with no delay; while the hapless wight, who be- 
strides an unlucky nag, is wading through ponds and 
quagmires, enjoying the delights of log bridges and wooden 
causeways, and vainly invoking the name of M'Adam, as 
he plunges deeper and deeper into mire and misfortune." ^" 


They Crossed the Mississippi 

James Baird observed that a family of five or six could 
go on the deck of a Great Lakes steamer in a comfortable 
manner during the summer for twenty dollars. A Mary- 
land household of fifteen reached Wheeling after a three 
hundred mile journey in their four-horse wagon at a total 
cost of seventy-five dollars. The master of the only steam- 
boat then in port demanded $250 for transporting the 
wagon, baggage, and horses, and the seven cabin and eight 
deck passengers to St. Louis. The head of the family finally 
secured passage for $160. Instead of a month's journey 
overland he was able to reach St. Louis in a week.*"*' 

Edmund Flagg watched with deep interest while the 
steamboat discharged emigrant families along the banks 
of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. A party of emigrants 
from the State of Vermont were "landed near the mouth 
of the Wabash, one of whom was a pretty, delicate female, 
with an infant boy in her arms. They had been deck- 
passengers^ and we had seen none of them before ; yet their 
situation could not but excite interest in their welfare. 
Poor woman! thought I, as our boat left them gazing 
anxiously after us from the inhospitable bank, little do 
you dream of the trials and privations to which your 
destiny conducts, and the hours of bitter retrospection 
which are to come over your spirit like a blight, as, from 
these cheerless solitudes, you cast back many a lingering 
thought to your dear, distant home in New England; 
whose very mountain-crags and fierce storms of winter, 
harsh and unwelcome though they might seem to the 
stranger, were yet pleasant to you." 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

A little farther on this compassionate pilgrim watched 
the boat discharge another group at a "desolate-looking 
spot" upon the Missouri shore. Flagg noted "men, women, 
and little ones, with slaves, household stuff, pots, kettles, 
dogs, implements of husbandry, and all the paraphernalia 
of the backwood's farm heaped up promiscuously in a 
heterogeneous mass among the undergrowth beneath the 
lofty trees."*" Prior to 1850 an emigrant who was not 
blessed with considerable funds was more likely to jolt his 
family westward over the rough roads of the interior than 
to take passage by boat. 

The overland trek of the covered wagon continued 
throughout the forties and fifties. "Hundreds of muslin- 
covered wagons, bearing wives and children, and house- 
hold goods, and driven by stalwart men, seeking a new 
home in the mighty West, cross the Mississippi at this point 
weekly", declared the editor of the Kock Islander in 1855. 
"It is a tide which knows no ebb, but still keeps flowing, 
ever flowing, onward toward the rich prairies of Nebraska 
and the setting sun." *^^ 

The fording of streams and creeks was of almost daily 
occurrence : ferry operators were kept busy from dawn 
to dusk. During a single month in 1854 fully 1743 wagons 
passed a point beyond Peoria, Illinois, all bound for 
lowa.*^^ The following year a westward bound immigrant 
watched forty-nine wagons from Michigan, "bound for 
Iowa", cross an Illinois stream. This man, who had passed 
"oceans of wagons", declared that it was a "common oc- 
currence to see twenty or thirty of these form an 


They Crossed the Mississippi 

encampment at night". An lUinois editor viewed with no 
httle alarm the departure of twenty-five wagons from 
a "single town in Northern Illinois" destined for the Iowa 
country across the Mississippi/^" 

Throughout the fifties the ferries were busy day and 
night transporting the emigrants across the Mississippi. 
St. Louis and Hannibal in Missouri, Alton and Quincy in 
Illinois, Keokuk, Fort Madison, Burlington, Davenport, 
Dubuque, and McGregor in Iowa, and La Crosse, Winona, 
and St. Paul farther upstream were favorite crossings. The 
ferry formed an important segment in facilitating the 
movement of pioneers westward. A few samples of their 
activity may be given. 

A ferry had served the needs of Burlington since the 
opening of the Black Hawk Purchase in 1833. During the 
first two weeks of October, 1846, a total of 5 82 wagons 
were ferried across the Mississippi River at this place.*^^ 
During the year 1854 the steam ferry at this point was 
kept "constantly in motion from morning till night and 
frequently till midnight". According to an eyewitness the 
Illinois bank was covered every evening with the "tents, 
wagons and cattle" of emigrants waiting to be ferried 
across to Iowa.**' 

During 185 5 the Burlington Telegraph chronicled the 
passage of immigrant teams through that city at the rate 
of six or seven hundred a day. "We have these facts from 
the ferry folks", the editor declared, "who keep a sort of 
running register. About one team in a hundred is labelled 
'Nebraska'; all the rest are marked 'Iowa'." *^^ 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Late in the fall of 185 5 a Muscatine editor designated 
Iowa as the "Canaan for the children of the eastern and 
middle states." Scores of covered wagons were noted lin- 
ing the Illinois bank of the Mississippi awaiting the ferry 
as it puffed "to and fro, carrying westward at every trip 
five wagons" all bound for the Hawkeye State/^* 

Perhaps no point exceeded Davenport in ferry activity. 
"Our ferry is busy all hours in passing over the large can- 
vas-backed wagons, densely populated with becoming 
lowaians", observed the Davenport Commercial in 1854. 
"An army of mechanics have added 300 buildings to this 
city during the past season, yet every nook and corner 
of them are engaged before they are finished; but our hos- 
pitable citizens will not allow any to suffer for want of 
shelter. In several instances the citizens have, like true 
aborigines, withdrawn to close quarters, and given their 
parlors to those who have come to make their homes among 
us and were unable to find dwellings. There is not a vacant 
dwelling or business room in the city." *"^ 

The following year the Davenport levee presented an 
"unusually stirring appearance" to an eyewitness on the 
opposite shore. "We counted no less than twenty-five 
white-tented wagons ranged round near the ferry, while 
some twenty farm wagons stood here and there among a 
small sea of reposing cattle. All the way up Brady street 
was a row of these wheeled tents while some half dozen 
were visible on the steamer Davenport, just then crossing 
the river. And all these, so far as we could learn, were 
bound for Iowa." ''' 


They Crossed the Mississippi 

To the north, the westward rush of land seekers caused 
the Dubuque Tribtute to exclaim : "Daily — yes, hourly — 
immigrants are arriving in this and neighboring counties 
from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. All are in 
raptures at the lovely sights which here greet their gaze; 
and they with one accord yield the palm to Western Iowa 
for lovely prairies, beautiful groves of timber, and mean- 
dering streams of water." Such items when printed in 
papers back East, although sometimes rather exaggerated, 
must have served as bait for those who were wondering 
whether they should follow Horace Greeley's advice and 
"Go West!" ^^'^ 

Of the rush of settlers into northern Iowa an account 
in the Dubuque Reporter reads : "Never before, in the 
history of this northwestern region of the United States, 
has there been a more gratifying spectacle than that now 
presented to those who take an interest in its progress and 
welfare. Viewing the almost countless throng of immi- 
grants that crowd our streets, and learning that a similar 
scene is visible at every other point along the Mississippi 
border of Iowa, the spectator is naturally led to infer that 
a general exodus is taking place in the Eastern States of 
the Union, as well as in those that, but a few years ago, 
were denominated the West. 

"Day by day the endless procession moves on — a 
mighty army of invasion, which, were its objects other 
than peace, and a holy, fraternal, cordial league with its 
predecessors, their joint aim to conquer this fair and allur- 
ing domain from the wild dominion of nature would strike 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

terror into the boldest hearts. They come by hundreds and 
thousands from the hills and valleys of New England, 
bringing with them that same untiring, indomitable 
energy and perseverance, that have made their native 
States the admiration of the world, and whose influence is 
felt wherever enterprise has a votary or commerce spreads 
a sail; with intellects sharpened to the keenest edge, and 
brawny arms to execute the firm resolves of their iron 
will, and gathering fresh accessions, as they sweep across 
the intermediate country, from the no less thrifty and 
hardy population of New York, Ohio, and Indiana. Tar- 
rying no longer amongst us than is necessary for them to 
select their future home, away they hie to the capacious 
and inviting plains, that spread themselves interminably, 
ready to yield, almost without preparation, their rich 
latent treasures. 

"Soon will be seen innumerable the farmer's comfortable 
abode, and the frequent thriving village, with its 'peo- 
ple's college,' as its highest worldly pride, and close at hand 
the house of God, with spire pointing to heaven, as if to 
remind the worshippers of the source to which they are 
indebted for all the store of blessings they enjoy. And 
soon, too, in the wake of such a mighty rush and all its 
soul-swelling consequences, will follow the laying out and 
construction of those great works that will link us to the 
wide-spread members of our confederacy, over which 
the iron horse, more terrible in the fierceness of his strength 
than the war-steed of Job, will snort his triumphant ha, 
ha ! as he bounds along in his tireless race. Science, in turn, 


They Crossed the Mississippi 

will rear her loftiest fanes, and plant deep in the hearts of 
her disciples the seeds of a deathless devotion to the insti- 
tutions of our common country." *^^ 

The same bustle and activity was noted in the interior 
counties of Iowa. Oskaloosa was overwhelmed with the 
influx of emigrants. "Our town is almost constantly 
thronged with mover's wagons and herds of cattle", ex- 
claimed a resident in 1851.^^^ Three years later the Oska- 
loosa Times noted the passing of covered wagons from 
"early morning till night-fall", and estimated at least a 
thousand persons passing through Oskaloosa every week.**° 
The Galena Advertiser expressed surprise at the rapidity 
with which northern Iowa was increasing in population. 
"Allamakee and Winneshiek counties", it prophesied, "are 
destined to become among the most wealthy in the 
State." *" 

Some of these settlers had banded together in emigrant 
companies, hoping by lumping their resources to eliminate 
some of the hardships to be encountered on the frontier. 
Such a company was formed in Transboro, New Jersey, 
for the purpose of raising funds to enable fifty families to 
proceed to Iowa. Each family was required to pay three 
hundred dollars into the general treasury. Of the fiftee-n 
thousand dollars thus raised, the sum of twelve hundred 
and fifty dollars was allowed for transportation to Iowa. 
The company intended to purchase five thousand acres of 
government land and work it in common the first year, 
or until houses were built to accommodate all. Then each 
family was to receive one hundred acres.**' 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

In 1856 an advance agent for the Stafford Western 
Emigration Company of Massachusetts arrived at Musca- 
tine to seek the "best points" for his company — an organ- 
ization composed of 8 5 persons "equipped with sawmills, 
carpenter tools and farming implements of all kinds, fully 
prepared to establish themselves and build up a town in a 
few weeks." These emigrants were indeed well organized, 
"having a constitution and rules of business for carrying 
on all branches peculiar to the West. We can readily 
imagine", commented the Muscatine Joitmal of May 23, 
1856, "the purchase of a large tract of land and the im- 
mediate erection of dwelling houses and a village of 850 
inhabitants springing into existence as by magic." 

Thoughtful observers were not slow to grasp the signi- 
ficance of this westward trend of population into the 
Upper Mississippi Valley. Perhaps Henry Clay would have 
felt genuine concern for his great Compromise of 1850 
had he discussed the westward movement with a certain 
Iowa editor. After pointing out that the movement to the 
Hawkeye State was not made up of foreigners but of "the 
steady, well educated and industrious farmers of New 
York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other northern states", the 
Muscatine Democratic Enquirer concluded: 

"From the beginning of the century, the middle and the 
northern states have perverted the legislation to selfish 
ends. It will not be long, thank providence, ere the Valley 
of the Mississippi — the garden spot of the world — will 
wield a controlling influence in national affairs. Con- 
nected as the states are by fine navigable streams and social 


They Crossed the Mississippi 

and political ties, and extending through several degrees 
of latitude, they will when the day of their predominance 
comes, put an end to that system of local and partial 
legislation which has done more to weaken the bond of 
union and obliterate the reverence of the people for the 
constitution, than all other causes combined." **^ 

The exodus of native sons and daughters from the sea- 
board States into the Upper Mississippi Valley had a 
salutary effect on steamboating. In the first place, a good- 
ly number of emigrants used the steamboat for all or a 
part of the way to their new homes. Secondly, steamboats 
as well as ferries profited by transporting the covered 
wagon pioneers across the Mississippi. Thirdly, many 
American pioneers used the steamboat to "spy" out the 
land before bringing their families and household posses- 
sions westward by covered wagon. Still others followed in 
the van of the covered wagon to join those who had gone 
before, and so the growth in population led to an ever 
increasing passenger service for steamboats. Finally, the 
sturdy American pioneer, together with the immigrants 
from foreign lands, soon provided the heavy shipments of 
^ golden grain which distinguished the last period of steam- 
boating on the Upper Mississippi. 



On file 1 rail of f Jke ImimLigranis 

"What is the best Landing Port for the West?" queried 
a prospective immigrant of John Regan who had emigrated 
to northern Illinois from Ayrshire in 1842. "New Or- 
leans", replied Regan, "if you wish the most direct route. 
But if not encumbered with much luggage or a family, 
by landing at New York, thence sailing up the Hudson, 
taking the Grand Western Canal through the state of New 
York, and then steaming it on the great lakes to Chicago, 
Milwaukie, or Detroit, you may no doubt get a better idea 
of the greatness and richness of the country. There is 
also another way by Montreal, up Lake Ontario, and 
through the Welland canal into Lake Erie, which is said 
to be as cheap as by New York. Another way still, is by 
Philadelphia, over the Alleghany Mountains to Pittsburg 
on the Ohio river. Still, New Orleans is by far the most 
direct and the cheapest route for the States of Iowa, Illi- 
nois, Indiana, Ohio, and Minnesota." "* 

The hordes of foreign immigrants that journeyed along 
the four routes described by John Regan provided Upper 
Mississippi steamboats with a colorful as well as a profitable 
cargo, although they were somewhat less numerous than 
native Americans. Since the passenger traffic was the dom- 
inant feature of steamboating between 1850 and 1870 the 
foreigner played a conspicuous role during these decades. 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

The census of 1860 revealed 1,673,694 of the 4,136,175 
foreign-born in the United States residing in the six Mid- 
dle Atlantic States. Seven-eighths of these were in New 
York and Pennsylvania, where lay the great ports of 
New York and Philadelphia through which most of the 
foreigners passed. The port of Boston exerted the same 
influence on the population of the Bay State. Massachu- 
setts attracted 260,114 of the 469,338 foreigners who had 
settled in the New England States. Thus, the twelve North 
Atlantic States retained fully one-half of the foreign im- 
migrants. These usually were of the poorer class who 
arrived penniless and promptly availed themselves of the 
many jobs open to artisans, unskilled laborers, and servants. 
Later they might have saved enough to continue their 
migrations westward and purchase a tract of government 
land for one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre.*" 

The remainder of the immigrants moved westward: 
serving as laborers in canal and railroad construction; 
finding employment in the rapidly sprouting cities of the 
West; or squatting on the rich lands of the interior. Dur- 
ing the late thirties Captain Frederick Marryat noted the 
small wooden shacks of newly arrived Irish workmen on 
the Erie Canal. A family dwelt in one of these "dog- 
kennels" that measured fourteen feet by ten. According 
to Marryat there was but "one bed, on which slept the 
man, his wife, and family." Above the bed were some 
planks where seven laborers slept "without any mattress, 
or even straw, to lie upon ... I looked for the pig, and 
there he was, sure enough, under the bed." 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

At Pittsburgh during the thirties Charles Augustus Mur- 
ray was ever aware of the "proudly eminent" voice of the 
Irish whether raised in "fun, bargain, or wrath!" Murray 
also saw many "broad-faced and broad-sterned, fair- 
haired butchers" whose nationality he could easily guess 
without looking at the boards over their stalls bearing such 
names as Schmidt, Reinhardt, and Hermann/*^ 

Immigrants came from England, Scotland, and Wales; 
from France and Switzerland; from Norway, Sweden, 
Denmark, and Holland; and from two score countries 
besides. But the Irish and Germans predominated. In 1860 
Pittsburgh contained 30,000 Americans, 9297 Irish, 6049 
Germans, and a scattering of others. The population of 
Cincinnati was almost equally divided between native and 
foreign-born, the Germans outnumbering the Irish more 
than two to one. St. Louis contained 61,390 Americans ^^, 
and 96,086 foreigners — 50,510 of the latter being Ger- 
man. In both Chicago and Milwaukee the foreign-born 
exceeded the native-born, with Germans predominating. 
Well might Captain Marryat remark that cities in the 
United States grew up to more importance in ten years 
than they did in Europe in a century.*^^ 

The westward flow of foreign immigrants is attested by 
the 1,197,100 found in the five States of the Old North- 
west in 1860. "Do not the Alleghany Mountains and Ni- 
agara stand as giant watchers at its entrance, to open the 
portals of that new garden of Paradise, the latest home 
of the human race?" queried Fredrika Bremer in 1853. 
"The people of Europe pour in through the cities of the 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

eastern coast. Those are the portals of the outer court; 
but the West is the garden where the rivers carry along 
with them gold, and where stands the tree of Life and of 
Death." ''' 

The census of 1860 showed Missouri, Iowa, and Min- 
nesota with 325,350 foreign-born within their borders. 
Minnesota attracted twice as many foreigners as the four 
South Atlantic States; Iowa's accretions almost equaled 
those of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee combined; 
Missouri gained more than the total of Alabama, Missis- 
sippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. The popularity of 
these eight States of the Upper Mississippi Valley is clearly 
demonstrated by the heavy influx of immigrants.**^ 

The St. Lawrence was the most northerly migration 
trail to the Mississippi. From Quebec an emigrant might 
reach Montreal in fourteen hours at a cost of five shillings. 
An additional ten shillings carried him to Kingston. Pas- 
sage over Lake Ontario in a regular mail line steamer to 
Toronto or Hamilton could be procured for around twen- 
ty-two shillings. Emigrants were warned to drink "spar- 
ingly" of the waters of the St. Lawrence, since they had 
a "strong tendency to produce bowel complaints in strang- 
ers." ''' 

The crest of the immigrant wave swept up the St. Law- 
rence during the year 1847 when 74,408 arrivals were 
chronicled at the ports of Quebec and Montreal. It was 
estimated that fully one-fourth of those who adopted this 
route died of ship fever while crossing the ocean or in pass- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

ing up the St. Lawrence. Niles' Register had this account 
of the tragic events in 1847 : "The poor creatures die as 
they pass up the river St. Lawrence; even such as appear 
healthy when they leave Quebec, often expire on their 
passage. Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, the various towns 
on the Bay of Quinte, and other towns with which there is 
regular communication, are filled with the sick and dy- 
ing." On August 22, 1847, there were 2048 patients on 
Grosse Island alone. During the preceding week 288 had 
died and the number of deaths in the hospital and tents 
since the opening of the season totaled 2126.*^^ 

Many would-be settlers, however, traveled this route to 
reach the western States. At Buffalo they helped swell the 
endless stream flowing westward through the Erie Canal. 
"Day after day the train on the Buffalo and Niagara Falls 
Railroad has come in, stretched to the length of a mon- 
strous serpent, and filled so full of German emigrants, 
that it seems like cruelty to compel a single engine to drag 
such enormous loads in such excessively hot weather. 'We 
learn that they choose the route, via Montreal, to evade 
the somewhat onerous requirements of the port laws and 
regulations at New York. From Montreal, they come up 
through Lake Ontario to Lewiston, thence to the city by 
the railroad. When they arrive here, they encamp any 
where on the street side, where they can find empty build- 
ings, which they occupy during a few days detention; but 
their stay is generally short, as they s^m to have made up 
their minds whither they were going before they left 
home." *" 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

The opening of the Welland Canal in 1847 inaugurated 
a new era in transportation via the St. Lawrence. During 
the year 1848 the steamer Free Trader made several trips 
from Quebec to Chicago without trans-shipment, and 
Alice Mann believed emigrants proceeding to the western 
States would find this route "much shorter and cheaper" 
than any other. During the fifties, however, fewer trav- 
elers were recorded by this route, the peak for the decade 
being 53,180 in 1854."'' 

Most of the immigrants who docked at the port of New 
York steamed up the Hudson to Albany and then floated 
westward over the Erie Canal. During periods of intense 
competition the fare up the Hudson was sometimes as low 
as twenty-five cents. At Albany they were absorbed in 
the flow of settlers from New England and New York, 
who, according to Robert M. Baird, approached Buffalo 
by stage or wagon on the road from Albany or by the 
Erie Canal. Early in the thirties six transportation lines 
were in operation on the canal, besides a number of short - 
run lines and boats belonging to individuals. Immigrants 
could leave Albany for Buffalo almost hourly. The price 
of passage in a packet boat was about four cents per mile; 
and the common or "line" boats charged from two to two 
and one-half cents per mile. Immigrants generally paid 
much less. 

At Buffalo the immigrant might set out by steamer for 
Detroit. Cabin passage for this trip cost eight dollars per 
person while a deck passenger paid only four dollars. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

During one week in June, 1833, seven steamboats arrived 
at Detroit from Buffalo with 2610 passengers/^* 

Ole Rynning believed the "best route" was by way of 
New York. "It is doubtless cheaper and quicker to go by 
way of New Orleans; but it is too warm and unhealthy 
there in the summer, and it is not advisable to immigrate 
at any other time of the 3'^ear to unbroken land without 
houses. I must also remark that New Orleans is noted for 
having the worst people in the United States." Rynning 
declared that most Norwegians secured transportation 
from New York to Buffalo by steamer and canal boat for 
from three to four dollars, baggage included. The tariff 
from Buffalo to Chicago ranged from nine to twelve 

The most distant ports on the Great Lakes witnessed 
this colorful pageant of native Americans and foreigners. 
At Sault Ste. Marie, Lawrence Oliphant found two hun- 
dred strangers (chiefly European and American emigrants) 
seated upon "piles of boxes and carpet-bags" waiting to 
board the steamer. "Fragile, delicate-looking ladies, with 
pink and white complexions, black ringlets, bright dresses, 
and thin satin shoes, reclined gracefully upon carpet-bags, 
and presided over pyramids of band-boxes. Square- 
built German fraus sat astride huge rolls of bedding dis- 
playing stout legs, blue worsted stockings, and hob-nailed 
shoes. Sallow Yankees, with straw-hats, swallow-tailed 
coats, and pumps, carried their little all in their pockets; 
and having nothing to lose and everything to gain in the 
western world to which they were bound, whittled, 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

smoked, or chewed cheerfully. Hard-featured, bronzed 
miners, having spent their earnings in the bowling saloons 
at the Sault, were returning to the bowels of the earth 
gloomily. There were tourists in various costumes, doing 
the agreeable to the ladies; and hardy pioneers of the 
woods, in flannel shirts, and trousers supported by leathern 
belts, and supplied with bowies, were telling tough yarns, 
and astonishing the weak minds of the emigrants, who 
represented half the countries of Europe." *^^ 

Few people except immigrants, according to Ole Raeder, 
were willing to be packed away in the hold of a Hudson 
River or Great Lakes steamboat."^ But cramped quarters, 
declared Captain Marryat, meant little to Irish immi- 
grants. "A single bed will contain one adult and four 
little ones at one end, and another adult and two half- 
grown at the other. But they are all packed away so snug 
and close, and not one venturing to move, there appears 
to be room for all." 

At Dunkirk, New York, Marryat saw the boat put off 
a lone emigrant family. '*I watched them carefully count- 
ing over their little property, from the iron tea-kettle to 
the heavy chest. It was their whole fortune, and inval- 
uable to them; the nest-egg by which, with industry, their 
children were to rise to affluence. They remained on the 
wharf as we shoved off, and no wonder they seemed em- 
barrassed and at a loss. There was the baby in the cradle, 
the young children holding fast to their mother's skirt, 
while the elder had seated themselves on a log, and watched 
the departure of the steam-vessel; — the bedding, cooking 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

utensils, &c., all lying in confusion, and all to be housed 
before night. Weary did they look, and weary indeed they 
were, and most joyful would they be when they at last 
should gain their resting-place." *^* 

But to many the Great Lakes proved a final resting 
place from whose bourne no migrant ever returned. "Not 
long since", Fredrika Bremer relates, "a vessel of emigrants, 
mostly Germans, was destroyed by fire on Lake Erie, and 
hundreds of these poor people found a grave in its waters. 
Among those who were taken up were seven or eight 
couples, locked in each other's arms. Death could not 
divide them." ''' 

During the fifties William Ferguson saw a train of Ger- 
man immigrants who had just debarked from a Great 
Lakes steamer start for the West on the Michigan Central. 
"Their accommodation is very poor — merely common 
box freight-cars, with the rudest seats fitted up in them. 
There are no windows, so no light or air, unless they keep 
the sliding doors in the sides always open. I do not wonder 
that multitudes died from cholera in these trains last sum- 
mer, or that they die still in numbers; coming into them, 
as they often do, from the foul holds of the ships, — disease 
already upon them." ^^^ 

Immigrants by the thousands made their way westward 
over the Pennsylvania Canal. A Philadelphia newspaper 
noted with no little pride the following "Glorious Acces- 
sion" to the Stars and Stripes. "Among a number of emi- 
grants arrived at Philadelphia, was an old man in the fifty 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

eighth year of his age, who had with him ten sons, four 
daughters, five daughters in law, three sons in law, twenty 
eight grand children, and two great grand children. He 
was smoking his pipe quite leisurely, and seemed happy. 
They intend to locate themselves in the western country 
and till the soil. Success to them." ^" 

From Philadelphia or Baltimore the route lay by railroad 
to Columbia, Pennsylvania, thence by canal boat up the 
Susquehanna and Juniata rivers to Hollidaysburg. A por- 
tage railroad of inclined planes and stationary engines then 
crossed the Alleghenies to Johnstown. The journey of al- 
most 400 miles to Pittsburgh was continued in canal boats 
by way of the Conemaugh and Allegheny rivers. The fare 
from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh ranged from seven to ten 
dollars and the time consumed from four to eight days.*®^ 
To Iowa over the Pennsylvania Canal went the Dutch to 
establish Pella.*^^ By this route also went many of the 
Swedes to found New Sweden in the Hawkeye State.*®* 
Let us follow a group of immigrants over this route. 

On June 30, 1845, two hundred Swiss landed at Balti- 
more after a stormy voyage of forty-nine days. A kindly 
German gave some of the company lodging on the attic 
floor of his home for three cents a night and charged them 
twelve and one-half cents for meals. Competitive bids for 
transportation to Pittsburgh were secured from three 
shippers : the contract was awarded to one, Abraham 
Cuyk. The Swiss paid twenty francs for each passenger, 
children four to twelve going at half fare, while those 
under four went free. A hundred pounds of baggage was 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

allowed each grown person, the residue being carried at 
the rate of $1.00 per hundred. 

The Swiss enjoyed the novelty of their first railroad 
trip, traveling with the "speed of the wind" from Balti- 
more to Columbia. Here they clambered aboard canal 
boats to enjoy a good night's rest before setting out up the 
Susquehanna River. "One may imagine", wrote one of 
the party, "how 30 to 35 human beings were pressed like 
herrings into a space 1 2 by 7 feet, many had no room even 
to sit and were obliged to stand all night as if they were 
sentenced to the stocks." 

The Swiss were astounded at the engineering involved 
in constructing the Pennsylvania Canal. Sometimes their 
boats were drawn up and let down steep inclines by a wire 
rope connected with a stationary steam engine. Locomo- 
tives or horses were used on the levels, while down easy 
inclines they sailed "fast enough" without assistance. 
Meals were procured while passing through the locks, the 
prices depending, apparently, upon the eagerness of the 
travelers to buy. It required a week to reach Pittsburgh. 
As they floated into the city the Swiss yodelled a few songs 
"which attracted hundreds of people to the border of the 
canal and to the windows of the adjoining houses." 

A contract was made with a steamboat captain at Pitts- 
burgh to carry the party to St. Louis. A fare of two 
dollars was charged for each person over fourteen. Chil- 
dren of eight to fourteen years went at half fare, while 
those under eight were to be carried free. On the eve of 
their departure the wife of one of the colonists was "safely 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

delivered in greatest quietness of a boy. Mother and child 
were well, although they lay in a berth near the boilers 
where the heat was smothering." 

It required six days for the steamboat to reach Cincin- 
nati. Here the Swiss learned that their boat would go no 
farther, and so their contract was automatically cancelled. 
Their resources were almost depleted, but they managed 
to secure a more favorable rate to St. Louis, which they 
reached in five days. From this point they journeyed by 
steamboat to Galena, Illinois, and thence proceeded over- 
land to their new homes in Wisconsin.*®^ 


Despite the fact that New Orleans was said to harbor 
the "worst people in the United States" the southern route 
had many proponents.*^^ James Peck declared that those 
who resided within "convenient distance of a seaport" 
would find it both "safe and economical" to ship their 
surplus clothing, bedding, books, etc., by way of New 
Orleans, especially if they steered for the navigable waters 
of the Mississippi.*®^ 

John B. Newhall also advocated the southern route for 
emigrants to Missouri, Iowa, and southern Illinois, since 
the expense was much less and there were fewer difficulties 
to contend with than by any other route. Upon his arrival 
in New Orleans, Newhall pointed out, the immigrant could 
leave his family on board the ship until he secured steam- 
boat passage up the Mississippi. A little blooded stock 
could also be carried by way of New Orleans.*®^ 

Prior to 1845 it required about two weeks for a steam- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

boat to complete the journey from New Orleans to St. 
Louis. After that year fast boats plied between these ports 
in from six to eight days. Cabin fare from New Orleans 
to St. Louis was twenty-five dollars, while freight cost 
around sixty-two and one-half cents per hundred. Since 
most immigrants could not aj0ford cabin passage they us- 
ually booked as deck passengers. Adults were carried for 
three or four dollars — children at half fare. Deck pas- 
sengers had to provide their own food and assist the crew 
in wooding-up.^^^ 

A group of Hollanders paid $2.50 in 1846 per passage 
from New Orleans to St. Louis — children under nine 
going at half fare. Each person was allowed one hundred 
pounds of baggage — the remainder being transported at 
the rate of twenty-five cents per hundred pounds. It re- 
quired nine days to make the trip.*^° 

When John Regan, bound upstream by steamboat from 
New Orleans, saw several of his English companions 
"gnawing a huge piece of beef off a square biscuit" he 
inquired of one John Adams how he had obtained his share. 
Regan was informed that members of the crew, having 
more than they could consume, had given it to the Eng- 
lishmen and "were much amused to see with what a good 
appetite the emigrants demolished the remains of their kit 
of beef, which they were in the habit of throwing over- 
board at the end of meals." *^^ 


Upon his arrival at an American port the immigrant 
was usually pounced upon by a pack of hotel and trans- 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

portation runners. The "frauds and outrages" committed 
by these crafty and unscrupulous "wolves" was sufficient 
to "shock" even a hardened New York legislative com- 
mittee. These runners were employed by the month or 
worked on a commission. As immigration increased, com- 
panies developed the plan of hiring foreigners to prey 
upon their own nationalities. The New York commission 
found "the German preying upon the German — the 
Irish upon the Irish — the English upon the English".*" 

Here and there a ray of sunshine brightens what might 
otherwise be a rather sordid tale. The efforts of Americans 
to solve the immigration problem at Ward's Island, New 
York, was highly praised by Fredrika Bremer. "Thou- 
sands who came clad in rags, and bowed down with sick- 
ness are brought hither, succored, clothed, fed, and then 
sent out westward to the states of the Mississippi, in case 
they have no friends or relations to receive them at a less 
remote distance. Separate buildings have been erected for 
the sick of typhus fever; for those afflicted with diseases 
of the eye; for sick children; for the convalescent; for 
lying-in women. Several new houses were in progress of 
erection. Upon those verdant, open hills, fanned by the 
soft sea-breezes, the sick must, if possible, regain health, 
and the weak become strong. We visited the sick; many 
hundreds were ill of typhus fever. We visited also the 
convalescent at their well-supplied dinner-table." "^ 

John Murray Forbes believed in applying strict business 
principles to the immigration problem. Writing to Ed- 
ward Everett Hale in 1852 Forbes declared : "I have long 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

been of the opinion that the subject of Emigration opened 
the widest field of this century ... I know of no elements 
that offer more inducement to the economist to bring 
them together than the strong hands and empty stomachs 
of Europe, and the rich Dollar-an-acre Prairies of the 
West. Cahfornia is a cypher in comparison, a mere pro- 
ducer of the measure of value, not of value itself. The 
railroads which are at last checkering the West in all 
directions will give a new element of certainty to the 
transit of the Emigrant . . . Benevolence may point the 
way and law may and must help to regulate the abuses 
which have grown up; but when you are dealing with an 
Emigration of 400,000 people who, I will venture to say, 
are fleeced $10 each to bring them from their hovels in 
the old world to their houses in the new, here is a premium 
of four millions per annum for the Devil to fight with." *^* 

The trek of the foreigners westward to the Upper Mis- 
sissippi was filled with many unhappy incidents. On July 
14, 1851, the Galena Advertiser complained bitterly that 
immigrants were "robbed, cheated, and manhandled" at 
Quebec, New York, and Philadelphia. Prospective immi- 
grants were urged by this solicitous editor to take the New 
Orleans route. Their health by this route would be "just 
as good" and they could expect to be "nicely treated" by 
both New Orleans and St. Louis officials. 

The travel-worn immigrants must have breathed a sigh 
of relief when they reached Chicago and were near their 
journey's end. But their sorrows were not yet over : un- 
scrupulous runners frequently pounced upon them there. 


On the Trail of the Immigrants 

Under the caption "Strangers in a Strange Land" a Du- 
buque editor noted the arrival of two families of Nor- 
wegian immigrants who had been brought down the river 
from Prairie du Chien. "This was in consequence of 
erroneous directions given them by Chicago runners in the 
genuine Chicago spirit, which would rather send emi- 
grants to Russian America or Nicaragua than have them 
contribute to the population and prosperity of Iowa. 
These Norwegians had farms purchased by money for- 
warded by them to their friends, at the places mentioned, 
but had not money enough with them to carry them to 
their journey's end after the contemptible imposition 
practiced upon them." Fortunately for them a local rail- 
road gave them free passage as far as the road could carry 

Such incidents were not uncommon, and many letters 
were sent home warning friends and relatives to trust no 
one. One immigrant refused to surrender his baggage 
check to the steamboat clerk upon reaching Minnesota. So 
great was his determination and so deep-rooted his dis- 
trust that he was finally permitted to take his baggage and 
retain his check. The son of this immigrant. Captain E. 
W. Holstrom, later operated the ferry between Lake City, 
Minnesota, and Stockholm, Wisconsin.*^^ 

Filled with the hope and enthusiasm of the frontier the 
more sordid incidents of the migrations westward to the 
Mississippi were soon forgotten. Life was constantly be- 
fore them; rich lands beckoned on every hand : all their 
experiences were simply refining fires. Aboard a throbbing 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Upper Mississippi steamboat the final lap in their journey- 
was made in comparative comfort. Today the sons of these 
immigrants rule the destinies of a dozen Commonwealths 
of the Upper Mississippi Valley. 



1 o ttlie rSfortli ofar ofafe 

The heyday of steamboating on the Upper Mississippi 
was ushered in with the creation of the Territory of Min- 
nesota in 1849. Between 1850 and 1870 steamboats were 
jammed from stem to stern with a curious array of immi- 
grants hailing from the four quarters of the Union and 
from two score foreign countries. Steamboat captains 
reaped a rich harvest throughout this period as packets 
churned back and forth between St. Louis and St. Paul 
transporting settlers to their new homes. The mad stam- 
pedes to California and Oregon are dwarfed into in- 
j significance when compared with the huge waves of 
land-hungry pioneers that surged up the Mississippi. 

The first spray of settlers was a Kentucky family on 
board the Yirginia bound for the lead mines. During the 
next seven years the movement upstream was slow despite 
the advent of the steamboat. By 1830 the frontier line 
barely impinged on the Half-breed Tract in what is now 
Lee County, Iowa; and it was not until June 1, 1833, that 
settlers entered the Black Hawk Purchase. Indeed, when 
the original Territory of "Wisconsin was established in 1836 
the census revealed only 22,218 inhabitants in what is now 
Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota; and most of these were 
squatters in the mineral region. Fourteen years later (in 
1850) there were a half million souls in this same area. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

During the next twenty years the population of these 
three States soared to 2,688,396, or almost equal that of the 
thirteen colonies on the eve of the American Revolution. 
Minnesota — the North Star State — had acquired a far 
greater population in twenty years than had New York 
State in a century and a half. At the same time the 160,697 
foreigners in Minnesota in 1870 equaled the total popu- 
lation of Georgia in 1800 after sixty-seven years of settle- 

Before 1850 the majority of those who settled along the 
Mississippi River in Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa, came from 
Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, although the 
Atlantic and Gulf States were well represented. Only 
one-eighth of the population of Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa 
was foreign-born in 1850, the remainder being almost 
equally divided between those born within their borders 
and migrants from other States. By 1870 the 1,467,3 53 
foreigners in the five States of the Upper Mississippi Val- 
ley was greater than the total population of Missouri, 
Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in 1850.*" 

In 1853 St. Louis, the point of departure for immigrants 
bound upstream, was surpassed only by New York and 
New Orleans in enrolled steam tonnage. New York en- 
rolled 101,487 tons; New Orleans 57,174 tons; and St. 
Louis 48,5 57 tons, about one-seventh of which was en- 
gaged in transporting immigrants to the Upper Mississippi 
region. That year St. Louis had a greater steam tonnage 
than Wheeling, Cincinnati, Louisville, New Albany, Nash- 
ville, and Memphis combined. It had required less than a 


To the North Star State 

third of a century since the arrival of the steamboat for 
St. Louis to attain this prosperous commercial position.^^^ 

But the growth of steamboating on the Upper Missis- 
sippi was hardly less spectacular. Immigration was the 
principal factor in increasing the number of steamboat 
arrivals at St. Louis from the Upper Mississippi from 647 
in 1848 to 1524 in 1860. Measured by the number of 
steamboat arrivals, the activity of Upper Mississippi craft 
almost equaled that of the Lower Mississippi, the Mis- 
souri, the Illinois, the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Cumber- 
land, and the Arkansas rivers combined. Two years be- 
fore (in 185 8), St. Paul registered 1090 boats at her 
bustling wharves. The aggregate tonnage of the sixty- 
three boats which docked at St. Paul that year was 12,703, 
or about one-half the enrolled tonnage of Philadelphia. 
St. Louis and the Ohio River towns employed 7065 tons 
in the St. Paul trade. Galena, Dubuque, and Dunleith 
3141 tons, Prairie du Chien 977 tons, the Minnesota River 
1254 tons. Two craft totaling 266 tons hailed from no 
particular port. Immigration was the life of the St. Louis 
and St. Paul trade between 1850 and 1870."'°; 

St. Paul could not claim all the tonnage employed on 
the Upper Mississippi above St. Louis, since many steam- 
boats never reached that port. Three fairly equal sections 
of trade developed between the port of St. Louis and 
the Falls of St. Anthony. The first covered the 200 mile 
stretch between the mouth of the Missouri and Keokuk 
where the Lower Rapids presented a physical barrier to 
navigation. The second extended 22 5 miles above the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

rapids to the lead district where the concentration of 
population attracted steam craft. The third and longest 
section embraced the 275 miles between the lead mines 
and the Falls of St. Anthony. Along this broad waterway 
thousands of immigrants were carried upstream for a 
period of fifty years. The steamboat was the principal 
means of transportation in the early development of each 

Not all steamboats bound upstream from St. Louis 
could be termed Upper Mississippi packets. The Missouri 
River craft left the Mississippi after an eighteen mile trip 
upstream. Alton, seven miles above the mouth of the Mis- 
souri, had from an early date a daily packet. The Illinois 
River boats ascended the Mississippi forty miles to Graf- 
ton, discharging what St. Louis freight and passengers 
they had aboard along the way. These were not true Up- 
per Mississippi River packets. Although restricting their 
operations to the lower section of the river, the daily short 
lines from St. Louis to Quincy and Keokuk must be con- 
sidered as Upper Mississippi steamboats. 

The growth in population of the counties adjoining the 
Mississippi between St. Louis and St. Paul presents in 
miniature the astonishing development of the entire Upper 
Mississippi Valley. Ever since the voyage of the Vlrginiay^ 
settlers had been filtering into the country above St. Louis, 
choosing those locations which appeared most likely to 
prosper. Pike and Marion counties, Missouri, and Adams 
County, Illinois, attracted many immigrants. The latter, 
with Quincy as its metropolis, had by 1850 surpassed in 


To the North Star State 

population the more readily accessible Illinois counties as 
far south as St. Louis.**" 

The increase in population was not uniform, some coun- 
ties quickly surpassing their neighbors. For example, 
Lewis and Clark counties, Missouri, were not self-sustain- 
ing in 1836, and by 1840 they were eclipsed by Lee and 
Des Moines counties in Iowa. Again, in 1850 Dubuque 
County had as large a population as Scott and Muscatine 
counties combined. By 1860 the population of the four 
principal lead mining counties was 110,000, or almost 
equal to the four most populous counties clustered about 
the Lower Rapids. Although situated at the head of navi- 
gation, Ramsey, Hennepin, and Washington counties in 
Minnesota could boast a greater population in 1860 than 
any other three counties located in Wisconsin and Minne- 
sota as far south as the lead district. In the main, however, 
the entire country along the Upper Mississippi had enjoyed 
a substantial growth, only three counties below the lead 
district having less than 10,000 people in 1860. They 
were Calhoun and Henderson counties, Illinois, and Ralls 
County, Missouri.**^ No other single factor was so im- 
portant as the steamboat in conveying settlers to the coun- 
try immediately adjoining the Mississippi River. 

The halcyon days of steamboating are best revealed by 
following in the wake of the immigrants steaming north- 
ward following the creation of the Territory of Minnesota. 
Native Americans formed the vanguard. Craftsmen of 
every trade came to St. Paul in 1849 to swell the tide; 
professions were crowded; and every building was requi- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

sitioned for temporary shelter. The erection of new struc- 
tures was attested by the incessant pounding of hammers. 

Glowing accounts were carried eastward of a thriving 
metropolis at the head of navigation on the Upper Missis- 
sippi. One settler who arrived at St. Paul on the Senator 
in October was dumfounded to find a rough frontier vil- 
lage, whereas newspaper accounts had led him to picture a 
city surpassed only by New York.*^* Indeed, when some 
immigrants arrived on the Highland Mary in July they 
were greeted by the raucous whoops of Sioux warriors on 
one side of the river and welcomed by cheers from the 
white settlers on the other. Both were probably attracted 
by the gay music from the boat's brightly lighted cabin. 
A barge which was lashed to the side of the Highland Mary 
contained about one hundred cows belonging to the immi- 
grants. Under the glare of the torch, the wild staring 
eyes of the cattle plainly indicated intense hunger.*^^ 

Thousands of immigrants from the Ohio and Lower 
Mississippi were carried upstream from St. Louis. Hun- 
dreds were left at ports below the lead district, but large 
numbers continued northward into Wisconsin and Minne- 
sota where the abundance of cheap land offered a strong 
inducement to the poor. St. Louis had felt a tremendous 
increase as early as 1846 when Iowa was admitted into the 
Union. Charles Lanman arrived at St. Louis that year to 
find the "wharfing ground so completely crowded with 
merchandise of every possible variety, that travellers were 
actually compelled to walk from the steamboats to the 
hotels." ''' 


To the North Star State 

When Phihp Hone arrived at St. Louis in 1847 he found 
it busthng with "boatmen, draymen, and laborers, white 
and black; French, Irish, and German, drinking, singing, 
and lounging on benches." He relates that "fifty large 
steamboats, at least, lie head on, taking in and discharging 
their cargoes; some constantly arriving from New Orleans 
and other ports on the Mississippi; Cincinnati, Louisville, 
etc., on the Ohio; from the great Missouri and its tribu- 
taries; the Illinois River, where we are bound, and the 
whole Western and Southern waters, which make this 
place their mart; whilst others are departing, full of pas- 
sengers, and deeply laden with the multifarious products 
of this remarkable region. The whole levee is covered, as 
far as the eye can see, with merchandise landed or to be 
shipped; thousands of barrels of flour and bags of corn, 
hogsheads of tobacco and immense piles of lead (one of the 
great staples) , while foreign merchandise and the products 
of the lower country are carried away to be lodged in the 
stores which form the front of the city." *^' 

The same bustle and confusion were noted by Fredrika 
Bremer in 1850. St. Louis looked "as if it were besieged 
from the side of the river by a number of immense Missis- 
sippi beasts, resembling a sort of colossal white sea-bears. 
And so they were; they were those large, three-decked, 
white-painted steamers, which lined the shore, lying closely 
side by side to the number of above a hundred; their 
streamers, with names from all the countries on the face of 
the earth, fluttering in the wind above their chimneys, 
which seemed to me like immense nostrils, for every steam- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

boat on the Mississippi has two such apparatus, which send 
forth huge volumes of smoke under the influence of 'high- 
pressure.' " Miss Bremer was told that immigration to St. 
Louis was increasing every year — "especially from Ger- 
many." The city doubled in population between 1845 
and 1849.*'' 

Scores of steamboats lay at the St. Louis levee awaiting 
the immigrants from New Orleans. A passenger aboard 
the Excelsior in June, 1851, described crowds of immi- 
grants, cabin passengers, and the freight. "A number of 
Prussian emigrants of the better class, with their beards, 
good figures, & foreign customs, a party of Irishmen, said 
to be 'noble', a certain officer of the army undoubtedly 
'royal', who amused us & astonished us by his wit & ex- 
tensive information, merchants from St. Louis & the east, 
& Wisconsin & every state in the Union, with Canada & 
Europe were found in the Cabin. On Deck were Germans 
and Irish, a filthy set, whose uncleanliness no doubt hast- 
ened the deaths which occurred among them & I was 
heartily glad when we landed the last at Dubuque." *'* 

The coming of foreign groups is well illustrated by 
Nauvoo where only three Americans remained following 
the Mormon exodus. When Charles Lanman steamed by 
in 1846 he described Nauvoo as a city "capable of con- 
taining a hundred thousand souls. But its gloomy streets 
bring a most melancholy disappointment. Where lately 
resided no less than twenty-five thousand people, there are 
not to be seen more than above five hundred." *^° By 1851 
Nauvoo had become a haven for a large Icarian com- 


To the North Star State 

munity composed largely of three hundred and fifty 
French, with a scattering of other foreign immigrants/^^ 

Early in the spring of 1851 the Minnesota arrived at 
Galena with two hundred and fifty passengers. The 
Wyomi77g came up in July with a group of German immi- 
grants (seemingly people of means) bound for Gutten- 
berg. An editor urged that the New Orleans and St. 
Louis officials should teach such immigrants rules of health. 
On her next trip the Wyoming brought a sunburned 
group of immigrants from Mecklenburg who were plan- 
ning to establish a socialist community at "El Kader" in 
North-eastern Iowa. Fall immigration was very heavy, 
the Wisconsin leaving ten families of sixty people at La 
Crosse alone. 

A St. Paul paper declared that ten new large first class 
steamers were to be put on the Upper Mississippi should 
the Senate ratify the treaty of Traverse des Sioux. This 
plan was intended to accommodate the tremendous rush 
of immigrants to Minnesota. Another paper remarked that 
three boats a week would be necessary in 1852, and that 
a daily line would be imperative in 1853. As the season of 
1851 drew to a close steamboats were unable to transport 
the huge cargoes of immigrants and freight; the Lamar- 
tine was offered three times as much as she could carry at 
Galena alone."^ 

Galena was then the metropolis of the lead region : it 
numbered almost seven thousand inhabitants. Pigs of lead 
were heaped along her wharves ready for exportation. 
Noisy and bustling at all times. Galena bore the brunt of 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the traffic from Chicago until the completion of the rail- 
roads to Rock Island, Fulton, Dunleith, Prairie du Chien 
and La Crosse robbed her of a considerable portion of her 
trade and tended to distribute it along the river. 

Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet recorded her astonishment at 
Galena's activity in 1852. "It was a novel amusement in 
the evenings to sit by the window and see rushing under 
it, with the noise made by the Western high-pressure boats, 
steamers so large as apparently to fill up the little river 
that skirts the city, and is now shrunken by the drought 
into half its accustomed limits. At night the appearance 
of these boats, lighted up and filled with lively passengers, 
is very picturesque. All that ascend or descend the Missis- 
sippi, stop at Galena. The 'fast boats' make the trip to 
St. Paul and back in a little over three days, averaging two 
a week; but we were counselled to wait and take a slow 
boat in preference, that the scenery might be seen to better 
advantage." *'^ 

The linking of the Atlantic with the Mississippi by rail- 
road decreased the Ohio River traffic. But the early effect 
was to increase the trade and fatten the receipts of Upper 
Mississippi steamboat owners. Each train brought hun- 
dreds of immigrants from the East and dumped them on 
the banks of the Mississippi. In 18 53 the St. Paul wharf 
boat master declared that "no one can judge of the large 
amount of immigrants coming in, unless they watch the 
landing closely. They land and are off to the country be- 
fore our citizens are aware of their presence." 

Early in June the Dr. Franklin and the West Newton 


To the North Star State 

arrived at St. Paul with an unusually heavy load of immi- 
grants. Sixteen boats, mainly Upper Mississippi craft, lay 
at the St. Louis levee. Those destined for the Upper Mis- 
sissippi were crowded with immigrants, although the car- 
goes were not always heavy. A few days later six of these 
steamboats were discharging freight and passengers at St. 
Paul. Many immigrants, moreover, had been left along 
the way : the Dr. Franklin had left twenty or thirty fam- 
ilies at Hastings alone.*^* 

A veritable deluge of immigrants poured into the Upper 
Mississippi Valley during the mid-fifties. In 1854 Thurlow 
Weed of the Albany Journal found the St. Louis levee 
lined for more than a mile with steamboats which gave a 
highly commercial aspect to the city. "Steamers lay here 
with steam up and placarded for New-Orleans, Louisville, 
Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Council Bluffs, Galena, St. Paul, 
&c., &c., while others from these places are discharging 
cargoes. The scene is as busy as that along South-st. in 
New York. Time is working a phenomena upon the Mis- 
sissippi River. In a business point of view this river is 
beginning to run up stream! In other words, a large share 
of the products of the Valley of the Mississippi are soon to v 
find a market up instead of down the river. There is a 
West growing with a rapidity that has no parallel, which 
will consume largely of the sugar, cotton, rice, &c., &c., 
of the South; while the railroads that are being constructed 
from Cincinnati, Toledo, Chicago, &c., to the Mississippi, 
are to take the corn, pork, beef, &c., &c., to a northern 
instead of southern markets." *^^ 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

"By railways and steamers", wrote the editor of the 
Keokuk Whig, "the flood of immigration continues pour- 
ing into the great West. The lake-shore roads are crowded 
to their utmost capacity; single trains of fourteen or fifteen 
cars, all full of men, women, and a large sprinkling of 
children, are almost daily arriving at Chicago. The Ohio 
River steamers are crowded in the same way. On Friday 
last, two steamers brought into St. Louis some 600 pas- 
sengers; most of whom, being destined for the northwest, 
have already passed through this place. And *still they 
come,' from Pennsylvania, from Ohio, Indiana, and other 
States, until, by the side of this exodus, that of the Israel- 
ites becomes an insignificant item, and the greater migra- 
tions of later times are scarcely to be mentioned." 

Returned from a two weeks furlough another Keokuk 
editor observed : "No one can travel up and down the 
Mississippi without being astonished at the immigration 
constantly pouring into Iowa from all parts of the coun- 
try; but especially from Indiana and Ohio." Burlington 
and Davenport were crowded with immigrants moving 
westward. Immigrants arrived hourly at Dubuque from 
Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois; while thousands 
came "from the hills and valleys of New England, bring- 
ing with them that same untiring, indomitable energy 
and perseverance, that have made their native States the 
admiration of the world." *®^ 

Most of the passenger trains arrived at Chicago with two 
locomotives. A Chicago editor noted that ^"^ttuelve thou- 
sand passengers arrived from the East, by the Michigan 


To the North Star State 

Southern road, during the last week — a city in the short -^ 
space of six days!" Twenty-five cars left Albany for 
Buffalo with thirteen hundred immigrants bound for Chi- 
cago and the Northwest, and another train load contain- 
ing fifteen hundred more followed within twenty-four 
hours. There was a heavy influx of immigrants into 
Northern Iowa : in 1850 Lansing had but one log cabin, 
but in 1854 it boasted four hundred inhabitants. Likewise 
the population in Allamakee and Winneshiek counties was 
growing rapidly. Decorah was unable to accommodate 
those wanting to enter lands; beds upon the floor were at 
a premium; while good prices were paid for an oppor- 
tunity to "lean against sign posts or hang on a hook." 
Many of those who landed at Lansing were intelligent, 
industrious, "well-to-do-Easterners" who bought improved 
farms at from $800 to $4000 each.*" 

Every road leading to the Northwest was thronged with 
immigrants in 1856. Nine thousand passed through Chi- 
cago in a single day. Every boat bound upstream was 
crowded : the Galena left Dunleith with over eight hun- 
dred passengers aboard, most of whom were destined for 
Minnesota. The City Belle arrived at the Winona levee 
with emigrants composing the Minnesota Settlement 
Company. These were warmly cheered by the citizens of 
Winona before setting off into the interior for some un- 
known settlement."* 

Harriet Bishop was amazed at the throng that packed 
Upper Mississippi steamboats. "It is a strange medley, in- 
deed, that which you meet aboard a Mississippi steamer. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

An Australian gold-hunter, just returned by way of Eng- 
land, from Melbourne; a merchant on a trip of pleasure; 
a professor in an eastern University, going out to invest 
in Minnesota; a St. Croix raftsman, returning from a trip 
down river, with a small fortune of logs; a New York 
doctor, with a pocket full of land warrants; an eastern 
man, who administers electro-chemical baths; a South 
Carolina boy, with one thousand dollars and a knowledge 
of double-entry; a sturdy frontierman, with a saw mill 
for the interior; an engineer, who escaped the Panama 
fever on the Isthmus railroad; a Yankee schoolmaster, who 
has become a small speculator in oats; and scores of others 
of doubtful character, who sport heavy moustaches, and 
keep their mouths shut. Verily, a strange medley do you 
find aboard a Mississippi steamer!" *^'* 

When Nathan H. Parker took passage on Captain Pres- 
ton Lodwick*s Northern Belle he found five hundred al- 
ready aboard. According to Parker "State-rooms were 
entirely out of the question, and bunks upon the floor or 
seats at the table were at a premuim. Standing at the lower 
end of the cabin, and gazing upon the hundreds of per- 
sons whose beds covered almost every foot of the cabin 
floor, I intuitively exclaimed, 'This is going West.' I mused 
upon the various situations and climates and nations these 
peoples had left; the misfortunes that had befallen some, 
and the fortunes that had fallen to others, alike impelling 
them to seek the 'land of promise — the great West,' each 
individual having different plans and anticipations for the 
future, and each seeming to delight in being one of this 


To the North Star State 

hurly-burly, motley throng." Passenger traffic had already 
become so heavy on the Upper Mississippi that Parker felt 
that anyone who was fortunate enough to possess a state- 
room and enjoy all the comforts and luxuries of the "float- 
ing palaces" must consider himself highly favored.''"'' 

The same activity prevailed at Dunleith when the Illi- 
nois Central reached the Mississippi. Incoming trains were 
met by agents and runners for the different boats who 
pounced upon the startled immigrants and travelers, 
pointing with pride to their own craft and disparaging the 
opposition boat. In 18 56 a runner for the Lucy Bertram 
told C. C. Andrews "with great zeal and perfect im- 
punity" that no other boat would leave for St. Paul within 
twenty-four hours when it was perfectly obvious that the 
mail boat would start that evening. The activity of such 
runners was often unnecessary, for usually there were more 
passengers than the boats could comfortably accommodate. 

Andrews went aboard the Lady Franklin and was for- 
tunate enough to secure a stateroom. "But what a scene 
is witnessed for the first two hours after the passengers 
begin to come aboard! The cabin is almost filled, and a 
dense crowd surrounds the clerk's office, just as the ticket 
office of a theatre is crowded on a benefit night. Of course, 
not more than half can get state-rooms and the rest must 
sleep on the cabin floor. Over two hundred cabin pas- 
sengers came up on the Lady Franklin. The beds which 
are made on the floor are tolerably comfortable, as each 
boat is supplied with an extra number of single mat- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

St. Paul presented the same activity. When the North- 
ern Light arrived early in May, 1857, the Frank Steele^ the 
Messeftger, the Orb^ the Golden State, the Equator, the 
Key Stone, the Saracen, the Sam Young, the Mansfield, 
the Ocean Wave, the Red Wing, the Golden Era, the Min- 
nesota, the Conetvago, the Kate French, the Tifne and 
Tide, the Hamburg, the W^t^e, the Excelsior, and the W. 
L. Ewing lay diagonally with the levee. "Instead of pre- 
senting the appearance of a city of houses", a traveler 
observed, "the levee looked like a city of steamboats." 
In this flotilla were steamboats hailing from distant Cin- 
cinnati and Pittsburgh. Frozen Lake Pepin was responsible 
for so colorful an array at St. Paul.°°^ 

Sleeping accommodations were not always at their best. 
On April 16th the Reveille arrived at St. Paul with her 
decks thronged with people who had been delayed at the 
foot of the Lake. "Most of those who came in her", ac- 
cording to a contemporary account, "were obliged to be 
content, so far as sleeping arrangements were concerned, 
with a chance to lie two deep on the greasy cabin floor, 
with their carpet bags under their heads for pillows, whilst 
the wind whistled a lullaby through the broken and almost 
sashless windows of the vessel." In July of 1857 two 
hundred Norwegians destined for the "Dunkirk Precinct" 
in Goodhue County were landed at Red Wing by the 
Metropolitan. Six hundred more were to come in October 
to the same settlement.^°^ 

The following year a Red Wing dispatch read : "The 
Wednesday morning packet landed at our levee another 


To the North Star State 

delegation of immigrants for the Norwegian settlement, 
who packed four heavy teams with their goods and passed 
back into the interior. Dunkirk will soon become about 
the most flourishing settlement in the State. More are yet 
to arrive." A short time later the Northern Belle came 
up with a colony of three hundred Swedes who expected 
to settle in the vicinity of Red Wing. Foreign immigrants 
were discharged at every port above St. Louis. '°* "We 
noticed on the Levee, the other day", declared a Dubuque 
newspaper, "a number of Bohemians, just arrived. The 
men were stout and able-bodied, and the women fat, 
stumpy and good-looking. They were dressed in the 
peculiar style of their country." ^°' 

As long as the railroads did not run parallel with the 
river this immense traffic continued. Clusters of foreigners, 
congregated at the various railway terminals along the 
river, anxiously awaited the arrival of the first steamboat 
bound for the rich lands above. A party of two hundred 
and fifty Norwegians arrived at Dunleith in June, 1866, 
and prepared to take passage on the Jennie Baldwin. Un- 
der the title, "Emigrants by the Car Load", the Dubuque 
Herald commented that "the Dunleith depot presents a 
picturesque appearance just at present. Twelve carloads 
of German emigrants came in Tuesday, bound for some 
point up the river, and being too late for the boats they 
were compelled to lie over. And lie over it is in a literal 
sense. From one end of the depot to the other they were 
scattered over the floor, dovetailing together in the most 
workmanlike manner possible while their huge trunks and 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

bundles make an effective barricade against all intruders." 
A deckload of passengers bound for Minnesota departed 
on the Key City on June 23rd; and it was noted that six 
hundred emigrants were in Chicago awaiting the arrival 
of five thousand more from the mother country.°°° 

The next year a party of two hundred Norwegians 
reached Dunleith on their way to Minnesota. Their trunks 
and bundles filled five freights. "Capt. Webb received 
them with open arms, as he was short of help, and pressing 
them in the ranks, loaded the Itasca with their ponderous 
chests, and five cars of miscellaneous freight besides, nearly 
cleaning out the Dunleith depot. The boat departed with 
a big trip for a dull season." '°^ 

Throughout the sixties steamboats continued to carry 
large numbers of passengers to Upper Mississippi ports. 
The Davenport arrived at Dubuque late in April, 1867, 
with seventy-five cabin and forty deck passengers. On 
May 21st she was recorded at Dubuque with 425 cabin 
passengers. On her next trip up, one hundred cots had 
to be placed on the floor to accommodate the crowded 
cabin. In mid-June the Davenport passed Dubuque with 
600 passengers aboard, 300 of whom were raftsmen. An 
editor predicted that when navigation came to a close the 
Davenport would show the largest season's business. In 
both passengers and freight, it was said, the season of 1867 
provided upstream boats with cargoes "equal to previous 

>J 508 


The season of 1868 was also profitable. A Dubuque 
editor expressed deep satisfaction because immigrants were 


To the North Star State 

showing a preference for Iowa rather than locating in the 
"wilds of Kansas, Nebraska or Colorado." "'"^ 

On July 11, 1869, the steamboat Muscatiue churned past 
Dubuque with a heavy load that included 300 cabin and 
300 deck passengers. A week later the Minneapolis arrived 
at Dubuque with a heavy freight and over 700 passengers 
registered, most of whom were still on board. Staterooms 
on the Minneapolis commanded a premium : passengers 
'*lucky enough to snooze in a chair" were considered for- 
tunate. A short time later the Tom Jasper, jarmned with 
passengers, put in her appearance at Dubuque. While re- 
joicing over the prosperous trip a Dubuque editor could 
not help lamenting that the cook on the Tom Jasper was 
the "black rascal that induced Mrs. Joe Howard to leave 
her husband last week and took her to St. Louis." 

Throughout the season of 1869 the Canada, the Du- 
buqice, the Mollie McPike, the Northern Belle, the Min- 
nesota, the Savanna, and the Sucker State arrived at 
Dubuque "black" with passengers. "Travel on the river 
was never better than it is this summer", declared the Du- 
buque Herald of August 5, 1869. "Every up river boat is 
crowded beyond its capacity for comfort, and those pas- 
sengers who are fortunate enough to secure a state room 
are indeed lucky. Even sleeping room in the cabin com- 
mands a premium." "° 

The seventies witnessed a precipitate decline in the pas- 
senger traffic as railroads had come to afford a speedier and 
more dependable means of year-round transportation. By 
the seventies, however, the grain trade had grown to im- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

mense proportions. Steamboat captains reaped a golden 
harvest towing barges of grain to Upper Mississippi rail- 
road elevators as well as to St. Louis and distant New 
Orleans. It was the immigrants swarming upstream by 
steamboats as far as the North Star State that made the 
grain trade possible and staved off for almost a generation 
the decline and ultimate extinction of steamboating on 
the Upper Mississippi. 



Life on tike Deck and m the •UalDiii 

Runners, blacklegs, and gamblers, explosions, tornadoes, 
and devastating fires, snags and sandbars, poor food and 
wretched accommodations, sickness, suffering, and death 
— these possibilities faced the bewildered immigrant as he 
embarked aboard an Upper Mississippi steamboat on his 
journey to the promised land. Cabin passengers enjoyed 
a certain degree of comfort, but life on the lower deck 
was sometimes insufferable. 

The hardships of immigrants aboard steamboats was 
not restricted to the ordinary affairs of life. Epidemics of 
Asiatic cholera swept the country in the decades preceding 
the Civil War and steamboats often carried the disease 
from port to port. Sanitation was little known, and deaths 
were all too frequent among the immigrants. It was not 
an uncommon sight to see a steamboat land and the crew 
jump ashore and hastily dig a shallow grave for the latest 

The callous indifference of Americans to life on the 
steamboat frontier caused Captain Marryat to exclaim: 
"I hate the Mississippi, and as I look down upon its wild 
and filthy waters, boiling and eddying, and reflect how un- 
certain is travelling in this region of high-pressure, and 
disregard for social rights, I cannot help feeling a disgust 
at the idea of perishing in such a vile sewer, to be buried 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

in mud, and perhaps to be rooted out again by some pig- 
nosed alligator." ''^ 

Immigrants were urged to be extremely careful in their 
diet and not run into excess of any kind. A little nutmeg 
or essence of peppermint and water added to some burnt 
cork poured in a teaspoonful of brandy and mashed with 
loaf sugar was considered a sure cure for cholera in 1824. 
Cholera victims during the forties probably breathed more 
freely on learning that four or five of Wright's Indian 
Vegetable Pills taken each night on retiring would quick- 
ly "rid the body of every description of suffering." ^^^ 
r In spite of these nostrums cholera took a heavy toll of 
lives during the late forties and early fifties. It appeared 
first on Lower Mississippi steamboats in December of 1848 
and quickly spread to the Upper Mississippi boats. Six 
Trappist monks from Waterford, Ireland, bound for Du- 
buque aboard the steamboat Constitution^ died of cholera 
near St. Louis in 1849. Two hundred and thirty-six cases 
existed in Quincy that year. Some immigrants aboard the 
West Newton in 1850 saw six dead bodies floating in the 
river — evidently poor passengers who had been thrown 
overboard "to save the trouble of burial and to escape 
quarantine regulations." °^^ 

A passenger aboard the Excelsior in 1851 wrote : "The 
first intimation I received of the presence of death in our 
midst was the tolling of the bell & the mooring of the 
boat at the foot of a high bluff on the Illinois shore. Soon 
some hands jumped ashore, a grave was speedily dug & as 
the last rays of the setting sun glided from the waters face, 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

a bird sent up a joyful note over the grave of the infant 
which an hour before had breathed its last. We proceeded 
on our way an[d] 'ere two days had passed we had buried 
five deck passengers, I fear some of them victims of cholera 
no doubt aggravated or induced by filthiness, exposure, 
fatigue & improper diet." Nine cases, some of them fatal, 
broke out on the Galena while on her way upstream to St. 
Paul. One of the victims lay in a canoe on the St. Paul 
levee surrounded by some fellow passengers who vainly 
strove to revive him."* 

The Upper Mississippi Valley was thrown into a panic 
in 1866 when the Canada arrived at Dubuque with several 
cases of cholera reported on board. Passengers declared 
that three bodies had been thrown overboard and several 
of the stricken victims put ashore. When the boat arrived 
at La Crosse a physician pronounced the malady "cholera 
morbus, brought on by eating green apples, and drinking 
whiskey and milk." One of the sufferers was robbed of 
two hundred dollars by some "heartless wretch". When 
the Minnesota arrived at Davenport a little later several 
passengers were reported ill. "Three deaths occurred 
yesterday afternoon, the victims being deck passengers. 
One was buried at 3 o'clock, one at 6 o'clock, and one at 9. 
We did not learn their names." Such laconic reports were 
read with extreme uneasiness.°^° \ 

Charges were made at St. Louis that Dubuque was try- 
ing to harm the Northern Line by urging immigrants not 
to patronize its boats. This charge was stoutly refuted at 
Dubuque. Travelers were told not to shun the Canada and 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

other Northern Line craft as they were among the cleanest 
on the river. When it was rumored at Dubuque that the 
Sucker State had twenty-five cases of cholera aboard and 
that ten had been buried on islands, the city council 
granted the wharfmaster power to hail and inspect boats 
bound upstream. The Sticker State, the Minnesota, and 
the Lady Pike were thoroughly examined and pronounced 
free of cholera. The unfortunate Canada also passed in- 
spection, but was known ever after as the "pest boat" 
which lost her many a passenger. ''^'^ 
/ Cholera was more common among the deck passengers 
who lived in filth on the lower deck, ate coarse food, slept 
in the most convenient spot, and often drank to excess. 
Ole Munch Raeder, in commenting on his voyage on the 
Ked Wing in 1847, said that "first class passengers occupy 
the cabins on top of the deck, where there is plenty of 
fresh air and the balcony enables one to take a little exer- 
cise without getting dirty. But if one ventures down on 
the deck he finds the most terrible filth, mud, stagnant 
water, and a most offensive odor everywhere"."^ 

Another person noted that "cattle and horses, wagons 
and plows, and barrels of flour" had been taken aboard the 
Seitator at Prairie du Chien and McGregor as the prop- 
erty of immigrants bound for Minnesota. Passengers took 
a keen delight in watching boats discharge their cargo of 
livestock. "The work was accomplished by the cattle be- 
ing forcibly pushed over the gunwales, and each beast, as 
it fell, was submerged for the instant, then rose, and, 
expelling the water from its nostrils, made for the shore, a 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

process so rude and novel that it brought every passenger 
to view the scene." ^^^ 

Many travelers complained of the untidy washrooms. 
All the men aboard the Red Wing used a huge towel sus- 
pended over a wooden roller. "One must lay aside all 
instinct of cleanliness when one enters this place, which 
really ought to minister to the cause of cleanliness", Raeder 
laments. Such conditions were common. On one occasion 
when a complaint was made to the purser that the towel 
in the public washroom was filthy, the indignant officer 
replied : **Wal now, I reckon there's fifty passengers on 
board this boat, and they've all used that towel, and you're 
the first on 'em that's complained of it." "^ 

A like condition existed in the ladies' cabin. Only a 
few of the staterooms on a miserable old low-water tub 
were supplied with "ewers and basins". The other cabin 
passengers, according to Mrs. Ellet, were expected "to 
perform their ablutions in a small wash-room, scantily 
supplied with water and towels, and allowed but a minute 
and a half for the duty, elbowed and grumbled at in the 
mean time by half a dozen impatient for the succession. 
This was uncomfortable enough for those who could be 
content with *a wipe' over the prominent parts of the face, 
and an imperfect cleansing of the hands; but for us whom 
the habitual and plenteous use of the Croton had made 
absolutely dependent for life and comfort on a daily 
hond fide bath — the evil was intolerable. We had no 
resource but to brave the cabinmaid's frowns and a general 
stare, by seeking an introduction to the concealed water 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

barrel, filling stolen or borrowed pitchers to the brim, 
carrying them resolutely to our staterooms, and fastening 
the door." She felt, however, that the poorest boats would 
be better provided with conveniences for washing were 
they required; but most immigrants seemed satisfied with 
limited facilities."" 

Cabins were freely criticized. When Mrs. Ellet arrived 
at Keokuk "several runners on the bank set forth the 
merits of the rival boats — the St. Paul and the Kate 
Kearney — in voluble recommendation. 'Not a bug to be 
seen — will give the passage if you find one' — was music 
in our ears, after the direful experiences of the last three 
nights, when, driven from the staterooms by the *native 
population' we had been constrained to take on the cabin 
floor such rest as could be obtained amid the voluble 
chattering of Irishwomen, who seemed to think they could 
not have their money's worth unless they murdered the 
sleep of every body else." °"^ 

The same condition was found by Charles Francis 
Adams and his son on a trip to St. Paul with William H. 
Seward in 1860. On returning they were forced to take 
the Alhmnbra, which was then used as a freight and immi- 
grant boat. "Old and bad at the best", the Alhambra was 
crowded with passengers. The elder Adams declared the 
condition of the berths so "dubious that I deemed it most 
prudent not to risk the reception of vermin. Hence I was 
awake most of the night." His son was equally displeased. 
"The boat was in every respect a wretched one, — old, 
dirty and full of vermin." "' 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

The food of the deck passengers was hardly better than 
the "grub pUe" of the crew. When Samuel Pond, a Sioux 
missionary, came to Minnesota in 1833 he cut expenses 
by going as a decker and "clubbing with other passengers 
of the same class the table expense." These meals were so 
coarse that Pond was obliged to go ashore at landings to 
secure better food."^ In 1829, according to Caleb At- 
water, the Missouri and Red Rover stopped at the frontier 
villages along the way to procure fresh supplies of ice, 
butter, eggSy and chickens."* 

Some of the immigrants on the Indian Queen set out on 
a hunting expedition while the boat ascended the Lower 
Rapids. A herd of about thirty deer went "bounding" by, 
and one was bagged. Then, while the Indian Queen puffed 
upstream, the immigrants hurried to Nashville, Iowa, and 
"got together about half-a-dozen Indian corn cakes, shaped 
like cheeses, about 7 lbs. weight each, called, by way of 
eminence, 'Corn Dodgers;' several piles of buckwheat 
cakes, dough nuts, pancakes, wheaten bread in twenty 
various forms, and skim and buttermilk in four good 
sizeable water pails. We roasted our venison upon hazel 
switches and ate heartily. This noble repast, all of which 
we could not consume, cost us less than a picayune a 
piece." "^ 

Although cabin fare was much better. Munch Raeder 
was not enthusiastic about the food placed before him on 
the Red Wing; and he was displeased with the lack of 
milk for his tea. Perhaps he was consoled by the hearty 
appetite of a woman passenger. "I have never before seen 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

a woman blessed with such an appetite! She is one of the 
first at the table and also one of the last, and when she 
finally does decide to leave she takes along some provi- 
sions — tea, bread and butter, ham or fish — so that she 
may not starve before the next meal." "® 

Cabin passengers were not slow in responding to the 
dinner gong. "We had three tables set", relates a passenger 
aboard the Lady Franklin, "and those who couldn't get a 
seat at the first or second tables sat at the third. There 
was a choice, you may believe, for such was the havoc 
made with the provisions at the first table that the second 
and third were not the most inviting. It was amusing to 
see gentlemen seat themselves in range of the plates as 
soon as they were laid, and an hour before the table was 
ready." "^ 

Another person noted that "as the dinner hour drew 
near, the doors of the saloon were besieged very much as 
those of an opera-house are at a popular singer's benefit; 
and upon their being opened, a rush took place, succeeded 
by a hot contest for seats. This was a most disagreeable 
process, and one which was very apt to lead to unpleasant 
results; so we used generally to wait until two detachments 
of unshaven ruffians had dined, and then we came in for 
the scraps at a late hour in the afternoon." °^* 

Competition tended to keep the meals served at a fairly 
high level. As population increased, boats had no difficulty 
in replenishing their larder with fresh vegetables, fruit, 
meats, fish, and game. Boat stores^were located along the 
river and these took on a busy appearance as soon as navi- 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

gation opened. Immigrants found Phil Pier's saloon at 
Dubuque always well stocked. Equally good food could 
be purchased at the other levee stores. Thus, Koehler & 
Brothers were well supplied with the choicest of meats, in- 
cluding beef, mutton, pork, veal, and lamb. In 1869 
sirloins were selling at seventeen and one-half cents, veal 
and roasts at twelve and one-half cents and fifteen cents, 
corned beef and boiling pieces at ten cents, and mutton at 
ten and twelve and one-half cents. It is doubtful whether 
any passenger suffered from lack of food, though protests 
were frequently registered about the quality.'^^ 

A number of travelers and immigrants who took pas- 
sage on steamboats which plied the Upper Mississippi 
recorded their contempt for the poor facilities afforded. 
In 1847 ^he Red Wing was likened to a "mere trading- 
vessel in a half civilized country" which continually 
boasted of her youth despite her age. "The walls, the 
ceiling, the beds, all are uniformly painted white. Even 
in the ladies' salon there are none of the chandeliers, the 
lamp globes, the gilded scrolls and arabesques, the pianos, 
the sofas, and the couches which made the Lakes steam- 
ships so pleasant. A few red tables and yellow chairs, that 
is the total — except that in the ladies' salon there are 
some of those rocking-chairs which seem to be a sort of 
sine qua non of feminine existence everywhere in America. 
The only sign of luxury in the men's parlor is that the 
tables and parts of the floor are left uncovered so that the 
men can indulge to their heart's content in their favorite 
pastime of 'unrelenting, merciless spitting,' of which Mrs. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

TroUope speaks with such evident disgust. Their opera- 
tions generally center about the two stoves, where they sit 
as silent as statues, each one chewing his tobacco. A fur- 
ther convenience for this occupation of theirs is found in 
a hole in the floor which is so large that a lady could easily 
get her foot caught in it; to prevent such a calamity, the 
carpet has been cut away around the hole so that everyone 
can see and avoid it ... A whole mess of wreaths and other 
decorations of colored paper have been hung from the 
ceiling of the cabin and whenever anyone opens one of 
the doors so there is a draft, there is a buzzing sound as if 
hundreds of women were whispering to their neighbors 
the important news that Mr. A. has entered the room or 
Mr. B. had gone out." ''' 

But the Red Wing was not an old boat. Built at Cin- 
cinnati the previous year, she was 147 feet long, twenty- 
four feet beam, four and one-fourth feet hold, and 
measured 142 tons. Since she served a pioneer community 
it is not strange that the absence of filigrees was noted. 
The influx of immigrants, together with its attendant 
increase in passenger trafiic, resulted in larger and better 
steamboats. Corporations made possible expensive craft, 
and such boats as the Golden Era and the Saint Paid were 
well over two hundred tons. When the Ben Campbell slid 
from the Pittsburgh ways in 1852, she boasted fifty large 
staterooms. Mrs. Ellet pointed out that she "rivalled in 
size and elegance of arrangement the Lake and Ohio 
steamers; the state-rooms were large, and generally fur- 
nished with double beds and wardrobes, and the fare was 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

so excellent, that one was naturally at a loss to conceive 
how passengers could possibly be conveyed four hundred 
miles, lodged and fed sumptuously, and provided with at- 
tendance for four dollars each, less than one would have 
to pay at an ordinary hotel; at a time, too, when the furore 
of competition was over, the decline in the waters having 
stopped the running of many first-class boats." °" 

Destined to serve Upper Mississippi immigrants for six- 
teen years, the second War Eagle was launched at a cost of 
about $33,000 at Cincinnati in 1854. According to the 
Cincinnati Times "the cabins are furnished, with just 
enough of the gilt work to give them a cheerful appear- 
ance. All the modern steamboat improvements have been 
attached, and the barber shops, wash room, &c, are on a 
liberal scale. She will draw but 24 inches water, light, and 
only 5 feet when loaded to the guards. The carpets, of the 
finest velvet, are from Shilito & Co.'s; the furniture from 
S. J. Johns; mirrors from Wiswell's; and the machinery by 
David Griffey." Some fine views of the Upper Mississippi 
adorned her cabin."' 

During the sixties such boats as the Canada, the Hawk- 
eye State, the Sticker State, the Dttbuque, and the Phil 
Sheridan averaged five times the tonnage of the boats 
which frequented the Upper Mississippi twenty years be- 
fore. The Vhil Sheridan alone measured 728.46 tons. ~ 
Immigration was the prime factor in enlarging and beauti- \ 
fying Upper Mississippi craft."^ 

Grim tragedy sometimes stalked in the wake of steam- 
boats. Hardly a trip was made without an accident of 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

some kind. Immigrant deck passengers were frequently 
lost overboard, the yearly toll often reaching a staggering 
figure. When the Sarah Ann reached Hannibal in 1845, 
a sleeping immigrant rose, stepped off the bow, and was 
seen no more. His wife and child returned to friends. 
Two deck passengers were drowned in attempting to pass 
from the Tempest to her barge. Bound for Minnesota with 
his wife, child, and sister, Courtland Starr, an immigrant 
from Adams County, Illinois, was pulled in while attempt- 
ing to draw a bucket of water for his horse. Another 
immigrant was butted over by his oxen and drowned. 
Near Wild Cat Bluff at the head of Coon Slough [below 
Brownsville, Minnesota] an immigrant fell in and failed 
to rise. Sixty dollars was raised among the cabin passengers 
for his bereaved wife and child. The loss of "David Lam- 
bert, Esq, of St. Paul" was chronicled as a "Melancholy 
Event". Intoxicated, Lambert fancied some people were 
about to arrest him and jumped overboard."* 

Captains seldom turned back at the cry of "Man over- 
board!" This was not mere indifference, for it was 
generally conceded that the boat's wheel seldom missed its 
mark. But travelers sometimes had singular escapes. While 
the War Eagle was paddling upstream from La Crosse a 
young German deck passenger fell over just forward of 
the wheel. According to a contemporary account he 
"passed under it, was struck full in the forehead by one 
of the buckets and thrown senseless on the surface of the 
water, where he lay motionless until picked up", which 
was done immediately. On another occasion a passenger 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

fell off the Dr. Franklin just below St. Paul and was given 
up as lost. His wife returned on the Dr. Franklin; but 
when the West Newton arrived at St. Paul the lost one 
was aboard. Alive and well, he had swum ashore with no 
other damage than a refreshing bath on a warm night. 
"The widow", concluded an observer, "will be somewhat 
surprised to meet him again, after passing the ordeal of 
her first weeks grief!" 

Many instances of heroism brighten these otherwise 
sordid pictures. While the Liiella lay at Galena a little 
girl fell overboard, and her father, who could not swim, 
plunged in after her. Both were rescued with difficulty. 
A German decker aboard the Tishomingo was not so for- 
tunate in his effort to save an Irishman : both were sucked 
under the wheel. Unable to pay his passage above St. 
Paul, another German immigrant was attacked by three 
men while proceeding along the bank of the Minnesota 
River, The ruffians beat him and threw him into the river, 
but his faithful dog managed to hold him up until the 
steamboat Globe arrived.^^^ 

Explosions, collisions, snags, heavy winds, and fires were 
responsible for the loss of many lives. Bound upstream 
from St. Louis in 1837, the larboard boiler of the Dubuque 
burst v/ith terrific force, throwing a torrent of scalding 
water and steam over the deck passengers. Twenty-two 
lives were lost in this explosion — one of the first and most 
appalling on the Upper Mississippi."® 

Seven years later (1844) the Potosi burst a boiler near 
Quincy, killing three persons instantly and scalding twen- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

ty others. Three German deck passengers — a woman, a 
boy of fourteen, and a girl of eleven — were badly scalded 
when the Red Wing collapsed a flue a short distance above 
Rock Island in 1847 : a severe gust of wind had careened 
the boat until the leeward guard was submerged. But such 
explosions were neither so frequent nor so gruesome as 
those on the Ohio or Lower Mississippi.^" 

The light-draught, top-heavy steamboat was always an 
easy victim of the violent winds which held them at their 
mercy. Lake Pepin was a death-trap in a storm, and cap- 
tains became wary of the weather upon approaching it. 
In 1845 the Galena ran into a gale which blew down her 
chimneys and threatened to tear off her cabin. When the 
Otter steamed by a short time later the Galena was lying 
up with the bedding out to dry. The hurricane left a track 
three miles wide on shore and lashed the waves of Lake 
Pepin ten feet high. The elements played havoc with 
steamboats all along the river. While landing at Port 
Louisa, a sudden gust of wind knocked down the Michi- 
gan's chimneys and capsized a wood boat she was towing. 
Thirty men — members of the crew and immigrants work- 
ing their passage — were thrown into the river and four 
were drowned. Three others were blown from the Mich- 
igan and seen no more. The boat presented a sorry spec- 
tacle as she paddled upstream with her cabin demolished. 
The Nominee, known as the "pious boat", lost her whistle 
and fifteen feet of her chimney when blown against a 
tree. She was unable to blow "Old Hundred" at Galena 
the following Sunday."^ 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

Collisions were frequent. In 1842 a steamboat struck 
the Indian Queen^s keelboat while descending the Lower 
Rapids. The Dr. Franklin stove in several feet of timber 
on the larboard side of the Amaranth near Clarksville, 
Missouri, in 1849. Eight or ten lives were lost in 1857 
when the Ben Coursin rammed the Key City about six 
miles above La Crosse. Both the Amaranth and the Ben 
Coursin had violated the river navigation law.°^^ 

Next to explosions, perhaps, fires were feared most. 
Twenty-three steamboats were destroyed by fire at St. 
Louis in 1849 — the worst marine disaster on western 
waters. Seven of the lost craft were regular Upper Mis- 
sissippi boats, while several others made transient visits.***" 
/'Two sister ships, the War Eagle and the Galena, met 
their fate by fire. Built at Cincinnati in 1854, the Galena 
was completely destroyed by fire at Red Wing. Her pas- 
sengers, chiefly immigrants, were panic stricken. "Men, 
women, and children rushed down the gangway, and over 
board from all sides of the boat, many of them with noth- 
ing but their nightclothes about them. The rush was so 
great that the stages could not be launched; and but for 
the remarkable coolness and wise action on the part of 
the officers of the boat, more lives would have been lost." 
Only five were reported lost, but possibly many who were 
burned went unrecorded. In 1870 the War Eagle burned 
to the water's edge at La Crosse with a loss of six lives and 
a property damage of $215,000."' 

Filled with the hope and enthusiasm of the frontier, 
immigrants probably gave little thought to such almost 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

daily occurrences. Life was constantly before them, and 
rich lands beckoned to them on every side. No doubt 
many came inspired by Charles A. Dana's account of the 
region in 1854. "There is no region, I think, which can 
sustain a larger population than that on both sides of the 
northern Mississippi. A rich soil, suited to every product 
of the temperate zone, and absolutely inviting the hand 
of the farmer; a climate genial but not enervating; fre- 
quent streams to afford water power and fuel abundant in 
the earth; the great river for a highway, and railroads 
which, in forty-eight hours, land the traveler on the At- 
lantic — with all these advantages the entire country must 
become the home of one of the freest, most intelligent, 
most powerful and most independent communities of the 
world." Many immigrants worked their passage up and 
back to seek out and stake a claim. The Clarion ran up the 
Blue Earth and laid over a full day in order to allow her 
hands to select choice lands.^*' 

Besides discussing the merits of the new land, immi- 
grants found time to ponder over and weigh the nation's 
problems. The leading topics of conversation on the river, 
according to the Minnesota Pioneer of May 6, 1852, were: 
"Minnesota, the treaties, California, the Maine Liquor 
Law. The telegraph and the newspapers, now make the 
same topics of discussion universal, at the same time, 
wherever the English language is spoken. The presidency 
and Kossuth, and Jenny Lind, are not now much talked 
of. Our people require a fresh topic every few days." 
' The arrival at a port was a signal for a dash to the guards 



Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

and upper decks to watch the boat discharge and take on 
freight and passengers. A clever deck hand perched high 
on a swinging stage always attracted attention. The ex- 
phcit directions of the mate also proved both entertaining 
and instructive. Fights around the levee occurred daily, 
and immigrants and passengers were often drawn into 
bloody riots. In 18 57 the passengers and crew of the 
Saracen were attacked by the citizens of Fort Madison 
when they captured and severely beat a negro guilty of 
insubordination. The negro was tied to a stanchion where 
"severer punishment was to be inflicted." Several aboard 
the Saraceft were wounded and one citizen of Fort Madison 
was killed in the pitched battle. In the same year drunken 
rafters, armed with stones, knives, and guns, made a vicious 
onslaught on the Galena at Reed's Landing. At Dubuque 
in 185 8 an Irishman, who rejoiced in the sobriquet of 
"Rocky Ryan", led his hoodlum followers in an attack 
on the deck hands of the Albamhra.^*^ 

Those who worked their passage assisted in wooding up 
the boat. This was a novel sight at night. Charles Francis 
Adams, Jr., records that "as the hands, dressed in their 
red flannel shirts, hurried backward and forward, ship- 
ping the wood, the lurid flickerings from the steamer's 
*beacon-lights' cast a strong glare over their forms and 
faces, lighting up steamer, flat-boat and river, and bringing 
every feature and garment out in strong relief." "* 

Steamboats frequently experienced an unexpected addi- 
tion to the passenger list. An "interesting incident" 
occurred to an Irish woman aboard the Northern Belle 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

in 1856. Wrapped in flannel, the newly born infant 
weighed eleven pounds and was promptly christened 
"Preston Lodwick" McCormack in honor of the captain. 
A similar episode took place on board the Golden Era 
bound for St. Paul. A purse of $40 was raised for the 
benefit of the new parents. Since a physician was not al- 
ways on board the duty of midwife once fell to the captain. 
Thus, a woman aboard the Lady Pike experienced "some 
peculiar symptoms, which soon resulted in bringing into 
this world of sin and sorrow, a bouncing boy. The officers 
of the boat were all attention, Cap't Bradford officiating 
as chief physician on the important occasion. It is stated 
that he performed his arduous duties in a workmanlike 
manner. At last accounts both mother and child were 
prospering finely." ^*° 

So life went on, in fair weather and foul, aboard the 
throbbing steamboats. The men and women who carved 
out their homes in the Upper Mississippi were not readily 
deterred by the vicissitudes of life about them. Their 
yoke had not been an easy one back home : here in the 
Upper Mississippi Valley they could hope for a better 
life. Fully aware of the impelling forces, but amazed at 
the mad rush to the Northwest the New York Independent 
declared that "probably not less than a quarter of a million 
of people will emigrate the present year to our frontier 
States and Territories. Never was there such excitement 
on the subject before. It pervades all classes, in every city, 
town, and village. Students in colleges, professional, busi- 
nessmen — the most talented in all quarters — are taking 


Life on the Deck and in the Cabin 

possession of the soil, as surer foundation for permanent 
prosperity than can be found in any other vocation. What 
a glorious spectacle, and how promising the future!" "* 

This same bustling energy and spirit was exhibited by 
the polyglot passengers aboard Upper Mississippi steam- 
boats. The more sordid events of life were quickly for- 
gotten amid new friends and fresh scenes. Bound for 
Minnesota in 1849, E. S. Seymour, a traveler aboard the 
steamboat Senator^ was delighted with the activity at 
Prairie du Chien and McGregor as the boat took on board 
"a large number of cattle and horses, wagons and plows, 
and barrels of flour" belonging to Minnesota immigrants 
and the Winnebago Indians at Crow Wing. As Seymour 
relates : "We had now a respectable cargo, and some 
eighty passengers, principally destined for St. Paul, the 
new and flourishing metropolis of Minnesota. Laboring 
men, enticed by the allurements of high wages, were wend- 
ing their way hither. Doctors, lawyers, and divines were 
on board, seeking in this last of modern El Dorados a new 
field for professional labors. Invalids, desirous of recruit- 
ing their health by inhaling the bracing air of a northern 
clime, were pushing forward for a higher latitude, to en- 
joy that boon of nature — good health — without which 
all other enjoyments are imaginary and insipid; citizens of 
Minnesota, residing in different portions of that territory, 
who had been below for the transaction of business, were 
returning home on this boat. An interesting circle of in- 
telligent travelers; a good boat, without a liquor bar to 
disturb its quietness, commanded by an obliging and socia- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

ble captain, assisted by polite and attentive officers and an 
orderly crew; the beautiful and novel scenery and fine 
weather, caused the hours to pass away in an agreeable 
manner. As the sun threw its first rays upon the hill-tops, 
we sprung from our berths to catch a glimpse of the fresh 
morning landscape; and as his last rays, at the close of 
day, were lingering on the declivities, new and interesting 
features of natural scenery still attracted our attention, 
and furnished themes for conversation and reflection." ^" 



v^alDin ancl JUeck JPassage 

The creation of the Territory of Minnesota in 1849 
opened to settlement most of the country adjoining the 
Upper Mississippi. During the late forties the potato 
famine in Ireland and the revolutions on the continent 
were responsible for a tremendous influx of immigrants. 
The "Fashionable Tour" and the normal movement of peo- 
ple up and down the Mississippi added to the profits of 
steamboat captains. Just as lead dominated the period 
before 1850 so the passenger traffic exceeded in value that 
of any other single cargo between about 1850 and 1870. -^ 
While it would be difficult to set a definite date at which 
one could say that passenger receipts became greater than 
those on freight, the turn of the half century seems to 
mark the transition. 

During the thirties the rate of passage for immigrants 
did not differ greatly from that of a later date, although 
there was an appreciable difference in the safety, con- 
venience, speed, and luxury of steamboats. Passenger fares 
were governed by the number of passengers, the number 
of boats in the trade, the season of the year, and the stage 
of the water. 

In 1833 Samuel W. Pond, a Sioux missionary, advised 
his brother Gideon that cabin fare from Pittsburgh to St. 
Louis was twenty-four dollars and deck passage but eight 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

dollars. Cabin fare from St. Louis to Galena was fifteen 
dollars, and deck passage could be procured for five dol- 
lars. Provisions could be "found" along the way; but 
Samuel warned against the "coarse fare" of the steerage 
and counseled that it would be better to "pay a little more 
than too little". He suggested bread as the principal diet. 
In purchasing a ticket Pond warned his brother not to get 
one "clear through", since captains often decided not to 
go the full distance and would not refund the money.^*^ 

The following year Reverend Robert Baird published a 
guide to the West. According to Baird it cost fifty-five 
dollars to travel by stage and steamboat from Philadelphia 
to St. Louis. By traveling as a deck hand and assisting the 
crew at landings, immigrants could reduce the fare from 
Pittsburgh to Galena to as low as ten dollars. Immigrants 
who preferred the New Orleans route had little difficulty 
in meeting the ordinary expenses to Galena. From New 
Orleans to St. Louis cabin passage could be secured for 
twenty-five dollars and from that point one could travel 
for six dollars to Beardstown or Quincy. The usual fare 
from St. Louis to Galena was twelve dollars. "Those who 
cannot afford to take what is called a cabin passage in a 
steam boat", Baird writes, "may be accommodated with 
what is called a deck passage. The deck^ for the use of 
such passengers, is protected from the weather, but has no 
other convenience. Passengers on deck furnish their own 
beds and provisions. Many respectable emigrants find it 
to their advantage to travel in this way." ^*® 

Peck also spoke highly of the frugality and popularity 


Cabin and Deck Passage 

of a deck passage. "The deck for such passengers is usually 
in the midship, forward the engine, and is protected from 
the weather. Passengers furnish their own provisions and 
bedding. They often take their meals at the cabin table, 
with the boat hands, and pay 25 cents a meal. Thousands 
pass up and down the rivers as deck passengers, especially 
emigrating families, who have their bedding, provisions, 
and cooking utensils on board." "° 

An English family of seven, bound upstream from New 
Orleans to St. Louis in 1831, found traveling as deck pas- 
sengers both enjoyable and cheap. "We had engaged to 
find our own provisions", the mother relates, "but on 
account of their cheapness, or partly because I acted the 
part of matron to such as needed my assistance, we were 
frequently presented with young fowls, coffee, rice, &c., 
so that our food cost us very little on the river." ^" 

On July 16, 1836, Reverend Alfred Brunson arrived at 
Prairie du Chien from the headwaters of the Ohio. His 
mode of travel was frequently adopted by pioneer fam- 
ilies. "He brought with him from Meadville, Pennsylvania, 
by canal, French creek and the Alleghany river to Pitts- 
burgh, thence eighteen hundred miles by the Ohio and the 
Mississippi a keel-boat with four families, including his 
own, and a dwelling-house ready to be put together. The 
cost of towage from Pittsburg by steamboats was $650 
of which $400 was the charge from St. Louis to Prairie 
du Chien." ^" 

During the forties the rate from St. Louis to Galena 
remained around twelve dollars with deck passengers trav- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

eling at half that figure. The fare from Galena to St. 
Paul stood at about eight dollars when there was no com- 
petition. Boats operating on the Mississippi and its tribu- 
taries charged a proportionate sum. The following sched- 
ule for the Mississippi-Wisconsin rivers was posted at 
Galena in 1845 by the Maid of Iowa: 

Galena to 

Number of Miles 











Prairie du Chien 



English Prairie 






Sac Prairie 



Fort Winnebago 



Point Boss 



Deck passengers were carried either way at half fare and 
paid only twenty-five cents for meals. Freight charges 
were twenty-five cents per hundred to Prairie du Chien, 
fifty cents to English Prairie or Fielena, seventy-five cents 
to Fort Winnebago, and one dollar and a half to Point Boss. 
The Maid of Iowa left Galena with a heavy load of freight 
and passengers for Mississippi and Wisconsin river ports."**^ 
Competition brought rates to a ruinous level, and cap- 
tains were often barely able to pay the wood bill after a 
trip. Captain Harris waged a bitter fight against the Min- 
nesota Packet Company in 1852. Immigrants could travel 
from Galena to St. Paul for from one to three dollars — 
a rate which most persons felt ashamed to pay. A typical 



Cabin and Deck Passage 

news item for 1852 reads : "The West Newton and the 
Nominee, both crowded with passengers, arrived at St. 
Paul Tuesday night, at about the same minute, in a strife 
all the way up. The old Nominee tucked up her petticoats 
and the way she did leg it through, kept the West Newton 
at the top of her speed. We regret that this competition 
is reaching to such a pitch — or in fact that it should 
reach any pitch. Let the lines both live and work at fair 
prices, without any such strife." °" -^/o^^ rd. 

Fat years followed the lean ones, however, and in f^ 
185 5 the Minnesota Packet Company declared dividends 
amounting to $100,000 for the season's business. Captain 
Harris cleared $44,000 with the War Eagle \ while the 
City Belle made $30,000 in profits."' 

The balance sheet of the steamboat Milwaukee for the 
year 1857 shows that the sum of $53,939.65 was taken in 
on passages, while the receipts on freight totaled only 
$22,809.65. The net profit at the close of the season was 
$20,333.05. The Milwaukee cost the Prairie du Chien, 
Hudson, and St. Paul Company $41,741.22 : she was well 
on the way to paying for herself the first season. The 
following year the Ocean Wave, a boat which cost 
$19,500, earned $26,451.63 on passages and $9,373.13 on 
freight. Despite intense competition the Milwaukee took 
in $29,399.86 in passages and $9,779.44 in freight in 
1859."^ Deck passengers were carried from Dubuque to 
St. Paul for two dollars in 1859."^ The Galena, Dubuque, 
Dunleith, and Minnesota Packet Company schedule for 
two successive years was as follows:"' 


























Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Place Fare Freight 

McGregor & Prairie du Chien $3.00 
Lansing 3.50 

La Crosse 4.50 

Winona 5.00 

Reed's Landing 6.00 

Prescott & Hastings 7.50 

St. Paul 8.00 

In spite of the movement of troops and volunteers a 
temporary lull occurred during the early stages of the Civil 
War which tended toward a more equal division of freight 
and passenger receipts. The Milwaukee and Itasca re- 
ceived $26,775.45 and $25,973.61 respectively on passages, 
while their freight receipts amounted to $20,682.58 and 

It would be difficult to estimate the exact earnings in 
the passenger trade throughout the period of immigration 
into the Upper Mississippi Valley. Rates were high in 
some seasons only to be knocked down when competition 
broke out. In 1866 the Northwestern Packet Company 
announced a rate of ten dollars for cabin passage between 
Dubuque and St. Paul. Deck passengers were carried for 
six dollars. Such rates would ensure a good return if there 
was any traffic on the river.'®** 

When the balance sheet of the Northwestern Union 
Packet Company was struck for 1867, the Phil Sheridan, 
the Milwaukee, the War Eagle, the Northern Belle, the 
Addie Johnston, the Itasca, the Key City, the Diamond Jo, 
and the Keokuk each averaged almost $30,000 profits for 


Cabin and Deck Passage 

the season. The Northern Belle alone cleared $36,675.18 
in 1867.^®^ Most of these boats were engaged in the 
passenger and freight business and did no bulk towing. 
The heavy trips in immigrants and ordinary passengers 
reported by these boats throughout a highly competitive 
season make $150,000 a fair estimate of their earnings from 

Beginning with the year 1868 the fight between David- 
son's White Collar Line and the Northern Line of St. 
Louis developed into a death struggle for supremacy. 
Rates of passage from St. Louis to St. Paul might vary 
anywhere from five dollars to eighteen dollars. The rates 
might change several times during the course of a season 
as the two corporations came to an agreement, only to 
break it at the first opportunity. 

The season of 1868 opened with a brisk rate war which 
was terminated by a mutual agreement in mid-June when 
the two contestants agreed to charge uniformly reasonable 
rates. "The time for cheap traveling and cheap shipping 
is over for this season", declared the Dubuque Herald on 
June 18, 1868. "Even rich companies and corporations 
'cool down' when their pocket is affected by competition. 
Their 'mad' has played out". Cabin passage from St. Louis 
to Davenport was set at nine dollars, and eighteen was 
charged to St. Paul. The rates from Dubuque up were 
set as follows: 

Dubuque to Cassville $1.50 

Dubuque to McGregor 3.00 

Dubuque to Lansing 4.00 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Dubuque to La Crosse 4.75 

Dubuque to St. Paul 9.00 

The following month, however, competition broke out 
with renewed fury as the Northern Line instructed its 
agent at St. Paul not to "let a passenger slip out of his 
hands at any rate of passage." ^^' Whole families and col- 
onies of immigrants might be carried at ridiculously low 
rates on such occasions. 

The influx of immigrants gave captains and owners their 
richest profits during the prosperous days of Upper Missis- 
sippi steamboating. In diverting immigrants northward 
steamboats shaped the political, economic, social, and re- 
ligious structure of the Upper Mississippi Valley. Thou- 
sands of immigrants, both native and foreign, were led to 
the land of Canaan by letters from those who had gone 
before and were delighted with the facility of transporta- 
tion as well as with the soil and climate. 

A colorful drama was enacted on the decks of such boats 
as the War Eagle, the Grey Eagle, the Canada, the Hawk- 
eye State, the Sucker State, the Tom Jasper, the Milwau- 
kee, the Daveitport, the Phil Sheridan, and the hundreds 
of craft which plied the Upper Mississippi during the 
heyday of steamboating. Such boats in landing their 
cosmopolitan passengers left their tribute of farmers, land- 
seekers, tradesmen, soldiers, and others who helped to settle 
the Upper Mississippi Valley. 



M-amy C^argoes and Otrange 

Upstream cargoes included all the personal possessions 
of immigrants together with the steadily mounting ship- >^ 
ments of the manufactured goods from the East. Old bills 
of lading showed rakes, hoes, spades, axes, grindstones, and 
an ever increasing number of tools and farm machinery. 
A precious cargo of freight carried by the Dr. Frcmklm in 
1853 listed three barrels of whiskey, one barrel of brandy, 
one barrel of Old Rye whiskey, one barrel of crackers, a 
ten gallon keg of gin, a keg of port wine, another of dark 
brandy, some St. Cruse rum, peach brandy, and Holland 
gin, together with an appropriate number of flasks, tum- 
blers, and decanters in which to serve such refreshments."^ 
Fredrika Bremer, noted Swedish author, traveled on 
several Upper Mississippi steamboats during the course of 
her peregrinations in the Mississippi Valley. Both pas- 
sengers and cargoes were carefully noted by this observa- 
tive traveler. On one occasion, while aboard the steamboat 
Belle Key bound downstream for New Orleans, Miss 
Bremer expressed amazement at the livestock carried on 
the lower deck. "I call it Noah's Ark", she writes, "be- 
cause it has more than a thousand animals on board, on the 
deck below us and above us. Immense oxen, really mam- 
moth oxen, so fat that they can scarcely walk — cows, 
calves, horses, mules, sheep, pigs, whole herds of them, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

send forth the sounds of their gruntings from the lower 
deck, and send up to us between times any thing but 
agreeable odors; and on the deck above us turkeys gob- 
ble — geese, ducks, hens, and cocks crow and fight, and 
little pigs go rushing wildly about, and among the poultry 

Cargoes of livestock added profit as well as odor to 
steamboating. The earliest steamboats were too small to 
carry herds of cattle and hogs, and so these were generally 
driven overland. On May 11, 1836, the initial issue of the 
Du Buque Visitor notified drovers that five to six hundred 
head of cattle could be disposed of advantageously at that 
point. By 1850, with steamboats larger and barges coming 
into use, captains began to load their boats to the water's 
edge with livestock. In June, 1851, the Excelsior carried 
seventy-seven head of beef cattle northward for the Sioux 
who were negotiating the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux. 
A month later the No^ninee brought farmers v/ith cattle, 
horses, and agricultural implements — besides 150 head 
of cattle and sixty head of sheep for Coulter & Rogers, 

A citizen of St. Paul was astounded at the fine stock 
brought upstream on the Dr. Franklin in 1853 — one 
"milch cow" alone weighing "upwards of sixteen hundred 
pounds". In 1857 the City Belle, the W. H. Denny, the 
W. L. Nelson, and the W. L. Ewing were jammed with 
horses, mules, cattle, sheep, and hogs from central Illinois. 
By that time northern Iowa was contributing livestock 
to Minnesota; a Dubuque editor saw twenty head of fine 


Many Cargoes and Strange 

cattle driven aboard the Northern Belle. In 185 8 the 
Pembina arrived at St. Paul with 216 cattle and 100 

Sawmills, gristmills, and flourmills were transported 
aboard Upper Mississippi steamboats. On December 21, 
1836, the Du Buque Visitor announced that a Phila- 
delphian would bring a steam sawmill around to Dubuque 
immediately after the opening of navigation. In 1838 
the steamboat Palmyra brought supplies and equipment to 
establish the first sawmill on the St. Croix River.^^^ The 
Red Wing steamed proudly up to the St. Paul levee in May 
of 1857 with the machinery and equipment necessary to 
construct a sawmill at Kasota. A month later the Hamburg 
appeared with a sawmill which was shipped aboard the 
Medora to South Bend on the Minnesota River. At the 
same time the Jacob Traber was seen at the St. Paul levee 
with the engines and machinery for two sawmills to be 
installed at New Ulm on the Minnesota River."^ 

In 1844 a steamboat brought up the brick for the Dous- 
man home at Prairie du Chien.^^^ Eight years later the^ 
pious Nominee brought up a $600 organ for Rev. E. D. 
Neill's church at St. Paul. Although the Reverend Neill 
was not a Baptist, the organ had been accidentally im- 
mersed en route. It was hoped the damage could be 

In July of 185 8 the steamboat Tigress arrived at Du- 
buque with a large cargo of the "celebrated Nauvoo stone" 
of the same quality that had been used in constructing the 
Mormon Temple at Nauvoo. The stones were "cut and 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

shaped" for the new Custom House; but an editor de- 
clared that Dubuque Hmestone was just as good and that 
local labor and enterprise should be allowed to make the 



There was rejoicing among St. Paul firemen in 1 8 5 8 over 
the arrival of the fire engine, Hope Company No. 1. This 
handsome "double deck" machine, which weighed 2800 
pounds and cost $2400, was painted a "rich blue" and was 
"appropriately guilded". It was equipped with 500 feet 
of durable hose reeled on a tender and could throw five 
streams at once. Its arrival was marred by an unhappy 
note : the steamboat had charged $100 for transportation, 
which the city council paid under protest. The excessive 
charge was in retaliation for the high wharfage collected 
by the city. The fire-fighters promptly withdrew their 
patronage from the boat."'^ 

Immense shipments of farm machinery were carried 
aboard steamboats. The development of agricultural im- 
plements is exhibited by the character of farming ma- 
chinery transported upstream : tools were simple during 
the thirties and forties, as manifested by bills of lading, 
but each decade witnessed an advance. Seventeen plows 
and eight ox yokes were aboard the Arizona in 1857 when 
she arrived at St. Paul from Pittsburgh. A decade later 
(in 1866) steamboats were discharging reapers, mowers, 
plows, and miscellaneous assortments of tools and ma- 
chinery at Upper Mississippi ports. Competitive trials 
were often held to determine the superiority of such 
agricultural implements as Ball's Ohio, the Dodge, the 


Many Cargoes and Strange 

Buckeye, the McCormick, the J. P. Manny, the Kirby, the 
Quaker Boy, and the Champion/" 

The steamboat Canada passed Dubuque in May, 1867, 
with 264 reapers aboard. Throughout the season the 
Canada^ the Reserve, and other craft landed farm imple- 
ments at Dubuque and other ports. The following year 
the Molly McPike, the Ida Fulton, the City of St. Paul^ 
and the Hawkeye State left their tribute of mowers, reap- 
ers, threshers, plows, and other agricultural implements. 
On July 24, 1869, the Bannock City arrived at Dubuque 
from Fulton with four barges loaded principally with 
agricultural implements. The Bannock City put off four 
threshers at Dubuque; and on the same day the Sucker 
State and the Bill Henderson were industriously discharg- 
ing threshers and reapers.'^' 

In the fall of each year steamboats carried heavy cargoes 
of fruit upstream. The Henry Clay left 200 barrels of 
apples at Dubuque in October, 1857. Thousands of barrels 
of apples were discharged at Dubuque and upriver ports 
in the fall of 1866 : in a single trip the Minnesota, the 
Muscatine, and the Pemhina were seen putting off from 
200 to 500 barrels each. Early in November the Pine Bluff 
came up with 1000 barrels; and the Sucker State put in 
an appearance a few days later with 1100 more. The 
apple trade at Dubuque was described as enormous. In the 
fall of 1869 rousters on the Canada, the City of St. Paul, 
the Dubuque, and the Lady Pike rolled barrel after barrel 
down the gangplank — the Tom Jasper alone leaving over 
a thousand at Dubuque. For more than a generation the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

transportation of fresh fruits to river towns aflForded 
steamboats a profitable seasonal employment."* 

From distant Pittsburgh steamboats brought hundreds 
of tons of glassware, hardware, and other merchandise. 
Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis added to the volume 
of manufactured goods passing upstream to a country not 
yet self-sufficient. Sometimes Upper Mississippi steam- 
boats went to Pittsburgh to open their upriver season with 
a thumping cargo of from 300 to 700 tons of merchandise. 
On one trip in 1857 the Cremona discharged at Dubuque 
alone 1924 packages weighing over 111 tons! °^^ 

Wild boats in the Ohio River trade would frequently 
bring a cargo around to the Upper Mississippi. "The 
Delaware, an outside boat", notes the Dubuque Herald of 
May 12, 1866, "arrived yesterday from Pittsburgh, which 
place she left with 1,400 tons of iron, nails, glass, and drugs 
loaded on her deck and on three barges. After discharging 
about 35 tons here she pushed on up the river." Most of 
the time, however, Ohio River merchandise was trans- 
ferred at St. Louis to an Upper Mississippi boat."^ 

The heavy cargoes of stoves carried from St. Louis and 
^ Ohio River ports each fall are suggestive of the great 
number of new hearth fires. Within the space of ten days 
in 1869, seven steamboats deposited nearly three hundred 
stoves on the Dubuque wharf boat. The Ida Fulton 
brought up forty-four stoves, the Dia?nond Jo sixty-seven, 
and the Phil Sheridan seventy-six. In addition each boat 
discharged a large amount of merchandise.^" 

Still another cargo originating in Pittsburgh was coal. 


Many Cargoes and Strange 

In 185 5 the Dubuque Gas Company, after experimenting 
with Rock Island and La Salle coal, found neither satis- 
factory. The following spring a Dubuque editor expressed 
delight that coal could be brought all the way from Pitts- 
burgh and cost "on delivery, 40 cents per bushel"."* In 
1857 the Kesohite brought to Dubuque two barges and 
three flats with 6000 bushels of Illinois coal, 4000 bushels 
of Pittsburgh coal, and 2600 bushels of coke from the 
same port. 

St. Paul was not so pleased with the charges on Pitts- 
burgh coal. Late in May, 1857, the steamboat La Crosse 
arrived with 200 tons of coal which cost at the mine only 
three or four cents per bushel. After carrying it two 
thousand miles by water (over half the distance being 
upstream) the coal came to one dollar a bushel in St. Paul. 
The captain of the La Crosse estimated that it had cost 
him $600 to bring the coal over the Des Moines Rapids, 
and $ 1 5 to carry it over the Upper Rapids. A few days 
later the Rocket arrived at St. Paul with 4500 bushels of 
coal, 1500 kegs of nails, and a large quantity of iron and 
hardware. A St. Paul editor complained that the manifest 
of the Rocket was "three yards long"; though he had 
offered to print all manifests, he did not attempt this 

Downstream cargoes included the products of a raw 
frontier community. From Minnesota, steamboats towed 
ice downstream to take care of the needs of those living 
in southern climes. In 1860 a Minnesota paper noted that 
special barges for ice shipments had been built in Minne- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

apolis by the firm of Eustis & Brackett. "They are each 
120 feet in length, 22 feet wide, and contain 375 tons of 
ice", the editor remarked. "Ice in Minnesota is a pretty 
tolerable reliable crop, and being in good demand among 
the fire-eaters of the South, will, no doubt prove a profit- 
able business in the future." ^^"^ 

Early in April, 1869, the Lady Pike took two barges of 
ice south. The Bengal Tiger also towed ice barges in 1869. 
Late in October she left the ice business and went after 
the "potato trade in a lively way". After a brief flurry 
in potatoes, the boat headed for New Orleans with three 
barges of pressed hay which her enterprising skipper 
planned to sell at the ports below.'^^ Shipment of hay to 
New Orleans had been inaugurated as early as 1860 when 
the "mammoth hay boat" Challenge left Muscatine with 
97,000 bundles of lath, 25,000 sacks of grain, and almost 
2000 bales of hay.'"' 

Minnesota cranberries were frequently observed aboard 
steamboats bound downstream : 2 1 3 5 bushels were shipped 
from Minnesota as early as 1849. In 1851 the steamboat 
Excelsior left a barge at St. Paul to be filled with about 
eighty tons of "vitreous white sand" for a St. Louis man- 
ufacturer. An editor hoped that sand would soon be used 
in manufacturing at St. Paul. The growth of Minnesota 
in manufacturing is attested by the arrival of the Minne- 
apolis at Dubuque from above with 651 sleigh shoes and 50 
"cauldron kettles".'^' 

Strange cargoes often found their way on board. The 
loungers on the levee at St. Louis in 1831 must have stared 


Many Cargoes and Strange 

in open-mouthed amazement as a giant elephant com- 
placently ambled off a boat from below/** A generation 
later Galenians awaited the arrival of Herr Dreisbach with 
his mammoth circus, including the elephant Hannibal 
(weighing 10,830 pounds), a rhinoceros, some lions, and 
other "varmints". The smaller pioneer communities often 
spoke wistfully of such traveling menageries and in 1851 
the Minnesota Pioneer carried a Cincinnati item noting 
that Herr Dreisbach and his "celebrated Pet, the Brazilian 
Tiger, called Col. Alexander", had both registered in the 
clerk's book and taken passage on the Julia Dean. The 
other occupants of the cabin doubtless gave "Col. Alex- 1"^ 
ander" a wide berth as he stalked silently through the cabin 
with his master. °*'* 

In 185 3 the Territory of Minnesota sent a splendid 
buffalo as one of its contributions to the Crystal Palace 
Exhibition in New York. The patience of this rather 
surly beast was not improved by the irritating prods of 
the roustabouts on the Ben Franklin. After being roughly 
pushed from boat to boat, led through the streets of Cin- 
cinnati, and finally shipped by train to New York, the 
distracted beast gave vent to his feelings when the com- 
mittee appeared to pass on his fitness as an exhibit : a 
furious charge sent the members scurrying for safety as 
they formulated their verdict. He was not accepted. ^**' 

In August, 1861, a La Crosse dispatch noted that the 
steamboat Key City collided with Dan Rice's circus steam- 
boat nineteen miles below that point. Neither boat was 
damaged, but the cage containing the "trained Rhin- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

oceros" was knocked overboard. First accounts indicated 
that "Mr. Rhinoceros", who was valued at $20,000, had 
been drowned. No "insurance on his Hfe" was carried, 
so the loss would have been a heavy one. Happily for all, 
the rhinoceros appears to have been rescued; for, a few 
days later William E. Wellington, the genial clerk of the 
Minnesota Packet Company, found "Mr. Rhinoceros" 
making heroic efforts to extricate himself from the buoy 
chain of the wharf boat at Dubuque.^" 

The following June a Dubuque newspaper suggested: 
"All persons who have never seen a gorilla had better avail 
themselves of seeing the only one ever in the Western 
country. He is on exhibition at the Wharf Boat and is 
one of the rarest specimens of his species in America. He 
is owned by Barnum, in New York, who sent him to Iowa 
to pasture for a few weeks. He is to be shipped to St. 
Louis on the Canada^ Tuesday morning." ^®^ 

Such were the cargoes carried by Upper Mississippi 
steamboats in the balmy days of river transportation. 
From hold to texas, steamboats frequently constituted a 
veritable museum that for sheer novelty would have done 
credit to Phineas T. Barnum himself. But steamboats went 
Barnum one better : the unique cargoes ranging from apes 
to zebras added interest but little profit to steamboating. 
It was the steady flow of the bulk commodities of an ever 
expanding frontier that helped to sustain steamboating 
and bolster the receipts of captains and corporations. 



•Uaptain Josepn 1 nrockmorion 

Prior to the advent of the railroad no type of pioneer 
was more influential than the steamboat captain in expand- 
ing the frontier and building an empire in the West. 
Adventurous, hardy, ambitious, he brought his crude craft 
into waters frequented hitherto only by the transient visit 
of the keelboat. He offered a means of communication 
and transportation to the Indian Agent, the missionary, the 
fur trader, and the soldier, as well as to the pioneers who 
were straggling into the West with their families and few 
worldly possessions. He played an important role in the 
economic life of the Mississippi Valley. 

Of all the pioneer river captains on the Upper Missis- 
sippi, none was better known than Joseph Throckmorton 
who over a period of twenty years commanded a dozen 
boats and had a financial interest in probably as many 
more. Efficient, prudent, and every inch a gentleman, he 
won the respect of those he served and established a high 
standard for steamboat transportation. 

Little is known of the early life of this picturesque river- 
man. Born in Monmouth County, New Jersey, on June 
16, 1800, he made his first venture in the business world 
as a youngster with a mercantile firm in New York City. 
But he soon tired of this work, and in 1828 moved to 
Pittsburgh where in company with several other young 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

men he bought a part interest in the steamboat Red Rover. 
While plying between Pittsburgh and Zanesville, Ohio, the 
boat collided with another vessel and sank. After she 
was raised Throckmorton seems to have acquired a con- 
trolling interest; he then brought his boat around to 
St. Louis where he immediately engaged in the upriver 

The Red Rover arrived at St. Louis late in the month of 
June, 1828, just five years after the Virginia had made 
the maiden steamboat trip above the Des Moines Rapids 
to Fort Snelling.^^" A few scattered villages were cropping 
up on both sides of the river below the Lower Rapids; and 
farmhouses were beginning to appear above the rapids on 
the Illinois shore. The western side was a wilderness broken 
only by an occasional Indian village or the rude hut of a 
half-breed. Except for the few military outposts and 
fur-trading establishments along the Mississippi and the 
lead mines huddled about Fever River, the country was 
still a virgin estate. 

Scarcely two dozen steamboats had preceded the Red 
Rover in the five years that had elapsed since the trip of 
of the Virginia, and most of these were transient craft. 
Lead shipments had just reached a point where captains 
could look for a plentiful cargo, and Throckmorton was 
not slow in taking advantage of this opportunity. Occa- 
sionally a boatload of supplies or a detachment of troops 
afforded a profitable trip to Fort Crawford at Prairie du 
Chien or Fort Snelling at the mouth of the Minnesota. 
The transportation of Indian annuities and delegations 


Captain Joseph Throckmorton 

also brought a tidy sum to this ever watchful steamboat 
captain. But the year of 1828 was rather unprofitable and 
Throckmorton was forced to make several trips to the 
Illinois and Missouri rivers. When winter shut him off 
from this trade he went around to the Ohio and engaged 
in the commerce of that river with the Lower Missis- 

• 591 


Navigation opened early in 1829. The Red Rover was 
lying at the St. Louis levee on April 14th, having already 
completed one trip to Fever River.^^' Midsummer found 
the boat at the head of the Lower Rapids, unable to pro- 
ceed downstream on account of low water and hopefully 
waiting for a cargo with which to return to the mines. 
Here Caleb Atwater, one of the three commissioners ap- 
pointed by the government to treat with the Indians at 
Prairie du Chien, came upon the impatient Throckmorton. 
The low stage of the water had abruptly ended Atwater's 
voyage on the steamboat Missouri at the foot of the rapids. 
WhUe making his way on foot along the river from 
Fort Edwards to the head of the rapids, he found many 
of the packages which he had forwarded several weeks 
before scattered along the banks and exposed to the ele- 
ments. The sight of the Red Rover must have been as 
pleasing to Atwater as the prospects of a lucrative trip 
were to Throckmorton.^^^ 

By sunset most of the goods were on board and provision 
was made for the shipment of the remainder on the next 
trip. Darkness set in before the boat had gone many miles 
and orders were given to tie up for the night. It was not 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

until noon of the third day that Throckmorton was able 
to reach Rock Island. Low water and innumerable sand- 
bars made steamboating extremely hazardous. In order to 
lighten the boat so that she might more easily twist and 
squirm her way to the head of the Upper Rapids all pas- 
sengers were required to walk along the shore. Only Briga- 
dier General John McNeil and the ladies on board were 
excepted. All afternoon was spent in bringing the boat 
to the head of the Rock Island or Upper Rapids where 
Captain Throckmorton tied up for the night. 

Two days later the Red Rover reached the mouth of 
Fever River. After visiting the lead mines at both Galena 
and Dubuque, the boat proceeded to Prairie du Chien. 
Here the commissioners were landed. Then Throckmorton 
steamed down the river to pick up a cargo of lead and 
return with the remaining annuity goods which had been 
left at the head of the Lower Rapids. In the middle of 
August the Red Rover again carried to St. Louis all the 
commissioners except Atwater who returned overland to 
his home.^^* 

In 1830 the first cooperative association of steamboat 
captains on the Upper Mississippi was formed by Throck- 
morton and Captain S. Shallcross. During the period of 
low water Captain Shallcross operated the Chieftain be- 
tween St. Louis and the Lower Rapids, while the Red 
Rover plied the river above. To avoid delay in the transit 
of goods, keels were provided to transport freight over 
the rapids in the event of extreme low water. Previous to 
this agreement, about the first of August, Throckmorton 


Captain Joseph Throckmorton 

had made six trips to the lead district and so had covered 
a distance of about six thousand miles. The new plan met 
with immediate success since both passengers and shippers 
were disposed to patronize the boat that could guarantee 
the completion of a trip.'"" 

In 1831 Throckmorton bought the Winnebago and 
formed a similar combination with Captain James May of 
the Enter prise.^^^ Late in the fall, however, he sold his 
interest in the Winnebago and went over on the Ohio 
River to build the steamboat Warrior. Subsequent events 
proved the fitness of this name. 

The steamboat Warrior is one of the most celebrated 
of Upper Mississippi steamboats. Owned by Captain 
Throckmorton and William Hempstead of Galena, the 
Warrior and her safety barge were built at Pittsburgh 
during the winter of 1831-1832. She was 111 feet 5 inches 
long, had a 19-foot beam, a 5 -foot hold, and measured 
100 tons burden. She had one deck and no mast, a tran- 
som stern, a cabin above deck for officers and crew, and 
a figurehead. Power was furnished by a high pressure 
engine and three boilers. 

The Warrior was one of the few steamboats to tow a 
safety barge on the Upper Mississippi. Such an innovation 
served both as a protection to the passengers from explo- 
sions and as a means of decreasing the draft of the boat to 
facilitate passing over the rapids in low water. The safety 
barge, was 111 feet 8 inches long, had a 16-foot beam, a 
4-foot 8 inch hold, and measured 85 tons.*^"^ It was prob- 
ably modeled after the pioneer of its kind which had been 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

used on the Ohio River by the Merchant in 1826. This 
safety barge had fifty-two berths, three cabins, and drew 
but twenty inches of water.^®^ Captain Throckmorton was 
the third man to bring this type of craft to the Upper 
Mississippi : Captain Shallcross of the steamboat St. Louis 
and Galena Jacket had introduced one as early as 1827/^^ 

Early in the spring of 1832 the rumblings of the ap- 
proaching Black Hawk War were daily becoming more 
threatening, and when the storm finally broke the steam- 
boats on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers were soon 
busily engaged in transporting troops and supplies. Steam- 
boating on these waters became so hazardous that it was 
necessary to barricade the cabins and pilot house against 
the fire of the Indians who frequently lay in ambush 
along the shore and fired upon the passing boats. It was 
midsummer before Throckmorton brought the Warrior 
and her barge to St. Louis, whence he immediately set out 
for the seat of war.^°° 

The Warrior arrived at Prairie du Chien just as Black 
Hawk and his band were retreating toward the Mississippi. 
She was immediately pressed into service, and the captain 
v/as given orders to patrol the river above the fort to 
prevent the Indians from crossing. Lieutenants James W. 
Kingsbury and Reuben Holmes, together with a company 
of fifteen regulars and six volunteers, were sent aboard 
and a small six-pounder was placed in the bow of the boat. 

Captain Throckmorton first steamed to Wabasha's vil- 
lage where about a hundred and fifty "friendly" Indians 
were enlisted to help patrol the river. Thence he proceeded 


Captain Joseph Throckmorton 

downstream and reached the spot where De Soto now 
stands just as Black Hawk and his warriors were pouring 
through the hills to the river. Although Throckmorton 
was not in command of the troops aboard the Warrior, he 
also participated in the fight. On August 3rd he penned 
a laconic account from Prairie du Chien : 

"On our way down we met one of the Sioux band, who 
informed us that the Indians, our enemies, were on Bad 
Axe River to the number of four hundred. We stopped 
and cut some wood and prepared for action. About four 
o'clock on Wednesday afternoon [August 1st] we found 
the gentlemen where he stated he left them. As we neared 
them they raised a white flag and endeavored to decoy us; 
but we were a little too old for them, for instead of land- 
ing, we ordered them to send a boat on board, which they 
declined. After about fifteen minutes' delay, giving them 
time to remove a few of their women and children, we 
let slip a six-pounder loaded with canister, followed by a 
severe fire of musketry; and if ever you saw straight 
blankets, you would have seen them there. I fought them 
at anchor most of the time, and we were all very much 
exposed. I have a ball which came in close by where I was 
standing, and passed through the bulkhead of the wheel- 
room. We fought them for about an hour or more, until 
our wood began to fail, and night coming on, we left and 
went on to the Prairie. This little fight cost them twenty- 
three killed and, of course, a great many wounded. We 
never lost a man and had but one man wounded".^"'^ 

While this brief skirmish was of no great significance 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

in itself it served to check the Indians sufficiently to allow 
the troops to come up and completely rout them at Bad 
Axe a short time later. After the battle of Bad Axe, 
Brigadier General Henry Atkinson took passage on the 
Warrior to Jefferson Barracks. A short time later the 
Winnebago brought down Black Hawk and eleven of his 
headmen as prisoners. *'°" 

It was not merely the vicissitudes of war which pre- 
sented perils to steamboat captains. In 1833 an event 
occurred on board the Warrior which might have proved 
far more fatal. This elicited "a gentle caution" from 
Throckmorton which was published in the Missouri Re- 
publican at St. Louis. 

"We have many hardships to encounter, and are exposed 
to many dangers, which of course we submit to without 
a murmur;" wrote the captain, "but we would respect- 
fully request our friends not to heap upon us, through 
their kindness, more than we can conveniently endure. 
Now, a short: story at a tcoodpile. On loading my boat at 
a place of this kind last trip, I discovered several black 
marks upon the deck, which, on examination, I found to 
be gunpowder, from a box which my men were about to 
store away as dry goods, which in part did contain dry 
goods, but in the middle concealed, was a considerable 
quantity of powder, so carelessly placed, that it was strewn 
throughout the package. Now, I have only to request, 
that whenever any of my customers have powder to ship, 
that they will not conceal it, and thereby endanger our 
lives, but inform us of it. I am not a little surprised that 


Captain Joseph Throckmorton 

so respectable a concern should attempt a thing of this 
kind, particularly as the freight would not have been more 
upon the article of powder than any other. I should sup- 
pose that shippers would have taken the hint after what 
has recently occurred on our western waters. At any rate, 
it is high time that we should. It is not my wish to com- 
plain, but /'/ is my wish to run my boat with as much safety 
as possible; and I trust this gentle caution will be attended 

t-^ >J 603 


This sharp but courteous letter reveals a man not afraid 
to lose his trade if an abuse might be corrected. The 
"hint" undoubtedly referred to the explosion which oc- 
curred in July of the previous year on board the Phoenix 
as she was making her way up the Mississippi from New 
Orleans. A fire broke out on the Phoenix, but the boat 
might have been saved by the strenuous efforts of the cap- 
tain and crew if some gunpowder, secreted in packages, 
had not exploded.^"* 

Throckmorton continued in command of the Warrior 
until the close of the season of 1835. The boat remained 
on the upper river in command of Captain E. H. Gleim 
throughout the season of 1836, but thereafter she disap- 
peared from the record.**"' Five years of active service 
probably made the boat unfit for further use. 

The 1 19-ton St. Peters (said to be the largest boat on the 
Upper Mississippi at the time) arrived at Galena in com- 
mand of Captain Throckmorton on June 8, 1836."°® On 
July 2nd she tied up at Fort Snelling with a cargo of sup- 
plies. Among the passengers were the French geographer 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

J. N. Nicollet, and several ladies from St. Louis who were 
on a pleasure excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony. 
Throckmorton continued in the upriver trade with the 
St. Peters until early fall, when he went back to Pittsburgh 
and built the Ariel ^°^ and the Burlington. 

Late in May, 1837, Throckmorton brought out the 
Burlington ""^ — a boat that should be remembered if only 
for the many notable characters who graced her deck. By 
June 28, 1838, Throckmorton had completed his third 
trip to Fort Snelling, bringing with him one hundred and 
forty-six recruits of the Fifth Infantry. Prominent among 
the passengers carried that season were Colonel John Bliss, 
George Catlin, J. N. Nicollet, John C. Fremont, Henry 
Atkinson, Franklin Steele, and the widow of Alexander 

At the beginning of the season of 1839 Throckmorton 
replaced the Burlington with the Malta, which was built 
in Pittsburgh at a cost of $18,000.*^^" The usual business 
of carrying supplies and annuities to the forts on the Up- 
per Mississippi occupied the first season. In the summer 
of 1840 the Malta was advertised in the Galena Gazette 
to make a pleasure excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony.'^^ 
During the season of 1841 she made four trips to the lead 
district with five keels in tow, for which her total receipts 
were estimated to be $4000 on freight and $4000 on pas- 
sengers.^^' Late in the fall of 1841, Throckmorton engaged 
the Malta in the Missouri River trade where she was 
snagged two miles above Laynesville, Missouri, at a point 
henceforth called Malta Bend. Within one minute she 


Captain Joseph Throckmorton 

sank in fifteen feet of water. Both the boat and the cargo 
of furs for the American Fur Company were a total loss.®^' 

In 1842 Throckmorton brought the General Brooke into 
the Upper Mississippi trade."^* Receipts for five trips to 
the mines that year amounted to $10,000, while in 1843 
fifteen trips to the lead district produced $25,000/^' Dur- 
ing the same year the boat made seven trips between Galena 
and Fort Snelling, besides engaging for a while in the Mis- 
souri River trade. A card of thanks for the many favors 
extended on a trip to Galena early in 1843, signed by 
Henry Dodge and fourteen others, is eloquent testimony 
of the character and standing of Captain Throckmorton.®'^ 

The General Brooke started the season of 1845 as a reg- 
ular St. Louis, Galena, and St. Peter's packet, but in mid- 
summer Throckmorton sold her to Joseph La Barge for 
$12,000. This was the first boat La Barge owned, and he 
immediately entered her in the Missouri River trade. It 
was in the great fire of 1849 at St. Louis that the General 
Brooke met her fate, together with twenty-two other 
steamboats. She was being used at the time as a towboat 
by Captain A. J. Ringling, who estimated his loss at only 

After making a few trips on the Nimrod ''* (an Ameri- 
can Fur Company boat) Throckmorton bought the Ce- 
cilia *'* and ran her in the St. Peter's trade for the 
remainder of the season of 1845. Once she poked up the 
St. Croix River as far as Stillwater. Throckmorton's old 
boat, the Ariel, had been the second to navigate that tribu- 
tary in the fall of 1838.''° When the Mexican War broke 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

out in 1846, Throckmorton brought the dragoons sta- 
tioned at Fort Crawford and Fort Atkinson down to St. 
Louis on the Cecilia. During the remainder of the season 
many volunteers crowded her deck.^"^ 

During the winter of 1845-1846 Throckmorton built 
the side-wheel steamboat Cora ®" at Rock Island — a signi- a/ 
ficant index to the development of the country in which 
he had been a steamboating pioneer. Throckmorton took 
command of the Cora late in the fall of 1 846. In the fol- 
lowing year he was the first to reach Fort Snelling, batter- 
ing his way through floating ice to reach that port on 
April 7th. The boat was advertised in the Galena news- 
paper for the St. Peter's trade as early as the twenty-sixth 
of February. Throughout the season of 1848 Throckmor- 
ton continued to command the Cora, but in March, 1849, 
he sold her to Captain Robert A. Reilly who took her 
into the Missouri trade.^"^ 

When Throckmorton disposed of the Cora he ended his 
career as an active captain on the Upper Mississippi. For 
a few years he was agent for the Tennessee Insurance 
Company at St. Louis, but the urge of a pulsing steamboat 
overpowered him and he returned to his former occupa- 
tion on the Missouri River. For three years he commanded 
the Genoa which he built in 1854. In 1857 he built the 
Florence and in 1864 the Montana. Four years later he 
purchased the Columbia and employed her in the trade 
between St. Louis and Fort Benton. After several trips on 
the Illinois River he sold her to the Arkansas River Packet 


Captain Joseph Throckmorton 

Captain Throckmorton spent the last two years of his 
hfe as a United States engineer under Colonel John N. 
Macomb in the improvement of the Upper Mississippi. 
He died in St. Louis in December, 1872, after having en- 
gaged in river work for almost fifty years. It is said that 
he accumulated several fortunes during his colorful career 
as a river captain, but he finally died a poor man.^^* 

Joseph Throckmorton showed himself to be a conserva- 
tive steamboat captain during his twenty years of service 
on the Upper Mississippi. Unlike Daniel Smith Harris, 
who was continually seeking to establish new speed records 
or exploring hitherto unnavigated streams, Throckmorton 
was ambitious to establish a reliable and remunerative 
business. This could not be accomplished with a "nigger" 
hanging on the safety valve. His enterprising spirit was 
evidenced by his formation of the first cooperative agree- 
ment between steamboat captains on the Upper Missis- 
sippi, and again shortly afterward when he used the safety 
barge as a further means of gaining business. 

Chief Keokuk was so impressed with the personality and 
character of Throckmorton that it is said he offered him 
the site of "Flint Hills", where Burlington now stands, as 
a token of friendship. Hercules L. Dousman, agent of the 
American Fur Company at Prairie du Chien, recom- 
mended Throckmorton's boats in preference to those of 
rival captains. His steamboats were indeed among the 
finest then afloat. Their popularity was attested by the 
type of passengers he carried. Cabin passengers rarely 
failed to subscribe a title to their names, so that the register 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

became a galaxy of generals, majors, doctors, and judges. 
If nothing better was available an "Esquire" was appended 
to lend dignity to a signature. 

Throckmorton's cargoes varied widely. On April 10, 
1830, for example, the Red Rover arrived at Galena with 
five hundred and thirty-seven packages, bales, and barrels 
in addition to a thousand feet of plank. Four hundred and 
sixty-three packages had been unloaded at various towns 
on the way. In addition to the freight the boat had brought 
up nineteen cabin passengers and a hundred and twenty- 
five deck passengers. Pigs of lead constituted the main 
cargo downstream.®^^ 
/ Amusements on board these boats were as varied as hu- 
man ingenuity could devise. A landing at a town or fort 
was always an interesting event. Indian villages were often 
visited, and the red men could usually be prevailed upon 
to perform their dances and sing their songs for a nominal 
sum. Dancing and games were popular among the cabin 
passengers. During the presidential years innumerable 
straw votes were cast. 

It was the captain's duty to pass among his cabin pas- 
sengers and minister to their wants in a kindly and cour- 
teous manner. At the end of the trip the cabin passengers 
would often meet informally and select a committee to 
draw up resolutions commending the captain and his 
officers for their many courteous and gentlemanly qual- 
ities. These resolutions with the names of the passengers 
subscribed were then printed in a newspaper. Indeed, this 
practice became so common that one English traveler 


Captain Joseph Throckmorton 

humorously wrote that Mississippi steamboat captains 
must be an exceptionally polite and cultured class. Among 
the deck passengers games of chance, coarse jokes, fishing, 
and often drunkenness prevailed. Robberies were fre- 
quent. In 1833 some thieves carried away almost every 
piece of wearing apparel they could find belonging to the 
passengers on the Winnebago.^'^ 

Captain Throckmorton witnessed a remarkable change 
in the country he helped to develop. In 1828 there were 
few settlements above the head of the Lower Rapids. 
Eight years later Galena and Dubuque newspapers adver- 
tised the sale of lots at Port Byron, New York, Oquawka, 
Rockingham, Paris, Platteville, Pauquette, Van Buren, 
Bloomington, Parkhurst, Illinois City, Burlington, New 
Rochester, Keithsburg, and Rockport — towns that in 
many instances are probably unknown even to the oldest 
inhabitants of the region.*" 

Within this broad valley today there dwell many peo- 
ple descendants of the pioneers who were carried on the 
decks of the Ked Rover, the Winnebago, the Warrior, the 
St. Peters, the Ariel, the Burlington, the Malta, the Gen- 
eral Brooke, the Nimrod, the Cecilia, and the Cora. 


Ijaiiiel oimifli Oarris : A Jriglitiinig oikipper 

St. Paul was in a pandemonium. Whistles blew, cannon 
boomed, and the crowd roared an enthusiastic welcome as 
the trim and speedy Grey Eagle (Daniel Smith Harris 
commanding) swished up to the levee to open the season 
of navigation on March 25, 185 8. It was an epoch in 
steamboating, marking the earliest recorded arrival at the 
chief port of call on the Upper Mississippi. It also marked 
the seventh time in fifteen years that the gallant and 
enterprising Harris had braved the dangers of ice-locked 
Lake Pepin to reach St. Paul first. The steam in the Grey 
Eagle's boilers had scarcely subsided before Captain Harris 
was informed that a banquet would be held in his honor, 
attended by the newly elected Governor and the leading 
citizens. ^'^ 

It was fitting that Henry Sibley, the first chief execu- 
tive of the North Star State, should be chosen to preside 
at the banquet. At the conclusion of a sumptuous repast. 
Governor Sibley eulogized the resourceful and energetic 
Harris for his splendid work in developing Minnesota and 
the Upper Mississippi Valley. He hailed him as the senior 
commander and acknowledged peer of the hundred cap- 
tains then plying the river between St. Louis and St. Paul. 
It was scarcely necessary to speak of one whose name was 
a byword wherever steamboats docked. His matchless 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

courage as a commander, his skill and cunning as a pilot, 
his love of fast boats and record-breaking runs, his ven- 
turesome forays up hitherto unnavigated streams, his cool- 
ness in the face of danger had been often displayed. But 
it was his work as the pioneer navigator of almost every 
tributary above the Des Moines Rapids that particularly 
impressed Governor Sibley, and so he emphasized the im- 
portance of the discovery of the head of navigation of 
streams in Minnesota and the other Commonwealths along 
the Upper Mississippi.®"^ 

Prior to the Civil War no steamboat captain was better 
known or more highly respected than Daniel Smith Harris. 
His father, James Harris, was born in Connecticut in 1777 
of an old Massachusetts family that extended back to the 
Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock on the Mayfloii/er. 
As a young man James Harris had emigrated to New York 
State where he married Abigail Bathrick, a resident of 
Kortright, Delaware County. The first child of this union 
was Daniel Smith Harris, born at Kortright on July 24, 

After residing in New York for several years the wan- 
derlust again seized James Harris and he moved with his 
family to Cincinnati. Here he remained until financial 
difficulties beset him when he decided to join the Moses 
Meeker colony to the Fever River mines in 1823. At this 
time Daniel was a robust lad of fifteen; accordingly he 
was withdrawn from school to join the expedition. Three 
younger brothers (Robert Scribe, Martin Keeler, and 
James Meeker) were left behind with their mother until 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

a suitable home could be provided for them. A fifth son, 
Jackson, was born to James and Abigail Harris at Galena 
in 1828/'" 

The trip to the lead mines on the keelboat Colonel Bom- 
ford must have seemed the merriest kind of lark to the 
vigilant and inquiring lad of fifteen. Daniel saw the boat 
carried swiftly down the Ohio. But when the Mississippi 
was reached the sluggish keelboat appeared in sharp con- 
trast to the steamboat Virginia as it churned proudly by 
the Colonel Bomford on her way to St. Louis. "Smith'* 
Harris, for so he became generally known, quickly ob- 
served the archaic mode by which he was traveling. Did 
a new field of endeavor lay open to him?^'^ 

The voyage of the Virginia inspired in the youthful 
Harris a strong desire to own and captain a steamboat. 
But to own such a craft a large outlay of capital was re- 
quired; and so, during the year 1823, he roamed the hills 
of the mining district with an Indian boy prospecting for 
lead — a task which at first he pursued with indifferent 
success. The year after James Harris and his eldest son 
arrived at Galena, the three younger boys came west to 
the lead mines to assist their father on his new farm in Jo 
Daviess County. The produce of the Harris farm found a 
ready market in a community devoted almost entirely 
to mining. The returns on their labor must have been as 
great as that reaped by many of the miners themselves. 
Even as late as 1836 the need for farmers and farm prod- 
ucts provoked considerable comment in the lead district. 

In 1824 Smith Harris and his brother Scribe prospected 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

together. One Sunday, Smith struck an old deserted shaft 
in West Galena. By working it he discovered one of the 
richest leads ever found in the region. West Diggings, as 
his mine was called, soon made him one of the most pros- 
perous miners in the Fever River district. The two boys 
took 3 5,000 pounds of mineral from the first pocket, and 
ultimately 4,000,000 pounds from the mine. They suc- 
cessfully fought off the claim-jumpers who attempted to 
deprive them of their find and continued in the mining 
business all their lives. Whenever misfortune befell them 
in steamboating they relied on their mines to recoup the 

The year 1829 was noteworthy for Daniel Smith Harris. 
His aggressive character and success had attracted the at- 
tention of Captain David G. Bates, one of the best-known 
steamboat captains on the Upper Mississippi. Heavy lead 
shipments were being made to St. Louis, and when a va- 
cancy occurred in the pilot house of the steamboat Galena 
Captain Bates offered Smith Harris an appointment as cub 
pilot — a position which he accepted without hesitation. 
A little later, when an assistant engineer was needed. 
Scribe Harris was assigned to the berth. The training 
which the two boys received under Captain Bates laid the 
foundation for their future skill and daring in steam- 

The Black Hawk War brought a lull in river transporta- 
tion. Only six steamboats dared to enter the lead district 
in 1832. Stillman's Run threw the entire Upper Missis- 
sippi Valley into panic; and Galena, gripped by fear, soon 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

became an armed camp under martial law. Smith Harris 
enlisted as a lieutenant in Captain James W. Stephenson's 
regiment and was active throughout the war, participat- 
ing in the decisive battle of Wisconsin Heights. Following 
this struggle, he heard the Indians sue for peace. 

"About daybreak the next morning", he relates, "the 
camp was alarmed by the clarion voice of the Prophet, 
from a hill nearly a mile away. At first, we thought it 
was an alarm, but soon found that the Prophet wanted 
peace. Although he was so far distant, I could distinctly 
hear every word, and I understood enough to know he did 
not want to fight. The interpreter reported that the 
Prophet said 'they had their squaws and children with 
them, and that they were starving, that they did not want 
to fight any more, and would do no more harm if they 
were allowed to cross the Mississippi in peace.' " The brutal 
massacre of women and children at Bad Axe a short time 
later is a dark page in the military annals of the United 
States. In 1893, two weeks before his death. Captain 
Harris received a pension for his services during the Black 
Hawk War.^^^ 

At the conclusion of the war, Harris decided to build 
a steamboat of his own. His experience under Captain 
Bates, his love for the river and the pulsing deck of a 
steamboat, a fairly substantial income from his mines, and 
the scarcity of boats in the trade probably induced him to 
return to steamboating. The sight of the hull of the keel- 
boat Colonel BoiJiford near West Diggings, it is said, 
prompted him to construct a boat. Scribe was dispatched 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

to Cincinnati to purchase an engine and machinery, while 
Smith busied himself with putting the hull of the keel in 
shape and fitting it out with a cabin. Scribe discovered an 
old engine on a scrap-heap on the Cincinnati levee, drove 
a sharp bargain, and returned in triumph with his prize 
to their boat at the Portage, three miles below Galena and 
about halfway to the mouth of the Fever River. In later 
years Harris built a canal across this narrow neck of land 
large enough for the biggest packets to go through. Harris 
Slough, as this canal is marked today on government charts, 
is a fitting memorial to the industry and activity of Daniel 
Smith Harris.''* 

To be the builder and master of a steamboat at the age 
of twenty-five was no mean accomplishment, and young 
Harris could well be excused for viewing complacently the 
newly launched craft. All Galena rejoiced in the honor 
brought by her enterprising young citizen, for it was the 
first steamboat built in the lead district and probably 
the first constructed on the Upper Mississippi above Alton. 
The boat was named the Jo Daviess in honor of the county. 
According to her enrollment at the Port of St. Louis, the 
Jo Daviess was 90 feet 5 inches long, 15 feet 3 inches beam, 
had a 2 -foot hold, and measured 26 tons. She had a tran- 
som stern, a cabin above deck, and no figure-head. Her 
flywheel was made of lead, the metal most accessible to 
Harris. Of the twenty-two steamboats docked at St. 
Louis in 1835 the Jo Daviess was the smallest — insigni- 
ficant beside the Great Mogul which had a capacity of 
700 tons."' 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Almost as soon as Captain Harris had guided his craft 
out into the Mississippi he exhibited the audacity which 
characterized him to the end. In July, 1834, the Jo 
Daviess^ loaded to the guards with troops and military 
stores, ascended the Wisconsin River to Fort Winnebago 
at present-day Portage; and during the course of the 
summer she made two more trips to that point. Late that 
fall Captain Harris took a shipment of lead to St. Louis 
where he disposed of both cargo and craft and set out for 
Cincinnati to superintend the construction of a new 

Even before the country along the banks of the Missis- 
sippi was partially occupied, restless pioneers were begin- 
ning to push their way up the tributary streams. Town 
sites began to appear, and settlers and speculators were 
anxiously waiting for steamboats. Shallow water, an un- 
known and deceptive channel, together with sparse settle- 
ment, all served to deter most captains from navigating 
unknown streams. But such obstacles were mere trifles to 
Captain Harris; and in 1836, two years after the voyage 
of the Jo Daviess up the Wisconsin, he piloted the Frontier 
up the Rock River as far as Dixon's Ferry.^" This feat 
was hailed with delight throughout the Upper Mississippi 
Valley and Captain Harris was granted a lot at each town 
site along the Rock River by grateful settlers and owners. 
In 1 8 5 he piloted the Dr. Franklin No. 2 up the Chippewa 
River to the mouth of the Menominee, carrying goods for 
the Knapp and Wilson lumber camp on that stream. This 
was the first steamboat to go so far up the Chippewa. 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

Captain Harris received one hundred dollars for making 
the trip.""* 

The first steamboat to enter the Minnesota River had 
been the Kufiis Ptttnam in 1825, with Captain David G. 
Bates in command; but Harris's old master had ascended 
only one mile up that stream. In 1850 four excursions 
were made up the Minnesota River; and Martin Keeler 
Harris, a younger brother of Captain Smith Harris, gained 
the distinction of reaching what is now Judson in Blue 
Earth County. The people about St. Paul and in the Min- 
nesota Valley hoped that a steamboat would penetrate 
still farther. 

The opportunity came in 1853 when Captain Smith 
Harris's West Newton was selected to carry troops and 
government stores to the new post which later was named 
Fort Ridgely. "Of great strength and power, and in the 
hands of skillful men", observed an editor aboard the West 
Newton^ "it was felt that if there were dangers and diffi- 
culties in the way of reaching the destined point, she 
would be better able to brave them than any other craft 
known in these waters". Two smaller boats, the Tiger and 
the Clarion^ were sent ahead, but were quickly overtaken 
and passed by the West Neivton. "Soldiers and soldiers' 
baggage — soldiers' wives and soldiers' children — soldiers' 
stores and soldiers' equipment — soldiers' cattle and sol- 
diers' dogs" were strewn about the West Newton from 
stem to stern. She also shoved a heavily loaded barge. The 
Minnesota River was at flood stage so the West Newton 
experienced little difficulty in ascending the snaky channel. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

A week was required to make the round trip and Cap- 
tain Harris was warmly praised for the success of the 
voyage. "His careful, quick, discerning eye, saw every- 
thing at a glance, and made all his calculations with a 
lightning velocity of thought; so that we struck no snags, 
collapsed no flue, and burst no boiler; though we did tear 
off the guards, throw down the pipes, and leave the cabin 
maid's-washing of linen *high and dry' on a tree, which 
bent down to receive the line." "This trip alone", wrote 
Harriet E. Bishop, an author who was aboard the ^est 
'Newton^ "would entitle Captain Harris to a wreath of 

After the sale of his first boat (the ]o Daviess) Smith 
Harris acquired the HertnioJte, ran her throughout the 
season of 1835, and then disposed of her. For the next 
quarter century Captain Harris commanded almost a score 
of vessels : he probably had a financial interest in as many 
more. This does not include the craft he became interested 
in as a member of the Minnesota Packet Company. In 
quick succession he captained, sometimes for a season, 
sometimes for only a trip or two, such boats as the Fron- 
tier, the Smelter, the Pizarro, the Pre-emption, the Relief, 
the StUler, the Otter, the War Eagle (first) , the Time, the 
Light foot, the Senator, the Dr. Franklin No. 2, the Neti/ 
St. Paul, the West Nett/ton, the War Eagle (second) , and 
the Grey Eagle. His restless energy was exhibited by his 
impatience with most of the steamboats he built or pur- 
chased. Only five seem to have been satisfactory enough 
for him to run them two or more seasons, although he 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

ran the historic Otter for five years and sold the first and 
second War Eagle and the Dr. Franklin No. 2 at the 
close of three seasons. The West Newton was snagged at 
the end of her second year. The Grey Eagle, the pride of 
the Upper Mississippi, served the gallant skipper from 
1857 to 1861."° 

To Smith Harris, the sine qua non in any steamboat was ,/ 
speed. The sight of a long, lean craft as sleek and fast as 
a greyhound delighted him. In July, 1836, he ran the 
Frontier from St. Louis to Galena in three days and six 
hours, having stopped between twenty and thirty hours 
on the way up. The following year he astonished the min- 
ing district by making the trip between Dubuque and 
Cincinnati in the Smelter in five days. The return trip 
was made in exactly the same time.*" 

It was not until 1845, however, that he brought out a 
boat which easily outraced all rivals. This was the first 
War Eagle — perhaps the swiftest boat to navigate the 
Upper Mississippi before 1850. She was built at Cincin- 
nati in 1845 and was 152 feet long, with a 24-foot beam, 
a 4 foot 6 inch hold, and measured 15 5 tons. Competition 
being exceedingly keen during 1845, the War Eagle 
steamed back and forth between St. Louis and Galena at a 
terrific rate of speed, lowering her time each trip. The 
St. Croix, a trim and speedy craft, snapped at the War 
Eaglets heels for a time but gave up when the War Eagle 
ran from St. Louis to Galena in forty-three hours and 
fifty-two minutes, a record which stood for many years."" 

In the years that followed. Smith Harris and steamboat 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

racing became synonymous. His race with the West New- 
ton against the Die Vernon in 1853, his brilliant run 
against time and the Itasca in 1858, and his thrilling con- 
test with the Hannibal City in 1861 were the talk of the 
Upper Mississippi Valley. In the whole gamut of Upper 
Mississippi steamboating no other captain could match 
these exploits of Smith Harris. Each deserves a separate 
chapter in the annals of steamboating. 

The daring skipper won laurels in other ways. Between 
1844 and 1861 Daniel Smith Harris habitually opened the 
season of navigation by bringing his boats into port first. 
He achieved the same distinction by braving the dangers 
of a frozen river in order to transport belated passengers 
and freight to their destination at the close of navigation. 
Most captains had already placed their boats in winter 
quarters when Smith Harris was starting out on his last 
trip of the season. Such qualities were bound to win the 
respect and admiration of his fellowmen. 

Known and beloved for his skill and daring throughout 
the Upper Mississippi Valley, Captain Harris seldom let 
his enthusiasm interfere with the stern reality of steam- 
boating. His boats were steady and dependable, and pio- 
neers placed the utmost faith and reliance in his work. 
"Last night we came upon a shoal but we didn't stick", 
wrote a belated traveler aboard the Dr. Franklin No. 2 in 
November, 1849. "The boat walked right over on stilts. 
The chandeliers rattled as though we were stumbling over 
the hump of an earthquake. Woke at 6 and found the 
Franklin in bed with the Yankee under a lee bluff. The 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

Franklin was discharging upon the Yankee a few bbls of 
pork . . . The Franklin pays her wood bills in pork".^*" 

In 1841 the Otter made fifteen trips from Galena to St. 
Louis, towing nine keelboats up the river during the sea- 
son. At its close, the receipts were found to be $15,000 
from freight and $7000 from passengers. Her small size 
and light draught enabled the Otter to ply the Mississippi 
at all seasons of the year, so that when navigation closed 
she had cleared an amount equal to over four times her 

During 1842 Captain Harris made eleven trips with the 
Otter y towed six keelboats, and cleared $13,000 on freight 
and passengers. During 1843 a rate war developed and 
freight was carried for less than half the price of former 
years. Nineteen times during the season, the Otter forced 
her way out of Fever River with her keels and lower deck 
creaking under the heavy lead freight and with passengers 
crowding the upper decks. When the boat was laid up for 
the winter in the slough near Galena, her profits for the 
season were found to be only $6000 on freight and $4000 
on passengers. Had the rates of 1841 been in force. Cap- 
tain Harris would have cleared close to $30,000; while a 
profit of almost $45,000 would have resulted from the low 
water rate of 1839.'" 

When the lead traffic waned, Captain Harris sought 
other sources of revenue. No other form of diversion 
brought more enjoyment and better returns than a trip 
to the Falls of St. Anthony, designated by George Catlin 
as the "Fashionable Tour". Early in May, 1837, Harris 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

informed citizens of Galena, Dubuque, and Belmont, that 
he would make a trip to the Falls of St. Anthony in the 
Smelter if a sufficient number of passengers presented 
themselves. Realizing that tourists would patronize only 
those boats which offered the best facilities, Harris had 
built private staterooms in the Smelter — a speedy side- 
wheeler launched at Cincinnati in the spring of 1837. 
The boat was described as the fastest, most luxurious, and 
largest craft on the Upper Mississippi, and the colorful 
skipper "greatly delighted" in her speed. Each new boat 
had some innovations. Thus, the Pizarro, built in 1839, at 
a cost of $16,000, boasted a fire engine and hose attached 
to her main engine.^" 

Increasing competition in the excursion trade forced 
captains to offer more inducements to passengers each 
year. Captain Harris realized the necessity of allowing 
sufficient time at historic spots. He apprised the citizens 
of Dubuque of an excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony 
by telling them that "the War Eagle is a new and Splendid 
Boat, and will be two weeks making the trip. Capt. Harris 
intends to make a pleasure excursion in reality, and will 
stop at all places of curiosity or amusement as long as the 

J • JJ646 

passengers may desire. 

His activity in the lead traffic and excursion trips, to- 
gether with the profits derived from the transportation 
of Indians, missionaries, fur traders, and soldiers, gave 
Harris a preeminent position among his fellow steamboat- 
men. By 1840 he and his brother Scribe were sole owners 
of the Otter and at the same time held a large interest in 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

the Pre-emption which Scribe commanded. The firm of 
Glasgow, Shaw, & Larkins of St. Louis, and Block and 
McCune of Louisiana, Missouri, shared with the Harris 
brothers in the earnings of the Pre-emption.^" Supported 
by such well-known mercantile houses. Captain Harris 
had little to fear when competition threatened. 

It was not long, however, before Captain Harris gained 
the enmity (and also the wholesome respect) of Hercules 
L. Dousman, the agent for the American Fur Company at 
Prairie du Chien. Fearful of Harris's aggressive character, 
Dousman often wrote Henry Sibley, his associate at Men- 
dota, urging him to trade with such captains as Joseph 
Throckmorton or John Atchison. When the steamboat 
Lynx sank in 1844, Captain Harris expressed a desire to 
acquire a share in her when raised. *T believe it is the best 
thing we can do", wrote the cautious Dousman to Sibley, 
"provided he comes in on the same terms as we do & makes 
up our share of the loss — that is the amt we will be 
deficient on the Boat to be added to what she will sell for 
at auction & each party take half — say Harris half, Steele 
& you one sixth — Brisbois same & me the same". 

Such a plan evidently did not appeal to Captain Harris 
for he remained outside the circle and continued to ply 
in the St. Peter's trade in opposition to the American Fur 
Company boats. When Throckmorton proposed that a 
line be formed between St. Louis and Mendota, Dousman 
wrote Sibley : "I am in favor of it & shall encourage him 
to do so, as it will be a benefit to the Outfit & hurt the 
Harris's which I desire very much." ^" 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

The sinking of the Argo in the fall of 1847 had led to 
the formation of the Minnesota Packet Company. Dur- 
ing the following winter Captain M. W. Lodwick went to 
Cincinnati, Ohio, with clerk Russell Blakeley and pur- 
chased the Dr. Franklin. Built at Wheeling, Virginia, in 
1847, the new boat was 156 feet long, had a 24-foot beam, 
a 4 foot 2 inch hold, and measured 149 tons. Her original 
owners were Orrin Smith and B. H. Campbell (of the firm 
of Campbell and Smith) , Henry Corwith, M. W. Lod- 
wick, and Russell Blakeley; H. L. Dousman, Brisbois, Rice, 
and H. H. Sibley acquired shares in her a little later. From 
this humble beginning there gradually evolved through a 
series of kaleidoscopic changes the Northwestern Union 
Packet Company, the greatest monopoly on the Upper 

Meanwhile Captain Harris had been running his boats 
on the Upper Mississippi and its tributaries. The heavy 
lead traffic between Galena and St. Louis engaged most of 
his time; but when lead was scarce he often plied on the 
Mississippi and its tributaries as far north as St. Peter's 
and Stillwater. When Harris withdrew from the lead traf- 
fic in the spring of 1848 to enter the St. Peter's trade, the 
Packet Company insisted that he continue between Galena 
and St. Louis. Highly incensed, Harris took up arms 
against the new group, running the Senator in opposition 
to the Dr. Franklin. After a spirited contest, in which 
business was "lively, if not profitable", Harris agreed to 
sell the Senator to the Packet Company and remain in the 
lead trade during 1849. 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

The creation of the Territory of Minnesota on March 3, 
1849, and its attendant influx of immigrants lent a new 
aspect to the situation and Captain Harris determined to 
return to the St. Paul trade. The ink on the new bill had 
hardly dried when Captain Harris appeared at the Galena 
levee with the Dr. Franklin No. 2. She was built at Wheel- 
ing in 1848 and was 173 feet long, with a 26 foot 6 inch 
beam, a 4 foot 4 inch hold, and measured 189 tons. She 
was a finer, better, and speedier boat than either the old 
Dr. Franklin or the Senator. Captain Harris always took a 
special delight in tormenting and annoying his opponents. 
Upon leaving a port he would run alongside his rival, 
allowing passengers and crew to fling taunts at those aboard 
the slower craft. As the next port hove in sight he would 
dash ahead and pick up the lion's share of the freight and 
passengers offered. Since the Senator was an exceptionally 
slow boat she lost much trade, the fickle public generally 
preferring the faster craft.*°° 

The "Old Doctor", however, was almost a match for 
the Dr. Franklin No. 2, and so Captain Harris had to keep 
his new steamboat in fine trim in order to hold his ad- 
vantage. Once, in May of 1851, while these two boats 
were engaged in tearing up the river bed in a port to port 
race to St. Paul, Captain Harris found himself hard pressed 
to maintain his lead. Indeed, when no freight or passengers 
were offered he was several times obliged to swing out the 
stage and discharge a willing and nimble passenger while 
his boat was moving under a slow bell. 

Noting that his rival's boat lacked her usual speed, Cap- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

tain M. W. Lodwick rang for a full head of steam and 
momentarily threatened to pass the Dr. Franklin No. 2. 
Captain Harris frustrated these attempts at first by swing- 
ing the stern of his craft across the path of the "Old 
Doctor", forcing her to reverse to avoid a collision. Once 
the two boats almost crashed, skillful piloting and full 
speed astern on the part of the "Old Doctor" alone pre- 
venting a castastrophe. Incensed by these persistent and 
well-nigh successful attempts to wrest the lead from him. 
Captain Harris sprang from the pilot house to the hur- 
ricane deck brandishing a rifle, forced the pilot of the 
"Old Doctor" to back into the brush, and threatened to 
shoot if another attempt was made. This rash act and 
his refusal to give way was bitterly denounced in the St. 
Paul press in a statement signed by those aboard the "Old 

For three years this bitter, ruinous struggle between the 
Minnesota Packet Company and Captain Harris continued. 
Both sides had loyal friends, and so the fight was not con- 
fined to the participants : merchants and settlers from 
Galena to St. Paul joined in the fray. Rates were reduced 
to a ridiculous figure, travelers often paying fifty cents for 
passage from Galena to St. Paul. "The boats continue to 
come loaded with passengers", declared the Minnesota 
Pioneer of July 22, 1852, "many of them seeking only 
recreation. Boats are crowded down and up. Some travel 
for the sake of economy and save the expense of tavern 
bills at home. Who that is idle would be caged up between 
walls of burning brick and mortar; in dog-days, down the 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

river, if at less daily expense, he could be hurried through 
the valley of the Mississippi, its shores studded with towns 
and farms, flying by islands, prairies, woodlands, bluffs — 
an ever varied scene of beauty, away up into the lands of 
the wild Dakota, and of cascades and pine forests, and 
cooling breezes?" ^" 

Both sides finally saw that there was plenty of business 
and that hundreds were enjoying transportation for fifty 
cents a trip when eight dollars would have offered a fair 
return, and that continuance of the competition would 
result in utter ruin. Fully aware of the value of Captain 
Harris's cooperation, the Minnesota Packet Company in- 
vited him to join them. Shortly afterward, the name of 
Daniel Smith Harris was listed as a director. Had the 
fighting skipper failed in this struggle he would have been 
forced out of the St. Paul trade and ultimately been driven 
from the Upper Mississippi. Luckily, a steady income 
from his lead mines tided him through several bad sea- 

Despite his affiliation with the Minnesota Packet Com- 
pany Captain Harris continued to manifest his pronounced 
individuality. In 1 8 5 6 a rate war arose between the Packet 
Company and the large number of "wild boats" which 
plied the Upper Mississippi. As usual a number of cities 
and individuals promptly joined in the struggle, Winona 
being particularly vigorous in its opposition to the mon- 
opoly. The Tishomingo was purchased to run between 
Dunleith and Winona. In the hope that his popularity 
would soothe any ill-feelings arising out of the competi- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

tion, Captain Harris was chosen to run his War Eagle 
against the Tishomingo. A test soon came. 

One day the War Eagle came over from Dubuque to 
Dunleith and in landing tore away a portion of the guard 
of the Tishomingo which lay taking on freight and pas- 
sengers. Standing on the hurricane deck unmoved by the 
incident, Captain Harris calmly announced that passage 
to Winona aboard his boat would cost but fifty cents. 
These two acts drew a storm of protest, La Crosse and Du- 
buque joining with Winona against the Galena monopoly. 
"Don't travel on the Galena boats unless you make a 
positive bargain before hand, and to avoid being swindled 
don't travel with them at all", declared a paper, after 
three men had been charged four dollars each for passage 
between La Crosse and Winona. About the same time the 
War Eagle landed one hundred barrels of flour on the 
Winona levee and Captain Harris instructed his agents to 
"sell it if they could, and if they could not dispose of it, 
to start a Bakery!" "The offer to carry freight on board 
the foul bird of prey War Eagle for a trifle was promptly 
refused by our business men, stating to the runner that 
they would give all their trade to the Tishomingo", ob- 
served the Winona Kepublican of May 20, 1856. "The 
opposition", it continued, "is not alone against our boat, 
but is against the merchants — our best class of men, who 
have for years been building up a trade — and now that 
they are commencing to reap the fruits of their labors. 
Galena comes in Eagle-eyed for a large share of what is 
justly the due of our dealers." 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

It was generally felt that the "Noble Tish" could not be 
driven away by the War Eagle^ even by offers to carry 
goods at ten cents per hundred. Despite Winona's slogan 
that the War Eagle "shall and will not be patronized", 
despite the fact that twenty-five barrels of flour which the 
War Eagle landed at the levee were destroyed and fifty 
others rolled in the river and damaged, Captain Harris re- 
tained his old time popularity.^'* 

It was not merely while in the pursuit of business that 
Captain Harris exhibited a pugnacious spirit. Hailed by 
the press for their gentlemanly deportment, one might 
readily assume that steamboat captains had acquired their 
cultural training at the Court of St. James before apply- 
ing for their license. Such an assumption would be quite 
erroneous. As chief architect and builder of an empire in 
the Middle Border, the steamboat captain was a component 
part of the frontier where men were men first, and some- 
times, though perhaps not always, gentlemen afterwards. 
In the ordinary civilities of his profession. Captain Harris 
was doubtless equal to any other man on the Upper Missis- 
sippi; but he had a fiery temper, and he was especially vin- 
dictive to those who persisted in attacking him. 

During 1857 the editor of the St. Paul Daily Pioneer and 
Democrat had made bitter recriminations against the 
Packet Company. One hot day in July, W. A. Crofifut, 
the assistant editor of the St. Paul Daily Ti^nes (a paper 
friendly to Harris and the Packet Company) boarded the 
Grey Eagle to write a letter. Mistaking Croffut for the 
editor of the unfriendly paper. Captain Harris approached, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

called him a scoundrel, and "swearing great, round oaths, 
that he didn't want him to come aboard his boat" ordered 
him off. Astonished at such violent language, Croffut de- 
manded an explanation and inquired if the Grey Eagle was 
not public to all who chose to come aboard. This was too 
much. Seizing Croffut by the collar, the captain dragged 
him to the stairway and kicked him down to the lower 
deck. Following immediately he took another hold, and 
"swearing most profanely all the time, dragged him out 
upon the wharf, and there left him and returned to his 
boat". Unable to offer any resistance, the unfortunate 
Croflfut was "bruised considerably, but had no bones 
broken". Harris was arrested and brought before a magis- 
trate. Acknowledging the assault, he was fined "/^/ dollars 
and costs". The incident was a matter of deep regret 
to Captain Harris; but no apology could placate the 
"bruised" pride of Mr. Croffut.'^' 

On the other hand. Captain Harris often demonstrated 
a touching generosity to his fellowmen. He was ever will- 
ing to aid the poor and distressed. An old man, driven 
from his daughter's home at Fort Madison, sought and 
received passage to Louisville, Kentucky, aboard the Smel- 
ter. The thought of a lonely life in Kentucky broke the 
old man's heart and he died a short distance below Alton. 
Captain Harris had him decently interred. No charge was 
made on the cabin register. Again, in 1852 the West New- 
ton picked up two ministers of the gospel at RoUingstone, 
Minnesota. Both were astonished at the terrific speed of 
the boat. "She fairly danced with us like a Nymph upon 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

the waves", wrote one, "Everything about the boat in 
general, and the table in particular, was in perfect 'apple- 
pie order*. When we called at the Clerk's office to pay our 
fare, on learning our profession, he very gentlemanly re- 
marked, 'Nothing to pay Sir!' to which, of course, we 
did not object; but for the favor were truly thankful. 
May other clergymen be equally favored." ^^^ 

Captain Harris's sentimental attachment to his boat 
elicited the following comment from the Daily Minne- 
sotian : "The Grey Eagle and her Commander, Capt. 
Harris, both sustained a sad and irreparable loss on Thurs- 
day evening, while between Hastings and this place. The 
boat took a slue on the Pilot, and ran into the bank, 
breaking off and losing her jack staff. Now, jack-staffs 
themselves are not so valuable, because, in this country 
where pine lumber is so plentiful, the boat's Carpenter 
could have repaired the loss in a few hours. But at its top 
there fluttered, conscious of the proud position it oc- 
cupied, a gilt chicken cock, which, like the eagles of Na- 
poleon, that soared over all his battle fields through many 
years, and long wars — had pointed the way with its glist- 
ening beak on every boat sailed by the old Commodore 
for many years, and seemed as if always leading him on to 
victory, inseparably associated with the success of what- 
ever boat he has commanded. Of course the Captain is 
inconsolable for the loss of his chicken-cock, and says he 
would rather have lost $500. He is endeavoring to find it, 
and probably it may yet soar at the head of his jack staff, 
years after the Grey Eagle is rotten and used up." *" 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Strange to say the "chicken cock" was recovered and the 
prophecy fulfilled. 

Late in the afternoon of May 9, 1861, the Grey Eagle 
crashed into the Rock Island bridge and sank almost im- 
mediately in twenty feet of water. Six or seven people 
were drowned including an insane man who had been 
chained to the lower deck. Captain Harris was found wan- 
dering about the upper deck in a dazed condition, picking 
up little odds and ends of no consequence compared with 
the $60,000 craft he had just lost. Broken hearted over 
the loss of his Grey Eagle, he retired from active river 
life, retaining only a few shares of stock in the Packet 

Among the odds and ends which he recovered from the 
wreck was the much loved "chicken cock". The historic 
bird had been carved from a single block of solid oak at the 
boat yards at Cincinnati, had been hoisted for the first time 
on the War Eagle in 1845, and had been passed on to the 
Senator, the Dr. Franklin No. 2, the West Newton, the 
second War Eagle, and finally the Grey Eagle. Harris took 
it to Galena where it roosted quietly in his barn for thirty 
years when it was brushed up and placed on top of the 
arch surmounting the entrance to Grant Park in Galena. 
Replaced by a brilliant electric light, the "chicken cock" 
again went into temporary retirement at the home of 
Captain Harris's daughter (Mrs. Irene Gillette) where 
Captain Walter A. Blair found it and placed it in the cabin 
of the Helen Blair. After selling his boat. Captain Blair 
presented it to the Davenport Public Museum.®""^ 


Daniel Smith Harris : A Fighting Skipper 

When Daniel Smith Harris died in 1893 it was said he 
was the oldest settler in Galena and of the State of Illinois. 
Coming to the lead mines in 1823 (the same year that the 
steamboat Virginia navigated the Mississippi to Fort Snell- 
ing) , Captain Harris participated in the halcyon days of 
steamboating on the Upper Mississippi prior to the Civil 
War. He lived to see the corporation of which he was once 
a heavy stockholder pass into oblivion in the late eighties. 
At his death the Diamond Jo Line was the lone survivor 
of many years of bitter competition on the Upper Mis- 

• 660 


Captain Harris was twice married. His first wife, whom 
he married in 1833, was Sarah M. Langworthy, a sister of 
the Langworthy brothers, well-known figures in the his- 
tory of northeastern Iowa. She died in 18 50. In 1851 he 
married Sarah Coates, who died in 1886. Captain Harris 
was survived by ten children — eight daughters and two 

On several occasions Captain Harris was accompanied 
by his wife on boat trips. John P. Owens describes the 
second Mrs. Harris as "a proficient in and enthusiastic ad- 
mirer of the natural sciences, which promises to be of 
advantage to us in our researches among the soils, rocks and 
plants of the Upper Minnesota." He added, "She has as 
her guest a well-known St. Paul lady, whose enthusiasm 
for pioneering, and being the first white woman to set foot 
upon this and that remote, out-of-the-way place is pro- 
verbial." This guest was Harriet E. Bishop, author of 
Floral Home; or, First Years of Minnesota.^'^^ 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

The character of Captain Harris was a composite of the 
strongest and best traits of men. Deprived of a Hberal 
education, he overcame this handicap by making good use 
of an exceptionally alert and vigorous mind. His remark- 
able memory stood him in good stead, and in later years 
he v/as looked upon as an authority on matters relating to 
the early history of Galena. As a captain his personality 
always made a deep impression on his passengers. While 
traveling in western Pennsylvania in 1890 a citizen of 
Galena met an old lady who had traveled widely in her 
youth. Upon learning the residence of the traveler she 
spoke at some length of her trip on the Upper Mississippi 
in a boat commanded by a Captain Harris during the 
cholera years. Forty years had failed to efface from her 
memory the genial personality and indomitable character 
of this famous pioneer. 

No other captain who engaged in steamboating on the 
Upper Mississippi prior to the Civil War could approach 
the record of Daniel Smith Harris. "In enterprise, activ- 
ity, liberality, in constructive talent, in the ability to meet 
a great requirement in transportation in the early develop- 
ment of the Northwest, the fame of this courageous and 
efficient man is secure." To him, more than to any other 
single pioneer captain, was due the startling growth in the 
use of steamboats on the Upper Mississippi, the rapid ex- 
pansion of their use on tributary streams, and their con- 
stant development in speed, comfort, and efficiency, so 
necessary for the quick transportation of the vast waves 
of immigrants moving northward. ^^^ 


Tke Race of flie Qrey Sugle 
A Message from Queen Victoria 

On August 6, 1857, the U. S. S. Niagara and the H. M. 
S. Agamemnon set out from the west coast of Ireland and 
commenced laying a cable across the Atlantic Ocean. 
The ships had been "suitably equipped" for this work and 
loaned to Cyrus W. Field and his associates by the govern- 
ments of Great Britain and the United States. As they 
proceeded slowly westward the cable which was being 
paid out from the Niagara suddenly snapped and the end 
was lost. Unable to continue, the Niagara and the Aga- 
memnon accordingly returned to Plymouth and the re- 
mainder of the cable was carefully stored away. 

Undaunted by this initial failure. Field raised additional 
capital and constructed seven hundred miles of new cable. 
A fresh start was made early in 1858, but misfortune again 
stalked the venture as a double break resulted in the loss of 
144 miles of cable. By July 17th, however, the Niagara 
and the Agamemnon were ready for a third attempt. Pro- 
ceeding to mid-ocean the ends of their respective cables 
were carefully spliced and on July 29, 1858, the two ships 
separated. The Niagara proceeded slowly toward New- 
foundland while the Agatnemnon steamed cautiously to 
the Irish coast. Should the vessels succeed in their under- 
taking news in Europe and America would become the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

common and instantaneous property of both hemispheres. 
Breathlessly people on both sides of the Atlantic awaited 
the outcome/^^ 

In the United States great strides had been made in 
telegraph construction since the first message had been 
flashed between Washington and Baltimore in 1844. The 
Atlantic seaboard had been linked with the Mississippi at 
a number of points between St. Louis and Dubuque as 
early as 1848. A decade later every important river town 
as far north as Prairie du Chien could boast a connection 
with the East. Citizens of Keokuk, Fort Madison, Bur- 
lington, Muscatine, Davenport, and Dubuque would learn 
of the successful laying of the Atlantic cable the instant 
the work was consummated. But St. Paul and the river 
towns in Minnesota must still rely on the steamboat to 
bring them this important news.^^* 

For a week before the cable was actually laid the Daily 
Pioneer and Dejnocrat at St. Paul had amused its readers 
with imaginary messages between Queen Victoria and 
President James Buchanan. But the complete isolation of 
the North Star State weighed heavily upon the editor for 
well he knew that such towns as Dubuque, Galena, and 
Prairie du Chien would chide St. Paul for her backward- 
ness. Still unaware that the Atlantic cable had already 
been laid, the editor urged his readers on August 18 th to 
give financial assistance to the company already chartered 
to buUd a telegraph line between Prairie du Chien and St. 
Paul. Only $40,000, or $150 per mile, was needed to per- 
form the work. He considered it a "shame" that every 


The Race of the Grey Eagle 

State save Minnesota should be connected with the At- 
lantic seaboard by telegraph. Because of her isolation Min- 
nesota was *'way behind" and must "sit apart" from the 
rest of the world until local pride saw to it that the tele- 
graph line was built. Minnesota, he concluded, was far- 
ther from Prairie du Chien in 185 8 than Prairie du Chien 
was from London or Constantinople.^^^ 

Almost simultaneously with the penning of these words 
the first message flashed across the Atlantic. "Europe and 
America are united by telegraph. Glory to God in the 
highest, on earth peace, and good- will to men." Other 
messages followed and none more notable than Queen 
Victoria's to President James Buchanan.^*^ 

Since Dubuque lay sixty-five miles below Prairie du 
Chien and since the Packet Company had boats scheduled 
to leave both these ports on their regular run at exactly 
the same time it was generally conceded that the Prairie 
du Chien boat would reach St. Paul first. But Captain 
Daniel Smith Harris of the speedy Grey Eagle determined 
that it should be otherwise. And it was the Grey Eagle that 
was scheduled to leave Dubuque at nine o'clock Tuesday 
morning, the same hour the Itasca was leaving Prairie du 

News of the laying of the Atlantic telegraph, together 
with Queen Victoria's message, reached Dubuque on the 
evening of August 16th and was printed in a special edi- 
tion by the local press. While Dubuque was rejoicing over 
this epochal event, Captain Harris determined to celebrate 
the occasion by beating Captain David Whitten into St. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Paul with the news. In order to do this it would be neces- 
sary to run the Grey Eagle 265 miles while the Itasca was 
traveling 200 miles. This was not an easy task, since the 
Itasca was a boat that had been hanging up records for fast 

The Grey Eagle left Dunleith at 8:30 A. M. on August 
17, 1858, carrying copies of the Dubuque and Galena 
papers containing the Queen's message: 

"The Queen desires to congratulate the President upon 
the successful completion of this great international work, 
in which the Queen has taken the deepest interest. 

"The Queen is convinced that the President will join 
with her in fervently hoping that the Electric Cable which 
now connects Great Britain with the United States will 
prove an additional link between the nations whose friend- 
ship is founded upon their common interest and reciprocal 

"The Queen has much pleasure in thus communicating 
with the President, and renewing to him her wishes for 
the prosperity of the United States." ®^^ 

Every bit of combustible material — pitch, butter, and 
grease — that could be obtained was aboard the Grey 
Eagle when she started up the Mississippi. The boat re- 
sponded nobly to the extra fuel, sped swiftly up Ma- 
quoketa Chute, past Cassville, Guttenberg, Prairie du 
Chien, La Crosse, and reached Winona, one hundred and 
fifty miles above Dunleith, at about 9:30 P. M. The 
Itasca had arrived just three and one-half hours before, so 
that her nine hour lead had been reduced by almost two- 


The Race of the Grey Eagle 

thirds despite the fact that the Grey Eagle had towed a 
wood flat for twenty miles. After a twenty minute delay 
at Winona the Grey Eagle continued upstream, so far 
ahead of schedule that Captain Harris ordered a deck hand 
to stand on the stage and heave the mail to the bank at each 
landing as the boat went by at half speed. Freight was 
discharged only where necessary and many of the pas- 
sengers, induced by a generous offer of free meals and berth 
and moved by a desire to be a party to what already 
promised to be a record-breaking run, agreed to remain 
on board. ®^^ 

At 4 A. M. the next day, the Grey Eagle came snorting 
up to the Red Wing levee, sixty-five miles above Winona 
and only fifty miles from St. Paul. The Itasca had not 
stopped at Red Wing, thereby gaining several precious 
minutes on Captain Harris's boat. Fire brands streamed 
from the funnels of the Grey Eagle as she continued up- 
stream, past Cannon River, Vermilion Slough, Sturgeon 
Lake, Diamond Bluff, and on to Prescott, at the mouth 
of the St. Croix. The Itasca blew for Hastings, just two 
and one-half miles away, as the Grey Eagle came up to 
the Prescott levee. Mail and freight were dumped pell mell 
on the levee, and the Grey Eagle whisked by Point Douglas 
and over to Hastings in time to see the smoke of the 
Itasca disappear around the bend of the river about two 
miles upstream.^'° 

When Captain Whitten discerned the smoke of a racing 
boat hard astern it did not take that shrewd Yankee long 
to guess the reason for this haste. He promptly ordered 

[43 5] 

Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the engineer to crowd on every pound of steam possible. 

Just below Pine Bend the astonished master of the Itasca 
saw the Grey Eagle poke her nose around a curve a mile 
away, running almost ten hours ahead of her regular 
schedule. At Merrimac Island the distance was reduced to 
three-quarters of a mile, at Newport a half mile inter- 
vened, Red Rock found the Grey Eagle a hundred yards 
closer. Kaposia, Pig's Eye, Dayton Bluff — and a boat's 
length separated the two boats. One mile further and they 
would be in St. Paul. 

The frenzied passengers and crew of the Grey Eagle 
cheered madly as the gap slowly closed and the bow of 
their boat drew abreast of the Itasca's stern. But the latter 
had the inside track and in the next quarter of a mile it 
was clear that Captain Harris could not hope to reach the 
levee first. In the succeeding minute, the two boats drew 
almost neck to neck, with whistles blowing and cannon 
booming, but the Itasca nosed into the wharf first. While 
her crew was busy putting out the stage, the Grey Eagle 
glided alongside with a deck hand perched on the swinging 
stage, a number of papers fastened into the notch of an 
arrow of wood. The next instant they were cast into the 
arms of Harris's agent on the dock. 

Captain Harris had made the run from Dunleith to St. 
Paul in twenty-four hours and forty minutes, making 
twenty-three landings, and taking on thirty-five cords of 
wood en route. His average speed, counting all stops, was 
a fraction over eleven miles an hour upstream, but the 
Grey Eagle probably ran thirteen miles an hour while un- 


The Race of the Grey Eagle 

der way. This was the fastest time ever made by a steam- 
boat; it eclipsed the Die Vernon's record of 1853 by over 
three hours.®'^ 

The race of the Grey Eagle against time and the Itasca 
is without a parallel in Upper Mississippi steamboating. 
The fast time of such boats as the War Eagle (first) , the 
Die Vernon, and the West Neivton pale beside this colorful 
exploit. For sheer drama it equals the heated contest be- 
tween the Robert E. Lee and the Natchez in 1870. Only 
a venturesome skipper like Daniel Smith Harris would 
have conceived a plan so daring. Only a sleek boat like 
the Grey Eagle could have carried such a plan to a vic- 
torious conclusion. 


W lieinL •Uapiams Jcviiied JL^iJke K^ings 

Mark Twain has sung the praises of Lower Mississippi 
pilots — their skill and daring, their professional clannish- 
ness, and their prestige. But the Mississippi that Mark 
Twain knew in the late fifties had already grown to steam- 
boat maturity. Hannibal, the boyhood home of Mark 
Twain, was unborn when Daniel Smith Harris skimmed 
by in the keelboat Colonel Bom ford in 1823. In fact 
Smith Harris had been steamboating on the Mississippi for 
six years before Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born at 
Florida, Missouri, in 1835. Clemens was not so much as 
one year old when Harris piloted the Frontier up the Rock 
River as far as Dixon's Ferry. In a word, Daniel Smith 
Harris had come to be recognized as a veteran river captain 
and pilot when Mark Twain was still in his infancy. 

Harris was at the full tide of his glorious career when 
in 1857 the youthful Clemens quit writing letters to the 
Keokuk Vost to begin his brief steamboat career. By that 
time Harris had already owned or commanded a score of 
boats, and was just bringing out his beautiful Grey Eagle. 
Indeed the four and one-half years that Samuel Clemens 
(for so his name is written on his first and only pilot's 
license issued at St. Louis on April 9, 1859) spent on the 
Mississippi coincides exactly with Harris's career as captain 
of the Grey Eagle. The outbreak of the Civil War abrupt- 


when Captains Ruled Like Kings 

ly ended Mark Twain's river career on the Lower Missis- 
sippi; while Daniel Smith Harris brought his thirty- three 
years of steamboating to a dramatic close when he dashed 
the Grey Eagle to pieces on a jutting pier of the Rock 
Island bridge on May 9, 1861."" 

In character and ability, in courage and resourcefulness, 
Upper Mississippi steamboat captains were unexcelled. 
Skippers like Daniel Smith Harris were held in even great- 
er esteem than Lower River pilots. For it must be remem- 
bered that the typical Upper Mississippi steamboat captain 
before the Civil War was himself a pilot. There were many 
captains like Daniel Smith Harris who took their regular 
turn at the wheel despite the press of other duties. 

Among these versatile commanders there were pilots 
whose skill and ability could match the adroit Mr. Bixby 
under whom Mark Twain served as cub. Indeed Mr. Bix- 
by is dwarfed by comparison with Harris for that fiery 
skipper had seen almost as many years of steamboating as 
Mr. Bixby could count birthdays when Samuel Clemens 
was studying the mysteries of an ever changing channel 
under him. Mr. Bixby might know the Mississippi from 
St. Louis to New Orleans, but Harris had piloted the west- 
ern waters between St. Paul and Pittsburgh and had blazed 
a trail on many tributaries. In addition to this Harris in- 
variably piloted his boats over both the Lower Rapids and 
Upper Rapids — a feat which was generally reserved for 
skilled rapids pilots who knew every inch of the twisted, 
tortuous channel. There were few steamboat pilots who 
could perform this feat in a good stage of water. Fur- 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

thermore Harris always ran the dangerous cross-currents of 
that Nemesis of the steamboats — the Rock Island bridge. 
For five consecutive years he piloted the Grey Eagle 
through this dangerous obstruction, always relieving the 
pilot on duty in order to assume the responsibility himself. 
Mark Twain, Mr. Bixby, and the other Lower Mississippi 
pilots before the Civil War had no bridges to run in the 
whole course of the river from St. Louis to New Orleans.®" 

But piloting was a small part of the work of the Upper 
Mississippi steamboat captain. His duties were far more 
onerous. A steamboat captain had to be a real leader — 
one who could command respect. He must be capable of 
making quick and accurate decisions. He must be a good 
judge of human nature for upon him fell the duty of 
choosing pilots, engineers, firemen, clerks, stewards, mates, 
deck hands, and roustabouts. He had to demonstrate suffi- 
cient business talent to show a profit at the end of a season. 

Meeting people in every walk of life, the steamboat 
captain must so impress his passengers with his own ability 
and "gentlemanly deportment" that they would be in- 
clined to choose his boat in preference to another in the 
future. In a day when a wide difference existed in the 
speed and luxury of river crafts the personality of the 
captain was often the determining factor in influencing a 
traveler's choice of the half dozen boats in port. The same 
was true with regard to freight : a popular captain would 
have little difficulty in securing a generous share of the 
merchandise and produce along the way. 

Still other responsibilities faced Upper Mississippi steam- 


when Captains Ruled Like Kings 

boat captains. The danger of snags and sandbars, the threat 
of fires and explosions, the hazards of running the rapids, 
the fury of wind-swept Lake Pepin, all these must be en- 
countered many times during the course of a season. Riots, 
bloodshed, drunken brawls, the presence of blacklegs and 
gamblers, the scourge of cholera, these too formed a part 
of the captain's life. In a word, while the pilot's work 
began and ended at the wheel, the captain must oversee 
the affairs of his craft from stem to stern, from texas to 
hold, from cabin to engine-room, and from the clerk's 
office to the pantry.®^* 

Although their work was hard and frequently dan- 
gerous, steamboat captains usually displayed rare qualities 
of industry and resourcefulness in its performance. Some- 
times the returns of a single trip were fabulous, actually 
paying the original cost of the steamboat. On the other 
hand, cut-throat competition frequently left a captain 
virtually bankrupt after a season of hard work. Perhaps 
it was this very element of uncertainty which served as a 
magnet to many an enterprising riverman. At any rate a 
picturesque group of men were lured by the throbbing, 
pulsing deck of a steamboat.^^^ 

Boldly written in the annals of steamboating are the 
names of Joseph Throckmorton and Daniel Smith Harris. 
Prior to the Civil War these men ranked as outstanding 
figures during the period of individual ownership. But 
there were many others whose names ought to be recorded. 
Thus, while Throckmorton was one of the earliest to ply 
the Upper Mississippi such men as James Clark, Alvah 


Steamboatlng on Upper Mississippi 

Culver, and David G. Bates preceded him. Little is known 
about the career of many of these men : their presence is 
recorded chiefly by their arrivals at the Port of St. Louis 
and the Galena lead mines. 

Take for example the career of David G. Bates, who 
might well be called the dean of Upper Mississippi steam- 
boat captains. Bates captained a crew of French keelboat- 
men to the lead mines of Galena as early as 1819. The 
intrepid skipper began his steamboat career when he pur- 
chased the Rjifus Putiiatit and brought a cargo of supplies 
to Fort Snelling in 1825. It was Bates who started Smith 
Harris on his steamboat career by taking him aboard the 
Galena as a cub pilot in 1829. 

It was Captain Bates, too, who employed the surly Pat- 
rick O'Connor as a deck hand aboard the Galena. O'Connor 
later had the dubious honor of being the first man tried, 
condemned, and executed in Iowa. Captain Bates had taken 
pity on this dissolute Irishman in Galena when others re- 
viled him. When the Dubuque lead miners tried O'Con- 
nor for murder he chose Captain Bates for his counsel. 
The resourceful steamboat captain made a forceful plea 
in O'Connor's defense, but to no avail, for O'Connor was 
hanged at Dubuque on June 20, 1834. Captain Bates was 
always identified with steamboating and lead mining. He 
died at Galena on November 22, 1850. His initiation of 
Daniel Smith Harris into the mysteries of piloting aboard 
the steamboat Galena alone entitles him to a place in 
steamboat history.®^^ 

The entire Harris family seems to have been inoculated 


when Captains Ruled Like Kings 

with the steamboat phobia. Robert Scribe, Martin Keeler, 
James Meeker, and even young Jackson Harris, all saw 
active service on the Upper Mississippi. Indeed steamboat- 
ing appeared to intrigue whole families. The Atchison 
brothers (George W., Mark, and John Atchison) plied the 
Upper Mississippi during this period. Then there was D. 
B. Morehouse and his brother Le Grand Morehouse. Pres- 
ton Lodwick and his brother, Kennedy Lodwick, also 
should not be forgotten. Such men as Hiram Bersie, W. H. 
Hooper, A. C. Montfort, Robert A. Reilly, E. H. Gleim, 
James Lafferty, Orrin Smith, and Russell Blakeley, were 
likewise prominent captains before the Civil War.®" 

A distinguishing characteristic of Upper Mississippi 
steamboat captains was their stubborn courage and per- 
severance. In 1857 Captain George H. Wilson of Onalas- 
ka, Wisconsin, brought out the powerful stern-wheel tow- 
boat G. H. Wilson. Built at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, 
this 159-ton craft was capable of showing a foaming 
wake to most of the race horses on the Upper Missis- 
sippi. After running somewhat irregularly in the St. Paul 
trade during the year 1857, Captain Wilson entered her 
in the Des Moines River trade. It was while engaged in 
this traffic that Captain Wilson demonstrated a "resolute- 
ness in the face of difficulties" which is typical of the 
steamboat captain. 

It appears that the Des Moines River was obstructed 
with numerous dams thrown across its course by mill 
owners. It was the practice of steamboatmen to take a 
run at these makeshift obstructions and force the boat 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

through or over them. Sometimes a boat was hung up on 
the crest of the dam without being able to run either for- 
ward or back. 

A story is told of the indomitable Captain Wilson wres- 
tling with the dam at Keosauqua. The G. H. Wilson stuck 
several times in attempting to pass the dam and had to 
fall back and try it over again. "Getting desperate", eye- 
witnesses relate, "the captain ordered the engineer to get 
up a big pressure of steam, open the throttle valves wide, 
and shouted his commands so that they could be heard 
half a mile : 'Send her over — or blow her to hell!' The 
boat went over amid the cheers of the spectators. The 
engineer said afterwards that he rather expected the other 
alternative." "^ 

Steamboat captains were kind of heart. Once, when a 
baby became ill aboard his steamboat, Captain Russell 
Blakeley landed at an "out-of-the-way point" and sent a 
boy up the bluff to get a pitcher of fresh milk for the sick 
child. On another occasion Captain William H. Gabbert 
held his boat over several hours for a woman whose child 
was born during the interval."^ 

In 1850 Benjamin Eaton hastened from St. Paul to Bee- 
town, Wisconsin, to get his family out of the cholera 
region. While he was gone his home burned, leaving the 
family without shelter. When Captain Orrin Smith of 
the No^ninee learned of this misfortune he refunded the 
fare of the entire Eaton family upon their arrival in St. 
Paul. It was this same Captain Smith who refused to allow 
his boat to turn a wheel on Sunday and conducted reli- 


when Captains Ruled Like Kings 

gious services himself when no minister was on board."*** 

In 1857 Captain Jones Worden allowed passengers to 
sleep on board the Key City during a cloudburst and while 
waiting for a train. This was against the rules of the com- 
pany; but where human comfort was concerned steam- 
boat captains often made their own rules.®" 

In 1850 a card signed by forty persons appeared in a 
Galena newspaper thanking Captain John Atchison and his 
ofiScers "for the uniform kindness and attention" on a 
recent trip from Stillwater to Galena aboard the Highland 
Mary No. 2. But Captain Atchison was unable to re- 
spond : the same issue carried the news of his death. He 
had been stricken suddenly with the cholera upon his 
arrival at that port. His passing was a distinct loss to 
Upper Mississippi steamboating for he had demonstrated 
enterprise and a fine business talent that was warmly tem- 
pered by a frank, generous, and amiable personality. 

Nor were such characters as John Atchison readily for- 
gotten by the river folk whom he had often befriended. 
Ten months after his death a St. Paul editor mourned: 
"Poor Old John Atchison, of the Highland Mary, always 
first to greet us in the Spring, is now no more; we miss 
him with his little brass band, whose music echoed upon 
our waters, whenever that figure head of Mary, the High- 
land lassie, showed its face around the bend at Pig's 
Eye." ''' 

Steamboat captains were frequently upbraided by the 
press for their failure to turn back when a passenger fell 
overboard. The courage of Captain William H. Laughton 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

was, however, frequently demonstrated : during his forty 
or more years of service the fearless skipper plunged over- 
board nine times at the risk of his own life and rescued 
passengers from a watery grave. On one such occasion, 
while he was serving as mate on the Nominee, passengers 
presented Laughton with an "engrossed set of resolutions, 
and a silver loving cup made by Tiffany" for saving the 
life of a little girl who had fallen over the rail/^^ 

Once the pulsing throb of a steamboat entered their 
veins steamboat captains found it difficult to forsake the 
river. Throckmorton forsook the Upper Mississippi in 
1848 only to return to his first love. Those captains who 
did succeed in leaving the river demonstrated the same 
capacity for leadership in business and politics. Take, for 
example, the career of James May, who was born in Cape 
Girardeau, Missouri, in 1804 and commenced flat-boating 
on the Ohio in 1822. Five years later (1827) Captain May 
took the Sha^nrock from Pittsburgh to Galena on what has 
been described as "the first business trip ever made on the 
Upper Mississippi" by a steamboat. Later he commanded 
the Enterprise (first) and the Dove. In 1834, however, he 
retired from steamboating to enter the grocery and com- 
mission business at Pittsburgh. He also superintended the 
building of over fifty steamboats and more than twice as 
many barges and other craft. He was one of the original 
proprietors of Davenport but did not become a resident 
of that city until 1847. Later he became one of Daven- 
port's wealthiest citizens. 

Then there was W. H. Hooper who married Electa Har- 


when Captains Ruled Like Kings 

ris, a sister of the Harris brothers. Hooper was identified 
with such boats as the Otter ^ the Tivte and Tide, and the 
Alexander Hamilton. In 1848 he went to Salt Lake City 
and allied himself with the Mormons. His general ability 
was soon recognized and he was sent to Congress several 
times as a Territorial Delegate. ^^* 

Business ability was an important element of a steam- 
boat captain's character. Louis Robert, a descendant of 
French settlers of Kaskaskia, was born at Carondelet, Mis- 
souri, on January 21, 1811. After spending his early life 
on the Missouri, Robert moved to Prairie du Chien in 
1838. He became permanently identified with St. Paul 
in 1847 as one of the original proprietors of that town. 
Impulsive and loquacious, generous and warm-hearted, 
Robert was nevertheless a far-seeing business man. In 
1853 he became interested in steamboating and at different 
times owned as many as five steamboats. He also engaged 
in the Indian trade. When he died in 1874 his estate was 
valued at $400,000. 

Louis Robert was particularly gallant to the lady pas- 
sengers. Of the Time and Tide he was wont to say that 
she would wait for no man; but "Louie Robair" would 
wait "fifteen minutes for one woman". This incident is 
said to be a "true leaf" from her log book : for once the 
Time and Tide swung idly from her mooring for half an 
hour while a lady "primped, painted and had a reef taken 
in her corsets." Meanwhile the one hundred fifty other 
passengers are said to have "dyed the ambient air a ceru- 
lian blue with curses not loud but deep." ®^° 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Few captains exhibited a greater versatility than did 
\^ Captain Asa Barlow Green. This versatile skipper was 
also known as a lawyer, a sheriff, a probate judge, a mis- 
sionary, a minister, and an army chaplain. Born in Ver- 
mont in 1826, Green received a common school education, 
studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Wisconsin and 
Minnesota. Variously described as a Methodist and a Cal- 
vinist Baptist, Green's religious exhortations apparently 
satisfied the rough cravings of the lumberjacks. On at 
least one occasion his contact with these rude characters 
stood him in good stead. 

On May 26, 1859, Captain Green started up Lake St. 
Croix for Stillwater with an excursion party of over three 
hundred men, women, and children from Hastings and 
Prescott. All were in a merry mood when suddenly a tor- 
nado struck the Equator^ with terrific force, crippling her 
in an instant. Caught in the billowing troughs of the wind- 
swept lake, with waves sweeping over the main deck and 
down the open hatches, the whole upper works "threat- 
ened to go overboard." Captain Green held his post on 
the upper deck, bellowing instructions and endeavoring 
to calm the frightened women and children. 

Suddenly a new element confronted the courageous 
captain. A rich sawmill owner of Prescott, a man over 
seventy years of age, who "ought to have been ready and 
willing to pass in his checks, crept up the companionway 
to the roof, and creeping on his hands and knees, got hold 
of the captain's legs and besought him to save him — 'Save 
me. Captain, Save me. I will give you a thousand dollars 


When Captains Ruled Like Kings 

if you will save me!' " For perhaps the first and only 
time, Reverend Asa Barlow Green had a lapse from grace. 
"Let go of me and get below, you d — d cowardly old 

," roared the irate Captain as he 

kicked him off the roof and down the stairway."**' 

When Captain E. H. Gleim died at Galena in 1856 his 
loss was deeply mourned. Gleim had begun his career as 
first clerk aboard the steamboat Warrior in 1832. For 
more than a score of years he was identified with such 
boats as the Warrior, the Wisconsin, the Monona, the Royal 
Arch, the Pawnee, the Highlander, and the Ocean Wave. 
He was described as a "fit representative of a class of men, 
who, in the peaceful pursuits of commerce", had given 
"proof of every element of manhood" in a "difficult, 
laborious and hazardous occupation". A Galena editor 
asserted that such men as Gleim had been as "often tested" 
as Stephen Decatur or any other national hero. They had 
stood these tests "like steel" and had given a "high char- 
acter to our river commerce".^" 

Many of the steamboat captains, whose careers may be^^\ 
traced back to the period of individual ownership, later 
became identified with the great packet companies that 
flourished in the golden days of steamboating. The lives 
of such men as Joseph Throckmorton, Daniel Smith Har- 
ris, William F. Davidson, and Joseph Reynolds portray 
graphically the profound changes which occurred in 
steamboating. The study of such corporations as the Keo- 
kuk Packet Company, the Minnesota Packet Company, 
the Northern Line, the White Collar Line, and the Dia- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

mond Jo Line present in miniature the transition which 
took place within the nation itself. These constitute, how- 
ever, separate and complete chapters in the history of 
Upper Mississippi steamboating.^^® 


1 lie Opening of Navigation 

The opening of navigation at St. Paul in 1 849 was pecu- 
liarly dramatic. Fettered for nearly five months by ice- 
locked Lake Pepin, the tiny settlement anxiously awaited 
the arrival of the first steamboat. During the winter, mail 
had been brought up irregularly by dog or horse train, but 
the newspapers were several months old. It was not until 
late in January that word was received of the election of 
Zachary Taylor. Everyone hoped that the first steamboat 
would bring news of the creation of the Territory of 
Minnesota. The afternoon of April 9, 1849, was pleasant; 
the river was clear of ice, and yet no steamboat had ap- 
peared at the St. Paul wharf. 

But Captain Daniel Smith Harris was nearing St. Paul 
with the Dr. Franklin No. 2 loaded with immigrants who 
watched with awe a violent thunder storm that had begun 
at dusk. As the steamboat rounded the bend a vivid flash 
of lightning revealed her presence to those ashore. "In an 
instant the welcome news flashed like electricity, through- 
out the town. All were on the qtii vive, and regardless of 
the pelting rain, the raging wind, and the pealing thunder, 
almost the entire male population rushed to the landing — 
hundreds clustered on the shore unmindful of the storm 
as the fine steamboat Dr. Franklin No. 2 dashed gallantly 
up to the landing." 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

The moment the boat's stage touched the shore the 
news-hungry "boarders" scrambled up, brushing aside the 
deck hands and immigrants about to come ashore. Cap- 
tain Harris and his officers were the men of the hour. 
"The barkeeper had need of the arms of Briareus, the eyes 
of Argus, and the tongues of Rumor, to satisfy the de- 
mands, made upon him. — At length the news was known 
and one glad shout resounding through the boat, taken up 
on shore, and echoed from our beetling bluffs and rolling 
hills, proclaimed that the Bill for the organization of Min- 
nesota Territory had become a law." ^^^ 
\ "^he arrival of the first steamboat each spring was a big 
event in the life of every river town. Isolated through the 
long winter months and with only fragmentary news 
dispatches trickling in from the outside world, each em- 
bryonic frontier community hailed with enthusiasm that 
captain who opened the season of navigation. The first 
steamboat arrival was a memorable event and remained the 
topic of conversation for weeks. Later, in the fifties and 
sixties, some river towns, especially those above Lake Pepin, 
granted free wharfage during the ensuing year to the first 
boat — not a small item when the total disbursements for 
the season were counted. Furthermore, the captain who 
gained this much desired laurel was always certain of added 

St. Louis was not greatly concerned over the opening 
of navigation. Ice closed the Mississippi at St. Louis on an 
average of twenty-nine days yearly between 1865 and 
1882. Four times during this period the river was open 


The Opening of Navigation 

the year round : once (during the winter of 1880-1881) 
the Mississippi was closed for seventy-eight days/^° 

As steamboats ascended the Mississippi above the mouth 
of the Missouri, the opening of navigation became more 
important. Between Keokuk and Dubuque the river was 
ice-locked on an average of from 75 to 105 days each year. 
St. Paul, on the other hand, was "frozen in" on an average 
of almost five months yearly. Thus, the season of naviga- 
tion for the port of St. Paul averaged only 222 days be- 
tween the years 1849 and 1866, or a little more than seven 
months. The polar barrier erected by Lake Pepin deprived 
St. Paul of commerce with ports below for an average of 
143 days during this period compared with twenty-nine 
days for St. Louis. Ports at the foot of Lake Pepin could 
usually depend on a month more of navigation than could 
St. Paul.^^^ 

Prior to 1850 the mineral region and the river towns 
below Galena and Dubuque were the chief ports of call for 
steamboats. Damaging floods preceded the opening of 
navigation at Galena in 1836. By mid-March the Fever 
River rose to the highest point since 1828 : Main Street 
was flooded and much property lost. The Ice had hardly 
slipped out when navigation opened : the Olive Branch 
churned up the Fever River with her guards dripping on 
April 1st. On the following day the Wisconsin arrived 
from St. Louis. Hard in her wake came the Galenian, hav- 
ing first left a heavy tribute of freight and passengers at 
Dubuque. On April 3rd the Dubuque^ the Cavalier, and 
the Warrior were discharging freight and passengers at the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Galena levee. The opening of navigation brought many 
new faces to Galena and Dubuque, so that the levees of 
these enterprising mining communities fairly bustled with 

. • •- 692 


Although Dubuque and Galena continued to welcome 
steamboats, the completion of the telegraph to such points 
as St. Louis, Keokuk, Burlington, and Dubuque in 1848 
made these towns no longer dependent on steamboats as 
messengers of news. And the construction of the railroads 
to the Mississippi during the fifties made most of the ports 
between St. Louis and La Crosse virtually independent 
of the steamboat. The admission of Wisconsin as a State 
in 1848 and the creation of the Territory of Minnesota in 
1849 focused attention on ports situated above the mineral 

The ultima thule of spring navigation was St. Paul, at 
the head of navigation on the Upper Mississippi. Each 
spring the mad dash of steamboats for this port was chron- 
icled by the press all the way up from St. Louis. The 
records hung up by Captain Harris illustrate graphically 
the intense human interest in gaining the honor of bring- 
ing in the first boat. 

Between 1844 and 1861 inclusive. Captain Harris bat- 
tered his way through ice-choked Lake Pepin seven times 
to win the much sought laurel. Sometimes a score of 
steamboats lay marshaled at the foot of Lake Pepin wait- 
ing for the ice to move so that competition was extremely 
keen. But no other captain could match the brilliant feats 
of Daniel Smith Harris in gaining St. Paul first. 


The Opening of Navigation 

In 1 844 Harris reached St. Paul with the Otter on April 
6th — the first arrival of the season. He repeated this 
performance in 1845 with the same boat, and, curiously 
enough, on the same date. In 1848 the Senator was first, 
arriving on April 7th. The following year the Dr. Frank- 
lin No. 2 arrived on April 9th; while in 185 3 the West 
Newton led the way to St. Paul with a considerable num- 
ber of passengers and a large freight cargo. Two years 
later (1855) the War Eagle dashed into port with colors 
flying and cannons roaring while all St. Paul turned out 
to greet the gallant skipper. In his last victory, in 185 8, 
the Grey Eagle came screeching past Pig's Eye on the 25 th 
of March — the earliest arrival on record. His nearest 
rivals at this wild sport of playing checkers with frozen 
ice-cakes were Orrin Smith and John Atchison, both of 
whom managed to gain the laurel twice during this period, 
a record which pales before the seven victories of Captain 

"The arrival of the first steamer of the season is a great 
day for St. Paul", declared Harriet Bishop in 1853. "Anxi- 
ety has long run high; eyes are strained in anxious expec- 
tation, and when finally it rounds the bend, hundreds of 
citizens gathered at the river, send forth a prolonged shout 
of welcome, and the bluffs echo the general joy." 

On at least one occasion. Miss Bishop recalls, the pas- 
sengers actually chopped a lane through Lake Pepin. Early 
in ISSOythe Highland Mary (John Atchison commanding) 
found the lake frozen solid. For days the boat lay at the 
foot of the lake, unable to proceed northward. Several 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

of the passengers finally returned downstream in despair. 
In desperation the remainder of the passengers and crew 
volunteered their services and actually chopped a path 
through the ice. They received, as they well merited, 
"hearty shouts of congratulations from the people of St. 
Paul." ''' 

Other passengers found it easier to walk around Lake 
Pepin. On April 14, 1856, William W. Pendergast, a Min- 
nesota pioneer, reached Read's Landing only to find Lake 
Pepin frozen over. After waiting two days for the ice to 
break up, Pendergast and his companions walked the thirty 
miles round Lake Pepin over a muddy road to Wacouta. 
Here they found Captain Louis Robert's Time and Tide 
with "steam up" ready to set out for St. Paul. "This 
steaming up", Pendergast declared, "was only a trick to 
make us buy a ticket at once. It was played several times 
before the boat finally started." Pendergast did not reach 
St. Paul until the 17th. The following day the Lady 
Franklin came swooshing up to the levee, the first to batter 
her way through to St. Paul.^^^ 

It was not merely St. Paul that depended on the arrival 
of the first steamboat in the spring. Lake Pepin blocked 
off the St. Croix Valley, the Minnesota Valley, and the 
region above the Falls of St. Anthony. As spring ap- 
proached the settlers in these areas waited impatiently for 
the arrival of fresh supplies. The opening of navigation in 
1857 illustrates the dependence of St. Paul and the towns 
on the Minnesota River upon the steamboat. 

Navigation on the Minnesota River was usually possible 


The Opening of Navigation 

several weeks before the first steamboat arrived at St. Paul 
from below because of the length of time required for 
Lake Pepin to open. Since each spring only a small quan- 
tity of freight from the previous winter remained in St. 
Paul, the trade of the Minnesota River was rather light 
until new supplies came from below. The winter of 1856- 
1857 was unusually severe, and the Minnesota River was 
open for navigation three weeks before Lake Pepin relin- 
quished its grip on the Upper Mississippi. Ten boats lay at 
the foot of the lake several days before it opened, and a 
number of others were docked three miles below at Wa- 
basha. In this colorful flotilla were steamboats hailing from 
distant Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. On April 29th twenty- 
two craft, crowded with passengers, impatiently awaited 
the moving out of the ice. The more venturesome cap- 
tains had for several days butted the prows of their boats 
against the unbreakable wall in vain attempts to crash 

Fifteen hundred passengers fumed at the delay of the 
twenty-two stranded craft at the foot of Lake Pepin. 
Hundreds of others, exasperated at the obdurate tenacity 
of the lake, set out on foot for Red Wing, willing to en- 
dure the greatest hardships and inconvenience in order to 
reach St. Paul earlier than was possible if they remained 
aboard their boats. At Red Wing they were met by the 
Minnesota River packets, which flourished on this early 
season business made up of passengers who cared little 
what facilities were provided so long as they could reach 
their destination. On April 16th the Reveille arrived at 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

St. Paul from Red Wing, her decks thronged with 

Since Lake Pepin did not open until April 30th in 1857 
the owners of the Reveille and the Ti7ne and Tide were able 
to amass snug fortunes before their season actually began 
on the Minnesota. Before daylight on April 17th the 
Time and Tide came into St. Paul with a full load of pas- 
sengers and the Red Wing band. At the prevailing rates 
for passage the fares of the 246 cabin and 197 deck 
passengers netted the owner of the boat $1821 for a single 
trip. This amount was almost equal to her total passenger 
receipts for the first five trips on the Minnesota in 1857. 
On April 24th of that year the Time and Tide brought 
196 cabin passengers and 145 "deckers" from Red Wing; 
three days later the same craft churned up to the St. 
Paul levee with 368 passengers perched precariously about 
her decks from stem to stern and occupying all available 
space from engine room to texas. 

Such trips brought a broad grin to the face of Louis 
Robert, the jovial and picturesque captain of the Time and 
Tide. It was only five years since Captain Robert had 
purchased the little steamboat Black Hawk for six thou- 
sand dollars to run regularly on the Minnesota River. At 
the time the boat was the subject of lively newspaper 
comment, for it was the first steamboat owned entirely in 
St. Paul. In 1857 the Time and Tide alone earned enough 
in the spring trade between St. Paul and Red Wing to pay 
the original cost of the historic Black Hawk.^^^ 

A final yawn of the seemingly bottomless old Lake 


The Opening of Navigation 

Pepin split and ripped its winter coat wide open and pro- 
duced a narrow but dangerous lane for steamboat captains 
to venture through. And venture they did. Battering 
their way through giant blocks of shifting, crumbling 
ice, the War Eagle and the Galena started up the ice- 
choked lake, risking all to gain the coveted laurel that went 
to the first steamboat to reach St. Paul. Hard in their 
frozen wake followed such boats as the Rescue, the Henry 
Clay, the Hamburg, the Atlanta, the Conewago, the Savt 
Young, the Golden State, and a dozen others. Just below 
St. Paul, when victory was almost in the War Eagle's 
grasp, a deck hand fell overboard and a yawl put out to 
rescue the unfortunate man. It was a humane but costly 
act : on May 2, 1857, the Pioneer and Democrat noted 
that Captain W. H. Laughton brought his Galena into 
port at 2:00 A. M. on May 1st and that the War Eagle 
landed fifteen minutes later. 

And then the deluge! Twenty-five hundred tons of 
freight were dumped pell-mell upon the St. Paul levee in 
forty-eight hours by the score of boats that followed the 
Galena and the War Eagle. The St. Paul levee was the 
"only place of attraction" on those bustling first two days 
of May, 1857. And on May 3rd an additional two thou- 
sand tons were discharged, which kept every dray and 
wagon in St. Paul busy throughout the day and far into 
the night."° 

From Dubuque and Galena, St. Louis and New Orleans, 
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh came the goods that formed the 
principal cargoes for steamboats running above the Falls 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

or to the swiftly growing valley towns of the Minnesota 
River. And from Chaska, Shakopee, Carver, Henderson, 
St. Peter, Mankato, and still smaller entrepots, the Big 
Woods country was supplied through the medium of the 
steamboats that made possible the rapid growth and devel- 
opment of the region. 

Steamboatmen and merchants in the various ports below 
Lake Pepin were exasperated at the tenacity with which the 
lake clung to her icy cloak. In 1857 the river was open at 
Dubuque on March 25th; Winona was free of ice on April 
1st; but St. Paul could not greet the steamboat until May 
1st. Naturally such conditions elicited bitter editorials in 
the various newspapers. In the spring of 1859 the Missis- 
sippi was described as a "National Highway" by D. H. 
Dolterer, who urged it was to the best interests of Dubuque 
to break through Lake Pepin when the river was open to 
that point. Dolterer suggested that his "specially con- 
structed" icebreaker, which opened Lake Cayuga for 
steamboats during the winter of 1849-1850, could slash a 
channel through Lake Pepin in one day. The novel inven- 
tion broke ice a foot thick with ease by lifting the ice rather 
than exerting a downward pressure. The icebreaker was 
attached to a boat 120 feet long and could be removed 
when not in use, thereby permitting the craft to be em- 
ployed as a ferry or towboat.^"^ 

Dolterer's suggestion apparently went unheeded. Mean- 
while, a Dubuque editor announced with pardonable pride 
that the Key City reached St. Paul first in 1859. Captain 
Jones Worden had started bucking the ice with the Key 


The Opening of Navigation 

City on the Minnesota side on April 19th. When but two 
miles below Lake City he was forced to cross through a 
crevass to the Wisconsin side. Worming his boat upstream 
two miles, Captain Worden found another gaping fissure 
and succeeded in recrossing to Lake City where the entire 
population greeted the plucky captain. The following 
morning at eight o'clock the citizens of St. Paul saw the 
smoke from an approaching steamboat. A grand rush for 
the levee ensued and there were "wild conjectures" as to 
what %bat was approaching. By the time the Key City 
^^urned the bend a "stream of humanity" had poured down 
Jackson and Robert streets so that two thousand were on 
hand to greet the gallant craft as she made fast to the dock. 
The ferryboat and the Rotary Mills whistled a shrill wel- 
come to the Key City and a cannon was discharged in 
honor of the occasion. Captain Worden and his ojQftcers 
were cheered to the echo by the assembled throng.'^°" 

In attempting to break through the ice barrier steam- 
boat captains sometimes endangered the lives of passengers 
as well as the cargo. In 1857 reports drifted down to Du- 
buque that both the Galena and the War Eagle had suf- 
fered serious damages and that some boats had run aground 
or were proceeding with their holds filled with water. It 
was also rumored that St. Paul had increased the prize to 
$3000 cash, besides offering a set of colors for the boat 
and $300 for the pilot. These reports were later branded 
as untrue; but for over a week following the opening of 
Lake Pepin newspapers carried accounts of the great ex- 
citement at St. Paul and the ports below. And well might 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

the Upper Mississippi Valley be excited, for Lake Pepin 
had blocked navigation to St. Paul until May 1st, the latest 
date on record between 1844 and 1884/°^ 

The eccentricity of the weather and Lake Pepin was 
demonstrated when the Grey Eagle arrived at St. Paul on 
March 25, 1858. This was the earliest date on record be- 
tween 1844 and 1884. The average date of arrival for this 
period of forty-one years was April 13 th. Only three 
steamboats, besides the Grey Eagle, were able to batter their 
their way through Lake Pepin before April 1st : tnS^ilmnie 
whisked up to the St. Paul levee on March 25, 1878, 
tie the record of the Grey Eagle. ^°* 

Citizens in every port along the Mississippi anxiously 
studied the river each spring and looked forward with keen 
anticipation for the first boat of the season. For days in 
advance the newspapers chronicled the condition of the ice 
at the various ports above and below. Thus, on February 
28, 1868, the Dubuque Herald recorded that navigation 
was open to Quincy — which was sooner than most old- 
timers could remember. The first appearance of the reg- 
ular "River News" column occurred on March 10th with 
the observation that large crowds had gathered on the river 
to watch the ice. The Mississippi actually split its icy 
mantle a few times that day, but each time it quickly 
closed up. It was believed, however, that the river would 
soon be free of ice. Five days later the Herald announced 
that the Northern Line steamboat Davenport would leave 
St. Louis for points upstream. On March 19th it reported 
the river was open to La Crosse and chronicled the de- 


The Opening of Navigation 

parture of the Sterling from Galena with 115 kegs of beer. 
The following day the Lady Pike arrived at the Dubuque 
levee to open the season. On March 21st the Diamond Jo 
arrived at Winona to initiate the season to that port. The 
Diamond Jo was headed for the foot of Lake Pepin which 
was still frozen. It was not until April 4, 1868, that the 
Phd Sheridan was able to smash her way through to St. 

The coming of the railroad to St. Paul proved the death- 
knelLj(Psteamboating. Its effect was quickly reflected in 
^I^Rpassenger and freight receipts and in the general indif- 
ference to the opening of navigation. "Before St. Paul had 
railroad communication with the east", an editor observed 
in 1873, "the first steamboat arrival in the spring was an 
event of much greater importance than now. There was 
quite a celebration, ending with a dance on the boat — 
and the steamer was given the freedom of the city, that is, 
was allowed to use the levee free of wharfage all the 

The effect of the coming of the "Robber Barons" was 
mournfully recorded when the steamboat Northwestern 
arrived in the spring of 1873. "One silent indication that 
causes were at work to rob the noble stream of its early 
glory was visible to all spectators, last evening — the om- 
nibusses returned from the levee empty; and the first trip 
of the Northwestern was made remunerative by freight 
only, of which she made a very respectable showing." ^"^ 



C^iosing ojf iNj avigaiiom 

A Dubuque editor marvelled at the power of the ice 
gnomes over the Mississippi River. In a frigid blast 
throughout the Upper Mississippi Valley on December 1 3 , 
1859, the mercury fell from eight to thirteen degrees be- 
low zero in a "couple of hours". Numbed finger^^^^type 
which vividly pictured the unequal struggle between KAg^^^ 
Winter and the Mississippi. "It took a firm hold on the 
Father of Waters — laying a giant's hand upon him, and 
arresting his course, as easily as a boy does that of his toy- 
wagon. In other words the weather commenced a few days 
since bridging the river — it rafted down at first the 
sleepers, and yesterday it put down the planking, and if 
nothing hinders, the work to-day or to-morrow at far- 
thest, will be finished in a style at once elegant and sub- 
stantial." ^" 

Fortunately Dubuque was no longer dependent on the 
steamboat in 1859 : the railroads had already reached that 
port. A decade before, however, the premature closing 
of navigation would have been viewed with mingled re- 
gret and alarm. For, despite the large number of steam- 
boat arrivals during the regular season of navigation, river 
towns frequently found themselves with insufficient sup- 
plies to face the rigors of a long winter siege. 

Small wonder that anxious river towns joyfully wel- 


closing of Navigation 

corned those steamboat captains who risked the dangers of 
floating ice to bring last minute supplies before naviga- 
tion closed. "Steamboats continue to arrive at our wharves, 
laden with merchandize and passengers", a St. Paul editor 
asserted late in 1 849. "Within the past week, the Senator, 
the Yankee, the [Dr.] Franklin No. 2 and the [Dr.] 
Franklin No. 1, have all paid us a visit." 

Although winter was fast approaching, the arrival of 
another boat was hopefully anticipated. Everyone breathed 
a "sigh of relief" as the Yankee poked her nose around the 
bend before daylight on November 1 9th. Late in Novem- 
ber the Enterprise dashed up to the Red Wing levee, and 
after discharging all her freight and passengers hastened 
back through Lake Pepin. An irate St. Paul editor up- 
braided the captain for not continuing upstream and won- 
dered if the Enterprise had lived up to her name.^°^ 

Late season trips were scarcely pleasant, either for crew 
or passengers. As one belated traveler in 1853 records: 
"We have just emerged from the exciting pleasures of a 
six day's trip on board the steamer Blackhawk, from 
Galena to a point on Lake St. Croix opposite Hudson. The 
officers and crew did all in their power to render their 
passengers happy and comfortable but the boat and the 
river were against them. The Hawk is a worthless old tub, 
and the Mississippi is turned bottom up. We can safely 
say that navigation is closed for the season." 

But the river at St. Paul was not yet closed : the Clarion 
arrived a week later with news of the Crimean War and 
the New York election — "just what people wanted to 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

hear about". And the following week, on November 26th, 
the Jenny Lind was recorded. Her welcome was hardly a 
kindly one for the sheriff boarded her with bills for $200 
and had her "in limbo" for two hours "when she performed 
the usual trick of transient boats of cutting her cable and 
departing." "°^ 

A capricious climate often caused editors to forecast 
the close of navigation several weeks before it actually oc- 
curred. On November 11, 1854, a St. Paul newspaper 
records : "The Galena yesterday took down what few still 
lingered of the visitors to Minnesota during the past sea- 
son, and our city has assumed her wonted appearance. 
During the summer thousands of strangers crowded our 
streets, and it was almost impossible to distinguish the citi- 
zen from the stranger. But winter comes, and we are left 
alone to mingle with ourselves and form those re-unions 
which we have heretofore so much enjoyed." 

And yet navigation continued for almost a month. Five 
steamboats (the Alice, the Minnesota Belle, the Henrietta, 
the Excelsior, and the Luella) discharged freight and pas- 
sengers at the St. Paul levee the very next day. Many of 
those who came apparently planned to test the "rigors" 
of the North Star State. The Navigator, the Clarion, and 
the Alhambra followed within a week — the latter bring- 
ing one of the largest freights she ever carried and charging 
twelve dollars for cabin passage downstream. On Novem- 
ber 20th the Lady Franklin dropped off her passengers at 
Point Douglas, and on the following day the Minnesota 
Belle made the journey as far as Prescott. 


closing of Navigation 

On November 23, 1854, just as St. Paul was again ready 
to "settle down" for a long winter, the shrill whistle of a 
steamboat was heard and citizens rushed to the levee to 
find the Navigator back again with a huge cargo of freight 
and passengers. It was her best trip of the season. Pros- 
pective passengers and shippers were warned that the boat 
would leave immediately for winter quarters below. The 
captain of the Navigator was commended for taking the 
mails free. 

Two weeks had passed since the newspaper had fore- 
cast the close of navigation; and yet the Mississippi re- 
mained open. A few days later the river was full of ice; 
but on November 30th there was very little ice and the 
editor, vexed no doubt at his failure as a weather prophet, 
observed that citizens were "anxious for winter". He 
declared it was "provoking" that the Mississippi did not 
close. Finally, on December 5, 1854, it was announced that 
the Mississippi was "Closed at Last" to the "delight" of 
all St. Paul citizens who were ready to enjoy their winter 

Steamboat captains charged high rates on both freight 
and passengers for late season trips. The St. Paul levee 
hummed with activity during the first two weeks of 
November in 1857. The Henry Clay left on the 5th with 
an "unusually large number of cabin passengers" who 
planned to spend the winter in the South or East. In 
addition the Henry Clay carried downstream copies of the 
Pioneer and Democrat of November 5, 1857, upbraiding 
the Pittsburgh Post of October 29th for asserting that ice 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

was already floating in the river at St. Paul when the only 
ice to be found was in buckets. "From this time until the 
close of navigation", the editor concluded, "the boats will 
reap a rich harvest in the passenger business. The rates of 
fare have been raised, in accordance with the established 
custom of the Packet Company, just before the Close of 
Navigation." ''' 

Many captains profited by the high tariffs prevailing late 
in 1857. Six steamboats docked at St. Paul on November 
8th; the levee was jammed with boxes, barrels, and sacks 
until late at night. Two days later steamboat cargoes were 
dumped in mud three inches deep and a newspaper hoped 
that the levee might be paved in 1858 to avoid the recur- 
rence of such "terrible " conditions. The Milwaukee put 
in her appearance at St. Paul on November 12th, followed 
by the Minnesota^ the Alhambra, and the Fanny Harris. 
All encountered heavy ice flows between St. Paul and Lake 
Pepin. When the Northern Light reported the river nearly 
closed on the 13 th, the Pioneer and Democrat lamented : 
"We are, from this time forward, for five months forced 
to the use of slow coaches to give us our news, and our 
visitors." ^'" 

Such last minute trips were profitable, but also dan- 
gerous. On November 23, 1857, John Saunders, pilot of 
the steamboat Minnesota, arrived in Dubuque with news 
that the Minnesota, after cutting her way through three 
miles of solid ice, had been "frozen in" opposite McGregor. 
Saunders reported that the Envoy and the Flora were also 
frozen in at Prairie du Chien. The river was closed."' 


closing of Navigation 

If St. Paul fretted at the barrier which Lake Pepin 
presented, Winona smugly rejoiced at her rival's discom- 
fiture. On November 27, 185 5, the Winona Kepublican in 
chronicling the arrival of the Ben Coursin slyly observed 
that the Mississippi below was still free of ice. "Thus", 
chortled the editor, ''while the calm and sluggish waters of 
Lake Pepin, present a Polar barrier to any river communi- 
cation with any points above it, Winona is of easy access 
still, and the present prospect is favorable for a much 
longer continuance of open waters." 

The Ben Cotirsin again reached Winona with a good 
freight on the night of December 3rd. She returned im- 
mediately to Dunleith. The Kate Cassel arrived the same 
day; and on December 8th that indefatigable craft again 
hustled up to the Winona levee. Her captain endeavored 
to reach St. Paul, but ice blocked his way eighteen miles 
below Lake Pepin. A week later it was noted that St. 
Paul had had 563 steamboat arrivals during 185 5 while 
Winona could boast 583. Twenty steamboats, it was 
pointed out, had reached Winona since Lake Pepin 

The following December (1856) the Kate Cassel 
managed to reach Hastings with an enormous load of 
freight. The activity on the Upper Mississippi at this sea- 
son is revealed by the log of the steamboat Flora printed 
in the Dubuque Express and Herald of December 3, 1856: 
"Left Dunleith the 21st with nearly 400 passengers and a 
heavy freight; met Golden State below Guttenberg; En- 
voy passed down; met Northern Belle the 22d; met Fannie 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Harris at Coon Slough; met Kate Cassel below La Crosse, 
evening 22d; met Gossamer at La Crosse; snowed all night; 
met Alhambra below Fountain City; got aground on Beef 
Slough and remained there Sunday night; went through 
Lake Pepin the 24th; reached Red Wing at 1 1 p. m.; snow- 
ing like great guns; reached Hastings morning of 25th; 
river gorged with ice for seven miles above and weather 
cold; left Hastings Tuesday; met Resolute Wednesday 
morning below Beef Slough; Progress there and could not 
get over; she returned to Winona and discharged her car- 
go; met J.[acob] Traber at Winona and Ben Coursin be- 
low La Crosse . . . The Flora brought down 250 passengers 
and went into winter quarters at the upper landing, 

Galena, like St. Paul, was also handicapped in her loca- 
tion since the Fever River usually froze over before the 
Mississippi which gave a decided advantage to Dubuque. 
Thus in 1836 the season closed for Galena on November 
15 th, but the Gipsey was able to get to Dubuque as late as 
December Ist."^ 

The weather prophets of the Galena press were as in- 
accurate as their fellow-editors farther upstream. Ice was 
already forming when the Danube and the Dubtique with 
two barges in tow, came "whistling up" to the Galena 
levee on November 10, 1851, with one of the heaviest 
cargoes of the season. But the ice gnomes retreated, and 
on November 26th the arrival of the Osivego and the 
Martha No. 2 was recorded. 

Once more a film of ice formed on Fever River, but not 


closing of Navigation 

before the Uncle Toby put in at Galena shoving a barge 
of coal for Dubuque. A few days later news flashed to 
Galena that the Wyoming left St. Louis on November 26th 
and that the Danube had set out from the same port the 
following day. A local editor doubted that either craft 
would be able to reach Galena; but on Sunday evening, 
November 30th, the Wyoming arrived with the Danube 
trailing in only an hour behind her. Despite cold and blus- 
tering weather the Shenandoah managed to creep up to 
the Galena levee on December 3rd. Her hasty departure 
marked the close of navigation.^^^ 

In addition to floating ice ahead, captains had to run 
the risk of being caught in the vise-like jaws of a freezing 
river. Should this take place the boat must be left behind, 
and the men return overland. This left the cargo of the 
boat open to plunder and to possible destruction by an ice 
gorge in the following spring. None but the most venture- 
some would risk a late season trip. 

Captain Daniel Smith Harris exhibited his usual skill 
and daring at this novel gamble with winter. On Novem- 
ber 15th, 1836, he steamed out of Fever River with the 
Science, the last boat to depart that year. In 1840 the 
Otter left Galena on November 25 th, and the following 
year the same little craft buffeted her way out of frozen 
Fever River on November 22 nd. This feat, together with 
her arrival first at the St. Paul levee in 1844 and 1845, 
gives the Otter and her daring master a singularly unique 

In 1845 Captain Harris lost an exciting race with the 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

ice and was forced to run the first ^ar Eagle into winter 
quarters near Rock Island."^ Three years later Lake Pepin 
almost caught the Senator. "Ten years ago, the eleventh 
of this month", relates the Glencoe Register of November 
24, 1848, in commenting on this incident, "navigation 
closed on the Mississippi above the foot of Lake Pepin. 
Franklin Steele, Esq., who at that time supplied most of 
the then Territory of Minnesota with goods and provisions, 
had a whole cargo frozen up on the 9th at the head of 
Lake Pepin, in the old steamer Senator, Capt. Harris. It 
was with the utmost difficulty that the Senator worked 
her way through the Lake on the 10th." "^ 
VThe last trip of the season presented many dangers and 
hardships. It was difficult to secure a full crew to make 
the trip, and fabulous wages were often paid because the 
extremely rigorous climate and the possibility of return- 
ing on foot through a desolate, Indian infested, snow- 
covered country deterred all but the adventurous. But 
merchants and travelers were usually glad to pay double 
and triple the usual rates on the last trip of the season, and 
aptains often made an extra profit. 
On one occasion the Minnesota Packet Company learned 
that a large amount of freight stUl remained on the upper 
river and sent Captain Harris to get it. Although he was 
ready to put the War Eagle into winter quarters and was 
incensed because some other captain had not been dis- 
patched, Harris steamed out of Fever River and proceeded 
up the Mississippi in the face of a biting wind. He refused 
to be governed by the prevailing tariff rates, however. 


closing of Navigation 

"Now you keep your hands off", he declared to the Packet 
officials on departing, "and I'll make some money this 

Captain Harris succeeded in reaching Hastings, Min- 
nesota, where an ice-locked river ahead and rapidly freez- 
ing river below forced him to turn back. Freight and 
passengers were found in abundance at almost every port. 
The hoarse whistle of the W^r Eagle on the cold, frosty 
air sounded a cheerful note to belated passengers and ship- 
pers. Four days after her departure the War Eagle came 
shivering up the Fever River. Upon boarding the boat to 
extend their congratulations, the Packet officials found 
Captain Harris gloomy and disconsolate. Inquiry finally 
revealed that Harris had set out to make $10,000 on the 
trip and had "cleaned up only $9,700". It was his failure to 
reach his goal and establish a record and not the loss of a 
few hundred dollars that wounded the pride of the am- 
bitious captain."" 

Despite the fact that he had bitterly denounced Captain 
Harris and the Minnesota Packet Company, a hostile editor 
could not refrain from paying a tribute to the popular 
skipper. "The steamer War Eagle", notes the Winona Re- 
publican of November 24, 185 8, "came up as far as La 
Crosse on last Friday morning, having on board a large 
quantity of goods, and a considerable number of passen- 
gers, for Winona, and towns in the interior, but her cap- 
tain (A. T. Kingman) being somewhat afraid of the 
floating ice, would not proceed any further. Her cargo 
was accordingly discharged at La Crosse. If the War 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Eagle had been in command of the resolute Captain Harris, 
the ice of last Friday morning would not have prevented 
him from making this port". 

*^ The opening of navigation provided river towns with 
an opportunity for gala celebrations. The closing of navi- 
gation left them in dreary isolation. Both events afforded 
steamboat captains an opportunity to test their skill and 
daring in the face of a rigorous nature. Not even a fast 
record could surpass in importance the achievements of 
those hardy souls whose names were linked with the open- 
ing and closing of navigation. 



Ice Cjrorgcs anti Wiiitpr 'Ulnariters 

Spring navigation was a period of great travail for the 
Upper Mississippi River. Giant blocks of shifting, crum- 
bling ice grated and jarred against one another night and 
day as the mighty waterway sought to shake loose its icy 
chains. Death and destruction often rode the crest of the 
devastating avalanche that was hurtled downstream. 

Early in 1874 the ice on the Mississippi at Muscatine 
broke up and closed again within the space of twenty- 
four hours. "The movement of the ice", according to a 
Muscatine editor, "left it in jagged, irregular masses, or 
hummocks, not unlike the surface of a frozen Polar 
sea . . . The sleet covered trees on the opposite bank glist- 
ened beautifully in the sunlight, adding lustre to the 
scenery. In the evening the bright moon-light intensified 
and lent a weird-like effect to the scene, and the deep 
roaring of the crushing ice at a point above the city where 
the river was still open added majesty to the spectacle in 
the mind of the beholder." "^ 

Rivermen lived in constant fear lest steamboats, wharf- 
boats, and ferries be destroyed by the innumerable ice 
gorges formed when the ice broke up. The impact of tons 
of floating ice frequently crushed and sunk steamboats at 
their moorings or swept them downstream. Accordingly 
steamboats were quartered each winter in a sheltered la- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

goon or slough, or in a small tributary of the Mississippi. 
A watchman was usually left on guard, and frequently a 
small force remained aboard to overhaul and repair the 
craft for the next season. As early as 1829 Captain Joseph 
Throckmorton put the Red Rover in winter quarters near 
the mouth of the Platte River a few miles north of Du- 

One of the earliest and most noted ice gorges occurred 
at present-day Keokuk in 1832. The winter had been 
unusually severe, and when the river rose suddenly it shat- 
tered ice thirty-four inches thick and piled it so high that 
the trees on the opposite bluff were invisible. Five thou- 
sand pigs of lead buried in the mud by the weight of the 
ice were not recovered until the following June. Four 
hundred cords of wood were carried away; the keelboat 
Ophelia was lifted to an angle of forty-five degrees; and 
a large elm was sheared in half by the ice. The water rose 
fourteen feet in an hour; houses along the levee suffered 
many damages. Ten years later another ice gorge at Keo- 
kuk piled the ice thirty feet high, broke the steamboat 
Otter from her moorings, and "played all sorts of fantastic 
tricks with the boats and houses that came in its way." 
Eye-witnesses declared that the "force and weight of the 
ice were irresistible and terrible to behold." "^ 

The destructive nature of the ice gorges which formed 
on the Upper Mississippi was quickly recognized by the 
pioneer steamboat captains. At the close of the season of 
1835 both the Warrior and the Galenian were taken around 
to Pittsburgh to go into winter quarters."* 


Ice Gorges and Winter Quarters 

During the heyday of steamboating the number of safe 
winter quarters was Kmited. Upper Mississippi boats 
could be found as far south as St. Louis where the west 
bank in the vicinity of Arsenal Island was for many years 
"considered one of the safest winter-harbors on the 
river." ^'^ An additional advantage accrued from the num- 
ber of skilled artisans and boat builders at St. Louis. 

Despite the short winter season, the St. Louis waterfront 
was sometimes gouged by the tons of ice that choked the 
channel at that point. On December 16, 1865, and again 
on January 12 and 13, 1866, ice gorges at St. Louis caused 
damage amounting to nearly a million dollars. A score of 
steamboats were sunk, ranging in value from $10,000 for 
the Sioux City to $85,000 for the Belle of Memphis. A 
number of others were greatly damaged."® 

Ten years later, on December 13, 1876, another ice 
gorge at St. Louis destroyed the Jennie Baldti/in, the Bay- 
ard, the Rock Island, and the Davenport, and damaged the 
Centennial, the Alex Mitchell, the War Eagle, and the 
Andy Johnson. Not one of these boats was insured. Three 
small steamboats (the Fannie Keener, the South Shore, 
and the Southern Belle) were likewise sunk. Fortunately 
these captains carried insurance on their craft.^" 

The problem of retaining secure winter quarters at St. 
Louis was recognized by the United States Engineers in 
1877 when the effect of closing the chute was pointed out: 
"The experience of the last winter from natural causes 
affords an illustration of what will be the yearly experi- 
ence when the chute is closed by a dam. There will then 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

be no place within convenient distance of Saint Louis 
where boats can lie during the winter with reasonable 
safety. The tonnage employed on the upper rivers will be 
compelled to retire to Alton Slough betimes, and that of 
the lower river, of which a considerable part cannot pass 
under the bridge, will have no refuge, and must remain 
away from Saint Louis, or incur the risk of being lost 
should a sudden intense cold find them there. As the in- 
evitable result of closing the chute will be to deprive the 
tonnage of Saint Louis of its only ice-harbor, it seems 
necessary to call attention to the danger, and to suggest a 
remedy; for the interests of commerce demand that there 
should be a winter harbor of refuge in the immediate 
vicinity of Saint Louis." "* 

St. Louis could well look to her laurels as winter quar- 
ters for steamboats. By 1873 the steamboat Nort bluest ern 
and a dozen other boats of the Keokuk Northern Line 
were making their winter quarters in Alton Slough.^"^ 

Although no other point above St. Louis suffered such 
colossal marine disasters, the aggregate of damages was very 
high. Late in November, 1845, the Iron City and the 
War Eagle lost their race with the ice gnomes and were ice 
bound a short distance below the Upper Rapids. The fol- 
lowing February a sudden return of warm weather allowed 
the two boats to escape to St. Louis. Late in December, 
1848, the Iron City struck an ice gorge while on her way 
to the Illinois River and sank. Several of her crew were 

Early in April, 1866, the Northern Light was sunk by 


Ice Gorges and Winter Quarters 

ice in fifteen feet of water in Coon Slough. Her chimneys 
and upper works were battered by ice and carried away. 
On this occasion some valuable property was saved by a 
deck hand aboard the Northern Light who was "lowered 
by his heels" into the icy water through a hole cut in the 
upper deck. By previous arrangement "a kick was the 
signal for him to be hauled out when he could stand it no 
longer for want of breath." He won the "grateful remem- 
brance" of the bar-keeper by recovering seventy-five dol- 
lars worth of valuable property/" 

It was not alone while in winter quarters that steamboats 
were threatened by ice gorges. Sometimes captains started 
out too early in the spring and ran afoul of dangerous 
gorges that jammed the Mississippi. Witness, for example, 
the progress of the Northwestern upstream in the spring 
of 1874 : "Above New Boston she encountered her first 
ice gorge — and there she lay all Saturday night. On Sun- 
day morning she was forced to 'butt' her way through the 
ice to Muscatine, and arrived there at 4^ o'clock Sunday 
afternoon. She remained there half an hour, discharging 
her cargo, and left for the North. Then came her trial. 
She met a gorge between Drury's and Fairport that she 
could not walk over — and she hugged the shore all night. 
Yesterday morning she put into a slough and came out 
near Andalusia, where she met another gorge. She was 
several hours in circumventing this icy barrier — but she 
did it at last and came out victorious — steaming then 
to Davenport." "' 

Steamboats in winter quarters sometimes escaped de- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

struction as if by miracle. The uncanny escapade of the 
Slicker State at the Fort Madison ice gorge in the spring 
of 1867 was widely heralded by rivermen. It appears that 
the Sticker State and several other boats had gone into win- 
ter quarters the previous fall behind an island opposite 
Fort Madison. When the river broke up "with a crash" 
these craft "barely escaped destruction by the immense 
masses of ice that bore down upon them." The steamboat 
Reserve suffered "considerable damage"; the ferryboat 
Niota and the Sucker State were carried away. Author- 
ities at Keokuk were telegraphed to be on the look-out 
should the boats stay afloat to that point. 

When the Sucker State hove in sight "floating lazily 
along" in the ice-flow, the Little Eagle steamed boldly out 
into the ice-choked current and succeeded in landing her 
amid the shouts of joy from every one on hand. A Keokuk 
dispatch reads : "It seems almost miraculous that a large 
boat like the Sucker State should float 25 miles, without a 
soul to guide her, and not be destroyed. About the only 
damage she received was the breaking of her cross hog 
chains, the smashing of several stanchions on the star- 
board side, and the disfiguring of her cabin by a spar being 
driven through her in the vicinity of the wheel house. On 
her way down she made a landing at Sandusky, where she 
remained for an hour or so, and then swung round with 
as much grace as though an experienced pilot was guiding 
her, and continued 'on her way rejoicing' till overhauled 
by the Little Eagle." "' 

Ever jealous of the slightest advantage of other river 

[480] ^ 

Ice Gorges and Winter Quarters 

towns, Dubuque sought to secure a fair share of the spoils 
that accrued from repairing the steamboats that wintered 
along the Upper Mississippi. In 1861 an editor declared 
that Dubuque needed three things : (1) a drydock for 
the repair of steamboats and other river craft; (2) an ice 
harbor where steamboats could stay during winters; (3) 
the removal of the bar in front of the lower levee and 
inner slough. The nearest place where boats could be 
docked and repaired was Le Claire. It was shown that at 
slight expense Lake Peosta could be made into an ice 
harbor. The War Eagle, the Ocean Wave, the Franz Sie- 
gel, the Durant, and the Vearl passed the winter of 1863- 
1864 "in the slough". 

Four years later (1868) Dubuque was still complaining 
because it lacked proper winter quarters : not a single 
boat of the Northern Line or the White Collar Line would 
winter at Dubuque and repairs were being done elsewhere. 
It was pointed out that the wharf boats of these companies 
were safely moored in the slough at Dubuque each winter. 
Ultimately the harbor at Dubuque gave the "Key City" 
of Iowa a distinct advantage over most river towns and 
provided a site for boat construction that has continued 
to function down to the steel barge era."* 

No single port along the Mississippi could afford shelter 
for all the steamboats plying between St. Louis and St. 
Paul. Consequently strategic locations were selected by 
captains who would run their boats into winter quarters 
at these points. Cities brought pressure to bear upon the 
United States Engineers to make the sloughs in their vicin- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^ ity safe winter quarters, thereby assuring employment for 
boatmen and carpenters during the winter months. "The 
Boats in our Harbor are preparing for Spring", observed 
the Dubuque Herald of February 13, 1861. "The Metro- 
politan is being caulked and having new guards put on her. 
She is to be painted and repaired generally, and will come 
out in the spring as good as new." The ferryboat was also 
being repaired, and the wharf boat was getting "two new 

The closing of navigation in 1872 was chronicled by the 
Davenport Democrat of November 21st: "The Savanna 
immediately goes into winter quarters in Rockingham 
Slough, four miles below the city. This will be the last 
Northern Line boat which will divide the waters of the 
Mississippi this season. The Muscatine and Minneapolis 
both were expected down yet, but the former has gone on 
the ways at Le Claire, and the latter will winter at Savanna. 
The steamer Red Wing, which passed this point on Sunday 
evening, has laid up until spring in New Boston Bay. And 
thus suddenly and unexpectedly the navigation season of 
1872 closes, and the grim reign of ice and frost over our 
rivers and bays will be undisturbed until the warm breezes 
of spring blow upon us again." 



rSlajmesakes oi ike xJ^ih'w&j 

Far flung and powerful were the Ojibway warriors who 
ranged the land of the sky blue waters. Equally colorful 
were the steamboat namesakes of this mighty woodland 
tribe. Three boats bore the proud name of Chippewa on 
the waters of the Mississippi and its tributaries. Another 
was named Chippewa Falls, and still another, Chippewa 
Valley. The voyages of these boats carried them from 
Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania to Fort Benton in Montana, 
and from St. Paul in Minnesota to Vicksburg in Missis- 

^" ^: 735 


The first boat to bear the name Chippewa was built at 
Pittsburgh in 1840 and was owned by Joseph Throck- 
morton and Hercules L. Dousman. Not long after her 
first appearance she was purchased by Captain Thomas H. 
Grilfith and plied industriously in the lead trade for three 
seasons. Then she mysteriously disappeared from the 

In 1857 the second Chippewa and the Chippewa Falls 
appeared. The Chippewa Falls was a 9 3 -ton stern- wheel 
passenger packet built at Monongahela City, Pennsyl- 
vania."' She appeared in the Chippewa River trade in 
1858, running regularly for several seasons between Read's 
Landing and Eau Claire. In 1864 she was one of a fleet of 
eight steamboats that transported General Alfred Sully's 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

expedition up the Missouri. After this episode the Chip- 
pewa Falls also vanished from the record."' 

A rapidly expanding steamboat frontier is attested by 
the construction at Eau Claire, Wisconsin, of the 101 -ton 
stern-wheel passenger boat Chippeiva Y alley — said to 
have been captured by the Confederates at Vicksburg. 

A third Chippewa was built at La Crosse in 1866. She 
was a small 74-ton craft that plied for five seasons as a 
tri-weekly packet between La Crosse and Eau Claire. She 
was the first arrival of the season at Eau Claire in 1866, 
1868, and 1870. The coming of the railroad in July, 1870, 
forced the Chippewa into the rafting trade. She burned to 
the water's edge in 1871 while in winter quarters at Rum- 
sey's Landing on the Chippewa."^ 

But greatest of all the steamboats named after the Ojib- 
way was the second Chippewa. This light draught stern- 
wheel craft arrived at St. Paul from Pittsburgh in the 
spring of 18 57. She was in the Chippewa River trade in 

1858 and also did effective work carrying passengers and 
freight to St. Paul during low water. In the spring of 

1859 she made one trip to St. Paul from St. Louis and ap- 
peared destined to continue in this rather prosaic employ- 
ment. But a far different destiny awaited her : she was 
chartered by the American Fur Company to join the 
Spread Eagle in transporting a cargo of supplies to Fort 

Up to that time (1859) no steamboat had ascended the 
Missouri River as far as Fort Benton. The initial attempt 
was regarded as a hazardous and well-nigh impossible 


Namesakes of the Ojibway 

undertaking. Both boats carried a heavy cargo of freight. 
Low water and the dangers of navigation induced the 
captain of the Chippewa to throw up his contract at Fort 
Union and sell his boat to the Fur Company for little more 
than the value of the contract. The entire cargo of the 
Spread Eagle was then transferred to the Chippewa. 

Panting under her heavy load the C/oippeiva continued 
upstream, reaching Brule Bottom within fifteen miles of 
Fort Benton on July 17, 1859. Here a rapidly falling river 
forced her to discharge her cargo and hasten downstream. 
"This noteworthy event", Captain Hiram W. Chittenden 
declares, "must be classed as one of the celebrated feats in 
steamboat navigation. The Chippewa had reached a point 
further from the sea by a continuous water course than 
any other boat had ever been. She was now 3560 miles 
from, and 2565 feet above, the ocean, and the whole dis- 
tance had been made by steam on a river unimproved by 
artificial works." 

On July 2, 1860, the steamboats Chippewa and Key 
West made the whole trip to Fort Benton and tied fast to 
the bank. The following year, as the Chippetva was again 
churning up the turgid Missouri, misfortune suddenly 
overtook her. Members of the crew were enjoying their 
evening meal when the boat was discovered to be on fire. 
She was run ashore and then set adrift to avoid the danger 
of the explosion of gunpowder in her hold. The crippled 
Chippewa had floated downstream about a mile when the 
explosion occurred, blowing the boat to pieces and hurling 
fragments great distances. The fire was accidentally caused 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

by deck hands who had gone into the hold to steal liquor. 
The voyages of the second Chippetua were enacted on a 
stage whose boundaries were circumscribed by the Alle- 
ghenies in the East, the Falls of St. Anthony in the North, 
and the Rockies in the West. Powerful indeed were the 
Chippewa Indians and far flung the Valley to which they 
gave a name. No less dramatic were the exploits of the 
steamboats which carried an advancing civilization to 
the wilderness on such craft as the diminutive Chip- 


IMotes ancl iveierences 

^ Hodge's Handbook of American Indians (Bureau of American 
Ethnology Bulletin 30), Pt. 1, pp. 277-281. 

^ The first part of the name, missi, means great, being akin to the 
modern Chippewa word, Kitchi, and the Gitche of the poet Longfellow. 
The second part, sippi, otherwise spelled sipi, or sebe, or zlbi, is the 
common Algonquian or Ojibway word for river. — Upham's Minne- 
sota Geographic Names in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. 
XVII, pp. 4-6; Shankle's State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, 
Flowers, and other Syynbols, p. 76. 

^ Upham's Minnesota Geographic Names in Minnesota Historical 
Collections, Vol. XVII, pp. 4-6; Paullin's Atlas of the Historical 
Geography of the United States, Plates 23 -A, 23-B, and 24; Brower's 
Itasca State Park in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XI, pp. 273, 

* Schoolcraft's Narrative of an Expedition the Upper 
Mississippi to Itasca Lake, in 1832 (New York, 1834), pp. iii, 7-14; 
Brower's The Mississippi River and its Source in Minnesota Historical 
Collections, Vol. VII, pp. 142-151; Dictionary of American Biography, 
Vol. XVI, pp. 456, 457; Coues' The Expeditions of Zebulon Mont- 
gomery Pike, Vol. I, pp. 149-151. For an account of the expedition of 
1820 see Schoolcraft's Narrative Journal of Travels . . . to the 
Sources of the Mississippi River in the Year 1820 (Albany, 1821). 

^ Schoolcraft's Narrative of an Expedition through the Upper Missis- 
sippi to Itasca Lake, in 1832, pp. iv, v, 15-62. 

® Nicollet's Report Intended to Illustrate A Map of the Hydrogra- 
phical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River in Senate Documents, 
26th Congress 2nd Session, Document 237, pp. 51-59; Baker's The 
Sources of the Mississippi in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, 
p. 5. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^ Brower's Itasca State Park in Minnesota Historical Collections, 
Vol. XI, pp. 252-278; Upham's Minnesota Geographic Names in Minne- 
sota Historical Collections, Vol. XVII, pp. 126-134, 252, 253; Gale's 
The Legend of Lake Itasca and Hart's The Origin and Meaning of the 
Name "Itasca" in Minnesota History, Vol. XII, pp. 215-229; Blegen's 
That Name "Itasca" in Minnesota History, Vol. XIII, pp. 163-174. 

* Van Koughnet's The State Historical Convention of 1932 in Min- 
nesota History, Vol. XIII, pp. 277 -29 A. 

^ Blegen's That Name "Itasca" in Minjtesota History, Vol. XIII, 
pp. 172-174. 

^^The Galenian, August 22, 1832. See also the edited letter quoted 
in Niles' Register, Vol. XLIII, p. 227. A file of The Galenian is in the 
library of the Chicago Historical Society. 

^^ Brower's Itasca State Park in Minnesota Historical Collections, 
Vol. XI, pp. 94-99. The distances on the Mississippi, unless otherwise 
noted, are taken from the Light List Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and 
Tributaries, 1936. 

^^ Thomas's Basic Factors in Flood Frequency in the Lower Missis- 
sippi River and Williams's The Geography of the Mississippi Valley 
in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 
Vol. CXXXV, pp. 1-11. 

^^ "Williams's The Geography of the Mississippi Valley in The Annals 
of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. CXXXV, 
pp. 7-11; Editor's Table in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 
XXVI, pp. 413-418 (February 1863); World Atlas, 1933, p. 31. 

^* Bourne's Spain in America (The American Nation Series, Vol. 
Ill), pp. 162-167. 

^^ Kellogg's Early Narratives of the Northwest 16} 4-1 691 in Orig- 
inal Narratives of Early American History, pp. 12, 15, 16. 

^^^ Kellogg's Early Narratives of the Northwest 1634-1691, p. 132; 
Voyages of Peter Esprit Radisson, edited by Gideon D. Scull, pp. 167, 


Notes and References 

"Thwaites's The Jesuit Relations, Vol. LIX, pp. 87-163. 

^® Parish's Michel Aco — ^quaw-l/ian in The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp. 

^^ Petersen's Perrot's Mines in The Palimpsest, Vol. XII, pp. 405-413. 

^° Briggs's Two Connecticut Yankees in The Palimpsest, Vol. VII, 
pp. 15-29; Petersen's Historical Setting of the Mound Region in North- 
eastern Iowa in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XXXI, 
pp. 57-6}; Upham's Minnesota Geographic Navies in Minnesota His- 
torical Collections, Vol. XVII, pp. 80-85, 443, 444; Carver's Travels 
Through the Interior Parts of North American, in the Years 1766, 
1767, and 1768. 

^^ Journal of Peter Pond in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
Vol. XVIII, pp. 314-3 54. . _ 

^^ Wilson's Tesson's Apple Orchard in The Palimpsest, Vol. IV, pp. 
121-131; Petersen's Julien Dubuque in The Palimpsest, Vol. XII, pp. 
421-433; Quigley's The Giard Tract in The Palimpsest, Vol. XII, pp. 

^^ Thwaites's Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 
Vol. I, pp. xxx-xxxvii, 16; Mott's The Lewis and Clark Expedition in 
its Relation to Iowa History and Geography in the Annals of Iowa 
(Third Series), Vol. XIII, pp. 99-125, 163-192; Coues' The Expedi- 
tions of Zehulon Montgomery Pike, Vol. I, pp. viii, ix, 1, 2. 

^* Coues' The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, Vol. I, pp. 
149-151, 213-215; Thwaites's Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark 
Expedition, Vol. IV, pp. 337-340. 

" SutcHflfe's Robert Fulton, pp. 138-141; Thijrston's Robert Fulton, 
p. 130. 

^® Thurston's Robert Fulton, pp. 126, 129; Preble's A Chronological 
History of the Origin and Development of Steam Navigation, pp, 52- 
54, 57. Descriptions and measurements of the Clermont vary because 
changes were frequently made. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

"SutclifFe's Robert Fulton, pp. 143, 144, 146, 147. 

^* Dunbar's A History of Travel in America, Vol. II, pp. 344, 345; 
Preble's History of Steam Navigation, pp. 53-58; Sutcliffe's Robert 
Fulton, pp. 142-152. 

^^ Fulton had known Barlow for many years. The same year the 
Clerm^ont was built Barlow published The Columbiad and dedicated it 
to Fulton who had made twelve illustrations for the book. 

^°Colden's The Life of Robert Fulton, pp. 175, 176. 

^^ Naval Cfyronicle, Vol. XIX, p. 188 (1808), quoted in Dickin- 
son's Robert Fulton Engineer and Artist, pp. 219-221. The letter is 
supposed to have been written by the Dean of Ripon Cathedral, an 
English guest aboard the boat. 

^2 Sutcliflfe's Robert Fulton, pp. 136, 137, 146, 147, 149, 152. 

^^ Preble's History of Steam Navigation, p. 52; Dictionary of Amer- 
ican Biography, Vol. XI, p. 324. 

^* Sutchffe's Robert Fulton, p. 144; The New International Ency- 
clopedia (1920), Vol. XXI, p. 480. The entrance of the British 
steamers Sirius and Great Western into the North Atlantic trade in 
1838 is usually regarded as the beginning of practical steam service. 
For an interesting account see Cartwright's The Tale of our Merchant 
Ships, pp. 165-182. 

2^ Jefferson's Works, Vol. IV, p. 431. 

^® Petersen's Iowa in Louisiana in The Palimpsest, Vol. XIII, p. 3 3 . 

^^ Cist's Cincinnati in 1851, p. 45; Scharf's History of Saint Louis, 
Vol. I, p. 309. 

^^ Dunbar's A History of Travel in America, Vol. II, pp. 386-389; 
Paullin's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, 
Plates 61-G, 76-D. 

^^ Sutcliffe's Robert Fulton, pp. 174-176. On the Upper Mississippi, 
Benjamin Howard was Governor of Louisiana Territory and Ninian 
Edwards served in a similar capacity for Illinois Territory. 


Notes and References 

*" Martin's The History of Louisiana, pp. 349, 3 54. 

*^ Dunbar's A History of Travel in America, Vol. I, pp. 275-289. 

*- Gould's Fifty Years on the Mississippi, pp. 5 32-543. 

*^ Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. XVI, pp. 133, 134, Vol. 
XVII, pp. 614-616; TurnbuU's John Stevens, pp. 13 3-138; Latrobe's 
A Lost Chapter in the History of the Steamboat, pp. 15-23, 32, 33; 
Latrobe's The First Steamboat Voyage on the Western Waters, pp. 
5-7. The Latrobe references appear in the Fund Publications of the 
Maryland Historical Society, Nos. 5 and 6. 

** Cramer's The Navigator (Seventh Edition), pp. 33-40; Dunbar's 
A History of Travel in America, Vol. I, pp. 268-270, 290-292. 
Michaux's Travels to the Westward of the Allegheny Motintains . . . 
in the Year 1802, pp. 29-34, contains an excellent description of Pitts- 
burgh as an entrepot and shipbuilding center. Thanks are due Dr. 
Leland D. Baldwin of the University of Pittsburgh for his many help- 
ful suggestions and criticisms on keelboats and flatboats. See his Ship- 
building on the Western Waters, 1793-1817, in The Mississippi Valley 
Historical Review, Vol. XX, pp. 29-44. 

*^ Dunbar's A History of Travel in America, Vol. I, pp. 280, 281; 
Hulbert's Historic Highnvays of America, Vol. IX, pp. 102-106. 

■"^ Hulbert's Historic Highways of America, Vol. IX, pp. 113-128, 
161; Dvmbar's A History of Travel in America, Vol. I, pp. 272, 284- 

^'' "Wilkeson's Recollections of the West and the First Building of 
Buffalo Harbor in the Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, 
Vol. V, pp. 178-181; Hulbert's Historic Highways of America, Vol. 
IX, pp. 107-112; Dunbar's A History of Travel in America, Vol. I, 
pp. 281, 282. Mohawk and Schenectady boats were still other forms 
of keelboats. 

*^ Latrobe's The First Steamboat Voyage on the Western Waters, pp. 
7-9, 14. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^"NHes' Register, Vol. I, p. 10. 

°" Rothert's The Outlaws of Cave-in-Kock, p. 13; Latrobe's The 
First Steamboat Voyage on the Western Waters, pp. 8-11. 

^^ Blair and Maine's Mike Fink: King of Mississippi Keelboatmen, pp. 
105, 106. 

^^ Blair and Meine's Mike Fink, p. 56. 

^^ Latrobe's The First Steamboat Voyage on the Western Waters, 
pp. 7, 8. 

^* Hulbert's The Romance of American Rivers in National Water- 
ways, Vol. VI, p. 24. In addition to Livingston, Fulton, and Roosevelt, 
the names of Daniel D. Tompkins and De "Witt Clinton appear among 
the incorporators. 

°^ Latrobe's The First Steamboat Voyage on the Western Waters, 
pp. 9-14. The remainder of this chapter, unless otherwise noted, is 
based on this same source, pp. 14-32. Some confusion exists concerning 
the name, measurements, and general construction of the boat. The 
writer is indebted to Dr. E. Douglas Branch of the University of Pitts- 
burgh for source material generously placed at his disposal. 

°^ Cramer's The Navigator (Seventh Edition), pp. 31, 32. Cramer 
gives the measurement at 138 feet keel and from 300 to 400 tons 
burden. The Pittsburgh Gazette, October 18, 1811, gives the measure- 
ments "150 feet keel, 450 tons burthen." Melish's Travels through the 
United States (1816) says the boat was 148^ feet by 32j beam by 12 
feet hold. 

^''Louisiana Gazette and Advertiser (New Orleans), February 12, 
1812. A good brief account of the voyage is in Charles J. Latrobe's 
The Rambler in North America (London, 1835), Vol. I, pp. 104-109. 

^^ Hulbert's The Romance of American Rivers in National Water- 
ways, Vol. VI, p. 24. 

^'■'Louisville Chronicle, November 15, 1811, quoted in Niles' Regis- 
ter, Vol. I, p. 272. 


Notes and References 

^'^ Niles' Register, Vol. I, p. 272. 

®^ Cist's Cincinnati Miscellany, February, 1845; reminiscence of 
P. S. Bush, quoted by Hulbert in National Waterways, Vol. VI, p. 24. 

^^ Sampson's The New Madrid and other Earthquakes in Missouri in 
the Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Vol. 
VI, pp. 218-238. 

*^^ Bradbury's Travels in the Interior of America in Thwaites's Early 
Western Travels, Vol. V, pp. 211, 212. 

'^* Louisiana Gazette and Advertiser (New Orleans), January 13, 
1812; Martin's The History of Louisiana, p. 354. The entry in the 
New Orleans wharf register is January 12th, and Bradbury puts the 
date as January 13 th. 

^^ Pittsburgh Mercury, August 24, 1814; Flugel's Pages fram a 
Voyage down the Mississippi to New Orleans in 1817 in the Louisiana 
Historical Quarterly, Vol. VII, pp. 433, 434. 

^® Hulbert's A Centennial of Western Steamboat Navigation in the 
Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Vol. IV, 
pp. 61, 62. 

®^ Cist's Cincinnati in 1851, p. 45; PauUin's Atlas of the Historical 
Geography of the United States, Plate 61-G; The World Almaitac, 
1936, p. 240. 

®^ Pf afiF's Henry Miller Shreve : A Biography in The Louisiana His- 
torical Quarterly, Vol. X, pp. 194-198. 

*" Lloyd's Steamboat Directory, pp. 41-44; Scharf's History of Saint 
Louis, Vol. II, pp. 1094-1096; Pfaflf's Henry Miller Shreve: A Biography 
in The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. X, pp. 198-202, 215-218. 

'°Niles' Register, Vol. VIII, pp. 320, 404; Pfaflf's Henry Miller 
Shreve: A Biography in The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. X, 
pp. 212-219. 

^' Niles' Register, Vol. X, pp. 348, 349; Lloyd's Steamboat Direc- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

tory, pp. 44, 45; Pfaff's Henry Miller Sirreve: A Biography in The 
Louisiana Historical Otiarterly, Vol. X, pp. 203, 212-219. 

^^ Hardin's An Outline of Shreveport and Caddo "Parish History in 
The Louisiana Historical Qtiarterly, Vol. XVIII, pp. 822-829; Pfaff's 
Henry Miller Shreve: A Biography in The Louisiana Historical Quar- 
terly, Vol. X, pp. 217-220; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheaton 1. 

'^^ Lloyd's Steamboat Directory, pp. 44, 45; Pfaff's Henry Miller 
Shreve: A Biography in The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. X, 
pp. 206, 212-214, 220-234; Gould's Fifty Years on the Mississippi, pp. 
Ill, 112. 

''* Lionberger's The Annals of St. Louis, pp. 5-10; Scharf's History 
of Saint Louis, Vol. I, pp. 902, 903; Robeson's Manuel Lisa in The 
Pali-mpsest, Vol. VI, pp. 1-13; Shoemaker's Herculanetcm Shot Tower 
in The Missouri Historical Review, Vol. XX, pp. 214-216. 

''Niles' Register, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 97; Paullin's Atlas of the 
Historical Geography of the United States, Plate 76-E. 

''^Missouri Gazette (St. Louis), July 14, August 2, 1817, quoted 
in Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, p. 1096; Peck's Annals of 
the West, p. 761. 

" Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, pp. 1096, 1097. A list of 
the first fifty-one boats built and. documented on western waters, with 
the tonnage and the place and date of building of each, was furnished 
to Captain Fred A. Bill of St. Paul by the United States Department 
of Commerce, in 1923. It was published in the Burlington Post, May 
12, 1923. 

^® De Bow's Review, quoted in Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. 
II, pp. 1097-1099, 1109; Niles' Register, Vol. XXV, pp. 94, 95, Vol. 
XXXIII, p. 181, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 97; Birkbeck's Notes on a fonrney 
in America, p. 174. 

" Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, pp. 1097-1100. 

^^ Missouri Gazette (St. Louis), May 19, 1819, quoted in Scharf's 
History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, p. 1100. 


Notes and References 

®^ Bryan's Daniel Boone in The Missouri Historical Review, Vol. 
Ill, pp. 89-98. 

*^ Rader's The Location of the Permanent Seat of Government and 
Thomas's Missouri Valley Settlements — St. Louis to htdependence in 
The Missouri Historical Review, Vol. XXI, pp. 9-40; Paullin's Atlas of 
the Historical Geography of the United States, Plate 76'-E. See 
James's Account of an Expedition from 'Pittsburgh to the Rocky Moun- 
tains, performed in the Years IS 19, IS 20 . . . under the command of 
Ma']. S. H. Long, in Thwaites's Early Western Travels, Vol. XIV, p. 
146. Information was also kindly furnished by Floyd C. Shoemaker, 
Secretary of the State Historical Society of Missouri. 

^^ Missouri Intelligencer (St. Louis), May 21, 28, June 4, 1819, 
quoted in The Missouri Historical Review, Vol. I, pp. 309, 310; Scharf's 
History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, p. 1100; Peck's Annals of the West, p. 

^* American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, pp. 68, 69, 324, 
325; contract for transportation made by James Johnson with Brig- 
adier General Thomas S. Jesup in December, 1819 — a manuscript in 
possession of the Minnesota Historical Society; "Wesley's 'Diary of ] 
Kennerly 1S23-1S26 in Missouri Historical Society Collections, Vol. VI, 
pp. 41-44. See also Documents in Relation to the Claim of James John- 
son for Transportation on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers printed in 
House Executive Documents, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, Document 
110 (Serial No. 55). 

^^ Pitts her gh Gazette, March 30, 1819. For an account of the first 
steamboats built and operated on the Allegheny River see Kussart's 
The First Steamboats on the Allegheny River in The Waterways Jottrnal 
(St. Louis), Vol. XLI (December 22, 1928), p. 6; Niles' Register, Vol. 
XVI, p. 368; Flint's Letters from America in Thwaites's Early Western 
Travels, Vol. IX, pp. 164, 16 5; James's Account of an Expedition from 
Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the Years IS 19, 
1S20 . . . under the cammand of Maj. S. H. Long, in Thwaites's 
Early Western Travels, Vol. XIV, pp. 39-108. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

®^ Flint's Letters from America in Thwaites's Early Western Travels, 
Vol. IX, pp. 164, 165; James's Account of an Expedition from Pitts- 
burgh to the Rocky Mountains in Thwaites's Early Western Travels, 
Vol. XIV, pp. 108-221; Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, pp. 
1100, 1101. 

^^ American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, pp. 68, 69, 324, 

^® James's Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky 
Mountains in Thwaites's Early Western Travels, Vol. XV, pp. 188-190, 
Vol. XVII, p. 97. 

®^ Forsyth's Fort Snelling : Col. Leavenworth's Expedition to Estab- 
lish It, in 1819, in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. Ill, p. 140. A 
manuscript copy of the Johnson contract is in the possession of the 
Minnesota Historical Society. 

^° Report of S. H. Long to John C. Calhoun, dated January 20, 
1821, in Thwaites's Early Western Travels, Vol. XVII, pp. 117-119. 

^^ Porter's Journal of Stephen Watts Kearny in Missouri Historical 
Society Collections, Vol. Ill, pp. 127-129. For an account of this 
journey see Petersen's Trailmaking on the Frontier in The Palimpsest, 
Vol. XII, pp. 298-314. 

®^ This chapter was read on June 13, 1928, at the Fort Ripley session 
of the Seventh State Historical Convention under the auspices of the 
Minnesota Historical Society. It appeared in Minnesota History, Vol. 
IX, pp. 347-362. It was revised and enlarged to its present form and 
published in The Palimpsest, Vol. XIII, pp. 297-317. 

®^ Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, pp. 126- 
128. The remainder of this article, unless otherwise noted, is based on 
Beltrami's description, pp. 126-200. 

^*Niles' Register, Vol. XXV, pp. 94, 95; Burlington Post, May 12, 
1923. Further information concerning the Virginia's measurements 
and owners was obtained from Permanent Enrolment No. 92, Decem- 
ber 21, 1822, Collector of Customs OflSce at New Orleans. 


Notes and References 

'" Hill's Constantine Beltrami in Minnesota Historical Collections^ 
Vol. II, p. 191. 

^ Meeker's Early History of the Lead Region in Wisconsin in Wis- 
consin Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 277. 

*^ Wilkie's Davenport Fast and Present, p. 157. 

®^ Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Sources of the St. 
Peter's River (London, 1825), Vol. I, p. 285. 

^^ Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, pp. 198- 

^^^ Army and Navy Chronicle (New Series), Vols. II and III, p. 
104, quoted from the Allegemeine Zeitung. 

^°^ Blakeley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the 
Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, 
Vol. VIII, p. 385. 

^°^ Bishop's Floral Home; or, First Years of Minnesota, pp. 60, 61. 

^°^ Blakeley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the 
Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, 
Vol. VIII, pp. 3 8 5, 3 86. 

^°* Baird's Indian Customs and Early Recollections in Wisconsin His- 
torical Collections, Vol. IX, pp. 323-326. For relation of this incident 
to lead mining see Petersen's Regulating the Lead Miners in The Palimp- 
sest, Vol. XVII, pp. 18 5-187. 

^°^ Lindley's William Clark — The Indian Agent in the Proceedings 
of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Vol. II, pp. 63-75. 

^°'^ Miner's Journal (Galena), July 3, 24, 31, 1830; Kappler's 
Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), pp. 305-310; 
Mahan's Old Fort Crawford and the Frontier, pp. 152-15 5; Book 
of Accounts for expenditures for emigrating Indians . . . from 1828 
to 1856, St. Louis Superintendency, p. 74, in the Clark Manuscripts, 
Kansas Historical Society Library, Topeka, Kansas. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^"^ For example, treaties were negotiated at Fort Crawford in 1825, 
1829, and 1830, and at Fort Armstrong in 1822, 1832, and 1836. — 
Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), pp. 202, 
250-255, 297-303, 305, 345, 349, 474, 476, 546, 588, 591. 

^°*Atwater's Western Antiquities, pp. 171, 224-234; Missouri Ke- 
publican (St. Louis), July 14, 1829. 

^°^ Atwater's Western Antiquities, pp. 237-239. 

^'° Miner's Journal (Galena), October 10, 1829, February 20, 1830; 
Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties) , pp. 297- 
303; Atwater's Western Antiquities, pp. lAX-lAl; Missouri Republican 
(St. Louis), August 25, 1829. 

'^'^'^ Iowa News (Dubuque), July 1, 15, 22, August 5, 12, 1837; 
Neill's Occurrences in and around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 1840, 
in Minn-esota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 132-13 5; Kappler's 
Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), p. 491. 

^^- Galena Daily Advertiser, July 9, 11, 29, August 2, 13, 1851; 
Hughes's The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851 in Minnesota His- 
torical Collections, Vol. X, Pt. I, p. 103; Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laivs 
and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), p. 588; Hughes's Old Traverse des 
Sioux, pp. 5 5-7 3. The material in the Hughes volume is from the 
original notes of James Goodhue written for the Minnesota Pioneer. 

^^^ An excellent description of the sufferings of the Sioux is given 
by Chief Walking Thunder in Hughes's Old Traverse des Sioux, pp. 
47, 48. 

^^* Indian Office Files, Letters Received, 1824 (manuscript in Pen- 
sion Building, Washington) . 

^^° Neill's Occurrences in and around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 
1840, in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 109. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), June 7, 1831. 

^^^ Life of Black Hawk (published by the State Historical Society of 
Iowa, 1932), pp. 137, 138. 


Notes and References 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), September 11, 1832. 

^^« Stevens's T/x Black Hawk War, pp. 259-267; Life of Black 
Hawk, pp. 140, 141. 

^^° Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, August 26, 1837; 
Iowa News (Dubuque), August 26, 1837; Neill's Occurrences in and 
around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 1840, in Minnesota Historical 
Collections, Vol. II, pp. 132, 133; Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and 
Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), pp. 493, 494. 

^''^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 11, 

^^' From a manuscript receipt, dated November 10, 1837, in j>osses- 
sion of the Minnesota Historical Society. 

^^^ Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), 
pp. 495, 498; Petersen's The Second Purchase in The Palimpsest, Vol. 
XVIII, pp. 88-97. 

^2*Folsom's Fifty Years in the Northwest, pp. 92, 98; Kappler's 
Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), pp. 491-493; 
Burlington Post, February 16, 1918. 

^'^^ Taliaferro Joicrnal, No. II, May 28, 29, 1821 (Manuscript in 
possession of the Minnesota Historical Society) . For the year ending 
June 30, 1821, the Sioux and Chippewa received $2,227.74 in presents. 
These consisted of tobacco, powder, bar lead, Chinese vermilion, verdi- 
gris, gun flints, shot guns, blankets, blue and red strcudings, Selempores 
calico, thread, needles, brass kettles, garden hoes, fine combs, box wood 
fire steels, scissors, butcher knives, looking glasses, gartering, ribbon, 
finger rings, Madras handkerchiefs, shirts, arm bands, wrist bands, and 
other trinkets. Sec also Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. 
II (Treaties), pp. 202, 207, 208, 250, et seq. 

^^^ Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties), 
pp. 207, 208, 209, 301, 346, 349, 492. Indian treaties usually provided 
for land cessions. The Sioux treaty of 18 51 stipulated that the upper 
and lower bands should receive a total of $3,075,000. The upper bands 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

were to receive $1,665,000 to be paid as follows: money for agricul- 
tural purposes, $30,000; $1,360,000 to be held in trust by the govern- 
ment and five per cent interest paid the Indians annually for a period 
of fifty years commencing on July 1, 18 52. This interest amounted to 
$68,000 a year and was applied as follows: agriculture, $12,000; educa- 
tion, $6,000; goods and provisions, $10,000; money, $40,000. The 
lower tribes were to receive $1,410,000 which was divided in much 
the same way as that of the upper tribes. — Hughes's Old Traverse des 
Sioux, pp. 175-177; Hughes's The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851 
in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol, X, Pt. 1, pp. 112-115. 

^-'^ Atwater's Western Antiquities, p. 220. 

^^^ Iowa Sun and Davenport and Rock Island News, November 13, 

^^^ Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242. 
p. 3 (Serial No. 434). 

^^""The Minnesotian (St. Paul), November 20, 1852. 

'" The Minnesotian (St. Paul), April 2, 1853. 

^^^ The Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), April 30, 1857. 

^^^ Bell's Early Steamboating on the Minnesota and Red Rivers in 
Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. X, Pt. 1, pp. 92, 93. 

^^*The Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), April 30, May 6, 
26, 1857. 

^^^Niles' Register, Vol. XLIII, pp. 210, 226, 267; Army and Navy 
Chronicle (New Series) , Vol. II & III, p. 70. 

136 ^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 2 3 , June 7, 
9, 29, July 4, 12, August 1, 1848; Weekly NortJnuestern Gazette 
(Galena), October 5, 1849; Blakeley's History of the Discovery of the 
Mississippi and the Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota 
Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 382-386. 

13T "Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 12, 1848. 


Notes and References 

^^^ Weekly Northwestern Gazette (Galena), October 5, 1849, May 
14, June 4, 18 50. In defense of Governor Ramsey and Henry W. Rice 
it was pointed out that only those Indians were to be transported "who 
never have been removed, or who after having been removed have 
returned with the design of not going back to their new country." 

^^^ The writer interviewed Captain John Killeen of Dubuque, Iowa, 
for the incidents relating to the removal of the Sioux on the Flora in 
1862. Captain Killeen was then mate on the Flora. See also the Burling- 
ton Post, April 17, 1915. 

^*°Anmial Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1866, pp. 
46, 47, 212, 213. 

"' St. Paul Press, quoted in The Weekly Gate City (Keokuk), May 
27, 1863. 

"2 The Weekly Gate City (Keokuk), June 3, 1863. 

■'*^ A paper read at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Valley His- 
torical Association at Lincoln, Nebraska, April 28, 1932. The bulk of 
this chapter, together with most of Chapter 19, was published in 
Minnesota History, Vol. XIII, pp. 221-243. 

^** Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, p. 127; 
Niles' Register, Vol. XXIII, p. 53. 

^*' Letter from Thomas Forsyth to John C. Calhoun, October 11, 
1824, and to William Clark, December 13, 1824, in Thwaites's The 
Fur-Trade in Wisconsin, 1812-1825, in Wisconsin Historical Collec- 
tions, Vol. XX, pp. 3 56-3 58, 363-365. 

^*° Letter from Taliaferro to Colonel Josiah Snelling, February 8, 
1826, in Taliaferro Letter Book, A. These letter books are in the posses- 
sion of the Minnesota Historical Society. 

^^ Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, pp. 127- 
137, 149-195; Atwater's Western Antiquities, pp. 210-240; Bremer's 
The Homes of the New World, Vol. II, pp. 3-84; Marryat's A Diary 
in America, pp. 110-126. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^** Thwaites's The Fur-Trade in Wisconsin, 1812-1825, in Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, Vol. XX, p. 304. In 1936 the Dousman home 
was reconstructed into its old French style and presented to the city 
of Prairie du Chien with the restored title "Villa Louis". 

^^^ Williams's Henry Hastings Sibley: A Memoir in Minnesota His- 
torical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 262-267. 

^^° Neill's Occurrences in and around Fort Snelling, from 1819 to 
1840, in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 110; Taliaferro 
Journal, March 31, 1826. Captain Bates received $107.50 from Indian 
Agent Lawrence Taliaferro for each trip in 1825. In addition Talia- 
ferro paid him ^75 for 150 lbs. of lead and $82 for 1 barrel of whiskey, 
4 barrels of flour, and 2 barrels of pork. See Book of Accounts of Law- 
rence Taliaferro, No. 23, September 30, 1822, to September 30, 1834, 
pp. 7, 8, 13. The Taliaferro manuscripts are in the possession of the 
Minnesota Historical Society. 

The boat, which was built in 1822 by Caleb Beston at Marietta, 
Ohio, for the firm of Green and Dodge, was a side-wheeler of 103 
tong with high pressure engines. It ran on the Muskingum River for a 
year or two and was the first boat to ascend that stream to Zanesville, 
Ohio. Captain Bates bought it in the spring of 182 5 and ran it in the 
Upper Mississippi trade until 1826, when it was snagged near Port 
Chicot. — Burlington Post, July 20, 1918; Hall's The West: Its Com- 
merce and Navigation, p. 160. 

^^^ Atwater's Western Antiquities, p. 219. 

^^^ Letters from Dousman to Crooks, October 22, 1835, July 21, 
183 8, in American Fur Company Papers; some bills of lading in the 
possession of the writer. The American Fur Company Papers are in the 
possession of the New York Historical Society; the Minnesota Histori- 
cal Society has photostatic copies of all letters cited in this book. 

^^^ An invoice of merchandise shipped by the American Fur Com- 
pany on the steamboat Belleview to Sibley "for acct. and Risk of 
Sioux," is in the Sibley Papers for 1836. These papers are in the posses- 
sion of the Minnesota Historical Society. 


Notes and References 

^^* List of charges on goods imported from England in 183 5, in the 
Sibley Papers. 

■^°' An analysis of some bills of lading in the possession of the writer 
and bills of lading owned by Captain Fred A. Bill of St. Paul warrants 
this conclusion. 

^^* An invoice of goods shipped by the steamboat Warrior bound for 
St. Peter's and consigned to Sibley for account of the Sioux Outfit, in 
the Sibley Papers, 183 5. 

^'''' Taliaferro Journal, March 31, April 6, 14, 15, 17, 21, 26, May 
2, 1826. 

^^* A list of captains and steamboats between 1823 and 1860 has 
been compiled by the writer from the St. Paul, Winona, McGregor, 
Galena, Dubuque, Davenport, Muscatine, Burlington, Keokuk, and St. 
Louis newspapers. Blakeley gives a fairly complete list of boats and 
captains for the period from 1836 to the Civil War in Minnesota His- 
torical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 375-412. 

^^^ Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), November 18, 18 58; letter 
from Dousman to Sibley, June 29, 1840, in the Sibley Papers; Fonda's 
Early Reminiscences of Wisconsin in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
Vol. V, p. 240. 

^®° Riggs's Mary and I: Forty Years with the Siotix, pp. 32-37. 

^^^ Weekly Northwestern Gazette (Galena), June 4, 1850. A file 
of this paper is in the Galena Gazette office at Galena, Illinois. See 
Petersen's Captain Joseph Throckmorton in The Palimpsest, Vol. X, 
pp. 129-144; Petersen's Captain Daniel Smith Harris in The Iowa 
Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 505-542. 

^^^ Letter from Dousman to Sibley, November 20, 183 8, in the 
Sibley Papers. 

^^' The official records of these boats are found in the following 
manuscripts: Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pitts- 
burgh, Vol. Ill, 183 5-18 39. The Ariel was 12 5 feet long, with a 17^- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

foot beam and a 4i-f oot hold, and measured only 9 5 tons — Enrolment 
24, March 13, 1837. The Burlington was 150 feet long, had a 23i-foot 
beam, a 6-foot hold, and a double rudder stern, and measured 200 
tons — Enrolment 54, May 27, 1837. The Malia was 140 feet long, 
had a 22-foot beam, was 5 feet deep, and measured 114 tons — Enrol- 
ment 73, April 30, 1839, Every new boat had to be oflScially enrolled 
before it was allowed to proceed on a trip. A change of ownership or 
construction required a boat's reenroUment. The docimient on which 
the record was spread was designated "Enrolment, in conformity to 
an Act of the Congress of the United States of America, entitled 'An 
Act for enrolling and licensing ships or vessels, to be employed in the 
Coasting Trade and Fisheries, and for regulating same'." The captain 
usually enrolled his boat and was required to swear that he and the 
owners were citizens of the United States. A description of the boat 
and her measurements also was given. 

164 fjjg records of the boats noted are as follows : The Chippewa, 
Enrolment 40, March 10, 1840, in Enrolment of Vessels, Vol. V, 
1839-1841; the Cecilia, Enrolment 32, October 26, 1841, and the 
General Brooke, Enrolment 81, March 25, 1842, in Vol. VI, 1841-1845, 
all in the Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh. The Lynx, Enrol- 
ment 40, April 15, 1844; the Nimrod, Enrolment 42, April 22, 1844; 
and the Cecilia, Enrolment 95, August 8, 1845, in the Collector of 
Customs Office at St. Louis. The Lynx, Enrolment 25, March 25, 1844, 
the Cora, Enrolment 101, September 29, 1846, and the Nominee, 
Enrolment 37, March 14, 18 50, in the Collector of Customs OflSce at 

^®^ "H. L. Dousman amt. Stock subscribed in the Prairie du Chien, 
Hudson & St. Paul Packet Compy," December 24, 1857, in the Dous- 
man Papers, in the possession of the Minnesota Historical Society. 

^^^ Letter from Dousman to Crooks, December 14, 1839, in the 
American Fur Company Papers. 

^®^ Letter from Dousman to Sibley, May 9, 1845, in the Sibley 


Notes and References 

^^^ Letter from Dousman to Sibley, March 30, 1845, in the Sibley 

^®° Letter from Dousman to Sibley, April 20, 1838, April 5, 16, 
1839, in the Sibley Papers. On April 16, 1839, Dousman wrote: 

"The Ariel came in last night and is [I] was much disappointed in 
not recev^. by her our Spring supplies of Provisions, Groceries, &c 
from S*. Louis. She brot. up only what remained in her all winter at the 
Rapids — but as I know you were badly off I prevailed on the Capt, 
[Lyon] to go up by giving him our Chippewa freight which the 
Pavilion brot up a few days since. I also send Brown, Robinson & 
Farribaults Goods. You will find with this Memor** & Bill Lading of all 
I have been able to put on board for you, by the next Boat I shall 
probably be able to send the bal"^ of your Provisions. The goods from 
N. York marked S, also those from S'. Louis S&S are on board as you 
will see by Bill Lading. The Boats which were stopped by the Ice last 
fall, have had a good deal of their freight pilfered &c Boxes opened & 
goods taken out — also a good many packages missing — so that you 
must be very particular in your examination of the two Lots mentioned 
above, as they have not been landed here and the Capt. tells me that he 
knows of several articles missing." 

^^° Letter from Dousman to Sibley, June 18, 1838, in the Sibley 

"I reed, yours pr. Burlington, together with the Packs, Feathers, &c 
all in good order. The Ariel arrived this morning with the Goods for 
the Suttler Store and as the freight was not sufficient to justify her 
going up, they were all Landed & stored here, news has just arrived 
that 150 recruits are on the way from the Bay for your place, & we 
have prevailed on the Qr. Master to promise to transpt^ to the Ariel & 
she now goes up merely to take up your things & be back in time for 
the Recruits. I have paid the frt. on the Goods from S' Louis to this 
place at 87^ pr. c say $95.38. Send down in the Ariel all your Packs 
as we are waiting for them to start the Boats for Fort Winnebago. The 
Clerk of the Burlington tells me that you told him after closing your 
Letter that the Flour by that Boat came out correct — there were on 
board as I wrote to you 3 5 Bbl^ for Sioux O [utfit] & how much for 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

S. & S. I know not as I did not see the Bill Lading, the shipment having 
been made to you direct. The 1 Bbl^ Pork which you mentioned as not 
being in the Bill Lading belong here & were taken up in the Boat with 
the understanding that they should be brot back as they were not handy 
when they went up. I regret they were left as we are in want of them, 
but I suppose you may as well keep them, they were ordered for Retail 
here & are what is called clear mess & cost $5 more than the other 

^"Letter from S. W. McMaster to Franklin Steele, March 22, 1844, 
and letter from Dousman to Sibley, March 23, April 12, 1844, in the 
Sibley Papers. "I give you a Statement of the ranges of prices. Coon 
37i to 80 cents Red fox 1°° to 1^° Fisher 2$ to 3 50 & 4 for large size 
Wolf 37^ to 624 Otter is not so much sought after but is worth 
(Prime) 5$." 

Dousman was at the foot of Lake Pepin when news arrived of the 
invasion of his domain. He wrote to Sibley: 

"You had better send and secure all the Furs you can in the hands of 
the Traders en the S* Croix and about your place before the Steam Boats 
get up as there will be a number of buyers and speculators up & if 
they can be disappointed this year they will not be apt to return, even 
if we make nothing on the purchases I think it is a great object to pre- 
vent the Furs getting in other hands. I would have sent this by express 
to you but was afraid to creat[e] suspicion and as the mail leaves here 
in two days you will have time by moving promptly to do all that is 
to be done before a Steam Boat can get through the Lake. The [Gen- 
eral] Brooke came to the Prairie on the 12'*^ Inst. & there has no doubt 
been several other Boats there before this. The Lynx will be at Galena 
about 10 or 15 April." 
A few weeks later Dousman wrote: 

"There is a Fur buyer on board the Otter [Mr. Frost] who buys for 
Smith Brothers & C° St. Louis, look sharp after him. he appears to be 
a very Gentlemanly man & offers good prices." 

'^''^ Some bills of lading scattered through the Sihley Papers; others 
in the possession of the writer and Captain Fred A. Bill of St. Paul. 


Notes and References 

^"Letter from Dousman to Sibley, November 19, 1845, January 
14, April 30, May 24, 1846, in the Sibley Papers. 

"* Wood's The Red River Colony in the Chronicles of Canada, Vol, 
XXI, pp. 15-34; Folwell's A History of Minnesota, Vol. I, pp. 213-217. 

^'^ Bill's Steamboating on the Red River of the North in the North 
Dakota Historical Quarterly, Vol. II, pp. 100, 101. 

^~^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), September 3, 1823; The Mer- 
cury (Pittsburgh), October 21, 1823. A file of The Mercury is in 
the Carnegie Library at Pittsburgh. 

^'^ Bloomington (Muscatine) Herald, September 4, 1847. 

''^Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), March 26, 18 57; Galena 
Daily Advertiser, November 22, 1848; Northwestern Gazette and 
Galena Advertiser, July 18, 1848; Weekly Northwestern Gazette (Ga- 
lena), September 18, 1849. Files of the last three papers are in the 
office of the Galena Gazette. 

"■'^The Minnesotian (St. Paul), July 23, 1853. 

''^''Minnesota Democrat (St. Paul), July 15, 22, 29, August 12, 
18 51; Galena Daily Advertiser, July 22, 25, 1851; Bill's Steamboating 
on the Red River of the North in the North Dakota Historical Quar- 
terly, Vol. II, pp. 101-110. 

^" The Herald (Dubuque), April 22, May 11, 1866. A file of this 
paper is in the public library at Dubuque. 

^^- The Grant County Herald, quoted in the Northwestern Gazette 
and Galena Advertiser, July 5, 1844; History of Grant County, Wis- 
consin, p. 476. 

^^2 See Wesley's Guarding the Frontier: A Study of Frontier Defense 
from 7 Si 5-7 «2 5, pp. 118-165; Beers's The Western Military Frontier: 
1815-1846, pp. 27-53. 

^^* Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 5, 1844; 
Hansen's Old Fort Snelling, pp. 18-30; Mahan's Old Fort Crawford 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

and the Frontier, pp. 65-88, 120-139; Tanner's History of Fort Rip- 
ley, 1S49 to 1859, in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. X, Pt. 1, 
pp. 179-202; American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. II, p. 265; 
Van der Zee's Forts in the Iowa Country in The Iowa Journal of His- 
tory and Politics, Vol. XII, pp. 163-204. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), May 24, 1824; Forsyth's Fort 
Snelling: Col. Leavenworth's Expedition to Establish It, in 1819, in 
Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. Ill, p. 140; Bishop's Floral 
Home; or, First Years of Minnesota (New York, 18 57), p. 32; Neill's 
Occurrences in and around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 1 840, in Minne- 
sota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 102-116. 

^^^ American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, p. 69. 

^^^ See references in Chapter XI, "The Story of the Western En- 

^** Schoolcraft's Narrative Journal of Travels . . . to the sources of 
the Mississippi River; Schoolcraft's Narrative of an Expedition through 
the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, in 1832; Keating's Narrative of 
an Expedition to the Source of the St. Peter's River (London, 1825); 
Drumm's Robert E. Lee and the Improvement of the Mississippi River 
in Missouri Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 161; Wilson's The Des 
Moines Rapids Canal in The Palimpsest, Vol. V, pp. 117-132. 

^^^ Dubuque Tribune, quoted in the lou^a Republican (Iowa City) , 
April 14, 18 52, and reprinted in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), 
Vol. XII, p. 345. 

^^° Explorations and Surveys for a Railroad Route from the Missis- 
sippi River to the Pacific Ocean ("Washington, 1860), Vol. XII, Book 
1, p. 35. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), April 5, 1824, September 27, 
1831; St. Louis Enquirer, May 24, 1824; Neill's Occurrences in and 
around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 1840, in Minnesota Historical Col- 
lections, Vol. II, p. 108. 

^^- Miner's Journal (Galena), July 3, 1830; Northwestern Gazette 


Notes and References 

and Galena Advertiser, May 23, June 7, 9, 29, 1848; Galena Daily 
Advertiser, July 9, 1851; Annual Report of the Commissioner of 
Indian Affairs, 1866, pp. 46, 47, 212, 213. An account of the incidents 
of the trip down the Minnesota River was given the writer by Captain 
John Killeen of Dubuque. 

^^^Miss(mri Republican (St. Louis), July 19, 26, 1827, May 31, 
1831; Missouri Observer (St. Louis), September 5, 1827, quoted in 
Niles' Register, Vol. XXXIII, p. 68. 

^""^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), April 10, 17, May 8, 22, 1832. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), May 29, 1832. This issue alone 
carried news dispatches brought by the Caroline, Souvenir, and Winne- 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), June 5, 1832. 

^^'' Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, 
Vol. II, 1831-1835. Enrolments 30 and 31, June 2, 1832, reveal the 
measurements and ownership of the Warrior and her safety barge. The 
Warrior was owned by Joseph Throckmorton and William Hempstead 
of Galena. She was 111 feet 5 inches long, with a 19-foot beam and 
a 5 -foot hold, and measured 100 tons burden. She had one deck and 
no mast, a transom stern, a cabin above deck for officers and crew, and 
a figurehead. Power was furnished by a high pressure engine and three 
boilers. Her safety barge was 111 feet 8 inches long, with a 16-foot 
beam, and a 4 foot 8 inch hold, and measured 5 5 tons. According to 
Edward Jones, the Surveyor at Pittsburgh, the safety barge had a 
square stern, a cabin above deck, and a plain figure. The Warrior was 
one of the few steamboats to tow a safety barge on the Upper Mis- 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), July 10, 1832; Niles' Register, 
Vol. XLIII, pp. 5, 12, 13, 51, 78, 79. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), May 29, June 5, 26, July 10, 
August 14, 21, 28, September 11, 1832; Niles' Register, Vol. XLIII, 
p. 26. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 15, 19, 1846, 
April 6, 1847. 

^^^ Northwester n Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 26, July 3, 
1846, February 2, April 6, 20, 1847; Bloomington (Muscatine) Herald, 
June 26, 1846. 

'°^The Dubuque Herald, January 30, February 7, 1861. 

"""^The Duhiquc Herald, April 27, 1861. 

2°* The Dubuque Herald, April 28, June 1, 3, 6, 13, 1861. 

^°^ Daily Democrat and News (Davenport), May 4, 1861. 

^^^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), August 18, 1861. 

^°'' Good /me County Republican (Red Wing), November 22, 1861. 

^^^Gate City (Keokuk), December 19, 1921. 

^'^^ Smith's History of the Seventh Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry 
During the Civil War, p. 5. 

^'^^ Daily Democrat and News (Davenport), April 2, 8, 27, May 1, 
2, 3, 1861. 

^^'^ Missojiri Republican (St. Louis), March 25, 1861; Des Moines 
Valley Whig (Keokuk), May 6, 1861; The Dubuque Herald, July 17, 
1861; Daily Democrat and News (Davenport), March 30, 1861. 

^^^ Briggs's The Enlistment of Iowa Troops During the Civil War 
in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XV, pp. 373-375. 

^^^Gate City (Keokuk), December 19, 1921. 

^^"The Weekly Gate City (Keokuk), April 8, 1863. 

"5 1'^g Weekly Gate City (Keokuk), March 25, 1863. 

2i« Porter's The Naval History of the Civil War, p. 3 52. 

^^'' Gate City (Keokuk), December 19, 1921. 

2i« Taliaferro Journal, No. II, p. 24. 


Notes and References 

^^^ Taliaferro Journal, No. II, pp. 60-62; S^. Louis Enquirer, May 
24, 1824. 

2-ojV/7fs' Register, Vol. XXVII, pp. 149, ISO. 

^^^ St. Louis Herald, November 8, 1826, quoted in ISliles' Register, 
Vol. XXXI, p. 226; Missouri Republican (St. Louis), July 19, 26, 1827. 

^^^ American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. Ill, pp. 65 5, 656. 

•^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), April 29, 1828; American State 
Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. Ill, pp. 624, 625, Vol. IV, p. 9. 

^^* Missouri Republican (St. Louis), May 31, 1837, quoted in the 
Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 10, 1837. 

225 j^ortJrwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, September 3,21, 

^-^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 30, 1842; 
Gould's Fifty Years on the Mississippi, p. 437. 

227 The Dubuqtte Herald, July 24, 1860. 

^28 Since the government appears to have usually paid a higher tariff 
than did ordinary passengers, the round trip fare has been placed some- 
what above the regular rate. There is a possibility, of course, that the 
amount might exceed even this sum, particularly if there were any 
more James Johnsons among steamboat captains with friends in Con- 

^-^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), August 6, 1823, August 26, 
1824, July 26, 1827; St. Louis Enquirer, October 18, 1824. 

^^° Missouri Republican (St. Louis), August 6, 1823. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Lcuis), August 9, 1824. 

232 Taliaferro Journal, No. Ill, May 17, 26, 27, June 1, 1826. 

23^ Bliss's Reminiscences of Fort Snelling in Minnesota Historical 
Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 33 5-342. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^* Senate Documents, 27th Congress 1st Session, Document 242, 
pp. 1, 2 (Serial No. 434). 

^^^ Weekly Northwestern Gazette (Galena), May 21, 1850; The 
Minnesotian (St. Paul), May 21, 18 53; Daily Pioneer and Democrat 
(St. Paul) , August 2, 18 57; Van der Zee's Forts in the Iowa Country in 
The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XII, pp. 197, 198. 

23« The Minnesotian (St. Paul), April 2, 18 53. 

^^'^ Thwaites's Notes on Early Lead Mining in the Fever {or Galena) 
River Region in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIII, p. 271; 
Schafer's The Wisconsin Lead Region, pp. 1-20. In 1840, when the 
aggregate production of lead in the United States was given as 
31,240,000 pounds, the Territory of Wisconsin was credited in the 
census with 15,130,000. At the same time Illinois produced 8,75 5,000 
and Missouri 5,295,000 pounds. 

238 Petersen's The Mines of Spain in The Palimpsest, Vol. XII, pp. 
405-413, 421-433. 

239 Petersen's Regulating the Lead Miners in The Palimpsest, Vol. 
XVII, pp. 185-192; Thwaites's Notes on Early Lead Mining in the 
Fever {or Galena) River Region in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
Vol. XIII, pp. 283-289. 

2*° Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II (Treaties) , 
pp. 132, 133, 292, 293, 297-302, 349-351; Niles' Register, Vol. 
XXXVII, p. 19, Vol. XLIV, p. 179; Thwaites's Notes on Early Lead 
Mining in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIII, pp. 288-292. 

^^"^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, March 12, 1842; 
Petersen's Regulating the Lead Miners in The Palimpsest, Vol. XVII, 
pp. 185-200; Thwaites's Notes on Early Lead Mining in Wisconsin His- 
torical Collections, Vol. XIII, pp. 290-292; Niles' Register, Vol. 
XXXVII, p. 131, Vol. XLI, p. 340, Vol. LXIII, p. 388. 

^*^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, February 26, 1841; 
Niles' Register, XXXVIII, p. 204; Senate Documents, 28 th Congress, 


Notes and References 

1st Session, Document 242, p. 5; The Merchants' Magazine and Com- 
mercial Review, Vol. XVIII, p. 292. 

-■'^ Bowen's American Almanac of Useful Knowledge, p. 134; Lead 
Book (manuscript volume in the possession of the writer). 

^** Bowen's American Almanac of Useful Knowledge, p. 134; 
Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, February 26, 1841, 
March 12, 1842; Merchants' Magazine, Vol. XVIII, pp. 103, 28 5-292. 

^*^ Galetia Gazette, March 17, 1893; Meeker's Early History of 
Lead Region of Wisconsin in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 
VI, pp. 276-279; Wilkeson's Recollections of the West and the First 
Building of Buffalo Harbor in Bjiffalo Historical Collections, Vol. V, 
pp. 176-181; Burlington Post, February 9, 1918. 

-*^ Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, pp. 60- 
197; Galena Gazette, March 17, 1893; Meeker's Early History of Lead 
Region of Wisconsin in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 

^" History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois (1878), pp. 233-242. 

-*^ The Mandan and the htdiana visited Fever River in 1824; the 
Rufus Putnam, the Lawrence, and the Gett. Neville were there in 1825; 
and the Lawrence, the Sciota, the Mexico, and the Eclipse appeared in 
1826. The arrivals and departures of steamboats for the Upper Missis- 
sippi were taken by the writer from the files of the Missouri Republican 
(St. Louis). 

"3 History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois (1878) , pp. 227, 228, 246, 

^^° Missouri Republican (St. Louis), March 15, April 19, 1827; 
History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois (1878), p. 247. 

-^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), April 19, 1827. The boats were 
seldom advertised for the posts above, but rather for the Fever River 
lead mines. The Indiana had completed five trips to the lead region 
before June 30, 1827. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^^ Scott's Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois: 1814-1879, pp. 
52, 182. This reference incorrectly gives the date of estabhshment of 
the Miner's Journal as 1826. The writer has worked over all the issues 
of Vol. I in the possession of the Wisconsin Historical Society at Madi- 
son. See also History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois (1878), p. 254. 
The writer is in possession of a photographic copy of Vol. I, No. 1 of 
the Chicago Democrat dated November 26, 1833. 

^'^Niles' Register, Vol. XXXV, p. 120. 

^'* From a manuscript in the Connolly Collection in the Minnesota 
Historical Society Library. The letter, dated March 27, 1828, expressed 
hope that when the boundary line was drawn for the new Territory of 
Wisconsin, the lead district would be found within its borders. 

^^^ According to a count made by the writer in the Missouri Repub- 
lican (St. Louis) from June 9 to July 9, 1828, there had been fifteen 
arrivals from and thirteen departures for the mines. — Niles' Register, 
Vol. XXXVI, p. 130. 

^°® A count of the number of steamboat arrivals and departures was 
kept while working through the files of the Missouri Republican (St. 
Louis) . The Galena newspapers also served as a valuable index to the 
different boats which visited the mines. A list of boats for each year 
is the result. Chandler's Map of the United States Lead Mines on the 
Upper Mississippi River (1829), printed in Wisconsin Historical Col- 
lections, Vol. XI, opposite p. 400, is authority for the arrival of 99 
steamboats and 74 keelboats in 1828. 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 29, 
December 13, 18 34. The files for these dates give the specific figures, 
while the estimates are a result of the compilation in the possession of 
the writer. 

^^^ Nor t Invest em Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 25, Decem- 
ber 5, 1835. 

-''"^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, March 12, 1842. 


Notes and References 

^^° Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 1, 1847; 
Merchants' Magazine, Vol. XX, p, 449. 

-*^^ Bloomington (Muscatine) Herald, May 8, 1846. A list of arrivals 
and departures for the months of May and June enabled the writer 
to reach these conclusions. 

^°- These figures are the result of a record kept of the number of 
different boats together with the total yearly arrivals. The writer has a 
list of 345 different steamboats as a result of his research in the St. 
Louis, Galena, Dubuque, Muscatine, and Keokuk newspaper files, but 
in view of the fact that the papers would doubtless miss some of the 
boats he has added a score to his own list. It is believed that this is 
within five per cent of the correct number. 

^®^ "List of the First Steamboats Built and Documented on Western 
Waters", published in the Burlington Post, May 12, 1923, and in the 
Wabasha County Herald, June 26, 1924. 

'^^^ Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 8. 

^^^ Merchants' Magazine, Vol. XX, p. 448. 

^^^ Missouri Kep^iblican (St. Louis), May 4 and 11, 1826, March 4 
and July 23, 1828. The departure of steamboats, as well as an occasional 
keelboat, is chronicled in a Lead Book, 1828-1830, a manuscript volume 
in the possession of the writer. 

'^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), February 1, June 7, 1827. 

'^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), October 25, 1827. 

^^^Misso7iri Republican (St. Louis), March 4, 1828. 

"'^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), May 5, 18 32; Enrolment of 
Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, Vol. II, 1831-183 5, 
Enrolments 30 and 31, June 2, 1832. 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 2 5, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^"^-Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 21, 1846. 

^''^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 21, 1848. 

-'''^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 16, 

-'^ Nortlnvestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 7, 1348. 

-'° Ellet's Slimmer Rambles in the West, pp. 47, 48. 

-'''' Petersen's The Illinois Central Comes in The T^alimpsest, Vol. 
XIV, pp. 3 63-378, and The North Western Comes in The Palimpsest, 
Vol. XIV, pp. 317-33 3. 

-'^Express ^ Herald (Dubuque), April 17, 22, May 30, 1858. 

2" The Dukiiqiie Herald, July 29, August 25, 1860. 

-^° Bale's Galena's Century Milestone, pp. 8-19. 

-^^ Marryat's A Diary in America, Vol. II, pp. 156, 157. 

^^^ Burlington Post, I>ecember 29, 1917. 

-^^ Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 9. 

-^^ Quoted in Northwesteryt Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 
31, 1844. 

^^^ Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 9. 

286 ^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, October 3,10, and 
17, 1843. The arguments filled several columns in three successive issues. 

-^'' Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 9; Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, September 8, 28, 
October 29, 1839. 

-^^ Bloomington (Muscatine) Herald, May 4, 1847. 

^^^ Bloomington (Muscatine) Herald, July 10, 1846. 


Notes and References 

-^^ Senate Donnnenfs, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 9; Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, October 29, 1839. 
The editor complained of the high prices charged in spite of a fine 
stage of water. Captains were demanding $2 per 100 pounds upstream 
and $1 per 100 pounds downstream. 

^^'^ Nort/jwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 24, 

^^- Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 24, 

^^^ American State Papers, Public Lands, Vol. IV, p. 523. 

^^* The total is derived from a knowledge of the rate for some of 
the years and a comparison of averages for the years immediately 
following 1843, when complete figures are available. 

2^° Figures compiled from data, given in Senate Documents, 28 th 
Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, pp. 6-9. 

296 Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 18, 183 5. 

"^^'Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 16, 

-^^ Nortlnvestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 5, 1843. 

^^^ Figures compiled from data given in Senate Documents, 28th 
Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, p. 8. 

^°° Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 8. 

^°' Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 8. See also the Iowa Nexus (Dubuque), June 3, 10, 1837, and the 
Miner's Journal (Galena), June 19, 26, July 3, 24, 1830. 

^°- A compilation of steamboats made by the writer for the various 
years indicated, from the files of the Galena newspapers. 

S03 ^Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 1 6 and May 
14, 1844; Gould's Fifty Years on the Mississippi, pp. 536-542. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^°^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 9, 1836, 
October 19, 1840, June 4, 19, and July 3, 1841, May 13, 1845. 

^'^^ Nortfnuestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, March 28, April 
25, May 30, 1845. 

^°^ Nortlnvestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 16, 1843; 
Galena Daily Advertiser, May 18, 1849. 

2°^ Niles' Register, Vol. XXIII, p. 96. 

'^^^ American State Papers, Public Lands, Vol. IV, p. 801; Drumm's 
Robert E. Lee and the Mississippi in Missouri Historical Society Collec- 
tions, Vol. VI, p. 161. The fact that surveys were made from time to 
time is indicative of the fact that the rapids constituted a serious prob- 
lem. Furthermore, while money was expended lavishly it was not until 
the completion of the Des Moines Canal (1867-1877) and the Le Claire 
Canal many years later that the problem was solved. 

^°^ Miner's Journal (Galena), quoted in Niles' Register, Vol. 
XXXVII, pp. 51, 52. 

"^° Miner's Journal (Galena), quoted in Niles* Register, Vol. 
XXXVII, pp. 51, 52. 

^^^ Libby's Chronicle of the Helena Shot-Tower in Wisconsin His- 
torical Collections, Vol. XIII, pp. 3 38, 339, et passim. 

^^- Milwaukee Cozirier, quoted in Miners' Express (Dubuque), Sep- 
tember 4, 1841. For a further discussion see the Iowa Standard (Iowa 
City), January 29, 1841. 

®^' Chicago American, quoted in the Norihwesiern Gazette and 
Galena Advertiser, January 16, 1836. 

^'^'^ Wisconsin Herald (Lancaster), September 26, 1846, quoted in 
Libby's Significance of the Lead and Shot Trade in Early Wisconsin 
History in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIII, p. 300. 

31S Merchants' Magazine, Vol. XX, p. 449. 

^^^ Libby's Significance of the Lead and Shot Trade in Early Wis- 


Notes and References 

consin History in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIII, p. 313 
et passim; Buffalo Advertiser, quoted i:i Niles' Register, Vol. LXVIII, 
p. 102. 

^^'^ A comparison of the amount of lead received both at St. Louis 
and New Orleans with the total production of the Upper Mississippi 
warrants this statement. 

^^^ Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. Ill, pp. 574, 575. 

'^^Catlin's North American Indians, Vol. II, pp. 129, 130; Henne- 
pin's A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America (Chicago, 1903 ) , 
Vol. I, p. 223. 

^-*' Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, pp. 204, 

3" Taliaferro Journal, No. Ill, May 2, 1826, p. 8 5. 

^^^ Weekly Northwestern Gazette (Galena), June 5, 28, 1850; The 
Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), May 9, July 1, 1850; B'urlington Post, 
January 17, 1914. 

^-^ The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), July 1, 18 50; Chicago Daily 
Tribune, June 16, 18 54. 

^-* Murray's Travels in North America During the Years 18)4, 
1835, 1836, Vol. II, p. 111. 

^^' Bliss's Kemifiiscences of Fort Snelling in Minnesota Historical 
Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 340, 341. 

^-° Neill's Occurrences in and around Port Snelling, From 1819 to 
1840, in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 126, 127. 

^"CatHn's North American Indians, Vol. II, pp. 132, 13 5, 136. 

^-^ Miners' Express (Dubuque), June 25, 1845. Contemporary 
sources disagree as to the time intervening between the arrival of steam- 
boats. Catlin declares it was a week in 183 5 while Stephen R. Riggs 
was told that several weeks separated the departure of boats from St. 
Louis to Fort Snelling in 1837. An analysis of the files of the North- 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

wester 71 Gazette and Galena Advertiser indicates extreme irregularity. 
Sometimes several craft arrived within the space of a week's time while 
as often two or three weeks might elapse between boats. 

^^ Catlin's North American Indians, Vol. II, pp. 135-145; Neill's 
Occurrences in and around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 1840, in Minne- 
sota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 126, 127. 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 11, 18, 
July 2, 30, August 13, 1836; Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Cus- 
toms Office, Pittsburgh, Vol. Ill, 183 5, 1839, Enrolment 34, May 3, 

331 Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 13, 20, 1837. 
An item in the issue of May 13 th noted similar advertisements in the 
Du Buque Visitor and the Belmont (Wisconsin) Gazette. 

^^^ Iowa News (Dubuque), August 5, 1837. 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 10, 17, 24, 
September 30, 1837; Iowa News (Dubuque), June 17, 1837; Neill's 
Occtirrences in and around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 1840, in Minne- 
sota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 126, 127; Catlin's North Amer- 
ican Indians, Vol. II, pp. 129, 130; Marryat's An English Officer's 
Description of Wisconsin in 1837 in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
Vol. XIV, pp. 137-154. 

^^* Stanchfield's History of Pioneer Lumbering on the Upper Mis- 
sissippi and its Tributaries in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. 
IX, pp. 326, 327. 

335 "Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 29, June 
14, 19, 1840; Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pitts- 
burgh, Vol. V, 1839-1841, Enrolment 34, February 27, 1840. 

^^^ Stanchfield's History of Pioneer Lumbering on the Upper Missis- 
sippi and its Tributaries in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. IX, 
pp. 326, 327. 

^^^ The writer has excursion advertisements for various years from 
Keokuk, Bloomington (Muscatine), Galena, and Dubuque newspapers. 


Notes and References 

^^^lowa News (Dubuque), May 19, June 16, 1838. 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 15, June 2 5, 
July 2, 13, 1839, May 29, June 5, 1840, June 13, 27, July 1, 3, 8, 

^*° Palmer's Western Wisconsin in 1836 in Wisconsin Historical 
Collections, Vol. VI, p. 305. 

^*^ Rodolf 's Pioneering in the Wisconsin Lead Region in Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, Vol. XV, pp. 339, 340. 

^*- Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 22, May 13, 
1837; Folsom's Fifty Years in the Nortlnvest, p. 689; Burlington Post, 
September 28, 1918. 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 22, 1839; 
Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Cincinnati, Enrol- 
ment (Temporary), March 27, 1839. 

^^* Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 7, 183 8, 
September 2 5, 1841; Burlington Post, January 10, 1914; Enrolment 
of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, Enrolment 88, 
August 22, 1844. 

^^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 8, 18 39; 
Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, Vol. 
Ill, 183 5-1839, Enrolment 73, April 30, 1839; Burlington Post, April 
21, 1917. 

^*^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, October 17, 1845; 
Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, Enrol- 
ment 12 5, October 16, 1845. 

^^^ The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), May 6, 18 52. 

^'^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 13, 1845; 
Paulding's The Mississippi in Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXII, pp. 219, 
220; Rodolf 's Pioneering in the Wisconsin Lead Region in Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, Vol. XV, p. 340. 

^*^ Miners' Express (Dubuque), June 25, 1845. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

""^^ Weekly Northwestern Gazette (Galena), July 24, 1849; The 
Minnesota Democrat (St. Paul), June 10, July 22, 1851; The Minrie- 
sotian (St, Paul), June 11, July 23, 18 53; Daily Pioneer and Demo- 
crat (St. Paul), June 21, July 23, 18 57; Daily Express and Herald 
(Dubuque), August 24, 18 57. 

^^^ Blakeley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the 
Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections^ 
Vol. VIII, pp. 381-3 89. 

^^^The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), July 22, 1852. 

^^^The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), June 3, 18 52; Blakeley's 
History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the Advent of Com- 
m^erce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 

^^"^ Burlington Post, August 15, 1914. Merrick follows his descrip- 
tion of the Die Vernon by a full and interesting account of the race 
given by Captain John O. Roberts of Clarksville, Missouri. It was 
originally printed in an issue of the Minneapolis Journal for 1910. The 
exact measurements of the Die Vernon are taken from Enrolment of 
Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St, Louis, Enrolment 30, March 
13, 1852. 

^^^ Burlington Post, August 22, 1914. 

^^^The Minnesotian (St. Paul), June 18, 1853; Burlington Post, 
August 22, 1914. Merrick views the race from the standpoint of an 
Upper Mississippi steamboatman. — Burlington Post, August 15, 1914. 
John O. Roberts, on the contrary, leans in his sympathy towards the 
Die Vernon. 

^^'' Burlington Post, August 15, 22, 1914; The Minnesotian (St. 
Paul), June 18, 25, July 2, 1853. For the exact distance the writer has 
used the official mileage given in the Light List Upper Mississippi River 
and Tributaries (Thirteenth District), Washington, 1930. 

^^^ Bitrlington Post, August 15, 22, 1914. 


Notes and References 

^^^ Blakcley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the 
Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, 
Vol. VIII, pp. 393-395. 

360 Pqj. 2JJ extended account of the excursion of 18 J4, see Farnam's 
Memoir of Henry Farnam, pp. 69-89 (New Haven, 1889). See also 
the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, June 20, 18 54, and Leonard's 
A Famous Rock Island Trip in the Rock Island Magazine, Vol. XXII, 
p. 9. 

^°^ Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 1, 18 54; Daily Minnesota Pioneer 
(St. Paul), June 9, 18 54; The Minnesotian (St. Paul), June 9, 18 54. 

^^-The Minnesotian (St. Paul), June 9, 18 54. 

^^^ Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 5, 6, 7, 18 54; New York 
Tribune, June 9, 13, 1854. 

^^^ Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 8, 9, 18 54; New York Tribune, 
June 13, 18 54. Authorities vary as to the number of additional boats 
chartered by the Minnesota Packet Company, but most sources indi- 
cate that one or two were added to the original five. Dana asserts that 
one was added; Flint notes the Jenny Lind and the Black Warrior, prob- 
ably the Black Hawk. Miss Sedgwick recorded seven steamboats in the 
flotilla which left Rock Island. 

^"^ Daily Tribune (Chicago) , June 7, 8, 1854; Sedgwick's The Great 
Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in Putnam's Monthly Magazine, 
Vol. IV, p. 322; The Minnesotian (St. Paul), June 9, 1854. 

^^^ Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 8, 18 54. 

^^'^ Sedgwick's The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in 
Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. IV, p. 320; New York Tribune, 
June 20, 18 54. 

^°^New York Tribune, June 20, 18 54; Daily Tribune (Chicago), 
June 8, 18 54. 

^^^New York Tribune, June 20, 1854. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^° Sedgwick's The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in 
Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. IV, p. 323; Bill's When Rock Island 
Road Reached River, The Famous Excursion Train of 1854, in the 
Burlington Post, September 23, 1922; Paulding's The Mississippi in 
Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXII, p. 219. 

^^^ Sedgwick's The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in 
Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. IV, p. 323; New York Tribune, 
June 6, 20, 18 54. 

^''^ Sedgwick's The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in 
Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. IV, p. 323; New York Tribune, June 
20, 18 54; Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 13, 1854. 

^''^ Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 13, 18 54; New York Tribune, 
June 20, 18 54. 

^''■'The Minnesotian (St. Paul), June 9, 18 54. 

3" j^ew York Tribune, June 20, 18 54. 

^'^^ Galena Jeffersonian, quoted in the Daily Tribune (Chicago), 
June 16, 18 54; Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 13, 1854. 

^'^'' The Minnesotian (St. Paul), June 9, 1854; New York Tribune, 
June 20, 18 54. 

^''^ Minnesota Pioneer, June 10, 19, 30, 1854; Daily Tribune (Chi- 
cago), June 13, 16, 1854; New York Tribune, June 20, 1854. 

^^^ Farnam's Memoir of Henry Farnam, p. 88. 

^^° Sedgv/ick's The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in 
Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. IV, p. 323; Neiv York Tribune, 
June 20, 18 54. 

^®^ Bill's When Rock Island Road Reached River, The Famous Ex- 
cursion Train of 1854, in the Burlington Post, September 23, 1922; 
New York Tribune, June 20, 18 54; Sedgwick's The Great Excursion 
to the Falls of St. Anthony in Putnam's Mcntthly Magazine, Vol. IV, 
p. 320; Farnam's Memoir of Henry Farnam, pp. 86, 87. For an inter- 


Notes and References 

esting account of the steward's duties, see Merrick's Old Times on the 
Upper Mississippi, pp. 126-129. 

^^^ Sedgwick's The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in 
Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. IV, p. 323. 

^^^New York Tribune, June 20, 18 54. 

^^^ Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 13, 1854; New York Tribune, 
June 20, 18 54. 

^®^ Sedgwick's The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony in 
Putnam's Monthly Magazine, Vol. IV, p. 322; New York Tribune, 
June 23, 18 54. 

^^^The Minncsotian (St. Paul), October 12, 14, 18, 1858; The 
Bubuque Herald, July 24, 31, 1860, July 14, 17, 1866; Bill's William 
H. Seward's Visit to Minnesota in 1860 in the Burlington Post, Novem- 
ber 25, 1922; Blegen's Campaigning with Seward in I860 in Minnesota 
History, Vol. VIII, pp. 150-171. 

^®' Sutcliflfe's Robert Fulton, p. 13 8; Scharf's History of Saint 
Louis, Vol. II, p. 1094. 

^^^ Missouri Gazette (St. Louis), June 9, 1819, quoted in Gould's 
Fifty Years on the Mississippi, p. 116. 

^^9 The History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois ( 1 878 ), pp. 2 54, 2 5 5 ; 
The History of Dubuque Cojinty, Iowa (1880), p. 336. Military expe- 
ditions observed the Fourth of July previous to this date, viz., Kearny 
in 1820. The American flag was also raised at Fort Madison and by 
military expeditions such as that of Zebulon M. Pike. 

390 Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 29, 1839. 

*^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 10, 1849. 

^^^The Winona Republican, June 24, July 8, 1856. 

^■'^ The Dubiique Herald, July 3, 6, 7, 11, 1860. 

^^'The Herald (Dubuque), July 4, 1866, July 4, 1867; Weekly 
Gate City (Keokuk), May 20, 1874. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^^ A manuscript in the possession of the Missouri Historical 
Society, Jefferson Memorial Lihrar)^ St. Louis, Missouri. 

39fi Price's The Execution of Patrick O'Coivior in The Palimpsest, 
Vol. I, p. 94. 

^^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), September 3, 7, 18 5 8; 
The Herald (Dubuque), September 30, 1869. 

3^^ The Herald (Dubuque) , July 4, 1867, September 29, 30, October 
4, 5, 1868. 

^^^The Herald (Dubuque), June 16, July 3, 4, August 6, 1861, 
July 30, 1867, August 28, 1868. 

*°° Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), August 10, 24, 27, 18 58; 
The Duhique Herald, May 22, 23, 31, 1860. 

^^'^ Paullin's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, 
Plates 76-D, E, F, G, and 77-A, B, C. 

*°^ Van der Zee's The Roads and Highways of Territorial Iowa in 
The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. Ill, pp. 181-191; Bill's 
Ferry Boats on the Upper Mississippi in the Burlington Post, July 12, 
19, 26, 1924; Johnson's Crossing the Mississippi in The Palimpsest, Vol. 
I, pp. 169-182. 

*^^ Channing and Lansing's The Story of the Great Lakes, pp. 237, 
238, 254. The same authors declare that until 18 5 8 the Erie Canal was 
"the all-important transportation route between the Great Lakes and 
the Atlantic. Even the coming of the railroad did not take away its 
trade, and as late as 1862 the ton-mileage of canal traffic was more than 
double the combined ton-mileage of the New York Central and the 
Erie railroads." See pp. 263, 264. 

^'"'Niles' Register, Vol. LXXII, p. 263. 

*<*** Cole's The Era of the Civil War 1 848-1870 (Centennial History 
of Illinois, Vol. Ill), pp. 20-30. 

*°^ Petersen's Population Advance to the Mississippi in The Iowa 
Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XXXII, pp. 312-3 53. 


Notes and References 

^°^ Petersen's The Rock Island Comes in The Palimpsest, Vol. XIV, 
pp. 285-300. 

^°® Petersen's The Burlington Comes in The Palimpsest, Vol. XIV, 
pp. 381-395. 

^°^ Petersen's The North Western Comes in The Palimpsest, Vol. 
XIV, pp. 317-33 3; Petersen's The Illinois Central Comes in The Palimp- 
sest, Vol. XIV, pp. 363-378. 

410 Petersen's The Burlington Comes in The Palimpsest, Vol. XIV, 
p. 394. 

*^^ Petersen's The Milwaukee Comes in The Palimpsest, Vol. XIV, 
pp. 413-428. 

*^^ Raney's The Building of Wisconsin Railroads in The Wisconsin 
Magazine of History, Vol. XIX, p. 392. 

*^^ Paullin's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, 
Plate 139-B. 

■*^* Raney's The Building of Wisconsin Railroads in The Wisconsin 
Magazine of History, Vol. XIX, p. 393. 

*^^ Census of the United States, 1860, Mortality and Miscellaneous 
Statistics, p. XX ; Paullin's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the 
United States, Plates 62-B, 64-A, 76-F, 77-B, 138-K, 138-L, 139-A, 

*^° Murray's Travels in North America during the Years 1854, 
1835, 6n 1836, Vol. I, p. 148. 

*^' Marryat's A Diary in America, Vol. I, pp. 142, 143. 

*" Hall's Travels in the United States, Vol. I, pp. 146, 147. 

^^^Niles' Register, Vol. LXVIII, p. 247. 

*"° Paulding's The Mississippi in Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXII, p. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^-'^ Chicago Democrat, November 26, 1833; The Chicago Daily 
News Almanac and Year-Book, 1927, pp. 270, 271. 

*^^ Quoted in the Chicago Democrat, November 26, 1833. 

*-^ Greeen River Advocate ( Hopkins ville, Kentucky), quoted in the 
Chicago Democrat, November 26, 183 3; Lindley's Indiana as Seen by 
Early Travelers in Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 523. 

"*Marryat's A Diary in America, Vol. II, pp. 207, 208. 

■^-^ Quoted in Baird's Yictv of the Valley of the Mississippi, or the 
Emigrant's and Traveller's Guide to the West, pp. 3 59, 360. 

■^^^ Hall's The West: Its Commerce and Navigation, pp. 146-148; 
Baird's Yieiu of the Valley of the Mississippi, or the Emigrant's and 
Traveller's Guide to the West, p. 3 52. 

*'^'' Fiagg's The Far West : or, A Tour Beyond the Mountains, Vol. 
t, pp. 54, 5 5. 

*^® Quoted in Parker's Iowa as It Is in 1857, p. 63. 

429 pj-om the Iowa City Reporter, quoted in Parker's lou/a as It Is in 
1857, p. 55. 

*^'^ Rock Island News, May 26, 18 5 5, quoted in the Muscatine 
Journal, May 30, 18 5 5. 

^^^Niles' Register, Vol. LXXI, p. 281. 

432 Prom the Burlington Telegraph, quoted in the Muscatine Journal, 
October 11, 1854. 

*^^ Quoted in Parker's Iowa as It Is in 7 557, p. 57. 

*^* Muscatine Journal, October 27, 18 5 5. 

*^^ Quoted in Parker's loua as It Is in 1857, pp. 56, 57. 

^^'^ Rock Island News, May 26, 18 5 5, quoted in the Muscatine 
Journal, May 30, 18 5 5. 

*^^ Quoted in Parker's Iowa as It Is in 1857, p. 57. 


Notes and References 

*=>« Parker's Iowa as It Is in 1857, pp. 57-59. 

*^^Des Moines Valley Whig (Keokuk), May 15, 18 51. 

^^'^ Quoted in Parker's Iowa as It Is in 1857, p. 56. 

"^Quoted in the Des Moines Valley Whig (Keokuk), October 30, 

**- Muscatine Journal, March 3, 18 54. 

**^ Muscatine Democratic Enquirer, July 19, 18 51. 

"* Regan's The Western Wilds of America, pp. 401-404. 

**^ Census of the United States, 1860, MortaHty and Miscellaneous 
Statistics, p. li. 

^**Marryat's A Diary in America, Vol. I, pp. 123, 124; Murray's 
Travels in North America during the Years 18)4, 18^5 ,&• 1836, Vol. 
I, p. 197. 

*^' Census of the United States, 1860, Mortality and Miscellaneous 
Statistics, pp. ii-lviii; Marryat's A Diary in America, Vol. I, p. 17. 

**^ Census of the United States, 1860, Mortality and Miscellaneous 
Statistics, p. li; Bremer's The Homes of the New World, Vol. I, pp. 
554, 555. Miss Bremer's letters covered the years 1849-1853. Her book 
appeared in 18 53. 

*^^ Census of the United States, 1860, Mortality and Miscellaneous 
Statistics, p. li. 

^''^ Mann's The Emigrant's Complete Guide to Port Stephens, Van 
Dieman's Land, New Zealand; The Cape of Good Hope and Natal; 
Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, pp. 61-68 (Canadian sec- 

*" Niles' Register, Vol. LXXIII, pp. 78, 80; Willcox's International 
Migrations, Vol. I, p. 360. 

*^' Niles' Register, Vol. LXXII, p. 370. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

"^ From the Buffalo Courier, quoted in Niles' Register, Vol. LXXII, 
p. 263; Mann's The Emigrant's Guide to Port Stephens, etc., p. 68 
(Canadian section); "Willcox's International Migrations, Vol. I, p. 360. 

*°* Racder's Avterica in the Forties, pp. 1, 2; Baird's Yiew of the 
Valley of the Mississippi, or the Emigrant's and Traveller's Guide to 
the West, pp. 349-3 52; Steele's Western Guide Book, and Emigrant's 
Directory, pp. 5-11; Regan's The Western Wilds of America, pp. 403, 
404;Newhairs The British Emigrant's "Hand Book", p. 96. 

*'^^ Rynning's Trtie Account of America, pp. 98, 99. 

*^^ Oliphant's Minnesota and the Far West, pp. 102-104. 

^"^ For a vivid description of such a trip, see Raeder's America in 
the Forties, pp. 3, 4. 

^^® See Marryat's A Diary in America, Vol. I, pp. 172, 173, Vol. II, 
pp. 40, 41. 

^'^^ Bremer's The Homes of the New World, Vol. I, p. 597. 

**° Ferguson's America: By River and Rail, p. 434. 

*^' Niles' Register, Vol. LXXII, p. 281. 

"^^^ Ambler's Transportation in the Ohio Y alley, p. 147; Hulbert's 
The Great American Canals (Historic Highways of America, Vol. 
XIII), pp. 169-215. 

^""^ Niles' Register, Vol. LXXIII, p. 48. 

*®*Janson's The Background of Swedish Immigration, 1840-1930, 
p. 129; Flom's The Early Swedish Immigration to Iowa in The Iowa 
journal of History and Politics, Vol. Ill, pp. 602-604. 

*^^ For accounts of the Swiss immigration, see Duerst's Diary of 
one of the Original Colonists of New Glarus, 1845, in Wisconsin His- 
torical Collections, Vol. XV, pp. 310-325; Luchsinger's The Swiss 
Colony of New Glarus in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, 
pp. 416-418. 


Notes and References 

''® Regan's The Western Wilds of America, pp. 401-404. 

» *''^^eck's A New Guide for Emigrants to the West, p. 36 5. 

**®Newhairs The British Emigrant's "Hand Book", pp. 95, 96. 

■"^^ Rauschenbusch's Einige Anweisungen fiir Auswanderer (Elbcr- 
feld, 1848), p. 50; Kargan's St. Louis in friiheren Ja/jren. Ein Gedenk- 
buch fiir das Deutscbfhjim, p. 311; Baird's View of the Valley of the 
Mississippi, pp. 358, 363, 364; Regan's The Western Wilds of America, 
pp. 401-404; Williams' Apple ton's Southern and Western Travellers' 
Guide, pp. 136-138. 

*^° Letter of Hendrick Barendregt to Henry P. Scholte, dated St. 
Louis, December, 1846, quoted in Van der Zee's The Hollanders of 
Iowa, pp. 339-343. 

^'^ Regan's The Western Wilds of America, p. 25. 

*"' Mann's The Emigrant's Complete Guide to the United States, pp. 
56, 57; Raeder's Am-erica in the Forties, pp. 2, 3; The British Mechanic's 
and Labourer's Hand Book, and True Guide to the United States, pp. 
41-46; Kapp's Immigration and the Commissioners of Emigration of 
the State of New York, pp. 62-64. 

*" Bremer's The Homes of the New World, Vol. I, pp. 68, 69. 

*'* Pearson's An /American Railroad Builder: John Murray Forbes, 
pp. 67-69. 

^'"^The Herald (Dubuque), June 16, 1867. 

^'® This story was told to the writer by Captain Holstrom while 
he was making a stormy and thrilUng trip across Lake Pepin in 1928. 

*''"' Petersen's To the Land of Black Hawk in The Palimpsest, Vol. 
XIV, pp. 53-68; PauUin's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the 
United States, Plates 76-F, 76-G, 77-A; The World Almanac, 1932, p. 
386; Quaife's Wisconsin: Its History and Its People 1634-1924, Vol. 
I, p. 442. 

*'^ Census of the United States, 1850, pp. XXXVI-XXXVIII, 663, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

717, 925, 948, 996, 1870, p. 299; Parker's Iowa an It h in 185 5, pp. 
52-61; Illinois State Gazette and Business Directory, For the Years 
1864-65, pp. 52-54. 

*"Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, p. 1128; Peck's Annals 
of the West, p. 761. 

'^^^Tbe Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), November 18, 20, 
18 58; Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, pp. 1126, 1129; Blake- 
ley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the Advent of 
Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, 
p. 406. 

*^^ The short line packet remained a favorite type and was used 
extensively by the principal corporations in connection with their 
through trade. In addition to these lines between St. Louis and Keokuk, 
runs were made between such ports as Fort Madison and Davenport, 
Davenport and Dubuque, Savanna and Dubuque, Dubuque and St. 
Paul, Prairie du Chien and St. Paul, and La Crosse and St. Paul. Some 
lines had even shorter runs. 

*«2 Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, pp. 1115-1123; The 
Daily Gate City (Keokuk), March 8, 18 56; The Dubtique Herald, 
March 16, 1860, March 23, 1861. 

"^ Census of the United States, 1870, Vol. I, pp. 23, 27, 28, 40, 43, 
44, 73. 

*^* Bishop's Floral Home; or, First Years of Minnesota, p. 125; John- 
son's Fort Snelling from its Foundation to the Present Time in Minne- 
sota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, p. 431. 

^^^The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), July 26, 1849. 

*^® Lanman's A Summer in the Wilderness, p. 13. 

^" The Diary of Philip Hone, 1828-1851, Vol. II, p. 809. 

"8 Bremer's The Homes of the Ncti^ World, Vol. II, pp. 84, 8 8. 

*^^ Memoranda &c. Jowncy from Baltim[or]e to Sf. Patd's Minne- 


Notes and References 

sota, May 7 to June 20, 1851. This manuscript is in possession of the 
Minnesota Historical Society. 

^®° Lanman's A Summer in the Wilderness, p. 30. 

*^^ Galena Daily Advertiser, July 19, 1851; Gallaher's Icaria and the 
Icarians in The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp. 97-112. 

^^' Weekly Norllnvestern Gazette (Galena), March 24, 1851; Ga- 
lena Daily Advertiser, July 9, 18, 29, September 13, October 28, 1851; 
The Minnesota Democrat (St Paul), August 12, 19, 18 51. 

*^^ Ellet's Summer Rambles in the West, pp. 47, 48. 

*-'*The Minnesotian (St. Paul), May 14, June 11, 18, 25, 1853; 
Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, p. 1128. 

^9'' J<lew York Semi-Weekly Tribune, June 20, 18 54. 

*^« Parker's Iowa as It Is in 1855, pp. 52-61. 

*^'' The Daily Tribune (Chicago), June 2, 1854; Daily Express and 
Herald (Dubuque), November 29, 185 5; The Daily Minnesota Pioneer 
(St. Paul), May 27, 30, 1854; T?arki:r's Iowa as It Is in 1855, pp. 52-61. 

^3« The Winona Republican, May 6, 1856. 

*°^ Bishop's Floral Home; or. First Years of Minnesota, pp. 174, 175. 

^<'<* Parker's Minnesota Handbook for 1856-7, pp. 9, 10. 

"°^ Andrews' Minnesota and Dacotah (1857), pp. 29, 30. 

^°- Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), May 8, 1857. 

^°^The Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), April 17, July 8, 

^^*Red Wing Republican, August 13, September 3, 18 58. 

^°'' Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque) , August 5, 18 58. 

'^^'^ The Herald (Dubuque), June 20, 21, 23, 27, 1866. 

^°^ The Herald (Dubuque), July 31, 1867. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^°« The Herald (Dubuque), April 28, May 21, June 2, 15, 19, 1867. 

^"^^The Herald (Dubuque), June 20, 24, 1868. 

^i°r/>? Herald (Dubuque), July 11, 17, 20, 24, 25, August 3, 4, 
5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 19, 25, 1869. 

^^^ Marryat's A D/flr;y /« America, Vol. II, p. 143. 

^^^ Galena Daily Advertiser, April 2, 3, 1849; Missouri Republican 
(St. Louis), September 20, 1824; Northwestern Gazette and Galena 
Advertiser, August 24, 1847; Peck's Annals of the West, p. 808. 

^^3 Weekly Nortfnvestcrn Gazette (Galena), September 7, December 
11, 1849, July 9, 16, 1850. 

^^- Memoranda &c. Journey from Baltimore to St. Paul's Minnesota, 
May 7 to June 20th, 1851 (manuscript in possession of the Minnesota 
Historical Society); The Daily Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), June 
17, 1854. 

^'=r/je Herald (Dubuque), August 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 1866. 

^^^The Herald (Dubuque), August 19, 26, 30, 1866. 

^^^ Raeder's America in the Forties, p. 120. 

^^^ Seymour's Sketches of Minnesota, p. 69; Coolbaugh's Reminis- 
cences of the Early Days of Minnesota, 1851 to 1861, in Minnesota His- 
torical Collections, Vol. XV, p. 483. 

^^® Raeder's America in the Forties, p. 121; Oliphant's Minnesota 
and the Far West, p. 295. 

^-° Ellet's Summer Rambles iti the West, pp. 170, 171. 

^^^ Ellet's Sum^ner Rambles ift the West, p. 170. 

^'^ Blegen's Campaigning ivith Seward in 1860 in Minnesota History, 
Vol. VIII, pp. 150-171. Copies of the original diaries are in the pos- 
session of the Minnesota Historical Society. 

^-'^ Pond's Tii^o Volunteer Missionaries Among the Dakotas, pp. 14 


Notes and References 

et passim; Pond Manuscript, 1S}}-18}9 (in possession of the Minne- 
sota Historical Society) . 

^-* Atwater's Western Antiquities, p. 228. 

"° Regan's The Western Wilds of America, pp. 31, 32. 

^-^ Raeder's America in the Forties, pp. 122, 123. 

^-^ Andrews' Minnesota and Dacofab, pp. 30, 31. 

*-® Oliphant's Minnesota and the Far West, p. 294. 

^-^ The Herald (Dubuque), February 19, 1869, March 31, 1870. 

^^'^ Raeder's Atnerica in the Forties, pp. 121, 122. 

'^'^ Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, 
Enrolment 46, May 16, 1846, Enrolment 33, March 23, 18 52, Enrol- 
ment 36, April 9, 1852; Ellet's Summer Rambles in the West, pp. 59, 
60; The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), June 17, 1852. 

^^^ The Minnesotian (St. Paul), April 15, 18 54. 

533 Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Board of 
Supervising Inspectors (Washington, 1869), pp. 171-189; Burlington 
Post, October 25, November 1, 1919. 

^^* Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, September 5, 
1845, May 8, 1846; Weekly Northwestern Gazette (Galena), June 10, 
1851; Galena Daily Advertiser, September 2 5, 1851; The Minnesota 
Democrat (St. Paul), June 10, 1851; The Winona Republican, April 
29, 18 56; The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), November 8, 1849, June 
12, 1851. 

^^^ The Daily Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), August 5, 18 54, April 
10, 1855; The Minnesotian (St. Paul), June 25, 1853, October 8, 
1853; The Winona Republican, June 17, 18 56. 

^^^lowa Neius (Dubuque), August 19, 26, 1837; Northwestern Ga- 
zette and Galena Advertiser, August 19, 26, 1837. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^''Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, October li, 1344, 
June 4, 1847. 

^"^ Muscatine Journal, quoted in The Minnesotian (St. Paul), July 
2, 18 53; The Minnesota Vioneer (St. Paul), October 17, 1850; North- 
western Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 10, 13, 1845. 

■''^''Regan's The Western Wilds of America, pp. 33, 34; Galena 
Daily Advertiser, March 26, 29, 1849; The Daily Pioneer and Demo- 
crat (St. Paul), October 6, 1857; Dtibuque Daily Times, October 8, 

'**" Galena Daily Advertiser, May 19, 1849; Scharf's History of Saint 
Louis, Vol. II, pp. 1110, 1111. 

^*^ Btirlington Post, June 12, 1915, October 25, November 1, 1919; 
Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), July 3, 18 5 8. 

^'~ The New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, June 20, 18 54; The Min- 
nesotian (St. Paul), May 21, 1853. 

^*^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), June 5, August 2, 20, 
1857, September 15, 19, 1857, March 17, 1858. 

^^^ Blegcn's Campaigning tuith Seward in 2 S 60 in Minnesota History, 
Vol. VIII, p. 167. 

^^° Galena Daily Advertiser, quoted in The Henderson Democrat, 
June 10, 1856; The Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), April 30, 
18 57; The Herald (Dubuque), May 7, 1867. 

**^ Quoted in Parker's Minnesota Handbook, pp. 108, 109. 

*^^ Seymour's Sketches of Minnesota, p. 69. 

^^^Pond Manuscript, 1833-1839, pp. 3, 4. 

^*^ Baird's View of the Valley of the Mississippi, or the Emigrant's 
and Traveller's Guide to the West, pp. 363-365. 

'^^^ Peck's A New Guide for Emigrants, pp. 372, 373. 

^'^^ A True Picture of Emigration (G. Berger, London, 1S48), p. 17. 


Notes and References 

°^^ Davidson's /« Unnamed Wisconsin, p. 18 5. 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 3, 1845. 

**"' The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), July 3, 22, 1852. 

6-'5 Williams' A History of the City of St. Pan!, and of the County 
of Ramsey, Minnesota, in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. IV, p. 

°^^ Balance sheet of the Milwaukee dated November 19, 1857, and 
November 1, 1859; balance sheet of the Ocean Wave dated September 
30, 18 58; statement of the Prairie du Chien, Hudson, & St. Paul Packet 
Company affairs up to December 19, 1857. Photostats of these papers 
are in possession of the writer from originals in the Dousman Papers, 
Minnesota Historical Society Library at St. Paul. 

^^' Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), February 17, June 12, 

^^^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), April 7, 1858, February 
17, 1859. 

^^^ The writer has a photostat of the original which is among the 
Dousman Papers in possession of the Minnesota Historical Society 

"T/?>e Herald (Dubuque), March 15, 1866. 

"^^ Photostat of the balance sheet of the Northwestern Union Packet 
GDmpany, January, 18 58, from the original in the Dousman Papers, 
Minnesota Historical Society Library. 

^^^The Herald (Dubuque), June 18, July 12, 1868. 

"^^ Some bills of lading in the possession of the writer. 

'^^ Bremer's Homes of the New World, Vol. II, pp. 172, 173. 

^^^The Minnesota Democrat (St. Paul), June 17, July 22, 1851; 
The Minnesotian (St. Paul), October 1, 1853; The Daily Pioneer and 
Democrat (St. Paul), May 16, 21, 1857; Express & Herald (Dubuque), 
May 19, 28, 1857, September 7, 1858. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^^Folsom's Fifty Years in the Northwest, pp. 92-98. 

^^'' Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), May 7, June 2, 1857. 

^^^ Charles Minney has furnished the writer with this information 
from a manuscript bill of lading in the Dousman Home at Prairie du 

^^^ The Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), September 9, 18 52. 

^''' Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), July 16, 17, 1858. 

^'''^ Daily Minnesotian (St. Paul), October 25, November 19, 1858. 

^'''^ Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), May 13, 1857; The 
Herald (Dubuque), June 19, 26, 27, 1866. 

"' The Herald (Dubuque) , May 26, Junte 16, July 11, 14, 24, 1867, 
July 24, 1869. 

'^''^Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque) October 24, 1857; The 
Herald (Dubuque), September 11, 19, 25, November 6, 10, 14, 1866, 
August 25, 31, September 1, 7, 8, 14, 25, 28, October 5, 13, 28, 30, 
November 2, 12, 1869; Daily Times (Dubuque), November 3, 8, 16, 

^''^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), August 11, 1857. The 
issue for April 31, 18 57, contains an excellent example of receipts at 
the "Port of Dubuque" from St. Louis and Cincinnati. The Orb 
brought tobacco, snuff, salt, boots and shoes, glazed sash, bureaus, 
plows, stoneware, coffee, bed cords, and a miscellaneous array of mer- 
chandise from St. Louis. From the same port the Minnesota Belle 
brought hams, Kquors, an engine and boiler. The Northern Light trans- 
ported from Cincinnati ofiice chairs, bedsteads, springs, rockers, nurse 
rockers, walnut stands, center tables, children's chairs, willow and 
stuffed chairs, sofas, divans, mattresses, ottomans, brooms, soap, cur- 
rants, dried apples, sugar, rice, coffee, carpets, oilcloth, codfish, cheese, 
herring, tea, soda, whiskey, beans, peaches, fish, mustard, sweet potatoes, 
lemons, and drugs, stoves, bedsteads, washstands, office tables, looking 
glass, trunks (both empty and filled), chests, corks, pumice stone, 


Notes and References 

trundle beds, bookcases, wagons, glassware, hogs and dogs, cows and 

°'^ The manifest of the steamboat Rosalie illustrates the large number 
of ports a steamboat called on during the course of her journey from 
St. Louis to St. Paul. After visiting most of the ports between St. Louis 
and Dubuque and discharging 40 tons at the latter port, the Rosalie 
sank on a pile of rocks at Dunleith. An examination of her manifest 
shows that she still contained goods for Clayton City, McGregor's 
Landing, Lansing, La Crosse, Winona, Fountain City, Minneiska, Lake 
City, Red Wing, Prescott, Hastings, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and St. 
Anthony. Among the hundreds of items listed were stoves, wagons, 
buggies, boilers, glassware, corn, whiskey, salt, fish, pickles, bedsteads, 
furniture, and a piano. See Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque) , July 
7, 1857. 

^'^ The Herald (Dubuque), September 28, October 1, 3, 5, 6, 1869. 

^''^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), May 13, 18 56, June 3, 

"'' The Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), May 24, 26, 1857. 

^^° The Winona Republican, quoted in the Goodhue County Republi- 
can (Red Wing), May 25, 1860. 

=«^ The Herald (Dubuque), April 1, August 29, October 23, 1869. 

^^' Muscatine Journal, quoted in The Dubuque Herald, July 12, 

^^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, October 9, 1849; 
The Minnesota Democrat (St. Paul), June 17, 1851; The Herald 
(Dubuque), October 21, 1869. 

^^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), March 8, 1831. 

^^'^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 16, 23, 18 51, 
and the Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), April 24, 18 51, quoting a dis- 
patch from the Cincinnati Commercial Advertiser. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^^ Le Due's Minnesota at the Crystal Palace Exhibition, New York, 
1853, in the Minnesota History Bulletin, Vol. I, pp. 3 51-368. 

^^' The Dubiique Herald, August 21, 29, 1861. 

^^^The Dubuque Herald, June 8, 1862. 

^^^ Gould's Fifty Years on the Mississippi, pp. 604, 605; Blakeley's 
History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the Advent of Com- 
merce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, 
pp. 415, 416. 

^^'^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), July 1, 1828, Miner's Journal 
(Galena), July 22, 1828; Burlington Post, June 1, 1918. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), July 1, 1828. The activity of 
the Red Rover and other boats is chronicled in the column of daily 
arrivals and departures. 

'^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), April 14, 1829. 

°^^ Atwater's Western Antiquities, pp. 229-237. 

^'^^ Atwater's Western Antiquities, pp. 238, 239; Miner's Journal 
(Galena), October 10, 1829. The Red Rover was still plying in the 
lead trade in late October. — Miner's Journal (Galena), November 3, 

^^'^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), July 27, 1830. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), August 9, 1831; Enrolment of 
Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, Vol. II, 1831-183 5, 
Temporary Enrolment 6, February 16, 1833. The Winnebago was built 
at Pittsburgh in 1831. She was 111 feet 7 inches long, 17 feet 10 inches 
beam, 4 feet 10 inches hold, and measured 91 tons. 

^^'^ Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, 
Vol. II, 1831-1835. Enrolments 30 and 31, on June 2, 1832, reveal 
the measurements and ownership of the Warrior and her barge. Accord- 
ing to Edward Jones, the Surveyor at Pittsburgh, the safety barge had 
a square stern, a cabin above deck, and a plain figure. 


Notes and References 

^''^ Miles' Register, Vol. XXXI, p. 304. 

^^^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), October 2S, 1827. Her safety 
barge was named the Lady Washington. According to the Missouri 
Republican of March 4, 1828, the Missouri also towed a safety barge. 

^"° Niles' Register, Vol. XLIII, pp. 12, 13; Missouri Republican (St. 
Louis), May 29, June 26, July 10, August 14, 1832. 

^"^ Nilcs' Register, Vol. XLIII, pp. 12, 13, 51; Missojiri Republican 
(St. Louis), August 14, 1832; Stevens' The Black Hawk War, p. 227. 

^'''Missouri Repjiblican (St. Louis), September 11, 1832. 

^"^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), July 12, 1833. 

•'o* Niles' Register, Vol. XLIII, p. 4. 

^'^'^ Northivestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, May 14, 1836; 
Du Buque Visitor, May 11, 18, 1836. 

606 jsforthwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 11, 1836; Du 
Buque Visitor, June 8, 1836; Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Cus- 
toms Office, Pittsburgh, Vol. Ill, 183 5-1839, Enrolment 34, May 5, 
1836. The St. Peters was built at Pittsburgh in 183 6 and was owned 
by Joseph Throckmorton and the firm of Hempstead and Beebe, all of 
St. Louis. She was 139 feet long, 18 feet 8 inches beam, 5 feet 9 inches 
hold, and measured 119 tons. Merrick is in error in his data on the 
St. Peters in the Burlington Post, August 10, 1918. 

'^°" The Ariel appeared first and seems to have been commanded by 
at least three of her owners the first season : Throckmorton, McNeal, 
and Waggoner. — Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, 
Pittsburgh, Vol. Ill, 183 5-1839, Enrolment 24, March 13, 1837. The 
Ariel was launched at Pittsburgh in the spring of 1837. She was cap- 
tained by George McNeal, an owner. The others were Throckmorton, 
Hempstead, Chouteau, and Isaac Newton Waggoner of Illinois. The 
Ariel was 12 5 feet long, 17| feet beam, 4^ feet in the hold, and 
measured 95 tons. 

608 Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Vol. Ill, 1835-1839, Enrolment 54, May 27, 1837. The Burlington was 
built at Pittsburgh in 1837 and was owned by Joseph Throckmorton, 
Pierre Chouteau, Jr., and the firm of Hempstead and Beebe, all of St. 
Louis. She was 150 feet long, 23 i feet in width, with a 6-foot hold, 
and measured 200 tons. She had a double rudder stern. 

^^^ Iowa News (Dubuque), June 3, 10, 17, 24, 1837; Northwestern 
Gazette and Galena Advertiser, September 30, 1837; Neill's Occur- 
rences in and around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 1840, in Minnesota 
Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 13 3, 134. 

®^'* Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, 
Vol. Ill, 183 5-1839, Enrolment 73, April 30, 1839. The Malta was 
built at Pittsburgh in 1839. She was 140 feet long, had a 22-foot beam, 
and a 5 -foot hold, and measured 114 tons. She was owned by Throck- 
morton and Pierre Chouteau, Jr., of St. Louis. 

^^'^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 5, 1840. 

^^'^ Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 8. 

^^^ Burlington Post, April 21, 1917. 

^^* Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, 
Vol VI, 1841-1845, Enrolment 81, March 25, 1842. The General 
Brooke was built at Pittsburgh in 1842. She was 144 feet long, 20 feet 
in breadth, 5 feet 2 inches hold, and measured 143 tons. She was owned 
by Joseph Throckmorton, John Sanford, John B. Sarpy, Kemieth 
Mackenzie, all of St. Louis, and Hercules L. Dousman of Prairie du 

^^^ Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 8. 

^^^ Miners' Express (Dubuque), May 12, 1843; Burlington Post, 
July 10, 1915. 

^^' Burlington Post, July 10, 1915. 

®^^ Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, 


Notes and References 

Enrolment 43, January 29, 1845. The Nimrod was built at St. Louis in 
1844 and was owned by Joseph Throckmorton, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., 
and John B. Sarpy. She was 156 feet long, 2 5 feet 10 inches broad, 5^ 
feet in depth, and measured 210 tons. 

®'^ Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, En- 
rolment 95, August 8, 1845. The Cecilia was built at Pittsburgh in 
1841 and was owned solely by Joseph Throckmorton. She was 140 feet 
long, 20 feet 9 inches in breadth, 4 feet 5 inches in depth, and meas- 
ured 111 tons. 

^^"Neill's Occurrences in and around Fort Snelling, From 1819 to 
1840, in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 136; Burlington 
Post, November 1, 1913. 

^-^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 26, July 3, 

f-2 Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, En- 
rolment 101, September 29, 1846. Built at Rock Island in 1846, the 
Cora was 139 feet 8 inches long, 23 feet beam, 4 feet 9 inches hold, 
measured 144 tons, and was owned solely by Throckmorton. 

^'^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, October 9, 1846; 
Burlington Hawk-Eye, April 20, 1884; Burlington Post, May 30, 1914. 

®^* Blakeley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the 
Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, 
Vol. VIII, pp. 415, 416. 

'^-'^ Miner's Journal (Galena), April 10, 1830. 

^^'^ Missouri Republican (St. Louis), April 30, 1833. 

®'^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, March 3, May 14, 
1836; Du Buque Visitor, May 2 5, August 3, September 7, 1836; Iowa 
News (Dubuque), June 17, July 1, 8, August 5, 1837. 

""-^Red Wing Republican, March 26, 1858. 

^''^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), April 2, 1858. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^"^ Galena Gazette, March 17, 1893; Burlington Post, February 9, 

^^^ Meeker's Early History of Lead Region of Wisconsin in Wiscon- 
sin Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 277-279. 

^^- Miner's Journal (Galena), October 3, 1829; Niles' Register, 
Vol. LXIII, p. 388; Burlington Post, June 5, 1915, February 9, 1918; 
Galena Gazette, March 17, 1893; History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois, 
(1878), pp. 240, 241. 

''^^The History of Lee County, Iowa (1879), pp. 342-344; Galena 
Gazette, March 17, 1893. 

63* Burlington Post, September 9, 191b; Map of the Mississippi River 
from the Falls of St. Anthony to the Junction of the Missouri River. 

^^^Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, En- 
rolment 21, July 7, 1835; Galena Gazette, March 17, 1893; Missouri 
Republican (St. Louis), May 23, 183 5, quoted in Niles' Register, Vol. 
XL VIII, p. 2 50. Merrick declares the Jo Daviess was a side-wheeler. 

^^^ Burlington Post, September 9, 1916; Galena Gazette, March 17, 

^^' Miner's Journal (Galena), July 3, 1830; Northwestern Gazette 
and Galena Advertiser, May 21, 1836. 

^^^ Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), April 25, 1350. 

^^'^ The Minnesotian (St. Paul), May 7, 1853; Petersen's Early 
History of Steamboating on the Minnesota River in Minnesota History, 
Vol. XI, pp. 123-144; Sishop's Floral Home: or. First Years of Minne- 
sota, pp. 298, 299. 

®^° Compilation of Upper Mississippi steamboats prepared by the 
writer. Merrick's Steamboats and Steamboatm^en of the Upper Missis- 
sippi in the Burlington Post, September 13, 1913, to December 6, 1919, 
is the most complete compilation accessible to the student. 

6" Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 9, 1836; Iowa 
News (Dubuque), June 10, July 15, 1837. 


Notes and References 

'^*- Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, March 28, April 
25, May 30, 1845; Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, 
St. Louis, Enrolment 14, March 5, 1845. 

^^^ Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), November 8, 15, 1849. 

^** Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 8. 

'^" Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, April 22, May 
13, 1837, April 22, 1839; Folsom's Fifty Years in the Northwest (St. 
Paul, 1888), p. 689; Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, 
Cincinnati, Enrolment 20, March 27, 1839. 

^^^ Miners' Express (Dubuque), June 25, 1845. 

^" Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Cincinnati, 
Enrolments 14 and 16, March 10, 17, 1844; Enrolment of Vessels, 
Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, Enrolment 2 5, March 17, 1844. 

^*® Letters from Hercules L. Dousman to Henry Hastings Sibley, 
May 3, November 20, 1844, March 30, May 9, 1845, in the Sibley 

^*^ Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, 
Enrolment 3 3, March 16, 1848; Blakeley's History of the Discovery 
of the Mississippi and the Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in 
Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 381-388. 

^50 Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis, 
Enrolment 44, April 4, 1849; Blakeley's History of the Discovery of 
the Mississippi and the Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minne- 
sota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 3 81, 3 82; Minnesota Pioneer 
(St. Paul), May 2, August 1, 15, 18 50. 

^'^"^ Minnesota Democrat (St. Paul), May 27, 1851. 

"^^^ Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), July 1, 22, 29, 18 52; Blakeley's 
History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the Advent of Com- 
merce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 
388, 389. 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

^^^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), January 15, 1859; Blake- 
ley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the Advent of 
Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, 
pp. 388, 389. 

^^^Thc Winona Republican, May 20, 27, June 3, 10, 17, 1856; 
Shako pee Independent, June 18, 18 56. 

^^^ Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), July 15, 1857. 

^^'^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, July 15, 1837; 
Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), July 29, 1852. 

^^''The Daily Minnesotian (St. Paul), October 9, 1858. 

^=^ The Dulncqtce Herald, May 10, 14, 22, 1861; Rock Island Argus, 
May 10, 1861; Des Moines Valley Whig (Keokuk), May 13, 1861; 
Daily Democrat and News (Davenport), May 10, 1861. 

"^^^ Burlington Post, October 30, 1915. 

""^"^ Galena Gazette, March 17, 1893. 

^^'^ Galena Gazette, March 17, 1893; The Minnesotian (St. Paul), 
May 7, 1853. 

^^^ Galena Gazette, March 17, 20, 1893; Burlington Post, May 31, 

^'^^ Field's History of the Atlantic Telegraph (1867), pp. 131-245; 
Briggs's The Story of the Telegraph, and a History of the Great At- 
lantic Cable (18 58), pp. 92-194. 

*^* Wilson's Telegraph Pioneering in The Palimpsest, Vol. VI, pp. 

^^^ Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), August 18, 1858. 

^^^The New International Encyclopedia (1921), Vol. II, pp. 322, 

^^' Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), August 17, 18 58; Light 
List Upper Mississippi and Tributaries, Thirteenth District, "Washington, 


Notes and References 

1930. The Queen's message of August 16th contained only the first 
paragraph but early on the morning of August 17th the complete 
message was forwarded. 

^^^Briggs's The Story of the Telegraph, pp. 187-188; Daily Minne- 
sotian (St. Paul), August 20, 18 58. 

^''^ Daily Express and Herald (Dubuque), August 17, 20, 21, 1858; 
The Dubuque Daily Times, August 21, 18 58; National Democrat (La 
Crosse), August 24, 1858; The Winona Republican, August 25, 1858, 
The "Winona editor pointed out that his extra containing the Queen's 
message actually appeared fifteen hours before St. Paul papers notified 
their readers and upbraided St. Paul editors for their claims. 

^'^° Red Wing Republican, August 20, 18 58; Transcript (Prescott, 
"Wisconsin), August 21, 18 58. 

^'•^ Daily Minnesotian (St. Paul), August 19, 20, 1858; St. Paul 
Daily Times, August 19, 18 5 8. 

^"Twain's Life on the Mississippi (1883), pp. 70-131, 152-192; 
De Voto's Mark Twaiti's America, pp. 26, 100-114. The writer dis- 
covered Mark Twain's pilot's Ucense at St. Louis during the summer 
of 1927 and has a letter of congratulation from a descendant of Mark 
Twain's — Cyril Clernens of California. 

^^^ In defense of Mr. Bixby it may be suggested that it is doubtful 
if another captain on western waters packed more thrilling episodes 
into a career of thirty- three years than did Daniel Smith Harris. 

*^* A good description of the work of the steamboat captain may 
be found in Merrick's Old Times on the Upper Mississippi, pp. 71-77. 

®^® Senate Docttments, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, 
p. 8. 

^"^^ Blakeley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the 
Advent of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, 
"Vol. "Vni, p. 415; Merrick and Tibbals' Genesis of Steam Navigation 
on Western Rivers in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of 
Wisconsin, 1911, p. 116 (also reprinted with the title. Genesis of 
Steamboating on Western rivers; with a Register of Officers on the 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Upper Mississippi 1823-1870) ; Price's Tbe Execuiion of O'Connor in 
The Palimpsest, Vol. I, pp. 90, 91; Burlington Post, June S, 1915. 

^'^^ Blakeley and Merrick have both compiled excellent lists of steam- 
boat captains for the period before the Civil War. To this the writer 
can add in number and supplement in amount of material about each, 
largely as a result of his researches in the various newspaper files. 

^^^ Hussey's History of Steamboating on the Des Moines River, 
From 1837 to 1862, in Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, p. 
365; Burlington Post, May 29, 1915. 

®^° Merrick and Tibbals' Genesis of Steam Navigation on Western 
Rivers in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 
1911, p. 114. 

^^'^ Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), September 26, 1850. 

^^^ Express and Herald (Dubuque), October 2, 1857. 

^*^ Weekly North Western Gazette (Galena), June 4, 18 50; Minne- 
sota Pioneer (St. Paul), April 10, 18 51. 

683 Merrick and Tibbals' Genesis of Steam Navigation on Western 
Rivers in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 
1911, pp. 114, 134. Laughton was born in London in 1823 and settled 
at Platteville, Wisconsin, in 1844. After serving as a seaman on the 
Great Lakes for two seasons, he began his river life in 18 52 as a mate 
aboard the Nominee. He was mate on the Galena for two seasons and 
then commanded such boats as the City Belle, the Galena, the Golden 
Era, the Northern Belle, the Mihvaiikee, the Alex Mitchell, and the 
Lticy Bertram. He died at Platteville in 1883. 

®** Merrick and Tibbals' Genesis of Steam Navigation on Western 
Rivers in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 
1911, pp. 131, 137; Wilkie's Davenport Past and Present, pp. 193-196. 

®^^ Folsom's Fifty Years in the Northwest, pp. 561, 562; Burlington 
Post, December 14, 1918. 

^^''' Burlington Post, January 30, 1915. 

^^^ Galena Advertiser, quoted in the Daily Express and Herald 
(Dubuque), May 21, 18 56; Merrick and Tibbals' Genesis of Steam 


Notes and References 

Navigation on Western Rivers in Proceedings of the State Historical 
Society of Wisconsin, 1911, pp. 126, 127. 

*** Men like "Diamond Jo" Reynolds and William F. Davidson had 
many and divergent interests. Each man contributed much to steam- 
boating and each is worthy of a volume by himself. 

'^^^ Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), April 28, 1849. Blakeley, basing 
his statement on data received from Philander Prescott, the Indian in- 
terpreter at Fort Snelling, says the Highland Mary arrived first in 1849, 
but the Minnesota Pioneer of April 28, 1849, credits the Dr. Franklin 
No. 2 with the victory. 

«»° Scharf s History of St. Louis, Vol. II, p. 1003. 

®®^ Data compiled from the newspapers of the period by the writer 
together with information furnished by the U. S. Engineers' Office at 
St. Paul, Rock Island, and St. Louis warrant these conclusions. 

^^"^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, March 19, April 
9, 1836. 

693 Aj^Jlson's Telegraph Pioneering and By Wire in The Palimpsest, 
Vol. VI, pp. 373-393, Vol. VII, pp. 233-260. See the writer's series of 
articles on the coming of the railroads to Iowa in the August, Sep- 
tember, October, November, and December, 1933, issues of The 

^^* Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), November 18, 18 58; 
Blakeley's History of the Discovery of the Mississippi and the Advent 
of Commerce in Minnesota in Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. 
VIII, p. 413; The Herald (Dubuque), December 21, 1866. 

®®° Bishop's Floral Home; or, First Years of Minnesota, p. 178. 

*®* Pendergast's Sketches of the History of Hutchinson in Minnesota 
Historical Collections, Vol. X, Pt. 1, p. 75. 

^" Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), April 28, 29, 30, 18 57; 
Express and Herald (Dubuque), May 1, 2, 5, 8, 1857. 

^^^ Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), April 17, 29, 18 57. 

^^^ Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), July 8, 1852; Daily Pioneer and 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Democrat (St. Paul), April 18, 25, 28, 18 57; manuscript register of 
the Time and Tide, on deposit with the Minnesota Historical Society. 

""^^ Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), May 2, 3, 5, 6, 1857. 

^°^ Express and Herald (Dubuque), April 16, 1859. 

""^^ Express and Herald (Dubuque), April 23, 24, 18 59. 

"""^ Express and Herald (Dubuque), May 1, 2, 5, 3, 18 57; The 
Burlington Hawk-Eye, April 20, 1884. 

''^^ Red Wing Republican, March 26, 18 58; Burlington Hawk-Eye, 
April 20, 1884. * 

'°^ The Herald (Dubuque), February 28, March 10, 15, 19, 20, 26, 
1868; Burlington Hawk-Eye, April 20, 1884. 

^°« Quoted in The Gate City Weekly (Keokuk), April 30, 1873. 

'"^' The Dubuque Herald, December 14, 18 59. 

""^^ Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), November 15, 21, 28, 18 50. 

^°^The Minnesotian (St. Paul), November 12, 19, 26, 18 53. 

''^^ Daily Minnesota Pioneer (St. Paul), November 11, 13, 14, 15, 

17, 20, 21, 22, 24, 27, 30, December 5, 1854. 

''^^ Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), November 5, 18 57. 

''^^ Daily Pioneer and Democrat (St. Paul), November 8, 10, 11, 13, 
14, 1857. 

''^^ Express and Herald (Dubuque) November 24, 18 57. 

"^^^The Winona Republican, November 27, December 4, 11, 18 5 5. 

''^^ NortJjwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, December 3, 17, 

''^^ Nort/jwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 11, 26, 
29, December 2, 4, 18 51. 

'^^ Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, December 3, 1836, 
November 24, 1841, February 17, 1846. 

^^* Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, February 17, 1846. 


Notes and References 

^^^ Quoted in the Winona Republican, November 24, 1858. Minne- 
sota Territory was not legally created until March, 1849. 

~-° Burlington Post, November 1, 1919. 

^^^ Muscatine Journal, quoted in The Weekly Gate City (Keokuk) , 
January 14, 1874. 

^-^ Miner's Journal (Galena), March 13, 1830. 

'''^^ History of Lee County, Iowa (1879), pp. 663, 664. 

^-* Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 7, 183 5. 

"^^ Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers to the Secretary of 
War, \%77, Pt. 1, pp. 81, 505, 506. 

^=«Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, p. 1112. 

''-' Scharf's History of Saint Louis, Vol. II, p. 1113. 

''^^ Report of the Chief of Engineers, 1877, Pt. 1, pp. 505, 506. 

^" Weekly Gate City (Keokuk), November 12, 1873. 

730 JSlorthwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser, November 24, 
1845, February 17, 1846; Galena Daily Advertiser, January 9, 1849. 

"•^^The Herald (Dubuque), April 12, 14, 17, 1866. 

"2 The Weekly Gate City (Keokuk), March 25, 1874. 

'^^The Herald (Dubuque), March 6, 1867. 

"*ry&? Herald (Dubuque), November 28, 1868; Oldt's History of 
Duhuqjie County, Iowa, pp. 209, 211, 223, 234, 23 5. 

"^ Burlington Post, March 28, April 4, 1914. 

'^® Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, Pittsburgh, 
Enrolment 40, March 10, 1840. The first Chippewa was 127 feet long, 
had a 19-foot beam, a 4-foot 8-inch hold, and measured 107 tons. — 
Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Document 242, p. 8; 
Burlington Post, March 28, 1914. 

^^^ Enrolment of Vessels, Collector of Customs Office, St. Louis. 
According to her enrolment, dated December 3, 18 58, the Chippewa 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Falls was owned by Captain "W. R. Van Pelt together with John 
McFarland and James Francis, all of Oquawka, Illinois. She was 120 
feet long, had a 24-foot beam, a 3i-foot hold, and measured 93 tons. 
Another steamboat Chippewa Falls, said to have been built at Pittsburgh 
in 1861 and measuring 142 tons, is recorded in the Proceedings of the 
Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Board of Supervising Inspectors of 
Steam Vessels (1869), p. 183. 

''^^ Burlington Post, April 4, 1914. 

739 Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Board of 
Supervising Inspectors of Steam Vessels (1869), p. 182; Burlington 
Post, March 28, April 4, 1914. 

^*^ Chittenden's History of Early Steamboat Navigation on the Mis- 
souri River, Vol. I, pp. 218-221; McDonald's The Missouri River and 
Its Victims in The Missouri Historical Review, Vol. XXI, p. 234; 
Burlington Post, March 28, 1914. 

In addition to those mentioned in the footnotes, the writer is indebted 
to scores of others: to Captains John Killeen, Fred Bill, George Merrick, 
and Walter Blair; to J. P. Higgins and Major General T. Q. Ashburn; 
to Steamboat Inspectors George B. Knapp and Harry Suiter; to Solon 
}. Buck, Theodore C. Blegen, Joseph Schafer, and Paul Angle. He fs 
especially grateful to Louis Peher for critical and friendly advice and 


[Names of boats and newspapers are printed in italics.] 

A. L. Shot-well, 239 

Able, Daniel, 251, 2 52 

Accidents, discussion of, 363-368 

Acq, Michel, explorations of, 31 

AJ Hine, service of, 187 

Adams, Charles Francis, 286, 358, 369 

Addie Johnston, profits of, 378 

Adelaide Bell, captain of, 185 

Adelia, excursion of, 294 

Admiral, 279 

Adventure, 218, 260, 261 

Agamemnon, work of, 43 1 

Agnes, 160, 221 

Agricultural implements, shipment of, 

Albany (N. Y.), incident at, 39; immi- 
grants at, 321 

Albany Evening Journal, representative 
of, 272; comment in, 343 

Alex Mitchell, destruction of, 477 

Alexander Hamilton, 447 

Algonquian nation, tribes of, 1 1 

Alhambra, 295, 358, 369, 466, 468, 470 

Alice, operation of, 466 

Alleghany Mountains, 316, 318, 325, 486 

Allegheny River, early boats on, 49; 
Arsenal on, 84; transportation on, 325 

Allen, James, 15 

Alpha, 134 

Alton (111.), 179, 245, 259, 288, 292, 
309, 336 

Alton Slough, winter quarters at, 478 

Amaranth, 221, 235, 367 

Amelia, Indian goods carried by, 128 

American Aboriginal Portfolio, 17 

American Citizen, quotation from, 36 

American Fur Company, activities of, 81, 
122, 123, 147-149, 155, 158, 159, 401, 
484; posts of, 145, 254; agents of, 146, 
403, 419; investment of, in steamboats, 
157; partiality of, 158, 159 

Andrews, C. C, 347 

Andy Johnson, excursion of, 291; de- 
struction of, 477 

Annie, operation of, 462 

Anson Northup, 165 

Anthony Wayne, 237, 252 

Apples, shipment of, 3 85 

Argo, sinking of, 108, 420 

Ariel, 123, 156, 157, 159, 400 

Arkansas River, 26, 335 

Arkansas River Packet Company, 402 

"Arkansaw", emigrants in, 304 

Armstrong, Cuyler, 212 

Armstrong, John, 212 

Assiniboine River, colony at, 162 

Astor, John Jacob, 75, 81, 204 

Atchison, George W., 153, 443 

Atchison, John, service of, as steamboat 
captain, 153, 155, 158, 160, 161, 215, 
218, 258, 260, 419, 443, 445, 455; 
wager of, 208 

Atchison, Mark, service of, 443 

Atkinson, Henry, command of, 174, 178, 
257, 398, 400; boat invented by, 191 

Atlanta, operation of, 459 

Atlantic cable, laying of, 431, 432, 43 3 

Atlantic Ocean, crossing of, by steam- 
ship, 41, 301 

Atlas, 178 

Atwater, Caleb, 113, 114, 115, 129, 142, 
145, 147, 359, 393 

Autocrat, tonnage of, 221 

Babcock, James F„ quotation from, 2 83 
Bacon, Leonard, meeting with, 272 
Bad Axe River, mention of, 102; battle 

at, 177, 398, 410; Indians along. 397 
Bailly, Alexis, 123, 146 
Baird, James, observation by, 307 
Baird, Robert M., opinion of, 321; guide 

published by, 374 
Baldwin, Thomas, 258 
Baltimore (Md.), 325, 432 
Bancroft, George, 272, 276, 280, 285 
Bannock City, excursion of, 293; cargo 

of, 3 85 
Barges, mention of, 46, 68; cost of, 52; 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

description of, 52; use of, 52, 223, 224 

Barlow, Joel, Fulton's letter to, 38, 40 

Barn Bluff (Minn.), 24, 104 

Barnum, Phineas T., 3 90 

Bateau, description of, 50 

Bates, David G., fur trade permit of, 
144; work of, 147, 153, 212, 409, 413, 

Bates, Edward, 272, 276 

Bathrick, Abigail, marriage of, 407 

Bayard, destruction of, 477 

Becknell, William, 204 

Bell, Edwin, 131-133 

Belle Key, cargo of, 381 

Belle of Memphis, value of, 477 

Bellefontaine (Mo.), 169, 170 

Bellevue, 275, 293 

Bellvietv, furs carried by, 149 

Beltrami, Giacomo C., explorations of, 
13, 14, 90, 93, 145, 213; quotations 
from, 91-94; description of Falls by, 
250, 251 

Belvidere, 222 

Ben Campbell, 202, 266, 362 

Ben Conrssn, collision with, 367; opera- 
tion of, 469 

Ben Franklin, cargo of, 389 

Bengal Tiger, cargo of, 3 88 

Berkeley, Bishop George, comment by, 

Bersie, Hiram, 153, 260, 264, 273, 281, 
282, 443 

Big Thimder (Indian chief), 12 3 

Bill Henderson, 181, 293, 3 85 

Bills of lading, study of, 381 

Bishop, Harriet E., comments by, 108, 
345, 414, 429, 455 

Bixby, Mr., piloting of, 439, 440 

Black Hawk, mention of, 23; trip of, 
120-122; capture of, 120, 121, 177; 
quotation from Autobiography of, 120- 
122; meeting of, with Andrew Jack- 
son, 122; imprisonment of, 122; war 
conducted by, 175-177; activities of, 
396, 397, 398 

Black Haii'k, 266, 273, 458, 465 
Black Hawk Purchase, 206, 309, 333 
Black Hawk War, service of steamboats 
in, 174-178; mention of, 203, 217, 
396; effect of, on transportation, 409; 
Daniel Smith Harris in, 410 
"Black Republican flag", 185 
Black River, 24, 103 

Black Rover, 199 

Blair, Francis P., Jr., meeting with, 272 

Blair, Walter, 42 8 

Blakeley, Russell, quotation from, 108, 
109; Indian removals described by, 
13 5-137; service of, 270, 420, 443, 444 

Blegen, Theodore C, comment of, on 
name "Itasca", 19, 20 

Bliss, John, 199, 200, 257, 400 

Bliss, John K., account of steamboat trip 
by, 199-201, 253 

Block & McCune, 419 

Blondeau, Maurice, 145 

Bloomington (see Muscatine) 

Boats, types of, 45, 46, 49-53, 191; mer- 
chandise carried by, 54, 78 (see also 
Steamboats, Keelboats, and other boats) 

Bohemians, coming of, 349 

Bois des Sioux River, 163 

Bon Accord, 237 

Boone, Mayor, 299 

Boone, Daniel, pioneering of, 81 

Boone, Nathan, 81 

Boston (Mass.), papers of, 272 

Bouthillier, Francois, 212 

Boutwell, William T., Indian missionary, 
15; "Itasca" explained by, 18 

Bowles, Samuel, writings of, 272 

Boyd, Thomas A., 124 

Bradford, Captain, 370 

Brazil, excursion on, 259, 260; descrip- 
tion of, 262; destruction of, 262 

Bremer, Fredrika, comments by, 145, 313, 
319, 324, 329, 539, 340, 381 

Brisbois, B. W., 157, 419, 420 

"Broadhorns", 50 

Broken Arrow Slough, 103 

Brower, Jacob V., 19, 192 

Brownsville (Pa.), boatyard at, 49; En- 
terprise launched at, 69 

Brunson, Reverend Alfred, 375 

Buchanan, James, message to, 432, 433, 

Buffalo, Indian theory of, 165 

Buffalo hides, trade in, 163-165 

Buffalo (N. Y.), 244, 250, 306, 320, 
321, 322 

Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad, 320 

Buffalo River, 104 

Burbank and Company, 165 

Burlington, mention of, 145, 184; mili- 
tary supplies from, 202; excursions 
from, 259; crossing at, 309; popula- 



tion of, 344, 43 2; site of, 403; activi- 
ties at, 454 

Burlington, 156, 157, 159, 227, 257, 
400, 405 

Burlington Railroad, 299 

Burlington Telegraph, comment in, 309 

Bushwhacking, 212 

Butler, Captain, 172 

Cabin passage, 328, 3 53-3 80, 374 
Cabin passengers, food of, 3 5 8-350; 

names of, 403, 404 
Cairo (111.), Charles Dickens at, 16; 

mention of, 179, 300 
Calhoun, John C, 83 
Calhoun, 86 
California, p>opulation of, 301; reference 

to, 3 3 0; trips to, 333 
Camp Kearny, 140 
Camp McClellan, Sioux at, 140 
Campbell, B. H., 420 
Canada, 140-142, 181, 184, 194, 293, 

351, 355, 356, 363, 380, 385, 390 
Cannon River, 105, 435 
Canoe, cost of, 50 
Cantonment Jesup, 172 
Cap au Gris, 24, 92 

Cape a I'Ail Sauvage (Capoli Bluff), 101 
Cape Girardeau, 87 
Cape Winebegos, 101 
Capoli Bluff, 24, 101, 255 
Captains, status of, 153, 176; earnings 

of, 228, 373; activities of, 438-450 
Cargoes, discussion of, 381-390, 538-539 
Carver, Jonathan, use of "Mississippi" 

by, 12; explorations of, 32, 33; book 

by, 33; land granted to, 33; Carver's 

Cave in honor of, 3 3 
Carver's Cave, 33, 105 
Cass, Lewis, 13, 14, 299 
Cass Lake, 13, 15, 22 
Casse-Fusils, naming of, 102, 105 
Cassville (Wis.), 217, 220, 237, 288, 

290, 291, 376, 379 
Catfish Creek, Fox village at. 111; Catlin 

at, 256; excursionists at, 288 
Catholic Institute of Dubuque, 293 
Catlin, George, data on, 248; paintings 

of, 248, 254, 255; scenes described by, 

249, 250; mention of, 253, 257, 261, 

400; Indian performance before, 254, 

255; comment by, 417, 418 
Catlin, Mrs. George., 253, 257 

Cattle, 196, 197, 356, 381, 382 
Cavalier, operation of, 453 
Cavileer, Charles, office of, 164 
Cecilia, captain of, 155; mention of, 157, 
160; troops on, 179; purchase of, 401; 
service of, 402; passage on, 405 
Centennial, destruction of, 477 
Chain of Rocks channel, 91 
Challenge, cargo of, 3 88 
"Channel of the Foxes", 93 
Chariton (Mo.), 81, 85 
Chateau Brilliante, 146 
Cheyenne American Fur Company, 145 
Chicago (111.), mention of, 216, 271, 
303, 304, 316, 318, 322, 330, 344; 
canal at, 244, 245, 246; newspaper 
editors of, 273, 303; railroad connec- 
tion of, 298; steamboat at, 321 
Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, 271 
Chicago Convention, 295 
Chickasaw Bluffs, De Soto at, 28 
Chickasaw Indians, 63 
Chieftain, service of, 175, 178, 394 
Chippewa, 157, 160, 483, 484, 485. 486 
Chippewa Tails, 483, 484 
Chippewa Indians, 116, 119, 126, 127, 

128, 130, 206, 254, 255, 486 
Chippewa River, 14, 24, 33, 104, 144, 

145, 412, 483 
Chippewa Valley, 483, 484, 486 
Chittenden, Hiram W., comment by, 485 
Choctaw Indians, removal of, 134 
Cholera, spread of, 353, 354, 355, 356, 

444, 445 
Chouteau, E. F., 149 
Chouteau, Pierre, Jr., boats owned by, 

Cincinnati (O.) population of, 42, 53, 
318; Ncxv Orleans at, 60; description 
of, 121, 122; mention of, 210, 287, 
334, 386, 415, 420, 457, 459; immi- 
grants at, 327, 3 39; boats built at, 
363, 367; Scribe Harris at, 411 
Cincinnati Gazette, 272 
Circus, shipment of, by boat, 3 89 
City Belle, 345, 377, 3 82 
City of Memphis, soldiers on, 185 
City of St. Paul, cargo of, 3 85 
Civil War, service of steamboats in, 174, 
179-189, 378; effect of, on steamboat 
business, 180-189; refugees of, 181, 
182; mention of, 203, 438, 439, 441 
Clark, George Rogers, victory of, 34 



Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Clark, James, service of, 441 

Clark, William, mention of, 34, 75, 90, 

119; characterization of, HI; Indian 

policy of. 111, 112 
Clarksville (Mo.), 92, 259 
Clarion, 164, 3 68, 413, 465, 466 
Clemens, Samuel, activities of, 43 8-440 
Clermont (boat), description of, 36, 37, 

38; trip of, up Hudson River, 38, 39, 

40; naming of, 40; mention of, 265, 

Clinton, De Witt, 248 
Coal, shipment of, 3 86, 3 87, 471 
Coates, Sarah, marriage of, 429 
Collector of Customs, boats enrolled by, 

503, 504 
Collisions discussion of, 367 
Colonel Bomford (keelboat), 210-213, 

408, 410, 438 
Columbia, purchase of, 402 
Columbia Fur Company, posts of, 145, 

147; supplies for, 199 
Columbus, tonnage of, 221 
Comet, vibrating cylinder of, 69; de- 
struction of, 69; mention of, 78 
Conception (Mississippi) River, 12 
Conemaugh River, transportation on, 32 5 
Coneivago, 265, 348, 459 
Constitution, arrival of, at St. Louis, 

78; passage on, 354 
Coon, Datus E., company of, 183 
Coon Slough, ice in, 479 
Cora, 155, 157, 237, 402, 405 
Cornice Rocks, painting of, 25 5 
Corwith, Henry, boat owned by, 263, 420 
Cote sans Dessein (Mo.), 85 
Coulter & Rogers, reference to, 3 82 
Council Bluffs, steamboat at, 80; post at, 

196; transportation to, 343 
Covered wagons, 306, 308, 310, 313 
Cow Island, 86 
Craig, S., 198 

Cranberries, shipment of, 388 
Crawford, John, 90, 101, 211 
Creek Indians, removal of, 134 
Cremona, cargo of, 3 86 
Croffut, W. A., 42 5 
Crooks, Ramsay, 148, 158 
Crow Island, trading post at, 145 
Crystal Palace Exhibition, 278, 3 89 
Culbertson, Thomas, 23 
Culver, Captain, 223 
Culver, Alvah, services of, 441, 442 

Culver, John, 114 

Cumberland River, transjjortation on, 33 5 
Cumberland Road, use of, 297 
Cuyk, Abraham, contract with, 325 

D. A. January, soldiers on, 185 

Dana, Charles A., 272, 273, 275, 276, 
278, 279, 282, 368 

Danube, operation of, 470, 471 

Danube River, first steamboat on, 107 

Davenport, George, 97, 145 

Davenport, Indian trade at, 131; mention 
of, 140, 310, 344, 355, 379, 432; In- 
dian prisoners at, 172; soldiers from, 
181; steamboat arrivals at, 184; excur- 
sions from, 2 59; speeches at, 274; rail- 
road to, 299; crossing at, 309, 310 

Davenport, 293, 3 50, 3 80, 462, 477 

Davenport Commercial, comment in, 310 

Davenport Public Museum, 428 

Davidson, William F., contract of, 13 9, 

Davidson's White Collar Line, 379 

Davis, Jefferson, 120, 121, 178, 200 

Dawley, Clerk, 2 82 

Day, William, 253 

Dayton, excursion of, 258 

Dayton's Bluff, 281 

"Death's-heads", battle at, 98 

Decatur, soldiers on, 185 

Deck passage, cost of, 328, 374, 377, 378; 
discussion of, 3 5 3-3 80; dangers of, 3 64 

Decorah, immigrants at, 345 

Deer, hunting of, 3 59 

De Lassus, Carlos Dehault, 42 

Delisle, Vi'illiam, use of "Mississippi, 12 

Denwine, freight rates on, 160 

Denmark, 181, 183, 184, 265, 292 

Des Moines Rapids, 87, 89, 94, 95, 97, 
114, 121, 156, 168, 170, 171, 180, 
193, 194, 199, 200, 231, 242, 387, 
392, 407, 518 

Des Moines River, mention of, 24, 94, 
144, 145; Western Engineer at mouth 
of, 88; fort on, 168, 202; transporta- 
tion on, 443 

De Soto, Hernando, 2 5, 28, 29 

De Soto, site of, 177 

Detroit (Mich.), 242, 250, 316, 321, 322 

Diamond Bluff, 43 5 

Diamond Jo, 378, 386, 463 

Diamond Jo Line, business of, 3 00, 42 9, 
449, 450 



Die Vernon, soldiers on, 184, 188; ex- 
cursion of, 265; race of, 267, 269, 
270, 416; speed of, 437 

Diligent, soldiers on, 186 

Dirt Lodge, trading post at, 145 

Dix, John A., meeting attended by, 272 

Dixon's Ferry, 412, 438 

Dodge, Henry, treaty negotiated by, 116; 
lead shipped by, 243; mention of, 401 

Dolterer, D. H., comment by, 460 

Douglas, Stephen A., 294, 295, 299 

Dousman, Hercules L., treaty signed by, 
116; data on, 146; correspondence of, 
147, 158, 159, 161; fur trade activities 
of, 147-149, 155-159; mention of, 
153, 403, 419, 420; boats owned by, 
157, 483; home of, 383 

Dove, 176, 178, 446 

Dr. Franklin, name for, 108; description 
of, 109; Indians on, 116, 136-138; 
mention of, 117, 342, 343; troops on, 
172; excursion on, 265; accident on, 
365, 367; cargo of, 381, 382; pur- 
chase of, 420; operation of, 420, 421, 
422, 465 

Dr. Franklin No. 2, 155, 266, 412, 414, 
415, 416, 428, 451, 455, 465 

Dreisbach, Herr, circus of, 3 89 

Dubuque, Julien, reference to, 23, 68; 
grant to, 33; lead mined by, 205; death 
of, 205; grave of, 255, 288 

Dubuque, reference to, 218, 2 37, 351, 
363, 365, 385, 453, 470 

Dubuque, mention of, 156, 164, 184, 
220, 225, 249, 268-270, 299, 331, 561, 
376, 377, 394, 415, 424, 432, 453, 
454, 459, 464; telegraph line to, 178; 
soldiers from, 180; boats at, 237, 350, 
351, 379, 380, 461, 481; excursions 
at, 264, 276, 289, 292, 293, 294, 295; 
crossing at, 309; tonnage at, 335; im- 
migrants at, 340, 344, 349; Trappist 
monks at, 3 54; cholera in, 3 55; apples 
shipped to, 3 85; coal shipped to, 3 87; 
newspapers of, 405; railroads at, 464 

Dubuque Express and Herald, comment 
in, 469 

Dubuque Gas Company, 3 87 

Dubuque Herald, quotation from 182, 
183; comment in, 349, 351, 379, 386, 
462, 482 

Dubuque Reporter, comment in, 311 

Dubuque Tribune, comment in, 311 

Du Buquc Visitor, comment in, 382; 
announcement in, 3 83 

Duncan, A. L., legal services of, 69, 70 

Duncan's Island, 292 

Dunleith (East Dubuque, 111.)) shipment 
at, 166; tonnage at, 335; transporta- 
tion to, 423, 424; steamboat at, 434, 
436, 469 

Durant, winter quarters of, 481 

Durham boats, use of, 147 

Dutch, coming of, to Iowa, 325 

Dwyer, Captain, 124 

Eagle, excursion on, 292 

Eaton, Benjamin, 444 

Eau Claire (Wis.), 483, 484 

Eastman, Captain, 135 

Eastman, Mrs. Mary H., book by, 17; 
"Itasca" explained by, 17 

Eclipse, record time of, 46, 74; mention 
of, 66, 199, 239 

Edwards, Ninian, 272, 490 

Elk Lake, 16, 18 (see also La Biche Lake 
and Itasca Lake) 

"El Kader", community at, 341 

Ellet, Mrs. Elizabeth Fries, Galena de- 
scribed by, 224, 225; comment by, 
342, 357, 358, 362 

Elsah, 24 

Emerald, 218 

Emerson, Joseph, treaty signed by, 116 

Emigrant companies, organization of, 315 

Emigrant guides, publication of, 305 

Emigrants, coming of, 301-515, 330 

Engineer Cantonment, Western Engineer 
at, 86 

English, claims of, on Mississippi Valley, 
32, 33; explorations by, 55; migration 
of, 501, 518 

English Prairie (Wis.), passage to, 576 

Enterprise, launching of, 69; seizure of, 
69; use of, in government service, 70, 
174, 175; time made by, 70, 71; tour 
of, 172; mention of, 178, 199, 595, 
446, 465 

Enterprize, 165 

Envoy, 468, 469 

Equator, 548, 448 

Erie Canal, 297, 517, 321, 526 

Essex, service of, in war, 174 

Etna, launching of, 69 

Etuzepah (Indian chief), 125 

Excelsior, passengers on, 116, 117, 172, 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

340, 3 54; mention of, 348, 466; cargo 

of, 382, 388 
Excursions, 248-266, 287-295 (see also 

Fashionable Tour) 
Expedition, 86 
Expeditions, 170, 171 
Explosions, danger of, 77, i65-i67 
Express, soldiers on, 185 

Factory system, 95, 144 

Falls of St. Anthony, mention of, 22, 
31, 145, 146, 162, 169, 249, 255; de- 
scription of, 250; trips to, 251, 253, 
254, 258, 264, 265, 271, 279, 280, 
285, 286 

Falls of St. Croix, trading post at, 145 

Falls of the Ohio, 54, 84 

Fanny Bullitt, soldiers on, 186 

Eanny Harris, 290, 291, 295, 468, 469, 

Fannie Keener, destruction of, 477 

Faribault, Alexander, 123 

Faribault, Oliver, 123 

Farnam, Henry W., cup presented to, 
281; position of, 281 

Farnham, Russell, 144 

Farnsworth, J., 253 

Farrar, Amos, 144, 212 

Fashionable Tour, 248, 249, 257, 261, 
295, 373, 417 (see also Excursions) 

Fast time records, 239-241 

Favorite, removal of Indians on, 139 

Federal government, expeditions of, on 
Missouri River, 83; steam craft used 
by, 83, 84, 87, 167-173; steamboat 
constructed by, 84; supplies for, 90 

Ferguson, William, comment by, 324 

Ferries, use of, 297, 308, 310 

Ferryboat, damage to, 480, 482 

Fever (Galena) River, mention of, 14, 
144, 179, 205, 206, 207, 392; traffic 
on, 68, 237, 393, 394, 471; comment 
on, 98; fur trade on, 144; government 
mineral agent at, 206; lead produc- 
tion at, 206, 213, 409; settlement at, 
207, 210-219, 407; name of, 213, 214; 
post office established at, 213, 214; 
shrinking of, 224, 22 5; ice in, 470 

Field, Cyrus W., work of, 431 

Fillmore, Millard, on Grand Excursion, 
271, 274, 276, 280, 281, 285; daugh- 
ter of, 276 

Fink, Mike, keelboat character, 5 5, 56 

Fire, forest, description of, 102 

Fire Canoe, annuities carried by, 133 

Fire equipment, 3 84 

"Fire nation", 3 (see also Mascouten 

First United States Infantry, 193 

Fitch, John, 40 

Flag, raising of, in Iowa, 288, 525 

Flagg, Edmund, comment by, 307, 308 

Flatboat, description of, 50, 51; cost of, 
51; use of, 205, 243 

Flint, C. Gather, work of, 273 

Flint Hills, trading post at, 145, 403 
(see also Burlington) 

Floods, damage by, 45 3 

Flora, removal of Indians on, 139; men- 
tion of, 468, 469, 470 

Floral Home, author of, 429 

Florence, building of, 402 

Florida (Mo.), 89, 438 

Folsom, W. H. C, 261 

Food, shipment of, 152; preparation of, 

Forbes, John Murray, opinion of, 329 

Ford, Rufus, 267, 268, 269 

Ford, Thomas, 215 

Forsyth, Thomas, work of, 87, 144, 169 

Fort Armstrong, mention of, 96, 114, 
193, 196, 198; treaty at, 113; location 
of, 168; supplies for, 197; celebration 
at, 274 

Fort Atkinson, expedition to, 83; loca- 
tion of, 168; mention of, 172, 179; 
supplies at, 201, 202; troops at, 402 

Fort Benton, transportation to, 402, 483, 
484, 485 

Fort Clark (Peoria, 111.), 206 

Fort Clarke, location of, 202 

Fort Crawford, Virginia at, 106; treaty 
at, 113; mention of, 168, 169, 177, 
179, 190, 193, 252; supplies for, 197, 
201, 202; painting of, 25 5; trip to, 
392; troops at, 402 

Fort Des Moines (second), location of, 
168; supplies at, 201, 202 

Fort Edwards, Virginia at, 93 ; descrip- 
tion of, 94; location of, 168, 195, 196; 
supplies for, 197; mention of, 198 

Fort Garry, 165 

Fort Gibson, 134 

Fort Lisa, Western Engineer at, 86 

Fort Madison, ruins of, 95, 168; erection 
of, 168; mention of, 187, 259, 309, 



3 69, 432; supplies from, 202; ice near, 

Fort Osage, 85 

Fort Randall (Neb.), 140 

Fort Ridgely, 168, 195, 413 

Fort Ripley, 168, 195 

Fort St. Anthony, mention of, 90, 190; 
Virginia at, 105; name of, 171, 172 

Fort Snelling, Schoolcraft at, 20; expedi- 
tions to, 83, 251, 253, 392, 400, 401, 
402, 429; site of, 87, 168, 169, 195; 
naming of, 90, 171, 172; incident at, 
107; councils at, 113, 116, 124, 126; 
Indians removed to, 13 8; fur trade 
at, 145, 147, 254; mention of, 152, 
153, 159, 160, 193, 200, 250, 254, 
280, 442; steamboats at, 153, 154, 399; 
Red River Valley trade at, 163; sup- 
plies for, 197, 199, 201, 202; mail to, 
201; description of, 201; Indian 
Agency at, 254; painting of, 255 

Fort Winnebago, 14, 148, 168, 201, 202, 
243, 249, 376, 412 

Fortress Monroe, Black Hawk at, 122 

Fortune, keelboats with, 223 

Fourth of July, excursions on, 287, 288 

Fowle, John, 199 

Fox Indians, mention of, 11, 96, 119, 
129, 130, 134, 144, 145, 167, 174, 175; 
Tillage of, 98, 100; massacre of, 111; 
treaty with, 113; delegation of, at 
"Washington, 124; lead mines of, 205 

Fox River, 14, 30, 148, 161, 192, 243 

Frank Steele, 348 

Franklin (Mo.), 80, 81, 82, 85 

Franz Siegel, winter quarters of, 481 

Free Trader, 321 

Freight barge, 46 

Freight rates, on steamboats, 159, 160, 
22S-233; on overland routes, 244 

Fremont, John C, 257, 400 

French, Daniel, Comet launched by, 69 

French, explorations of, 2 8-3 2; immigra- 
tion of, 318 

Frontier, record of, 240; officers of, 
412, 414, 438 

Fuller, Hiram, writings of, 272 

Fulton, Robert, mention of, 25, 35; 
plan of, for Mississippi navigation, 36, 
39, 40, 43-47; description of, 37; 
comment of, on Clermont, 37, 38; 
letter by, on steamboat monopoly, 44; 
steamboat company formed by, 57 

Fulton, 199 

Fulton-Livingston monopoly, formation 

of, 41-47; breaking of, 68-74 
"Fulton's Folly", 36 (see also Clermont) 
Fur trade, profits of, to steamboats, 144, 
148, 159, 160, 161; centers of, 147; 
comment of Atwater on, 147; routes 
of, 147-149; in Red River Colony, 
163-166; characters of, 204; value of, 
Fur trading posts, 144, 145, 146 
Furs, transportation of, 68, 144-161, 505 

G. H. Wilson, 443, 444 

G. W. Spar-Hawk, 273, 278 

Gabbert, William H., 444 

Galena (111.), mention of, 14, 32, 112, 
156, 159, 160, 173, 180, 200, 249, 
266, 454; Black Hawk at, 121; steam- 
boats at, 123, 215-220, 225, 237, 335, 
343, 399, 401, 404, 411, 453, 470, 
471; trade at, 131, 149, 163, 243, 442, 
459; lead mines at, 205; government 
mineral agent at, 205; land sold at, 
207; population of, 207, 215, 225, 
226, 327, 341, 342, 395, 408, 422; 
telegraph line to, 178; soldiers from, 
179; naming of, 214, 225; position of, 
as port, 215-226; description of, 216, 
224, 225; newspaper of, 216, 405; 
railroad at, 22 5; decline of, 225, 226; 
home of Grant at, 225; visit of Jenny 
Lind at, 225; hot weather at, 228; 
excursions at, 259, 260, 275, 287, 288, 
294, 417, 445; accident at, 365; 
transportation to, 374, 375, 376, 420; 
visit to, 417, 445; history of, 430 

Galena, accident on, 194, 366, 367, 369; 
mention of, 273, 459, 461, 466; ar- 
rival of, 345; pilot of, 442; race with, 

Galena, Dubuque, Dunleith, and Minne- 
sota Packet Company, schedule of, 
377, 378 

Galena Advertiser, comment in, 313, 3 30 

Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, 299 
(see also North Western Railroad) 

Galena Gazette, 400 

Galena River (see Fever River) 

Galenian, 217, 453, 476 

Gautier, Antoine, fur trade of, 145 

Gear, H. H., 215 

General Brooke, 155, 157, 158, 401, 405 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

General Hdmilton, lead on, 2 1 5 

General Neville, 199 

Genoa, building of, 402 

Germans, coming of, 305, 318, 320, 324, 
339, 340, 349, 466; attitude of, 329 

Gerry, Elbridge, meeting with, 272 

Giard, Basif, grant to, 3 3 

Gibbons vs. Ogden, decision in, 73 

Gibson, George, 202 

Gillette, Mrs. Irene, 42 8 

Gipsey, annuities carried by, 127, 128 

Gladiator, soldiers on, 186 

Glasgow, soldiers on, 186 

Glasgow, Shaw & Larkins, 419 

Glass, Hugh, 204 

Gleim, E. H., 218, 399, 443, 449 

Globe, annuities carried by, 131; arrival 
of, 365 

GoUen Era, 273, 274, 281, 282, 283, 
284, 348, 362, 370 

GoUen State, 289, 348, 459, 469 

Goodhue, James M., 117 

Goodhue County (Minn.), 183 

Gorman, William P., 149, 160 

Governor's Greys, transportation of, 180, 
181, 286 

Graham, James D., 87, 88 

Grain, transport of, 183, 3 52 

Grand Excursion of 1854, 271-286 

Grand Marais, 105 

Grand Rapids, 15, 22 (see also Thunder- 
ing Rapids) 

Grand Tower, 2 1 1 

Grand Western Canal, 316 

Grande Prairie Mascotin, 96 

Granger, John A., meeting with, 272 

Grant, Robert, encounter of, with Win- 
nebago, 167; Grant County named for, 

Grant, Ulysses S., 25, 187, 225 

Grant Cote, 164 

Grant County (Wis.), naming of, 167; 
lead in, 204 

Grant Park, entrance to, 428 

Gratiot, Henry, 482 

Gray, R. C, 292 

Great Eagle (Indian chief), passage of, 
on Virginia, 90, 91, 93 

Great Encampment, 104 

Great Lakes, 29, 301, 306, 307, 316, 322, 
323, 324 

Great Lakes cities, trade routes to, 242- 

"Great Medicine", 108 (see also Dr. 

Great Mogul, size of, 411 
Greek Slave, 269 
Greeley, Horace, comment by, 511 
Green, Asa Barlow, 448, 449 
Green, Montreville, services of, 273 
Green Bay, mention of, 14, 29, 30, 

250; trade at, 148, 161, 242, 245; 

military post at, 196 
Greenwich Village, Clermont at, 3 6 
Gregg, Josiah, 204 
Grey Eagle, mention of, 23, 3 80, 406, 

414, 415, 427, 428, 433, 454, 455, 

458, 459, 455, 462; sinking of, 428; 

race with, 431-437 
Griffey, David, 5 65 

Griffith, Thomas H., steamboats of, 485 
Grimes, James W., 180 
Groseilliers, Medard, explorations of, 29, 

Grosse Island, patients on, 3 20 
Guerrillas, attack of, 186, 187 
Guttenberg, mention of, 100; excursion 

to, 294 

Hale, Charles, writings of, 272, 277 
Hale, Edward Everett, letter to, 329, 330 
Half-breed Tract, 5 55 
Hall, Lieutenant, 136 
Hall, Basil, comment by, 302 
Hall, Dominick A., ruling by, 75 
Hall, James, comment by, 3 06 
Hamburg, reference to, 548, 585, 459 
Hamilton, Alexander, son of, 208, 257 
Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler (Mrs. 

Alexander), 2 57, 401 
Hamilton, William S., father of, 208; 

wager of, 208; mention of, 257 
Hamilton, service of, in war, 174 
Hannibal (Mo.), mention of, 25, 89, 
200, 211; excursions from, 2 59; cross- 
ing at, 5 09; Samuel Clemens at, 45 8 
Hatifiibal City, soldiers on, 184 
Harmonia, 265 

Harris, Abigail, family of, 407, 408 
Harris, Daniel Smith, characterization of, 
155, 158, 267, 426, 427, 471, 472, 
475; service of, as steamboat captain, 
155, 155, 159, 256, 376, 406-430, 433, 
435, 437, 458, 441, 442, 449, 451, 
452, 454, 455; mention of, 159, 210, 
252, 256, 275, 274, 403; records of, 



240, 241; steamboat improvements by, 
261, 262; steamboat race of, 269; 
profits of, 377; birth of, 407; daugh- 
ter of, 428; marriage of, 429; death 
of, 429 

Harris, Mrs. Daniel Smith (see Lang- 
worthy, Sarah M., and Coates, Sarah) 

Harris, Electa, marriage of, 446, 447 

Harris, Jackson, 408, 443 

Harris, James, son of, 210; sketch of life 
of, 407, 408 

Harris, James Meeker, 407 

Harris, Martin Keeler, 407, 415 

Harris, Robert Scribe, steamboat im- 
provements by, 261, 262, 407, 408, 
410; boat owned by, 418, 419 

Harris, Scribe (see Harris, Robert Scribe) 

Harris, Smith (see Harris, Daniel Smith) 

Harrison, William Henry, farm of, 62; 
mention of, 258 

Hastings (Minn.), 378, 43 5 

Hawkeye State, 23, 180, 181, 363, 380, 

Hay, shipment of, 388 

Hayden, Peter, 164 

Helen Blair, cabin of, 428 

Helena (Wis.), shot tower near, 243; 
passage to, 376 

Heliopolis (snagboat), 74 

Hempstead, William, mention of, 215; 
boat owned by, 263, 395 

Hempstead and Beebe, boats owned by, 
157, 256 

Hennepin, Louis, use of "Meschasipi" by, 
12; Falls named by, 31 

Henrietta, operation of, 466 

Henry Clay, soldiers on, 181; mention 
of, 184, 459, 467; excursions on, 265; 
cargo of, 3 85 

Herculaneum shot tower, 75, 244 

Hermione, purchase of, 414 

Heroine, captain of, 234; accident of, 

Highland Mary, captain of, 155; mention 
of, 202, 45 5; passenger on, 33 8 

Highland Mary No. 2, 445 

Highlander, tonnage of, 221; operation 
of, 449 

Holland, immigrants from, 318, 32 8 

Hollidaysburg (Pa.), immigrants at, 3 25 

Holmes, Reuben, 177, 3 96 

Holstrom, E. W., service of, 331 

Hone, Philip, comment by, 3 39 

Hooper, William H., 157, 443, 446, 447 

Horses, use of, 326 

Houghton, Douglas, 15 

Howard, Mrs. Joe, 351 

Hubbard, Henry, meeting with, 272 

Hudson, Charles, 272, 276, 277 

Hudson River, steamboats - on, 38, 39, 

316, 321, 323 

Hudson's Bay Company, 162, 165, 166 
Hughlett, John G., 215 
Hunt, Wilson Price, 75 
Hutchinson, Abe, 292 

Icarian Community, 340, 341 

Ice, dangers from, 232, 233, 451, 475- 
482; shipment of, 388; obstruction by, 
451, 455, 456, 460; forming of, 464 

Ida Fulton, cargo of, 3 85, 3 86 

Illinois, American possession of, 34; ad- 
mission of, 77; volunteers from, 179; 
lead in, 204; Governor of, 272; pop- 
ulation of, 301, 303, 337; migration to, 
302, 304, 305, 308, 309, 316, 327, 
334, 336, 344; emigrants from, 311; 
route to, 316 

Illinois, troops on, 192, 193; sinking of, 

Illinois Central Railroad, 299 

Illinois-Lake Michigan Canal, 244, 245, 

Illinois Monthly Magazine, comment in, 

Illinois River, 24, 31, 175, 219, 3 3 5, 
336, 339, 396 

Immigrant trails, 316-331 

Immigrants, transportation of, 297, 298, 

317, 338-340, 373, 466; property of, 
323; number of, 324, 535; hardships 
of, 353, 364 

Imported trade goods, costs of, 1 5 1 

Independence, 82, 84 

Indian annuities, transportation ot, by 

steamboats, 126-133; first payment of, 

127, 128; value of, 130, 131 
Indian councils, shift of, 117 
Indian Queen, record of, 240; passage on, 

3 59; collision with, 3 67 
Indian treaties, steamboats used in, 111- 

117; negotiation of, 118-125; cost of, 

119; troop escorts to, 172 
Indiana, admission of, 77; population of, 

301; emigrants in, 305, 344; emigrants 

from, 311, 312, 334; route to. 316 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Indiana, reference to, 147, 174, 198, 199; 
lead cargo of, 215; regular run of, 222, 
223; excursion of, 288 

Indians, goods for, 87, 149, 150, 499, 
500; cost of shipping goods, 502; atti- 
tude of, toward steamboats, 107-110; 
treaties with, 117-125; removal of, by 
steamboat, 134-142; delegations of, 
172; lead mined by, 205, 206; por- 
traits of, 248, 255; activities of, 396, 

lone, keelboats of, 224; earnings of, 234, 
235; mention of, 260 

Iowa, emigrants to, 182, 308, 309, 310, 
311, 314, 319, 325, 327, 351, 425; 
Civil War soldiers from, 185; popu- 
lation of, 301; activities in, 313; route 
to, 316; population of, 333, 334, 337; 
livestock in, 3 82 

Iowa, captain of, 236, 260; trips of, 
236; receipts of, 236; record of, 240, 

Iowa Indians, 94, 112, 119, 129 

Iowa River, 24, 31, 95, 96, 129, 144 

Irene, 116, 2 58 

Irish, 162, 305, 317, 329, 339, 340 

Iron City, 232, 233, 478 

Itasca, mention of, 25, 433, 434; excur- 
sion of, 291; passage on, 378; profits 
of, 378; race with, 416, 435-437 

Itasca Lake, discovery of, 16; description 
of, 16, 20; outlet of, 16; expedition 
to, 16, 17; name of, 17-21 

Itasca State Park, celebration at, 19 

/. M. White, time made by, 46, 239, 240; 
mention of, 166, 178 

Jack, Andrew, 59 

Jackson, Andrew, mention of, 25, 75; 
steamboats employed by, 69, 70; meet- 
ing of, with Black Hawk, 122 

Jacob Traber, 383, 470 

James Ross, troops on, 190; time made 
by, 190 

January, Thomas H., 212 

Jasper, tonnage of, 221 

Jeanie Deans, soldiers on, 181, 184 

Jefferson, Thomas, reference to, 2 5, 34, 
35, 41, 301 

Jefferson, 86 

Jefferson Barracks, Black Hawk at, 120, 
121, 177; mention of, 168, 174, 175, 
194, 195, 398; position of, 172 

Jennie Baldwin, passage on, 349; de- 
struction of, 477 

Jennie Whipple, soldiers on, 184, 187 

Jenny Lind, 273, 466 

Jesuit Relations, "Messipi" River in, 30 

Jesup, Thomas S., 86 

Jo Daviess, naming of, 411; size of, 411; 
cargo of, 412; sale of, 414 

Jo Daviess County (Ill.)> soldiers from, 
179; lead in, 204 

John Adams, 222 

Johns, S. J., 363 

Johnson, James, contracts of, 83, 84, 86, 
87; charges of, 169; mention of, 212 

Johnson, 86 

Johnstown (Pa.), route to, 325 

Joliet, Louis, 23, 30, 31 

Jones, George W., 25 3 

Josephine, 199, 482 

Julia Dean, cargo of, 389 

Kaposia (Minn.), mention of, 108, 123 

Kaskaskia Indians, 98 

Kate Cassel, government service of, 187; 
operation of, 469, 470 

Kate French, 348 

Kate Kearney, soldiers on, 188; conditions 
on, 358 

Kearny, Stephen Watts, account of Wes- 
tern Engineer by, 88, 89 

Keating, William H., expedition led by, 

Keelboatmen, types of, 55, 56 

Keelboats, speed of, 46; description of, 
51, 52; use of, 52, 87, 128, 147, 169, 
174, 190-192, 206, 215, 222-224, 234, 
236; disadvantages of, 169, 190, 191; 
cost of freight by, 169, 170; transport 
of troops by, 190-192; time made by, 
190, 191; names of, 222; towing of, 
by steamboats, 222 

Keeler, Martin, service of, 443 

Kentucky, emigrants from, 304, 311, 333, 
334; newspaper of, 305; immigrants 
in, 319, 344; resident of, 426 

"Kentucky boats", 50 (see also Flat- 

Keokuk (Indian chief), 115, 403 

Keokuk, dam at, 27; steamboat at, 80, 
88, 89, 336; mention of, 134, 181, 
45 3; encampment at, 183; position of, 
in Civil War, 183, 184; war hospitals 
at, 185, 186; excursions from, 259; 



crossing at, 309; rapids near, 33 5; 
residents of, 432; ice at, 476 
Keokuk, profits of, 378 
Keokuk Packet Company, decline of, 182, 
183; line of, 266, 449; profits of, 270 
Keokuk Post, letter to, 43 8 
Keokuk Whig, comment in, 344 
Keosauqua, dam near, 444 
"Key City", 225 (see also Dubuque) 
Key City, use of, in Civil War, 181; 
mention of, 265; passage on, 350; col- 
lision with, 367, 389; profits of, 378; 
operation of, 445, 460, 461 
Key Stone, 348 
Key West, 485 
Kimball, Moses, 278 
King, John H., 179 
Kingman, A. T., opinion of, 473 
Kingsbury, James W., 177, 396 
Kingston (Ontario), transportation to, 

319; residents of, 320 
Kinzie, John H., activities of, 271 
Kittson, Norman W., 146, 164 
Knickerbocker, 260 
Koehler & Brothers, 361 

La Barge, Joseph, 401 

La Belle Riviere (Ohio River), 54 

"La Biche" (Elk) Lake, 13, 16 (see also 

Itasca Lake) 
Lac qui Parle, 152 
La Crosse (Wis.), reference to, 103, 269, 

276; railroad to, 299; crossing at, 309; 

collision near, 367; fare to, 378, 380; 

residents of, 424; steamboat at, 473, 

La Crosse, cargo of, 180, 387 
Lady Franklin, reference to, 273; passage 

on, 347, 360; operation of, 466 
Lady Pike, mention of, 370; cargo of, 

385, 388; arrival of, 463 
Lady Washington (barge), draught of, 

Laflferty, James, 123, 153, 154, 218, 256, 

Laframboise, Joseph, 123, 146 
"La Garde" River, 98 
Lake Cayuga, steamboats on, 460 
Lake City (Minn.), ferry at, 331 
Lake Erie, transportation on, 316 
Lake Hernando de Soto, elevation of, 22 
Lake Julia, 14 
Lake Michigan, 30, 366 

Lake Ontario, transportation on, 316, 
319, 320 

Lake Peosta, ice in, 481 

Lake Pepin, ceremony at, 32; descrip- 
tion of, 104, 249, 469; mention of, 
190, 198, 200, 268, 441; Grand Ex- 
cursion at, 278; storms in, 366; steam- 
boat on, 406; ice in, 451, 456, 457, 
458, 460, 463, 469; transportation on, 

Lake St. Croix, 465 

Lake Traverse, 20, 163 

Lake Winnebagoshish, explorers at, 15 

Lavtariine, survey party on, 171; ex- 
cursion of, 251, 252; cargo of, 349 

Lambert, David, death of, 364 

"Land of the sky blue water", 22, 23 

Land's End, location of, 147 

Langworthy, Edward, 215 

Langworthy, Lucius, 215 

Langworthy, Sarah M., marriage of, 429 

Lanman, Charles, arrival of, 338; com- 
ment by, 340 

Lansing, survey near, 171; fare to, 578, 

Lansing, excursion of, 291 

La Prairie aux Ailes (Winona), Virginia 
at, 103, 104 

La Salle, Robert Cavelier, 25, 31 

Latrobe, Lydia (Mrs. Nicholas Roose- 
velt), 49 

Laughton, William H., courage of, 445, 
446; service of, 459, 548, 549 

Law, John, 2 5 

Lawrence, arrival of, at Fort Snelling, 
153; mention of, 199; lead cargo on, 
215; excursion trip of, 251; tonnage 
of, 251 

Lea, Luke, 116 

Leach Lake, trading post at, 145 

Lead, transportation of, 148, 229, 244, 
404, 442; freight rates on, 229; trade 
routes for, 242-247; mining of, 341, 
342, 409 

Lead mines (Galena-Dubuque), Perrot 
at, 32, 204; Dubuque at, 33; location 
of, 204; history of, 204-209; opera- 
tion of, 204, 205; government super- 
vision of, 205, 206; production of, 
207-209, 213, 216, 512; bet on, 208; 
steamboat trips to, 220 

Lead trade, profits of, 68, 233-236; com- 
parison of, with fur trade, 161, 166; 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

account of, 204-209; importance of, 
246, 247; interest in, 420 

Leaf Lake, trading post at, 145 

Leavenworth, Henry, tour by, 172; com- 
ment of, 193 

Leavenworth, Cantonment, troops at, 193 

Le Claire, Buffalo Bill at, 23; Virginia 
at, 97, 98; winter quarters at, 482 

Lee, Robert E., rapids surveyed by, 171 

Lee County, Spanish grant in, 33; immi- 
grants in, 333; population of, 3 37 

Leech Lake, discovery of, 13; post on, 

Levens, Tom, 289 

Lewis, Meriwether, 34, 75 

Lewis F. Linn, time record of, 239 

Lexington, 215 

Lightfoot, captain of, 414 

"Lighting", cost of, 231 

Liguest, Pierre Laclede, 75 

Lincoln, Abraham, 2 5, 272 

Lind, Jenny, mention of, 368 

Lindbergh, Charles A., reference to, 36 

Linn, William, 171, 172, 198 

Lisa, Manuel, 75, 204 

Little Ben, record of, 240 

Little Crow's Village, 105 

Little Eagle, operation of, 480 

Little Rock, 134 

Livestock, shipment of, 356, 381, 382 

Livingston, Edward, comment of, 72; 
offer of, to Shreve, 72 

Livingston, John R., comment of, 41 

Livingston, Robert R., mention of, 25; 
interest of, in steamboating, 39, 40, 41, 
48; steamboat monopoly sought by, 
43-47; letter by, 44; appointment of, 
as French minister, 49; steamboat com- 
pany formed by, 57 

Locomotives, use of, 3 26 

Lodwick, Kennedy, 443 

Lodwick, M. W., 420, 422 

Lodwick, Preston, 265, 346, 443 

Log canoe, cost of, 50 

Long, Stephen H., on Western Engineer, 
84; report of, 87, 88; expedition of, 
104, 170 

Longworth, Alice Roosevelt, steamboat 
christened by, 65, 66 

Louisiana, boundaries of, 43 ; admission 
of, 45; monopoly of Mississippi granted 
by, 45; population of, 319 

Louisiana (Mo.), 160, 259 

Louisiana Purchase, 33, 34, 42, 43, 75 

Louisville (Ky.), population of, 42, 53 
New Orleans at, 60; mention of, 121 
supplies from, 198; tonnage at, 3 34 
immigrants at, 339; shipments from, 

Lovers' Leap, 200 (see also Maiden Rock) 

Low water, influence of, on freight rates, 
230, 231 

Lower Mississippi River, limits of, 22, 25; 
historical significance of, 25; course of, 
2 5, 26; tributaries to, 26; flood losses 
along, 26; size of, 26, 221; steamboats 
from, 219; excursions from, 25 8; trans- 
portation on, 335, 338, 393 

Lower Rapids, 335, 337, 359, 392, 394, 
405, 439 (see also Des Moines Rapids) 

Loyal Hanna, 260 

Lucy Bertram, soldiers on, 188; service 
of, 347 

Luella, accident on, 315; operation of, 

Lynx, mention of, 108; captain of, 15 5, 
158; ownership of, 157, 160; profits 
of, 160, 161; excursion on, 258, 259, 
260; sinking of, 419 

M'Adam, Mr., reference to, 306 

McCormack, Preston Lodwick, 370 

McCune, John S., 267 

McGregor, Spanish grant at, 35; soldiers 
from, 181; crossing at, 309; immi- 
grants in, 3 5 6; activities at, 371; fare 
to, 378, 379; steamboats at, 468 

McKee, Redick, steamboat of, 90 

McKenny, J. H., 13 6, 137 

Mackinaw boats, 163 

McLeod, Martin, 146 

McMaster, S. W., 159 

McNeil, George, 157 

McNeil, John, commission of, 113-115; 
mention of, 394 

Machinery, shipment of, 3 8 3, 3 84 

Macomb, John N., work of, 403 

Madison, Dolly, portrait of, 248 

Maid of loiva, passage on, 376 

Maid of Orleans (ocean steamer), 79 

Maiden Rock (Wis.), mention of, 23, 
104, 200, 264, 270; painting of, 255 

Mail, transportation of, by steamboat, 74 

Mai-Pock, 100 

Malta, furs carried on, 149; captain of, 
149, 155; owners of, 157; freight 



rates on, 159, 160; mention of, 260; 
description of, 262; passage on, 400, 

ManJan, mention of, 147, 199; captain 
of, 171, 172, 198; time made by, 190, 

Mankato (Minn.), Indians removed from, 
138, 139 

Mann, Alice, comment by, 321 

Manny, J. P., farm machinery of, 3 84, 

Mansfield, 348 

Manufactured goods, sliipment of, 3 86 

Marais d'Oge (Marais Dosier Slough), 98 

Marais Dosier Slough, 98 

Marcpee (Indian), incident of, 119, 120 

Mark Twain, early home of, 23, 211; 
mention of, 89; writings of, 43 8 (see 
also Clemens, Samuel) 

Marquette, Pierre, 23, 30, 31 

Marryat, Frederick, mention of, 145, 257, 
317; travels of, 227; comments by, 
227, 228, 302, 305, 323, 353 

Marsh, J. W., 251, 252 

Marshall, John, decision of, 73 

Martha No. 2, arrival of, 470 

Mascouten Indians, village of, 30 

Mason, Mr., 291 

Massachusetts, emigrant company in, 
314; resident of, 407 

May, James, career of, 174, 395, 446 

Mayer, Frank B., painting by, 117 

Mayfloucr, passage on, 407 

Mechanic, lead cargo on, 215 

Medora, cargo of, 3 83 

Meeker, James, service of, 443 

Meeker, Moses, colony of, 210, 212, 407 

Memphis (Tenn.), 134, 300, 334 

Menard, Pierre, commission of, 113-115 

Mendota (Minn.), treaty at, 113; men- 
tion of, 116, 164; fur trade at, 146 

Menominee Indians, 100, 119, 120 

Merchandise, shipment of, 3 86 

Merchant, operation of, 3 96 

Merrick, George, characterization of, 204 

Merrimac Island, 43 6 

"Meschasipi" (Mississippi), 12 

Messenger, 348 

Metropolitan, excursion of, 292; passen- 
gers on, 348 

Mexico, lead cargo of, 215 

Mexican War, service of steamboats in, 
174, 178, 179, 203, 401, 402 

Miami Indians, 30, 32, 205 

Michigan canal, transportation on, 324 

Mico (Mississippi) River, 12 

Middleton, W., 126, 127 

Military posts, erection of, 168; depend- 
ence of, on steamboats, 168, 169; in- 
spection tours of, 171, 172; troops 
and supplies transported to, 190-203 

Military supplies, transport of, by steam- 
boat, 83, 196-203; value of, 201, 202 

Miller, Reuben, Jr., 25 8 

Milwaukee (Wis.), trade route to, 244, 
245, 316; railroad to, 299; immi- 
grants at, 318 

Milwaukee, reference to, 286, 293; profits 
made by, 377, 378; passage on, 378, 
3 80; operation of, 468 

Milwaukee and La Crosse Railroad, com- 
pletion of, to Mississippi, 286 

Miner's Journal (Galena), first issue of, 

Minneapolis, arrival of, 351; cargo of, 
388; winter quarters of, 482 

Minnehaha Falls, excursions to, 253, 254, 
259, 280 

Minneiska, excursion to, 289 

Minnesota, mention of, 22, 162; Carver 
land grant in, 33; forts in, 168; com- 
ment on, 280; population of, 301, 302, 
333, 334, 337; route to, 316; immi- 
grants in, 319, 331, 333, 338, 341, 
350, 356, 359, 371; trip to, 333-352; 
livestock shipped to, 382; Governor 
of, 406; conditions in, 432, 433; resi- 
dent of, 448; visitors to, 466 

Minnesota, Territory of, 15 3, 333, 337, 
373, 389, 421, 451, 452, 454 

Minnesota, 341, 348, 351, 355, 356, 385, 

Minnesota, First Years of, 429 

Minnesota Belle, operation of, 466 

Minnesota Historical Society, celebration 
of, at Itasca, 19 

Minnesota Packet Company, contract of, 
to remove Indians, 138; organization 
of, 158, 266, 420; D. S. Harris with, 
267; steamboats of, 271; excursion of, 
270, 286; activities of, 376, 377; clerk 
of, 390; member of, 414; operation of, 
422, 423, 472, 473; mention of, 449 

Minnesota Pioneer, comment in, 368, 389 

Minnesota River, mention of, 11, 24, 
139, 140, 148, 152, 153, 163; first 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

ascent of, by steamboat, 147; fur trade 
on, 147, 148; excursion on, 256; 
transportation on, 335, 413, 456, 457, 
460 (see also St. Peter's River) 

Mississippi Bubble, reference to, 25 

Mississippi River, names of, 11, 12, 30; 
uses of, 12; search for source of, 13- 
17, 20; divisions of, 22-27; historical 
significance of, 23; skiff riding on, 
23; changes in sea level of, 24; age 
of, 26; mileage of, 26; tributaries of, 
26; exploration of, 28-34; account of, 
by Marquette, 3 0, 31; steamboating 
plan for, 36, 40-47, 54, 70; snagboat 
on, 74; scenes along, 92-105, 249- 
251; freezing of, 15 5, 156; survey of, 
170, 171; importance of, in Civil War, 
179-189; movement for improvement 
of, 242; railroad to, 271; crossing of, 
301-315; emigrants on, 307, 311; fer- 
ries on, 309; transportation on, 319, 
327; settlements along, 334; ice in, 
451, 452, 453, 464, 475; meaning of 
name of, 487 (see also Upper Missis- 
sippi and Lower Mississippi) 

Mississippi Valley, features of, 23, 24, 
26, 27; exploration in, 28-34; claims 
of countries on, 28-35; American pos- 
session of, 34, 35; fertility of, 314, 

Missouri, exploration of, 14; admission 
of, 77; resident of, 272; population of, 
301, 337; migration to, 302, 305, 319, 
327, 334, 336 

Missotiri, reference to, 114; captain of, 
114; troops on, 192, 193; tonnage of, 
221; safety barge with, 223; passage 
on, 3 59; voyage of, 393 

Missouri Fulton, excursion of, 2 57; men- 
tion of, 258 

Missouri Fur Company, 86 

Missouri Gazette, establishment of, 76; 
quotation from, 79, 80 

Missouri Indians, delegation of, 112 

Missouri Intelligencer, 82, 83 

Missouri Republican, mention of, 196, 
197; comment in, 398 

Missouri River, Upper Mississippi limits 
at, 23; course of, 24, 25; discharge of, 
26; steamboats on, 80, 82, 83, 85, 86, 
219; Indian councils on, 117; annui- 
ties brought on, 130; fur trade on, 
147; incident on, 186, 187; mention 

of, 193, 249; transportation on, 3 08, 
335, 336, 339, 484; trade on, 400 

Missouri State Fair, excursion to, 292 

Mollie McPike, 351, 3 85 

Monona, 240, 449 

Monongahela River, early boats on, 49, 
69; steamboat centennial at, 65, 66 

Monsoon, 260 

Montana, building of, 402 

Montauk, barge of, 224; reference to, 

Montfort, A. C, 443 

Montreal, transportation to, 316; immi- 
grants in, 319; residents of, 320 

Morehouse, D. B., 215, 240, 260, 273, 
282, 443 

Morehouse, Le Grand, 273, 443 

Morey, Samuel, 40 

Morgan (Indian chief), 115 

Morgan, Willoughby, 172 

Mormon Temple, building of, 385 

Mountain of the Grange, 104 

Muir, Samuel C, 212 

Murphy, Mr., 131, 132 

Murray, Charles Augustus, visit of, to 
Upper Mississippi, 252; comment by, 
302, 318 

Muscatine, refugees at, 182; steamboat 
at, 220; mention of, 230; excursions 
from, 2 59; editor at, 310; emigrant 
agent in, 314; residents of, 432; ice 
at, 475; winter quarters at, 482 

Muscatine, cargo of, 3 85 

Muscatine Democratic Enquirer, com- 
ment in, 314 

Muscatine Journal, comment in, 314 

Muskingum, lead cargo on, 215 

Nanabozho, Indian legend of, 17 

Napoleon, mention of, 2 5, 187; Louisiana 
sold by, 42 

Natchez (Tenn.), description of, 56; 
New Orleans at, 64, 65 

Natchez, mention of, 2 5, 46, 66, 239; 
race with, 437 

Natchitoches (La.), 172, 196 

Nauvoo (111.), mention of, 95; Immi- 
grants at, 340; temple at, 383 

Navigation, opening of, 451-463; clos- 
ing of, 464-474 

Navigator, operation of, 466, 467 

Nebraska, population of, 302, 308, 309, 



Neill, E. D., 3 8} 

Neutral Ground, 125, 135 

New Albany, tonnage at, 334 

New Boston Bay, winter quarters at, 482 

New Brazil, mention of, 194; tonnage 
of, 221; keelboats with, 223; descrip- 
tion of, 262 

New England, residents of, 302, 317; 
emigrants from, 307, 312; immigrants 
in, 321 

New Madrid (Mo.), mention of, 26; 
earthquake at, 63; New Orleans at, 
63, 64 

New Orleans (La.), mention of, 33, 149, 
246, 459, 440; significance of, 41; 
papulation of, 42; New Orleans at, 65; 
barge service to, 68; battle of, 70; 
post at, 196, 316; steamboats from, 
219; immigrants at, 322, 328, 330, 
339, 374; conditions at, 327; ship- 
ments from, 3 34, 459; shipment to, 
352; cargoes at, 381, 382 

New Orleans, construction of, 57; nam- 
ing of, 57; launching of, 57, 69; voy- 
age of, 57-67; description of, 58, 60, 
61; comments on, 59-62; Indian pur- 
suit of, 63; fire on, 63; regular run 
of, 65; snagging of, 65; replica of, 
65, 66; excursions of, 287 

New Orleans (second), 65, 69, 71 

"New Orleans", 50 (see also Flatboat) 

New Orleans Crescent, suit against, 185 

New St. Paul, excursion of, 265 

New Sweden, founding of, 325 

New York, editors from, 272; mention 
of, 302; immigrants in, 304, 312, 
321, 322, 330; farmers in, 314; port 
at, 316; population of, 317, 334, 338; 
shipments from, 334; Joseph Throck- 
morton in, 391 

New Ulm (Minn.), massacre at, 172 

Newhall, Horatio, 215 

Newhall, John B., opinion of, 527 

Newman, John, 223 

Niagara, post at, 196; mention of, 2 50 

Niagara, work of, 431 

Nicolet, Jean, exploration by, 29 

Nicollet, J. N., exploration by, 17; tri- 
bute of, to Schoolcraft, 17; treaty 
signed by, 116; mention of, 257, 400 

Niles' Register, comment in, 320 

Nimrod, captain of, 155; reference to, 
157; use of, 401; passage on, 405 

Niota, damage to, 480 

Nominee, Indians on, 116; mention of, 
157, 266; expedition on, 171; race 
of, 270; accident on, 366; passage on, 
377, 446; cargo of, 5 82, 5 85 

North Western Railroad, 299 

Northern Belle, excursion on, 265; men- 
tion of, 286, 569, 570; passage on, 
546, 551; arrival of, 549; profits of, 
578, 579; cargo of, 585; operation of, 

Northern Light, reference to, 202, 286; 
excursion on, 290, 291; arrival at, 
548; operation of, 468; sinking of, 
478, 479 

Northern Line Packet Company, contract 
of, for removal of Indians, 140; troops 
transported by, 181; business decline 
of, 182, 185; operation of, 5 55, 5 56, 
449, 481; competition of, 579 

Northern Oufitt, 15 8, 159 

Northup, Anson, 165 

Northwest, Old, States of, 501; immi- 
grants in, 518 

Northwestern, operation of, 465, 479; 
winter quarters of, 478 

Northwestern Gazette and Galena Ad- 
vertiser, quotation from, 218, 219 

Northwestern Packet Company, rates 
of, 578 

Northwestern Union Packet Company, 
profits of, 578; property of, 420 

Norway, emigrants from, 518, 5 51, 548, 
549, 550 

Ocean Wave, opteration of, 548, 577, 

449, 481 
O'Connell, 217 

O'Connor, Patrick, execution of, 292, 442 
Ohio, population of, 501, 504; emigrants 

from, 511, 512, 514, 516, 554 
Ohio River, early boats on, 26, 49, 54, 

57-67, 70, 149, 219, 221, 258, 298, 

301, 305, 306, 307, 316, 555, 558. 

559, 542, 544, 586, 595, 596; villages 

on, 211 
Ohio Steamboat Navigation Company, 

incorporation of, 57, 69 
Ojibway Indians, land of, II; namesakes 

of, 485; Mississippi named by, 487 
Oliphant, Lawrence, comment by, 5 22 
Olive Branch, operation of, 154, 217, 455 
Omaha (Nebr.), steamboat at, 80 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Omega, 154, 240 

Omushkos Sagaeigun (Elk Lake), 18 

Ophelia, cargo of, 476 

Ora, 265, 348 

Oregon, population of, 301; trips to, 333 

Orleans Territory, reference to, 43, 45 

Oskaloosa, emigrants at, 313 

Osprey, 108 

Osivcgo, arrival of, 470 

Oto Indians, delegation of, 112 

Ottawa Indians, 206 

Otter, reference to, 108, 155, 158, 159, 
160, 221, 236, 417, 447, 455, 471, 
476; captain of, 232, 236, 414, 415, 

Owens, John P., comment by, 429 

Oxcarts, use of, 163, 164, 243 

Ozawindib, Indian guide, 15, 17 

Packets, use of, 336 

Painted Rock, 156 

Painter, Captain, 294 

Palmer, Strange M., 260 

Palmyra, captain of, 126; distinction of, 

126; reference to, 218; excursion of, 

256; cargo of, 3 83 
Parker, J. W., 184 
Parker, Joel, meeting with, 272 
Parker, Nathan H., comment by, 346, 

Passamaquoddy Indians, 1 1 
Patroon Debuts, 97 
Patterson, Robert, 25 5 
Paulding, James K., comment by, 3 03 
Pavilion, reference to, 154, 218; excur- 
sion of, 256, 257 
Pawnee, operation of, 449 
Pearl, tonnage of, 221; winter quarters 

of, 481 
Peck, James, comment by, 327 
Peck, John M., comment by, 374, 375 
Pella, settlement at, 32 5 
Pemberton, James, steamboat of, 90 
Pembina, settlement at, 163 
Pembiita, cargo of, 181, 3 83, 385 
Pendergast, William W., 456 
Pennsylvania, population of, 314, 317, 

344, 430 
Pennsylvania Canal, 148, 298, 324, 32 5, 

Peosta, excursion of, 289, 290, 294 
Perrin, I., 257 
Perrot, Nicolas, title of, 31; forts built 

by, 31; exploration of, 32; lead min- 
ing of, 32, 204, 205 

"Pest boat", reference to, 3 56 

Peyton a, 66 

Phil Sheridan, excursion of, 286, 292; 
size of, 3 63; profits of, 378; cargo of, 
380, 386, 463 

Philadelphia (Pa.), 316, 324, 325, 330, 

Philleo, Addison, 20 

Phoenix, passage on, 399 

Piankashaw Indians, 119 

Piasa Bluff, description of, 92 

Piasa Rock, 24 

Pier, Phil, saloon of, 361 

Pike, troops on, 193; tonnage of, 221 

Pike's Peak (Iowa), 24, 25 5 

Pike's Peak, 180 

Pike, Zebulon M., exploration of, 13, 34, 
75, 205 

Pilot, lead on, 215 

Pilots, activities of, 43 8-443 

Pinckard, P. M., 291, 292 

Pine Bend, steamboat near, 105, 43 6 

Pine Bluff, cargo of, 3 85 

Pine River, 124 

Pioneers, coming of, 301, 315 

Pirogue, description of, 50 

Pittsburgh (Pa.), population of, 42, 66; 
boatyard at, 49, 362, 395, 457; steam- 
boat centennial at, 65, 66; barge line 
to, 68; military post at, 196; trans- 
portation to, 306, 316, 318, 325, 326, 
373, 384, 386, 459, 483; Joseph 
Throckmorton at, 391 

Pizarro, description of, 130, 262, 288; 
captain of, 414; cost of, 418 

Planet, Indian delegation on, 112; troops 
on, 172 

Platteville powder mills, 180 

Plumbe, John, Jr., 2 57 

Poinsett, Joel R., 123 

Point Boss (Wis.), passage to, 376 

Pomme de Terre Prairie, 98 

Pond, Gideon, 373 

Pond, Peter, fur trading of, 3 3 

Pond, Samuel W., comment by, 3 59, 373, 

Population, growth of, 301, 303, 337 

Portage des Sioux, 92 

Porter, David D., quotation from, 187, 

Porter, Jeremiah, 19 



Post Boy, mail carried by, 74 

Potatoe Prairie, 98 

Potosi, passage to, 220, 237, 376 

Potosi, race of, 230; explosion of, 365, 

Potawatomi Indians, 130, 206 

Powhatan (ocean steamer), 277 

Prairie Bird, 178 

Prairie des Liards, 92 

Prairie du Chien, Carver at, 33; Indian 
treaty at, 92, 111-116, 172; steamboat 
at, 100, 153; Black Hawk at, 120; 
Indians removed from, 13 8; position 
of, in fur trade, 146, 148; reference to, 
159, 160, 162, 167, 168, 175-177, 
190, 196, 199, 200, 206, 217, 249, 
299; immigrants at, 331, 335, 342, 
356, 371; Alfred Brunson at, 375; 
fare to, 376, 378, 392; visit to, 394, 
396; resident of, 403, 419, 432, 447 

Prairie du Chien, Hudson, and St. Paul 
Packet Company, 157, 377 

Pre-emption, captain of, 414; ownership 
of, 419 

Prescott (Wis.), trip to, 378, 43 5, 467 

Prime, W. C, writings of, 272, 278 

Prophet (Indian), 121 

Quebec, immigrants in, 319, 3 30; steam- 
boat at, 321 

Queen Victoria, message from, 4_^ 1-437 

Quincy (III.), 89, 92, Ilii'^ip, 299, 
309, 336, 365, 366^ 3 ^^ 

Quinte, Bay of, reference to, 3 20 

Raccoon Fork, fort at, 168 

Raccoon River, 102 

Races, 239-241, 266-270, 415, 416, 431- 

Radisson, Pierre Esprit, explanations of, 
29, 30; quotation from, 30 

Raeder, Ole Munch, comment by, 323, 
356, 359 

Railroads, coming of, 271, 312, 342, 
3 51, 464; effect of, on steamboat rev- 
enue, 133; significance of, to Mississippi 
Valley, 298-3 00; lines to Mississippi, 
298, 299, 300; passage on, 331 

Rambler, reference to, 147, 163, 199, 
213; stores carried by, 169; captain 
of, 213; significance of, 213 

Ramsey, Alexander, 116, 13 8, 2 52 

Rapids, dangers of, 198, 231; effect of, 


on size of boats, 220, 221; improve- 
ment of, 222, 242 (sec also Upper 
Rapids and Lower Rapids) 

Read, James, 77 

Read's Landing, 378, 456, 483 

Red Cedar, 20 (see also Cass Lake) 

Red Lake, tr.iding post at, 145 

Red River, 26, 193 

Red River Colony, establishment of, 
162; income of, 163; trade with, 162- 

Red River of the North, Indians around, 
11; settlement on, 162; trade on, 162- 
166; hunters of, 163 

Red River raft, removal of, 74 

Red Rover, Indian delegation on, 113; 
mention of, 114, 199, 393, 394; cap- 
tain of, 114, 476; passage on, 359, 
405; ownership of, 3 92; arrival of, 

Red Wing (Indian chief), 116 

Red Wing (Minn.), Virginia at, 104, 
105; incident at, 108, 183, 367; men- 
tion of, 123; steamboat at, 43 5, 465, 
470; trip to, 457, 458 

Red Wing, reference to, 178, 237, 348; 
voyage of, 356; passage on, 357, 359, 
361; size of, 362; collapse of, 366; 
cargo of, 383; winter quarters of, 482 

Redwood Indian Agency, incident at, 

Reeder, D. F., 153, 251 

Regan, John, comment by, 316, 328 

Reilly, Robert A., 262, 263, 402, 443 

Relief, captain of, 414 

Rescue, 265, 459 

Reserve, cargo of, 3 85; damage to, 480 

Resolute, cargo of, 387 

Reveille, arrival of, 348, 357 

Revenue, 237 

Reynolds, John, proclamation of, 175 

Reynolds, Joseph, service of, 449 

Rhine River, 24, 27, 103 

Rice, Dan, reference to, 3 89 

Rice, Henry M., 157, 164 

Riggs, Stephen R., 154 

Ringling, A. J., steamboat used by, 401 

"Robber Barons", coming of, 463 

Robert E. Lee, reference to, 25, 46, 66, 
239; race with, 437 

Robert, Louis, 132, 269, 447, 456, 458 

Robidoux, Joseph, St. Joseph founded 
by, 81 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

Rock Island, mention of, 96, 187, 249; 
trading post at, 145; fort on, 168; 
Indian disturbances at, 174 

Rock Island (111.), excursions from, 259; 
speeches at, 274; railroad to, 298, 342; 
Throckmorton at, 394; wreck near, 
428, 439, 440 

Rock Island, destruction of, 477 

Rock Island (keelboat), 222 

Rock Island Railroad, 298 

Rock Islander, editor of, 3 08 

Rock River, reference to, 24, 96, 144, 
206; trading post on, 145; battle at, 
175; transportation on, 412; steamboat 
on, 43 8 

Rock Roe, 134 

Rocket, cargo of, 387 

Rockingham Slough, winter quarters at, 

Rockwell, John A., 281 

Rolette, Joseph, mention of, 100; death 
of, 146; fur trade of, 164 

Rolla, 124, 258 

Rolling Stone Creek, 136 

Roosevelt, Nicholas J., mention of, 40, 
66; characterization of, 47, 48; steam- 
boat activities of, 48-56; flatboat of, 
53; departure of, for West, 53; inci- 
dent of, with Indians, 55; return of, 
from West, 56; Neii^ Orleans built by, 
57; excursion runs of, 287 

Roosevelt, Mrs. Nicholas J. (Latrobe, 
Lydia), 49, 61, 62, 64 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 66, 261 

Rosalie, 260, 265 

Ross, Charles, 23 

Royal Arch, operation of, 449 

Rufus Putnam, fur cargo of, 147, 442; 
mention of, 152, 199; activities of, 

Rumsey's Landing, winter quarters at, 

Ryan, "Rocky", reference to, 369 

Rynning, Ole, comment by, 322 

Sac Prairie (Wis.), passage to, 376 

Safety barges, use of, 223, 224 

St. Anthony (Minn.), 252 

St. Anthony, troops on, 179; sinking of, 

St. Anthony Falls, excursion to, 271, 400, 

417, 418; mention of, 335, 456, 486 
St. Charles (Mo.), 85, 191 

St. Cloud (Minn.), 22, 165 

St. Croix, mention of, 237, 264; record 
of, 240, 241; captain of, 260; trip 
of, 415 

St. Croix River, mention of, 14, 24, 
105; Chippewa at, 126; first steam- 
boat on, 126; transportation on, 401 

St. Croix Valley, Indian claim on, 123; 
first mill in, 127 

St. Joseph (Mo.), founding of, 81 

St. Lawrence River, mention of, 26, 29; 
immigration along, 293; transportation 
on, 319, 320, 321 

St. Louis (Mo.), Pike at, 34; Lewis and 
Clark at, 34; population of, 42, 76, 
318; historical events at, 75; trading 
post at, 75; growth of, 75, 76; news- 
paper at, 76; post o£5ce at, 76; church 
at, 76; school system begun at, 76; 
Bank of Missouri at, 76; steamboats at, 
76-80, 217, 219, 335, 343, 401, 415, 
477, 484; strategic position of, 78-80; 
first ocean steamer at, 79; Western 
Engineer at, 84, 85; Virginia at, 90, 
91; Black Hawk at, 121; Indian trade 
center at, 129, 130; position of, in fur 
trade, 147-151, 209; mention of, 159, 
164, 190, 191, 192, 245, 249, 439; 
war news at, 175; military supplies 
at, 196, 198-200; expeditions at, 211, 
417, 420; excursion from, 258; resi- 
dent of, 272; fair at, 292; railroad to, 
300; pioneers of, 301, 307; crossing 
at, 309; transportation to, 326, 327, 
373, 374, 394, 406; immigrants at, 
328, 330, 334, 335, 338, 340, 355; 
packets at, 333; grain shipped to, 3 52; 
fare from, 325, 379; lead shipped to, 
412; shipments to, 442; ice at, 452, 
478; telegraph line to, 454; shipments 
from, 459 

St. Louis, 84, 2 87 

St. Louis and Galena Packet, lead on, 
215; safety barge with, 223; mention 
of, 243 

St. Louis-Fort Snelling steamboat line, 
plan for, 158 

St. Louis Oak, race of, 230 

St. Louis Republican, quotation from, 74 

St. Louis Rei'eille, quotation from, 229 

St. Louis (Mississippi) River, 12, 15 

St. Paul (Minn.), Mississippi River at, 
22, 23; Indian trade at, 131; position 




of, in fur trade, 146; mention of, 159, 
171, 180, 202, 252, 348; position 
of, in Red River Valley trade, 163- 
166; government trade at, 203; de- 
scription of, 279; Grand Excursion to, 
279, 280; comment on, 280; railroad 
to, 300; crossing at, 509; boats at, 
333, 335, 462, 466, 467, 483, 484; 
immigrants at, 335, 341, 342; popula- 
tion of, 337, 338; fare to, 377, 378, 
379, 3S0; livestock to, 383; cargo sent 
to, 3 84; transportation to, 406, 453; 
residents of, 413, 422, 447; telegraph 
line to, 432; trips to, 436, 444, 456; 
navigation to, 451 

St. Paul, condition of, 3 58; size of, 362 

St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, interest 
of, in steamboat, 165 

St. Paul Daily Pioneer and Democrat, 
editor of, 425; reference to, 432; com- 
ment in, 459, 467, 468 

St. Paul Daily Times, 425 

St. Peter's (Minn.), mention of, 148, 
149, 151, 156, 160, 170, 190, 196, 
197, 217, 253, 264, 401, 402; steam- 
boats at, 154; soldiers from, 179; 
military post at, 196; scenes around, 

St. Peter's, mention of, 237; excursion 
of, 256; size of, 399, 400; passage 
on, 405 

St. Peter's River, Virginia on, 105, 106; 
mention of, 144, 170, 249; fort at, 

St. Vrain, Mrs. Felix, 2 53 

Sam Gaty, attack on, 186, 187 

Sam Youns, 265, 348, 459 

Sandbars, danger from, 76, 88, 89; de- 
lays caused by, 198 

Sandy Lake, trading post at, 145 

Sangamo Journal, quotation from, 3 04 

Sanitation, lack of, 353 

Santa Fe trade, characters in, 204, 209 

Saracen, 348, 369 

Sarah A7in, accident on, 364 

Sargent, Epes, writings of, 272, 277 

Saucy Jack (keelboat), 190 

Sauk Indians, mention of, 95, 97, 112, 
119, 129, 130, 134, 144, 145, 167, 
174, 175; treaty with, 113; delegation 
of, at Washington, 124 

Saukenuk, 96 

Sault Ste. Marie, Schoolcraft at, 16; 

mention of, 2 50; immigrants at, 3 22 
Saunders, John, service of, 468 
Savanna (111.), soldiers from, 179; men- 
tion of, 230, 293; excursion to, 291 
Savanna, passage on, 351 
Savannah, Atlantic crossed by, 41, 79 
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, explorations 
of, 13-17, 170; biographical data on, 
14; island named for, 16; book by, 
16, 17, 18; "Itasca" coined by, 18, 
20, 21; quotation from, 20; letter of, 
20, 21 
Schoolcraft Island, discovery of, 16 
Schouler, William, work of, 272, 278 
Schuyler, soldiers on, 186 
Scientific expeditions, 170, 171, 203 
Scioto, mention of, 199; lead cargo on, 

Scotch, settlement of, 162, 318 
Scott, Dred, owner of, 116 
Scott, Winfield, tour of inspection by, 
171, 172; Fort Sneiling named by, 
171, 172; mention of, 178 
Scribe, Robert, service of, 443 
Sea-Horse (ocean steamer), 79 
Second Purchase, 124 

Sedgwick, Catherine M., meeting with, 
272; mention of, 275, 282; quotations 
from, 276 
Selkirk, Earl of, 162 
Selkirk Colony (see Red River Colony) 
Seminole Indians, removal of, 134 
Senator, removal of Indians on, 138; 
captain of, 155, 414; mention of, 164, 
237, 338; cargo of, 356, 472; passage 
on, 371, 428; operation of, 420, 421, 
455, 465 
Seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry, first 

casualty for, 184 
Seward, William H., 286, 3 58 
Seymour, E. S., comment by, 371 
Shallcross, S., 223, 394, 396 
Shamrock, lead on, 215; operation of, 446 
Sheffield and Farnam, firm of, 271 
Shenandoah, operation of, 471 
Shilito & Co., purchases from, 363 
Shot tower, erection of, on Wisconsin 
River, 243; location of, at Herculan- 
eum (Mo.), 244 
Shreve, Henry Miller, steamboat mon- 
opoly broken by, 68, 72; biographical 
data on, 68; Shreveport named for, 
68, 74; barge service of, 68; profits 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

of, 68; Enterprise commanded by, 69; 
war service of, 70; steamboat inven- 
tions of, 71, 72; achievements of, 73, 
74; telegraph message sent by, 74; 
death of, 74; tributes to, 74; distinc- 
tion of, in lead trade, 205 

Shreveport (La.), naming of, 68, 74 

Shull, Jesse W., 212 

Sibley, Henry Hastings, treaty signed 
by, 116; mention of, 123, 149, 151, 
157, 164, 280, 406, 407, 420; corre- 
spondence of, with Dousman, 146; fur 
trade activities of, 146, 147, 157-159; 
letter to, 155, 156, 158, 159, 161, 419 

Sibley's Landing, 186, 187 

Silliman, Benjamin, meeting with, 272; 
mention of, 276, 278 

Sioux City, value of, 477 

Sioux Indians, mention of, 11, 109, 112, 
119, 122, 124, 130, 131, 141, 169, 
172, 254, 255; land granted by, to 
Carver, 33; fur trade with, 33; pay- 
ment of, 87; encampment of, 103, 
104; delegation of, 116; council with, 
137; appearance of, 137; uprising of, 
138; removal of, 13 8-142; missionary 
to, 154, 373; treaty with, 382 

Sioux Outfit, goods brought to, 149, 150 

Skiff, flat-bottomed, 50 

Skunk River, 24, 95, 144 

Smelter, excursion on, 256; mention of, 
25 8; staterooms of, 261; captain of, 
414, 415; use of, 418; passage on, 

Smith, Orrin, service of, as steamboat 
captain, 153, 157, 259, 262, 443, 444, 
455; steamboat improvements by, 262; 
victory of, in steamboat race, 270; 
steamboat owned by, 420 

Snagboat, construction of, 74 

Snelling, Colonel Josiah, 190 

Soulard, James G., 215 

South Shore, destruction of, 477 

South West Company, 93, 95 

Southern Belle, 66, 477 

Spanish, claims of, on Mississippi Valley, 
33; land grant system of, 33; num- 
ber of, in Louisiana, 42 

Spencer, R. M., 133 

Spirit of St. Louis, reference to, 36 

Spread Eagle, cargo of, 484, 485 

Springfield Republican, representative of, 

Stafford Western Emigration Company, 
agent of, 314 

Stambaugh, Samuel C, Indians trans- 
ported by, 120 

Stanchfield, Daniel, lumberman, 258, 259 

Starr, Courtland, 3 64 

Staterooms, 261 

Ste. Genevieve (Mo.), settlement of, 2 5 

Steam whistle, 109 

Steamboat engines, types of, 69, 72 

Steamboat excursions, 248-265, 271-295, 

Steamboat lines, beginnings of, 157, 158; 
short line packets, 532 

Steamboat monopoly, account of, 41-47; 
breaking of, 68-74; test case on, 73 

Steamboat navigation, centennial of, 65, 

Steamboat passage, cost of, 376, 378 

Steamboating, beginnings of, 36-40; 
prophecy on, 41; monopoly sought in, 
43-47; popularization of, by Shreve, 
68; development of, 76-80; dangers 
of, in war times, 175, 176; discom- 
forts of, 227i 228; account of, by 
Marryat, 227; 228; profits of, 378, 

Steamboats, invention of, 36, 38, 40, 
71, 72; record times of, 46; cylinders 
on, 69, 72; engines of, 69, 72; use 
of, in government service, 70; barroom 
in, 71; mail carried by, 74; trade on, 
78; numbers of, on western waters, 
78, 220, 271; "Tea Pot Dome" case of, 
86, 87; attitude of Indians to, 107- 
110; introduction of, on Danube River, 
107; importance of, in Indian rela- 
tions, 110-142; profits of, 124, 125, 
160, 161, 173, 181-183, 194, 203; 
rates of, 153, 154, 159, 160; service 
of, 153-155; investment of American 
Fur Company in, 157; traffic by, in 
Red River Valley trade, 164; use of, 
on military frontier, 168-173; use 
of, on scientific expeditions, 170, 171; 
use of, in war times, 174-189; decline 
of, 181-185; revival of, 183; troops 
transported by, in peace times, 190- 
195; accidents on, 193, 194, 363-368; 
use of, in lead trade, 215-226, 246, 
247; tonnage of, 221, 222; safety 
barges with, 223, 224; competition 
among, 229, 230; records of, 239-241, 



415, 416; bands on, 252, 263, 264; 

passenger accommodations of, 260-264; 

description of, 284, 285; use of, 315, 

516; importance of, 3 37; racing of, 

415, 416, 431-437 
Steele, Franklin, 146, 147, 157, 159, 160, 

257, 259, 400, 419, 472 
Steele's Point, 251 
Stephenson, James W., 410 
Sterling, operation of, 463 
Stevens, Isaac I., railroad survey by, 171 
Stevens, John, 40 
Stillman's Run, 175, 409 
Stillwater (Minn.), Indians at, 126; 

steamboat at, 401; mention of, 420; 

trip to, 445 
Stockholm (Wis.), ferry at, 331 
Stratton, Levi W., quotation from, 127, 

Street, Joseph M., treaty signed by, 124 
Sturgeon Lake, 43 5 
Sucker State, soldiers on, 180; passage 

on, 351, 356, 380; size of, 363; cargo 

of, 3 85; winter quarters of, 480 
Sully, General Alfred, troops of, 483, 484 
Sultaita, record time of, 46; mention of, 

66, 239; explosion of, 194; tonnage 

of, 221 
Sunday School excursions, 288, 289 
SunnysiJe, soldiers on, 186 
Supplies, transportation of, 196-203 
Surveys, use of steamboats for, 170, 171 
Susquehanna River, 3 2 5, 326 
Sutler, captain of, 414 
Swedes, 318, 325, 349 
Swiss, settlement of, 162; coming of, to 

America, 318, 325, 326, 327 
Sycamore chain (Upper Rapids), 223 

Taft, William Howard, 65, 66 
Talcott, Andrew, survey by, 171 
Taliaferro, Lawrence, reference to, 90, 

103, 119; activities of, as Indian Agent, 

123, 124, 128, 145, 152, 199, 254 
Tamaliseu (Mississippi) River, 12 
Tampa Bay, De Soto at, 28 
Tapatu (Mississippi) River, 12 
Tariff law of 1829, effect of, on lead 

production, 207 
Taylor, Sarah Knox, 200 
Taylor, Zachary, mention of, 178, 179; 

daughter of, 200; election of, 451 
Telegraph, 74, 178, 432, 43 3, 454 

Tempest, activities of, 178, 364 
Ten Eyck, J. C, meeting with, 272 
Tennessee, emigrants from, 304, 319, 3 54 
Tennessee Insurance Company, 402 
Tesson, Louis Honore, land grant to, 5 5 
Tctes dcs Morts Creek, 98 
Thomas, Martin, 242 
Thompson, Eleazar, meeting with, 272 
Throckmorton, Joseph, services of, 115, 
114, 151, 155, 155, 157, 158, 160, 
176, 177, 225, 255, 256, 257, 262, 
591-405, 441, 446, 449, 476, 485; 
mention of, 114; death of, 403; atti- 
tude toward, 419 
Thundering (Grand) Rapids, explorers 

at, 15 
Tiger, cargo of, 413 
Tiger (dog), 59, 62, 65 
Tigress, cargo of, 585 
Tilden, Samuel J., meeting of, 271 
Time, excursion of, 260; captain of, 414 
Time and Tide, operation of, 257, 348, 

447, 456, 453 
Tishomingo, operation of, 289, 565, 425, 

424, 425 
Todd, George, 186 

Tom Jasper, arrival of, 5 51, 5 80, 5 85 
Toronto, 519, 520 
Trade goods, list of, 151, 152 
Trade routes, rivalry for, 242-247 
Trails, discussion of, 516-551 
Transboro (N. J.), 515 
Transient steamboats, 228, 229, 255 
Trappist monks, coming of, 5 54 
Travels Through the Interior Parts of 

North America, publications of, 55 
Traverse des Sioux, incident at, 109, 113; 
treaty of, 116, 117, 164, 172, 541, 582 
Tremont House (Chicago), reception at, 

Trempealeau (Wis.), 25, 105, 276, 285 
Trollope, Mrs., comment by, 562 
Troops, transportation of, 84-86, 174- 

195, 580, 415 
True, "Bill", episode of, 139 
Turkey River, village on, 100, 2 32 
Turtle Lake, 14 
Twining, A. C, meeting with, 272, 282 

Uncle Toby, 178, 237, 289, 471 
United States, explorations by, 34; pop- 
ulation of, 501; communications in, 
431, 452 


Steamboating on Upper Mississippi 

United States Arsenal, steamboat built at, 

Upper Iowa River, reference to, 102, 128 

Upper Mississippi River, exploration of, 
13-17; limits of, 22-26; lead traffic on, 
68, 204-209; steamboats on, 80, 87, 88, 
89, 168, 219, 249-252, 271-295, 316, 
335, 343, 345, 550, 352, 365-367, 
386, 396, 403, 415, 416, 430, 440, 
441; military posts on, 196-203; de- 
scription of, 249-251; ice gorges in, 

Upp>er Mississippi Valley, wealth of, 27, 
88, 301, 336, 406, 409, 412; treaty 
grounds in, 113, 116, 117; migra- 
tion toward, 134, 142-146, 363, 378; 
fur trade in, 147, 429, 462; comment 
on, 178, 284, 370, 371; population of, 
296, 297, 314, 315, 319, 330, 332, 
334, 338, 341; cholera in, 355; ice in, 

Upper Rapids, reference to, 96, 97, 168, 
170, 171, 180, 231, 242, 262, 387, 

Upstream navigation, 69, 70, 73 

Valley Forge, 258, 260 
Vanmatre, A. P., 212 
Velocipede, lead cargo on, 215 
Veritas Caput, application of, 13-21 
Vermilion Slough, 43 5 
Vesuviti!., launching of, 69 
Veteran, 217 

Vicksburg (Miss.), 25, 187, 188, 483 
Victoria, Queen, message to, 431-437 
Virginia, trip of, 80, 90-106, 128, 147, 
162, 163, 250, 333, 336 408; cargo 
of, 169, 170, 190, 192, 198, 199, 
392; reference to, 205, 211, 213, 429 
Volant, 199 
Volga Valley, 27 

W. H. Denny, cargo of, 3 82 

W. L. Ewing, mention of, 225, 348; 

cargo of, 382 
W. L. Nelson, cargo of, 3 82 
Wabasha (Indian chief), interest of, in 

Virginia, 103, 104; mention of, 116, 

123, 289; gifts to, 128; village of, 

135, 136, 138, 177, 396 
Wabasha (Minn.), 104 
Wabasha's prairie, 172 
Waggoner, Isaac Newton, 157 

Wahkoota (Indian chief), 123 

Walachians, 107 

Wales, immigrants from, 318 

Wapsipinicon River, 24, 98 

War Eagle, mention of, 23, 179, 237, 273, 
274, 275, 286, 418, 425; captain of, 
155, 414, 415; troops on, 179; accident 
to, 231; time record of, 240, 241, 437; 
excursions of, 260, 264, 294; description 
of, 264; passage on, 3 64, 3 80; burning 
of, 367, 477; profits of, 377, 378; 
operation of, 424, 455, 461, 472, 473; 
race with, 459; winter quarters of, 

War Eagle (second), launching of, 363; 
captain of, 414, 415 

War of 1812, mention of, 23, 100; ser- 
vice of Enterprise in, 70 

Ward, James, 116 

Ward's Island, immigrants at, 329 

Warrior, shipment on, 152; service of, in 
war, 176, 177; captain of, 176; men- 
tion of, 178, 199, 217, 255, 397; mili- 
tary supplies on, 199-201; excursion 
on, 253; passengers on, 253; building 
of, 395; arrival of, 396; passage on, 
398, 399, 405; operation of, 449, 453; 
winter quarters of, 476 

Wars, use of steamboats in, 174-189 

Washington, new features of, 71, 72; 
comments on, by E. Livingston, 71, 
72; time made by, 73 

Washington (D.C.), Indian delegations 
to, 118-125; population of, 301; mes- 
sage from, 432 

Washington Guards, transport of, 181 

Wave, 348 

Webb, Captain, 291, 350 

Weed, Thurlow, writings of, 272; com- 
ment by, 343 

Welland Canal, 297, 316, 321 

Wellington, William E., 390 

Wentworth, W. A., excursion chartered 
by, 291, 292 

West Diggings, mining at, 409; steamboat 
near, 410 

West Ncu'ton, captain of, 267; time rec- 
ord of, 270; arrival of, 342, 343, 365; 
immigrants on, 3 54; passage on, 377, 
426; cargo of, 413; race with, 416; 
activities of, 437; operation of, 455 

Western Engineer, account of, 81-89; 
naming of, 84; description of, 84; 



winter quarters of, S6; distinction of, 

Wharf boat, exhibition at, 390 

Wheeling (W. Va.), boat yard at, 49; 
Black Hawk at, 122; emigrants at, 
307; tonnage at, 334 

Whiskey, shipment of, 381 

White Beaver, 121 

White Collar Line, operation of, 449, 481 

Whitney, Daniel, shot tower of, 243 

Whitten, David, race with, 433 

Wilcox, Joseph B., 158, 139 

"Wild boats", 228, 229 

Wild Life Refuge, features of, 101 

Wilkins, William, 201 

William Wallace, 178, 217 

Wilson, George H., service of, 443, 444 

Winnebago, Black Hawk on, 120, 121, 
177; mention of, 178, 217; operation 
of, 395; passage on, 398, 405 

Winnebago Chief, 243 

Winnebago Indians, reference to, 29, 100, 
109, 130, 144, 145, 156, 167, 174, 
206; delegation of, 112; treaty with, 
115, 116; lands ceded by, 124, 125; 
annuities for, 129; removal of, 134, 
135-138, 140; description of, 140, 142; 
activities of, 141, 142; military visit 
to, 174; war service of, 177 

Winnebagoshish Lake, 22 

Winneshiek Bottoms, features of, 101 

Winona (Minn.), scenery around, 103; 
Virginia at, 103, 104; mention of, 
123; excursion from, 2 89; crossing at, 
3 09; fare to, 378, 424; transportation 
to, 423; steamboat at, 463, 469 

Winona Republican, comment in, 424, 
469, 473 

Winter quarters, 476, 480 

Wiota, description of, 263; owners of, 

Wisconsin, Carver land grant in, 33; 
fort in, 168; lead in, 204; immigrants 
in, 327, 338, 341; population of, 333, 
3 37; resident of, 448 

Wisconsin, mention of, 217; captain of, 
234; cargo of, 234; operation of, 449, 

Wisconsin Heights, battle of, 410 

Wisconsin Herald, 245 

Wisconsin River, mention of, 14, 24, 
100, 144, 192, 206; fur trade on, 147, 
148, 161; fort at, 168; expedition on, 
170; route by way of, 243; shot tower 
on, 243; transportation on, 376, 412 

Wood, B. F., 160 

Wood, John, 211 

Wood, William, 133 

Wood, shipment of, 476 

Wood and Barclay Company, 133 

Worden, Jones, service of, as steamboat 
captain, 182, 445, 460, 461 

Wyoming, 341, 471 

Yager, Dick, 186 

Yankee, operation of, 465 

"Yellow Hills", 95 

Yellow River, scenes around, 101 

Yellowhead, The, 15 (see also Ozawindib) 

Yellowstoney 217 

Yellowstone River, steamboat bound for, 

80; prophecy for, 83 
Young, Captain, 240 
Younger, Cole, 186 

Zebulon M. Pike, arrival of, at St. Louis, 
77; significance of, 77, 78; description 
of, 78 


Edited by Bcnj. F. Shambaugh and Ruth A. Gallaher 

Verified by V/m. J. Petersen and J. A. Szvishcr 

Read from copy by Adelaide Gill and Marie Haefner 

Format by Benj. F. Shambaugh 

Index by J. A. Szvisher and Marie Haefner 

Proofs read by Ruth A. Gallaher and IVm. J. Petersen 

Paper Alexandra manufactured under order of Chas. W. Dau 

Set in linotype twelve point Garamond 

Printed by The Torch Press under direction of Edzvard F. Misak 

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Contracts arranged by Ethyl E. Martin 

Published by The State Historical Society of lozva