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Title: Old Times on the Upper Mississippi - The Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863
Author: Merrick, George Byron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Old Times on the
  Upper Mississippi

[Illustration: MOUTH OF THE WISCONSIN RIVER. The ancient highway
between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. This scene gives some
idea of the multitude of islands which diversify both the Wisconsin
and the Mississippi Rivers.]

  Old Times on the
  Upper Mississippi

  The Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot
  from 1854 to 1863


  George Byron Merrick


  Cleveland, Ohio
  The Arthur H. Clark Company

  Copyright 1908
  George Byron Merrick
  All rights reserved

Dedicated to the Memory of My Chiefs

William H. Hamilton, Engineer, Charles G. Hargus, Clerk, Thomas
Burns, Pilot, masters in their several professions. From each of them
I learned something that has made life better worth living, the sum
of which makes possible these reminiscences of a "cub" pilot.


  Prelude                                                        13

    Chapter I
      EARLY IMPRESSIONS                                          15

    Chapter II
      INDIANS, DUGOUTS, AND WOLVES                               20

    Chapter III
      ON THE LEVEE AT PRESCOTT                                   29

    Chapter IV
      IN THE ENGINE-ROOM                                         38

    Chapter V
      THE ENGINEER                                               46

    Chapter VI
      THE "MUD" CLERK--COMPARATIVE HONORS                        52

    Chapter VII
      WOODING UP                                                 59

    Chapter VIII
      THE MATE                                                   64

    Chapter IX
      THE "OLD MAN"                                              71

    Chapter X
      THE PILOTS AND THEIR WORK                                  78

    Chapter XI
      KNOWING THE RIVER                                          92

    Chapter XII
      THE ART OF STEERING                                       100

    Chapter XIII
      AN INITIATION                                             106

    Chapter XIV
      EARLY PILOTS                                              111

    Chapter XV
      INCIDENTS OF RIVER LIFE                                   117

    Chapter XVI
      MISSISSIPPI MENUS                                         126

    Chapter XVII
      BARS AND BARKEEPERS                                       132

    Chapter XVIII
      GAMBLERS AND GAMBLING                                     138

    Chapter XIX
      STEAMBOAT RACING                                          143

    Chapter XX
      MUSIC AND ART                                             152

    Chapter XXI
      STEAMBOAT BONANZAS                                        161

    Chapter XXII
      WILD-CAT MONEY AND TOWN-SITES                             174

    Chapter XXIII
      A PIONEER STEAMBOATMAN                                    184

    Chapter XXIV
      A VERSATILE COMMANDER; A WRECK                            190

    Chapter XXV
      A STRAY NOBLEMAN                                          196

    Chapter XXVI
      IN WAR TIME                                               206

    Chapter XXVII
      AT FORT RIDGELEY                                          212

    Chapter XXVIII
      IMPROVING THE RIVER                                       221

    Chapter XXIX
      KILLING STEAMBOATS                                        229

    Chapter XXX
      LIVING IT OVER AGAIN                                      240


       RIVER, 1823-1863                                         257

    B. OPENING OF NAVIGATION AT ST. PAUL, 1844-1862             295

    C. TABLE OF DISTANCES FROM ST. LOUIS                        296

       1866-1876                                                299

    E. INDIAN NOMENCLATURE AND LEGENDS                          300

  Index                                                         305


  MOUTH OF THE WISCONSIN RIVER. The ancient highway
  between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi.
  This scene gives some idea of the multitude of islands
  which diversify both the Wisconsin and the Mississippi
  Rivers                                                 Frontispiece

  PRESCOTT LEVEE IN 1876. Showing Steamer "Centennial"
  and the little Hastings ferry, "Plough Boy." The double
  warehouse, showing five windows in the second story
  and four in the third, was the building in which the author
  lived when a boy                                                 32

  PRESCOTT LEVEE IN 1908. But one business building, one
  of the old Merrick warehouses, left intact. Dunbar's
  Hall gutted by fire recently. The large steamboat
  warehouse next to it destroyed some years ago. All the
  shipping business gone to the railroad, which runs just
  back of the buildings shown                                      32

  ALMA, WISCONSIN. A typical river town in the fifties             54

  ABOVE TREMPEALEAU, WISCONSIN. In the middle foreground,
  at the head of the slough, is the site of the winter
  camp of Nicolas Perrot, in the winter of 1684-5, as identified
  in 1888 by Hon. B. F. Heuston and Dr. Reuben Gold Thwaites
  of the Wisconsin State Historical Society                        68

  DANIEL SMITH HARRIS. Steamboat Captain, 1833-1861                82

  CAPTAIN THOMAS BURNS. Pilot on the Upper Mississippi
  River from 1856 to 1889. Inspector of Steamboats
  under President Cleveland and President McKinley                 82

  CHARLES G. HARGUS. Chief Clerk on the "Royal Arch,"
  "Golden State," "Fanny Harris," "Kate Cassell" and
  many other fine steamers on the Upper Mississippi                82

  GEORGE B. MERRICK. "Cub" Pilot, 1862                             82

  river between Cassville, Wis., and Guttenberg, Iowa,
  showing the characteristic winding of the stream                 98

  STEAMER "WAR EAGLE," 1852; 296 TONS                             120

  STEAMER "MILWAUKEE," 1856; 550 TONS                             120

  WINONA, MINNESOTA. The Levee in 1862                            134

  THE LEVEE AT ST. PAUL, 1859. Showing the Steamer
  "Grey Eagle" (1857; 673 tons), Capt. Daniel Smith
  Harris, the fastest and best boat on the Upper River,
  together with the "Jeanette Roberts" (1857; 146 tons),
  and the "Time and Tide" (1853; 131 tons), two Minnesota
  River boats belonging to Captain Jean Robert, an
  eccentric Frenchman and successful steamboatman. (Reproduced
  from an old negative in possession of Mr. Edward Bromley
  of Minneapolis, Minn.)                                         146

  STEAMER "KEY CITY," 1857; 560 TONS                             154

  STEAMER "NORTHERN LIGHT," 1856; 740 TONS                       154


  MCGREGOR, IOWA. Looking north, up the river                    178

  ALTON, ILLINOIS. Looking down the river            _facing p._ 188

  RED WING, MINNESOTA. Showing Barn Bluff in the background,
  with a glimpse of the river on the left                        198

  BAD AXE (NOW GENOA), WISCONSIN. Scene of the last
  battle between the United States forces and the Indians
  under Chief Black Hawk, August 21, 1832. The steamer
  "Warrior," Captain Joseph Throckmorton, with soldiers
  and artillery from Fort Crawford, Prairie du
  Chien, took an active and important part in this battle        218

  REED'S LANDING, MINNESOTA. At the foot of Lake Pepin.
  During the ice blockade in the Lake, in the spring of
  each year before the advent of railroads to St. Paul;
  all freight was unloaded at Reed's Landing, hauled
  by team to Wacouta, at the head of the Lake, where it
  was reloaded upon another steamboat for transportation
  to St. Paul and other ports above the Lake                     236

  STEAMER "MARY MORTON," 1876; 456 TONS. Lying
  at the levee, La Crosse, Wisconsin. (From a negative
  made in 1881.)                                                 244

  STEAMER "ARKANSAS," 1868; 549 TONS. With tow of
  four barges, capable of transporting 18,000 sacks--36,000
  bushels of wheat per trip. The usual manner of carrying
  wheat in the early days, before the river traffic was
  destroyed by railroad competition                          244

  PAUL                                               _facing p._ 304


The majesty and glory of the Great River have departed; its glamour
remains, fresh and undying, in the memories of those who, with mind's
eye, still can see it as it was a half-century ago. Its majesty
was apparent in the mighty flood which then flowed throughout the
season, scarcely diminished by the summer heat; its glory, in the
great commerce which floated upon its bosom, the beginnings of mighty
commonwealths yet to be. Its glamour is that indefinable witchery
with which memory clothes the commonplace of long ago, transfiguring
the labors, cares, responsibilities, and dangers of steamboat life
as it really was, into a Midsummer Night's Dream of care-free,
exhilarating experiences, and glorified achievement.

Of the river itself it may be said, that like the wild tribes which
peopled its banks sixty years ago, civilization has been its undoing.
The primeval forests which spread for hundreds of miles on either
side, then caught and held the melting snows and falling rains
of spring within spongy mosses which carpeted the earth; slowly,
throughout the summer, were distilled the waters from myriad springs,
and these, filling brooks and smaller rivers, feeders of the Great
River, maintained a mighty volume of water the season through. Upon
the disappearance of the forests, the melting snows and early rains
having no holding grounds, are carried quickly to the river, which as
quickly rises to an abnormal stage in the early part of the season,
to be followed by a dearth which later reduces the Mississippi to the
dimensions of a second-rate stream, whereon navigation is impossible
for great steamers, and arduous, disheartening and unprofitable for
boats of any class.

To most men of our day, the life of those who manned the steamers
of that once mighty fleet is legendary, almost mythical. Its story
is unwritten. To the few participants who yet remain, it is but a
memory. The boats themselves have disappeared, leaving no token. The
masters and the mates, the pilots and the clerks, the engineers and
the men of humbler station have likewise gone. Of the thousands who
contributed to give life and direction to the vessels themselves, a
meager score of short biographies is all that history vouchsafes.

The aim of the present volume is to tell something of these men, and
of the boats that they made sentient by their knowledge and power;
to relate something of the incidents of river life as seen by a
boy during eight years of residence by the riverside, or in active
service on the river itself. While it may not literally be claimed,
"All of which I saw," it is with satisfaction, not unmixed with
pride, that the writer can truthfully assert, "A part of which I was."

                                                  G. B. M.

The several quotations from "Mark Twain" which herein appear are from
_Life on the Mississippi_ (copyright, 1903), by Samuel L. Clemens,
permission for the use of which is kindly granted for the present
purpose by the publishers, Messrs. Harper & Brothers, New York.

Chapter I

_Early Impressions_

Descent from an ancestry whose members built and sailed ships from
Salem, Newburyport, and Nantucket two hundred years ago, and even
down to the early days of the nineteenth century, ought to give an
hereditary bias toward a sailor's life, on waters either salt or
fresh. A score-and-a-half of men of my name have "died with their
boots on" at sea, from the port of Nantucket alone. They went for
whales, and the whales got them. Perhaps their fate should have
discouraged the sea-going instinct, but perversely it had the
opposite effect. A hundred men are lost out of Gloucester every year,
yet their boys are on the "Banks" before they are fairly weaned.

I was born at Niles, Michigan, on the historic St. Joseph River,
which in those days was of considerable importance commercially.
Scores of keel boats plied between South Bend and the mouth of the
river at St. Joseph, on Lake Michigan. Keel boats drifted down the
river, and after unloading were towed back by little steamboats,
about eighty feet long by eighteen feet beam. These were propelled by
side wheels attached to a single shaft, driven by a horizontal engine
of indifferent power. These steamers towed four "keels" upstream at
the rate of five or six miles an hour. The former had no upper cabin
answering to the "boiler deck" of the Mississippi River boats--only
a roof covering the main deck, with the passenger cabin aft, and the
quarters of the crew forward of the boiler and engine.

It was, I suppose, a quarter of a mile from my birthplace to the
river bank where we boys of the neighborhood went to see the
steamboats pass. In the opposite direction, around a sharp bend and
across the low-lying, alluvial land, which comprised the home farm,
the river was discernible a mile away. When a boat was seen coming up
river, the alarm was given, and we little shavers of the neighborhood
raced for the nearest point of view, a high bank of blue clay, rising
probably seventy-five feet above the river. We used to think it was
as many hundreds of feet; and what I now know as the quarter mile,
then stretched away into interminable distances as it was measured
by the stubby yet sturdy little legs of six-year-old runners. On the
edge of this blue-clay bank, I received my first impressions in river

My teacher in these matters was a man whom I greatly envied. Kimball
Lyon lived in a house three times as large as that in which I was
born. His father had left a big farm and a bank account of fabulous
dimensions. We knew it was large, because "Kim" never worked as other
young men of twenty-five or thirty years did in those days. His
mother always kept a "hired man", while Kim toiled not; but he spun.

It was not his riches, however, nor his immunity from toil, that
common lot of other men, which excited the envy of the six-year-olds.
He could, and did, play on the accordion. Lying on his back in the
shade and resting one corner of his instrument upon his bosom, with
irresistible power and pathos he sang and played

    "A life on the ocean wave,
    A home on the rolling deep."

It appealed to all the natural impulses of our being, and the dormant
instincts inherited from generations of whale-hunting ancestors were
aroused by the power of music, reinforced by the suggestive words of
the song itself; and then and there we vowed that when we were men
like Kimball Lyon, we too would own and play upon accordions, and
do all else that he had done; for marvelous tales he told, of his
experiences in great storms at sea and of deeds of aquatic prowess.
We learned in after years that "Kim" once sailed from St. Joseph
to Chicago in a sawed-off lumber hooker, when the wind was west
nor'west, down the lake, and that he did actually lie on the deck,
but not on his back, and that it was not music which he emitted, and
that the sailors railed at him, and that he came back from Chicago by
stage coach to Niles. But we didn't know this when he was awakening
our viking instincts, as we lay on the banks of the old St. Joe in
the sunny summer days of long ago.

"Kim" Lyon knew all about steamboats, as well as about deep sea
ships, and when we asked questions he could answer out of the
fullness of his knowledge. We wondered what made the wheels go
'round, and he told us. I have forgotten _what_ made them go 'round,
but my recollection is that it was a peculiar mechanical process
of which I have never seen the like in any other service on river,
lake or ocean. His answer to the query as to "what is the man in the
little house on top of the boat doing?" I have never forgotten, as it
afterward came more in my line of business. The man was twisting the
wheel as all pilots before and since that time twist it, a spoke or
two to port, a half dozen to starboard, hard up and hard down, there
being a shallow piece of river just there, beset with big boulders
and reefs of gravel, through which he was cautiously worming his boat
and its kite-tail of keels.

"That man," said Kimball, "is drawing water from a well in the bottom
of the boat and emptying it into the boiler, just as your father
draws water from his well with a rope, a bucket and a crank. If he
should stop for a minute the boiler would burst for want of water,
the boat would blow up, and we should all be killed by the explosion."

This definition at once gave us a personal interest in the work of
the man at the wheel; we all felt that our lives depended upon this
man's devotion to his duty. Had he struck a piece of "easy water" at
that time, and centred his wheel, there is no doubt that we would
have scurried for home before the inevitable explosion should occur.
That was my first lesson in piloting. Perhaps this childish concern
that the man "drawing water for the boilers" should faithfully
perform his duty, was but a prefigurement of the interest with which
the writer, and hundreds of others, in later years, have watched the
pilot work his boat through a tangled piece of river, knowing that
the safety of all depended upon the knowledge and faithfulness of the
"man at the wheel."

The steamboats plying on the St. Joe were crude little affairs, and
there were but four or five of them, all alike. I remember the name
of but one, the "Algoma"; the others are quite forgotten. Doubtless
they were commonplace, and did not appeal to the poetic side of the
boy. But "Algoma"! The word has a rhythmical measure, and conjures up
visions of wigwams, council fires, dusky maidens, and painted braves.
An Indian name would stick when all the saints in the calendar were
forgotten. The "Algoma" and her consorts have gone the way of all
steamboats. The railroad came and killed their business, just as a
few years later, it did on the Great River.

A few years later I saw the Mississippi River for the first time,
at Rock Island, Illinois; and through the kindness of another
well-posted bystander to whom the then twelve-year-old boy appealed,
I received my first impressions of a stern-wheel boat. There were two
steamboats lying at the levee--the "Minnesota Belle", a side-wheeler,
upon which we had taken passage, while just above lay the "Luella",
a stern-wheeler. I knew about the former variety from observation on
the St. Joe, but I had never seen even a picture of one of the latter
sort, so it was a novelty. I wasn't certain that it was a steamboat
at all, and after referring the matter to my stranger friend, I
learned definitely that it wasn't. The "Luella's" wheel was slowly
turning over as she lay at the levee, and as I did not comprehend the
mechanical details of that kind of craft I began asking questions.
My mentor assured me that the "Luella" was not a steamboat at all,
but a water power sawmill. The big wheel then moving was driven by
the current, and it in turn operated the sawmill machinery on the
inside of the boat. As I could not figure any other use for a wheel
out in the open, at the end of the boat, instead of on the side where
it ought to be, and as I had no reason to doubt the statement of my
informant, I readily accepted the sawmill explanation, and hastened
to confide my newly-acquired knowledge to my brother and other
members of the family. A few hours later both boats pulled out for
St. Paul. After she had rounded the first point, ahead of us, we saw
nothing more of the "Luella" until we met her coming down the river
on her return trip. She was a heavily-powered boat, and showed her
heels to the larger and slower "Minnesota Belle". The sight of the
"Luella" kicking her way upstream at the rate of two miles to our
one, not only dissipated the sawmill impression, but taught me not
to accept at face value all information communicated by glib-tongued
and plausible strangers.

That steamboat trip from Rock Island to Prescott was one long holiday
excursion for us two small and lively boys from Michigan. There was
so much to see and in so many different directions at once, that it
was impossible to grasp it all, although we scampered over the deck
to get differing view points. We met dozens of boats, going back to
St. Louis or Galena after further loads of immigrants and freight;
and there were other boats which came up behind us, gaining slowly
but surely, and finally passing the deeply-laden "Belle". There were
landings to be made, and freight and passengers to be disembarked.
There were strange Indians to be seen--we were familiar enough with
Michigan tribesmen, having been born within a mile or two of old
Pokagon's tribal village. There were boys with fish for sale, fish
larger than any inhabiting the waters of Michigan streams, sturgeons
only excepted, and this promised well for the fun in store when we
should reach our journey's end.

Finally, on a bright June day in the year 1854, the writer, then a
boy of twelve, with his brother, three years younger, were fully
transplanted from their Michigan birthplace to the row of stores
and warehouses which fronted on the "levee" at Prescott, Wisconsin,
where the waters of St. Croix River and Lake join the Mississippi.
The town was then a typical frontier settlement. Two hundred white
people were planted among five hundred Chippewa Indians; with as many
more Sioux, of the Red Wing band, across the river in Minnesota, a
few miles lower down the river. The not infrequent outbreaks of the
hereditary enmity existing between these ancient foes, would expend
itself on the streets of the town in war whoops, gunpowder, and
scalping knives, enlivening the experience of the average citizen as
he dodged behind the nearest cover to avoid stray bullets; while the
city marshal was given an opportunity to earn his salary, by driving
out both bands of hostiles at the point of his revolver.

Chapter II

_Indians, Dugouts, and Wolves_

In that early day when my acquaintance with the Mississippi began,
Indians were numerous. Their dugouts lay at the levee by the dozen,
the hunters retailing the ducks and geese, or venison and bear meat,
which had fallen to their guns, while the squaws peddled catfish and
pickerel that had been ensnared on the hooks and lines of the women
and children of the party.

Situated as Prescott was at the junction of the St. Croix with the
Mississippi, its citizens were favored with visits both from the
Chippewa, who hunted and fished along the former stream and its
tributaries in Wisconsin, and the Sioux, who made the bottom lands on
the Minnesota side of the river, between Hastings and Red Wing, their
home and hunting ground. This was the boundary line which had existed
for a hundred years or more; although the Sioux (or Dakota) laid
claim to many thousand square miles of hunting grounds in Wisconsin,
for which they actually received a million and a half dollars when
they quit-claimed it to the United States. Their claim to any lands
on the east side of the river had been disputed by the Chippewa from
time out of mind; and these rival claims had occasionally been, as
we have seen, referred to the only court of arbitration which the
Indians recognized--that of the tomahawk and scalping knife.

As a boy I have spent many an hour searching in the sands at the
foot of the bluffs below Prescott, for arrowheads, rusted remnants
of knives and hatchets, and for the well-preserved brass nails with
which the stocks and butts of old-time trade muskets were plentifully
ornamented. Just how many years ago that battle had been fought, does
not appear to be a matter of historical record. That it was fiercely
contested, is abundantly proven by the great amount of wreckage of
the fight which the white lads of Prescott recovered to be sold to
tourists on the steamboats which touched at our levee. The Indians
themselves had a tradition that it was a bloody fight. Taking the
word of a Chippewa narrator, one was easily convinced that hundreds
of Sioux bit the sand on that eventful day. If the narrator happened
to belong across the river, one felt assured, after listening to
his version, that the Chippewa met their Marathon on this battle
plain. In any case the treasure trove indicated a very pretty fight,
whichever party won the field.

Charlevoix, the French historian, relates that in 1689 Le Seuer
established a fortified trading post on the west side of the
Mississippi, about eight miles below the present site of Hastings. In
speaking of this fort, he says:

   "The island has a beautiful prairie, and the French of Canada
   have made it a centre of commerce for the western parts, and
   many pass the winter here, because it is a good country for

As a boy I have many a time visited the site of this ancient
stronghold, and hobnobbed with the Indians then occupying the ground,
descendants of those with whom the French fraternized two hundred
years ago. At this point the islands are about four miles across from
the main channel of the river; the islands being formed by Vermillion
Slough, which heads at Hastings, reëntering the river about two and a
half miles above Red Wing. Trudell Slough, which heads in the river
about four miles below Prescott, joins Vermillion at the point at
which was probably located Le Seuer's post. At the juncture of the
two sloughs there was a beautiful little prairie of several acres.
On the west, the bluffs rose several hundred feet to the level
prairie which constitutes the upper bench. Just at this point there
are three mounds rising fifty to seventy-five feet above the level
of the prairie, and serving as a landmark for miles around. Whether
they are of geological origin or the work of the Indians in their
mound-building epoch, had not been determined in my day. There are
other prominences of like character everywhere about, and it would
seem that they were erected by the hand of man.

On the north, east, and south the islands afforded good hunting
grounds for the French and their allies. In 1854 and later (I think
even yet), the site of this ancient fort was occupied by a band of
Sioux Indians of Red Wing's tribe, under the sub-chieftaincy of a
French half-breed named Antoine Mouseau (Mo'-sho). In Neill's history
of the settlement of St. Paul he mentions Louis Mouseau as one of the
first settlers occupying, in 1839, a claim lying at the lower end of
Dayton Bluff, about two miles down the river from the levee. This
Antoine Mouseau, a man about forty in 1854, was probably a son of the
St. Paul pioneer and of a squaw of Red Wing's band.

In the days when the white boys of Prescott made adventurous
trips "down to Mo-sho's", the islands were still remarkably rich
in game--deer, bear, wolves, 'coons, mink, muskrats, and other
fur-bearing animals; and in spring and fall the extensive rice swamps
literally swarmed with wild fowl. Two or three of the adventures
which served to add spice to such visits as we made with the little
red men of Mouseau's tribe, will serve to illustrate the sort of life
which was led by all Prescott boys in those early days. They seemed
to be a part of the life of the border, and were taken as a matter of
course. Looking back from this distance, and from the civilization
of to-day, it seems miraculous to me that all of those boys were not
drowned or otherwise summarily disposed of. As a matter of fact none
of them were drowned, and to the best of my knowledge none of them
have as yet been hanged. Most of them went into the Union army in the
War of Secession, and some of them are sleeping where the laurel and
magnolia bend over their last resting places.

The water craft with which the white boys and Indian boys alike
traversed the river, rough or smooth, and explored every creek,
bayou, and slough for miles around, were "dug-outs"--canoes hollowed
out of white pine tree trunks. Some canoes were large and long, and
would carry four or five grown persons. Those owned and used by the
boys were from six to eight feet long, and just wide enough to take
in a not too-well-developed lad; but then, all the boys were lean
and wiry. It thus happened that the Blaisdells, the Boughtons, the
Fifields, the Millers, the Merricks, the Schasers, the Smiths, and
the Whipples, and several other pairs and trios ranging from fourteen
years down to seven, were pretty generally abroad from the opening
of the river in the spring until its closing in the fall, hunting,
fishing and exploring, going miles away, up or down the river or
lake, and camping out at night, often without previous notice to
their mothers. With a "hunk" of bread in their pockets, some matches
to kindle a fire, a gun and fishlines, they never were in danger of
starvation, although always hungry.

One of the incidents referred to, I accept more on the evidence of
my brother than of my own consciousness of the situation when it
occurred. He was eleven at the time, and I fourteen. We each had a
little pine "dug-out", just large enough to carry one boy sitting in
the stern, and a reasonable cargo of ducks, fish or fruit. With such
a load the gunwales of the craft were possibly three or four inches
above the water line. The canoe itself was round on the bottom,
and could be rolled over and over by a boy lying flat along the
edges, with his arms around it, as we often did for the amusement of
passengers on the boats--rolling down under water and coming up on
the other side, all the time holding fast to the little hollowed-out
log. Such a craft did not appear to be very seaworthy, nor well
calculated to ride over rough water. Indeed, under the management of
a novice they would not stay right side up in the calmest water.

For the boys who manned them, however, whether whites or Indians,
they were as seaworthy as Noah's ark, and much easier to handle.
A show piece much in vogue, was to stand on the edge of one of
these little round logs (not over eight feet long), and with a
long-handled paddle propel the thing across the river. This was not
always, nor usually, accomplished without a ducking; but it often
was accomplished by white boys without the ducking, and that even
when there was some wind and little waves. The Indian lads would not
try it in public. For one thing, it was not consonant with Indian
dignity; for another, an Indian, big or little, dislikes being
laughed at, and a ducking always brought a laugh when there were any
spectators. I cannot, after all these years, get over an itching to
try this experiment again. I believe that I could balance myself all
right; but the difference between sixty pounds and a hundred and
sixty might spoil the game.

Some boys, more fortunate than others, were from time to time
possessed of birch-bark canoes--small ones. Of all the craft that
ever floated, the birch-bark comes nearer being the ideal boat than
any other. So light is it, that it may be carried on the head and
shoulders for miles without great fatigue; and it sits on the water
like a whiff of foam--a veritable fairy craft. It was the custom of
the boys who owned these little "birches" to shove them off the sand
with a run, and when they were clear of the land to jump over the
end, and standing erect, paddle away like the wind. This was another
show piece, and was usually enacted for the benefit of admiring
crowds of Eastern passengers on the steamboats.

On one such occasion, a young man from the East who professed to be
a canoeist, and who possibly was an expert with an ordinary canoe,
came off the boat, and after crossing the palm of the birch-bark's
owner with a silver piece, proposed to take a little paddle by
himself. The boy was an honest boy, as boys averaged then and there,
and although not averse to having a little fun at the expense of the
stranger, in his capacity of lessor he deemed it his duty to caution
his patron that a birch-bark was about as uncertain and tricky a
proposition as any one would wish to tackle--especially such a little
one as his own was. He proposed to hold it until his passenger had
stepped in and sat down and was ready to be shoved off. This was
the usual procedure, and it had its good points for the average
tourist. But this one had seen the boys shoving the same canoe off
the sand and jumping over the stern, and he proposed to do the same
thing, because he was used to canoes himself. Against the cautions
of the owner he _did_ shove off and jump, but he did not alight
in the canoe. That elfish little piece of Indian deviltry was not
there when he arrived; it slipped out from under him, sidewise, and
with a spring which jumped it almost clear of the water it sailed
away before the wind, while the canoeist went headfirst into six or
eight feet of water, silk hat, good clothes and all, amid the howls
of delight from the passengers on the steamer who had been watching
him. He was game, however, and admitted that he had never imagined
just how light and ticklish a birch-bark was; nor how much science
it required to jump _squarely_ over the stern of such a fragile
creation and maintain one's balance. Woodmen and canoeists familiar
with "birches" will understand just how small a deviation is required
to bring discomfiture. A little carelessness on the part of an old
hand is often just as fatal as a little ignorance on the part of the

But I digress. On the trip concerning which I started to tell, my
brother and I had been down to the Indian village and were on our way
home. When we emerged from Trudell Slough we found a gale blowing
from the south, against the current of the river, and great combing
waves were running, through which it seemed impossible to ride in
our little boats. However, we had to cross the river in order to get
home, and we did not long debate the question. Being the oldest I
took the lead, Sam following. He was but eleven years old, and had
a boat all by himself to manage in that sea. But he could paddle
a canoe as well as any Indian boy. I also could paddle, and being
older, nearly fourteen, was supposed to have the wisdom of the ages
in the matter of judgment in meeting and riding combers.

Under these conditions, I started out to make the crossing. My
brother has told me since that he never thought of any danger to
himself; but he figured, a dozen times, that I was gone--in fact he
lost three or four good bets that I would not come up again after
going down out of sight. My canoe would go down into the trough of
the sea at the same time that his did, thus he would lose track
of me. He had to keep his eyes on the "combers" and meet them at
just the right angle, or he himself would have been the "goner".
Sometimes he would not locate me until he had met three or four big
ones. Then he would rise over the tops of the waves at the same time
and would be able to reassure himself that I was still right side
up and paddling for life, and that he was out another bet. I do not
know that I thought of the danger at all, as I simply had my canoe
to look out for. Had Sam been in front I would have realized, as he
did, that we were taking lots of chances, and would have learned from
the diving of his craft just how great the danger really was, as he
did. We shipped a good deal of water--that is, a good deal for the
amount we could afford to take in and maintain any margin between the
gunwales of our canoes and the water outside. Before we got across we
were sitting in several inches of water, but a little baling cleared
this out as soon as we reached the Wisconsin side, and we proceeded
up the river, hugging the shore and keeping in the eddies and under
the points, without further adventures. I do not think we mentioned
the crossing as anything to brag of, as under the circumstances any
of the boys would have done the same thing in the same way.

One other incident in which the little canoe figured, involved the
closest call to drowning I ever had as a boy. Again I was out with my
brother, some ten miles down the river, near Diamond Bluff, fishing
and scouting about in the customary manner. Sam was ahead of me, and
had landed on a pile of driftwood lodged against a giant cottonwood
which had been undermined by the eating away of the river bank.
In falling, one or more of its branches had been so deeply driven
into the bottom of the river that it held at right angles with the
current, extending out fifty feet or more into the channel. Against
this obstruction all sorts of logs, lumber, and other drift had
lodged, forming a large raft. My brother had run in under the lower
side of this and climbed out, preparatory to dropping his line for
fish. I, doubtless carelessly, drifted down toward the upper side.
One of the limbs which did not quite reach the surface so as to be
seen, caught my little vessel and in an instant I was in the water,
and under the raft. I thought I was surely gone, for I supposed that
the driftwood was deep enough to catch and hold me. I had presence of
mind enough left, however, to do the only thing which was left--dive
as deeply as possible, and with open eyes steer clear of the many
branches through which I had to find my way toward the open water
on the lee side of the raft. Sam ran to the lower side to catch me
if I came up--an expectation which he had little hope of realizing,
thinking as I did that I would be caught like a rat in a trap, and
never come up until dug out. Fortunately the drift was not deep, and
the limbs not very close together, and I popped up as I cleared the
last log, but with so little breath left that another ten feet would
have drowned me. Sam caught me by the hand and "yanked" me out on the
drift, where I lay and took in air for some minutes to fill out my
collapsed lungs. In another ten minutes we were fishing as if nothing
had happened.

In these upsets which we were almost daily experiencing, our costumes
played an important though passive part. The entire uniform of the
average river lad of those days consisted of a pair of blue jean
trousers, a calico shirt, a home-made straw hat, and sometimes a
pair of "galluses". The last named item indicated an extravagant
expenditure; one "gallus" was ample for all practical purposes;
the second represented luxury and wanton extravagance. With such a
costume a boy in the water was practically unhampered, and could
and did swim with all the freedom of an unclothed cupid. One of the
customary relaxations of the Prescott boys was to run down Orange
Street when school "let out", in single file, dressed as above
described, hats and all, and dive from the ledge of rocks fifteen
feet high into water forty feet deep.

It was on one of these excursions that I had the only real scare of
my life. This may sound like braggadocio, but it is a fact. I have
been in places since that time, where I thought death imminent, and
knew that it was possible, if not probable, at any moment; but in
such situations I have more or less successfully been able to conceal
the fact of fear. In the case in question I did not attempt to
conceal from myself the fact that I was sincerely alarmed.

We had, late in the autumn, landed at a desolate _coulee_ several
miles below Prescott. I had gone back about half a mile from the
river, on to the prairie, leaving my brother at the canoe. Suddenly I
heard the long-drawn hunting cry of a wolf. Looking in the direction
of the sound I saw a big grey timber wolf loping toward me with the
speed of a race horse. His cries were answered from a distance, and
then I saw six other big wolves bounding over the prairie after me.

I looked around for some place of safety and saw at some distance--a
good deal less than a quarter of a mile, as I know it now, but it
looked all of that at the time--a small burr oak, the only tree near
enough to be available in this crisis. I knew enough about the big
timber wolves to know that I would instantly be in ribbons after they
were upon me. One alone might be kept off; but seven would have the
courage of numbers, and would make short work of a single boy. Then
I was scared. I could actually feel every hair upon my head standing
straight on end, as stiff as Hamlet's "quills upon the fretful
porcupine". It has been worth all that it cost, this hair-raising
experience, as an interpretation of the much-quoted expression from
the immortal Bard of Avon.

A good runner, I had a full half mile the start of the leading wolf.
I did not wait for him greatly to diminish the lead, but "lit out"
for the little burr oak. I covered the ground in the shortest time I
had ever devoted to a like distance, and although very nearly winded
jumped for the lower limbs and pulled myself up just in time to
escape the teeth of the forward beast. In another minute there were
seven of them, leaping to within a few feet of my legs as I stood on
a branch of the small tree, as high up as I dared to go.

My brother had heard the cries of the wolves, and running to the top
of the bank had watched the race with great interest. When the tree
was safely reached he shouted to me to hold on and he would go for
help, and he at once started for Prescott, four miles away, against
the current. For some reason which I have never been able to explain,
the wolves, after yelping and leaping for an hour or so, suddenly
started off across the prairie, and when they had gone a mile away I
climbed down and ran for home. In the meantime my hair had resumed
its normal position, and never since, under any circumstances, have
I experienced a like sensation. I presume that the thought of being
torn to pieces by the wolves, a contingency which seemingly was quite
probable, added a horror to the imminence of death which was not
present at a time when there was an equal chance of being drowned.
It was not because I did not know all about wolves, for I did. Their
cries were familiar sounds in that wild country, and their ferocity
had been proven time and again; but I had never heard nor seen them
when it meant quite so much to me, nor when the chances seemed so

Chapter III

_On the Levee at Prescott_

When we first knew it, Prescott was in many respects a typical river
town. But in one, it differed from all others with the possible
exception of Wacouta and Reed's Landing. "Towing through" had not
then been inaugurated. The great rafts of logs and lumber from
Stillwater and the upper St. Croix, were pushed to Prescott by
towboats from Stillwater, at the head of the lake. From there to Lake
Pepin they drifted. They were again pushed through that lake by other
boats, and from Reed's Landing, at the foot of the lake, drifted
to their destination at Winona, La Crosse, Clinton, Le Claire, or

The necessary preparation for the trip down river was made at
Prescott. Stores of pork, beans, flour, molasses, and whiskey were
laid in. The hundreds of rough men who handled the great steering
oars on these rafts spent their money in the saloons which lined
the river front and adjacent streets, filling themselves with
noxious liquors, and often ending their "sprees" with a free fight
between rival crews. A hundred men would join in the fray, the city
marshal sitting on a "snubbing post", revolver in hand, watching the
affair with the enlightened eye of an expert and the enjoyment of a

Prescott was also a transfer point for freight consigned to Afton,
Lakeland, Hudson, Stillwater, Osceola, and St. Croix Falls. The large
boats, unless they were heavily freighted for Stillwater and Hudson,
did not make the run of thirty miles up the lake. The freight was
put ashore at Prescott, and reshipped on the smaller boats plying
between Prescott and St. Croix River points. This made necessary
large warehouses in which to store the transshipped goods. My father,
L. H. Merrick, engaged in this business of storing and transshipping,
as well as dealing in boat-stores and groceries. Buying one
warehouse on the levee, he started a store in the basement, which
opened directly on to the levee. Moving his family into the two
upper stories, he began at once the erection of a second and larger
warehouse. These being insufficient for his business, he bought, in
1855, a third warehouse. These were filled, in summer, with goods in
transit, and in winter with wheat awaiting the opening of navigation
for shipment to Eastern markets, via Dunleith, Illinois, at that
time the nearest railroad connection on the river. The name of this
one-time prosperous city has, however, disappeared from the map, to
be replaced by East Dubuque.

From 1854 until 1858 the firm of L. H. Merrick & Co. (the company
being William R. Gates, my brother-in-law) did all the transfer and
storage business for the regular packets belonging to the Galena,
Dubuque, Dunleith & St. Paul Packet Company, commonly shortened to
Minnesota Packet Company, and also for such "wild" boats as did not
make the run up the lake.

The business was very profitable. Much of the freight consisted of
pork and beef in barrels, whiskey, sugar in hogsheads (refined sugar
was then scarcely known on the upper river), rice, soap, etc., which,
if there was no boat ready to receive it, could be covered with
tarpaulins on the levee, thus saving the cost of putting it in the
warehouses. The perishable freight and household goods were of course
stored under cover. A man was always on duty to meet incoming boats
at night, and to watch the freight piled on the levee. Sometimes,
when there was a large amount of such freight left outside, we
boys spent the night skylarking about the piles, keeping our eyes
open to see that the ubiquitous raftsmen did not surreptitiously
transfer some of the packages to the everpresent rafts. The transfer
agents paid the freight on the goods from the lower river points to
Prescott, and charged a commission of from five to twenty-five per
cent for such advance. In addition, a charge was made for storage,
whether the freight was actually placed in the warehouse or simply
covered and watched on the levee. If the goods were from Pittsburg
or St. Louis, the freight bills were usually large, and a five per
cent commission would produce a quite respectable income. If the
cargo were divided into small lots, so much the better. No package,
however small, escaped for less than a quarter ("two bits", as money
was then reckoned); and in addition to the commission on the money
advanced, there was an additional charge for storage, graduated,
as I have before stated, upon the value and perishability of the
freight handled. Altogether it was a very profitable occupation until
the year 1858, when there appeared a new bidder for the business,
knocking down the rates of commission and storage, as well as cutting
the business in two by getting the agency of many of the boats,
heretofore served by the old firm.

My brother and myself "bunked" in the garret of the warehouse in
which we had made our temporary home. There were two windows fronting
the river, and I feel sure that at night no steamboat ever landed
at the levee without having at least two spectators, carefully
noting its distinguishing characteristics. Was she a side-wheel
or stern-wheel? Was she large or small? Had she trimmings on her
smokestack, or about the pilot house, and if so of what description?
Had she a "Texas", or no "Texas"? Were the outside blinds painted
white, red, or green? What was the sound of her whistle and bell?
All of these points, and many others, were taken in, and indelibly
impressed upon our memories, so that if the whistle or bell were
again heard, perhaps months afterward, the name of the boat could be
given with almost unfailing accuracy. It was a part of the education
of the "levee rats", as the boys were called. A boy that could not
distinguish by ear alone a majority of the boats landing at the levee
from year to year, was considered as deficient in his education. Of
course every boy in town could tell what craft was coming as soon as
she whistled, if she was one of the regular "packets". Every boat
had a whistle toned and tuned so that it might be distinguished from
that of any other boat of the same line. The bells, which were always
struck as the boat came into the landing, also differed widely in
tone. There was one, the music of which will live in my memory so
long as life lasts. The tone of the "Ocean Wave's" bell was deep,
rich, sonorous, and when heard at a distance on a still, clear
night, was concentrated sweetness. Were I rich I would, were it a
possibility, find that bell and hang it in some bell-less steeple
where I might hear again its splendid tones, calling not alone to
worship, but summoning for me from the misty past pictures indelibly
printed upon boyish senses.

A picturesque and animated scene, was one of these night landings;
the discharge and taking on of freight, the shouting of orders, the
escaping of steam, and all the sights and sounds which for the time
transformed the levee from its usual quietude and darkness, broken
only by the faint glimmer of the watchman's lantern and the ripple of
the water upon the beach, into life, light, and activity.

The advent of the electric search-light has driven from the river one
of the most picturesque of all the accessories to such scenes as we
boys looked down upon, night after night, during the busy times of
1854 and 1855, before I myself became part and parcel of it all. The
torch, by the light of which the work went on by night, was within an
iron basket, about a foot in diameter and eighteen inches deep, swung
loosely between the prongs of a forked iron bar or standard, which
could be set in holes in the forward deck, leaning far out over the
water, so as to allow live coals from the burning wood to fall into
the river, and not upon deck.

When a landing was to be made at a woodyard or a town, the watchman
filled one or perhaps two of these torch baskets with split
"light-wood", or "fat-wood"--Southern pine full of resinous sap,
which would burn fiercely, making a bright light, illuminating the
deck of the boat and the levee for hundreds of feet around. As the
boat neared the landing the pine splinters were lighted at the
furnace door, the torch being carried to place and firmly fixed in
its socket. Then came out the attending demon who fed the burning,
smoking "jack" with more pine fatwood, and from time to time with a
ladle of pulverized rosin. The rosin would flare up with a fierce
flame, followed by thick clouds of black smoke, the melted tar
falling in drops upon the water, to float away, burning and smoking
until consumed. This addition to the other sights and sounds served
more than any other thing to give this night work a wild and weird
setting. We boys decided, on many a night, that we would "go on the
river" and feed powdered rosin and pine kindlings to torches all
night long, as the coal-black and greasy, but greatly envied white
lamp-boy did, night after night, in front of our attic windows on the
levee at Prescott. The cleaner and brighter, but very commonplace
electric light has driven the torch from the river; and if one is to
be found at all in these degenerate days it will be as a curiosity in
some historical museum.

And thus we grew into the very life of the river as we grew in
years. I finally attained an age when my services were worth
something in the economy of a steamboat's crew. My first venture
was made in company with one who afterward attained rank and honor
in the civil service of the state--the Honorable Sam. S. Fifield,
lieutenant-governor of Wisconsin. I have a letter written by Mr.
Fifield since I began writing these sketches, in which he says that
he recollects the writer as a "white-haired boy, full of all sorts of
pranks". I presume this description of how I looked and what I did is
correct; but forty years ago to have applied to him any such personal
description of his thatch would have been a _casus belli_ for which
nothing but blood could atone. It is white, now; at that time it was
a subdued brindle, with leanings toward straw, and a subject not
lightly to be discussed in the presence of its owner.

The stern-wheel steamer "Kate Cassell" wintered above the lake--that
is, above Lake Pepin--I think at Diamond Bluff, where at the close
of navigation she was caught in the ice. In the spring her captain
appeared, with an engineer, a pilot, a steward, and possibly some
other officers, and picked up the remainder of officers and crew
'longshore. I remember that one of my schoolmates, Nat. Blaisdell,
went as assistant engineer, Russ. Ruley as mate, and a number of
longshoremen from Prescott as deck hands, while Sam Fifield and I
were pantry boys. Sam got enough of it in a few trips between St.
Paul and Rock Island. I stayed through the season. We both were
printers. Sam went back to the case at once; I went to mine again in
the fall, after the close of navigation, and stuck type during the
winter, as I also did each returning season while on the river.

The next spring I engaged with "Billy" Hamilton, as a "cub" engineer.
Prior to starting out on the season's run the machinery of the
boat ("Fanny Harris") had to be put in order. There was a regular
blacksmith's forge on board. All river engineers were, perforce,
good blacksmiths, able to make anything pertaining to the machinery
which it was possible to make from wrought iron bars with an ordinary
forge and anvil, with a twelve-pound striking hammer and a two-pound
shaper. We made scores of extra "stirrups"--the double bolts,
with nuts, that clamp the "buckets" to the wheel-arms. We made
hog-chains and chimney guys, and, as needed, bent them into place.
The boilers, engines, and "Doctor"--the steam pump for feeding water
to the boilers, pumping out the steamer, etc.--were all overhauled
and put in perfect order. The engines were leveled and "lined up";
the eccentrics were carefully adjusted and securely fastened; the
"nigger" hoisting engine, for handling freight and warping the boat
over sand-bars was fitted up, and a hundred other minor but important
matters were attended to, so that when steam was raised and turned
on, the wheel would "turn over", and the boat go. Some wheels did not
at first turn over, and it was not to the credit of the man who had
lined the engines and set the eccentrics. Billy Hamilton's wheel,
however, turned over the first trial.

Had I followed up this line of activity under Billy's tutelage, no
doubt I would have become a capable engineer, for I liked the work
and took a genuine delight in handling machinery, a liking which
I have not yet outgrown. But there were decided drawbacks. The
reversing gear of a Mississippi River steamboat, in old times, was
like nothing else of its kind, anywhere under the sun. The engines
were of the lever and poppet-valve order, and the reversing gear was
heavy. The connecting-rod (cam-rod, we called it) weighed at least
fifty pounds, even though it was attached to the "rock-shaft" at one
end. In reversing, the end of the connecting-rod was lifted off its
hook at the bottom, the lever thrown over, in which operation two
heavy valve-levers were raised, the rod lifted about three feet, and
dropped on to the upper hook. It was all right when you did this once
or twice in making a landing; but in a piece of "crooked river", the
boat dodging about among reefs and bars, with the bells coming faster
than you could answer them, it was another matter, and became pretty
trying work for a stripling boy; his arms could not keep the pace.

Another drawback in the life of a "cub" engineer was the fact that
when in port there was no let-up to the work. In fact, the worst part
of it came then. As soon as the steamer reached her destination at
Galena, the pilots were at liberty until the hour of sailing; not so
with the engineers. We usually reached Galena Thursday evening or
night, and left for up river Friday evening. As soon as the boat was
made fast the "mud-valves" were opened, the fires drawn, the water
let out of the boilers, and the process of cleaning began. Being a
slim lad, one of my duties was to creep into the boilers through the
manhole, which was just large enough to let me through; and with
a hammer and a sharp-linked chain I must "scale" the boilers by
pounding on the two large flues and the sides with the hammer, and
sawing the chain around the flues until all the accumulated mud and
sediment was loosened. It was then washed out by streams from the
deck-hose, the force-pump being manned by the firemen, of whom there
were eight on our four-boiler boat.

Scaling boilers was what decided me not to persevere in the
engineering line. To lie flat on one's stomach on the top of a
twelve-inch flue, studded with rivet heads, with a space of only
fifteen inches above one's head, and in this position haul a chain
back and forth without any leverage whatever, simply by the muscles
of the arm, with the thermometer 90° in the shade, was a practice
well calculated to disillusionize any one not wholly given over to
mechanics. While I liked mechanics I knew when I had enough, and
therefore reached out for something one deck higher. The unexpected
disability of our "mud clerk", as the second clerk is called on the
river, opened the way for an ascent, and I promptly availed myself of

[Illustration: PRESCOTT LEVEE IN 1876. Showing Steamer "Centennial"
and the little Hastings ferry, "Plough Boy." The double warehouse,
showing five windows in the second story and four in the third was
the building in which the author lived when a boy.]

[Illustration: PRESCOTT LEVEE IN 1908. But one business building--one
of the old Merrick warehouses, left intact. Dunbar's Hall gutted by
fire recently. The large steamboat warehouse next to it destroyed
some years ago. All the shipping business gone to the railroad, which
runs just back of the buildings shown.]

Chapter IV

_In the Engine-room_

Before leaving the main deck, with its savory scents of scorching
oil, escaping steam, and soft-coal gas, let me describe some of
the sights, sounds, and activities which impressed themselves upon
the memory of the young "cub" during his brief career as an embryo

The engine-room crew of a Mississippi steamer varies as the boat is a
side-wheeler or a stern-wheeler. In my day, a stern-wheeler carried
two engineers, a "first" and a "second". The former was chosen for
his age and experience, to him being confided the responsibility
of the boat's machinery. His knowledge, care, and oversight were
depended upon to keep the engines, boilers, etc., in good repair, and
in serviceable condition. The second engineer received less wages,
and his responsibility ended in standing his watch, handling the
engines, and in keeping enough water in the boilers to prevent the
flues from burning, as well as to avoid an explosion. If a rival boat
happened to be a little ahead or a little behind, or alongside, and
the "second" was on watch, the margin of water between safety and
danger in the boilers was usually kept nearer the minimum than it
would have been were the "chief" in command. It is very much easier
to get hot steam with little water than with much; and hot steam
is a prime necessity when another boat is in sight, going the same
direction as your own.

On the "Fanny Harris", the pilots always depended upon Billy Hamilton
when in a race, as he would put on the "blowers"--the forced draft,
as it is called in polite, though less expressive language--and never
let the water get above the second gauge, and never below the first,
if he could help it. Sometimes it was a matter of doubt where the
water really was, the steam coming pretty dry when tried by the
"gauge-stick"--a broom handle, which, pushed against the gauges, of
which there were three in the end of the boiler (three inches apart,
vertically, the lower one situated just above the water-line over
the top of the flues), opened the valve and permitted the steam and
water to escape into a short tin trough beneath. If a stream of water
ran from the first and second gauges when so tried, but not from
the third, there was a normal and healthy supply of water in the
boilers. If the water came from the first, but not from the second,
the "Doctor" was started and the supply increased. When it reached
the third gauge the supply was cut off. If, as I have seen it, there
was, when tried, none in the first or lower gauge, there followed a
guessing match as to just how far below the minimum the water really
was, and what would be the result of throwing in a supply of cold
water. The supply was always thrown in, and that quickly, as time
counts in such cases.

The pilot at the wheel, directly over the boilers, is in blissful
ignorance of the vital question agitating the engineer. He may at
times have his suspicions, as the escape pipes talk in a language
which tells something of the conditions existing below decks; but if
the paddle wheels are turning over with speed, he seldom worries over
the possibilities which lie beneath him. His answer to the question,
whether the water is below the safety point, comes as he feels the
deck lifting beneath his feet, and he sails away to leeward amid the
debris of a wrecked steamboat.

Probably four-fifths of the boiler explosions which have taken place
on the Mississippi River during the last eighty years--and there have
been hundreds of such--were the result of these conditions: low water
in the boilers, exposing the plates until red-hot, then throwing in
water and "jumping" the steam pressure faster than the engines or
safety-valve could release it, followed by the inevitable giving away
of the whole fabric of the boiler, wrecking the steamer, and usually
killing and scalding many of the passengers and crew.

On a side-wheel boat the make-up of the engine crew is different.
In addition to the first and second engineers there are two "cubs",
or "strikers". The stern-wheeler has two engines, but they are both
coupled to the same shaft, by a crank at each end. The throttle wheel
is in the centre of the boat. One man operates the two engines, and
assists at landings, but in a bad piece of river is helped by one of
the firemen, who is called aft by a little bell controlled by a cord
from the engine-room. This man "ships up" on the port side, while the
engineer "ships up" on the starboard. "Shipping up" was the term used
to describe the act of shifting the cam-rod from the lower pin on the
reversing lever to the upper, or _vice versa_. If done at a sudden
call, the engineer ran to one side and "shipped up", then across the
deck to the other, and then back to the centre to "give her steam".
That is all changed now by the adoption of an improved reversing
gear, similar to that on a railway locomotive, the throwing of a
lever at the centre of the boat operating the reversing gears on both
engines at once. Instead of the old-time "short-link", or "cut-off
hook", the equivalent of the "hooking-back" on a locomotive when
under way is performed by the engineer at the centre of the boat by
hooking back the reversing lever one, two, or three notches, exactly
as on the locomotive. Fifty years ago this simple device had not been
adopted on the river.

On the side-wheel boat, to get back to my subject, the engines are
independent--one engine to each wheel. One may be coming ahead while
the other is backing, or they may both be reversing at the same
time. A man is therefore required to operate each engine, hence the
necessity for a "striker", or "cub", to take one engine while the
engineer on watch takes the other. The engineer on duty, be he chief
or assistant, takes the starboard engine and controls the running
of the machinery and the feeding of the boilers during his watch;
the "cub" takes the port engine and works under the direction of
his superior on watch. As I have stated at the beginning of this
chapter, the handling of these powerful engines was hard work, even
for a grown man, when the river was low and the pilot was feeling his
way over a crossing in a dark night, with both leads going, and the
wheels doing much of the work of keeping the boat in the intricate
channel between the reefs. Then it was that the bells came thick
and fast--to stop, to back, to come ahead again, to slow, to come
ahead full steam, and again to stop and back and come ahead. Then
the cut-off hook was pulled up by a rope attached to the deck beams
overhead, and the heavy cam-rod was lifted from the lower hook to the
upper by main strength, or dropped from the upper to the lower with
scant regard for the finish on the bright work, to be lifted again at
the call of the next bell from the pilot, and all this a dozen times,
or even more, in making one crossing.

And all the time the "cub" was in deadly fear of getting his engine
caught on the centre, a calamity in both material and moral sense,
as a "centre" might mean the disablement of an engine at a critical
moment, throwing the steamer out of the channel, and hanging her up
for hours, or even for days, on a sand-bar. It might even have a
more calamitous sequence, by running her on the rocks or snags and
sinking her. Hence, for pressing reasons, the most acute alertness
was necessary on the part of the "striker". The moral obloquy of
"centring" an engine was so great among river men, especially
among engineers, that no "cub" ever again held his head high after
suffering such a mischance; and it was a proud boast among the
embryo engineers if they could honestly claim that they had never
"centred" their engine. On general principles they always boasted
of it as a fact, until some one appeared who could testify to the
contrary. I enter that claim here and now without fear of successful
contradiction. All my confederates in that business are now out of

One of the beauties of the puppet-valve engine, with its long
stroke[A] and consequent "purchase" on the shaft-crank, was that by
the aid of a billet of wood, about two and a half inches square, with
a handle whittled off on one end, and with a loop of cord to hang
it up by, or to hang it on one's wrist (where it was usually found
when the boat was navigating a crooked piece of river), an increase
of fifty per cent of steam could be let into the cylinder by the
simple device of inserting the club between the rocker-arm and the
lever which lifted the inlet valve, as graphically described in the
paper by Mr. Holloway, quoted in this chapter. If the valve were
normally lifted four inches by the rocker-arm, the insertion of the
club would increase the lift by its thickness. This additional power
fed to the cylinder at the right moment would drive the wheel over
the centre when reversed with the boat going upstream at a speed of
eight or ten miles an hour, against a four-mile current, with almost
absolute certainty. With a ten-foot wheel, and three buckets in the
water, one submerged to its full width of three feet, and the other
two perhaps two feet, it can readily be understood by an engineer
that to turn such a wheel back against the current required a great
expenditure of power at just the right time. The "club" of the
Western steamboat engineer solved the question of additional power
at the critical moment. No short-stroke engine would respond to such
a call. While this service tried the cylinders to their utmost--many
times a little beyond their utmost, with a consequent loss of a
cylinder head, and worse yet, a scalded engineer--the use of the club
was justified by experience; and results which, with finer and more
perfect machinery would have been impossible, were, day after day,
made possible by reason of the crudeness and roughness of this usage.

   [A] The "stroke" of an engine is the distance traveled by
   the cross-head of the piston in making a complete revolution
   of the wheel--equal to twice the length of the crank on the
   water-wheel shaft. If the crank is three feet long, the
   stroke will be six feet. The stroke of the "Grey Eagle" of
   the Minnesota Packet Company was seven feet; that of the "J.
   M. White", lower river boat, was eleven feet. The cylinders
   of course equaled the full stroke in length. The longer the
   crank the greater the purchase, but at a consequent loss in the
   number of revolutions of the wheel per minute.

The great steamers plying on Long Island Sound attain a speed of
twenty miles an hour, or even more. It is said that when under full
speed it is possible to turn the wheels back over the centre within
half a mile after steam has been shut off. Under ordinary conditions
it is not necessary that they should be handled any faster. But think
of the conditions under which a Mississippi River steamboat must
stop and back, or suffer shipwreck. And imagine, if you can, the
remarks a river pilot would make if the wheel were not turning back
within thirty seconds after the bell was rung. I think five seconds
would be nearer the limit for reversing and giving steam. In fact,
on all side-wheel boats, the levers controlling the steam valves are
attached to small tackles, and these are controlled by one lever, by
which the steam levers may be raised in an instant, without closing
the throttle at all, and the steam allowed to pass out through the
escape pipes while the engine remains passive.

Two ends are attained by this device: steam can instantly be shut
off, or as quickly given to the cylinders, thus making a saving in
time over the usual opening and closing of the steam ports by the
throttle wheel. Another advantage is, that this device acts as a
safety-valve; for, were the steam to be entirely shut off, and the
safety-valve fail to work, an explosion would certainly follow. By
opening all the valves at once, and permitting as much steam to
escape through the exhaust pipes as when the engine is in motion,
the danger of an explosion is minimized. At the call of the pilot
the levers can instantly be dropped and full steam ahead or reversed
given at once--of course at the expense of a good deal of a "jolt"
to the engines and cylinders. But the river engines were built to be
"jolted", hence their practical adaptation to the service in which
they were used.

J. F. Holloway, of St. Louis, who, in his own words, "was raised on
the river, having filled every position from roustabout to master",
in a paper read before the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
at St. Louis in May, 1896, contributes the following description of
a steamboat race as seen and heard in the engine-room--a point of
view somewhat lacking, perhaps, in picturesqueness to the ordinary
observer, but nevertheless very essential in winning a race. The
writer is evidently as thoroughly at home in the engine-room as he is
upon the roof:

   "The reason which induced the builders of engines for these
   Western river boats to adopt such peculiar construction could
   hardly be made clear without a careful description of the
   hull of the boats, and of the varying conditions to which
   both engines and hulls are subjected, and under which they
   must operate. The steam cylinders are placed on foundations
   as unstable as would be a raft, and the alignment is varied
   by the addition or removal of every ton of freight which the
   boats carry when afloat, and they are further distorted when
   aground, or when the boats are being dragged over sand bars
   having several inches less of water on them than is required
   to float the hull. While the calm study of the machinery of a
   Western river steamboat while at rest would be an interesting
   object lesson to any one at all interested in such matters,
   it can only be seen at its best at a time when some rival
   boat is striving with it for "the broom," and close behind is
   slowly gaining, with roaring furnaces, and chimneys belching
   out vast volumes of thick black smoke; when all on board,
   from the pilot above to the fireman below are worked up to
   the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and when engines, boilers,
   engineers and all concerned in the management of the boat,
   are called upon to show the stuff which is in them. I know of
   no more exciting scene than was often to be witnessed in the
   days of the old famous Ohio River ports, when a "ten-boiler"
   boat was trying to make a record, or take a wharf-boat landing
   away from some close-following rival steamer. To stand on
   the boiler deck at such a time on a big side-wheel boat,
   when in order to get ahead the pilot had made up his mind to
   close-shave a "tow-head," or take the dangerous chances of
   a new channel or a new "cut-off," and when all on board knew
   the risk he was taking, and standing by to help him through,
   or help _themselves_ if he failed, was exciting to a degree.
   Then it was that the two most skilful and daring engineers
   were called on watch, and took their stands alongside their
   respective engines, stripped like gladiators for the tussle
   which soon came as the clanging starboard bell rang out to
   "slow down," and as the hasty ringing of the "jingler" over
   the port engine meant "crack it to her." Then as the bow of
   the big boat swung, all too slow to suit the emergency or the
   impatience of the pilot, a stopping starboard bell would ring,
   quick followed by a backing one which would set the engineer
   to wrestling with his "hooks," one of which he hangs up with a
   cord, and the other he picks up seemingly from somewhere on the
   platform. As the suddenly stopped and quivering wheel in the
   swift-flowing current hangs for a moment poised on the centre,
   the engineer, grasping his ever-at-hand club of wood, quickly
   thrusts it between the uprising rocker-arm and the lever that
   lifts the inlet puppet valve, to which widened opening of the
   steam-valve port the engine responds with a noise of escaping
   steam not unlike the roar of an enraged elephant when prodded
   with the iron hook of his keeper. The battle of the bells thus
   begun, waxes more fierce as the excitement increases. There
   are bells to the right, and bells to the left, and amid their
   discordant jangle the engineers are working like mad as they
   clutch the throttle, open or close "the bleeder," hook her on
   "ahead," or stop and back, in such rapid succession as that
   soon neither they, nor any one else, can tell how far behind
   the bells of the pilot they are. Then soon amid the wild roar
   of the pent-up steam as it rushes out of the safety-valve
   pipes, the exploding exhausts of the engines which at the end
   of each stroke sound as if the cylinder-head had blown off, and
   to which is added the shrill noise of the warning bell which
   calls to the firemen to "throw open the furnace doors," there
   comes from out the huge trumpet shaped pipe above the head of
   the engineers, and which leads down from the pilot-house, a
   hoarse shout, heard above all else, partaking alike of command,
   entreaty, and adjectives, urging something or other to be done,
   and done quick, else the boat and all on board of her, in a
   brief time will land in a place which by reason of the reputed
   entire absence of water could not well be called a "port" (and
   certainly is no port mentioned in the boat's manifests). This
   battle of the bells and irons goes on until, if in a race, the
   rival boat is passed or crowded to the bank, or the narrow
   channel widens out into the broad river, when the discordant
   jangle of the bells ceases, the tired engineer drops on the
   quiet "cut-off hook," lays by his emergency wooden club, and
   wiping the sweat from his heated brow, comes down from the
   foot-board to catch a breath of the cool air which sweeps over
   the guards, and to formulate in his mind the story which he
   will have to tell of the race just over, or the perils just

   But the old-time flyers which before the war tore their way
   up and down through the muddy waters of these Western rivers
   are all gone, and the marvelously skilled pilots of those
   days have gone too; the men who, through the darkest hours
   of the darkest nights, knew to within a few feet just where
   their boats were, and what was on the right or on the left, or
   beneath them, which was to be shunned. The engineers too, who
   with a courage born and nurtured amid the vicissitudes of a
   backwoods life, and with an experience and skill the outgrowth
   of trials and dangers gone through, have also passed away, and
   to the generation of the present are unhonored and unknown, as
   are the men who designed and built the hulls, and the workmen
   who, with crude and scant tools, built for them the machinery
   which they so well planned and handled.

   Who they were, and where they lie, is known to but few, if any.
   Did I but know their final resting-place, I would, like "Old
   Mortality," wish to carve anew, and deep, the fading records
   of their life and death, which time has so nearly obliterated,
   and to herald abroad the praise and honor due them as the
   designers, builders, and engineers, of the old-time Western
   river steamboats."

Chapter V

_The Engineer_

It would be impossible to pick out any one man who handled an engine
on the river fifty years ago, and in describing his habits and
peculiarities claim him as a type of all river engineers of his time.
The legendary engineer, such as Colonel Hay has given us, standing at
the throttle of his engine on the ill-fated "Prairie Belle", waiting
for signals from the pilot house, his boat a roaring furnace of fire,
and whose spirit finally ascended with the smoke of his steamer, was
a true type of one class, and possibly a large class, of old-time
river engineers. Reckless, profane, combative; yet courageous, proud
of their calling, and to be depended upon to do their duty under any
and all circumstances; giving, if need be, their lives for the safety
of the passengers and crew of the boat--such was one class. Another
was composed of men equally courageous, equally to be depended upon
in time of danger, but sober, quiet, religious, family men, who never
used a profane word, never went on sprees ashore, never supported one
wife at home and another at "Natchez under the Hill."

On the boat upon which I gained the greater part of my river
experience, we had the two types: George McDonald, chief, and Billy
Hamilton, assistant. Either would have died at his post, the one
with a prayer upon his lips, and the other with a jest; both alike
alert, cool, efficient. McDonald was a Scotch Presbyterian, and might
have been an elder in the church at home--perhaps he was. He was a
religious man on board his boat, where religion was at a discount. He
was a capable engineer; he could make anything that it was possible
to make, on the portable forge in the steamer's smithy. He was always
cool, deliberate, ready, and as chief was the captain's right-hand
man in the engine-room.

Billy Hamilton was his opposite in everything, save in professional
qualifications. In these he was the equal of his chief, except in
length of service, and consequent experience. The son of a Maryland
slave owner, he was a "wild one" on shore, and a terror to the
captain when on board and on duty. In a race with a rival boat
his recklessness in carrying steam was always counted upon by the
pilot on watch, to make up for any inherent difference in speed
that might handicap our boat. He would put on the blower (forced
draft) until solid chunks of live wood coals would be blown from the
smokestacks. He would keep the water at the first gauge, or under
it. He had a line rigged from the safety-valve lever, running aft to
the engine-room. In times of peace the line was rove over a pulley
fixed under the deck, above the safety-valve. A pull on the line in
this position would raise the valve and allow the steam to escape.
When another boat was in sight, going our way, the slack of the rope
was hauled forward and the bight carried under a pulley fixed in
a stanchion alongside the boiler, below the safety-valve, running
thence up and over the upper pulley as before--but with all the
difference in the world, for with the fifty-pound anvil hanging to
the end of the line thus reversed in its leverage, the boilers might
have blown up a hundred times before the safety-valve would have

I have often heard the signal which Billy had agreed upon with his
fireman on the port side, and have seen the darky slip the line
under the lower pulley, and then keep one eye on the boiler-deck
companionway, watching for the captain. Should he be seen coming
below, the line was as quickly slipped off the lower pulley and
restored to its normal position; sometimes with a concurrent "blowing
off" through the safety-valve, which was evidence enough for the
captain, although he might not catch Billy in the act. It is no more
than just to say that the visits of the captain below decks were not
frequent. He was a New Orleans man, of French extraction, with a fine
sense of honor which forbade any espionage of this nature, unless
there seemed to be an especially flagrant case of steam-carrying on
the part of his junior engineer.

Billy had another device which greatly galled the captain, and later
it was the cause of a serious affair. The captain had a private
servitor, a colored man who cared for his rooms in the "Texas",
served his lunches there, and ran errands about the boat as required.
The captain used to send him down to the engine-room when he
suspected Hamilton was carrying more steam than was nominated in the
license, to look at the gauge and take readings.

It was not long before Hamilton became aware of this surreptitious
reading, and set himself to work to defeat it without the necessity
of ordering the captain's man out of the engine-room. To this end he
made a cap of sheet lead which covered the face of the dial, leaving
only about two inches in the centre, showing the pivot and a small
portion of the pointer. This balked the colored messenger completely,
as he could not see the figures, and he was not well enough
acquainted with the instrument to read it from the centre. On his
last visit to the engine-room, Hamilton saw him coming. Pretending
that he was going forward to try the water, but keeping his eye
on the messenger, he saw him reach up and take off the cap. In an
instant Hamilton turned and threw his shaping hammer, which he had
in his hand, with such true aim that it struck the poor darky in the
head and knocked him senseless. As he dropped to the deck Hamilton
called one of his firemen, telling him to give his compliments to
Captain Faucette and tell him to send some men and take away his
(profanely described) nigger, as he had no use for him. The darky
pulled through all right, I think. He was put ashore at the first
landing and placed under the care of a doctor, and Hamilton paid his
bills. His successor never came into the engine-room, and the cap on
the steam gauge was laid aside as unnecessary.

Whenever the mate had a "shindy" with the crew, which was composed
of forty Irishmen, all the other officers of the boat were bound to
"stand by" for trouble. Hamilton was always ready, if not anxious,
for such occasions, and he and Billy Wilson, the mate, always
supported each other so effectively that many an incipient mutiny
was quickly quelled, the two jumping into a crowd and hitting every
head in sight with whatever weapon happened to be at hand until order
was restored. Usually, however, it was with bare hands, and the show
which authority always makes in face of insubordination.

At times, Billy's vagaries were of a grisly and gruesome character.
I recall that at Point Douglass, on one of our trips, we found a
"floater" (body of a drowned man) that had been in the water until it
was impossible to handle it. To get it on shore it was necessary to
slide a board beneath, and draw out board and body together. It was
a malodorous and ghastly undertaking. Something said to this effect,
Hamilton laughed at as being altogether too finicky for steamboatmen.
To demonstrate that it need not affect either one's sensibilities
or stomach, he stepped into the cook's galley for a sandwich, and
sitting down on the end of the board, alongside the corpse, ate his
lunch without a qualm.

Another and rather more amusing incident took place while the "Fanny
Harris" was in winter quarters at Prescott. The night before St.
Patrick's day, Billy made up an effigy, which he hung between the
smokestacks. As the manikin had a clay pipe in its mouth and a string
of potatoes about its neck, it might have reference to the patron
saint of the Old Sod. The loyal Irishmen of the town so interpreted
it at least, and Billy had to stand off the crowd for several hours
with a shot gun, and finally get the town marshal to guard the boat
while he climbed up and removed the obnoxious image.

He had a little iron cannon which he fired on all holidays, and
sometimes when there was no holiday; in the latter case, at about
three o'clock in the morning, just to remind people living in the
vicinity of the levee that he was still "on watch". In retaliation
for the effigy affair, his Irish friends slipped aboard the boat one
evening while he was away and spiked his cannon by driving a rat-tail
file into the vent; this was after he had carefully loaded it for a
demonstration intended to come off the next morning. He discovered
the trick when he attempted to fire the gun, and offered pertinent
and forcible remarks, but unprintable in this narration. He lost no
time in vain regrets, however. Lighting up his forge he made a screw
and drew out the load. Then with the help of several chums he moved
his forge to the bow of the boat (the foc'sle), rigged a crane so
that he could swing his little cannon in a chain sling, from the
capstan to the forge, and back again. When the time came for firing
the salute he had his gun heated red-hot on the forge; it was then
swung back on to the capstan-head, where it was lashed with a chain.
A bucket of water was then thrown into the gun, and instantly a
hardwood plug, made to fit, was driven home with his heavy striking
hammer. In a minute the steam generated by this process caused an
explosion that threw the plug almost across the river, fully a
quarter of a mile, with a reasonably fair result in the way of noise.
It was a risky piece of work, but "Billy" was in his element when
there was a spice of risk mixed with his sports.

Billy's humor was broad, but never malicious. He never missed an
opportunity to play a practical joke on any one, save, perhaps, the
captain himself. The deck hands who "soldiered" by sitting on the
side of their bunks when they ought to be at work toting freight,
were sometimes lifted several feet in the air by the insertion of two
inches of a darning needle ingeniously attached to the under side of
the board bench upon which they took their seat. It was operated from
the engine-room by a fine wire and a stiff spring, the whole boxed
in so securely by the carpenter that there was no possibility of its
discovery by the enraged victim.

He was one of the most open-handed and liberal of men in his givings,
and in spite of his escapades a valuable officer. In 1862 he left the
boat, as did all the crew, to enlist under the call for three hundred
thousand troops, made in July of that year. In all discussions of the
war he had asserted his determination to keep away from any place
where there was shooting, as he was afraid of bullets of any size
from an ounce up. As he was a Southern man, son of a slaveholder,
we thought that this badinage was to cover his determination not
to take any part in the war on the Union side; we never questioned
his courage. He went into the navy as an acting assistant engineer,
and was assigned to one of the "tin-clads" that Commodore Porter
had improvised for service on the Mississippi and tributaries, and
that did such heroic service in opening and keeping open the great
river. Within a few months after his entry into the service, his old
friends saw with pleasure, but not surprise, his name mentioned in
general orders for gallantry in action. He had stood by his engine on
the gunboat after a pipe had been cut by a shell from a Confederate
shore battery, a number of men being killed and wounded, and the
engine-room filled with escaping steam. Binding his coat over his
face and mouth to prevent inhalation of the steam he handled his
engines at the risk of his life, in response to the pilot's bells,
until his boat was withdrawn from danger. It was in keeping with his
known character; and his talk of being "afraid of guns" was only a
part of the levity with which he treated all situations, grave or gay.

I do not know Billy's ultimate fate. When he left the "Fanny Harris"
for gunboat service, I also left to enlist in the infantry. After
three years in the army I was mustered out in Washington, and
soon went to New York where I remained for ten years or more. In
the interim between 1862 and 1876, when I returned to the West,
I completely lost sight of all my old river acquaintances. When,
later, I made inquiries of those whom I did find, they either did not
enlighten me as to his fate, or, if they did, I made so little note
of it that it has escaped my memory.

Chapter VI

_The "Mud" Clerk_[B]--_Comparative Honors_

   [B] "Mud" Clerk: Second clerk, whose duty it was to go out in
   all weathers, upon the unpaved levees and deliver or receive
   freight. As the levees were usually muddy in rainy weather, the
   name became descriptive of the work and condition of the second

The transition from the "main deck" to the "boiler deck" marked an
era in my experience. It opened a new chapter in my river life, and
one from which I have greatly profited. When I went upon the river
I was about as bashful a boy as could be found; that had been my
failing from infancy. As pantry boy I had little intercourse with the
passengers, the duties of that department of river industry requiring
only the washing, wiping, and general care of dishes and silverware.
A "cub" engineer slipped up to his stateroom, and donned presentable
clothing in which to eat his meals in the forward cabin, at the
officers' table, where all save the captain and chief clerk took
their meals. After that, his principal business was to keep out of
sight as much as possible until it was time to "turn in". He was not
an officer, and passengers were not striving for his acquaintance.

As second clerk all these conditions were changed. In the absence
of the chief clerk, his assistant took charge of the office,
answered all questions of passengers, issued tickets for passage
and staterooms, showed people about the boat, and in a hundred ways
made himself agreeable, and so far as possible ministered to their
comfort and happiness while on board. The reputation of a passenger
boat depended greatly upon the esteem in which the captain, clerks,
and pilots were held by the travelling public. The fame of such a
crew was passed along from one tourist to another, until the gentle
accomplishments of a boat's _personnel_ were as well known as their
official qualifications.

Captain William Faucette was, as I have said, of French Creole
stock, from New Orleans. In addition to being a good and capable
officer on the roof, he was also highly endowed with the graces
that commended him to the ladies and gentlemen who took passage
with him. Polite in his address, a fine dancer, a good story-teller
and conversationist, his personality went far toward attracting the
public who travelled for pleasure--and that was the best-paying
traffic, for which every first-class packet was bidding.

Charles Hargus, chief clerk, was not far behind his chief in winning
qualities. An educated man, he was also possessed of the address and
the other personal qualities which were necessary to equip one for
becoming a successful officer on a Mississippi passenger steamer.

Such was the atmosphere into which the oily "cub" from the
engine-room was ushered, when drafted into this service because of
the serious illness of the second clerk. It was too late to get a man
from the city, and the necessities of the case required an immediate
filling of the vacancy. I was invited, or rather commanded, to go
into the office for the trip, and do what I could to help out with
the work until the return to Galena, where a man or boy could be
found to fill the office until the sick officer returned.

The boat was guard-deep with freight, and at night the cabin was
carpeted with passengers sleeping on mattresses spread on the floor.
The chief clerk simply had to have somebody to help out. On my part,
it was the chance of my life. Without much prior business experience,
what little I had was right in line. I had checked freight on the
levee for the firm of L. H. Merrick & Co., was a good penman, fairly
good at figures, and had made out freight bills in the transfer of
freight at Prescott, which fact was known to the chief clerk. It is
needless to add that I required no second order. While second clerks
were not likely to get any shore leave at either end of the route,
nor at any intermediate ports, it required no brilliancy of intellect
to see that checking freight was comparatively cleaner than, and
superlatively preferable to, boiler-scaling.

Regarding my success in this new field, suffice it to say that the
trip to St. Paul and return was made, and the freight checked out
with surprisingly few errors for a beginner. The cargo of wheat,
potatoes, etc., was correctly counted in, properly entered in the
books, and correctly checked out at Prairie du Chien and Dunleith.
The sick clerk did not rejoin the boat. The temporary appointment
by the captain and chief clerk was made permanent by the secretary
of the company at Dunleith, Mr. Blanchard, on the recommendation of
Mr. Hargus, my chief. We ran into Galena on our regular Thursday
afternoon time, and instead of creeping into a steaming, muddy
boiler, I walked out on to the levee and was introduced to the great
wholesalers who at that time made Galena their headquarters, as "Mr.
Merrick, our new second clerk", and the work of loading for a new
trip was taken up.

While the office of second clerk was a decided promotion from my
point of view, it was not so esteemed on the river. Leaving the
engine-room was leaving the opportunity to learn the profession
of engineering. Once learned, it was then assumed that the person
so equipped was guaranteed employment so long as he willed, with
a minimum amount of competition. Later developments revealed the
fallacy of this conception. Within ten years thereafter, steamboating
was practically dead on the upper Mississippi. The completion of one
or more railroads into St. Paul, ended the river monopoly. Thereafter
a dozen steamboats did the business formerly requiring a hundred. The
wages of engineers and pilots dropped to a figure undreamed of in the
flush times between 1850 and 1860; there were twenty men competing
for every berth upon the river.

My new berth was not silk-lined, however. There was an aristocracy
in the official family above decks. The captain and the chief clerk
represented the first class, and the mate and the second clerk the
other. The line between these was represented by the watches into
which all officers on the boat were divided for rounds of duty. The
captain and his mate, and the chief clerk and his second stood watch
and watch during the twenty-four hours (that is, six hours on and six
hours off) all the season. The pilots and engineers interposed a "dog
watch", to break the monotony. The captain and the chief clerk went
on watch after breakfast, at seven in the morning, and stood until
noon. At twelve o'clock they were relieved by the mate and the second
clerk, who ran the steamboat and the business until six o'clock in
the evening, when they were relieved. After supper, they turned in
until midnight, when they were called and relieved the captain and
the chief clerk, who retired and slept until morning. While each
class of officers was on duty the same number of hours each day, the
difference lay in the fact that the junior officers were compelled
by this arrangement to turn out at midnight throughout the season.
It was this turning out at midnight that made the mate's watch (the
port watch) very undesirable so far as personal ease and comfort
was concerned. A man can knock about until midnight very agreeably,
after a short nap in the afternoon, provided he can have a sound
sleep during the "dead hours" from midnight until six o'clock in the
morning. To turn out at midnight every night and work until six is an
entirely different matter.

The pilots and engineers on our boat--and so far as my experience
went, on all boats--stood a "dog-watch" from four in the morning
until seven, thus making five watches during the twenty-four hours,
bringing the men of the two watches on duty alternately at midnight,
and shortening the "dead hours" from midnight to four o'clock, and
from four until seven, so that one did not get so "dead" tired and
sleepy as he would in standing a watch beginning every night at

It was believed on the river that more people die between midnight
and morning than during any other six hours in the twenty-four. I
think that I have heard physicians confirm this. My own experience in
going on watch at midnight continuously during six months is, that
there is less vitality and ambition available in that period than in
any other. In fact, I have no distinct recollection that there was
any ambition at all mixed up in the process of writing up delivery
books, checking out freight, measuring wood, and performing the
hundred other duties that fell to the lot of the officer on watch,
when done in the depressing atmosphere of early morning. It was a
matter of duty, unmixed with higher motives.

It was not only the turning out at unholy hours, that differentiated
between first and second clerk. The second clerk must have his
delivery book written up for all the landings to be made during his
off-watch. The chief clerk then made the delivery from the book,
upon which the receipts were taken. If, during the second clerk's
off-watch, there was a particularly large manifest for any landing,
the assistant was called to attend to the delivery, after which he
could turn in again, if he chose. Of course it took a river man but
a moment to go to sleep after touching his bunk; but his rest was
broken, and in the course of the season this began to tell on every
one. Under the stress of it, men became hollow-eyed and lost flesh
and strength.

When on watch, the second clerk not only attended to his own
particular duties, but he also assumed for the time those of the
chief clerk. He collected fares from passengers coming aboard during
his watch; assigned rooms, provided there were any left to assign,
or a mattress on the cabin floor if there chanced to be any space
left on the floor, whereon to place another mattress; collected
freight bills, paid for wood or coal, and performed any other duties
ordinarily performed by the chief clerk when on watch. It was not
considered good form to call the chief clerk during his off-watch;
in fact, to do so would be a confession of ignorance or inability,
which no self-respecting second clerk cared to exhibit, and but
rarely did. Many the close conference with the chief mate, his
companion as well as superior during the long night watches; and many
the smiles evoked in after days when recalling the well-meant but
somewhat impracticable advice tendered upon some such occasions by
the good-hearted autocrat of the "roof" and fo' castle.

[Illustration: ALMA, WISCONSIN. A typical river town in the fifties.]

Chapter VII

_Wooding Up_

As second clerk, I was early taught to hold my own with the pirates
who conducted the woodyards scattered along the river, from which the
greater part of the fuel used on old-time river boats was purchased.
There was a great variety of wood offered for sale, and a greater
diversity in the manner of piling it. It was usually ranked eight
feet high, with a "cob-house" at each end of the rank. It was the
rule on the river to measure but one of the end piles, if the whole
rank was taken, or one-half of one end pile if but a part of the
rank was bought. For convenience, the woodmen usually put twenty
cords in a rank, and allowed enough to cover the shortage caused by
cross-piling at the ends. Being piled eight feet high, ten lengths of
the measuring stick (eight feet long) equalled twenty cords, if it
were fairly piled. Woodmen who cared for their reputation and avoided
a "scrap" with the clerks, captains, and mates of steamboats, usually
made their twenty-cord ranks eighty-four feet long and eight feet
high. Such dealers also piled their sticks parallel to each other
in the ranks; they also threw out the rotten and very crooked ones.
When the clerk looked over such a tier, after having run his stick
over it, he simply invited the owner aboard and paid him his fifty or
sixty dollars, according to the quality of the wood, took him across
the cabin to the bar, and invited him to "have one on the boat",
shook hands, and bade him good night.

It took the "pirates" to start the music, however. When only scant
eighty feet were found in the rank, with rotten and green wood
sandwiched in, all through the tiers, and crooked limbs and crossed
sticks in all directions, it became the duty of the clerk to estimate
his discount. After running his rod over it, he would announce,
before the first stick was taken off by the deck hands, the amount
of wood in the rank--nineteen and a half cords, nineteen cords,
eighteen and a half cords, or in extreme cases only eighteen. When
the mate could stand behind the rank and see, through a cross-piled
hole, more than half the length of the steamboat, it was deemed a
rather acute case, calling for the eighteen-cord decision. When
this decision was made and announced, it was, on our boat at least,
always adhered to. We always took wood some time before our visible
supply was exhausted, in order to meet just such emergencies. The
owner might, and usually did, damn everybody and everything connected
with the craft in the most lurid terms. But the one question he had
to answer, and answer quickly, was: "Will you take it?" If "No",
the bell was struck and the boat backed off, while the woodman and
roustabouts exchanged a blue-streaked volley of vituperation. If, on
the other hand, a sale was made, the owner usually took his money and
the inevitable drink at the bar, and then went down to the main deck
and had it out with the mate, who was always a match, and more than
a match, for any merely local and provincial orator. His vocabulary
was enriched with contributions from all ports between St. Louis and
St. Paul, while that of the squatter was lacking in the elements of
diversity necessary to give depth and breadth to the discussion.

It would be unjust to class all woodyard men with squatters like the
foregoing specimens, of whom there were hundreds scattered along the
islands and lowlands bordering the river, cutting wood on government
land, and moving along whenever the federal officers got on their
trail. On the mainland were many settlers, opening up farms along
the river, and the chance to realize ready money from the sale of
wood was not to be neglected. In many places chutes had been built
of heavy planks, descending from the top of the bluff, from one to
two hundred feet above the river. The upland oak, cut into four-foot
lengths, was shot down to the water's edge, where a level space was
found to rank it up. These men were honest, almost without exception,
and their wood always measured true. The upland wood was vastly
superior to the lowland growth; steamboat captains not only paid the
highest price for it, but further endeavored to contract for all the
wood at certain yards. I remember one, run by a Mr. Smith, between
Prescott and Diamond Bluff, and another near Clayton, Iowa, that
always furnished the best dry oak wood, and gave full measure.

It was at the latter place that I nearly lost my berth, through a
difference with the "Old Man"--the captain. I had measured the rank
and announced the amount of wood as twenty cords. The captain was on
deck at the time, and watching the measurement. When the announcement
was made he ordered the wood remeasured. I went over it carefully,
measuring from the centre of the cross-pile at one end to the centre
of the cross-pile at the other end of the rank, and again reported
"twenty cords". Captain Faucette called down to "measure it again",
with an inflection plainly intimating that I was to discount it,
adding, "You measured both ends." The rank was full height, closely
piled, and the best of split white oak, and I had already taken out
one of the ends; further, I had already twice reported twenty cords
in the hearing of all the crew and many passengers, who were now
giving their undivided attention to this affair. I therefore did not
feel like stultifying myself for the sake of stealing a cord or two
of wood, and replied that I had already measured it twice, and that
I had not measured both ends of the rank. The "Old Man" flew into
a rage and ordered me to go to the office and get my money, and he
would find a man who knew how to measure wood. There being nothing
for it but to obey an order of this kind, I went aboard, hung up
my measuring stick in its beckets, and reported at the office for
my money. Mr. Hargus, my chief, was astonished, and asked for an
explanation, which I gave him. He rushed out to the woodpile with the
rod, ran over it in a flash, and reported to the captain on the roof,
"Twenty cords, sir!" and came back to the office. He told me to go on
with my work and say nothing, which I was ready enough to do. In the
meantime, the crew were toting the wood aboard.

When the boat backed off, the captain sent for Mr. Hargus to meet
him in his private room in the "Texas", where they had it out in
approved style. Hargus only replied to Captain Faucette that if
Merrick was discharged he would also take his pay and go ashore with
him. Faucette was a new man in the line, from the far South, and a
comparative stranger, while Hargus was a veteran with the company, a
stockholder in the line, and backed by all the Dubuque stockholders,
as well as by the officers and directors of the company; so the
captain thought better of it and dropped the whole matter, never
deigning to speak to the second clerk, either in way of apology,
which was not expected, or of caution "not to let it occur again",
which would have been an insult. The affair was "dropped overboard",
as Hargus said, and the wood-measuring was thereafter left to the
proper officer, without comment or interference.

With a crew of forty men looking on and hearing the whole colloquy,
a change in the amount of wood reported at the suggestion of the
captain, would have simply wiped out any respect they may have had
for the authority of the boy officer; and his usefulness on that
boat, if not on the river, would have ended then and there. It was
one of the unwritten rules of the service that the officers were to
stand by each other in every way; there was to be no interference
while on duty, and each was held responsible for such duty. If there
was cause for reprimand it was to be administered in the privacy of
the captain's office, and not in the presence of the whole crew. It
was not desirable to have either office or officer held in contempt.

As the steamboat business developed, and as immigration into the new
Territory of Minnesota increased, there was necessity for getting as
many trips into a season as possible. This led to the adoption of
every device that might lessen the running time of steamers between
the lower ports and St. Paul. Not the least of these innovations was
the use of the wood-boat for the more ready transfer of fuel from
the bank to the deck of the steamer. Flatboats, or scows, capable
of carrying twenty cords of wood, and even forty, were loaded at
the woodyards in readiness for the expected steamer. As the wood
was worth more loaded in the scow, a higher price was given by
steamboatmen, and contracts were made ahead; the date of arrival of
the boat was determined, and the wood-boat was in readiness, day or
night, with two men on board. It was the work of a few minutes only
to run alongside, make fast the towlines, and while the steamer was
on her way up river, thirty or forty men pitched or carried the wood

Ordinarily, the wood-boat was not in tow more than half an hour,
which would take her five or six miles up river. When the wood was
out, the towlines were cast off, a large sweep or steering oar
was shipped up at each end of the scow, and it drifted back to
be reloaded for the next customer. The steamboat, meanwhile, had
lost practically no time in wooding, as the tow was so light as but
slightly to impede her speed. The greatest danger in the transaction
was that the great packet might swamp the scow by running at too
great speed, towing her under by the head, as sometimes occurred. To
avoid this contingency the wood was always taken first from the bow
of the flatboat. As it was only the fast packets that patronized the
wood-boats, this danger of towing under was always present, and the
pilots were always very careful in the handling of their boats at
such times. Flats were seldom towed downstream, for the reason that
there was no way of getting them back, except to pay for a tow. And
again, the packets were not in so much of a hurry when going down
river, for then they had but few passengers to feed, and no fast

Chapter VIII

_The Mate_

In writing of life on the main deck of a Mississippi River steamboat
fifty years ago, a prefatory note may be in order. The reader must
bear in mind that times have changed; and men, in the mass, have
changed, and that for the better, in the years that have elapsed
between 1860 and 1908. Slavery then held sway on the west bank of
the river, from the Iowa line to the Gulf. On the east side in
the State of Illinois even, the slavery idea predominated; and
on the river there was no "other side" to the question. Slavery
was an "institution", as much to be observed and venerated as any
institution of the country. A black man was a "nigger", and nothing
more. If he were the personal property of a white man in St. Louis,
or below, he was worth from eight hundred to fifteen hundred dollars,
and was therefore too valuable to be utilized in the make-up of
a boat's crew running north. The inclemency of the weather, or
the strenuousness of the mate, might result in serious physical
deterioration that would greatly depreciate him as a chattel, to say
nothing of the opportunities offered him by the northern trip to
escape to Canada, and thus prove a total loss.

Of free negroes there were not enough to man the hundreds of
steamboats plying on the upper river. Thus it came about that the
cabin crews on some boats, and the firemen on others, were colored,
while the deck crews (roustabouts and stevedores) were white. So
marked was this division of labor that it came to pass that no
"nigger" was permitted by the white rousters to handle any freight,
on any boat. The modern unions take no greater exception to a
non-union workman than the white deck hands then expressed for a
"nigger" as a freight handler.

Another class distinction was, that nine-tenths of the deck crew
were Irishmen. In that day the poorer sort of that nationality were
the burden-bearers of this country. They dug the ditches, built the
railroad embankments, and toted the freight on the river. Since
that time they have wonderfully developed; in the present day, very
few even of the emigrants handle pick and shovel, and none handle
freight as river deck hands. They are the trainmen and policemen of
the country, and their sons are our mayors and aldermen, our judges
and law-makers. The dirt-handling on the railroads is passed on to
the Italians and the Huns, while the river freight-handling, what
little there is of it, is done by the lower class of negroes. The
abolition of slavery has prodigiously increased their numbers, as
well as amazingly cheapening them in value. All this has relevancy in
describing an old-time mate and his work.

There was a fellow feeling between the chief mate and the second
clerk. For one thing, they were both in the second rank, officially,
although that did not count for a great deal, I think, as neither
of them thought of it in just that way. My recollection is, that
both of them thought of it from the other point of view--they were
over so many men, and in command of so many things and situations,
rather than under the captain and the chief clerk. You will observe
at once that this put an entirely different construction upon the
question; and this was, after all, the only reasonable and practical
view to take of it, and the one that came nearest to meeting all
the conditions. In fact, no other view of the situation could be
taken. When the captain and the chief clerk were off duty and
asleep in their staterooms, or even off duty and awake, loitering
about the boat, the responsibility was immediately shifted to their
subordinates. Even though the captain might be sitting in the door
of his room in the forward end of the "Texas", while the mate stood
at the bell to make a landing, the amenities and traditions of
river life put him out of the game as completely as though he were
asleep in his berth. The same also was true of the chief clerk and
his subordinate. The chief might be smoking his after-dinner cigar
within ten feet of the office, or he might walk out on the levee and
talk with the agent; but until asked, he never took any part in the
distinctive business transactions of his subordinate, or in any way
interfered with his manner of transacting the business. He might,
later, if necessary, make suggestions looking to the betterment
of the methods of his second; but that would be a purely personal,
rather than an official, utterance.

It followed, therefore, that my acquaintance with Billy Wilson was
much closer than with the captain; and standing watch with him day
after day and night after night during a long season's run, I came
to know him intimately. He was born in Pennsylvania, the son of a
"Pennsylvania Dutchman." Beginning his professional life on the
Allegheny River, he worked down the Ohio, and when the great boom in
upper Mississippi traffic began in 1854, engaged in that trade. A
smooth-shaven, red-faced man, about five feet eight inches in height,
he weighed probably a hundred and sixty pounds. Occasionally he took
a drink of whiskey, as did all river men, but it was seldom. He
was well read, and ordinarily, a very quiet man, therefore all the
more to be feared and respected. He would hardly fill the bill as a
traditional Mississippi River steamboat mate; and were his prototype
shown on the stage it would be voted slow, uninteresting, and untrue
to type.

In the beginning of this chapter I endeavored to indicate what manner
of men composed our deck crew. Ours numbered forty men. Almost
without exception they were Irishmen of the lowest class, picked up
alongshore at St. Louis, Galena, Dubuque, and St. Paul, from the
riffraff of the levee. They would get drunk whenever they could get
whiskey; and as the boat carried hundreds of barrels of this liquor
each trip, it required eternal vigilance on the part of the mates and
watchmen to prevent the crew broaching a barrel and getting fighting
drunk and mutinous. When this happened, as now and then it did in
spite of all precautions, Billy Wilson was turned in an instant from
a quiet Pennsylvania Dutchman into a dangerous, if not devilish,
driver. He carried, on most occasions, a paddle made from a pork
barrel stave. This had a handle at one end, and the other, shaped
something like a canoe paddle, was bored full of quarter-inch holes.
When the case was one of mere sluggishness on the part of one of the
hands, a light tap with the flat part of this instrument was enough
to inspire activity. When the case was one of moroseness or incipient
mutiny, the same flat side, applied by his powerful muscles, with a
quick, sharp stroke, would leave a blood-blister for every hole in
the paddle; and when a drunken riot was to be dealt with, the sharp
edge of the paddle on a man's head left nothing more to be done with
that man until he "came to." With a revolver in his left hand and
his paddle in his right, he would jump into the middle of a gang of
drunken, mutinous men, and striking right and left would intimidate
or disable the crowd in less time than it takes to tell it. He never
used his pistol, and to my knowledge never called for assistance,
although that was ready if required, for all officers were usually at
hand and ready in case of necessity.

In a row that took place at Prairie du Chien one night, when the
men had sent up town and smuggled in a jug of whiskey, one man who
was hit on the head by the paddle went overboard on the upstream side
of the boat. He was instantly sucked under by the swift current, and
was never seen again. The coroner's jury in the case brought in a
verdict of "accidental death", and Wilson came back to work after a
week's sojourn with the sheriff, having won an added prestige that
rendered less necessary the use of the paddle.

Ordinarily his commands were given in a low tone of voice,
unaccompanied with the profanity which legend and story considered
due from the man and his office. When things went wrong, however,
the wide range and profundity of his language was a revelation to
the passengers who might chance to be within ear-shot. I recall an
outbreak, one April morning at about four o'clock, at a woodyard,
between Trempealeau and Winona. He had called, "All hands, wood
up!" It was a cold and rainy night, and many of the men had crawled
in under the boilers to dry their clothes and seek sleep. After
the first round or two, he found that ten or fifteen men were
missing--they were "soldiering." He went aft and ransacked the bunks
without finding the truants. He then dove under the boilers with his
paddle, striking in the dark, and feeling for some one to hit, at the
same time pouring out a torrent of profanity that in ordinary walks
of life, would be called monumental, but which in the more exacting
conditions of river life, probably was not above medium grade. The
next count found every man in line, toting his share of the wood.

It may be and was asked by Eastern people, unused to river life,
"Why do the men submit to such treatment? Why do they not throw the
mate into the river?" The answer is, caste. They were used to being
driven, and expected nothing else, and nothing better, and they
would not work under any other form of authority. As I stated at the
beginning, they were of the very lowest class. No self-respecting man
would ship as a deck hand under the then existing conditions. One
might now travel long and look in vain for a white crew driven as
these men then were. Their places have been taken by the freed negro;
he to-day is being driven as his white predecessors were then.

There is this distinction, however; now, most of the drivers are
Irishmen--the mates and watchmen on the river steamers. Then an
Irishman was of little service as a mate. Those officers were, as a
rule, Yankees or Southerners or Pennsylvania Dutchmen. We had for a
time a second mate, Con Shovelin, an Irishman, as you might suspect
from his name. He was six feet high, and big in every way, including
his voice. He roared and swore at the crew all the time, but put very
little spirit into them. A look out of the corner of Wilson's eye,
and a politely worded request that they "Get a hump, now!" was worth
a volume of Shovelin's exordiums. At that time an Irishman could not
handle an Irish crew; now, he can handle a crew of free negroes with
the expenditure of one-half the wind and oratory. If you wish to see
for yourself, take a trip on the river to St. Louis and return, and
see the Celt driving the Ethiopian, even as the Saxon drove the Celt,
fifty years ago.

[Illustration: ABOVE TREMPEALEAU, WISCONSIN. In the middle
foreground, at the head of the slough, is the site of the winter camp
of Nicolas Perrot, in the winter of 1684-5, as identified in 1888
by Hon. B. F. Heuston and Dr. Reuben Gold Thwaites of the Wisconsin
State Historical Society.]

Chapter IX

_The "Old Man"_

It would be interesting to trace the origin of this term, which is
universally applied to the captain in nautical circles, either on
shipboard, among deep-sea sailors, on the great lakes, or on the
inland waters. He may not be half as old as the speaker; still, in
speaking of him, not to him, he is the "old man." It is used in
no disrespectful sense; indeed, it is rather an endearing term.
In speaking to him, however, it is always Captain, or Sir. But in
detailing what the Captain has said or done the narrator says that
the "old man" says so, or is about to do so, and his auditors, if
river men, know of but one "old man" aboard the boat, although the
steamer may be freighted with octogenarians.

The captain usually reaches the "roof" from one of two directions,
either going up from mate, or coming down from the pilot house.
Occasionally he emerges from the clerk's office, or from the
engine-room; but the line of promotion is usually drawn from mate
or pilot to captain, these being also the normal lines of education
for that post. Perhaps the greater number of captains serving on the
river in the early days, down to 1860, began their careers on the
river as pilots, very often combining the two offices in one person.

The captain's official requirements are not altogether ornate. It
is true that he must have sufficient polish to commend himself to
his passengers. That is essential in popularizing his boat; but in
addition he must thoroughly know a steamboat, from stem to stern, and
know what is essential to its safety, the comfort of his passengers,
and the financial satisfaction of its owners. Nearly every old-time
captain on the river could, in case of necessity, pilot his boat
from St. Paul to Galena. Every captain could, and of necessity
did, handle the deck crew, with the second mate as go-between,
during the captain's watch on deck. Some few might have gone into
the engine-room and taken charge of the machinery, but these were
exceptional cases. All were supposed to know enough about the
business of the office to enable them to determine between profit and
loss in the running of the steamer.

After leaving port, the captain on the river was as autocratic as his
compeer on the ocean. He might without notice discharge and order
ashore any officer or man on board, and he could fill vacancies en
route to any extent; but these appointments were subject to the
approval of the owner or manager on arrival at the home port. Many,
if not most, of the captains owned interests in the boats which they
commanded. Many were sole owners, in which case they were amenable to
no one for their actions, except to the civil authorities in case of
legal technicalities, or to the unwritten laws of the service, which
custom had made binding upon all. Such, for instance, was the rule
that the captain was not to interfere with the pilots in the running
of his boat, even if he might know, or think he knew, better than
they the proper course to take in certain cases, or under certain
conditions; even though he might himself have a pilot's license
hanging in his stateroom. Neither was it considered good form to
interfere with the duties of his mate, or the engineers, or the chief
clerk, in the way of countermanding their orders when given in the
line of duty. He might call them to account in his office, and not
only caution, but command them not to repeat the error. Only in cases
where such interference was necessary for the safety of the boat was
it deemed permissible; and a captain who so far forgot himself as to
interfere, lost caste among all classes of rivermen, high and low.
Nevertheless, the "old man" had supreme power, and had the authority
to interpose his veto on any command or any action, by any of his
officers or men. This supremacy threw the burden of responsibility
upon his shoulders, and set him apart as a man by himself.

The seat of power was in the forward part of the "Texas", where
a commodious and handsomely-furnished cabin served as office,
audience-room, sitting-room, and whenever he so willed, as
dining-room. Connected with it was a sleeping apartment, larger and
better furnished than the ordinary staterooms in the passenger cabin.
From the windows on the front and on two sides of his sitting-room
he could look out ahead, or on either side, and see everything that
was going on. It was here that he entertained favored guests when in
relaxation, or hetcheled contumacious officers when in tenser moods.

From his berth, directly under the pilot house, he could read the
sounds of shuffling feet as the man on watch danced from side to side
of his wheel; he could note the sounds of the bell-pulls, as signals
were rung in the engine-room; and he could tell very nearly where
the boat was at such times, and judge very cleverly as to the luck
the pilot was having in running an ugly piece of river, or working
out a crooked crossing. He could look out and see if his mate was
asleep alongside the big bell, in the drowsy hours of the morning
watch, if he cared to confirm a shrewd bet that the mate was asleep.
He could tell by the roar of the forced draft in the tall chimneys
in front of him, that there was another boat in sight, either ahead
or behind, and that Billy Hamilton had the "blowers" on in response
to a suggestion from Tommy Cushing, at the wheel, that an excess of
steam was desirable, and that at once. This last was a perennial, or
nocturnal, source of annoyance to our "Old Man", and one that wrung
from him more protests than any other shortcoming under his command.
It burned out more wood than was justified by the end attained;
but what was of more serious import, it suggested the carrying of
a greater head of steam than was consonant with perfect safety. At
a time when boiler explosions were not infrequent on the Western
rivers, any suggestion of extra steam-carrying was sufficient to put
the "old man" on the alert; and this led to more interference with
his officers than any other cause that came under my observation
during my brief experience on the river. A scantily-clad apparition
would appear on deck forward of the "Texas", and a request, "Mr.
Cushing, please ask Mr. Hamilton to cut off the blowers", would
be passed down the speaking tube to the engine-room. While it
always came in the form of request, it carried with it the force of
command--until it was concluded that the "old man" was again asleep,
when the blowers were cautiously and gradually reopened.

While it was not always expected that the captain should take the
place of the engineer or pilot, it was required that he should be
thoroughly acquainted with the handling of a steamboat under all
circumstances. He must be a man possessed of nerve and courage, quick
to see what was required, and as quick to give the necessary commands
to his crew. As on deeper water, the code of honor on the river held
that the captain must be the last to leave his sinking or burning
boat; and many a brave commander has gone down to honorable death
while upholding this code. In case of fire he must, with the pilot,
instantly decide where lay the greatest chances of safety in beaching
his boat. In case of snagging, or being cut down by ice, it is his
first duty to save his boat, if possible, by stopping the break, at
the same time providing for the safety of his passengers by beaching
her on the nearest sand-bar. In case of grounding--"getting stuck on
a sand-bar", as it is popularly known--all his knowledge of every
expedient to extricate his vessel known to river men is called in
play at once. An hour's time, or even a few minutes, lost in trying
cheap experiments, is sufficient to pile up the shifting sands about
the hull to such an extent as sometimes to consume days, or even
weeks, in getting free.

Our own boat, the "Fanny Harris", drifted upon a submerged bank on
the lower side of the cut-off between Fevre River and Harris Slough,
with a falling river. She did not get off that day, and within three
days had less than a foot of water under some parts of her hull. Her
freight had to be lightered, and then it took two steamboats, pulling
on quadruple tackles, "luffed" together, to pull her into deep water.
The power applied would have pulled her in two, had it come from
opposite directions.

"Sparring off" was a science in itself. Just how to place your spars;
in what direction to shove the bow of the boat; or whether to "walk
her over" by setting the spars at a "fore and aft" angle, one on each
side, and thus push the boat straight ahead--these were questions
to be answered as soon as reports were received from the pilot who
was sent out in the yawl to sound the whole bar. To a landsman, the
use to which were to be put the great sticks of straight-grained,
flawless yellow (or Norway) pine, standing on either side of the
gangway, was quite unknown until the boat brought up on the sandy
bottom of the river. Then, if it was the first time these timbers
had been called into play that season, the lashings were cut away
with a sharp axe; the detail from the crew sent to the roof eased
away on the falls, until the derricks leaned forward at an angle
of forty-five degrees. The crew on the forecastle overhauled the
great four-by-five, or five-by-six ply falls, and hooked the lower
block into the iron ring under the steamer's quarter, just above
the load-line. This ring was attached to the hull by massive bolts,
extending through several feet of timbers on the inside of the
sheathing--the timbers running back the length of the hull, in
well-built boats, so that with sufficiently solid footing for the
spars, and with sufficient power, the steamer might be lifted bodily
off the bar, without "hogging" the boat--the technical term for
bending or breaking the hull out of shape.

When it was decided by a conference of the captain, the pilots, and
the mate, or by the captain's judgment alone, in what direction the
bow of the boat was to be thrown, the foot of the spar was shoved
clear of the guards and lowered away by the derrick-fall until its
foot was firmly fixed, and the spar at the proper angle, and in the
proper direction. The hauling part of the tackle (or fall, as it is
called) was then passed through a snatch-block and carried to the
capstan, around the barrel of which six or seven turns were taken,
and the best man in the crew given charge of the free end. If the
case was a very bad one--if the boat was on hard--the double-purchase
gear was put on the capstan, to give additional power, and steam was
turned on the hoisting engine, (or "donkey") which also operated the
capstan by a clutch gear. Ordinarily the boat quickly responded to
all this application of power, was slowly pushed off the reef and
headed for the channel, and the wheel was soon able to drive her
ahead and away from the bar.

This taking care of the free end of the tackle as it came from the
capstan, was a work of more importance than might appear to the
novice. The barrel of the capstan is concave; the line feeds on to
it at the thickest part, either at the top or the bottom of the
capstan. After it reaches a certain point all the turns must slip
down to the narrowest part, and the work of winding upward begin
over. The man who is handling the free end of the line must often
slack a little--just enough to start the slipping--and then hold
hard, so that it may go down easily, without giving any further
slack. It looks easy, but it isn't. I have seen a careless man give
so much slack to his line, when there was a very heavy strain upon
it--in fact when the whole weight of the forward end of the steamer
was pendant upon the spar--that the recoil of the tackle, though not
over an inch or two, would let the hull drop with a force that would
almost shake the chimneys out of her, and could be felt the length
of the boat. It was also a post of some danger, as I have heard
of instances in which the recoil snapped the tackle, and severely
injured the men under and about the spar and capstan.

The spars are shod with heavy iron points about a foot in length,
which would grip the solid clay or gravel underlying the superficial
layers of sand forming the bar. When there was "no bottom" to the
sand, and the applied power, instead of lifting the steamer only
shoved the spar into the quicksand, another footing was used--a
block built of two three-inch sections of oak about eighteen inches
in diameter, bound and crossed with iron, and having a hole in the
centre through which the iron point of the spar was passed until the
shoulder rested on the block. This block could not be driven deeply
into the sand, and usually gave a secure footing. A rope attached to
a ring in the block served to haul it out of the sand after the spar
was hoisted aboard.

The spectacle afforded by the "sparring off" process was always
one of great interest to the passengers, and of excitement to the
officers and crew. There were drawbacks to this interest, however,
when the passengers were in a hurry, and the boat lay for hours,
sometimes for days, before being released, the crew working day and
night without sleep, and with little time even to eat. We once lay
three days on Beef Slough bar; and the "War Eagle" was eight days
on the same bar, having been caught on a falling river, being only
released after passengers and freight were transferred to other and
lighter boats.

For the officers and crew, there was no halo about an incident
of this kind. In low water, it was to some boats of almost daily
occurrence, somewhere on the river, even with the most skilful
pilots. The fact was, that there were places where there was not
enough water in the channel for a boat to pass without striking; and
if one got out of the channel by ever so little, it was of course
still worse. There were several places where it was to be expected
that the boat must be hauled over the reef by taking out an anchor
ahead, or by hauling on a line attached to a tree on the bank, if
the channel ran near enough to render the latter expedient possible.

I have injected this description of sparring off into the chapter
devoted to the "Old Man", not because the process necessarily
devolved upon him alone; but because as captain his will was law in
any disputed point, and because upon him rested the responsibility
of navigating his boat. He naturally took an active interest in the
work, and was always on hand when it was done. But quite often the
mate knew more of the _finesse_ of poling a boat off a bar, than did
the captain; and some captains were shrewd enough to give the mate
practically full control, only standing on the roof for appearance
sake, while the latter did the work. It was, however, every man's
work, and if any one had a practical idea, or a practical suggestion,
whether pilot, engineer, mate, or carpenter, it was quickly put to
the test. The main thing was to get off the bar, and to get off

Chapter X

_The Pilots and Their Work_

We come now to the consideration of that part of river life of which
I was an interested observer, rather than an active participant. Had
not the great war burst upon the country, and the fever of railroad
construction run so high, it is possible that I might have had my
name enrolled in the list containing such masters of the profession
as William Fisher, John King, Ed. West, Thomas Burns, Thomas
Cushing, and a hundred others whose names were synonyms for courage,
precision, coolness in danger, exact knowledge, ready resource, and
all else necessary in the man who stood at the wheel and safely
guided a great steamer through hundreds of miles of unlighted and
uncharted river.

Compared with those days, the piloting of to-day, while still a
marvel to the uninitiated, is but a primer compared to the knowledge
absolutely necessary to carry a steamboat safely through and around
the reefs, bars, snags, and sunken wrecks which in the olden time
beset the navigator from New Orleans to St. Paul. The pilot of that
day was absolutely dependent upon his knowledge of and familiarity
with the natural landmarks on either bank of the river, for guidance
in working his way through and over the innumerable sand-bars and
crossings. No lights on shore guided him by night, and no "diamond
boards" gave him assurance by day. No ready search-light revealed
the "marks" along the shore. Only a perspective of bluffs, sometimes
miles away, showing dimly outlined against a leaden sky, guided the
pilot in picking his way over a dangerous crossing, where there was
often less than forty feet to spare on either side of the boat's
hull, between safety and destruction.

To "know the river" under those conditions meant to know absolutely
the outline of every range of bluffs and hills, as well as every
isolated knob or even tree-top. It meant that the man at the wheel
must know these outlines absolutely, under the constantly changing
point of view of the moving steamer; so that he might confidently
point his steamer at a solid wall of blackness, and guided only by
the shapes of distant hills, and by the mental picture which he had
of them, know the exact moment at which to put his wheel over and
sheer his boat away from an impending bank. To-day a thousand beacons
are kindled every night to mark the dangerous or intricate crossings;
by day, great white "diamond boards" spot the banks. At night the
pilot has only to jingle a bell in the engine-room, the dynamo is
started, and by pulling a line at either hand the search-light
turns night into day, the big white board stands out in high relief
against the leafy background, and the pilot heads for it, serene in
the confidence that it is placed in line with the best water; for he
knows that the government engineers have sounded every foot of the
crossing within a date so recent as to make them cognizant of any
change in its area or contour. Constantly patrolling the river, a
dozen steamboats, fully equipped for sounding, measuring, and marking
the channel, are in commission during the months of navigation, each
being in charge of officers graduated from the most exacting military
and technical school in the world, and having under them crews
composed of men educated by practice to meet any emergency likely
to arise. If a snag lodges in the channel it is reported at the
nearest station, or to the first government steamer met, and within
a few hours it is removed. Dams and shear-dykes direct the water
in permanent, unshifting channels. Riprap holds dissolving banks,
and overhanging trees are cut away. Millions of dollars have been
spent in the work, and its preservation costs hundreds of thousands
annually. All this outlay is to-day for the benefit of a scant score
of steamboats between St. Louis and St. Paul. Forty years ago two
hundred men, on a hundred boats, groped their way in darkness, amid
known and unknown terrors, up and down the windings of the great
river, without having for their guidance a single token of man's
helpful invention.

There are men now living who may see all this vast expenditure
utilized, as it is not now. The building of the inter-oceanic canal
across the isthmus is certain to give new direction to the commerce
of the world. It is fair to presume that the Mississippi may again
assert itself as one of the greatest arteries of commerce in the
world, and that the products of the Minnesota and Dakota farms will
find their way down the river to New Orleans, instead of across the
continent to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore tidewater.
If this effect does follow the building of the canal, as many
clear-headed students of economic problems predict, the Mississippi
will again assume its old-time standing and influence as a great
highway of commerce. The hope is at least father to this thought.

As already stated, my personal experience as a pilot was limited.
It was confined to a few seasons' study of the river under one of
the best men who ever turned a wheel upon it--Thomas Burns. By an
agreement with him, I was to retain my clerkship, but was to spend
as much as possible of my time in the pilot house, while on watch or
off, either with himself or his partner, Thomas Cushing, steering
for them in turn, and receiving instruction from both. Later I was
to give all of my time, and after becoming proficient was to receive
their recommendation for a license. I was then to pay to Captain
Burns five hundred dollars from my first earnings, after getting
a berth as a full-fledged pilot. Under these terms I received
instruction from both men, and as opportunity offered acted as their
wheelsman relieving them of much hard work.

This arrangement was ended by the breaking out of the War of
Secession and the enlistment of Captain Burns in the army. He raised
a company for the Forty-sixth Illinois Infantry, at Galena, taking
about thirty men from the "Fanny Harris" alone. That was in August,
1861. Thomas Cushing then went down the river to try his fortune. Two
new pilots came aboard, Jim Black and Harry Tripp, and I was left out
of the pilot house. Later in the season the "Fanny Harris" was left
so high on the bank of the cut-off between Fevre River and Harris
Slough that the whole crew were discharged. It was necessary to build
ways under the boat and launch her, in order to get her back into the
water--a labor of weeks.

After a short time spent on the "Golden Era" I went up river and
engaged with Charley Jewell, on the "H. S. Allen", Captain S. E.
Gray, running between Prescott and St. Croix Falls. After a few
trips I graduated as a pilot for that run, and conditionally for the
Galena and St. Paul run. When the call for three hundred thousand
additional troops came in August, 1862, I decided that it was my duty
to go to the front and "put down the rebellion", as the "boys" of
that time put it. Acting upon this commendable resolve, I dropped off
at Hudson, where I was well acquainted, and where several companies
were organizing for the three years' service. I enlisted in a company
intended for the Twenty-fifth Wisconsin Infantry, of which Jeremiah
Rusk was lieutenant-colonel; but when we came to be mustered in we
were assigned to the Thirtieth Wisconsin Infantry, as Company A.

My idea was, that if I survived I would return and take up my
work on the river where I left it. That was the boy idea. It was
not realized. After three years of service I was mustered out in
Washington, D. C. I married in the East, and entered the employ of a
steamship company in New York as agent and superintendent, remaining
there until 1876. Returning to Wisconsin in 1876 I found a half dozen
railroads centring in St. Paul, and these were doing the business
of the hundred steamboats that I had left running in 1862. A dozen
boats, confined to two lines, were handling all the river business
between St. Louis and St. Paul, and the profession of piloting was at
an end. Of the hundred boats that I had known fourteen years before,
not one remained. The average life of a river steamboat was but five

Curiously enough, I had by this time lost all interest in river life,
except the interest of a trained observer. I enjoyed watching the few
boats that chanced to come under my observation, and could appreciate
fully the dexterity of the men who were holding their wheels in
the pilot houses; but all my ambitions to again be one of them
appeared to have evaporated, for other lines of work had engrossed my
attention. Engaging in the newspaper business, and later on adding
the responsibility of the agency of a railroad company, I had enough
to think about without pining for lost opportunities on the river.

The work accomplished by the old-time Mississippi pilot while guiding
his steamer through hundreds of miles of water beset by snags,
wrecks, and reefs, has been so fully described by "Mark Twain" in
his _Life on the Mississippi_, that it would be temerity in any
one else to attempt to add to what he has so humorously, and yet
so graphically delineated. It rarely occurs that a man combines a
perfect knowledge of a profession so far removed from the world of
letters as is that of piloting a steamboat with the literary skill
to describe its details. It will probably never again happen that a
great master in literature and humor will graduate from a pilot house.

The experiences of a pilot were the same, however, whether he turned
a wheel on the lower river, as described by "Mark Twain", or on
the upper river. It will not be plagiarizing, therefore, to tell
something of the acquirements necessary in a pilot, even though the
narrative coincides very closely with what he has recorded of similar
experiences on the lower reaches.

Thomas Burns[C] had the reputation of being one of the most reliable
pilots on the upper waters. He was a Scotchman, in middle life,
without vices or failings of any kind, unless smoking may be a vice.
It certainly wasn't so considered on the river, and for the sake of
this story we will not consider it so here. He was conservative, and
would not take any chances, even in a race, preferring to follow the
deep water with safety, rather than cut corners involving risk to the
boat and its cargo, even though a rival boat did pass him, or he was
losing an opportunity to show off some fancy piloting. It was said of
him that he was the only man who could and did steer a stern-wheel
steamboat of four hundred tons through Coon Slough, downstream,
without slowing or stopping the wheel--something requiring nerve
and fine judgment. A side-wheel boat usually went around the sharp
bend with one paddle wheel backing and the other going ahead. A
stern-wheel boat was often compelled to "flank" around the elbow,
by backing against the point and letting the current swing the bow
around the bend.

   [C] Captain Thomas W. Burns was born in Boston, Massachusetts,
   in 1836. He removed with his parents to Galena, Illinois, in
   1842, where he received his education in the public schools.
   After leaving school he went on the river as a "cub" pilot,
   and upon reaching the age of 21 years received his certificate
   as first-class pilot between St. Louis and St. Paul, in
   which capacity he served on many of the best boats of the
   Minnesota Packet Company, including the "War Eagle," "Key
   City," "Itasca," "Fanny Harris," "Kate Cassell," and others.
   In 1861 he recruited a company of steamboatmen at Galena, and
   was assigned to the 45th Illinois Infantry. He remained with
   his company until after the capture of Fort Henry, when he was
   discharged for disability. Upon his return to Galena he took up
   the work of piloting again, continuing until 1885, when he was
   appointed by President Cleveland to the office of United States
   Local Inspector of Steamboats, with headquarters at Galena. His
   long years of experience on the river, and his high sense of
   duty made him an excellent official, and upon the advent of a
   Republican administration he was reappointed to the office, in
   which he was serving at the time of his death, March 4, 1890.

By the old reckoning, the distance from St. Louis to St. Paul, was
eight hundred miles; from Rock Island to St. Paul, four hundred and
fifty. The later survey, after straightening the channel by wing-dams
and dikes, makes the distance seven hundred and twenty-nine miles
from St. Louis, and three hundred and ninety-eight from Rock Island
to St. Paul. It is safe to estimate a "crossing" in each and every
mile of that river. Some miles may have missed their share, but
others had a dozen, so the average was fully maintained. That was
fifty years ago. There are less crossings now, but more dams and
dikes--two hundred and fifty-one dams, dikes, and pieces of dikes in
the little stretch of river between St. Paul and Prescott, a matter
of thirty-six miles. If a pilot attempted to make a crossing now,
where he made it fifty years ago, he would in five hundred different
places butt his head into a dike instead of a reef.

Tom Burns, and scores of others like him, knew every rod of this
river better than the average man knows any one mile of sidewalk
between his home and his office. He knew it by day and by night.
He knew it upstream and downstream--and this amounted literally to
knowing two rivers eight hundred miles long, for the instant you turn
your boat's prow down river you have entered an entirely new country.
Every mark is different; the bold outlines of bluffs with which you
are familiar as you go up the river, are as strangers when viewed
from the reverse side. You have to learn the stream over again, and
worse yet, you have to learn to handle your boat differently. A
novice in the business might take a steamer from St. Louis to St.
Paul with very fair success, while the same man would hang his boat
up effectually on the first bar he came to, if in going down river
he handled his wheel in the same manner. Coming upstream he might
feel of a reef with the bow of his boat, and if he did not strike the
best water the first time he could back off and try again; but going
downstream he must hit the channel the first time or he is gone.
The current is all the time irresistibly pushing his boat down the
river, and if he strikes he is immediately, with the most disastrous
consequences, swung broadside on to the reef. Tom Burns knew his
river so well that he could jump from his berth on the darkest night
and before he reached the pilot house door could tell what part of
the river the boat was in; the instant his eye caught the jack staff
he knew to a certainty what crossing the steamer was making, and
on what part of the crossing she was at the moment. This was what
every first-class pilot must, and did know. I use Burns only as an

It was courtesy for the relieved pilot to state the position of the
boat as he relinquished the wheel to his partner: "Good morning, Mr.
Cushing! A nasty night. She drags a little, to-night. Just making the
upper Cassville crossing. Should have been farther up. Hope you'll
have better luck." This was only a matter of form and politeness,
and not at all necessary. Mr. Cushing or Mr. Burns knew at a glance
that it was the upper Cassville crossing, and as he took the wheel
from the hands of his retiring partner he did, the next instant, just
what the other would have done had he continued. He saw the "swing"
of the jack staff and met it; he felt the boat edging away from the
reef, and coaxed her back, daintily but firmly, a spoke at a time,
or possibly half a spoke. The continuity was not broken. The exact
knowledge of the retiring pilot was simply carried along by the pilot
coming on watch.

In all the hundreds of miles of river traversed by the boat in its
voyage up or down, there could be no other combination of marks just
like the one which met the pilot's eye as he grasped the wheel. The
problem for the "cub" was to learn the combination. In the day time
it was not customary for the retiring partner to mention where the
boat was at the time. That would have been stretching the point
of courtesy too far. All this, however, was between equals. When
the wheel was turned over to the "cub", it was generally a prime
necessity that he be advised as to the exact position of the boat.
Thus primed, if he was reasonably advanced, he could take the wheel
and with the clue given the river would shape itself in his mind,
and he would pass from one set of marks to the next with some degree
of certitude. Without the clue, however, it was possible to imagine
one's self in a hundred probable or improbable places. "All bluffs
look alike to me", might under such circumstances be set to music
and sung with feeling and expression by the learner.

What the pilot must know to enable him to run the river at night, is
strikingly suggested in the conversation between young "Mark Twain"
and his chief, Mr. Bixby. When the boy had begun to take on airs as a
pilot, his chief suddenly fired the question:

   "What is the shape of Walnut Bend?"

   Of course he did not know, and did not know that he must know.

   Mr. Bixby: "My boy, you've got to know the shape of the river,
   perfectly. It is all there is left to steer by on a very dark
   night. Everything else is blotted out and gone. But mind you,
   it hasn't the same shape in the night that it has in the

   "How on earth am I going to learn it, then?"

   "How do you follow a hall at home in the dark? Because you know
   the shape of it. You can't see it."

   "Do you mean to say I've got to know all the million trifling
   variations of the shape of the banks of this interminable river
   as well as I know the shape of the front hall at home?"

   "On my honor you've got to know them _better_ than any man ever
   did know the shapes of the halls in his own house... You see,
   this has got to be learned; there is no getting around it. A
   clear starlight night throws such heavy shadows that if you
   didn't know the shape of the shore perfectly, you would claw
   away from every bunch of timber, because you would take the
   black shadow of it for a solid cape; and you see you would be
   getting scared to death every fifteen minutes by the watch. You
   would be fifty yards from shore all the time when you ought
   to be within fifty feet of it. You can't see a snag in one of
   those shadows, but you know exactly where it is, and the shape
   of the river tells you when you are coming to it. Then there's
   your pitch-dark night; the river is a very different shape on
   a pitch-dark night from what it is on a starlight night. All
   shores seem straight lines then, and mighty dim ones, too;
   you'd run them for straight lines, only you know better. You
   boldly drive your boat into what seems to be a solid straight
   wall (you knowing very well that there is a curve there), and
   that wall falls back and makes way for you. Then there's your
   gray mist. You take a night when there's one of those grizzly
   gray mists, and then there isn't _any_ particular shape to a
   shore. A gray mist would tangle the head of the oldest man that
   ever lived. Well, then, different kinds of _moonlight_ change
   the shape of the river in different ways. You see--"

   But the cub had wilted. When he came to his chief reassured him
   somewhat by replying to his objections:

   "No! you only learn _the_ shape of the river; and you learn
   it with such absolute certainty that you can always steer by
   the shape. That's in your head, and never mind the one that's
   before your eyes."

And that was approximately the case. The details of the river, once
learned, were so indellibly printed on the mind of the pilot that
it seemed as though eyes were almost superfluous. Of course Mr.
Bixby stated the extreme case. While the pilot was running a bend
"out of his head" in darkness that might be felt, there were always
well-known landmarks to be seen--shapes of bluffs so indistinct as
to seem but parts of the universal blackness. But these indistinct
outlines were enough to confirm the judgment of the man at the wheel
in the course he was steering. The man in the hall, in Mr. Bixby's
illustration, could not see anything, and didn't know what hall he
was in. He might just as well have been blind; and I never heard of a
blind man running a steamboat, day or night. In the short experience
that I had in the pilot house, I did not reach this perfection;
but I have stood on one side of the wheel, mechanically following
the orders of my chief, and listening to the churning of the wheel
reëchoed from the banks not fifty feet away, when I could scarcely
see the jack staff, and could not distinguish between the black of
the woods and the all-pervading black of the night.

Mr. Burns or Mr. Cushing would translate the situation, as the
boat plowed along under a full head of steam, somewhat like this:
"Now we're going down into the bend. Now we're opposite the big
cottonwood. Now we must pull out a little, to avoid that nest of
snags. Now we will let her begin to come out; the water begins to
shoal here; we'll keep away from the point a little, and cross over
into the west bend, and follow that down in the opposite direction."

This in the way of instruction; and so far as my observation went
he was drawing on his imagination for his facts, as I saw no big
cottonwood, nor nest of snags, nor any point. The only thing that
I could share with him in common was the fact that we were nearing
the point and getting into shoaler water--the boat told me that. The
floor under my feet seemed to hang back and drag; the motion of the
paddle wheel was perceptibly retarded; the escape was hoarser from
the pipes. I knew that there was shoal water on the point at the foot
of the bend, and the boat herself told me when we had reached the
point; but I had not seen it, either with my eyes, or in my head.
Mr. Burns had it all in his head, and did not require to see it with
his eyes. He simply ran the bend as he knew it to be; and he ran a
hundred others in the same way.

What might happen to any one who ran by sight, and not by faith, was
illustrated in the case of a young pilot on the "Key City", of our
line. He had his papers, and was standing watch alone in the pilot
house. He was going downstream. In going into Lansing, Iowa, one
runs a long bend on the left-hand shore. At Lansing the river turns
sharply to the south, from a nearly westerly course. Just at the
turn, and fronting the river toward the east, is a solid limestone
bluff four hundred feet high. On a starlit night the shadow of this
bluff is thrown out upon the river so far as totally to obliterate
the water, and for several minutes one must point his boat straight
into an apparently solid bluff before he "opens out" the turn to the
left. On the night in question the young man forgot to run by what
he knew to be the shape of the river, and trusted to what his eyes
showed him. He lost his head completely, and instead of stopping both
wheels and backing away from the impending doom, he put his wheel
hard over and plumped the "Key City" into the alluvial bank of the
island opposite, with such force as to snatch both chimneys out of
her, and very nearly to make a wreck of the steamer.

I have myself been tempted to run away from the same bluff; and but
for confidence inspired by the presence of one of the pilots, might
have done so. Mr. Burns drilled his "cubs" upon one point, however,
which made for the safety of the boat: "When in doubt, ring the
stopping bell and set her back." There was no place of safety to run
to in a panic on the Mississippi, and a boat standing still was less
likely to hurt herself or any one else than one in motion.

In no other particular, perhaps, has the art of piloting been so
revolutionized as in the adoption of the electric search-light for
night running. Time and again have I heard the question asked by
people new to the river: "Why don't you hang up two or three lanterns
at the front end of the boat, so that you can see to steer?"

It is easy to answer such a question convincingly. Go out into the
woods on a very dark night with an ordinary lantern. How far can you
see by such a light? Perhaps thirty feet; twenty feet would probably
be nearer the mark. Until a light was discovered that could project
its rays a half mile or more, and so concentrated as clearly to
reveal landmarks at that distance, the other extreme, no light at
all, was not only desirable, but positively necessary if the boat was
to be kept going.

After long usage, a pilot's eyes came to possess powers common to
the cat family and other night prowlers. He could literally "see
in the dark"; but he could not see in any half light, or any light
artificial and close at hand. For this reason it was necessary to
cover every light on the boat while running on a very dark night,
save the red and green sidelights at the chimney-tops. To accomplish
this, heavy canvas "shrouds" or "mufflers" were provided, which
fitted snugly around the forward part of the boat, in front of the
furnaces on the main deck; another set were placed around the boiler
deck, in front of the cabin; and still another set to muffle the
transom sky-lights on the hurricane deck. When these were properly
fitted and triced up, there was not a ray of light projected forward,
to break the dead blackness ahead. So delicate was this sense of
night sight, that no one was permitted to smoke a pipe or cigar in
the pilot house at such times, and even the mate, sitting by the bell
down on the roof below, had to forego his midnight pipe. As for the
pilot himself, a cigar in front of his nose would have shut off his
sight as effectively as though he were blindfolded.

Of course, were the pilot looking only ten feet, or even forty feet,
ahead of his boat, the lights on board might not have interfered
greatly, although they would not have assisted him in the slightest.
You can not steer a boat by landmarks ten feet ahead of her. The
pilot searches for landmarks a mile away, and must be able to
distinguish between two kinds of blackness--the blackness of the
night below, and the blackness of the sky above, and from the
dividing line between the two must read his marks and determine his
course. He does not see the woods on either side of him, and often
close at hand. The least ray of artificial light would blind the
pilot to the things which he must see under such conditions, hence
the shrouding of the boat was a necessity, were she to be run at all
on such a night. The coming of the electric search-light, and the
transfer of the marks from distant bluffs to big white diamond boards
planted low down on the banks where the light can be flashed upon
them from a distance of half a mile or more, has greatly simplified
the work of the pilot, and rendered obsolete the curtains which once
so completely darkened the Mississippi steamboat on the blackest of

[Illustration: 1. DANIEL SMITH HARRIS. Steamboat Captain, 1833-1861.

2. CAPTAIN THOMAS BURNS. Pilot on the Upper Mississippi River from
1856 to 1889. Inspector of Steamboats under President Cleveland and
President McKinley.

3. CHARLES G. HARGUS. Chief Clerk on the "Royal Arch," "Golden
State," "Fanny Harris," "Kate Cassell" and many other fine steamers
on the Upper Mississippi.

4. GEORGE B. MERRICK. "Cub" Pilot, 1862.]

Chapter XI

_Knowing the River_

To "know the river" fully, the pilot must not only know everything
which may be seen by the eye, but he must also feel for a great
deal of information of the first importance which is not revealed
to the eye alone. Where the water warrants it, he reaches for this
information with a lead line; as on the lower river, where the water
is deeper, and the draft of boats correspondingly great. On the
upper river, a twelve-foot pole answers instead. The performance
is always one of great interest to the passengers; the results are
often of greater interest to the man at the wheel. The manner in
which the reports of the leadsman are received and digested by the
pilot, is not usually known to or comprehended by the uninitiated.
The proceeding is picturesque, and adds one more "feature" to the
novelties of the trip. It is always watched with the greatest
interest by the tourist, and is apparently always enjoyed by them,
whatever the effect upon the pilot; whether he enjoys it or not
depends on the circumstances.

Soundings are not always necessarily for the immediate and present
purpose of working the boat over any particular bar, at the
particular time at which they are taken, although they may be taken
for that purpose and no other. In general, during the season of low
water, the leads are kept going in all difficult places as much for
the purpose of comparison as for the immediate purpose of feeling
one's way over the especial reef or bar where the soundings are
taken. If it is suspected that a reef is "making down", the pilot
wants to satisfy himself on that point, so that he may readjust his
marks to meet the changed outlines. If a reef is "dissolving", he
also wants to know that, and readjust his marks accordingly--only
in the first place, his marks will be set lower down the river; in
case of a dissolving reef, his marks will be set farther upstream,
to follow the deep water which is always found close under the
reef--that is, on the downstream side. The shallowest water is always
on the crest of the reef, and it "tapers" back, upstream, very
gradually, for rods--sometimes for half a mile or even more, until
another reef is reached, with deep water under it, and another system
of shallows above.

This is where the perfection of the pilot's memory machine is
demonstrated along another line. He has acquainted himself with every
bluff, hill, rock, tree, stump, house, woodpile, and whatever else
is to be noted along the banks of the river. He has further added to
this fund of information a photographic negative in his mind, showing
the shape of all the curves, bends, capes, and points of the river's
banks, so that he may shut his eyes, yet see it all, and with such
certainty that he can, on a night so perfectly black that the shore
line is blotted out, run his boat within fifty feet of the shore and
dodge snags, wrecks, overhanging trees, and all other obstacles by
running the shape of the river as he knows it to be--not as he can
see it. In sounding, he is mentally charting the bottom of the river
as he has already charted the surface and its surroundings.

As he approaches the crossing which he wishes to verify, he pulls the
rope attached to the tongue of the big bell on the roof, and sounds
one stroke, and an instant later two strokes. The captain or mate
on watch sings out: "Starboard lead!" "Larboard lead!" and the men
detailed for the duty are at their stations in a minute or less after
the order is given. Then the cry, first from starboard and then from
port, long-drawn and often musical: "No-o-o bottom; no-o-o bottom!"
rises from the fo'c'sle, and is repeated by the captain or mate to
the pilot. "Mar-r-k twain, mar-r-r-k twain!" indicates soundings the
depth of the sounding pole--twelve feet, or two fathoms. This is
of no interest to the pilot, for he knew there was "no bottom" and
"two fathoms" before the soundings were taken. It is of the highest
interest to the passengers, however, to whom the cry of "no bottom"
seems a paradox, when the boat has been rubbing the bottom most of
the way from Rock Island up. They have not yet been taught that this
simply means no bottom with a twelve-foot pole, and does not indicate
that the Mississippi is a bottomless stream at this or any other

On the upper river, the cry of "ten feet, eight and a half", or even
"six feet", does not strike any sensitive spot in the pilot's mental
machinery, for upper river men are used to running "where there
is a heavy dew". On such occasions he might listen to the latest
story, detailed by a visiting comrade, and even take part in the
conversation, apparently indifferent to the monotonous cries from
the lower deck. But all the time his brain is fitting the leadsman's
cries to the marks in which the cries have found his boat--not
consciously, perhaps, but nevertheless surely. He has not only fitted
the cry into the marks, but has mentally compared the present with
the depth of water cried at the same spot last trip, and the trip
before that, and noted the change, if any has taken place. Say the
leadsman has sung "six feet", "six feet", "six feet", "six feet",
"six feet", until you would think there was no other depth but six
feet in the river; then in the same tone he sings "five-and-a-half",
"six feet", "six feet", "six feet". The pilot is still talking with
his visitor, watching his marks and turning his wheel; but he has
picked out that "five-and-a-half" and stored it away for future
reference, together with all the surroundings of his boat at the
instant the call reached his ear--the marks ahead, astern, and on
either side. The next trip, as the leadsman sings "six feet", "six
feet", "six feet", he will be shocked and grievously disappointed if
he does not find his "five-and-a-half" at just that point. And he
will not be counting the "six feet" cries, nor, possibly, will he be
aware that he is looking for the "five-and-a-half". When he drops
into the marks where the "five-and-a-half" found him last week, if he
hears only the "six feet", he will be in a similar frame of mind to
the man who, coming into town, misses a prominent tree or house, and
asks: "Where is that big tree that stood on the corner, when I was
here last time"?

The pilot does all this without realizing that he is making any
mental effort. When he begins this sort of drill as a "cub", he
realizes it fully; and if he is half sharp he will open an account
with every shoal place between Rock Island and St. Paul, and set down
in writing the soundings on the lowest place on each reef, and try to
supply the marks in which his steamer lay when the cry was heard. As
he grows in his studies he will rely less on his notebook and more
upon his memory, until the mental picture of the bottom of the river
becomes as vivid as that of the surface. Then, when his chief asks
suddenly: "How much water was there on the middle crossing at Beef
Slough last trip"? he can answer promptly: "Four feet on starboard,
four feet scant on port".

"How much trip before last?"

"Four feet large, both sides."

"Right, my boy; you're doing well."

If that "cub" doesn't grow an inch in a minute, under these
circumstances, he isn't the right kind of boy to have around.

Naturally the boys studied the "nightmares", first of all. If they
could get over Cassville, Brownsville, Trempealeau, Rolling-stone,
Beef Slough, Prescott, Grey Cloud, and Pig's Eye, they could manage
all the rest of the river. But the leads were kept going in fifty
other places which, while not so bad, had enough possibilities to
warrant the closest watching. The chiefs were making mental notes of
all these places, and could tell you the soundings on every crossing
where a lead had been cast, as readily as the "cubs" could recite the
capital letter readings of Beef Slough and Pig's Eye. The miracle of
it was, how they could do this without giving any apparent attention
to the matter at the time. They struck the bell, the leadsman sang,
the mate or captain repeated the cries mechanically, while the
pilot appeared to pay little or no attention to the matter. When
he had enough of the music he tapped the bell to lay in the leads,
and nothing was said as to the results. Yet if asked at St. Paul
by a brother pilot how much water he found on any one of a hundred
crossings of average depth, he could tell, without hesitation, just
where he found the lowest cast of the lead.

In my experience as a printer I have stood at the case and set up an
editorial out of my head (how "able" I will not pretend to say), at
the same time keeping up a spirited argument on politics or religion
with a visitor. The thinking appeared to be all devoted to the
argument; it was probably the talking only. To set the type required
no thought at all; that was purely mechanical; and to compose the
editorial was the unconscious operation of the mind, accustomed
to doing just this sort of thing, until the framing of words into
sentences became more or less mechanical. Certainly the mental drill
of a river pilot along a very few lines, developed a memory for the
things pertaining to his profession which was wonderful, when you
sit down and attempt to analyze it. To the men themselves it was not
a wonder--it was the merest commonplace. It was among the things
which you must acquire before you could pilot a steamboat; and for
a consideration they would covenant to teach any boy of average
mental ability and common sense all these things, provided always
that he had the physical ability to handle a wheel, and provided
also, that he demonstrated in time of trial that he had the "nerve"
necessary for the business. A timid, cowardly, or doubting person
had no business in the pilot house. If it were possible for him to
acquire all the rest, and he lacked the nerve to steady him in time
of danger, he was promptly dropped out of the business.

I saw this illustrated in the case of a rapids pilot between St.
Paul and St. Anthony. We always made this trip when a cargo of flour
was offered by the one mill which in that early day represented all
there was of that great interest which now dominates the business of
Minneapolis. While our pilots were both capable of taking the boat
to St. Anthony and back, the underwriters required that we should
take a special pilot for the trip--one who made a specialty of that
run. On the occasion in point we had taken an unusually heavy cargo,
as the river was at a good stage. At that time the channel was very
crooked, winding about between reefs of solid rock, with an eight
to ten mile current. It required skilful manipulation of the wheel
to keep the stern of the boat off the rocks. In going downstream it
is comparatively easy to get the bow of a steamer around a crooked
place; it is not easy to keep the stern from swinging into danger.
In this case the stern of the steamer struck a rock reef with such
force as to tear one of the wing rudders out by the roots, in doing
which enough noise was made to warrant the belief that half the boat
was gone. The special pilot was satisfied that such was the case,
and exclaimed: "She is gone!" at the same time letting go the wheel
and jumping for the pilot house door. She would have been smashed
into kindlings in a minute if she had been left to herself, or had
the engines been stopped even for an instant. Fortunately the rapids
pilot was so scared by the noise of rending timbers and wheel-buckets
that he did not have nerve enough left to ring a bell, and the
engineer on watch was not going to stop until a bell was rung, as he
knew that the drift of a minute in that white water, would pile us
up on the next reef below. Fortunately for the "Fanny Harris", Tom
Cushing was in the pilot house, as well as myself. When the other
man dropped the wheel Cushing jumped for it, and fired an order to
me to get hold of the other side of the wheel, and for the next six
miles he turned and twisted among the reefs, under a full head of
steam, which was necessary to give us steerageway in such a current.
We never stopped until we reached St. Paul, where we ran over to the
west shore, it being shallow, and beached the boat. When she struck
land the captain took the special pilot by the collar and kicked him
ashore, at the same time giving him the benefit of the strongest
language in use on the river at that time. Beyond the loss of a
rudder and some buckets from the wheel, the boat was not seriously
damaged, and we continued the voyage to Galena as we were. Had Tom
Cushing not been in the pilot house at the time, she would have been
a wreck in the rapids a mile or so below St. Anthony Falls. The
rapids pilot lost his certificate.

river between Cassville, Wis., and Guttenberg, Iowa, showing the
characteristic winding of the stream.]

Chapter XII

_The Art of Steering_

Every pilot must of necessity be a steersman; but not every steersman
is of necessity a pilot. He may be studying to become a pilot, and
not yet out of the steersman stage. "Cubs" begin their studies by
steering for their chiefs. Many boys become quite expert in handling
a boat, under the eyes of their chiefs, before they are sufficiently
acquainted with the river to be trusted alone at the wheel for any
length of time.

At first thought, one might imagine a number of favorable conditions
as prerequisite to the ideal in steering: a straight piece of river,
plenty of water, and an average steamboat. These would indeed
guarantee leaving a straight wake; but under such conditions a
roustabout might accomplish this. The artistic quality is developed
in the handling of a boat under the usual conditions--in making
the multitudinous crossings, where the jack staff is continually
swinging from side to side as the boat is dodging reefs and hunting
the best water. In doing this, one man puts his wheel so hard down,
and holds it so long, that he finds it necessary to put the wheel
to the very opposite to check the swing of the boat and head it
back to its proper course, in which evolution he has twice placed
his rudder almost squarely across the stern of his boat. If this
athletic procedure is persevered in at every change of course, it
will materially retard the speed of the steamer and leave a wake full
of acute angles, besides giving the steersman an unnecessary amount
of work.

The skilled steersman, combining his art with his exact knowledge
of the bottom of the river, will give his boat only enough wheel to
lay her into her "marks", closely shaving the points of the reefs
and bars, and will "meet her" so gradually and so soon as to check
the swing of the jack staff at the exact moment when the "marks"
are reached. There is then no putting the wheel over to bring the
boat back, after having overreached her marks, and the rudders have
at no time been more than a quarter out of line with the hull of the
boat. It is this delicate handling of the wheel, which differentiates
between the artist and the athlete.

Steamboats have their individuality, the same as pilots and
steersmen. There are boats (or have been), that would almost steer
themselves, while there are others so perverse and tricky that no one
could feel sure of keeping them in the river for any consecutive two
miles. The "Ocean Wave" was, perhaps, the most unreliable and tricky
of all the craft on the upper river--or any river. In low water no
one man ever thought of standing a watch alone at the wheel, and at
times she would run away with two men at the wheel. She was short,
"stubby", and narrow; and when she smelt a reef she would, unless
very carefully handled, under a slow bell, run away from it, often
with one paddle wheel backing while the other was coming ahead, and
the rudder standing squarely across the stern. Many times she has
plumped into the bank under these conditions, and nothing less than
the bank would stop her. The "City Belle", the "Favorite", and the
"Frank Steele" were built much like the "Ocean Wave", but were not
quite so unreliable in steering. She was in a class by herself. On
the other hand, the "Key City", one of the largest, longest, and
finest of the up-river packets, was so well-balanced, and her hull
so finely moulded, that it was a delight to handle her, even under
otherwise unfavorable conditions, such as low water, or high winds.

A stern-wheel boat going downstream when the wind was blowing up
the river, was about as helpless a craft to handle as could well
be imagined. After she was once "straightened down" she was all
right; but in attempting to get her nose pointed down river, after
having made a landing, there were more profane possibilities than
the uninitiated ever dreamed of. The current, acting on the stern
of the boat and the partially-submerged wheel, was all the time
pulling that end of the boat downstream; while the wind, acting
upon the tall chimneys and the pilot house and "Texas", was at the
same time pushing the bow of the boat upstream; and the pilot was
all the while endeavoring to reverse this position, and get the bow
of his boat pointed in the direction in which he wished to go. It
sometimes took hours to accomplish this, particularly if caught in
places where the river was narrow and correspondingly swift, and the
wind strong and contrary. The only way to swing a stern-wheel boat
was, to put the steering wheel hard over, throwing the four rudders
as far to one side as possible, and then back strongly against them.
Under this leverage if there was no wind, the boat would swing easily
and promptly, until her head was pointed downstream; and then by
coming ahead and gaining steerageway, the boat was under perfect
control. But when the wind was blowing upstream, it was often found
impracticable to back fast and far enough to gain the necessary
momentum to swing her in a narrow place; the engines would have to be
stopped before the boat was swung to more than a right angle with the
river, and then, before steerageway was gained after coming ahead,
the bow of the boat would again be pointing upstream, and the same
performance would have to be gone through with--sometimes a dozen
or twenty times, before the boat would get under way in the proper

In 1881 I saw Henry Link, after having made a landing at Newport,
back the "Mary Morton", of the Diamond Jo Line, more than five
miles down the river, she having swung stern-down at that place. He
see-sawed back and forth across the stream, first in one direction
and then in another, and failed at last to swing his boat against the
strong south wind which was blowing. He finally gave it up and ran
ashore, and getting out a line to a big tree, backed his craft around
until her bow was pointed downstream, and then made a start from a
broadside position against the bank. I happened to be a passenger on
the boat at the time. His remarks on that occasion were unprintable.
A side-wheel boat, under the same conditions, would have backed out
into the river, come ahead on one wheel while backing on the other,
and in two or three minutes would have been going full speed ahead on
the desired course. That is the beauty of the independent side-wheel
system. It is a great saving of labor and morality for the steersman,
and a great saving of time for the owners.

It would seem that if you could get the bow of your boat clear of the
bank, or of an overhanging tree, after pointing in pretty close, that
the rest of the boat would follow the bow and likewise come out,
without any undue intimacy with the trees or bank. It takes only one
trial to disabuse a beginner of this notion. The balance of the boat
does not follow the bow out of such a position; and while every pilot
knows the immutable laws of physics which operate upon his boat under
such circumstances, most of them, sooner or later, get caught, either
through carelessness or recklessness, just as the green cub does
through ignorance.

In running downstream, when you point into the bank, and shave it
closely, you pull the bow of the boat away, and then there are two
forces over which you have no control with your steering wheel: the
impetus of the after half of your boat is still in the direction of
the bank, after the forward half has begun to swing away; which would
also be the case in a perfectly dead lake. In the river, you have
the second force in the current which is pressing against the whole
of the hull, but more particularly against the after part, and this
is pushing the boat in toward the bank after you have pulled her bow
away from it. The result is, that while you may clear the bank with
the bow of the boat, the stern swings in and gets the punishment.

Because of these two laws of physics, it was almost impossible to run
a stern-wheel boat around the sharp bend in Coon Slough, a feat which
"Tom" Burns performed several times without stopping a wheel. "Jack"
Harris tried it with the big side-wheeler, the "Northern Light", late
in the fall, when the anchor ice was running. Her bow got around all
right; but her stern swung into the ice which had lodged in the bend,
with the result that the whole stern was torn away, and she sank in
twenty feet of water. "Ned" West tried a similar experiment at Dayton
Bluff, just below St. Paul, with the "Key City". He ran in very close
to the rocky shore, under full headway. He got her head out in good
shape, but the stern struck the rocks, tearing out the rudder and
smashing the deadwood. He worked her back to St. Paul with the wheels
alone, and there the damage was repaired. I doubt if he was even
reprimanded, for he was the "fastest" pilot on the upper river, as
well as one of the best, and getting eight hundred dollars a month
for his services. He could get a boat over the course from St. Louis
to St. Paul, in less time than any other pilot could take the same
boat, and that of course carried with it the supposition that he
knew the river as well as any man.

I learned the lesson myself through inattention. I was well
acquainted with the principle through precept, and had been very
careful not to run too near the bank. Coming down from St. Croix
Falls with the "H. S. Allen", on reaching the mouth of the Apple
River, I saw a school of black bass lying on the white sandy bottom
where the Apple River empties into the St. Croix. The inflow from
Apple River sets almost squarely across the St. Croix, and when
the former is in flood the current sets nearly across the channel.
To meet it, it is necessary to point toward the incoming current,
to prevent being thrown against the opposite bank. Being an ardent
fisherman I was deeply interested in the scores of fine fish plainly
distinguishable from the height of the pilot house. The result was
inevitable. I neglected to point the bow of the boat sufficiently
against the inflow, and she took a sheer for the opposite bank the
instant she struck the cross current. I pulled the wheel hard over
in an instant, and got the bow clear of the overhanging timber, but
the stern went under, and when it came out the "H. S. Allen" lacked
two escape pipes and half of the washroom and laundry. The stewardess
herself was short about half her senses, and all her temper. The
captain had seen the same trick performed by older and better pilots
than myself, and was not unduly distressed. It took about one hundred
dollars to make the boat presentable. I did not tell about the black
bass for some time after the incident occurred--long enough after so
that there would be no obvious connection between the fish and the
missing laundry.

The man who has once mastered the art of steering a steamboat on
Western waters, never loses his love for it. Whatever may have been
his occupation after leaving the river, his hands instinctively
reach out for the wheel if fortune so favors him as to place the
opportunity within his reach. I mean, of course, the man who sees and
feels more than the mere turning of the wheel so many hours a day,
for so much money to be paid at the completion of his task. It may be
work, and hard work, for the enthusiast as well as for the hireling;
but with the man who puts his spirit into the task, it is work
ennobled by painstaking devotion, and glorified by the realization
of work artistically and lovingly done. To such a man there is an
exhilaration about the handling of a big steamboat in the crooked
channels of the Great River, akin to that felt by the accomplished
horseman when guiding a spirited team of roadsters, or that of the
engineer, holding the throttle of a great locomotive rushing over
the rails at a speed of sixty miles an hour. However long the hands
of the horseman or the engineer may have been divorced from reins or
throttle, there is the same longing to grasp the one or the other
when the opportunity offers. It is a wholly natural craving of the
inner being; and however inexplicable it may be, it is there.

For forty years, since leaving the river for other pursuits, often
harassing and full of care, I have dreamed, time and again, of
holding a wheel on one of the old-time boats on which I served as
a boy. In my sleep I have felt again the satisfaction in work well
done, the mortification of failure, and have felt again the cares and
responsibilities that weighed so heavily when beset with difficulties
and dangers. It is all as real as though I again stood at the
wheel, doing real work, and achieving real victories over besetting
difficulties and dangers. Mere work, as a means of earning a living,
would not take such hold upon one's nature. It is the soul of the
artist incarnate in the pilot.

Chapter XIII

_An Initiation_

I have said that in addition to "knowing the river", and knowing that
he knows it, the young pilot must also be fortified with a large
measure of self-reliance, or all else will go for nothing. The time
of trial comes to every one, sooner or later, and the manner in which
it is met usually determines the standing of the young novitiate in
the estimation of river men. The reputation of every man on the river
is common property the length of his run, from St. Louis to St. Paul.
It was proverbial that river men "talked shop" more than any others,
in those early days, probably because they were more interested in
their own business than they were in that of other men. Possibly
because, as one government engineer stated it, they didn't know
anything else. However, the doings of all the river men were pretty
thoroughly discussed sooner or later, from the latest dare-devil
exhibition of fancy piloting by "Ned" West, to the mistakes and
mishaps of the youngest "cub". Sooner or later, each and all were
served up at the casual meetings of river men, at whatever port they
might foregather.

My own "baptism"--not of "fire", but of water and lightning--came on
the very first trip I made alone on a steamboat. I had been running
with Charley Jewell on the "H. S. Allen", from Prescott to St. Croix
Falls. Mr. Jewell fell sick and was laid off at Prescott. On the
levee, the day he went home, was a steamboat load of rope, rigging,
boats, and camp-equipage, together with a couple of hundred raftsmen
landed from a down-river packet that did not care to make the run
up the lake. The disembarked men were anxious to reach Stillwater
with their cargo, that night. Our regular starting time, as a United
States mail boat, was at 7 o'clock in the morning. They offered
extra compensation if we would take them up that night, and the
proposition was accepted by Captain Gray. All hands were set to work
loading the stuff. I felt quite elated at the prospect, as it was a
bright evening, and I felt sure of finding my way, for there were
only three or four close places to run in the thirty miles of lake
navigation between Prescott and Stillwater.

We got everything aboard, and I backed her out and started up the
lake. There had been some lightning in the north, where there was a
bank of low-lying clouds. So far away were they, apparently, that no
one thought of a storm, certainly not a serious one. We were running
toward it, however, and as we soon discovered, it was coming to meet
us at a rattling pace. We met when about six miles above Prescott.
First a terrific wind out of the north, followed by torrents of rain,
and incessant lightning, which took on the appearance of chain-mail
as it shimmered and glittered on the falling rain drops. I put up
the breast-board, and let down the head-board as far as I could and
still leave room between to look out ahead; but the fierce wind drove
the rain in sheets into the pilot house, and in a minute's time I
was completely soaked. The lightning and thunder were terrifying in
brilliancy and in sharpness of sound, the flash and the report coming
so closely together as to leave no doubt that the bolts were getting
seriously close to the smokestacks. The pilot house was not the place
I would have chosen from which to enjoy these effects, had I my
choice. The place I really longed for was somewhere down below, where
I would have felt less conspicuous as a target.

I managed to work my way around the Kinnickinnic bar, and made the
run up to the Afton (or "Catfish") bar, around which the channel
was quite narrow and wofully crooked. Thus far, the high banks had
sheltered us somewhat from the wind. Here, however, the low-lying
prairie came down to the water's edge. The sweep of the wind was
terrific, while the downpour of rain was such that at times it was
impossible to see any landmarks a hundred feet away. Captain Gray,
wrapped in his storm clothes, who had, since the tempest broke, staid
on the roof, one eye on the banks, when he could see them, and the
other on the young man at the wheel, finally called up and wanted to
know if I did not think we had better feel our way ashore and tie up
until the storm abated, even at the risk of being late in getting
back to Prescott to take up our regular trip in the morning. I was
shivering so that my teeth chattered, and the captain would have
been fully justified in assuming that I was shaking as much from
fear as from cold. I had a deal of pride in those days, however,
and a fair allowance of inherited courage, with perhaps a dash of
pig-headedness. I did not wish to have it bulletined from one end of
the river to the other that the first time I was left in charge of a
steamboat, I had hunted a tree to tie up to because it happened to
thunder and rain a little. That would have been the popular version
of the incident, in any case. I replied, therefore, that if Captain
Gray would send his waiter up with a glass of brandy, I would take
the steamer to Hudson levee before taking out a line, and from there
to Stillwater and back to Prescott in time for our morning run. The
captain said nothing, then or thereafter, but sent his "boy" up with
the brandy. This was applied inwardly, and served to take the chill

Thus fortified--temperance people will please not be horrified
at this depravity of a nineteen-year-old novice, under such
extraordinary provocation--I worked around "Catfish" and followed
along the west shore as far as Lakeland. From Lakeland across the
lake to the Hudson levee, is about three-quarters of a mile. It was
still blowing a gale, and the rain came down in torrents, so that the
opposite shore could not be seen--in fact one could not distinguish
an object ten rods ahead. I had felt my way along, sometimes under
the "slow bell", until the present. I must now cut loose from the
west shore, and make the crossing to Hudson. There was plenty of
water everywhere; but I could not see any landmarks on the opposite
side of the lake. I got a stern bearing, however, and headed across.
In a minute's time I could see nothing, either ahead or astern, and
having no compass I had to rely on the "feel" of the rudders to tell
me which way she was swinging. As it turned out, this was of little
value, owing to the strength of the wind. For five minutes I ran
under full head, and then slowed, trying to get a glimpse of the east
bank, and "find myself". When I did, the "H. S. Allen" was headed
squarely down the lake, and fully a mile below the Hudson landing.
The force of the wind on the chimneys had turned her bow down-wind
and downstream. As the rain began to slacken and I could see my
marks, it took but a few minutes to straighten her up and make the
run to the landing.

On leaving Hudson there were two ways of running the big bar opposite
and below the mouth of Willow River. One, the longest, was to cross
back to Lakeland and then run up the west shore--all of it straight
work. The other, was to run squarely out into the middle of the lake,
turn north and run half a mile, then quartering west-north-west
across the lake to the opposite shore. This crossing saved a mile
or more of steaming over the other course; but it was crooked and
narrow, and the possibility of hanging up was much greater. Captain
Gray asked me, when backing out, which crossing I would make. I
replied that I was going to take the upper to save time. He said
nothing, but again took his place by the bell. He made no suggestion,
nor offered any opinion as to my decision. That was a part of the
river etiquette, which he adhered to even in the case of a boy; for
which I sincerely thanked him in my inner being, while accepting it
outwardly quite as a matter of course--which it would have been, with
an older and more experienced man at the wheel.

I made the crossing without calling for leads, or touching bottom,
and the rest of the way was easy. When we made Stillwater the stars
were out, and the storm-clouds hung low on the southern horizon. I
went below and got into dry clothes, and had a few hours sleep while
the freight was being put ashore. Along about two o'clock in the
morning I started back, with the mate on the roof. In confidence he
confided to me the gratifying news that the "old man says you're all
right. He says that you've got nerve enough to last you through". As
"nerve" was one of the things needed in the business, I was certainly
proud that my night's work, alone on a heavily-loaded boat, in one of
the worst of storms, had given me a standing with the "old man"; and
I felt reasonably certain that his report would carry weight among
the river men who might chance to discuss the merits of the young
"cub", and his equipment for serious work.

I may, I hope, be pardoned for dwelling at such length upon an
incident of such common occurrence on the river as to attract little
or no attention when the man at the wheel was an old and experienced
pilot. But this was my "trying-out" time, which made a difference.
Even if no one else ever gave the incident a second thought, I
should have felt the shame of it to this day, had I "craw-fished" on
that first trial.

I have never seen or heard anything to compare with the storms we
used to have on the river. The river men had a theory of their
own--not very scientific, and probably without foundation in
fact--that the vapors from the lowlands and islands formed clouds
which were more than ordinarily charged with electricity. _Why_ they
should be more highly charged than vapors arising from lowlands or
islands elsewhere, they did not attempt to explain, and could not
had they attempted. The fact remains, that our thunder storms were
something out of the ordinary, and were so regarded by people from
the East who experienced them for the first time. Many steamboats
were struck by lightning, but few were burned, the electrical bolt
being diffused through the iron of the boilers and machinery, and
finding ready escape through the water-wheel shafts into the river.
I have heard it stated that engineers have often received serious
shocks from bolts thus passing from the chimneys to the water, by way
of the machinery, but I never heard of one being killed. I do know
that when these pyrotechnics were going on, the engineers kept their
hands off the throttle-wheel, except in cases of dire necessity.
The pilot was seemingly in more, but really less danger than the
engineers. However, under such circumstances, a man had to hang on
to his nerve as well as his wheel; and I doubt if many pilots ever
became so hardened as not to feel "creepy" when the storm was on.

Chapter XIV

_Early Pilots_

"How did the first steamboats find their way up the hundreds of miles
of water heretofore unbroken by steam-driven wheel?" No voice out of
the past will give an answer to this query. The imagination of the
trained pilot, however, needs no written page to solve the problem
of how it might have been done; and he can picture to himself the
satisfaction, akin to joy, of the man at the wheel, picking his way
amid the thousand islands and snag-infested channels innumerable,
guided only by his power to read the face of the water, and his
knowledge of the basic principles that govern the flow of all great
rivers. Standing thus at his wheel, with new vistas of stream and
wood and bluff opening to him as he rounded each successive bend,
choosing on the instant the path as yet uncharted; unhampered by
time-honored "landmarks", with "all the world to choose from",
none might be so envied as he. But we will never know who had this
pleasure all his own.

In thus picturing the passage of pioneer steamboats up the
Mississippi, there is danger that we may inject into the scene the
image of the modern floating palace, with her three decks, her
tall chimneys, her massive side-wheels, her "Texas", and her pilot
house, fully equipped with spars, gang planks, jack staff, and all
the paraphernalia of the beautiful and speedy "packets" of our day.
Upon no such craft, however, did the early navigators pick their
way into the solitudes of the upper river. Their boats were little
better than the keel boats which they superseded--in fact they were
keel boats operated by steam. The cargo-box afforded shelter for
passengers, merchandise, and machinery. There was no pilot house in
which to stand, fifty feet above the water, from that height to study
the river bottom. The steersman stood at the stern, and manipulated
his tiller by main strength and awkwardness, while the captain stood
at the bow and studied the river, and gave his orders to "port" or
"starboard", as the case required. As the boat drew less than three
feet of water, the necessity for fine judgment in choosing the
channel was not as necessary as in guiding a craft drawing twice as
much. Nevertheless, it did call for judgment and decision; and these
qualities were inherent in the men who made the navigation of Western
waters their occupation in the early decades of the nineteenth

Long years before the advent of steam, the fur-traders of the upper
river were running their heavily-laden canoes, bateaux, and Mackinac
boats from St. Anthony Falls to Prairie du Chien, and thence up the
Wisconsin and down the Fox to Green Bay and Mackinac; or, farther
down the Mississippi to St. Louis. To guide these boats, with their
valuable cargoes of peltries, pilots were as necessary as on the
larger craft that later were to supersede them. A man standing in the
stern, with ready paddle in hand, was the forerunner of the pilot of
civilization. In his veins the blood of sunny France mingled with
that of a tawny mother from Huron, Chippewa, or Dakota wigwams. His
eye was quick to read the dimpling waters, and his arm strong to turn
the prow of his craft aside from threatening snag or sand-bar.

The transition from bateaux paddle and sweep to the steamboat wheel
was not great, and it followed that the names of the earliest
recorded members of the profession are such as to leave no room for
doubt as to nationality or pedigree. Louis DeMarah heads the list of
upper Mississippi River pilots who handled steamboats prior to 1836.
There were steamers running between St. Louis and Fort Snelling from
the year 1823, with more or less regularity. The "Virginia" (Captain
Crawford) was the first steamboat to reach Fort Snelling, May 10,
1823. While we have the name of the captain, we have no mention of
her pilots and engineers. It is probable that the master did his own
piloting. Nearly all historical references to the early navigation of
the upper Mississippi or Missouri Rivers speak of the master as also
the pilot of his craft. Occasionally, however, we read of a pilot,
but do not learn his name, his office being his only individuality.

Lumbering operations had already begun on the Black, Chippewa, and
St. Croix Rivers prior to 1836, and pilots were in demand to run the
timber rafts down the river. No doubt DeMarah began his professional
life in this trade, if not in the earlier life of the _voyageur_.
He is mentioned as being an old man in 1843, his home being then in
Prairie du Chien, where, in the census of Crawford County, in the new
Territory of Wisconsin, he is listed with a family of eight--probably
a Chippewa wife and seven "breeds" of varying attenuations. With the
phonetic freedom exercised by our forefathers, his name appears as
Louis "Demerer".

In connection with DeMarah's name there is associated in the earliest
annals of the river that of Louis Moro (or Morrow), evidently a
corruption of Moreau, a name not appearing on the census roll of
Crawford County. Evidently a _protégé_ of DeMarah's, he probably was
taught the science of piloting by the elder man, as the names are
nearly always spoken of in connection. Evidently they were partners,
so far as that was possible in the days when steamboats took but one
pilot, running only by day, and lying at the bank at night. Captain
Russell Blakeley, who began life on the river in the early '40's,
speaks of these men as the first who engaged in steamboat piloting as
a business.

It may only be an accidental coincidence of names, and yet it is more
than possible that Louis Moreau, of Prairie du Chien in 1836, was a
descendant of the Pierre Moreau, the noted _courier du bois_, and
adventurous trader who befriended Father Marquette, patron saint of
Wisconsin, as he lay sick, slowly dying, in his squalid hut on the
portage between the Chicago River and the Des Plaines, one hundred
and fifty years earlier, as recorded in the pages of Parkman's _La
Salle and the Discovery of the Great West_.

Another of the earliest pilots was Pleasant Cormack, also a Frenchman
with possibly a slight dash of Indian blood in his composition. He
is in the records as an intelligent, trustworthy pilot, and held the
wheels of many of the largest and finest of upper river boats during
the flush times between 1850 and 1862.

DeMarah and Moreau were so far ahead of my generation on the river,
that I never saw either of them. My own acquaintance with the
half-breed pilot of tradition, was confined to the person of Joe
Guardapie, a St. Croix and Mississippi River raftsman. He filled
the bill completely, however, and having seen and known him the type
was fully identified. A lithe savage, about five feet ten inches in
height, and a hundred and sixty-five or seventy pounds in weight,
his color exhibited more of the traits of his Chippewa mother than
of his French father. In facial expression, however, the mercurial
disposition of his father's kindred supplanted the stolidity of his
Indian forbears. As quick as a panther, and as strong in nerve and
sinew, he could whip any member of his crew, single-handed. In case
of necessity he could put to rout a dozen of them--else he could not
have run a raft to St. Louis; in fact, had it been otherwise he could
not have started a raft from the landing at Prescott. Several times
he made the return trip from below on our boat, taking cabin passage
while his crew went "deck passage". He loafed in the pilot house
most of the time on the up trip, as was the custom of the craft, and
occasionally took a trick at the wheel to relieve the regular pilots.
I never heard of his doing regular steamboat work, however, his
tastes and education tying him to rafting.

It was interesting to listen to his broken English, freely mingled
with borderland French, the whole seasoned with unmistakable
Anglo-Saxon profanity. It is curious to note that the untutored
Indian has no profanity at all; and that of the Frenchman is of such
mild-mannered texture as to be quite innocuous. Any one acquainted
with modern polite literature must have observed that the French
brand of profanity is used to flavor popular novels treating of life
in high society, and the _mon Dieus_ and _sacres_ are not considered
at all harmful reading, even for boarding school misses. It follows
that the Frenchman who wishes to lay any emphasis upon his orders to
a mixed crew of all nationalities--English, Irish, Dutch, Yankee,
and Norwegian, with a sprinkling of French and Indian, must resort
to Anglo-Saxon for effective expressions. And even this must often
be backed with a ready fist or a heavy boot, properly to impress the
fellow to whom it is directed. Joe Guardapie had the whole arsenal
with him, all the time, largely accounting, I fancy, for his success
as a raft pilot.

Another old-time raftsman was Sandy McPhail. He piloted log and
lumber rafts from the Chippewa to Prairie du Chien, and further
down, in the days when Jefferson Davis, as a lieutenant in the
regular army, was a member of the garrison at Fort Crawford. Whether
"Sandy" was the name conferred upon him at the baptismal font, or
gratuitously bestowed by an appreciative following on account of the
color of his hair and beard, which were unmistakably red, will never
be known. He certainly had no other name on the river. He was a good
pilot, and a great handler of men, as well, which made him a model
raftsman. He never took to the milder lines of steamboat piloting, so
far as there is any record to be found.

Still another was Charles LaPointe, who ran rafts from the Chippewa
to lower river ports prior to 1845--how much earlier, it is now
impossible to learn. He also was of the typical French half-breed
_voyageur_ pioneers of the West, and handed down a record as a
competent navigator of rafts on the river when it was almost unknown
and entirely undeveloped.

When I was pantry boy on the "Kate Cassell", my first venture aboard,
we had a pilot picked up "above the lake", when we started out in the
spring, a raftsman named McCoy--J. B., I think he signed himself. He
was from Stillwater, and made but few trips on the steamer before
taking up his regular work in rafting. A Scotchman, very quiet and
reserved, so far as his deportment went while on the "Kate Cassell",
he had, nevertheless, the reputation of being exceedingly handy
with his fists when on his native sawlogs. This reputation led to
an impromptu prize fight, which was "pulled off" at a woodyard near
Hastings, Minnesota. A St. Louis bruiser named Parker, who had
fought several battles on Bloody Island, opposite that city, was on
board. Having heard of McCoy's reputation as a fighter, he lost no
opportunity to banter and insult him, especially when he (Parker) was
in liquor, which was most of the time. This lasted for several days,
from Galena to Hastings, where it reached a climax. McCoy told him
he would settle it with him at the next woodpile, so that they might
not go into St. Paul with the question in doubt. When the woodpile
was reached the officers of the boat, with most of the passengers,
and as many of the crew as could abandon their posts, adjourned to
the woods a few rods from the landing. A ring was roped off, seconds
were chosen, and bottle-holders and sponge-bearers detailed. The men
stripped to their trousers and went in. There was not as much science
exhibited, probably, as in some of our modern professional "mills",
but there was plenty of good, honest slugging. Both men were well
punished, especially about the head and face. So equally were they
matched, that neither suffered a knock-out, and when the bell struck
for starting they had to quit without either getting the decision.
This happened in the days when the Heenan-Sayre international bout
was one of the prime topics of public interest, and it was noticeable
that any number of our men were well enough posted in the rules of
the P. R. to serve as officials in all departments. McCoy lost no
caste among crew or passengers on account of this incident. There
were neither kid gloves nor silk stockings among the pioneers who
were pushing into Minnesota in 1856, and an incident of this sort was
diverting rather than deplorable.

Other pilots whose names appear very early in the annals of
steamboating on the upper river, and whose fame as masters of the art
will ever remain green among members of the craft so long as pilots
turn a wheel on the river, were William White, Sam Harlow, Rufus
Williams, George Nichols, Alex. Gody, and Hugh White, all of whom
appear to have been in service in 1850 or before. These were followed
by John Arnold, Joseph Armstrong, John King, Rufus Williams, Edward
A. West, E. V. Holcomb, Hiram Beadle, William Cupp, Jerome Smith,
William Fisher, Stephen Dalton, Jackson Harris, Henry Gilpatrick,
James Black, Thomas Burns, T. G. Dreming, Harry Tripp, William
Tibbles, Seth Moore, Stephen Hanks, Charley Manning, Thomas Cushing,
Peter Hall, and fifty others equally as good. All of those named,
served in the Minnesota Packet Company in the days of its prosperity,
some of them for many years. All were experts in their profession,
and some of them, as "Ned" West and John King, were entitled to the
highest encomium known on the river--that of being "lightning pilots".

Chapter XV

_Incidents of River Life_

Captain William Fisher, of Galena, Illinois, is probably the oldest
living pilot of the upper Mississippi. At the time of this writing
(1908), he is spending the closing years of his life in quiet comfort
in a spot where he can look down upon the waters of "Fevre" River,
once alive with steamboats, in the pilot houses of which he spent
over thirty years in hard and perilous service.

As a young man Captain Fisher had served five years on the Great
Lakes on a "square rigger", at a time when full-rigged ships
sailed the inland waters. Coming to Galena just as the great boom
in steamboating commenced, and following the opening of Minnesota
Territory to settlement, he naturally gravitated toward the life of
a steamboatman, taking his first lessons in piloting in 1852, on the
"Ben Campbell", under the tutelage of Captain M. W. Lodwick. The next
season (1853), he worked on the "War Eagle", under William White and
John King, two of the best pilots on the upper river. Under their
teaching he soon obtained his license, and henceforth for thirty
years he piloted many of the finest boats running between St. Louis
and St. Paul. His crowning achievement was the taking of the "City of
Quincy" from St. Louis to St. Paul, Captain Brock being his partner
for the trip. The "City of Quincy" was a New Orleans packet, that
had been chartered to take an excursion the length of the river. Of
sixteen hundred tons burden, with a length of three hundred feet and
fifty feet beam, she was the largest boat ever making the trip above
Keokuk Rapids.

Two or three incidents of his river life, among the many which he
relates, are of interest as showing the dangers of that life. One,
which he believes was an omen prophetic of the War of Secession, he
relates as follows:

"I'm going to tell you this just as it happened. I don't know whether
you will believe me or not. I don't say that I would believe it if
I had not seen it with my own eyes. If some one else had told it to
me, I might have set it down as a 'yarn'. If they have never had any
experiences on the river, some men would make yarns to order; it is a
mighty sight easier to make them than it is to live them--and safer.

"When this thing happened to me, I was entirely sober, and I was not
asleep. If you will take my word for it, I have never been anything
else but sober. If I had been otherwise, I would not be here now,
telling you this, and eighty-two years old.[D]

   [D] This was told in 1903.

"Whiskey always gets 'em before they see the eighty mark. And you
know that a man can't run a steamboat while asleep--that is, very
long. Of course he can for a little while, but when she hits the bank
it wakes him up.

"This story ought to interest you, because I was on your favorite
boat when it happened. The "Fanny Harris" was sold in 1859, in May
or June, to go South. She came back right away, not going below St.
Louis, after all. I took her down to that port. Joseph Jones of
Galena had just bought the bar for the season when she was sold, and
lost thirty dollars in money by the boat being sold.[E]

   [E] Observe the minuteness with which the Captain remembers the
   small and insignificant details of this trip. It is a guarantee
   that his memory is not playing any tricks in his narrative of
   the more important happenings.

"Captain W. H. Gabbert was in command, and I was pilot. We left
Galena in the evening. It was between changes of the moon, and a
beautiful starlight night--as fine as I ever saw. By the time we
got down to Bellevue, the stars had all disappeared, and it had
become daylight, not twilight, but broad daylight, so bright that
you couldn't see even the brightest star, and from 11:30 to 12:30, a
full hour, it was as bright as any day you ever saw when the sun was
under a cloud. At midnight I was right opposite Savanna. Up to this
time Captain Gabbert had been asleep in the cabin, although he was on
watch. We were carrying neither passengers nor freight, for we were
just taking the boat down to deliver her to her new owners. He woke
up, or was called, and when he saw the broad daylight, yet saw by his
watch that it was just midnight, he was surprised, and maybe scared,
just as every one else was. He ran up on to the roof and called out:
'Mr. Fisher, land the boat, the world is coming to an end'!

"I told him that if the world were coming to an end we might as well
go in the middle of the river as at the bank, and I kept her going.
It took just as long to get dark again as it took to get light--about
half an hour. It began to get light at half-past eleven, and at
twelve (midnight) it was broad daylight; then in another half hour it
was all gone, and the stars had come out one by one, just as you see
them at sunset--the big, bright ones first, and then the whole field
of little ones. I looked for all the stars I knew by sight, and as
they came back, one by one, I began to feel more confidence in the
reality of things. I couldn't tell at all where the light came from;
but it grew absolutely broad daylight. That one hour's experience
had more to do with turning my hair white than anything that ever
occurred to me, for it certainly did seem a strange phenomenon."

"Was it worse than going into battle?" I asked.

"Yes, a hundred times worse, because it was different. When you go
into battle you know just what the danger is, and you nerve yourself
up to meet it. It is just the same as bracing up to meet any known
danger in your work--wind, lightning, storm. You know what to expect,
and if you have any nerve you just hold yourself in and let it come.
This was different. You didn't know what was coming next; but I guess
we all thought just as the Captain did, that it was the end of the

"I confess that I was scared, but I had the boat to look out for, and
until the world really did come to an end I was responsible for her,
and so stood by, and you know that helps to keep your nerves where
they belong. I just hung on to the wheel and kept her in the river,
but I kept one eye on the eastern sky to see what was coming next. I
hope when my time comes I shall not be scared to death, and I don't
believe I shall be. It will come in a natural way, and there won't be
anything to scare a man. It is the unknown and the mysterious that
shakes him, and this midnight marvel was too much for any of us.
We had a great many signs before the war came, and I believe this
marvel on the night in question, was one of them, only we didn't know
how to read it."

"How about the narrow escapes, Captain?"

"Well, I have had a number of them. In 1871 I was running a towboat
with coal barges. Twelve miles below Rock Island, we were struck by
a cyclone. It took the cabin clean off the boat, and of course the
pilot house went with it. My partner was with me in the pilot house,
having seen the storm coming up, with heavy wind, so he came up to
help me keep her in the river. At this time we were pushing a lumber
raft downstream. Both of us were blown into the river. My partner
got hold of the raft and pulled himself out, but I went under it. I
thought that it was the end of piloting; but Providence was with me.
I came up through an aperture where four cribs of lumber cornered--a
little hole not over three feet square. My partner saw me and ran and
pulled me out, and we both got back on the dismantled hull of our
boat. I could not have helped myself, as I was too near strangled.
The force of the cyclone must have stopped the current of the river
for the time or I would never have come up where I did. The shock and
the wetting laid me up for six weeks.

"When I was able to resume work, Dan Rice happened to come along with
his circus boat. He wanted a pilot to take his craft not only up
the great river, but also, so far as possible, up such tributaries
as were navigable, he wishing to give exhibitions at all the towns
alongshore. I shipped with him for $300 a month and had an easy time
during the rest of the season, running nights, mostly, and laying up
daytimes while the show was exhibiting.

"The next year I was engaged on the "Alex. Mitchell." We had left
St. Paul at 11 o'clock in the forenoon, on Saturday, May 6, 1872.
I am particular about this day and date, for the point of this
story hinges on the day of the week (Sunday). In trying to run the
Hastings bridge we were struck by a squall that threw us against the
abutment, tearing off a portion of our starboard guard. We arrived
at La Crosse, Sunday morning, and took on two hundred excursionists
for Lansing. They wanted to dance, but it being Sunday Captain
Laughton hesitated for some time about giving them permission, as
it was contrary to the known wishes, if not the rules, of Commodore
Davidson to have dancing or games on board of his boats on Sunday.
The passengers were persistent, however, and at last Captain Laughton
yielded, saying that he couldn't help it! Of course he might have
helped it. What is a captain for, if not to run his boat, no matter
if everybody else is against him? That was where he was weak. He
finally yielded, however, and they danced all the way to Lansing.
When we arrived there it was raining, and the excursionists chartered
the boat for a run back to Victory, about ten miles, and they were
dancing all the time.

"Leaving them at Victory we proceeded on our way down the river. When
about twelve miles above Dubuque, a little below Wells's Landing,
at three o'clock Monday morning, we were struck by a cyclone. We
lost both chimneys, the pilot house was unroofed, and part of the
hurricane deck on the port side was blown off. Mr. Trudell, the mate,
was on watch, and standing on the roof by the big bell. He was blown
off, and landed on shore a quarter of a mile away, but sustained
no serious injuries. The port lifeboat was blown a mile and a half
into the country. Following so soon after the Sunday dancing, I have
always felt that there was some connection between the two."

Captain Fisher is a very conscientious man--a religious man, and he
believes in observing Sunday--that is, keeping it as nearly as is
possible on a steamboat running seven days in the week. The dancing
was wholly unnecessary, if not in itself immoral, and its permission
by Captain Laughton was in direct contravention of the known wishes
if not orders of the owners. Hence the conclusion that Providence
took a hand in the matter and meted out swift punishment for the
misdoing. I did not argue the matter with the Captain; but I could
not reconcile the unroofing of Commodore Davidson's steamboat, or the
blowing away of Mr. Trudell, who had no voice in granting license
to the ungodly dancers, with the ordinary conception of the eternal
fitness of things. If it had blown Captain Laughton a mile and a half
into the country, as it did the port lifeboat, or even a quarter of
a mile, as it did Mr. Trudell, and had left Commodore Davidson's
steamboat intact, the hand of Providence would have appeared more
plainly in the case. As it was, Captain Laughton slept serenely in
his berth while Mr. Trudell and the lifeboat were sailing into space,
and he did not get out until all was over. It is pleasant to be able
to relate that although Providence appears to have miscarried in
dealing out retribution, Commodore Davidson did not. Captain Davis
was put in charge of the "Alex. Mitchell" as soon as she struck the
levee at St. Louis.

William F. Davidson--"Commodore", from the fact that he was at
the head of the greatest of upper river packet lines--had been
converted after many years of strenuous river life. He was as strong
a man, affirmatively, after he began living religiously, as he
had been negatively before that time. He abolished all bars from
his steamboats, at great pecuniary loss to himself and the other
stockholders; forbade Sunday dancing and other forms of Sunday
desecration; stopped all gambling, and instituted other reforms which
tended to make his steamboats as clean and reputable as the most
refined ladies or gentlemen could wish. The promptitude with which
he cashiered Captain Laughton, on account of the foregoing incident,
was in keeping with his character as a man and as a manager. It was
an evidence that he meant all that he said or ordered in the ethical
conduct of his steamboats.

The Commodore had a brother, Payton S. Davidson, who had the
well-earned reputation of being one of the best steamboatmen on the
Mississippi. Superintendent of the Northwestern Line, he prided
himself upon the regularity with which his boats arrived at or
departed from landings on schedule time. He was a driver, and the
captains and pilots who could not "make time" under any and all
conditions of navigation, were _persona non grata_ to "Pate", and
when they reached this stage they went ashore with scant notice. In
other ways he was equally efficient.

One of the Northwestern Line, the "Centennial", was caught in the
great ice gorge at St. Louis, in 1876. She was a new boat, costing
$65,000, just off the ways, and a beauty. She was stove and sank, as
did a dozen other boats at the same time. All the others were turned
over to the underwriters as they lay, and were a total loss. Not so
the "Centennial". Superintendent Payton S. Davidson was on hand and
declared that the beautiful new boat could and should be raised.
Putting on a force of men--divers, wreckers, and other experts--under
his personal supervision and direction, he did get her afloat,
although in a badly damaged condition, and that at a cost of only
$5,000. Twice she sank, after being brought to the surface; but the
indomitable energy of Davidson, who worked night and day, sometimes
in the water up to his middle, and in floating ice, finally saved
the steamer. She was one of the finest boats that ever plied the
upper river. Payton S. was famous for his pugnacity as well as his
pertinacity, and there is no record of his repentance or conversion.
He lived and died a typical steamboat captain of the olden time.

[Illustration: STEAMER "WAR EAGLE," 1852; 296 tons.]

[Illustration: STEAMER "MILWAUKEE," 1856; 550 tons.]

Chapter XVI

_Mississippi Menus_

It was a saying on the river that if you wished to save the meals
a passenger was entitled to on his trip, you took him through the
kitchen the first thing when he came aboard. The inference was,
that after seeing the food in course of preparation he would give
it a wide berth when it came on the table. It would be unfair to
the memory of the average river steward to aver that this assertion
was grounded upon facts; but it would be stretching the truth to
assert that it was without foundation. Things must be done in a
hurry when three meals a day are to be prepared and served to three
or four hundred people; and all the work had to be accomplished in
two kitchens, each ten by twenty-feet in area--one for meats and
vegetables, and the other for pastry and desserts.

The responsibility of providing for meals at stated times, with a
good variety, cooked and served in a satisfactory manner, devolved
upon the steward. Under him were two assistants, with meat cooks,
vegetable cooks, pastry cooks, and bread makers, and a force of
waiters and pantrymen conditioned upon the boat's capacity for
passengers. While the steward was in the thought of outsiders rated
as an officer of the second class, he was as a matter of fact in the
first class. When the pay of the captain was three hundred dollars
per month, and that of the mate two hundred, the average steward of
any reputation also commanded two hundred, while a man with a large
reputation commanded three hundred, the same as the captain, and his
services were sought by the owners of a dozen boats. Likewise, he
earned every cent of his salary, whatever it might be.

Unlike the other officers he had no regular watch to stand, after
which he might lay aside his responsibility and let the members of
the other watch carry the load while he laid off and watched them
sweat. He was on duty all the time, and when and how he slept is to
this day a mystery to me. He might have slept in the morning, when
the cooks were preparing breakfast, had he felt quite confident that
the cooks were not likewise sleeping, instead of broiling beefsteaks
and making waffles. This being a matter of some doubt, and of great
concern, he was usually up as soon as the cooks, and quietly poking
about to see that breakfast reached the table promptly at seven
o'clock. If the floor of the cabin was covered with sleepers, it was
the steward who must awaken them, and, without giving offense, induce
them to vacate the premises that the tables might be set. This was a
delicate piece of business. To send a "nigger" to perform that duty,
would be to incur the risk of losing the "nigger". The steward also
saw that the assistant in charge of the waiters was on hand with all
his crew, to put the cabin to rights, set the tables, and prepare
to serve breakfast, while the cabin steward and the stewardess,
with their crews, were making up the berths, sweeping, dusting, and
"tidying up".

As soon as breakfast was out of the way, the menu for dinner was
prepared and handed to the chief cook. Shortages in provisions were
remedied at the first landing reached, and stocks of fish, game,
fresh eggs, and fresh vegetables were bought as offered at the
various towns. While there was a cold-storage room on all first-class
packets, its capacity was limited, and with a passenger list of two
hundred and fifty or three hundred in the cabin, it was often found
necessary to lay in additional stocks of fresh meats between Galena
and St. Paul. Often, a dozen lambs could be picked up, or a dozen
"roaster" pigs, and these were killed and dressed on the boat by one
of the assistant cooks. Live poultry was always carried in coops,
and killed as wanted. Perhaps the poultry killing, if witnessed by
the passenger, would come as near curing him of the dinner habit
as anything else he might see about the cook's galley. A barrel of
scalding hot water, drawn from the boiler, stands on the guard. A
coop of chickens is placed near the master of ceremonies, and two
or three assistants surround the barrel. The head dresser grasps a
chicken by the head, gives it a swing from the coop to the barrel,
bringing the chicken's neck on to the iron rim of the barrel. The
body goes into hot water and the head goes overboard. Before the
chicken is dead he is stripped of everything except a few pin
feathers--with one sweep of the hand on each side of the body and a
dozen pulls at the wing feathers. The yet jerking, featherless bodies
are thrown to the pin-feather man, who picks out the thickest of the
feathers, singes the fowls over a charcoal grate-fire and tosses them
to one of the under-cooks who cuts them open, cuts them up, and pots
them, all inside of two minutes from the coop. A team of three or
four expert darkies will dispose of one hundred and fifty chickens
in an hour. Are they clean? I never stopped to inquire. If they were
_dead_ enough to stay on the platter when they got to the table that
was all any reasonable steamboatman could ask.

However, the live chicken business is about the worst feature
of the cook-house operations. Of course the darkies are not the
cleanest-appearing people aboard the boat, but if the steward is up
in his business he sees to it that a reasonable degree of cleanliness
is maintained, even in the starboard galley. On the opposite side
of the steamer is the pastry-cook's domain, and that is usually the
show place of the boat. Most stewards are shrewd enough to employ
pastry cooks who are masters of their profession, men who take a
pride not only in the excellence of their bread, biscuit, and pie
crust, but also in the spotlessness of their workshops. They are
proud to receive visits from the lady passengers, who can appreciate
not only the output but the appearance of the galley. It is a good
advertisement for a boat, and the steward himself encourages such
visits, while discouraging like calls at the opposite side.

In old, flush times in the steamboat business, pastry cooks generally
planned to give a surprise to the passengers on each up trip of the
steamer. I remember one such, when no less than thirteen different
desserts were placed in front of each passenger as he finished the
hearty preliminary meal. Six of these were served in tall and slender
glass goblets--vases, would more nearly describe them--and consisted
of custards, jellies, and creams of various shades and flavors; while
the other seven were pies, puddings, and ice creams. The passenger
was not given a menu card and asked to pick out those that he thought
he would like, but the whole were brought on and arranged in a circle
about his plate, leaving him to dip into each as he fancied, and
leave such as did not meet his approval. It was necessary to carry an
extra outfit of glass and china in order to serve this bewildering
exhibition of the pastry cook's art, and it was seldom used more than
once on each trip.

Serving such a variety of delicacies, of which but a small portion
was eaten by any person at the table, would seem like an inexcusable
waste; but the waste on river steamers was really not as great in
those days as it is in any great hotel of our day. Each steamer
carried forty or more deck hands and "rousters". For them, the
broken meat was piled into pans, all sorts in each pan, the broken
bread and cake into other pans, and jellies and custards into still
others--just three assortments, and this, with plenty of boiled
potatoes, constituted the fare of the crew below decks. One minute
after the cry of "Grub-pile"! one might witness the spectacle of
forty men sitting on the bare deck, clawing into the various pans
to get hold of the fragments of meat or cake which each man's taste
particularly fancied. It certainly wasn't an appetizing spectacle.
Only familiarity with it enabled an onlooker fully to appreciate its
grotesqueness without allowing the equilibrium of his stomach to be
disturbed. It usually had but one effect upon such lady passengers
as had the hardihood to follow the cry of "Grub-pile"! and ascertain
what the thing really was.

Altogether the duties of the steward were arduous and tormenting. The
passengers expected much; and after getting the best, if any slip
occurred they were sure to enter complaint--a complaint so worded
as to convey the impression that they never had anything fit to eat
while on the boat, nor any service that white men were justified
in tolerating. The fact was, that most of the passengers so served
had never in all their lives lived so well as they did on the trip
from Galena to St. Paul on one of the regular boats of the Minnesota
Packet Company. Certainly, after reaching their destination in the
Territory of Minnesota, the chances were that it would be many long
years, in that era of beginnings, before they would again be so well
fed and so assiduously cared for, even in the very best hotels of St.

This chapter on Mississippi menus would be incomplete without some
reference to the drinkables served on the steamboat tables. These
were coffee, tea, and river water. Mark Twain has described the
ordinary beverage used on the river, as it is found on the Missouri,
or on the Mississippi below the mouth of the "Big Muddy":

   "When I went up to my room, I found there the young man called
   Rogers, crying. Rogers was not his name; neither was Jones,
   Brown, Baxter, Ferguson, Bascom, nor Thompson; but he answered
   to either of them that a body found handy in an emergency; or
   to any other name, in fact, if he perceived that you meant him.
   He said:

   "'What is a person to do here when he wants a drink of water?
   drink this slush?'

   "'Can't you drink it?'

   "'I would if I had some other water to wash it with.'

   "Here was a thing which had not changed; a score of years had
   not affected this water's mulatto complexion in the least; a
   score of centuries would succeed no better, perhaps. It comes
   out of the turbulent bank-caving Missouri, and every tumblerful
   of it holds nearly an acre of land in solution. I got this fact
   from the bishop of the diocese. If you will let your glass
   stand half an hour, you can separate the land from the water
   as easy as Genesis; and then you will find them both good; the
   one good to eat, the other good to drink. The land is very
   nourishing, the water is thoroughly wholesome. The one appeases
   hunger, the other, thirst. But the natives do not take them
   separately, but together, as nature mixed them. When they find
   an inch of mud in the bottom of the glass, they stir it up, and
   then take the draught as they would gruel. It is difficult for
   a stranger to get used to this batter, but once used to it he
   will prefer it to water. This is really the case. It is good
   for steamboating, and good to drink; but it is worthless for
   all other purposes, except baptizing."

The above sketch had not been written in 1860, as Mark Twain was
himself piloting on the lower river at that time. It could not,
therefore, have been this description which prejudiced many eastern
people against Mississippi River water as a beverage. But that
prejudice did exist, away back in the fifties, and the fame of the
yellow tipple had reached even to the fastnesses of the Vermont
hills at that early day. Many emigrants from the old New England
states provided themselves with kegs, jugs or "demijohns", and before
embarking at Rock Island or Dunleith for the river trip, would fill
these receptacles with water from the nearest well, or even cistern,
and drink such stuff, warm, and sometimes putrid, rather than drink
the life-giving elixir which had welled up from springs nestled in
the shadows of the everlasting hills, or had been distilled by the
sun from the snowbanks and ice fields of the unspoiled prairies and
azure lakes of the great northwest.

One old Yankee would pin his faith to nothing less than the water
from his own spring or well at home, away back in old Vermont, and
brought, at infinite pains and labor, a five-gallon demijohn all the
way from his native state, drinking it on the cars en route, and on
the boat after reaching the river.

It wasn't as bad as that. The river water was as pure and healthful
as any water on the footstool--_then_. It may not be so now--it
_isn't, now_. Then there were no great cities on the river banks,
pouring thousands of gallons of sewage and all manner of corruption
into the stream, daily. There was very little land under cultivation
even, and few farmyards, the drainage from which might contaminate
the feeders of the great river. It was good, clean, healthful, spring
and snow water. Above the mouth of the Missouri, in any ordinary
stage of water, especially with a falling river, the water was but
slightly discolored with the yellow sediment with which the river
itself is always tinged; and this sediment was so fine that there
was no suspicion of grit about it. When properly stirred up and
evenly mixed, as those to the manner born always took it, it was an
invigorating potion, and like good old Bohea, it would cheer but not

Since the advent of sewage in the river and with it the popular
superstition that everything, liquid or solid, is permeated with
pernicious microbes, it is possible that it has lost something of
its pristine purity, and it is certain that it has lost something of
its reputation; but river men still drink it from preference, and
passengers, unless they revert to the Yankee method, must drink it
perforce, or go dry.

Chapter XVII

_Bars and Barkeepers_

In the old days on the river, whiskey was not classed as one of the
luxuries. It was regarded as one of the necessities, if not the
prime necessity, of life. To say that everybody drank would not be
putting much strain upon the truth, for the exceptions were so few as
scarcely to be worth counting. It was a saying on the river that if a
man owned a bar on a popular packet, it was better than possessing a
gold mine. The income was ample and certain, and the risk and labor
slight. Men who owned life leases of steamboat bars willed the same
to their sons, as their richest legacies. Ingenious and far-seeing
men set about accumulating bars as other men invested in two, three,
or four banks, or factories.

"Billy" Henderson of St. Louis was the first financier to become a
trust magnate in bars. He owned the one on the "Excelsior", on which
boat he ran between St. Louis and St. Paul. Later, he bought the
lease of the bar on the "Metropolitan", and still later, when the
Northern Line was organized, he bought the bars on all the boats,
putting trusty "bar-keeps" aboard each, he himself keeping a general
oversight of the whole, and rigorously exacting a mean average of
returns from each, based upon the number of passengers carried. This
system of averages included men, women, and children, and "Indians
not taxed", presupposing that a certain percentage of the passengers'
money would find its way into his tills, regardless of age, sex, or
color. What his judgment would have been had one of the craft been
chartered to carry a Sunday school picnic from St. Louis to St.
Paul, will never be known. Such an exigency never confronted him, in
those days. The judgment rendered was, that he was not far off in
his conclusions as to the average income from the average class of
passengers carried.

Ordinarily, the bartenders were young men "of parts". None of them,
so far as I know, were college graduates; but then college graduates
were then mighty few in the West in any calling--and there were
bars in plenty. It was required by their employers that they be
pleasant and agreeable fellows, well dressed, and well mannered.
They must know how to concoct a few of the more commonplace fancy
drinks affected by the small number of travellers who wished such
beverage--whiskey cocktails for the Eastern trade, and mint juleps
for the Southern. The plain, everyday Western man took his whiskey
straight, four fingers deep, and seldom spoiled the effect of his
drink by pouring water on top of it. The "chaser" had not, at that
early day, become fashionable, and in times of extreme low water it
was not permitted that water should be wasted in that manner when all
was required for purposes of navigation.

The barkeeper was also supposed to know how to manufacture a
choice brand of French brandy, by the judicious admixture of burnt
peach stones, nitric acid, and cod-liver oil, superimposed upon a
foundation of Kentucky whiskey three weeks from the still. He did it,
too; but judicious drinkers again took theirs straight, and lived the

I flatter myself that I can recall the name of but one bartender with
whom I sailed. While I had no very strong scruples about drinking
or selling liquor, I seldom patronized the bar beyond the purchase
of cigars and an occasional soft drink. I remember one dispenser,
however, from his short but exceedingly stormy experience on the
"Fanny Harris". He was an Irish lad, about twenty or twenty-one years
of age, and not very large. He was sent on board by the lessee of the
bar, who lived in Dubuque.

Charley Hargus, our chief clerk, did not like the Irish. He had
personal reasons for disliking some member of that nationality, and
this dislike he handed on to all its other members with whom he came
in contact. There were no Irishmen among the officers of the "Fanny
Harris", and when Donnelly came aboard to take charge of the bar
Hargus strongly objected, but without avail. He then set himself
about the task of making life so uncomfortable for the lad that he
would be sure to transfer to some other boat, or quit altogether,
an end accomplished within three months. The process afforded rare
amusement to such witnesses as happened to see the fun, but there
was no fun in it for Donnelly; and in later years, when I came to
think it over, my sympathy went out to the poor fellow, who suffered
numberless indignities at the hands of his tireless persecutor. If
Donnelly--who was not at all a bad fellow, was earning his living
honestly, and never did anything to injure Hargus--had had the spirit
common to most river men in those days, he would have shot the chief
clerk and few could have blamed him.

Bars are not looked upon with the same favor in our day, as in the
past. It is claimed that upon some of the boats plying upon the
upper river there are now no bars at all. If a person thinks he
must have liquor on the trip, he must take it with his baggage. It
is further credibly asserted that many of the officers handling the
steamers are teetotalers; further, that there is no more profit in
the bar business, and that investors in that kind of property are
becoming scarce. Modern business conditions are responsible for much
of the change that has taken place, especially in the transportation
business, within the last twenty-five years. Railroad and steamboat
managers do not care to intrust their property to the care of
drinking men, and it is becoming more and more difficult for such to
secure positions of responsibility. As the display of liquor in an
open bar might be a temptation to some men, otherwise competent and
trusty officers, the owners are adopting the only consistent course,
and are banishing the bar from their boats.

This does not apply in all cases, however. A few years ago I took a
trip from St. Paul to St. Louis on one of the boats of the Diamond
Jo Line. There was a bar on the boat, but it seemed to depend for
its patronage upon the colored deck crew. They were pretty constant
patrons, although their drinking was systematically regulated. A side
window, opening out upon the boiler deck promenade, was devoted to
the deck traffic. If a rouster wanted a drink he must apply to one
of the mates, who issued a brass check, good for a glass of whiskey,
which the deck hand presented at the bar, and got his drink. When pay
day came, the barkeeper in his turn presented his bundle of checks
and took in the cash. How many checks were issued to each man on the
trip from St. Louis to St. Paul and return, I do not know; but it
is safe to say that the sum total was not permitted to exceed the
amount of wages due the rouster. Some of the "niggers" probably had
coming to them more checks than cash, at the close of the voyage. The
regulation was effective in preventing excess, which would demoralize
the men and render them less valuable in "humping" freight.

The bartender always poured out the whiskey for the "coons", and for
the latter it was not a big drink. It was, likewise, not a good drink
for a white man, being a pretty tough article of made-up stuff, that
would burn a hole in a sheet-iron stove. If it had been less fiery
the rousters would have thought they were being cheated.

While on this trip, I never saw an officer of the boat take a
drink at the bar, or anywhere else, and but few of the passengers
patronized it. It accentuated as much as any other one thing the fact
that the "good old times" on the river were gone, and that a higher
civilization had arisen. But peddling cheap whiskey to "niggers"!
What would an old-time bartender have thought of that? The bare
insinuation would have thrown him into a fit. But we are all on an
equality now, black and white--before the bar.

[Illustration: WINONA, MINNESOTA. The Levee in 1862.]

Chapter XVIII

_Gamblers and Gambling_

Volumes have been written, first and last, on the subject of gambling
on the Mississippi. In them a small fraction of truth is diluted with
a deal of fiction. The scene is invariably laid upon a steamboat on
the lower Mississippi. The infatuated planter, who always does duty
as the plucked goose, invariably stakes his faithful body servant, or
a beautiful quadroon girl, against the gambler's pile of gold, and
as invariably loses his stake. Possibly that may occasionally have
happened on the lower river in ante-bellum days. I never travelled
the lower river, and cannot therefore speak from actual observation.

On the upper river, in early times, there were no nabobs travelling
with body servants and pretty quadroons. Most of the travellers
had broad belts around their waists, filled with good honest
twenty-dollar gold pieces. It was these belts which the professional
gamblers sought to lighten. Occasionally they did strike a fool who
thought he knew more about cards than the man who made the game, and
who would, after a generous baiting with mixed drinks, "set in" and
try his fortune. There was, of course, but one result--the belt was
lightened, more or less, according to the temper and judgment of the

So far as I know, gambling was permitted on all boats. On some,
there was a cautionary sign displayed, stating that gentlemen who
played cards for money did so at their own risk. The professionals
who travelled the river for the purpose of "skinning suckers" were
usually the "gentlemen" who displayed the greatest concern in regard
to the meaning of this caution, and who freely expressed themselves
in the hearing of all to the effect that they seldom played cards at
all, still less for money; but if they did feel inclined to have a
little social game it was not the business of the boat to question
their right to do so, and if they lost their money they certainly
would not call on the boat to restore it.

After the expression of such manly sentiments, it was surprising
if they did not soon find others who shared with them this
independence. In order to convey a merited reproof to "the boat",
for its unwarranted interference with the pleasure or habits of
its patrons, they bought a pack of cards at the bar and "set in"
to a "friendly game". In the posting of this inconspicuous little
placard, "the boat" no doubt absolved itself from all responsibility
in what might, and surely did follow in the "friendly games" sooner
or later started in the forward cabin. Whether the placard likewise
absolved the officers of the boat from all responsibility in the
matter, is a question for the logicians. I cannot recollect that I
had a conscience in those days; and if a "sucker" chose to invest his
money in draw poker rather than in corner lots, it was none of my
business. In that respect, indeed, there was little choice between
"Bill" Mallen on the boat with his marked cards, and Ingenuous Doemly
at Nininger, with his city lots on paper selling at a thousand
dollars each, which to-day, after half a century, are possibly worth
twenty-five dollars an acre as farming land.

Ordinarily, the play was not high on the upper river. The passengers
were not great planters, with sacks of money, and "niggers" on the
side to fall back upon in case of a bluff. The operators, also, were
not so greedy as their real or fictitious fellows of the lower river.
If they could pick up two or three hundred dollars a week by honest
endeavor they were satisfied, and gave thanks accordingly.

Probably by some understanding among themselves, the fraternity
divided themselves among the different boats running regularly in the
passenger trade, and only upon agreement did they change their boats;
nor did they intrude upon the particular hunting ground of others.

The "Fanny Harris" was favored with the presence, more or less
intermittently, of "Bill" Mallen, "Bill" and "Sam" Dove, and "Boney"
Trader. "Boney" was short for Napoleon Bonaparte. These worthies
usually travelled in pairs, the two Dove brothers faithfully and
fraternally standing by each other, while Mallen and "Boney"
campaigned in partnership.

These men were consummate actors. They never came aboard the
boat together, and they never recognized each other until
introduced--generally through the good offices of their intended
victims. In the preliminary stages of the game, they cheerfully lost
large sums of money to each other; and after the hunt was up, one
usually went ashore at Prescott, Hastings, or Stillwater, while the
other continued on to St. Paul. At different times they represented
all sorts and conditions of men--settlers, prospectors, Indian
agents, merchants, lumbermen, and even lumber-jacks; and they always
dressed their part, and talked it, too. To do this required some
education, keen powers of observation, and an all-around knowledge of
men and things. They were gentlemanly at all times--courteous to men
and chivalrous to women. While pretending to drink large quantities
of very strong liquors, they did in fact make away with many pint
measures of quite innocent river water, tinted with the mildest
liquid distillation of burned peaches. A clear head and steady nerves
were prerequisites to success; and when engaged in business, these
men knew that neither one nor the other came by way of "Patsey"
Donnelly's "Choice wines and liquors". They kept their private
bottles of colored water on tap in the bar, and with the uninitiated
passed for heavy drinkers.

The play was generally for light stakes, but it sometimes ran high.
Five dollars ante, and no limit, afforded ample scope for big
play, provided the players had the money and the nerve. The tables
were always surrounded by a crowd of lookers-on, most of whom knew
enough of the game to follow it understandingly. It is possible that
some of the bystanders may have had a good understanding with the
professionals, and have materially assisted them by signs and signals.

The chief reliance of the gamblers, however, lay in the marked
cards with which they played. No pack of cards left the bar until
it had passed through the hands of the gambler who patronized the
particular boat that he "worked". The marking was called "stripping".
This was done by placing the high cards--ace, king, queen, jack,
and ten-spot--between two thin sheets of metal, the edges of which
were very slightly concaved. Both edges of the cards were trimmed to
these edges with a razor; the cards so "stripped" were thus a shade
narrower in the middle than those not operated upon; they were left
full width at each end. The acutely sensitive fingers of the gamblers
could distinguish between the marked and the unmarked cards, while
the other players could detect nothing out of the way in them. "Bill"
Mallen would take a gross of cards from the bar to his stateroom and
spend hours in thus trimming them, after which they were returned
to the original wrappers, which were carefully folded and sealed,
and replaced in the bar for sale. A "new pack" was often called for
by the victim when "luck" ran against him; and Mallen himself would
ostentatiously demand a fresh pack if he lost a hand or two, as he
always did at the beginning of the play.

I never saw any shooting over a game, and but once saw pistols drawn.
That was when the two Doves were holding up a "tenderfoot". There
was a big pile of gold on the table--several hundred dollars in ten
and twenty dollar pieces. The losers raised a row and would have
smashed the two operators but for the soothing influence of a cocked
Derringer in the hands of one of them. The table was upset and the
money rolled in all directions. The outsiders decided where the money
justly belonged, in their opinion, by promptly pocketing all they
could reach while the principals were fighting. I found a twenty
myself the next morning.

I saw "Bill" Mallen for the last time under rather peculiar and
unlooked-for circumstances. It was down in Virginia, in the early
spring of 1865. There was a review of troops near Petersburg,
preparatory to the advance on Lee's lines. General O. B. Wilcox and
General Sam. Harriman had sent for their wives to come down to the
front and witness the display. I was an orderly at headquarters of
the First Brigade, First Division, Ninth Army Corps, and was detailed
to accompany the ladies, who had an ambulance placed at their
disposal. I was mounted, and coming alongside the vehicle began to
instruct the driver where to go to get the best view of the parade.
The fellow, who was quite under the influence of liquor, identified
himself as Mallen, and sought to renew acquaintance with me.

It went against the grain to go back on an old messmate, but the
situation demanded prompt action. "Bill" was ordered to attend
closely to his driving or he would get into the guardhouse, with
the displeasure of the division commander hanging over him, which
would not be a pleasant experience. He knew enough about usages at
the front, at that time, to understand this, and finished his drive
in moody silence. After the review was over he went back to the
corral with his team, and I to headquarters. I never saw or heard
of him again, the stirring incidents of the latter days of March,
1865, eclipsing everything else. I presume he was following the army,
nominally as a mule driver, while he "skinned" the boys at poker as
a matter of business. The whiskey had him down for the time being,
however, otherwise I would have been glad to talk over former times
on the river.

Chapter XIX

_Steamboat Racing_

It is popularly supposed that there was a great deal of racing on
Western rivers in the olden time--in fact, that it was the main
business of steamboat captains and owners, and that the more prosaic
object, that of earning dividends, was secondary. There is a deal
of error in such a supposition. At the risk of detracting somewhat
from the picturesqueness of life on the upper Mississippi as it is
sometimes delineated, it must in truth be said that little real
racing was indulged in, as compared with the lower river, or even
with the preconceived notion of what transpired on the upper reaches.
While there were many so-called steamboat races, these were, for
the most part, desultory and unpremeditated. On the upper river,
there never was such a race as that between the "Robert E. Lee" and
the "Natchez", where both boats were stripped and tuned for the
trial, and where neither passengers nor freight were taken on board
to hinder or encumber in the long twelve hundred miles between New
Orleans and St. Louis, which constituted the running track.

It is true, however, that whenever two boats happened to come
together, going in the same direction, there was always a spurt that
developed the best speed of both boats, with the result that the
speediest boat quickly passed her slower rival, and out-footed her
so rapidly as soon to leave her out of sight behind some point, not
to be seen again, unless a long delay at some landing or woodyard
enabled her to catch up. These little spurts were in no sense races,
such as the historic runs on the lower waters. They were in most
cases a business venture, rather than a sporting event, as the first
boat at a landing usually secured the passengers and freight in
waiting. Another boat, following so soon after, would find nothing to
add to the profits of the voyage.

Racing, as racing, was an expensive if not a risky business. Unless
the boats were owned by their commanders, and thus absolutely under
their control, there was little chance that permission would be
obtained for racing on such a magnificent and spectacular scale as
that usually depicted in fiction.

The one contest that has been cited by every writer on upper river
topics, that has ever come under my observation, was the one between
the "Grey Eagle" (Captain D. Smith Harris), and the "Itasca" (Captain
David Whitten); and that was not a race at all. It is manifestly
unfair to so denominate it, when one of the captains did not know
that he was supposed to be racing with another boat until he saw the
other steamer round a point just behind him. Recognizing his rival as
following him far ahead of her regular time, he realized that she was
doing something out of the ordinary. He came to the conclusion that
Captain Harris was attempting to beat him into St. Paul, in order to
be the first to deliver certain important news of which he also was
the bearer. When this revelation was made, both boats were within a
few miles of their destination, St. Paul.

Here are the details. In 1856, the first telegraphic message was
flashed under the sea by the Atlantic cable--a greeting from Queen
Victoria to President Buchanan. Captain D. Smith Harris had, the
year before, brought out the "Grey Eagle", which had been built at
Cincinnati at a cost of $60,000. He had built this boat with his own
money, or at least a controlling interest was in his name. He had
intended her to be the fastest boat on the upper river, and she was
easily that. As her captain and practically her owner, he was at
liberty to gratify any whim that might come into his head. In this
case it occurred to him that he would like to deliver in St. Paul the
Queen's message to the President ahead of any one else.

There was at that time no telegraph line into St. Paul. Lines ran to
Dunleith, where the "Grey Eagle" was taking in cargo for St. Paul,
and also to Prairie du Chien, where the "Itasca" was loading. Both
boats were to leave at six o'clock in the evening. Captain Harris had
sixty-one miles farther to run than had Captain Whitten. But Harris
knew that he was racing, and Whitten did not, which made all the
difference in the world.

Whitten soldiered along at his usual gait, stopping at every landing,
putting off all cargo at each place, and taking on all that offered,
and probably delayed to pass the compliments of the day with agents
and other friends, as well as discuss the great message that he was
bearing. The "Grey Eagle", on the contrary, stopped at only a few
of the principal landings, and took on no freight after leaving
Dunleith. She did not even put off freight that she was carrying,
but took it through to St. Paul and delivered it on her return trip.
She carried the mail, but in delivering it a man stood on the end of
one of the long stages run out from the bow, from which he threw the
sacks ashore, the boat in the meantime running along parallel with
the levee, and not stopping completely at any landing. Running far
ahead of her time, there were no mail sacks ready for her, and there
was no reason for stopping. The "Grey Eagle" had the best of soft
coal, reinforced by sundry barrels of pitch, from which the fires
were fed whenever they showed any signs of failing. With all these
points in her favor, in addition to the prime fact that she was by
far the swiftest steamboat that ever turned a wheel on the upper
river, it was possible for her to overtake the slower and totally
unconcerned "Itasca", when only a few miles from St. Paul.

The race proper began when Whitten sighted the "Gray Eagle" and
realized that Harris was trying to beat him into St. Paul in order
to be the first to deliver the Queen's message. Then the "Itasca"
did all that was in her to do, and was beaten by less than a length,
Harris throwing the message ashore from the roof, attached to a piece
of coal, and thus winning the race by a handbreadth.

The time of the "Grey Eagle" from Dunleith, was eighteen hours; the
distance, two hundred and ninety miles; speed per hour, 16 1/9 miles.

The "Itasca", ran from Prairie du Chien to St. Paul in eighteen
hours; distance, two hundred and twenty-nine miles; speed, 12 2/3
miles per hour.

The "Itasca" was far from being a slow boat, and had Whitten known
that Harris was "racing" with him, the "Grey Eagle" would not have
come within several hours of catching her.

As a race against time, however, the run of the "Grey Eagle" was
really something remarkable. A sustained speed of over sixteen
miles an hour for a distance of three hundred miles, upstream, is
a wonderful record for an inland steamboat anywhere, upper river
or lower river; and the pride which Captain Harris had in his
beautiful boat was fully justified. A few years later, she struck
the Rock Island Bridge and sank in less than five minutes, a total
loss. It was pitiful to see the old Captain leaving the wreck,
a broken-hearted man, weeping over the loss of his darling, and
returning to his Galena home, never again to command a steamboat. He
had, during his eventful life on the upper river, built, owned, or
commanded scores of steamboats; and this was the end.

The "Northerner", of the St. Louis Line, was a fast boat, and an
active contestant for the "broom". The boat that could, and did
run away from, or pass under way, all other boats, signalized her
championship by carrying a big broom on her pilot house. When a
better boat passed her under way, the ethics of the river demanded
that she pull the broom down and retire into seclusion until she in
turn should pass the champion and thus regain her title. The struggle
on the upper river lay between the "Northerner" and the "Key City".
The "Grey Eagle" was in a class by herself, and none other disputed
her claims, while actively disputing those of all others of the
Minnesota Packet Company, of which the "Key City" was the champion
and defender.

The two rivals got together at Hudson, twenty miles up Lake St.
Croix--whether by accident or agreement it is impossible to say,
but probably by agreement. They had twenty miles of deep water, two
miles wide, with only four close places to run. It was a fair field
for a race, and they ran a fair and a fine one. For miles they were
side by side. Sometimes a spurt would put one a little ahead; and
again the other would get a trifle the most steam and the deepest
water, and so creep ahead a little. When they came into Prescott, at
the foot of the lake, the "Key City" was a clear length ahead, her
engineers having saved a barrel or two of resin for the home stretch.
With this lead she had the right of way to turn the point and head up
the river. Ned West was at the wheel, with an assistant to "pull her
down" for him, and he made a beautiful turn with his long and narrow
craft; while the "Northerner" had to slow down and wait a minute
or two before making the turn. In the meantime the "Key City's"
whistles were blowing, her bell ringing, and her passengers and crew
cheering, while a man climbed to the roof of the pilot house and
lashed the broom to the finial at the top, the crown of laurels for
the victor.

The lower river stern-wheel steamer "Messenger" was also a very fast
boat. On one occasion she came very near wresting the broom from
the "Key City", in a race through Lake Pepin, where also there was
plenty of water and sea room. The "Key City" had a barge in tow and
thus was handicapped. The "Messenger" seemed, therefore, likely to
win the race, as she had passed the former under way. Within four
miles of the head of the lake, Captain Worden of the "Key City"
ordered the barge cast adrift, having placed a few men on board of
it, with an anchor and cable to use in case of necessity. Thus freed
from the encumbrance, he put on steam and passed his rival before
reaching Wacouta, in spite of the most strenuous efforts on the part
of the latter to retain her lead. Running far enough ahead of the
"Messenger" to render the maneuver safe, Worden crossed her bow, and
circling around her ran back and picked up his barge.

In this race, it was said by passengers who were on board the two
boats, that the flames actually blazed from the tops of the tall
chimneys on both craft; and on both, men were stationed on the
roof playing streams of water from lines of hose on the chimney
breechings, to prevent the decks from igniting. Under such conditions
it is easy to see how a boat might catch fire and burn. And yet the
passengers liked it. Had they been the owners of casks of hams,
as legend relates of a passenger on a lower river boat under like
circumstances, there is no doubt they would have made an oblation of
them to the gods of heat and steam, rather than have the other boat

The earliest recorded race run on the upper river was that between
the "Nominee", owned and commanded by Captain Orren Smith, and the
"West Newton" (Captain Daniel Smith Harris), in 1852. In this event
but one boat actually ran, for Harris had no confidence in the
ability of his boat to win, and not possessing the temper that would
brook defeat, he declined to start. The "Nominee" completed the run
from Galena to St. Paul and return, a distance of seven hundred
miles, making all landings and handling all freight and passengers,
in fifty-five hours and forty-nine minutes, an average rate of speed
of 12-1/2 miles an hour, half of it against and half with the
current. This was good running, for the boats of that time. As there
was no other boat to compete for the honor, the "Nominee" carried the
broom until she sank at Britt's Landing, below La Crosse, in 1854.

Bunnell, in his very interesting _History of Winona_, says:

   "Captain Orren Smith was a very devout man; and while he might
   indulge in racing, for the honor of his boat, he believed in
   keeping the Sabbath; and as long as he owned the boats which
   he commanded he would not run a minute after twelve o'clock
   Saturday night, but would tie his boat to the bank, wherever
   it might be, and remain at rest until the night following at
   twelve o'clock, when he would resume the onward course of his
   trip. If a landing could be made near a village or settlement
   where religious services could be held, the people were invited
   on board on Sunday, and if no minister of the gospel was at
   hand, the zealous Captain would lead in such service as suited
   his ideas of duty. But the Captain's reverence and caution did
   not save his boat, and she sank below La Crosse in the autumn
   of 1854."

Two of the boats on which I served, the "Kate Cassell" and the "Fanny
Harris", while not of the slow class, yet were not ranked among the
fast ones; consequently we had many opportunities to pass opposition
boats under way, and to run away from boats that attempted to so
humiliate us.

There was a great difference in boats. Some were built for towing,
and these were fitted with engines powerful enough, if driven to
their full capacity, to run the boat under, when the boat had no
barges in tow. Other boats had not enough power to pull a shad off a
gridiron. It was the power that cost money. A boat intended solely
for freighting, and which consequently could take all the time there
was, in which to make the trip, did not require the boilers and
engines of a passenger packet in which speed was a prime factor in
gaining patronage.

There is great satisfaction in knowing that the boat you are steering
is just a little faster than the one ahead or behind you. There is
still more satisfaction in feeling, if you honestly can, that you are
just a little faster as a pilot than the man who is running the other
boat. The two combined guarantee, absolutely, a proper ending to any
trial of speed in which you may be engaged. Either one of them alone
may decide the race, as a fast pilot is able to take his boat over a
long course at a better rate of speed than a man not so well up in
his business. If both men are equally qualified, then it is certain
that the speediest boat will win.

What conditions determine the speed of two boats, all observable
terms being equal? Nobody knows. The "Key City" and the "Itasca" were
built for twins. Their lines, length, breadth, and depth of hold were
the same; they had the same number and size boilers, and the parts
of their engines were interchangeable; yet the "Key City" was from
one to three miles an hour the faster boat, with the same pilots at
the wheel. It was a fruitful topic for discussion on the river; but
experts never reached a more enlightening conclusion than, "Well, I
don't know". They didn't.

The boats of the old Minnesota Packet Company averaged better than
those of a later era. In the run from Prairie du Chien to St. Paul,
as noted above, the "Itasca" averaged twelve miles an hour, upstream,
handling all her freight and passengers. The schedule for the Diamond
Jo Line boats, in 1904, allowed eight miles an hour upstream, and
eleven downstream, handling freight and passengers.

[Illustration: THE LEVEE AT ST. PAUL, 1859. Showing the Steamer "Grey
Eagle" (1857; 673 tons), Capt. Daniel Smith Harris, the fastest and
best boat on the Upper River, together with the "Jeanette Roberts"
(1857; 146 tons), and the "Time and Tide" (1853; 131 tons), two
Minnesota River boats belonging to Captain Jean Robert, an eccentric
Frenchman and successful steamboatman. (Reproduced from an old
negative in possession of Mr. Edward Bromley of Minneapolis, Minn.)]

Chapter XX

_Music and Art_

In the middle of the nineteenth century, many an artist whose
canvases found no market in the older cities, found ready bidders
for his brush, to decorate the thirty-foot paddle-boxes of the big
side-wheelers with figures of heroic size; or, with finer touch, to
embellish the cabins of Western steamboats with oil paintings in
every degree of merit and demerit.

The boat carrying my father and his family from Rock Island to
Prescott, upon my first appearance on the Father of Waters, was the
"Minnesota Belle". Her paddle-boxes were decorated with pictures
the same on each side, representing a beautiful girl, modestly and
becomingly clothed, and carrying in her arms a bundle of wheat ten
or twelve feet long, which she apparently had just reaped from some
Minnesota field. In her right hand she carried the reaping-hook with
which it was cut.

All the "Eagles" were adorned with greater than life-size portraits
of that noble bird. Apparently all were drawn from the same model,
whether the boat be a Grey-, Black-, Golden-, War-, or Spread-Eagle.

The "Northern Belle", also had a very good looking young woman
upon her paddle-boxes. Evidently she exhibited herself out of pure
self-satisfaction, for she had no sheaf of wheat, or any other
evidence of occupation. She was pretty, and she knew it.

The "General Brooke" showed the face and bust, in full regimentals,
of the doughty old Virginian for whom it was named.

Later, the "Phil Sheridan" boasted an heroic figure of Little Phil,
riding in a hurry from Winchester to the front, the hoofs of his
charger beating time to the double bass of the guns at Cedar Creek,
twenty miles away.

The "Minnesota" reproduced the coat-of-arms of the state whose
name she bore--the ploughman, the Indian, and the motto "L'étoile
du Nord". But the majority of the side-wheel boats boasted only a
sunburst on the paddle-boxes, outside of which, on the perimeter
of the wheel-house circle, was the legend showing to what line or
company the boat belonged. The sunburst afforded opportunity for the
artist to spread on colors, and usually the effect was pleasing and

It was the inside work wherein the artists in oil showed their skill.
Certainly there were many panels that showed the true artistic
touch. The "Northern Light", I remember, had in her forward cabin
representations of Dayton Bluff, St. Anthony Falls, Lover's Leap,
or Maiden Rock, drawn from nature, for which the artist was said to
have been paid a thousand dollars. They were in truth fine paintings,
being so adjudged by people who claimed to be competent critics. On
the other hand there were hundreds of panels--thousands, perhaps, in
the myriad of boats that first and last plied on the river--that were
the veriest daubs. These were the handiwork of the house painters who
thought they had a talent for higher things, and who had been given
free hand in the cabin to put their ambitions on record.

There was one case, however, which appealed to the humorous side of
every one who was fortunate enough to see it. It was not intended
that it should strike just this note. The artist who put it on
the broad panel over the office window of the little stern-wheel
"dinkey" from the Wabash, intended to convey a solemn note of warning
to all who might look upon it to flee temptation. As the painting
very nearly faced the bar, it required no very great stretch of
imagination to read into the picture the warning to beware of the
tempter, strong drink, particularly the brand served out on a Hoosier
packet hailing from the Wabash.

In the centre was a vividly-green apple tree, bearing big red fruit.
Our beloved Mother Eve, attired in a white cotton skirt that extended
from waist to knee, was delicately holding a red scarf over her left
shoulder and bosom. Confronting her was a wofully weak-minded Adam,
dressed in the conventional habit of a wealthy first century Hebrew.
The Satanic snake, wearing a knowing grin on his face, balanced
himself on the tip of his tail.

Thirty years or more after the little boat from the Wabash
introduced this artistic gem to travellers on the upper river, I
saw a copper-plate engraving two centuries old, from which the
Hoosier artist had painted his panel. It was all there, except the
colors--the tree, the apples, Eve in her scarf and skirt, Adam as a
respectable Hebrew gentleman, and Satan balanced on the turn of his
tail and leering with a devilish grin at the young woman who wanted
to know it all, and at the lily-livered Adam who then and there
surrendered his captaincy and has been running as mate ever since.

In the flush times on the river all sorts of inducements were offered
passengers to board the several boats for the up-river voyage. First
of all, perhaps, the speed of the boat was dwelt upon. It was always
past my comprehension why any one who paid one fare for the trip,
including board and lodging as long as he should be on the boat, and
who had three good, if not "elegant", meals served each day without
extra charge, should have been in such a hurry to get past the most
beautiful scenery to be found anywhere under the sun. I would like
nothing better than to take passage on the veriest plug that ever
made three miles an hour, and having full passage paid, dawdle along
for a week, and thus be enabled to enjoy in a leisurely manner, all
the beauties of river, bluff, and island.

After speed came elegance--"fast and elegant steamer"--was a favorite
phrase in the advertisement. An opportunity to study Eve and her
apple, instead of the wealth of beauty which the Almighty has strewn
broadcast over the Mississippi Valley, was an inducement carrying
weight with some. It was a matter of taste.

After elegance came music, and this spoke for itself. The styles
affected by river steamers ranged from a calliope on the roof to
a stringed orchestra in the cabin. My recollection is, that most
of us thought the name "calliope" was derived from some mechanical
appliance in connection with music, with which we were as yet
unfamiliar, the fame of Jupiter's daughter not yet having extended to
the headwaters of the Mississippi. The question as to what relation
this barbaric collection of steam whistles bears to the epic muse,
that it should have appropriated her name, is still an open question.
The "Excelsior", Captain Ward, was the first to introduce the "steam
piano" to a long-suffering passenger list. Plenty of people took
passage on the "Excelsior" in order to hear the calliope perform;
many of them, long before they reached St. Paul, wished they had not
come aboard, particularly if they were light sleepers. The river men
did not mind it much, as they were used to noises of all kinds, and
when they "turned in" made a business of sleeping. It was different
with most passengers, and a steam piano solo at three o'clock in
the morning was a little too much music for the money. After its
introduction on the "Excelsior", several other boats armed themselves
with this persuader of custom; but as none of them ever caught the
same passenger the second time, the machine went out of fashion.
Other boats tried brass bands; but while these attracted some custom
they were expensive, and came to be dropped as unprofitable.

The cabin orchestra was the cheapest and most enduring, as well as
the most popular drawing card. A band of six or eight colored men
who could play the violin, banjo, and guitar, and in addition sing
well, was always a good investment. These men were paid to do the
work of waiters, barbers, and baggagemen, and in addition were given
the privilege of passing the hat occasionally, and keeping all they
caught. They made good wages by this combination, and it also pleased
the passengers, who had no suspicion that the entire orchestra was
hired with the understanding that they were to play as ordered by
the captain or chief clerk, and that it was a strictly business
engagement. They also played for dances in the cabin, and at landings
sat on the guards and played to attract custom. It soon became
advertised abroad which boats carried the best orchestras, and such
lost nothing in the way of patronage.

Some of the older generation yet living, may have heard Ned Kendall
play the cornet. If not, they may have heard of him, for his fame
was at this time world-wide, as the greatest of all masters on his
favorite instrument. Like many another genius, strong drink mastered
him, and instead of holding vast audiences spell-bound in Eastern
theatres, as he had done, he sold his art to influence custom on an
Alton Line boat. It was my good fortune to have heard him two or
three times, and his music appeals to me yet, through all the years
that lie between. The witchery and the pathos of "Home, Sweet Home",
"Annie Laurie", the "White Squall", and selections from operas of
which I had then never even heard the names, cast such a spell that
the boat on which he travelled was crowded every trip. Pity 'tis
that one so gifted should fall into a slavery from which there was
no redemption. He died in St. Louis, poor and neglected, a wreck
infinitely more pitiable than that of the finest steamboat ever cast
away on the Great River.

One of the boats on which I served employed a sextet of negro
firemen, whose duty, in addition to firing, was to sing to attract
custom at the landings. This was not only a unique performance,
but it was likewise good music--that is, good of its kind. There
was nothing classic about it, but it was naturally artistic. They
sang plantation melodies--real negro melodies; not the witless and
unmusical inanities which under the name of "coon songs" pass with
the present generation for negro minstrelsy. Of course these darkies
were picked for their musical ability, and were paid extra wages for

The leader, Sam Marshall, received more than the others, because he
was an artist. This term does not do him justice. In addition to a
voice of rare sweetness and power, Sam was a born _improvisatore_.
It was his part of the entertainment to stand on the capstan-head,
with his chorus gathered about him, as the boat neared the landing.
If at night, the torch fed with fatwood and resin threw a red glow
upon his shining black face, as he lifted up his strong, melodious
voice, and lined out his improvised songs, which recited the speed
and elegance of this particular boat, the suavity and skill of its
captain, the dexterity of its pilots, the manfulness of its mate, and
the loveliness of Chloe, its black chambermaid. This latter reference
always "brought down the house", as Chloe usually placed herself in a
conspicuous place on the guards to hear the music, and incidentally
the flatteries of her coal-black lover. As each line was sung by the
leader the chorus would take up the refrain:

    De Captain stands on de upper deck;
      (Ah ha-a-a-ah! Oh ho-o-o-o-ho!)
    You nebber see 'nudder such gentlehem, _I_ 'spec;
      (Ah ha-a-a-ah, Oh ho-o-o-ho.)

and then would follow, as an interlude, the refrain of some old
plantation melody in the same key and meter, the six darkies singing
their parts in perfect time and accord, and with a melody that cannot
be bettered in all the world of music.

    De pilot he twisses he big roun' wheel;
      (Ah ha-a-a-ah, Oh ho-o-o-oh.)

    He sings, and he whissels, and he dance Virginia reel,
      (Ah ha-a-a-ah, Oh ho-o-o-ho),--

an undoubted reference to Tom Cushing, who, before his promotion to
the pilot house was said to have been a tenor in grand opera in New
York. He was a beautiful singer at any rate; could whistle like a New
York newsboy, and dance like a coryphée. The "Old Man" would have
been willing to take his oath that Cushing could and did do all three
at the same time, in the most untimely hours of the morning watch, at
the same time steering his steamboat in the most approved fashion.

The next stanza was:

    "'Gineer in the engin' room listenn' fo' de bell;
    He boun' to beat dat oder boat or bus' 'em up to--_heb'n_,"

was accepted as a distinct reference to Billy Hamilton, as the manner
of stating his intention to win out in a race was peculiar to the
junior engineer, and the proposition was accepted without debate.

    "De Debbel he come in the middle of de night;
    Sam, dere, he scairt so he tuhn _mos'_ white--Jes like dat
      white man out dere on de lebbee",

pointing at some one whom he deemed it safe to poke fun at, and of
course raising a laugh at the expense of the individual so honored.

    "Des _look_ at dem white fokses standin' on de sho';
    Dey la-a-aff, and dey la-a-aff, till dey cain't laff no

and Sam would throw back his head and laugh a regular contagion into
the whole crowd--on the boat and "on de sho", opening a mouth which
one of the darkies asserted was "de biggest mouf dis nigger ebber saw
on any human bein' 'cept a aligator"; or, as the mate expressed it:
"It was like the opening of navigation."

    "Dish yer nigger he fire at the middle do';
    Shake 'em up libely for to make de boat go",

was a somewhat ornate description of Mr. Marshall's own duties on
board the boat. As a matter of fact he did very little firing,
personally, although when a race was on he could shovel coal or pitch
four-foot wood into the middle door with the best of them, at the
same time, singing at the top of his voice. Upon ordinary occasions
he let the other darkies pitch the cord wood while he exercised a
general supervision over them, as became an acknowledged leader.

To hear these darkies sing the real slave music, which was older than
the singers, older than the plantation, as old as Africa itself,
wherein the ancestors of some of them at least, might have been kings
and princes as well as freemen, was better than the fo'c'sle comedies
enacted for the amusement of the passengers. These minor chords
carried a strain of heartbreak, as in the lines:

    "De night is dark, de day is long
    And we are far fum home,
      Weep, my brudders, weep!"

And the closing lines:

    "De night is past, de long day done,
    An' we are going home,
      Shout, my brudders, shout!"

were a prophecy of that day of freedom and rest, after centuries of
toil and bondage, the dawn of which was even then discernible to
those who, like Abraham Lincoln, were wise to read in the political
heavens the signs of its coming.

[Illustration: STEAMER "KEY CITY," 1857; 560 tons.]

[Illustration: STEAMER "NORTHERN LIGHT," 1806; 740 tons.]

Chapter XXI

_Steamboat Bonanzas_

How it was possible to derive any profit from an investment of from
$20,000 to $40,000, the principal of which had an average tenure
of life of but five years, has puzzled a great many conservative
business men from "down east", where "plants" lasted a lifetime,
and the profits from which may have been sure, but were certain to
be small. A man educated in such an atmosphere would hesitate long,
before investing $25,000 in a steamboat that was foreordained to the
scrap pile at the end of five summers; or where one out of every
two was as certainly predestined to go up in smoke or down into the
mud of the river bottom at the end of four years--these periods
representing the ordinary life of a Mississippi River steamboat.

From 1849 to 1862 the shipyards of the Ohio, where nine out of ten
Western boats were built, could not keep up with the orders. Every
available shipwright was employed, and on some boats gangs worked
at night by the light of torches at double wages, so great was the
demand. Every iron foundry was likewise driven to the limit to turn
out engines, boilers, and other machinery with which to give life to
the hulls that were growing as if by magic in every shipyard.

If there had not been profit in the business, the captains and other
river men who gave orders for these craft would not have given
them. By far the greater number of boats were built for individual
owners--practical river men who navigated the boats, and who knew
just what they were about. Many of the orders were given to replace
vessels that had been snagged or burned within the past twenty-four
hours--for time was money, and a man could not afford to be without
a steamboat many weeks, when twenty weeks or less represented a new
boat in net earnings. These men knew from actual experience that if
they could keep their craft afloat for two years they could build a
new boat from the profits made with her, even if she sank or burned
at the end of that time. If she kept afloat for four years, they
could buy or build two or three new ones from the profits, even
without the aid of insurance. As a matter of fact the boats carrying
insurance in those days were the exceptions. It came high, and owners
preferred to take their own chances rather than indulge to any great
extent in that luxury. How such profits were earned and such results
obtained, it will be the object of this chapter to disclose.

In those days every boat made money. A big and fast one made a
great deal; those small and slow made little as compared with their
larger rivals, but plenty as compared with their own cost. Perhaps
most vessel owners began on a small scale. A little boat might cost
$5,000. She would run on some tributary of the Great River, and in
the absence of any railroads might control all the traffic she was
capable of handling, and at her own rates. In the course of two or
three years her owner was able to build a bigger and a better boat.
By combining with some other river man, the two might build one
costing $25,000, and carrying from a hundred and fifty to two hundred
tons of freight, and passengers in proportion. With such an equipment
there was a fortune in sight at any time between 1849 and 1862,
provided always that the boat was not snagged or burned on her first

The doctrine (or science) of averages, is peculiar. In order to get
an average of four years for a steamboat's life, it is necessary to
keep some of them afloat for nine or ten; while on the other hand you
are certain to "kill" a lot of them within a year after they touch
water. When the latter happens, the investment is lost and the owner
is probably ruined.

For purposes of illustration we will take as a sample one from the
best class of money-makers on the upper river, in the flush times of
1857. Minnesota was organized as a territory in 1849, and admitted
as a state in 1858. From 1852 to 1857 there were not boats enough to
carry the people who were flocking into this newly-opened farmers'
and lumbermen's paradise. There were over a hundred and twenty-five
different steamboats registered at St. Paul in the latter year.
The boats carrying good cargoes all through the season were the
money-makers. Some of the larger ones were unable to get over the
sand-bars after the midsummer droughts began. The stern-wheel boat
of two hundred to three hundred tons was the one that could handle
a good cargo on little water, and represented the highest type of
profit-earning craft.

Such a boat would be about 200 feet long, 30 feet beam, and five
feet depth of hold. She would have three large iron boilers (steel
not having entered largely into boiler construction at that time),
and fairly large engines, giving her good speed without an excessive
expenditure for fuel. She would cost from $25,000 to $30,000, and
accommodate two hundred cabin passengers comfortably, with a hundred
second-class people on deck.

With such a boat furnished and ready for business, it is the duty
of the captain to go out and hire his crew, and fit her out for a
month's work. Such an investment in 1857, on the upper river, would
approximate the following figures:

                                               _Per month_

    Captain                                    $  300.00
    Chief clerk                                   200.00
    Second clerk                                  100.00
    Chief mate                                    200.00
    Second mate                                   100.00
    Pilots (2 at $500.00)                       1,000.00
    Chief engineer                                200.00
    Second engineer                               150.00
    Firemen (8 at $50.00)                         400.00
    Steward                                       200.00
    Carpenter                                     150.00
    Watchman                                       50.00
    Deck hands (40 at $50.00)                   2,000.00
    Cabin crew                                    800.00
    Food supplies ($75.00 per day, 30 days)     2,250.00
    Wood (25 cords per day, 30 days, at $2.50)  2,000.00
    Sundries                                    1,400.00

With this wage-list and expense-account before them, the captain and
his chief clerk, who may also be a part owner in the boat, are face
to face with the problem of meeting such expenses from passenger
and cargo lists, and at the same time providing a sinking fund with
which to build another craft within four years. To the uninitiated
this would seem a somewhat appalling problem; with these old hands,
the question would no doubt resolve itself down to the number of
round trips that they would have to make to pay for their boat. The
question of years never enters their heads.

In 1857 there were three principal points of departure on the upper
river, above St. Louis. At that time St. Louis itself was the great
wholesale centre, but it was not so important as an initial point for
passengers for the upper Mississippi. The flood of immigration from
St. Louis was for many reasons up the Missouri: furs and gold could
be found in the mountains; there was a possible slave state in the
farming regions below the mountains. The people who settled Minnesota
and northern Wisconsin came from the East, and reached the river
at three points--Rock Island, Dunleith (or Galena), and Prairie du
Chien. Taking the point with which I am most familiar, we will start
the new boat from Galena.

At that time Galena was, next to St. Louis, the principal wholesale
_entrepôt_ in the West. It was a poor trip for the boat which I have
taken as a model, when she did not get a hundred tons of freight at
Galena from the wholesale houses there. The balance was found at
Dunleith, the terminus of what is now the Illinois Central Railway
(then the Galena & Western Union); at Dubuque, which was also a
big wholesale town; and at Prairie du Chien, the terminus of the
Milwaukee & Mississippi Railway.

The freight rates on the river ran from 25 cents per hundred for
short distances, to $1.50 per hundred from Galena to Stillwater, or
St. Paul. No package was taken at less than 25 cents, however small
it was, or how short the distance. In order not to overstate, we will
take fifty cents per hundred as the average, and three hundred tons
of cargo as the capacity of the two hundred-ton boat.[F] This is
relatively the capacity of a vessel of that tonnage after deducting
for passengers and fuel, and the space occupied by deck passengers.
This latter item did not seriously count, for the freight was usually
taken first and the deck passengers were then piled on top of it.
Their comfort or convenience was never taken into consideration.

   [F] A boat _measuring_ 200 tons would carry from 300 to 350
   tons weight in cargo. The tonnage of all boats is given by
   measurement, while the cargo is always in hundredweights.

The boat can carry two hundred cabin passengers, and a hundred on
deck. We will assume that there is another boat competing for this
trip, and we do not fill up to the capacity. The clerk studies the
rate sheets in vogue in 1857, and finds the following:


  30 miles or under (no charge less than 25c)           6c per mile
  30 to 60 miles                                        5c per mile
  Over 60 miles                                         4c per mile

  GALENA OR DUNLEITH TO--       Miles   Cabin passage   Deck passage
  Cassville                       30         $2.00          $1.25
  Prairie du Chien                66          3.50           2.00
  La Crosse                      150          6.00           3.25
  Red Wing                       256         10.00           3.50
  Stillwater and St. Paul        321         12.00           6.00

  Galena or Dunleith to St. Paul 321        $12.00          $6.00
  Prairie du Chien to St. Paul   255         10.00           5.00
  La Crosse to St. Paul          175          7.00           4.00

In 1904, the cabin passage on the Diamond Jo Line boats from Dunleith
to St. Paul, was $8.00; from Prairie du Chien, $6.75; from La
Crosse, $4.75. This is in competition with six railroads practically
paralleling the river. In 1857 there was no railroad competition,
and practically none from steamboats. Every boat attained a full
passenger list, and was at liberty to charge whatever the conscience
of the captain dictated--assuming a conscience. I have known a
boat to fill up at Dunleith at the rate of $16.00 to St. Paul, and
contract that all the men should sleep on the cabin floor, leaving
staterooms for the women. And the passengers were glad enough to
accept such conditions, for a detention of two days at Dunleith would
cost a far greater sum than the overcharge exacted by the steamboat

In the foregoing table I have included La Crosse, which, however,
was not an active factor in river rates until 1859. Before then,
hundreds of passengers were landed there from Rock Island, Dunleith,
and Prairie du Chien; but as the railroad had not yet reached the
river at that point, there were but few passengers from La Crosse for
landings farther up the river. When our boat leaves Prairie du Chien,
then, the following business is in sight:

    150 passengers from Dunleith or Galena, at an average
         of $8.00                                       $1,200.00
     50 deck passengers at an average of $5.00             250.00
    300 tons freight, 6,000 cwts. at an average of 50c   3,000.00

A boat leaving Galena on Friday evening usually arrived at St. Paul
in time to have her cargo all ashore and ready to start on the return
trip sometime on Tuesday--usually about noon. At that time we shall
find the chief clerk studying the downstream rate sheets. These
differ somewhat from the upstream and are like this, a few principal
points being taken to illustrate:


  30 miles or under (no charge less than 25c.)         5c per mile
  30 to 60 miles                                       4c per mile
  Over 60 miles                                        3c per mile

  ST. PAUL OR STILLWATER TO--   Miles   Cabin passage   Deck passage
  Hastings                        32         $1.50          $1.00
  Red Wing                        65          2.50           2.00
  Winona                         146          4.50           2.50
  La Crosse                      175          5.00           3.00
  Prairie du Chien               255          7.00           3.50
  Dunleith or Galena             321          8.00           4.00

Downstream rates are somewhat less than the upstream, because, for
one reason, it costs less to get a boat downstream. There is a
four-mile current pushing the boat along, in addition to the applied
power. Going upstream the boat had had this current to overcome
before she gained an inch. A four-mile current is one-third of an
average steamboat's progress. Again, the passengers do not get a
chance to eat as much, and very often they were not served as well,
on the down trip. Then, there were fewer people who wished to go
down river, with the result that there were many boats bidding for
the patronage of those who did make the trip. All these elements,
with possibly others, entered into the cutting of the rates by about
one-third on the down trip.

The only item besides passengers to be depended upon on the return
trip, was wheat. There may have been some potatoes or barley, or, if
fortune favored, some tons of furs and buffalo robes from the "Red
River train", or some flour from the one mill at St. Anthony (now
Minneapolis), or perhaps woodenware from the same point. There was
always a more or less assorted cargo, but the mainstay was wheat. We
will assume, in order to simplify this illustration, that there was
nothing but wheat in sight at the time. There was no question about
getting it. Every boat got all the wheat it could carry, and the
shippers begged, almost on bended knees, for a chance to ship five
hundred sacks, or a hundred, or fifty--any amount would be considered
a great favor. Wheat was shipped at that time in two-bushel sacks,
each weighing a hundred and twenty pounds. Three hundred tons, dead
weight, is a pretty good cargo for a two-hundred ton boat. Wheat is
dead weight, and a boat goes down into the water fast, when that is
the sole cargo. We get five thousand sacks, all of which is unloaded
at Prairie du Chien. The down trip foots up somewhat like this:

    80 passengers at $8.00                     $  640.00
    5,000 sacks of wheat at 12c                   600.00

Arriving in Galena Friday morning, the clerk figures up his receipts
with the following result:

    Up trip                                    $4,450.00
    Down trip                                   1,240.00

The boat makes four trips during the month, leaving out the extra two
or three days, which may have been spent on some sand-bar. At the
end of the month the clerk again does some figuring, with this result:

    Income from four trips, at $5,690.00      $22,760.00
    Less wages, fuel, provisions, etc.         11,500.00
    Net profit for month                      $11,260.00

A stern-wheel, light-draught boat such as we have taken for this
illustration, was quite certain to get five months' service--between
the middle of April and the middle of October. In order not to put
too great tension upon the credulity of modern readers, we will
assume that she gets only five months of navigation. At the close
of the season the captain and his clerk figure up the receipts and
expenses, and strike a balance like this:

    Receipts, 5 months, at $22,760.00        $113,800.00
    Expenses, 5 months, at $11,500.00          57,500.00
    Net earnings for the season              $ 56,300.00

This is enough to buy a new boat, and have something over for pin
money. No one knows better than the writer the elusiveness, not to
say the mendacity, of figures. He has often figured out greater
profits than this in the nebulous schemes which have from time to
time seduced him from the straight and narrow path of six per cent
investment--and had them come out the other way. In steamboating in
the fifties, this occurred very often. The most careful captain,
employing the highest-priced pilots and engineers, would often lose
his boat the first season; a snag or a lighted match, or a little too
much steam, dissipating the best-laid plans in a few minutes of time.
But the figures given above are conservative--made so purposely. The
truth lies at the opposite extreme.

If the books of some of the boats of the old Minnesota Packet Company
could be resurrected, they would show earnings and profits far
greater than I have ventured to claim in my illustration. The "Fanny
Harris", for instance, was a boat of 279 tons. Her wage-list and
expense-account have been taken as a basis of the illustration above
given, partly from recollection, and partly from figures which I made
when I was second clerk, and which I have had before me in writing
this chapter. We used to tow one barge all the time--most of the
time two barges, and both boat and barges loaded to the water line,
both ways, nearly every trip.

Of course we sometimes missed it. We landed ten thousand sacks of
wheat at Prairie du Chien on one trip. Instead of a hundred and
fifty cabin passengers, she often carried three hundred, "sleeping
them" on the cabin floor three deep--at stateroom rates; and under
such conditions the fortunate winners of such a chance to get into
the promised land have risen up and called the whole outfit blessed,
when in fact it was the other thing. I have heard of other boats
claiming that they had to tow an extra barge to carry the money which
they took in on the trip. I have always thought that these men were
slightly overstating the case--but maybe not.

An item in one of the St. Paul papers of the time, states that the
"Excelsior" arrived from St. Louis November 20, 1852, with two
hundred and fifty cabin passengers, one hundred and fifty deck
passengers, and three hundred tons of freight. For which freight
she received "one dollar per hundred for any distance"; and the net
profits of the up trip on freight alone were over $8,000. For two
hundred and fifty cabin passengers she would receive $16 each, or
$4,000; for the deck passengers, $8 each, or $1,200. These sums added
to the $8,000 received for freight, would aggregate $13,200. The
"Excelsior" cost not to exceed $20,000--probably not over $16,000.
Two trips like this would build a better boat. As this was the last
trip of the season, she probably did not get such another. Under that
freight rate--"one dollar per hundred for any distance"--a shipment
of a hundred pounds from Prescott to Point Douglass, one mile,
would cost the shipper a dollar. There were possibilities in such

Another item, also from a St. Paul paper, states that the "Lady
Franklin" arrived May 8, 1855, from Galena, with five hundred
passengers. She would accommodate a hundred and fifty cabin people,
ordinarily. Figure this trip down to the probabilities, and the net
result would be about as follows:

    300 cabin passengers at $12                      $3,600
    200 deck passengers at $6                         1,200

Or, reversing it:

    200 cabin passengers at $12                      $2,400
    300 deck passengers at $6                         1,800

The "Lady Franklin" cost about $20,000. Two months' work at this rate
would buy a new and better boat. If I remember aright, the "Lady
Franklin" was sunk in 1856 or 1857, but not until she had earned
money enough to buy two new boats, each costing twice as much as she
did. At the time she carried five hundred passengers she undoubtedly
carried a full cargo of freight, worth at least two thousand dollars
more to the boat.

An item in a St. Louis paper of that date, announces the departure of
the side-wheel steamer "Tishomingo" (Jenks, master), for St. Paul on
April 14, 1857, with 465 cabin passengers, 93 deck passengers and 400
tons of assorted freight. This trip would figure somewhat like this:

    465 cabin passengers at an average of $16    $ 7,440.00
    93 deck passengers at an average of $8           744.00
    400 tons freight at 75c per hundred            6,000.00

These rates are estimated at a very low figure. The regular cabin
rate at that time, St. Louis to St. Paul, was, for cabin, $24; deck,
$12; freight, $1.50 per hundredweight. It is not necessary to amplify
at all. The "Tishomingo" had been bought in the spring of 1857,
within a month, for $25,000. She paid one-half her purchase price on
her first trip that season.

I would not have it understood that all boats made these phenomenal
earnings; but many boats did, and all those of the Minnesota Packet
Company were in this favored class. There were several conditions
precedent, which made these results possible with the boats of
this line. It controlled, absolutely, the freighting from the
Galena and Dubuque jobbing houses; it controlled, absolutely, the
freight business of the Dunleith and Prairie du Chien railroads,
and practically all the passenger business of the two roads, as
steamboat tickets were sold on the train, good only on the boats of
the Minnesota Packet Company. These conditions insured a full cargo
for every boat, and a full passenger list every trip. Outside boats
did not have such a "cinch", but each had a source of revenue of its
own, equally satisfactory. Even the "wild" boats had no difficulty
in getting cargoes, and every vessel in that busy era had all the
business it could handle.

The term "Company" was something of a misnomer. It was not at first
a stock company, in the modern sense of the word. Each boat was
owned by its captain, or a number of persons acting individually. In
organizing the company, instead of capitalizing it with a certain
amount of stock, the controlling parties simply put in their
steamboats and pooled their earnings. Each boat had an equal chance
with all the others for a cargo; and when the dividends were declared
each one shared according to the earnings of his boat. A big boat
could earn more than a smaller or slower one, and such a boat got a
larger percentage than the latter. The particular advantage, in fact
the only advantage, in pooling lay in securing a monopoly of the
railroad and jobbing business. In order to do this it was necessary
to have boats enough to handle the business at all times, and to have
a general manager who would place the craft so as to give the most
effective service.

One of the beauties of the pooling system was, that if a captain or
owner became dissatisfied and desired to pull out, he could take his
boat and the share of profits due him, and leave at any time. A few
years later the company was reorganized as a joint stock company.
After that, if one wished to get out he was lucky if he could get
clear with the clothes on his back. The financiers who controlled
fifty-one per cent of the stock retained all the steamboats and all
the profits.


Chapter XXII

_Wild-cat Money and Town-sites_

Both of these specimens of natural history were bred, nurtured, and
let loose in countless numbers to prey upon the people in the early
days that witnessed the opening of the Northwestern territories to
settlement. The wild-cat dollars waxed fat upon the blood and brawn
of the settlers who had already arrived; wild-cat town-sites found
ready victims in the thousands of Eastern people who desired to
better their fortunes, and who lent ready ears to the golden tales of
unscrupulous promoters, that told of wonderful cities in the West,
whose only reality was that blazoned in the prospectuses scattered
broadcast through the East.

The younger generation, whose only acquaintance with the circulating
symbols of wealth that we call "money", is confined to the decades
since the close of the War of Secession, can have no idea of the
laxity of banking laws of the fifties, in the Northwestern states and
territories, nor of the instability of the so-called "money" that
comprised nine-tenths of the medium of exchange then in use in the
West. Nowadays, a bank bill stands for its face value in gold, if it
be a National Bank issue. If a state bank--and bills of this sort
are comparatively few in these days--they are also guaranteed, in a
measure, by the laws of the state in which the bank is situated. In
the days of which I am writing, and especially in the unsettled and
troublesome times just before the war (from 1856 to 1862), the money
that was handled on the river in the prosecution of business, except
of course the small proportion of gold that was still in circulation,
had little or no backing, either by federal or state enactments.

A man went into an embryo city, consisting in that day of two or
three thousand town lots, and from fifty to a hundred inhabitants,
with an iron box costing twenty-five dollars. In this box he
had ten, twenty, or thirty thousand "dollars" in new bank bills
purporting to have been issued from two, three, or four banks doing
business in other equally large, populous, and growing cities,
situated elsewhere in Wisconsin, or preferably in Illinois, Indiana,
or Michigan. How did he become possessed of all this wealth? Was
it the savings of years? The iron box was, perhaps; perhaps he got
trusted for that. The money was not usually the savings of any time
at all; it was simply printed to order.

Five or six persons desirous of benefitting their fellow men by
assisting them in opening their farms and "moving their crops", would
get together in Chicago, Cincinnati, or St. Louis, wherever there was
an establishment capable of engraving and printing bank bills--and
not very elegant or artistic printing was required, or desired. These
men propose to start as many banks, in as many "cities" in the West.
They have money enough, each of them, to buy a safe, an iron box into
which any carpenter could bore with an ordinary brace and bit, and
enough over to pay for the printing of twenty thousand dollars' worth
of bills in denominations of one, two, five and ten dollars. The
printing finished, each man would sign his own bills as president,
and one of the others would add the final touch of authenticity by
signing a fictitious name to the same bills as cashier. Then it was

But it would have been overloading the credulity of even the most
gullible denizens of his adopted city to ask them to accept his own
bills as legal tender; so a swap was made all around, and when the
requisite amount of shuffling was completed, each man had his twenty
thousand dollars in bills on four or five banks, but none of his own
issue. There was a double incentive in this transaction: first, it
inspired the utmost confidence in the minds of the men who were to
borrow this money. How could this banker who had come among them for
their good, have acquired this money by any other than legitimate
transactions? If it were bills on his own bank that he proposed
to put into circulation, there might be some question as to their
guaranty; but he could not get this money by merely going to the
printing office and ordering it, as he might in case of bills on
his own institution. It certainly must be good money. Secondly, by
distributing his bills in as many different localities as possible,
the chances of its never being presented for redemption were greatly
multiplied; it might be burned, or lost overboard, or worn out, in
which case he would be just so much ahead, and no questions asked.

The foregoing may be a somewhat fanciful statement of the way in
which the bankers proceeded, but in essence it is a true picture.
They may not have all met in Chicago, or anywhere else, to perfect
these arrangements, but the arrangements were all perfected
practically as stated: "You put my bills into circulation, and I will
put out yours; and in each case the exchange will greatly assist each
and all of us in hoodwinking our victims into the belief that it is
money, and not merely printed paper which we are offering them".

Equipped with these goods, and with a charter from the state in which
he proposed to operate--a charter granted for the asking, and no
questions raised--the banker transports himself and his box of money
to his chosen field of operations. The newspaper which has already
been located in the new city heralds the coming of Mr. Rothschild,
our new banker, more or less definitely hinting at the great wealth
lying behind the coming financier. A bank building is rented, a sign
hung out, and he begins to loan his money at five per cent per month
on the partially-improved farms of his neighbors, or the house and
lot of his "city" friends. He is a liberal man, and if it is not
convenient for you to pay the interest as it accrues, he will let it
stand--but he does not forget to compound it every month. The result
is inevitable. The debt mounts up with a rapidity that paralyzes the
borrower, and in the end a foreclosure adds farm and improvements
to the growing assets of the banker. Within a very few years he
is the owner of eight or ten of the best farms in the county, and
perhaps half a dozen houses and lots in the village, and all with
the investment of less than a hundred dollars invested in printing,
and an iron box, and without the expenditure of an ounce of energy
or a legitimate day's work. And the victims break up and start anew
for the still farther West, to take new farms, to be engulfed in the
maws of other sharks. One may not greatly pity the men themselves,
for men are born to work and suffer; but the women! God pity them.
Worn, tired, broken-hearted, they must leave that which is dearest
to them in all the world, their homes, and fare forth again into the
wilderness, to toil and suffer, and at last, blessed release, to die.

And the bankers? They were counted honest. If by any chance one
of their bills came to hand and was presented for payment at the
home counter, it was promptly redeemed, sometimes in gold or silver,
but oftener with another bill on some other bank belonging to the
syndicate. I personally knew some of these bankers. Some of them were
freebooters without conscience and without shame. Under color of
law, they robbed the settlers of their lands and improvements, and
defied public opinion. Others put on a cloak of righteousness; they
were leaders in the love-feasts and pillars in the church; and they
also had their neighbors' lands and improvements. Their descendants
are rich and respected to-day in the communities where their fathers
plied their iniquitous trade; and these rule where their fathers

As a clerk on the river, I had some experience in handling the
wild-cat money. At Dunleith, before starting on the up-river trip, we
were handed by the secretary of the company, a _Thompson's Bank Note
Detector_, and with it a list of the bills that we might accept in
payment for freight or passage. We were also given a list of those
that we might not accept at all; and still another list upon which we
might speculate, at values running from twenty-five to seventy-five
per cent of their face denominations. Thus equipped we started
upstream, and the trouble started with us. At McGregor we put off a
lot of freight, and were tendered money. We consulted our lists and
cast into outer darkness that which had upon it the anathema of Mr.
Jones, the secretary. We accepted all on the list of the elect, and
compromised upon enough more to balance our freight account. The
agent at McGregor had a list of his own which partly coincided with
ours but in general disagreed. In the meantime another boat of our
line had arrived from up river, and we get from her clerk fifteen or
twenty lists of bills which would be taken or rejected at as many
landings above. This helps somewhat, as we see our way clear to get
rid of some of our twenty-five per cent stuff at par in exchange for
cord wood or stores on the upper river, and we sort our stock out
into packages which are reported current at each landing. We also see
an opportunity to swap at Dunleith some bills which are not current
there at all, but which are taken at par at Prescott or Stillwater,
for other bills which they do not want but which will be taken at the
company's office at Dunleith in settlement of our trip.

It required a long head to figure it out. Mine was long enough, but
unfortunately it had the same dimensions both ways, and was not to
be depended upon in these finer transactions. Mr. Hargus labored
with the problem, studying lists until he came nigh to the point of
insanity, with the result that when we "cashed in" on our return it
was usually found that we had from five hundred to a thousand dollars
that was not acceptable. This we kept, and the boat was debited with
the amount on the company's books. On the next trip we would usually
be able to work off some of this stuff. At the end of one season I
recollect that we had some two thousand dollars, face estimate, of
this paper on hand, which the treasurer would not accept, for the
banks on which the bills were drawn had gone out of existence.

The town-site industry was on the same plane of deception and robbery
as the banking frauds, but it found its victims "back East", instead
of close at hand. Being Easterners, who had been educated to suppose
that integrity and honesty were the basis of all business confidence,
and themselves practiced these old-fashioned virtues, they all too
readily accepted the assurances of the land-sharks, and invested
their money without seeing the property which was so glowingly
described in the prospectuses sent out by the Western promoters. The
result was, that they were "taken in and done for" by the hundreds
of town-site sharks who were operating all along the river, between
Dunleith and St. Paul. I shall refer to but one of which I had
personal knowledge, and to another described to me by Captain Russell

The city of Nininger, as delineated on the large and
beautifully-engraved and printed maps issued by Ingenuous Doemly, was
a well-built metropolis capable of containing ten thousand people.
As delineated, it had a magnificent court house, this city being
the county seat of Dakota County, Minnesota. Four or five church
spires sprang a hundred feet each into the atmosphere. It had stores
and warehouses, crowded with merchandise, and scores of drays and
draymen were working with feverish energy to keep the levee clear
of the freight being landed from half a dozen well-known steamboats
belonging to the Minnesota Packet Company or the St. Louis & St. Paul
Packet Company. An imposing brick structure with cut stone trimmings,
four stories high, housed the plant of the Nininger _Daily Bugle_.

This last-mentioned feature of the prospectus was the only one that
had the remotest semblance of foundation in fact. There certainly
was a _Daily Bugle_, issued once a week, or once in two or three
weeks, depending upon the energy of the printer and his "devil", who
jointly set the type, and the assiduity of the editors who furnished
them with copy. This paper was printed upon the first power press
that ever threw off a printed sheet in the Territory of Minnesota.
It was a good press, and the paper printed upon it was a monument
to the shrewdness and ingenuity of the honorable proprietor of the
Nininger town-site. The sheet was filled with a wealth of local
advertising--drygoods, groceries, hardware, millinery, shoe stores,
blacksmith shops--every class of business found in a large and
prosperous city, was represented in those columns. But every name and
every business was fictitious, coined in the fertile brain of this
chief of all promoters. It was enough to deceive the very elect--and
it did. When the Eastern man read that there were six or eight lots,
lying just west of Smith & Jones's drygoods store, on West Prairie
Street, that could be had at a thousand dollars per lot if taken
quickly, and that they were well worth twice that money on account
of the advantageous situation, they were snapped up as a toad snaps
flies on a summer day.

The paper was filled with local reading matter, describing the rush
at the opening of the latest emporium; that Brown had gone East to
purchase his spring stock; that Mrs. Newbody entertained at her
beautiful new residence on Park Avenue, and gave the names of fifty
of her guests. The whole thing was the plan of a Napoleonic mind,
being carried out to the minutest detail with painstaking care by
a staff of able workers, with the result that the whole prairie
for two miles back from the river was sold out at the rate of ten
thousand dollars an acre or upwards, and that before the proprietor
had himself perfected his legal rights to the land which he was thus

Henry Lindergreen, the printer who did the mechanical work on the
Nininger paper, was a chum of mine, we having set type in the same
"alley" elsewhere, and that winter I went up to Nininger to help
him out. The four-story brick block of the wood-cuts shrunk into a
little frame building, the sides of which were made of inch boards
set up on end and battened on the outside. Inside, it was further
reinforced with tarred paper; and while I was there a pail of water
ten feet from a red-hot stove, froze solid in a night, and the three
printers had all they could do to feed the fire fast enough to keep
themselves from freezing also, with the mercury down to forty degrees
below zero. The editor who, in the absence of the promoter himself,
in the East disposing of lots, was hired to improvise facts for the
columns of this veracious sheet, lived in St. Paul, and sent his copy
down to Hastings, as there was no postoffice at Nininger. If the
editor or the proprietor had been found at Nininger in the following
spring when the dupes began to appear, one or two of the jack oaks
with which the city lots were plentifully clothed, would have borne
a larger fruit than acorns. Even the printer who set the type, was
forced to flee for his life.

One of the boldest-faced swindles I ever heard of, was the so-called
Rolling Stone colony. In the spring of 1852, some three or four
hundred people, chiefly from New York city, came to seek their
purchased lands in Rolling Stone. They brought with them beautiful
maps and bird's-eye views of the place, showing a large greenhouse,
lecture hall, and library. Each colonist was to have a house lot
in town and a farm in the neighboring country. The colony had been
formed by one William Haddock, and none of the members had the
faintest shadow of experience in farming. Boarding steamers at
Galena, they expected to be put off at the Rolling Stone levee, for
the views represented large houses, a hotel, a big warehouse, and
a fine dock. But the steamboat officers had never heard of such a
place. Careful questioning, however, seemed to locate the site three
miles above Wabasha Prairie, on land then belonging to the Sioux
Indians. As they insisted on landing, they were put off at the log
cabin of one John Johnson, the only white man within ten miles.
They made sod houses for themselves, or dug shelter burrows in the
river banks; sickness came; many died during the summer and autumn;
and when winter set in the place was abandoned. The people suffered
severely, and the story of Rolling Stone makes a sad chapter in the
early history of Minnesota.

While the craze was on, some made fortunes, while thousands of
trusting men and women lost the savings of years. After the fever
of speculation had burned itself out, the actual builders of the
commonwealth came in and subdued the land. Nininger and Rolling Stone
are still on the map, and that is about all there is of them--a name.
La Crosse, Winona, St. Paul and Minneapolis have superseded them, and
the population, wealth, and commerce of these are greater in reality
than were the airy figments of the brain which they have supplanted.

[Illustration: MCGREGOR, IOWA. Looking north, up the river.]

Chapter XXIII

_A Pioneer Steamboatman_

The same year and the same month in the year that witnessed the
advent of the first steamboat on the Upper Mississippi, likewise
witnessed the arrival in Galena of one who was destined to become
the best known of all the upper river steamboatmen. In April, 1823,
James Harris[G] accompanied by his son, Daniel Smith Harris, a lad of
fifteen, left Cincinnati on the keel boat "Colonel Bumford", for the
Le Fevre lead mines (now Galena), where they arrived June 20, 1823,
after a laborious voyage down the Ohio and up the Mississippi.

   [G] Captain Daniel Smith Harris was born in the state of
   Ohio in 1808. He came with his parents to Galena, Ill., in
   1823, where he attended the frontier schools, and worked in
   the lead mines until 1836, when he commenced his career as
   a steamboatman, which was developed until he should become
   known as the greatest of all the upper river steamboat owners
   and captains. In the year 1836, in company with his brother,
   R. Scribe Harris, who was a practical engineer, he built the
   steamer "Frontier," which he commanded that season. In 1837 the
   two brothers brought out the "Smelter," which was commanded by
   Daniel Smith Harris, Scribe Harris running as chief engineer.
   In 1838 they built the "Pre-Emption," which was also run by
   the two brothers. In 1839 they built the "Relief," and in 1840
   the "Sutler," both of which he commanded. In 1841 they brought
   out the "Otter," which Captain Harris commanded until 1844,
   when the two brothers built the "War Eagle" (first), which he
   commanded until 1847. In 1848 he commanded the "Senator"; in
   1849 the "Dr. Franklin No. 2"; in 1850 and 1851 the "Nominee";
   in 1852 the "Luella," "New St. Paul" and "West Newton"; in
   1853 the "West Newton"; 1854, 1855 and 1856 the "War Eagle"
   (second), which he built. (See picture of "War Eagle" on page
   120.) In 1857 Captain Harris built the "Grey Eagle," the
   largest, fastest and finest boat on the upper river up to that
   time, costing $63,000. He commanded the "Grey Eagle" until
   1861, when she was lost by striking the Rock Island Bridge,
   sinking in five minutes. Captain Harris then retired from the
   river, living in Galena until his death in 189-. As a young man
   he took part, as a Lieutenant of Volunteers, in the battle of
   Bad Axe, with the Indians under Chief Black Hawk.

A word in passing, regarding the keel boat. Few of the men now living
know from actual observation what manner of craft is suggested by
the mere mention of the name. None of this generation have seen it.
A canal boat comes as near it in model and build as any craft now
afloat; and yet it was not a canal boat. In its day and generation
it was the clipper of the Western river to which it was indigenous.
Any sort of craft might go downstream; rafts, arks, broadhorns, and
scows were all reliable downstream sailers, dependent only upon the
flow of the current, which was eternally setting toward the sea.
All of this sort of craft did go down, with every rise in the Ohio,
in the early days of the nineteenth century, from every port and
landing between Pittsburg and Cairo, to New Orleans. They were laden
with adventurers, with pioneers, with settlers, or with produce of
the farms already opened along the Ohio and its tributaries; corn,
wheat, apples, live-stock--"hoop-poles and punkins", in the slang of
the day--in fact anything of value to trade for the merchandise of
civilization which found its _entrepôt_ at New Orleans from Europe
or the Indies. The craft carrying this produce was itself a part
of the stock in trade, and when unloaded was broken up and sold as
lumber for the building of the city, or for export to Cuba or other
West Indian ports. The problem was to get back to the Ohio with the
cargo of merchandise bought with the produce carried as cargo on the
down trip. The broad horns and arks were an impossibility as upstream
craft, and thus it came about in the evolution of things required for
specific purposes, that the keel boat came into being.

This boat was built to go upstream as well as down. It was a
well-modelled craft, sixty to eighty feet long, and fifteen to
eighteen feet wide, sharp at both ends, and often with fine
lines--clipper-built for passenger traffic. It had usually about four
feet depth of hold. Its cargo box, as it was called, was about four
feet higher, sometimes covered with a light curved deck; sometimes
open, with a "gallows-frame" running the length of the hold, over
which tarpaulins were drawn and fastened to the sides of the boat
for the protection of the freight and passengers in stormy weather.
At either end of the craft was a deck for eight or ten feet, the
forward or forecastle deck having a windlass or capstan for pulling
the boat off bars, or warping through swift water or over rapids.

Along each side of the cargo box ran a narrow walk, about eighteen
inches in width, with cleats nailed to the deck twenty-eight or
thirty inches apart, to prevent the feet of the crew from slipping
when poling upstream. Of the motive power of these boats, Captain H.
M. Chittenden, U. S. A., in a recent work on the navigation of the
Missouri River in early days, says:

   "For the purposes of propulsion the boat was equipped with
   nearly all the power appliances known to navigation, except
   steam. The cordelle was the main reliance. This consists of a
   line nearly a thousand feet long, fastened to the top of a mast
   which rose from the centre of the boat to the height of nearly
   thirty feet. The boat was pulled along with this line by men on
   shore. In order to hold the boat from swinging around the mast,
   the line was connected with the bow of the boat by means of a
   "bridle", a short auxiliary line fastened to a loop in the bow,
   and to a ring through which the cordelle was passed. The bridle
   prevented the boat from swinging under force of wind or current
   when the speed was not great enough to accomplish this purpose
   by means of the rudder. The object in having so long a line was
   to lessen the tendency to draw the boat toward the shore; and
   the object in having it fastened to the top of the mast was
   to keep it from dragging, and to enable it to clear the brush
   along the bank. It took from twenty to forty men to cordelle
   the keel boat along average stretches of the river [the
   Missouri], and the work was always one of great difficulty."

For poling the men were provided with tough ash poles, eighteen or
twenty feet long, with a wooden or iron shoe or socket to rest on
the bottom of the river, and a crutch or knob for the shoulder. In
propelling the boat, ten or a dozen men on each side thrust the foot
of their poles into the bottom of the river, and with the other end
against their shoulders, walked toward the stern of the boat, pushing
it upstream at the same rate of speed with which they walked toward
the stern. As each pair--one on each side of the boat--reached the
stern, they quickly recovered their poles, leaped to the roof of
the cargo box, and running forward jumped to the deck and replanted
their poles for a new turn of duty. By this means an even speed was
maintained, as in a crew of twenty there were always sixteen men
applying motive power, while four others were returning to the bow
for a new start. The writer, in his childhood, has stood for hours on
the banks of the St. Joseph River, in Niles, Michigan, watching the
crews of keel boats thus laboriously pushing their craft up the river
from St. Joseph, on the lake, to Niles, South Bend, and Mishawaka.
They were afterward to float back, laden with flour in barrels,
potatoes and apples in sacks, and all the miscellaneous merchandise
of the farm, destined for Detroit, Buffalo, and the East, by way of
the Great Lakes.

In addition to cordelling, as described above, the long line was
also used in warping the boat around difficult places where the men
could not follow the bank. This was accomplished by carrying the
line out ahead in the skiff as far as possible or convenient, and
making it fast to trees or rocks. The men on the boat then hauled on
the line, pulling the boat up until it reached the object to which
the line was attached. The boat was then moored to the bank, or
held with the poles until the line was again carried ahead and made
fast, when the process was repeated. In this manner the greatest of
up-river steamboatmen, Captain Daniel Smith Harris, prosecuted his
first voyage from Cincinnati to Galena, in the year 1823. It probably
required no more than four or five days to run down the Ohio, on the
spring flood, to Cairo; from Cairo to Galena required two months of
cordelling, poling, and warping.

About the time the keel boat "Colonel Bumford" was passing St. Louis,
the steamer "Virginia" departed for the upper river with a load of
supplies for the United States military post at Fort Snelling. She
had among her passengers Major John Biddle and Captain Joseph P.
Russell, U. S. A., and Laurence Talliaferro, United States Indian
Agent for the Territory of Minnesota. The "Virginia" arrived at Fort
Snelling May 10, 1823, the first boat propelled by steam to breast
the waters of the upper Mississippi. She was received with a salute
of cannon from the fort, and carried fear and consternation to the
Indians, who watched the smoke rolling from her chimney, the exhaust
steam shooting from her escape pipe with a noise that terrified them.
The "Virginia" was scarcely longer than the largest keel boat, being
about a hundred and twenty feet long, and twenty-two feet beam. She
had no upper cabin, the accommodations for the passengers being in
the hold, in the stern of the boat, with the cargo-box covering so
common to the keel boats of which she herself was but an evolution.

What did the young steamboatman see on his voyage from Cairo to
Galena in 1823? In his later years, in speaking of this trip, he
said that where Cairo now stands there was but one log building,
a warehouse for the accommodation of keel-boat navigators of the
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Cape Girardeau, St. Genevieve, and
Herculaneum were small settlements averaging a dozen families each.
St. Louis, which was built almost entirely of frame buildings, had a
population of about five thousand. The levee was a ledge of rocks,
with scarcely a fit landing place on the whole frontage. Alton,
Clarksville, and Louisiana were minor settlements. What is now Quincy
consisted of one log cabin only, which was built and occupied by John
Woods, who afterwards became lieutenant-governor of the State of
Illinois, and acting governor. This intrepid pioneer was "batching
it", being industriously engaged in clearing a piece of land for
farming purposes. The only settler at Hannibal was one John S.
Miller, a blacksmith, who removed to Galena in the autumn of 1823. In
later years, Hannibal was to claim the honor of being the birthplace
of "Mark Twain", the historian of the lower Mississippi pilot clans.
The last farm house between St. Genevieve and Galena was located at
Cottonwood Prairie (now Canton), and was occupied by one Captain
White, who was prominently identified with the early development
of the Northwest. There was a government garrison at Keokuk, which
was then known as Fort Edwards, and another at Fort Armstrong, now
Rock Island. The settlement at Galena consisted of about a dozen log
cabins, a few frame shanties, and a smelting furnace.

If he were looking only for the evidence of an advancing
civilization, the above probably covers about all he saw on his
trip. Other things he saw, however. The great river, flowing in its
pristine glory, "unvexed to the sea"; islands, set like emeralds in
the tawny flood, the trees and bushes taking on their summer dress
of green in the warm May sunshine; prairies stretching away in
boundless beauty, limited only by his powers of vision. Later, as his
craft stemmed the flood and advanced up the river, he saw the hills
beginning to encroach upon the valley of the river, narrowing his
view; later, the crags and bastions of the bluffs of the upper river,
beetling over the very channel itself, and lending an added grandeur
to the simple beauty of the banks already passed.

His unaccustomed eyes saw the wickyups and tepees of the Indians
scattered among the islands and on the lowlands, the hunters of the
tribe exchanging the firelock for the spear and net as they sought
to reap the water for its harvest of returning fish. It was all
new to the young traveller, who was later to become the best known
steamboatman of the upper river, the commander of a greater number
of different steamboats than any of his compeers, and who was to
know the river, in all its meanderings and in all its moods, better
than any other who ever sailed it--Daniel Smith Harris, of Galena,

[Illustration: ALTON, ILLINOIS. Looking down the river.]

Chapter XXIV

_A Versatile Commander; Wreck of the "Equator"_

While some men were to be found on the Mississippi in the sixties
who did not hesitate to avow themselves religious, and whose lives
bore witness that they were indeed Christians, the combination of a
Methodist preacher and a steamboat captain was one so incongruous
that it was unique, and so far as I know, without a parallel on the
river. There appeared to be no great incompatibility between the two
callings, however, as they were represented in the person of Captain
Asa B. Green. He was a good commander, as I had personal opportunity
of observing at the time of the incident described in this chapter;
and a few years later, when the great drama of the Civil War was on,
I again had an opportunity to observe Captain Green in his alternate
rôle of minister of the gospel, he having been appointed chaplain
of the Thirtieth Wisconsin Infantry in which I served as a private
soldier. In this capacity he showed rare good sense and practical
wisdom. He preached to the boys when a favorable opportunity offered
on a Sunday, when there was not too much else going on; but his
sermons were short, and as practical as was the man himself.

Of his conversion, or early life, on the river as a missionary,
little seemed to be known by any one whom I ever met. He ran the
Chippewa in the early days, during the summer months, and in the
winter did missionary work among the lumbermen, following them to
their camps in the woods, preaching and ministering to them; not
as an alien, and in an academic fashion, but as one "to the manner
born". It is likely that his young manhood was passed on the river
and in the lumber camps, and when he was converted his thoughts
turned naturally to the needs of these particular classes, for none
knew better than he just how great their needs were. Of how or where
he was ordained to preach I know nothing; but as he was in good
standing with the Methodist conference there is no question as to the
regularity of his commission. His master's certificate authorizing
him to command a steamboat certified to his standing as a river man.

Probably he divided his time between commanding a steamboat and
preaching the gospel, two callings so dissimilar, because the river
work was quite remunerative, financially, while the other was quite
the reverse. It probably took all the money he earned during the
summer to support himself and his philanthropies during the winter.
If his expenditures among the boys in the lumber camps were as
free-handed as were his gifts to poor, sick, wounded, and homesick
soldiers during his service with the Thirtieth Wisconsin during the
war, it would easily require the seven months' pay of a river captain
to sustain the other five months' liberality of the quondam preacher.
Certain it is, that after three years' service as chaplain he came
out as poor as he went in--in money. If the respect and high regard
of his brother officers were worth anything; or better yet, if the
love and gratitude of hundreds of plain boys in blue, privates in
the ranks, might be counted as wealth, then Captain Green was rich
indeed. And that was what he did count as real wealth. To be hugged
by one of his "boys" at a Grand Army reunion, one whom he had nursed
back to life in an army hospital by his optimistic cheerfulness and
Christian hope and comfort--was to him better than gold or silver. He
has gone to his reward; and whether he now is telling the "old, old
story" to other men in other spheres, or pacing the deck of a spectre
steamboat on the River of Life--whichever may be his work--beyond a
peradventure he is doing that work well.

In the spring of 1858, in April, in his capacity as captain, Asa B.
Green was commanding the steamer "Equator". She was a stern-wheel
boat of about a hundred and twenty tons, plying on the St. Croix
between Prescott and St. Croix Falls. The lake opened early that
season, but the opening was followed by cold and stormy weather, with
high winds. There was some sort of celebration at Stillwater, and as
was customary in those days an excursion was organized at Hastings
and Prescott to attend the "blow-out". About three hundred people
crowded the little steamer, men, women, and children. She started
off up the lake in the morning, fighting her way against a high wind
right out of the north. Charley Jewell was pilot, the writer was
"cub", John Lay was chief engineer. I have forgotten the name of the
mate, but whatever may have been his name or nationality, he was the
man for the place. He was every inch a man, as was the captain on the
roof, and so in fact was every officer on the boat.

Everything went well until we had cleared Catfish bar, at Afton. From
there to Stillwater is about twelve miles, due north. The wind had
full sweep the whole length of this reach. The lake is two and a half
miles wide just above Catfish bar. The sweep of the wind had raised a
great sea, and the heavily-laden boat crawled ahead into the teeth of
the blizzard--for it began to snow as well as blow. We had progressed
very slowly, under an extra head of steam, for about three miles
above the bar, when the port "rock-shaft", or eccentric rod, broke
with a snap, and the wheel stopped instantly; in fact, John Lay had
his hand on the throttle wheel when the rod broke, and in an instant
had shut off steam to save his cylinders.

As soon as the wheel stopped the boat fell off into the trough of the
sea. The first surge caught her on the quarter, before she had fully
exposed her broadside, but it rolled her lee guards under water,
and made every joint in her upper works creak and groan. The second
wave struck her full broadside on. The tables had just been set for
dinner. As the boat rolled down, under stress of wind and wave, the
tables were thrown to leeward with a crash of broken glass and china
that seemed to be the end of all things with the "Equator". Women
and children screamed, and many women fainted. Men turned white, and
some went wild, scrambling and fighting for life preservers. Several
persons--they could hardly be called men--had two, and even three,
strapped about their bodies, utterly ignoring the women and children
in their abjectly selfish panic. The occasion brought out all the
human nature there was in the crowd, and some that was somewhat baser
than human.

As a whole, however, the men behaved well, and set about doing what
they could to insure the safety of the helpless ones before providing
for their own safety. It has always been a satisfaction to me that
I had this opportunity, while a boy, to witness and take part in
an accident which, while it did not result in the loss of a single
life, had every element of great danger, and the imminent probability
of the loss of hundreds of lives. It was an object lesson in what
constituted manhood, self-reliant courage, official faithfulness, and
the prompt application of ready expedients for the salvation of the

When the crash came, Mr. Lay called up through the speaking-tube,
stating the nature and extent of the accident. Mr. Jewell reported
it to Captain Green, who ordered him to go to the cabin and attempt
to allay the fright of the passengers, and to prevent a panic. As he
started, Jewell ordered me to remain in the pilot house and listen
for calls from the engine-room.

In the meantime the deck hands, or many of them, were in a panic,
some of them on their knees on the forecastle, making strong vows
of religious reformation should they come safe to land. This was a
commendable attitude, both of body and spirit, had there been nothing
else to do. In this particular province it would seem that much
might have been expected from a captain who was also a preacher. On
the contrary his manner of meeting the exigency was decidedly and
profoundly out of drawing with preconceived notions of what might
be expected from such a combination. An old man from Prescott, the
richest man in town, and also one of the meanest, nearly seventy
years old, crept up the companion way to the upper deck, and clasping
Captain Green about the legs cried: "Save me! for God's sake save me!
and I will give you a thousand dollars"!

"Get away you d----d cowardly old cur. Let go of me and get down
below or I will throw you overboard", was Captain Green's exhortation
as he yanked him to his feet by his collar and kicked him to the
stairway. Both the language and the action were uncanonical in the
extreme; but then, he was acting for the time in his capacity as
captain, and not as preacher. I didn't laugh at the time, for I was
doing some thinking on my own hook about the salvation business;
and my estimate of the chances for getting to the shore, two miles
away, in that wind and sea, was not flattering. I have laughed many
times since, however, and wondered what the old miser thought of the
orthodoxy of Chaplain Green when he answered his prayer.

The deck hands also met with a surprise from the mate, and that in
less than a minute. Men think fast in such an emergency, especially
those schooled amid dangers and quickened in mind and body by
recurring calls for prompt action. A dozen seas had not struck
the "Equator" before the mate was on the forecastle, driving the
panic-stricken deck hands to work. Dropping the two long spars to
the deck, with the assistance of the carpenter and such men as had
gathered their wits together, he lashed them firmly together at each
end. Then bending on a strong piece of line extending from end to
end, and doubled, he made fast the main hawser, or snubbing line,
to the middle, or bight of the rope attached to the spars, and then
launched the whole overboard, making a "sea-anchor" that soon brought
the bow of the vessel head to sea, and eased the racking roll of the
hull, steadying the craft so that there was little further danger
of her sinking. In the ten or fifteen minutes that it had taken to
get the drag built and overboard, the waves had swept over the lower
deck and into the hold, until there was a foot of water weighing her
down, which the bilge pumps operated by the "doctor" were unable to
throw out as fast as it came in. Had it continued to gain for fifteen
minutes longer, the boat would have gone to the bottom with all on
board. The drag saved the vessel; the coolness and quickness of the
mate and carpenter were the salvation of the steamer and its great
load of people.

In the meantime other incidents were occurring, that made a lasting
impression upon my mind. I did not witness them myself, but I learned
of them afterwards. All this time I stood at the side of the useless
wheel in the pilot house, listening for sounds from the engine-room.
Mr. Lay was doing all that was possible to remedy the break. He cut
off the steam from the useless cylinder, and with his assistant and
the firemen, was at work disconnecting the pitman, with the intent
to try to work the wheel with one cylinder, which would have been
an impossibility in that sea. In fact it would have been impossible
under any circumstances, for the large wheel of a stern-wheel boat
is built to be operated by two engines; there is not power enough
in either one alone to more than turn it over, let alone driving
the steamboat. When the crash came, Engineer Lay's wife, who was
on board as a passenger, ran immediately to the engine-room to be
with her husband when the worst should come. He kissed her as she
came, and said: "There's a dear, brave, little woman. Run back to
the cabin and encourage the other women. I must work. Good-bye". And
the "little woman"--for she was a little woman, and a brave little
woman, also--without another word gave her husband a good-bye kiss,
and wiping away the tears, went back to the cabin and did more than
all the others to reassure the frightened, fainting women and little
children--the very antithesis of the craven old usurer who had crept
on his knees begging for a little longer lease of a worthless life.

It took an hour or more to drift slowly, stern first, diagonally
across and down the lake to the shore above Glenmont, on the
Wisconsin side, where she struck and swung broadside onto the beach.
The men carried the women ashore through four feet of water, and in
another hour the cabin was blown entirely off the sunken hull, and
the boat was a total wreck. Her bones are there to-day, a striking
attestation of the power of wind and wave, even upon so small a body
of water as Lake St. Croix.

Big fires were built from the wreckage to warm the wet and benumbed
people. Runners were sent to nearby farm houses for teams, as well as
to Hudson, seven or eight miles way. Many of the men walked home to
Prescott and Hastings. Captain Green, who owned the boat, stayed with
his crew to save what he could from the wreck, in which he lost his
all; but he had only words of thanksgiving that not a life had been
lost while under his charge. Through it he was cool and cheerful,
devoting himself to reassuring his passengers, as soon as the drag
was in place, and giving orders for getting the women and children
ashore as soon as the boat should strike. His only deviation from
perfect equipoise was exhibited in his treatment of the old man, a
notoriously mean, and exacting money-lender, with whom he had no
sympathy at any time, and no patience at a time like this.

Chapter XXV

_A Stray Nobleman_

Of the many men whom it was my good fortune to meet while on the
river as a boy, or as a young man, there was none who came nearer
to filling the bill as a nobleman than Robert C. Eden, whose memory
suggests the title of this chapter. Just what constitutes a nobleman
in the college of heraldry, I am not qualified to assert. "Bob" Eden,
as his friends fondly called him--Captain Eden, as he was known on
the river, or Major Eden as he was better known in the closing days
of the War of Secession--was the son of an English baronet. There
were several other sons who had had the luck to be born ahead of
"Bob", and his chance for attaining to the rank and title of baronet
was therefore extremely slim. However, his father was able to send
him to Oxford, from which ancient seat of learning he was graduated
with honors. As a younger son he was set apart for the ministry,
where he finally landed after sowing his wild oats, which he did
in a gentlemanly and temperate manner that comported well with the
profession for which he was destined, all his studies having been
along theological lines. The _wanderlust_ was in his blood, however,
and he declined taking holy orders until he had seen something of
the unholy world outside. Accordingly he took the portion due him,
or which his father gave him, and departed for Canada. Not finding
things just to his taste in that British appanage, possibly not rapid
enough for a divinity student, he promptly crossed the line and began
making himself into a Yankee, in all except citizenship.

In his wanderings he finally reached Oshkosh, attracted no doubt by
the euphony of the name, which has made the little "saw dust city
of the Fox" one of the best known towns, by title, in the world. If
there was any one place more than another calculated to educate
and instruct an embryo clergyman in the ways of the world, and a
particularly wicked world at that, it was Oshkosh before the war.
That he saw some of the "fun" which the boys enjoyed in those days
was evidenced by the fund of stories relating to that place and that
era, which he had in stock in later years.

I do not know how long he remained there on his first visit. When I
made his acquaintance he was journeying up the river by easy stages
on a little side-wheel steamer, having both wheels on a single
shaft--a type of steamboat which I had known on the St. Joseph River
in Michigan, but which was not common on the Mississippi. This class
was used on the Fox and Wolf Rivers, and on Lake Winnebago. Captain
Eden had bought this little steamboat, of perhaps eighty tons burden,
for the purpose of exploring at his leisure the upper Mississippi and
its tributaries. He had sailed up the Fox River to Portage, through
the canal to the Wisconsin, and down that stream to the Mississippi,
and had reached Prescott, where I met him. He wanted to go up the St.
Croix to the Falls, stopping at all the towns, and at places where
there were no towns, at his own sweet will. First-class pilots were
getting six hundred dollars a month wages in those days. Eden's boat
was not worth two months' pay of such a pilot, and he was on the
lookout for a cheaper man when he found me.

His crew consisted of himself, acting in the capacity of captain and
first and second mates; an engineer and fireman in one person; a deck
hand, and a cook. The cook is named last, but he was by no means
the least personage aboard the "Enterprise". As this was a sort of
holiday excursion, the cook was about the most important official
about the boat. He was fully up in his business, and could cook
all kinds of game and fish to perfection, as well as the ordinary
viands of civilization. It was a privilege to be catered to by this
master of his art. The captain had under him, therefore, three men,
in addition to the pilot for temporary service from time to time as
he journeyed up the river. The "Enterprise" was not a speedy boat.
She could make four or five miles an hour upstream if the current
was not too strong, and double that downstream if the current was
strong enough. She had no upper cabin answering to the "boiler deck"
of the river boats--only a little box of a pilot house on the roof,
big enough to contain a little wheel and the man who turned it.
This wheel was only about a third the diameter of a real steamboat
wheel, and instead of wheel-ropes it had chains, large enough for a
man-of-war. When the wheel was put hard up or hard down, the chains
responded with a series of groans and squeaks not unmusical, but
new and novel to one used only to the noiseless operation of the
well-oiled wheel-ropes of the river steamers. The chains were part of
the fire-proof outfit required by regulations on the great lakes. The
"Enterprise" was from Winnebago. To pull the little three-foot wheel
hard down, and hold the stumpy little steamer up to a reef from which
she wanted to run away, required the expenditure of as much muscle as
was demanded to cramp a four-hundred ton steamer over the same bar by
the use of the larger wheel and easier-running wheel-ropes.

The cabin of the "Enterprise" was all aft of the paddle-boxes. It was
so divided as to afford sleeping quarters for the crew at the forward
part, next the engine, while Captain Eden occupied the after part,
which was fitted up as a boudoir, with a little side niche, in which
he slept. His pointer dog and his retriever also slept in the same
niche. There was a fine library in the cabin--not a great number of
books, but the best books, some English, some French, some German,
and several Greek and Latin, for Captain Eden was a polyglot in his
reading. There was also a gun rack with several rifles, three or four
shot guns of big and little calibre, and a pair of duelling pistols.
Likewise there were rods, reels, landing nets, and fly-hooks without
number, rubber boots and mackintoshes for rough weather, and all the
paraphernalia of a gentleman sportsman. It was evident at a glance
that Captain Eden was not in financial straits, and it was equally
evident that he was not steamboating for profit.

As I knew the St. Croix River well enough to navigate it with a
far larger boat than Captain Eden's, and in addition knew also a
great deal more about the haunts of bear, deer, prairie chickens,
brook trout, and indeed all species of fish inhabiting the waters
of the Mississippi River and its tributaries; and further, had a
speaking and dining acquaintance with sundry red men, both Sioux and
Chippewa, with whom Captain Eden also wished to become acquainted
for purposes of original investigation and study, I was deemed a
valuable acquisition. On my side a reasonable salary as pilot, with
a free run of the guns, fishing tackle, and books was an attractive
presentation of the case, and it took but a short time to arrange the
details of an engagement.

A day's work on this model craft consisted in steering the boat
five or six miles up or down the river or lake to the most inviting
hunting or fishing grounds, or to the vicinity of an Indian camp,
finding a sheltered place in which to tie up, and then taking a tramp
of ten or a dozen miles after deer, bear, or prairie chickens, or
a walk of three or four miles up some favorite trout stream, and
fishing back to the boat. In that day bear and deer abounded within a
very few miles of Prescott, Hudson, or other points. Indeed, as late
as 1876 bears were quite common about River Falls, one or two having
come right into the village to pick up young pigs and lambs; and deer
were also numerous within a few miles of the same place.

This in itself was an ideal occupation. But added to it was the
privilege of an intimate association with, and the conversation of,
a man from across the ocean, whose father was a baronet, who had
himself been schooled in Oxford, who had lived in London, and Paris,
and Berlin, and had seen men and things of whom and which I had read
in books, but which were all very far removed from the backwoods farm
of Michigan where I was born, and from the still wilder surroundings
of the upper Mississippi in the middle fifties.

I had been a persistent reader from the time I had learned my
letters, and was now seventeen years old. The volumes to which I
had had access were principally school books, with here and there a
history or biography, and an occasional novel. At one period only,
while working in the printing office, had I the run of a well-chosen
library belonging to the lawyer-editor. Here, however, was something
better than books. I could question this man on points that the books
might have passed over, and he could answer. His mind was quick, his
powers of observation trained, his brain well stored with the lore
of books--history, poetry, eloquence, and in addition he had seen
much of the world which lay so far beyond and outside the life of a
Western-bred country lad. It was better than any school I had ever
attended, and he was a rare teacher. He didn't realize that he was
teaching, but I did.

It was not a case of absorption alone on my part, however. In my
own field I had much to communicate--the lore of woods and streams,
the ways of the red men, the moods and legends of the Great River,
matters which seemed of little value to me, but which this stranger
from an older civilization was as solicitous to hear about as I was
to listen to the stories of his larger life. While I deemed myself
fortunate indeed in making the acquaintance of this cosmopolitan man
of the world, I was pleased to know that there were some things that
I knew better than my more widely-travelled employer. One of these
things, insignificant in itself, was the fact that the pilot could
catch ten trout to the captain's one, after giving him all possible
advantages of first chances at good "holes", and likely riffles, and
the first chance in wading ahead down the stream. This was for a
long time one of the mysteries to the captain--why a trout would not
bite at one man's hook just as readily as at another's, when they
were exactly alike as to lures, whether natural or artificial. The
fact remains that there is a difference in the manner in which you
approach them with the temptation; until you get the "hang of the
thing" you will not catch the trout that the more astute disciple of
the good Walton catches out of the same stream, in the same hour.

Thrown together as we both were on board the boat and on these
excursions, the relation of employer and servant was soon forgotten,
and the closer and more intimate relation of friend to friend was
established, a relation which lasted as long as Captain Eden remained
in America. Two months were passed in idling along the St. Croix, in
hunting, fishing, exploring, studying the beautiful, if not grand,
rock formations of the Dalles, and in visiting the Indians in their
haunts around Wood Lake and the upper St. Croix. Then Captain Eden
turned the prow of his little steamboat toward home, descending the
river to Prairie du Chien, ascending the Wisconsin, portaging through
the canal to the Fox, and thence steaming down to Oshkosh. Disposing
of his steamboat there, he entered the office of the _Northwestern_
newspaper, first as a reporter and later as an editorial writer. Not
many suburban newspapers fifty years ago could boast of an Oxonian
among their editorial writers. But very few people outside of his
immediate friends ever knew that the quiet man who represented the
_Northwestern_ was either an Oxonian or the son of an English baronet.

In the autumn of 1863 the men of the North were gathering themselves
together for the mightiest struggle of modern times--the battle
summer of 1864. In Wisconsin, the Thirty-seventh Regiment of
Infantry was in process of enrollment, and the whilom Englishman
was one of those engaged in recruiting for this regiment, putting
his money as well as his time into the work. Captain Eden was so
successful in enlisting men for the service, that when the regiment
was organized he was commissioned as major. In the strenuous days
immediately following the battle of Cold Harbor the writer again met
his old employer. The difference in rank between the enlisted man
and the commissioned officer was no bar to the recognition of the
former friendship existing between the steamboat captain and his
pilot--friendship broadened and strengthened by companionship in
woods and along streams by mutual interest and respect.

Major Robert C. Eden, or "Bob" Eden, as he was called at the front,
was a model officer. His family had for generations been furnishing
officers for the British army, and the fighting blood ran in his
veins. His regiment was in the hottest of the fight at the Petersburg
mine disaster, and he was at the head of his men. Through all the
long siege following the first repulse, from June, 1864, until April,
1865, constantly under fire, he proved the metal that was in his
composition. When he left England to seek his fortune, he was engaged
to a Scotch lassie from one of the old families of the borderland.
After a summer's experience of Yankee warfare, pitted against the
"Johnnies" under Lee, Longstreet, Gordon, and Wise--men of equal
courage, tenacity, and fighting ability--"Bob" concluded that another
summer of the same sort as the last might prove too much for him,
and that he might lose the number of his mess, as hundreds of his
comrades had in the summer just closed. If he hoped or wished to
leave a widow when he was called, he had better clinch the contract
at once. And so he did.

His fiancée, who also came of fighting stock, promptly responded to
the challenge and came overseas to meet her hero. They were married
across a stump in the rear of Fort Haskell (Fort Hell, the boys
called it, as opposed to Fort Damnation, immediately opposite, in
the Confederate line of works). Chaplain Hawes read the full Church
of England service for the occasion, the regiment formed in hollow
square about them, and the brigade band played the wedding march,
while an occasional shell from the Confederate works sang overhead.
Major-General O. B. Wilcox, commanding the division, gave away the
bride, and all went merry despite the warlike surroundings.

After the war, Major Eden returned to Oshkosh and resumed his
editorial labors, in which he persisted for several years. Finally
the home hunger came upon him, or perhaps more strongly upon his
wife. The wild Western society of the swiftest town of its size in
the state was not so much to her liking as that of the slower but
more refined surroundings of the land of her birth. Severing all
ties, business and otherwise, they returned to England. Once there
the influence of English kin and early associations was too strong
to permit of his return to Yankee land, and Major "Bob" assumed the
canonical robes which had so long awaited his broad shoulders.

    "And now, instead of mounting barbéd steeds
    To fright the souls of fearful adversaries",

he ministers at the altar of the Prince of Peace, the calling toward
which his early education tended. His excursion into the wilds of
the Northwest, his steamboat trip up the Great River, his experience
as the editor of a frontier newspaper, and his service in an alien
army--all must have had an influence in broadening his view and
enriching his preaching.

One incident which occurred in our rambles was somewhat amusing. We
had tied up in the mouth of the Kinnickinnic River, and had walked
up the stream some eight or ten miles to the little village of River
Falls, where I was very well acquainted, and where the trout fishing
was excellent. It had been Eden's request that I should introduce
him simply as Captain Eden, without going into any particulars of
parentage, education, or nationality. As he wore a suit of Scotch
tweeds somewhat the worse for wear from numerous excursions after
deer, prairie chickens, and trout, there was nothing suggestive of
the Oxonian about him. In River Falls lived the only really educated
man of that locality--a graduate from Yale, both in law and divinity.
We called upon him and while discussing the country, its beauty, its
game, and its fishing, Captain Eden was toying with a book of Greek
tragedies, that lay open on the table. His apparent interest in the
strange characters in which the book was printed tempted the scholar
to remark, possibly with a slightly ironical inflection:

"I presume you read Greek on the river, Captain?"

"Oh, yes", was Captain Eden's response, "I am very fond of the Greek
tragedies, and I have read a good deal to keep in practice. I like
this passage that you were reading when we came in."

Taking the book, Captain Eden read in a beautifully modulated voice,
and with probably a perfect accent, the passage which the scholar
had marked, and which he had been reading when we called. I say,
"probably perfect accent". I had never seen a printed page of Greek
before, much less had I ever heard it read as fluently as I could
read English. The _amende_ which the scholar instantly made, and
the praises which he bestowed on the marine prodigy who captained a
little steamboat on the river, wore rough clothes, and read Greek
like a native, convinced me that his ministerial preparation had been
laid upon solid foundations, and that his accent was above criticism,
out in that country at least.

It was during this visit to River Falls that Captain Eden made the
acquaintance of Ellsworth Burnett, another nobleman, born among the
hills of Vermont, at whose farm we were guests while loading our
baskets with trout from the south fork of the Kinnickinnic, which
flowed through his farm and past his door. The friendship thus begun
undoubtedly led to Eden's going into the army, for Burnett was
largely instrumental in raising one of the companies of the regiment
in which Major Eden was commissioned, himself going out as a captain,
and returning at the close of the war as major.

[Illustration: RED WING, MINNESOTA. Showing Barn Bluff in the
background, with a glimpse of the river on the left.]

Chapter XXVI

_In War Time_

In the early spring of 1861 the "Fanny Harris" was chartered by the
United States government to go to Fort Ridgeley, up the Minnesota
River, and bring down the battery of light artillery stationed at
that post, known as the Sherman Battery, Major T. W. Sherman having
been in command long enough to have conferred his name upon the
organization, and by that it was known at the time of which I write.
It is three hundred miles from St. Paul to Fort Ridgeley by the
river; as a crow flies, the distance is about half of that. A little
more than one year after our visit there was business at and near the
fort for many crows--the gruesome occupation of picking the bones of
a thousand white people (men, women, and children) murdered by the
crafty Sioux, who saw in the withdrawal of the troops an opportunity
to avenge all their wrongs, real or imaginary, and to regain the
lands which had been sold under treaty, or which had been stolen from
them by the fast encroaching white population of the state.

The Minnesota River is the worst twisted water course in the West.
No other affluent of the Mississippi can show as many bends to the
mile throughout its course. It is a series of curves from start to
finish, the river squirming its way through an alluvial prairie from
Beaver Falls, the head of navigation, to Mendota at its mouth. Up
this crooked stream it was the problem to force the largest boat that
had ever navigated it, and a stern-wheeler at that. At the time the
trip was made, there was a nineteen-foot rise in the river, resulting
from the melting of the snow after an exceptionally hard winter. This
precluded any danger of touching bottom anywhere, but it added ten
fold to the difficulties of navigating a two hundred-foot steamboat
around the short bends for the reason that the water did not follow
the regular channel, but cut right across bends and points, so that
most of the time the current was setting squarely across the river,
catching the steamer broadside on, and driving her into the woods,
and when there holding her as in a vise. Being a stern-wheeler it was
impossible, by going ahead on one wheel and backing on the other, as
would have been done by a side-wheeler, to keep her head clear of the
bank. All this work had to be done by the men at the wheel, and they
very soon found their work cut out for them, in handling the boat
by the steering wheel and rudders alone. We had a Minnesota River
pilot on board to assist our men in steering; it was an impossibility
to lose one's self, so that his services were confined almost
exclusively to steering, and not to piloting, in its true sense. We
also had an army officer from Fort Snelling on board, to see that all
possible speed was made. His orders were to "push her through" at
whatever cost, regardless of damage.

The boat was coaled at St. Paul for the round trip, for the woodyards
were all under water, and the cord wood was adrift on its way to
St. Louis, derelict. From the time we entered the river at Fort
Snelling, two men were at the wheel all the time. I was sent to the
engine-room, my experience as a "cub" engineer rendering my services
there of more importance for the time being than in the pilot house.
I stood at one engine all day, while one of the firemen detailed
for the purpose stood at the other, to "ship up", to back, or come
ahead. There were no unnecessary bells rung. If we were going ahead
and the stopping bell rang, followed by the backing bell we threw
the rods on to their "hooks", and the engineer gave her full steam
astern. This was usually followed by a crash forward, as the boat
was thrown broadside, with almost full speed ahead, into the woods,
after having struck one of the cross currents either unguardedly, or
else one which was too strong in any case for the wheelsmen to meet
and overcome by the rudder alone. If it chanced that the bank was
overhung by trees, the forward cabin lost an additional portion of
its ornamentation.

In nearly every such instance it was necessary to get the yawl
overboard, and with four men at the oars and a steersman sculling
astern, pull to the opposite side of the river and get a line fast
to a tree. The line was then taken to the steam capstan and the boat
would be hauled out of a position from which it would have been
impossible to release her by the engines and wheel alone. This work
was kept up from daylight until dark, and when the four men came down
from the pilot house they were apt to be so exhausted that they could
scarcely stand.

The boat tied up where night overtook her. In the engine-room, as
soon as the day's run was ended, all hands set to work--engineers,
"strikers" and firemen--to replace the lost and broken wheel-arms
and buckets. This was a hard and dangerous job, for the water ran
a raging torrent, six or eight miles an hour, and the nights were
dark and rainy. It was precarious business, this getting out on
the fantails, with only the dim light of half a dozen lanterns,
unscrewing refractory nuts and bolts with a big monkey-wrench, and in
the meantime holding on by one's legs only, over such a mill tail.
Everybody engaged in this work understood fully that if he ever fell
into the water it was the end of all things to him, for he would have
been swept away in the darkness and drowned in a minute. There was no
dry land for him to reach in any direction, the river sweeping across
the country five or ten feet deep in every direction. It was usually
far past midnight when the temporary and necessary repairs were
completed, and then the engine-room force "turned in" to get three
or four hours sleep before beginning another day as full of work and
danger as the preceding.

All this time the army man either stood on the roof with the captain,
dodging falling spars, chimneys, or limbs of trees, or at the wheel
with the pilots, or paced the engine-room, and urged speed, speed,
speed. "The United States will put a new cabin on your boat. Never
mind that. Keep your wheel turning and your machinery in working
order. We must have troops in Washington at once, or there will be no
United States." It is fair to say that every man on the boat worked
as though his life depended upon his exertions. Whatever may have
been their political sympathies, there was nothing on the surface
to indicate other than the determination to get that battery to La
Crosse in the shortest possible time.

That army officer was the epitome of concentrated energy. He was
a captain and quartermaster, and representing the United States,
was practically supreme on board. He had his limitations as a
steamboatman, but thanks to the splendid equipment which his
government had given him at West Point, coupled with the experience
he had gained during many years' service in the West in moving
troops, Indians, and supplies by steamboat, he had a pretty good idea
of what needed to be done, and could judge very clearly whether the
men in charge were competent, and were doing things in the right way
and to the best advantage.

Under ordinary circumstances such a close censorship of the officers
and crew would not have been maintained, nor would it have been
tolerated if suggested. But at this time everything was at white
heat. Fort Sumter had fallen. Men were stirred as never before in
this country, and officers of the regular army particularly, who
knew better than any others the gravity of the impending conflict,
were keyed up to the highest tension by the responsibility placed
upon them. On the other hand the officers of our boat were likewise
burdened with the responsibility of safely taking a big vessel
hundreds of miles up a narrow and crooked river, just now covered
with floating drift of every description, with undermined trees
falling at every mile. They were spurred on by the thought that the
difference of a day, or even of a few hours, might determine the loss
of the nation's capital. Under these circumstances the insistence of
the army man was passed by as a matter of course.

Near Belle Plaine a council was called to decide whether an attempt
should be made to force a passage through the thin strip of timber
that fringed the river bank. If successful, this would permit of
sailing the boat a straight course for ten miles across a submerged
prairie, thus cutting off twenty miles of crooked and arduous
navigation. The Minnesota River pilot was sure that we would meet
with no obstacles after passing the fringe of timber--not a house,
barn, or haystack, as all that somewhat unusual class of obstructions
to a steamboat had been carried away by the great flood. After
discussing the plan in all its bearings, it was decided to try it as
soon as a narrow and weak place could be found in the timber belt.

Such a place, where the willows and cottonwoods were the thinnest
and smallest in diameter, was chosen for the attempt. The boat, by
reason of its length, could not be pointed straight at the "hurdle",
as the pilots facetiously dubbed it, but a quartering cut was decided
upon. The jack staff had long ago been carried away; the spars and
derricks were housed below, and a large portion of the forward roof
was already missing. It was decided, therefore, that a little more
banging would count for nothing. Everybody was cautioned to stand
clear of the guards, and look out for himself. A big head of steam
was accumulated, and then with two men at the wheel and everybody
hanging on, the "Fanny Harris" was pointed at the opposite shore,
with its lining of woods, and the throttle thrown wide open. She
jumped across the river in a minute and dove into the young timber,
crushing trees six inches in diameter flat on either side; the
water-soaked, friable soil affording no secure holding ground for
the roots, which added greatly to our chances of success. The boat
plunged through all right, with little damage, until the wheel came
in over the bank. Then there was music. Many of the trees were only
bent out of perpendicular, and when the hull passed clear these trees
rebounded to more or less perpendicular positions--enough so as to
get into the wheel and very nearly strip it of its buckets, together
with a dozen of the wheel-arms. The pilots heard the crash and rang
to stop. The engineers knew more about the damage than the pilots,
but would not have stopped the engine of their own accord had the
whole stern of the boat gone with it. It wasn't their business to
stop without orders, and they knew their business.

When the wheel stopped turning, the boat stopped. The problem then
was, to get the boat through the remaining hundred feet or more. This
was done by carrying the big anchor ahead, and taking the cable to
the steam capstan. The boat was dragged "out of the woods", and all
hands turned to replace the smashed buckets. As soon as they were in
place we steamed gaily up the current, over the prairie, clean-swept
of fences, stacks, and barns, only a few isolated houses, built on
the higher knolls, having escaped the flood. At the upper end of the
prairie a weak place was found, and with a clear start in the open
water the boat was driven through the fringe of timber, clear into
the open channel, without stopping, and this time with but little
injury to the wheel.

Couriers had been sent ahead from Fort Snelling, by pony express,
to the commanding officer of the fort, to have his battery ready to
embark as soon as the boat should arrive. It had taken us four days
to run the three hundred miles, and it was a dilapidated steamboat
that at last made fast at the landing place at the foot of the bluff,
under the shadow of Fort Ridgeley.

The fort was ideally situated for defense against Indian attacks,
for which, of course, it was alone built. It would appear, however,
that its builders had little idea that it would ever be put to the
test--such a test as it was subjected to a little more than a year
after our visit. It was located on a sort of promontory formed by the
bluff on the side next the river, and a deep ravine on the other. On
the third side of the triangle lay the open prairie, stretching away
for miles, with only a slight sprinkling of scrub oaks to obstruct
the view. The barracks, stables, and storehouse (frame structures)
were built up solidly on two sides of this triangle, next the
ravines, the windowless backs of the buildings forming the walls of
the fort. Toward the prairie, the most vulnerable face, the buildings
did not fully cover the front, there being two or three wide openings
between those that formed that side of the defenses. These openings
were covered by cannon of the battery which garrisoned the fort.

When the battery embarked for the East there were left only two or
three small howitzers in charge of a sergeant of artillery, and it
was these little pieces that saved the garrison from massacre in
August, 1862, when the fort was for many days beleaguered by eight
hundred Sioux Indians under the chief, Little Crow, leader of the
uprising in Minnesota in that year. Undoubtedly the respect that
Indians have for any sort of cannon had as much to do with their
repulse as did the actual punishment inflicted by the howitzers,
however well-served they may have been. I have a letter somewhere,
written by a distant cousin who was a colonel in the Confederate
army, relating that they had several thousand Indians in the
Confederate army upon going into the battle of Prairie Grove, and
from them they expected great things. When the "Yanks" opened with
their artillery the sound alone brought the Indian contingent to a
stand. When the gunners got the range and began to drop shells among
them, the red men remembered that they had pressing business in the
Indian Territory, and it is Colonel Merrick's opinion that they did
not stop running until they reached their tepees. It is his opinion
also that as soldiers, for use in war where Anglo-Saxons are debating
grave questions of state with twelve pounders, they are not worth a
red copper.

Chapter XXVII

_At Fort Ridgeley_

The officer in command of the battery when it left Fort Ridgeley was
Captain and Brevet Major John C. Pemberton, U. S. A. He had won his
brevet by gallant services in action at Monterey and Molino del Rey.
He accompanied the battery as far as Washington, where he resigned
(April 29, 1861), and tendered his sword to the Confederacy. He was
rapidly promoted until he reached a major-generalcy in that army, and
had the distinguished honor to surrender his army of thirty thousand
men at Vicksburg to Major General Ulysses S. Grant, July 3, 1863.
Pemberton was born in Pennsylvania, being appointed to the army from
that state, so that he had not even the flimsy excuse of serving his
state in thus betraying his country.

The battery was known as the Buena Vista Battery, or still better as
Sherman's. But Major Sherman, although long its commander, was not
with it at the time we transferred it down the river. Major Sherman
rendered distinguished service during the war, and retired (December
31, 1870) with the rank of major-general. Two other officers
were with the battery--First Lieutenant Romeyn Ayres, and Second
Lieutenant Beekman Du Barry. The battery was known in the Army of the
Potomac as Ayres's Battery, and under that name won a wide reputation
for efficiency. Ayres himself was a major general of volunteers
before the close of the war, and Lieutenant Du Barry was (May, 1865)
brevetted lieutenant-colonel for distinguished services.

At the time of our visit there was a large number of Indians encamped
on the prairie in front of the fort--estimated at seven or eight
hundred by those best versed in their manners and customs. They had
come down from the Lower Sioux Agency, sixteen miles farther up the
river. They were alive to the situation, and on the alert to learn
all they could of the "white man's war", which they had already heard
of as being fought in some far-away place, the location of which
was not clear to them, and for which they cared nothing so long as
it promised to be a contest that was likely to draw away soldiers
from the fort, and especially the "big guns", which they feared
more than they did the "dough boys". One of the best posted of the
frontiersmen, a "squaw man", who had the ear of the tribal council,
told our officers that there would be trouble when the battery was
withdrawn, for they felt themselves able successfully to fight and
exterminate the few companies of infantry left to garrison the fort.
How true this prediction was, the uprising of August, 1862, and the
Indian war in Minnesota, with its massacre at New Ulm and outlying
regions, abundantly verified.

As soon as we were made fast, the work was begun of loading cannon,
caissons, battery wagons, ammunition, and stores, as well as horses
and men. By the light of torches, lanterns, and huge bonfires built
on the bank, the work was rushed all night long, while the engineers
labored to put the engines and particularly the wheel, in the best
possible condition; and the carpenter, aided by artisans from the
fort, put on new guards forward, and strengthened the weak places
for the inevitable pounding that we knew must attend the downstream
trip. With the raging river pressing on the stern of the boat as she
descended, there was ample reason for anticipating much trouble in
handling the steamer.

The teamsters, with their six-mule teams, hurried the stores
and ammunition down the narrow roadway cut in the side of the
bluff, running perhaps half a mile along the side in making the
perpendicular descent of two hundred feet. Whatever time we had from
our duties on the boat was spent either in the fort, out in the
Indian village, or on the side hill watching the teams come down
the bluff, one after the other. Not being able to pass on the hill,
they went down together, and all went back empty at the same time.
The two hind wheels of the big army wagon were chained, so that they
slid along the ground, instead of revolving. Then the three riders,
one on each "near" mule, started the outfit down the hill, the off
mules being next the bluff, while the legs of the drivers hung out
over space on the other side. In places the wagons would go so fast,
in spite of the drag, that the mules would have to trot to keep out
of the way. This was exciting and interesting to the spectators, who
were expecting to see a team go over the precipice. The drivers did
not seem to care anything about the matter, and were no doubt well
pleased to become the centre of attraction.

Those of the spectators who had time and patience to continue the
watch were finally rewarded for their persistence, and justified in
their predictions by seeing one of these teams, with its load of
fixed ammunition, roll for a hundred feet down the bluff--men, mules,
and ammunition in one wild mix-up, rolling and racing for the bottom.
The fringe of timber alone saved the cortege from plunging into the
river. Those who saw the trip made, were betting that neither a man
nor a mule would come out alive. They all came out alive. Some of
the mules were badly scratched and banged, but not a leg was broken
among the six. The men were also badly bruised, but they also brought
all their bones out whole. One mule had his neck wound around the
wagon-tongue, his own tongue hanging out about the length of that of
the wagon, and all hands were certain of one dead mule, at least. But
when the troopers ran in and cut away the harness the mule jumped
to his feet, took in a few long breaths to make good for the five
minutes' strangulation, and then started up the roadway, dodging the
down-coming teams by a hair's-breadth, and never stopping until he
reached his corral, where he began munching hay as though nothing out
of the ordinary had happened.

The next morning everything was stowed aboard. With a salute from the
little howitzers in the fort, and the cheers of the "dough boys",
who wanted to go but could not, the "Fanny Harris" backed into the
stream, "straightened up", and began her downstream trip. I shall not
attempt to follow her down, in all her situations. With the heavy
load, and the stream behind her, it was possible to check her speed
in a measure at the bends, but totally impossible to stop her and
back her up against the current. The result was, that she "flanked"
around points that raked her whole length, and then plunged into
timber, bows on, on the opposite side of the river, ripping the
ginger-bread work, and even the guards, so that it would seem as
though the boat were going to destruction. Some of the artillerymen
were sure of it, and all of them would sooner have risked a battle
than the chance of drowning that at times seemed so imminent. We made
good time, however, and ran the three hundred miles in two running
days of daylight, laying up nights, and repairing damages as far as
possible against the next day's run.

When we rounded to at Fort Snelling landing we had one chimney about
ten feet high above deck; the other was three feet--just one joint
left above the breeching. Both escape pipes and the jack staff were
gone--we lost the latter the first day, going up. The stanchions on
both sides of the boiler deck were swept clean away, together with
liberal portions of the roof itself. The boat looked like a wreck,
but her hull was sound. The officers and crew were game to the last.
Many of them had been hurt more or less, and all had been working
until they were scarcely able to move. It was war time, however. Fort
Sumter had fallen, and the president had called for seventy-five
thousand men. We were doing our part with a will, in hastening
forward a battery that was to give a good account of itself from Bull
Run to Appomattox.

At Fort Snelling we lost two of our firemen and a number of our
deck crew, who deserted while we were lying at that place, taking
on additional stores and men. We thought it a cowardly thing to do,
under the circumstances. A few weeks later, however, we saw the two
firemen going to the front with a volunteer company from Prescott,
afterwards Company "B", 6th Wisconsin Infantry, in which "Whiskey
Jim", the Irishman, and Louis Ludloff, the "Dutchman", distinguished
themselves for valor in battle. Richardson gave his life for his
country at the Wilderness, while Ludloff fought all the way through,
rising from private to corporal, sergeant, and first sergeant, and
being wounded at Antietam and the Wilderness.

In talking with Ludloff in later years, I learned that the reason
they deserted the steamer, leaving behind their accrued wages and
even their clothes, was because they feared that they would not be
able to get in among the seventy-five thousand if they lost any time
in formalities and details. There were others, higher up in the world
than the humble firemen, who also miscalculated the length of the
impending war--by four years. Distinguished editors and statesmen,
and even soldiers, made this error. And there were a good many who
failed to "get in" even then.

We ran to La Crosse with our pieces of chimneys, which the artisans
at the Fort had helped our engineers to piece together so that the
smoke would clear the pilot house. It did not give the best of
draught; but we were going downstream on a flood, and we might have
drifted five miles an hour without any steam at all. We delivered
the battery at La Crosse, and immediately went into dry dock, where
a hundred men made short work of the repairs. The United States paid
our owners, the Minnesota Packet Company, eight thousand dollars
for the week's work. The officers and crew who earned the money for
the company were not invited to assist in its division. It was the
hardest week's work that most of us had ever known--certainly the
hardest I had ever experienced up to that time. A year or so later I
got into work fully as hard, and it lacked the pleasant accessories
of good food and a soft bed, that accompanied the strenuous days and
nights spent on the Fort Ridgeley excursion.

An incident remotely connected with this trip, offers an excellent
opportunity to philosophize on the smallness of the planet we
inhabit, and the impossibility of escaping from, or avoiding people
whom we may once have met. At a meeting of Congregationalists held
in a city far removed from the fort that stood guard on the bluffs
overhanging the Minnesota River in 1861, the writer was introduced
to Mr. Henry Standing Bear, secretary of the Young Men's Christian
Association of Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Standing Bear is a graduate
of Carlisle College, an educated and intelligent and a full-blood
Sioux Indian. In conversation with him it transpired that he was one
of the children who stared open-eyed at the steamboat lying at the
landing place below the fort in 1861, and that he was an interested
spectator of the embarkation of Sherman's Battery. He there listened
to the talk of the braves who were already planning what they would
do when the soldiers should all be withdrawn to fight the "white
man's war" in the South. Standing Bear's own father took part in
the "massacre", as we called it. Standing Bear says they themselves
called it a war. Indians may go about their killings with somewhat
more of ferocity and cruelty than do we whites, but it is their way
of making war. In either case it is "hell", as "Old Tecump" said, and
the distinctions that we draw after all make little difference in the
results. We do not have to seek very far through the pages of history
to find instances where white men have massacred helpless Indian
women and children.

A talk with Henry Standing Bear, or any other educated Indian born
amid surroundings such as his, will throw new light and new coloring
upon the Indian situation as it existed in 1861. They saw the whites
steadily encroaching upon their hunting grounds, appropriating the
best to their own use, ravishing their women, killing their men,
and poisoning whole tribes with their "fire-water". Against their
wills they were driven from their ancient homes--"removed", was the
word--after having been tricked into signing treaties that they
did not understand, couched in legal terms that they could not
comprehend, receiving in exchange for their lands a lot of worthless
bric-a-brac that vanished in a week.[H] If they protested or
resisted, they were shot down like so many wolves, and with as little
mercy. What man is there among the whites who would not fight under
such circumstances? Our forefathers fought under less provocation and
their cause has been adjudged a righteous cause.

   [H] This is a pretty wild statement on the part of Standing
   Bear, probably made through ignorance of the facts in the case
   rather than a wilful misrepresentation. In the treaty made with
   the Sioux Indians at Traverse des Sioux, July 2-3, 1851, the
   United States covenanted to pay $1,665,000 for such rights and
   title as were claimed by the Sisseton and Wahpeton tribes or
   bands in lands lying in Iowa and Minnesota. In another treaty,
   made with the M'day-wa-kon-ton and Wak-pay-koo-tay bands,
   also of the Sioux nation, the United States agreed to pay the
   further sum of $1,410,000 for the rights of these two bands
   in lands lying in Iowa and Minnesota. In addition the Sioux
   had already been paid a large sum for their rights in lands
   lying on the east side of the Mississippi, in Wisconsin--lands
   in which they really had no right of title at all, as they
   had gained whatever rights they claimed simply by driving
   back the Chippewa from the country which they had occupied
   for generations. The Sioux themselves did not, and could not,
   avail themselves of the rights so gained, and the territory was
   a debatable land for years--a fighting ground for the rival
   nations of the Sioux and Chippewa.

This is the Indian's view-point as stated by a civilized tribesman.
His fathers fought, and are dead. He was adopted by the nation,
educated, and started upon a higher plane of living, as he is free
to confess; but it is doubtful if he can be started upon a higher
plane of thinking than that upon which his blanketed forbears lived,
in spite of the cruelties to which they were born and educated. While
I am no sentimentalist on the Indian question, when I fall into the
hands of a Standing Bear I am almost persuaded that the Indian,
within his lights, is as much of a patriot as many of his bleached
brethren. As to his manhood there is no question. In the long
struggle that has taken place between himself and the white invaders,
he has always backed his convictions with his life, if need be; and
such men, if white, we call "patriots."

[Illustration: BAD AXE (NOW GENOA), WISCONSIN. Scene of the last
battle between the United States forces and the Indians under Chief
Black Hawk, August 21, 1832. The Steamer "Warrior," Captain Joseph
Throckmorton, with soldiers and artillery from Fort Crawford, Prairie
du Chien, took an active and important part in this battle.]

Chapter XXVIII

_Improving the River_

It was not until commerce on the upper river was practically a thing
of the past, that any effort was made to improve the channel for
purposes of navigation. A number of interests united to bring about
this good work when it did come--some meritorious, others purely
selfish. The steamboatmen, what was left of them, entertained the
fallacious idea that if the river were straightened, deepened,
lighted, and freed from snags and other hindrances to navigation,
there would still be some profit in running their boats, despite the
railroad competition that had so nearly ruined their business. This
was a mistaken supposition, and they were disabused of the idea only
by experience.

The mill owners of the upper river and its tributaries, who had by
this time begun to "tow through"--that is, push their rafts of logs
and lumber with a steamboat from Stillwater to St. Louis, instead
of drifting--were assured of quicker trips and greater safety
if the river was dressed up somewhat, insuring greater profits
upon their investments. Both of these parties in interest were
engaged in legitimate trade, and while there was no intention of
dividing the profits that might inure to them from an investment of
several millions of dollars of other people's money, precedent had
legitimatized the expenditure in other localities and upon other
rivers. They were well within the bounds of reason, in asking that
their own particular business might be made more profitable through
the aid of government.

A greater influence than any arguments drawn from commercial
necessities was found in the political interest involved. For years,
members of congress elected from districts in which there was a
harbor or a river which by any fiction might be legislated into a
"navigable stream", had been drawing from the federal treasury great
sums of money for the improvement of these streams and harbors; yet
some of these never floated anything larger than the government yawls
in which the engineers who did the work reached the scene of their
duties. At the same time, country members from the interior of the
great West drew nothing. The rapid settlement of the Northwestern
territories, in the year immediately following the close of the
Civil War, had an effect that was felt in the enhanced influence
exerted by members of congress representing the new commonwealths.
It followed that when the biennial distribution of "pork", as it is
expressively but inelegantly called nowadays, came up, these members
were in a position to demand their share, and get it, or defeat the
distribution _in toto_.

The war was over. The Union soldiers who had fought in it were either
dead, or if alive were hustling for a living. Hundreds of thousands
of them were found in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska, opening
up farms and developing the country. The contractors who had fattened
on their blood were hanging like leeches to every department of the
national government, clamoring for more contracts to further inflate
their already plethoric bank accounts. The river improvement appealed
strongly to this class of men. The influences that they could bring
to bear, backed by the legitimate demands of steamboatmen and mill
owners, convinced the most conscientious congressmen that their duty
lay in getting as large an appropriation as possible for the work of
river regeneration. The result was, that the river which had given
employment to three or four hundred steamboats, manned by fifteen
thousand men, without having a dollar expended in ameliorating its
conditions, suddenly became the centre of the greatest concern to
congress--and to the contractors--and all for the benefit of a dozen
steamboats in regular traffic, and perhaps a hundred boats used in
towing the output of a score of mills owned by millionaire operators.

From 1866 to 1876 there was spent on the river between the mouth
of the Missouri and St. Paul, a distance of 700 miles, the sum of
$5,200,707. That was for the ten years at the rate of $7,429 for each
mile of the river improved. It cost at that rate $742.90 per mile per
year during the decade quoted. It is doubtful if the few steamboats
engaged in traffic during that time were able to show aggregate
gross earnings of $742.90 per mile per annum. It seems a pity that
the benefit resulting from this expenditure could not have been
participated in by the great flotilla that covered the river in the
preceding decade, from 1856 to 1866.

In this expenditure we find $59,098 charged to the eleven miles of
river between St. Paul and St. Anthony Falls. It is doubtful if a
dozen trips a year were made to St. Anthony Falls during the time
noted. It was a hard trip to make against the rapid current below
the falls, and a dangerous trip to make downstream. It would seem,
however, that with the expenditure of $5,909 per year for ten years,
over only eleven miles of river, every rock (and it is all rocks)
might have been pulled ashore, and a perfect canal built up. Possibly
that is the result of all this work; I haven't been over that piece
of river since the work was completed--for one reason, among others,
that no steamboats ever go to St. Anthony Falls, now that the river
is put in order.

From St. Paul to Prescott, thirty-two miles, there was expended
$638,498 in ten years. I can readily understand why so much money was
planted in that stretch of river. Beginning at Prescott and going
toward St. Paul, there were to be found five or six of the worst
bars there are anywhere on the river; and between the accentuated
bars--bars of sufficient importance to merit names of their own--the
rest of the river was bad enough to merit at least some of the
language expended upon it by pilots who navigated it before the
improvements came. At Prescott, at the head of Puitt's Island (now
Prescott Island) or Point Douglass bar, at Nininger, at Boulanger's
Island, at Grey Cloud, at Pig's Eye, and at Frenchman's, were bars
that were the terror of all pilots and the dread of all owners
and stockholders. I will eliminate the "terror" as expressing the
feelings of the pilots. "Resignation" would perhaps be the better
word. They all knew pretty well where to go to find the best water
on any or all of the bars named; but they also knew that when they
found the best water it would be too thin to float any boat drawing
over three and a half feet. With a four-foot load line it simply
meant that the steamboat must be hauled through six inches of sand by
main strength and awkwardness, and that meant delay, big wood bills,
bigger wage-lists, wear and tear of material, and decreased earnings.
A big packet not loaded below the four-foot line, was not laden to
the money-making point. After the work of regeneration began, it was
a constant fight on the part of the engineers to maintain a four and
a half foot channel on either one of the bars named. The expenditure
of the great sums of money placed in this district is therefore
easily accounted for.

The work of improvement was, and still is carried on under the
direction of competent engineers, detailed for the service by
the chief of engineers of the United States army. No more highly
trained men in their profession can be found in the world than these
choice graduates of the most perfect institution of instruction in
the world--West Point Military Academy. Their scientific, perhaps
academic, knowledge of the laws governing the flow of water and the
shifting of sands, the erosion of banks and the silting up into
islands and continents, which are among the vagaries of the great
river, is supplemented by the practical, if unscientific, knowledge
of men who have gained their acquaintance with the river from years
of service as pilots or masters of river steamboats. The government
is shrewd enough to secure the services of such men to complement the
science of its chosen representatives. These two classes, in pairs or
by companies, have made an exhaustive study of conditions surrounding
each of the more difficult and troublesome bars, as well as all
others of lesser note, in order to decide what was needed, what kind
of work, and how to be placed to lead, or drive the water into the
most favorable channels, and there retain it under varying conditions
of flood or drought, ice jams, or any and all the conditions
contributing to the changes forever going on in the river.

These points determined, an estimate is made of the cost of
the necessary improvements, details of construction are drawn,
specifications submitted, and bids on the proposed work invited.
There were, and are, plenty of contractors, provided with boats,
tackle, stone quarries, and all else required in the prosecution
of the work. It would not be safe, however, to assume that the
government always reaped the benefit of so much competition as might
be assumed from the number of men engaged in the business. It would
be unsafe to assume that such competition has always been free
from collusion, although possibly it has been. On the other hand,
each contractor has his "beat", from which all other bidders have
religiously kept off. Not in an ostentatious manner, however, for
that might invite suspicion; but in a business-like and gentlemanly
manner, by putting in a bid just a few cents per cubic foot higher
than the man upon whose territory the work was to be done, and whose
figures have been secretly consulted before the bids were submitted.
There have been suspicions that such has been the case, more than
once, and that the work sometimes cost the government more than a
fair estimate had provided for. The contracts have been let, however,
and within the thirty years last past there have been built along the
river between Prescott and St. Paul two hundred and fifty-one dikes,
dams, revetments, and other works for controlling the flow of water
within that short stretch of thirty-two miles.

Some of these dams are long, strong, and expensive; others are
embryonic, a mere suggestion of a dam or dyke, a few feet in length,
for the protection of a particular small portion of the bank, or for
the diverting of the current. All these works, great and small, are
intended as suggestions to the mighty river that in future it must
behave itself in a seemly manner. Generally the river does take the
hint, and behaves well in these particular cases. At other times it
asserts itself after the old fashion, and wipes out a ten thousand
dollar curb in a night, and chooses for itself a new and different
channel, just as it did in the days of its savagery, fifty years

A peculiar feature attending this work for the betterment of the
river was, that in its incipient stages it met with little or no
encouragement from any of the men personally engaged in navigating
steamboats on the river. Some deemed the proposition visionary and
impracticable, while others, fearing its success, and magnifying the
results to be obtained, threw every obstacle possible in the way of
the engineers who had the work in charge. They even went so far as to
petition Congress to abandon the work, and recall the engineers who
had been detailed to prosecute it. This opposition was particularly
true of work on the lower rapids, where the great ship canal now
offers a ready and safe passage around rapids always difficult to
navigate. Sometimes, when the water had reached an unusually low
stage, they were positively impracticable for large boats. Captain
Charles J. Allen, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A., who was in charge
of the preliminary work on the lower rapids, calls attention, in
his report, to this hostility, and incidentally records his opinion
of river pilots in general, and rapids pilots in particular, in the
following far from flattering terms:

   "Most of the river pilots are possessed of but little knowledge
   beyond that required in turning the wheel; and their obstinacy
   in refusing to recognize and take advantage of good channels
   cut for them has been the experience of more than one engineer
   engaged in improving rivers. The rapids pilots in particular,
   who may lose employment, seemed to be the most hostile."

The last-named class were certainly sound in their conclusions that
the deepening, straightening and lighting of the rapids would take
away their business. There is, therefore, little wonder that they
were not enthusiastic in their support of the proposed improvements,
which were, if successful, to deprive them of the means of
livelihood. Perhaps the gentlemen of the engineer corps would not be
enthusiastic over a proposition to disband the United States army,
and muster out all its officers. The results justified the fears of
the rapids pilots. Any pilot could take his boat over, after the
improvements were completed, and rapids piloting, as a distinctive
business, was very nearly wiped out.

The slur of the West Pointer loses its point, however, with any
one who has known many Mississippi River pilots. They knew a great
many things besides "turning the wheel." Even had they known only
that, they carried around under their hats special knowledge not to
be sneezed at, even by a West Pointer. Later, all the men on the
river came to recognize the benefits accruing from the work of the
Mississippi River Commission, and none more heartily testified to the
success of the work than the pilots and masters of the river craft.
There were, indeed, none so well qualified to judge of results as

The work once begun was prosecuted with vigor. The voice of the great
Northwest was potent in Washington, and in the ten years from 1866
to 1876 more than five millions of dollars were expended between
Minneapolis and the mouth of the Missouri.[I]

   [I] See Appendix D.

The first thought of the government engineers to whom was entrusted
the duty of improving the river, was naturally in the direction
of securing and maintaining a greater depth of water. This was
to be accomplished by so curbing and controlling the flow that it
would follow the channel decided upon, at all times and under all
conditions. The dikes and wing dams, which were built by the hundred,
served this purpose in a degree, and the flow of water was controlled
to a fairly satisfactory extent.

Then the menaces to navigation were considered, and measures taken
for their elimination. Of the two hundred and ninety-five recorded
steamboat wrecks on the Missouri River between 1842 and 1895, a
hundred and ninety-three, or about two-thirds of all, were by
snagging. I presume this proportion would be maintained on the upper
Mississippi, if a similar compilation were at hand to decide the
point. The problem was to get rid of this greatest of all dangers to
steamboats. There was but one way, and that was to pull them out and
carry them away, or cut them up and so dispose of them that the same
snag would not have to be pulled out at each recurring rise of water,
from other parts of the river.

Having no steamboats fitted for the business in that early day
(1866), the contract system was resorted to. This was found to be
costly and unsatisfactory. Contractors agreed to remove snags at
so much per snag, within certain lengths and estimated weights,
they furnishing the steamboats and machinery necessary for the
work. In order to make the business pay, they had to find snags,
somewhere. When they were not to be found in or near the channel,
they were obtained in any place--chutes, bayous, and sloughs where
no steamboat ever ran, or ever would run. After a trip or two up
and down the river, there were not enough snags left to make the
pulling profitable, and of course the work was given over. But the
first rise brought down a new supply of snags to lodge in the channel
of the falling river, and pilots set to dodging them, just as they
had done before the pulling began. To be of the highest efficiency,
the work must be continuous. This was deemed impossible under the
contract system, and the engineers in charge recommended the purchase
of two suitable steamboats for the upper river, to be fitted with
improved machinery for lifting and disposing of the snags fished
out of the river. These boats were to be manned and officered by
the government, and placed in charge of an engineer detailed by the
War Department. They were continuously to patrol the river during
the season of navigation, removing every snag as soon as located,
assisting steamboats in distress, cutting overhanging trees, placing
guide-boards and crossing lights where needed, maintaining the same
after being established, and giving their whole time and attention
to the work of river improvement. This suggestion was carried into
effect, and two steamboats purchased and fitted for the work.

In 1866 Colonel Dodge, of the Corps of Engineers, who had had large
experience in the work of river improvement, realizing the necessity
for dredging the shoalest places, in addition to directing the water
by dikes and dams, invented a dredge to be attached to a steamboat,
and operated by steam machinery, for the purpose of plowing out and
scraping away the sand as it accumulated on the worst bars and reefs.
Two or three experimental machines were built by a St. Paul mechanic
upon the order of the United States officials, and under their
supervision. These were attached to derricks, placed on the bows of
the steamboats secured for the work, suspended by stout chains, and
operated by steam. The boat, headed up river, was run to the head of
the reef; the dredge was then lowered, and the boat backed downstream
in the line of the channel. The dredge, twenty feet wide, stirred up
the sand, and the scraper attachment drew it down to the foot of the
reef, where the dredge was hoisted up and the current carried away
the released sand into deep water. The boat was again run to the head
of the reef and the operation repeated, each "scrape" being about
the width of the dredge, the pilot so placing his boat each time as
exactly to match the last preceding draft, without going over the
same ground a second time.

The machine was found to work to perfection, and to be of even
greater practical utility in keeping open a navigable channel than
the dikes and wing dams, as there is a constant filling in of sand at
the foot of every channel artificially formed by contracting the flow
of water. The dredge hauls this sand away as it accumulates, and by
deepening the water in the channel does much toward attracting the
steady flow of water to the particular lines so dredged.

Chapter XXIX

_Killing Steamboats_

The upper Mississippi has always been, comparatively, a remarkably
healthy stream for steamboats. A great proportion of the craft ending
their days there, have died of old age, and have been decorously
consigned to the scrap pile instead of meeting the tragic end usually
assigned them by writers. In many cases where it is supposed or
known that a steamboat of a certain name met destruction by fire or
snag, the historian who attempts to verify such statement will have
great difficulty in deciding just which boat bearing the name was
the victim of that particular casualty. The fact is, that the same
name was conferred, time after time, on boats built to take the place
of those sunk, burned, or otherwise put out of commission. As early
as 1840 there was the "Pike No. 8" on the lower river, indicating
that there had been a procession of "Pikes." There was also, at the
same time, the "Ben Franklin No. 7." Boats thus named were called
simply "Pike" or "Ben Franklin", the number not appearing on the
wheelhouses, save in rare cases. All the other "Pikes" having gone
to the bottom, there was but one "Pike" afloat. When reference was
ordinarily made to the boat by that name, the auditors knew at once
that the speaker referred to the boat then in commission. But should
you mention that "When the "Pike" or the "Ben Franklin" was snagged,
or burned, or blew up", in order fully to be understood you must
designate the particular "Pike", and add such other details, as would
leave no room for doubt which boat by that name you referred to,
thus: "Pike No. 6 snagged at such a tow-head, or on such a bend; or
burned in the year 1839 at Hannibal."

Steamboat owners and captains seem to have had no superstitious
objections to thus naming or commanding a successor to the
unfortunate one gone before. Before the first was comfortably
settled in the mud of the Mississippi, an order had gone on to the
shipyard, and in less than a week the keel was on the stocks for
its successor. If the first was a "Galena", or a "War Eagle", the
second also was a "Galena" or a "War Eagle". This was before the
fashion came into vogue of naming boats after persons, instead of
impersonal objects. There were not names enough to go around, and
thus it came about that the "Warriors", "Post Boys", "Telegraphs",
and "War Eagles" were worked overtime, to the great confusion of any
one attempting to localize a disaster that had happened to one of
that name in times past. It was possible to read to-day of the total
loss of the "War Eagle", for instance; yet a month or more hence
you might hear of the arrival of the "War Eagle" at St. Paul with
a full cargo and passenger list. The boats might go to the bottom,
but the names went on forever. "Post Boy" was another favorite name
handed down from boat to boat, until seven or eight "Post Boys" had
been launched, run their appointed courses, and met their fate, all
within the span of less than forty years--an average of about five
years to the boat--which was a good average for old-time steamers.
On the upper river there were, among others, three "Burlingtons",
two "Chippewas", two "Danubes", two "Denmarks", two "Dr. Franklins",
three "Dubuques", two "Galenas", three "St. Pauls", three "War
Eagles", and many others, doublets and triplets. All of which tends
much to confuse one who is attempting to run down and locate the
history and final disposition of boats bearing those names.

So far as I can learn, there is no reliable record of all the losses
on the upper river, giving the name of the boat, where, when, and
how lost. It is possible that the final disposition of boats lost
above St. Louis, is as fully covered in the list appended to the end
of this book, as anywhere else extant. Such a record has been made
for the Missouri River by Captain M. H. Chittenden, of the United
States Engineers--a very complete and historically valuable statement
of the losses on that stream. Other records are too comprehensive,
attempting to give all the losses through the entire length of the
river, from New Orleans to St. Paul. While covering so much more,
territorially, they lack in the detail that makes the compilation of
real worth.

Most writers attach particular stress to boiler explosions, probably
from the fact that they are more spectacular, and the consequent loss
of life usually greater. When a boat is snagged, it is generally
possible to run her ashore in time to save the passengers and crew,
although the vessel itself may prove a total loss. When a boiler
explodes, the boat becomes immediately helpless, so that it cannot be
run ashore, which occasions the considerable loss of life. In cases
of explosion, also, the boat almost invariably burns in the middle of
the river, and there is little chance for escape; for it is next to
impossible to reach the lifeboats carried on the roof, and if reached
it is seldom found possible to launch them.

Before considering the reported losses on all the Western waters it
will be interesting to locate, as far as possible, the casualties
on the Mississippi between St. Louis and St. Paul, the division or
section of the river usually denominated as "upper". In my list of
upper-river boats,[J] there are noted all losses of which I have
found any record. The list comprises about three hundred and sixty
steamers that have made one or more trips above Rock Island. The
boats plying above St. Louis, but not going above the upper rapids,
have not been included in this list, thus excluding all the Alton
Line vessels, and the Illinois River craft. Of the three hundred and
sixty boats so listed, there are to be found records of seventy-three
losses between St. Louis and St. Paul, including the port of St.
Louis, which has been a veritable graveyard for steamboats. About
a dozen other boats were lost after going into the Missouri River
trade, but these are not included in the number stated. The record
extends over the period between 1823 and 1863, inclusive. An analysis
of the causes of such losses shows that thirty-two boats were snagged
and sunk (total losses only are included; those raised, are not
counted as losses); sixteen were burned; ten were sunk by ice; five
were stove in by hitting rocks, and sank; three sank by striking
bridges; three were sunk by Confederate batteries during the war;
two were lost from boiler explosions; one was torn to pieces by a
tornado, and one struck a wreck of another boat and sank on top of
the first wreck.

   [J] See Appendix: "Upper Mississippi River Steamboats,

What became of the other boats included in the list, I am unable to
learn. The United States government appears never to have printed a
report (or reports) showing the fate of the hundreds of steamboats
over which it maintained an official watch-care while they were in
active service. It would seem to have paid more attention to boiler
explosions than to any other cause of disaster; for the reason,
possibly, that it is supposed to have held itself, through its
inspectors, more or less responsible for the condition of steam
boilers. Still, as it also, through another set of inspectors, looks
after the hulls of all steamboats, there would seem to be no reason
why the loss of boats by snagging, or other similar causes affecting
the hulls, should not also have been reported.

It will be observed that nearly one-half the known losses on the
upper river between 1823 and 1863 were the result of snagging.
Captain Chittenden, in his report on steamboat losses on the Missouri
from 1842 to 1897, gives the snags credit for catching 193 boats out
of a total loss of 295, or two-thirds of all known losses. Owing to
its alluvial banks, and the consequent eating away of wooded points
and islands by the ever changing current of that most erratic of
rivers, the bed of the stream was literally sown with snags. The
wonder of it is, that a pilot was able ever to take a boat up and
back a thousand miles, without hitting a snag and losing his boat.
They did it, however, although the record of losses from that cause
serves to show how imminent the danger was at all times, and how
many came to grief, however sharp the eyes of the pilot, or however
skilled in reading the surface of the water and locating the danger.

The upper Mississippi has more miles of rock bluffs--in fact, is
lined with such bluffs from Keokuk to St. Paul; thus the wear and
tear of its banks is not so great as on the Missouri. Still, the
great number of islands, heavily wooded, furnish many sunken trees,
and one-half of the steamboat loss on this river is also directly
traceable to snags.

Next to the snags, which are forever reaching out their gnarled
arms to impale the unfortunate, fire is the greatest enemy of
steamboat property on Western waters. Built of the lightest and most
combustible pine, soaked with oil paint, the upper works are like
tinder when once alight, and danger of this is ever present in a
hundred different forms. A little explosion in the furnaces, throwing
live coals over the deck; over-heated smokestacks, communicating a
blaze to the roof; careless passengers or crew, throwing half-burned
matches on deck or into inflammable merchandise in the freight; or
the mass of sparks, cinders, and live coals continuously falling from
the stacks, especially when burning wood in the furnaces: all these
are a constant menace, and with a blaze once started the chances are
a hundred to one that the boat is lost. A lighted match thrown into
a haymow can scarcely bring quicker results than a little blaze in
the upper works of a steamboat. It flashes up in an instant, and the
draft generated by the progress of the boat instantly carries it the
length of the cabin. In fifteen minutes the upper works are gone.
Sixteen Mississippi boats out of seventy were burned; twenty-five of
295, on the Missouri. As in losses from ice, so also by fire, St.
Louis has been the storm centre, and for the same reason namely,
the great number of boats there, both summer and winter. Several
visitations from this most dreaded and dreadful enemy of steamboats
are recorded in the history of river navigation, in which two or more
boats were lost while at the St. Louis landing. But the one which is
known far and wide on Western waters was of such magnitude, and the
property loss so great, as to earn for it the title of the "Great

This, the most disastrous of all calamities which ever occurred in
the history of navigation in the West, commenced at about 10 o'clock
in the evening of May 17, 1849, and continued until 7 o'clock the
next morning. Captain Chittenden, the historian of the Missouri
River, says, in describing this catastrophe:

   "Fire alarms had been heard several times early in the
   evening, but nothing had come of them, until about the hour
   above-mentioned, when it was found that fire had broken out in
   earnest on the steamer "White Cloud", which lay at the wharf
   between Wash and Cherry Streets. The "Endors" lay just above
   her and the "Edward Bates" below. Both caught fire. At this
   time a well-intended but ill-considered, effort to stop the
   progress of the fire was made by some parties, who cut the
   "Edward Bates's" moorings and turned her into the stream. The
   boat was soon caught by the current and carried down the river;
   but a strong northeast wind bore it constantly in shore, and
   every time it touched it ignited another boat. An effort was
   now made to turn other boats loose before the "Edward Bates"
   could reach them, but a fatality seemed to attend every effort.
   The burning boat outsped them all, and by frequent contacts set
   fire to many more. These in turn ignited the rest, until in a
   short time the river presented the spectacle of a vast fleet
   of burning vessels, drifting slowly along the shore. The fire
   next spread to the buildings, and before it could be arrested
   had destroyed the main business portion of the city. It was
   the most appalling calamity that had ever visited St. Louis;
   and followed as it was by the great cholera scourge of 1849,
   it was a terrible disaster. At the levee there were destroyed
   twenty-three steamboats, three barges, and one small boat. The
   total valuation of boats and cargoes was estimated at about
   $440,000, and the insurance was but $225,000; but this was
   not all paid, for the fire broke up several of the insurance

Ice also plays an important part in the game of steamboat killing.
The season on the upper river is short at best. An early start in
the spring, before the railroads had yet reached St. Paul, brought
the greatest financial returns to the daring and successful captains
who, bringing their boats through all the dangers, arrived safely in
harbor at the head of navigation. Great chances were taken in the
fifties, in trying to get through Lake Pepin before it was clear of
ice. The river above and below was usually clear two weeks before
the ice was out of the lake sufficiently to enable a boat to force
its way through. During the last week of such embargo, boats were
constantly butting the ice at either end of the lake, trying to get
up or down, or were perilously coasting along the shore, where, from
the shallowness of the water and the inflow from the banks, the ice
had rotted more than in the centre of the lake. A change of wind, or
a sudden freshening, catching a boat thus coasting along the shore,
would shove her on to the rocks or sand, and crush her hull as though
it were an eggshell. The "Falls City" was thus caught and smashed. I
myself saw the "Fire Canoe" crushed flat, in the middle of the lake,
a little below Wacouta, Minn., she having run down a mile or more
in the channel which we had broken with the "Fanny Harris". We had
just backed out, for Captain Anderson had seen signs of a rising wind
out of the west, that would shut the ice into our track. This result
did follow after the other boat had gone in, despite the well-meant
warnings of Anderson, who hailed the other boat and warned them of
the rising wind and the danger to be apprehended. This caution was
ignored by the "Fire Canoe's" captain, who ran his boat down into the
channel that we had broken. The ice did move as predicted, slowly, so
slowly as to be imperceptible unless you sighted by some stationary
object. But it was as irresistible as fate, and it crushed the
timbers of the "Fire Canoe" as though they were inch boards instead
of five-inch planks. The rending of her timbers was plainly heard two
miles away. The upper works were left on the ice, and later we ran
down and picked the crew and passengers off the wreck. When the wind
changed and blew the other way, the cabin was turned over and ground
to splinters amid the moving cakes.

In 1857 the "Galena" was the first boat through the lake (April
30th). There were twelve other boats in sight at one time, all
butting the ice in the attempt to force a passage and be the first to
reach St. Paul. Of the boats lost on the Missouri River between 1842
and 1897, twenty-six were lost from ice; on the upper Mississippi, up
to 1863, ten boats succumbed to the same destroyer.

Not only in Lake Pepin, in the early spring, was this danger to be
apprehended; but in autumn also, in the closing days of navigation,
when the young "anchor ice" was forming, and drifting with the
current, before it had become attached to the banks, and formed the
winter bridge over the river. This was a most insidious danger. The
new ice, just forming under the stress of zero weather, cut like a
knife; and while the boat might feel no jar from meeting ice fields
and solitary floating cakes, all the time the ice was eating its way
through the firm oak planking, and unless closely watched the bow of
the boat would be ground down so thin that an extra heavy ice floe,
striking fairly on the worn planking, would stave the whole bow in,
and the boat would go to the bottom in spite of all attempts to stop
the leak. The "Fanny Harris" was thus cut down by floating ice and
sank in twenty feet of water, opposite Point Douglass, being a total
loss. Ordinarily, boats intending to make a late trip to the north
were strengthened by spiking on an extra armor sheathing of four-inch
oak plank at the bow, and extending back twenty or thirty feet.

It is a singular fact that the greatest damage from ice was not
experienced at the far north of the upper river, but at the southern
extremity of the run; although many other boats were lost on the
upper reaches, at wide intervals of time and place. St. Louis was
a veritable killing place for steamboats, from the ice movements.
This may be accounted for from the reason that so many boats
wintered at St. Louis. When a break-up of extraordinary magnitude or
unseasonableness did occur, it had a large number of boats to work
upon. Again, the season of cold, while long and severe on the upper
river, was distinctly marked as to duration. There was no thawing and
freezing again. When the river closed in November, it stayed closed
until the latter end of March, or the early days of April. Then,
when the ice went out, that ended the embargo; there was no further
danger to be feared. Boats did not usually leave their snug-harbors
until the ice had run out; and when they did start, they had only
Lake Pepin to battle with. At St. Louis, on the contrary, the most
disastrous break-ups came unseasonably and unexpectedly, with the
result that the great fleet of boats wintering there were caught
unprepared to meet such an emergency, and many were lost.

Two such disastrous movements of the ice were experienced at St.
Louis, the first in 1856, the other in 1876. The former "break-up"
occurred February 27, and resulted in the destruction of a score of
the finest boats in the St. Louis trade, and the partial wrecking of
as many more. It put out of commission in a few hours nearly forty
boats, a catastrophe unequalled in magnitude, either before or since,
in the annals of the river. The disaster was not caused in the usual
way, by the thawing of the ice. In that case it would not have been
so disastrous, if indeed to be feared at all, that being the usual
and normal manner of clearing the river in the spring. The winter had
been very cold, the ice was two or three feet thick, and the water
very low. In this case the movement of the ice was caused by a sudden
rise in the river from above, which caused the ice to move before it
was much, if any, disintegrated. It was an appalling and terrible
exhibition of the power of the Great River when restrained in its
course. The following account is from a St. Louis paper, printed at
the time:

   "The ice at first moved very slowly and without any perceptible
   shock. The boats lying above Chestnut Street were merely shoved
   ashore. Messrs. Eads & Nelson's Submarine boat No. 4, which had
   just finished work on the wreck of the "Parthenia", was almost
   immediately capsized, and became herself a hopeless wreck.
   Here the destruction commenced. The "Federal Arch" parted her
   fastenings and became at once a total wreck. Lying below her
   were the steamers "Australia", "Adriatic", "Brunette", "Paul
   Jones", "Falls City", "Altoona", "A. B. Chambers", and the
   "Challenge", all of which were torn away from shore as easily
   as if they had been mere skiffs, and floated down with the
   immense fields of ice. The shock and the crashing of these
   boats can better be imagined than described. All their ample
   fastenings were as nothing against the enormous flood of ice,
   and they were carried down apparently fastened and wedged
   together. The first obstacles with which they came in contact
   were a large fleet of wood-boats, flats, and canal boats. These
   small fry were either broken to pieces, or were forced out on
   to the levee in a very damaged condition. There must have been
   at least fifty of these smaller water craft destroyed, pierced
   by the ice, or crushed by the pressure of each against the

   "In the meantime some of the boats lying above Chestnut Street
   fared badly. The "F. X. Aubrey" was forced into the bank and
   was considerably damaged. The noble "Nebraska", which was
   thought to be in a most perilous position, escaped with the
   loss of her larboard wheel and some other small injuries. A
   number of the upper river boats lying above Chestnut Street,
   were more or less damaged. Both the Alton wharf-boats were sunk
   and broken in pieces. The old "Shenandoah" and the "Sam Cloon"
   were forced away from the shore and floated down together,
   lodging against the steamer "Clara", where they were soon torn
   to pieces and sunk by a collision with one of the ferry-boats
   floating down upon them. The Keokuk wharf-boat maintained its
   position against the flood and saved three boats, the "Polar
   Star", "Pringle", and "Forest Rose", none of which were injured.

   "After running about an hour the character of the ice changed
   and it came down in a frothy, crumbled condition, with an
   occasional solid piece. At the end of two hours it ran very
   slowly, and finally stopped at half past five o'clock, P. M.
   Just before the ice stopped and commenced to gorge, huge piles,
   twenty and thirty feet in height were forced up by the current
   on every hand, both on the shore and at the lower dike, where
   so many boats had come to a halt. In fact these boats seemed to
   be literally buried in ice.

   "The levee on the morning after the day of the disaster
   presented a dreary and desolate spectacle, looking more like a
   scene in the polar regions than in the fertile and beautiful
   Mississippi Valley. The Mississippi, awakened from her long
   sleep, was pitching along at a wild and rapid rate of speed,
   as if to make up for lost time. The ice-coat of mail was torn
   into shreds, which lay strewn along the levee, and was in some
   places heaped up to a height of twenty feet above the level of
   the water. Where the boats had lain in crowds only a few hours
   before, nothing was to be seen save this high bulwark of ice,
   which seemed as if it had been left there purposely to complete
   the picture of bleak desolation. The whole business portion
   of the levee was clear of boats, except the two wrecked Alton
   wharf-boats, which were almost shattered to pieces, and cast
   like toys upon the shore in the midst of the ridge of ice.
   There was not a single boat at the levee which entirely escaped
   injury by the memorable breaking up of the ice on February 27,

[Illustration: REED'S LANDING, MINNESOTA. At the foot of Lake Pepin.
During the ice blockade in the Lake, in the spring of each year
before the advent of railroads to St. Paul, all freight was unloaded
at Reed's Landing, hauled by team to Wacouta, at the head of the
Lake, where it was reloaded upon another steamboat for transportation
to St. Paul and other ports above the Lake.]

Chapter XXX

_Living It Over Again_

One day in the spring of 1881, after having finished the business
that had called me to St. Paul from my home in River Falls, Wisconsin
(where I was a railway agent and newspaper proprietor combined), I
was loafing about the Grand Central Station, killing time until my
train should be ready to start. The big whistle of a big boat drew
me to the adjacent wharf of the Diamond Jo Line. The craft proved
to be the "Mary Morton". As soon as the lines were fast, the stages
in position, and the first rush of passengers ashore, I walked
aboard and up to the office. A small man, past middle life, his hair
somewhat gray, was writing in a big book which I recognized as the
passenger journal. By the same token I realized that I was in the
presence of the chief clerk, even if I had not already seen the "mud"
clerk hard at work on the levee, checking out freight. I spoke to
the occupant of the office, and after a few questions and counter
questions I learned that he was Charley Mathers, who had been on the
river before 1860 as chief clerk, and he in turn learned my name and
former standing on the river. From him I learned that the chief pilot
of the steamer was Thomas Burns. It did not take a great while to get
up to the pilot house. I would not have known my old chief had I not
been posted in advance by Mr. Mathers. This man was grey instead of
brown, and had big whiskers, which the old Tom did not have. He was
sitting on the bench, smoking his pipe and reading a book. He looked
up as I entered, and questioned with his eyes what the intrusion
might mean, but waited until I should state my business. It took some
minutes to establish my identity; but when I did I received a cordial

And then we talked of old times and new, and war times too--for he
had gone out as captain in an Illinois regiment at the same time that
I went out as a Wisconsin soldier. From a pilot's view point the old
times were simply marvelous as compared with the present. A hundred
and fifty dollars a month, now, as against six hundred then; and a
"wild" pilot, picking up seventeen hundred dollars in one month as
was done by one man in 1857. Now he couldn't catch a wild boat if he
waited the season through--there are none. We went over the river,
the steamboats, and the men as we knew them in 1860; and then we went
down below and hunted up George McDonald, the good old Scotchman,
who never swore at you through the speaking tube, no matter how
many bells you gave him in a minute, and who never got rattled,
however fast you might send them; who never carried more steam than
the license called for, and who never missed a day's duty. The same
banter had to be gone through with, with the same result--he had
forgotten the slim youth who "shipped up" for him twenty years ago,
but whom he promptly recalled when given a clue. And then, it being
train time, we all walked across to the station and Burns invited me
to take a trip with him, next time, down to St. Louis and back, and
work my way at the wheel.

I knew that I had not yet been weaned from the spokes, and doubted
if I ever should be. I said that I would try, and I did. I filed an
application for the first leave of absence I had ever asked for from
the railroad company, and it was granted. I found a man to assist
the "devil" in getting out my paper, he doing the editing for pure
love of editing, if not from love of the editor. We set our house in
order, packed our trunk and grips, and when the specified fortnight
was ended, we (my wife, my daughter, and myself) were comfortably
bestowed in adjoining staterooms in the ladies' cabin of the "Mary
Morton", and I was fidgeting about the boat, watching men "do things"
as I had been taught, or had seen others do, twenty years ago or more.

The big Irish mate bullied his crew of forty "niggers", driving them
with familiar oaths, to redoubled efforts in getting in the "last"
packages of freight, which never reached the last. Among the rest,
in that half hour, I saw barrels of mess pork--a whole car load
of it, which the "nigger" engine was striking down into the hold.
Shades of Abraham! pork _out_ of St. Paul! Twenty years before, I
had checked out a whole barge load (three hundred barrels) through
from Cincinnati, by way of Cairo. Cincinnati was the great porkopolis
of the world, while Chicago was yet keeping its pigs in each back
yard, and every freeholder "made" his own winter's supply of pork
for himself. The steward in charge of the baggage was always in the
way with a big trunk on the gangway, just as of old. The engineers
were trying their steam, and slowly turning the wheel over, with the
waste cocks open, to clear the cylinders of water. The firemen were
coaxing the beds of coal into fiercer heats. The chief clerk compared
the tickets which were presented by hurrying passengers, with the
reservation sheet, and assigned rooms, all "the best", to others who
had no reservations. The "mud" clerk checked his barrels and boxes,
and scribbled his name fiercely and with many flourishes to last
receipts. The pilot on watch, Mr. Burns, sat on the window ledge in
the pilot house, and waited. The captain stood by the big bell, and
listened for the "All ready, Sir!" of the mate. As the words were
spoken, the great bell boomed out one stroke, the lines slacked away
and were thrown off the snubbing posts. A wave of the captain's
hand, a pull at one of the knobs on the wheel-frame, the jingle of a
bell far below, the shiver of the boat as the great wheel began its
work, and the bow of the "Mary Morton" swung to the south; a couple
of pulls at the bell-ropes, and the wheel was revolving ahead; in a
minute more the escape pipes told us that she was "hooked up", and
with full steam ahead we were on our way to St. Louis. And I was
again in the pilot house with my old chief, who bade me "show us what
sort of an education you had when a youngster".

Despite my forty years I was a boy again, and Tom Burns was the
critical chief, sitting back on the bench with his pipe alight, a
comical smile oozing out of the corners of mouth and eyes, for all
the world like the teacher of old.

The very first minute I met the swing of the gang-plank derrick
(there is no jack staff on the modern steamboat, more's the pity),
with two or three spokes when one would have been a plenty, yawing
the boat round "like a toad in a hailstorm", as I was advised. I
could feel the hot blood rushing to my cheeks, just as it did twenty
years before under similar provocation, when the eye of the master
was upon me. I turned around and found that Mr. Burns had taken it
in, and we both laughed like boys--as I fancy both of us were for the

But I got used to it very soon, getting the "feel of it", and as the
"Mary Morton" steered like a daisy I lined out a very respectable
wake; although Tom tried to puzzle me a good deal with questions as
to the landmarks, most of which I had forgotten save in a general way.

When eight bells struck, Mr. Link, Mr. Burns's partner, came into
the pilot house; that let me out, and after an introduction by Mr.
Burns, Mr. Link took the wheel. He was a young man, of perhaps thirty
years of age. We lingered a few minutes to watch him skilfully run
Pig's Eye, and then went down to dinner, and had introductions all
around--to Captain Boland, Mr. Mathers, Mr. McDonald, and other

I took the wheel again, later in the afternoon. It was easy steering,
and there was no way of getting out of the channel, for a time; and
later I found that some things were taking on a familiar look--that
I had not forgotten all of the river, and things were shaping
themselves, as each new point or bend was reached, so that very
little prompting was necessary.

I had the wheel from Pine Bend to Hastings, where I was given
permission to step on the end of a board lever fixed in the floor of
the pilot house, on one side of the wheel, and give the signal of the
Diamond Jo Line for the landing--two long blasts, followed by three
short ones. Here was another innovation. In old times you had to
hold your wheel with one hand while you pulled a rope to blow for a
landing, which was sometimes a little awkward. This was a very little
thing, but it went with the landing-stage derrick, the electric
search-light, and a score of other improvements that had come aboard
since I walked ashore two decades before.

A mile or two below Hastings I saw the "break" on the surface of the
water which marked the resting-place of the "Fanny Harris", on which
I had spent so many months of hard work, but which, looked back upon
through the haze of twenty years, now seemed to have been nothing but
holiday excursions.

At Prescott I looked on the familiar water front, and into the attic
windows where with my brother I had so often in the night watches
studied the characteristics of boats landing at the levee. Going
ashore I met many old-time friends, among whom was Charles Barnes,
agent of the Diamond Jo Line, who had occupied the same office on the
levee since 1858, and had met every steamboat touching the landing
during all those years. He was the Nestor of the profession, and was
one of the very few agents still doing business on the water front
who had begun such work prior to 1860. Since then, within a few years
past, he also has gone, and that by an accident, while still in the
performance of duties connected with the steamboat business.

Dropping rapidly down the river, we passed Diamond Bluff without
stopping, but rounded to at Red Wing for passengers and freight, and
afterward headed into a big sea on Lake Pepin, kicked up by the high
south wind that was still blowing. We landed under the lee of the
sand-spit at Lake City, and after getting away spent the better part
of an hour in picking up a barge load of wheat, that was anchored out
in the lake.

By a wise provision of the rules for the government of pilots,
adopted since I left the river, no one is permitted in the pilot
house except the pilot on watch, or his partner, after the sidelights
have been put up. For this reason I could not occupy my chosen
place at the wheel after sunset; but I found enough to occupy my
time down below in the engine-room, watching the great pitman walk
out and in, to and from the crank-shaft, listening to the rush of
the water alongside as it broke into a great wave on either side,
and to the churning of the wheel, and all the while discussing old
times with George McDonald. As the wind was still high and the water
rough, I had an opportunity to see Mr. McDonald answer bells, which
came thick and furious for a good while before we were well fast to
the levee at Reed's Landing. There was no excitement, however, and
no rushing from side to side as in the old days, to "ship up". He
stood amidship, his hand on the reversing bar, just as a locomotive
engineer sits with his hand on the bar of his engine. When the bell
rang to set her back, he pulled his lever full back, and then opened
his throttle without moving a step. After getting started, and under
full way, he simply "hooked her back" three or four notches, and the
old-time "short link" operation had been performed without taking a
step. A great advance in twenty years! But why wasn't it thought of
fifty years ago? I don't know. The same principle had been in use
on locomotives from the start. It is simple enough now, on steamboat
engines. Perhaps none of the old-timers thought of it.

I turned in at an early hour, and lay in the upper berth, listening
to the cinders skating over the roof a couple of feet above my face,
and translating the familiar sounds that reached me from engine-room
and roof--the call for the draw at the railroad bridge, below the
landing; the signal for landing at Wabasha; the slow bell, the
stopping-bell, the backing-bell, and a dozen or twenty unclassified
bells, before the landing was fully accomplished; the engineer trying
the water in the boilers; the rattle of the slice-bars on the sides
of the furnace doors as the firemen trimmed their fires; and one new
and unfamiliar sound from the engine-room--the rapid exhaust of the
little engine driving the electric generator, the only intruder among
the otherwise familiar noises, all of which came to my sleepy senses
as a lullaby.

I listened for anything which might indicate the passage of the once
dreaded Beef Slough bar, but beyond the labored breathing of the
engines, that at times indicated shoaling water, there was nothing by
which to identify our old-time enemy. So listening, I fell asleep.

"Breakfast is ready, sah", was the pleasant proclamation following a
gentle rapping on the stateroom door. Very refreshing, this, compared
with the sharp manifesto of the olden-days watchman: "Twelve o'clock;
turn out"!

The "Morton" was ploughing along between Victory and De Soto. By the
time justice had been done to the well-cooked and well-served meal,
the boat had touched at the latter port and taken on a few sacks of
barley (potential Budweiser), consigned to one of the big St. Louis
breweries. Mr. Link was at the wheel, and as a good understanding
had been reached the day before, there was no question as to who was
going to do the steering. Mr. Link took the bench and talked river as
only a lover could talk, while I picked out the course by the aid of
diamond boards and ancient landmarks, without asking many questions.
A suggestion now and then: "Let her come in a little closer". "Now
you may cross over". "Look out for the snag in the next bend", and
like cautions were all that was necessary.

And the pleasure of it! The beautiful morning in June, the woods
alive with songbirds; the bluffs and islands a perfect green; the
river dimpling under the caresses of a gentle breeze, and blushing
rosy under the ardent gaze of the morning sun--a picture of
loveliness not to be outdone anywhere in the wide world. And then
the sense of power that comes to one who has learned to handle a
steamboat with a touch of the wheel, in taking a long bend, a mile
or more in length, without moving the wheel an inch, the rudders so
slightly angled as to guide the boat along the arc of a circle which
would be ten miles in diameter, could it be extended to completion,
and leaving a wake as true as if drawn by a pair of dividers!

We did not go into Prairie du Chien, but with the glasses the old
French town could be discerned across the island and the slough;
it claims to be two hundred years old, and it looked its age. Time
was when Prairie du Chien, the terminus of the railroad nearest to
St. Paul and the upper river, gave promise of being a big city, the
outlet and _entrepôt_ for the trade of a great territory. Her people
believed in her, and in her great future. A dozen steamboats might
be seen, on many occasions, loading merchandise from the railroad,
or unloading grain and produce, in sacks and packages, destined to
Milwaukee and Chicago. When I was second clerk I once checked out
twenty thousand sacks of wheat in something over thirty-six hours,
the cargo of boat and two barges. The wheat now goes through in bulk,
in box cars loaded in Iowa and Minnesota, and they do not even change
engines at Prairie du Chien, the roundhouse and division terminal
being located at McGregor, on the west side of the Mississippi.

At McGregor I saw Joseph Reynolds, at that time owner of five fine
steamers, and manager of the Diamond Jo Line. Captain Burns pointed
out a man dressed in a dark business suit, sitting on a snubbing
post, lazily and apparently indifferently watching the crew handling
freight, or looking over the steamer as if it were an unusual and
curious sight. He did not speak to any of the officers while we were
watching him, and Mr. Burns thought it very unlikely that he would.
He did not come on board the boat at all, but sat and whittled
the head of the post until we backed out and left him out of sight
behind. Mr. Burns allowed that "Jo" was doing a heap of thinking all
the time we were watching him, and that he probably did not think of
the boat, as a present object of interest, at all.

Joseph Reynolds began his river experience in 1867 with one small
boat, carrying his own wheat, and towing a barge when the steamer
could not carry it all. When we saw him holding down a snubbing post
at McGregor he owned and operated, under the title of the "Diamond Jo
Line", the "Mary Morton", "Libbie Conger", "Diamond Jo", "Josephine",
and "Josie", all well equipped and handsome steamers. Later, he added
the "Sidney", the "Pittsburg", the "St. Paul", and the "Quincy",
still larger and better boats.

That night I witnessed for the first time the operation of the
electric search-light as an aid to navigation. The night came on
dark and stormy, a thunder shower breaking over the river as we were
running the devious and dangerous Guttenburg channel, about five or
six miles below the town by that name. Instead of straining his eyes
out of his head, hunting doubtful landmarks miles away, as we used
to do, Mr. Link tooted his little whistle down in the engine-room,
and instantly the light was switched on to the lantern at the bow of
the boat. Lines running from the pilot house gave perfect control of
the light, and it was flashed ahead until it lighted up the diamond
boards and other shore-marks by which the crossings were marked and
the best water indicated to the pilot. Under a slow bell he worked
his way down the ugly piece of river without touching. He had the
leads two or three times, just to assure himself, but apparently he
could have made it just as well without them.

A mile and a half above the mouth of Turkey River, in the very worst
place of all, we found a big log raft in trouble, hung up on the
sand, with a steamboat at each end working at it. They occupied so
much of the river that it took Mr. Link over an hour to get past the
obstruction, the search-light in the meantime turning night into day,
and enabling him to look down on the timber and see just where the
edge of the raft was. By backing and flanking he finally squeezed
past, but not without scraping the sand and taking big chances of
getting hung up himself. Coming back, we did hang up for an hour or
more in the same place, a mile above the foot of Cassville Slough.
Without the aid of the search-light it would have been impossible to
have worked the steamer past the raft until daylight came. It is a
wonderful aid to navigation, and it is as easy to run crooked places
by night as by day, with its assistance.

In St. Louis, after seeing Shaw's Garden and tasting the old French
market, the best thing you can do is to go back to the levee and
watch the river, the big Eads bridge, the boats, and the darkies.
There may be no boats other than the one you came on and are going
back upon, but you will not miss seeing the bridge, and you must not
miss seeing the darkies. They are worth studying--much better than
even imported shrubbery.

There was an Anchor Line boat moored just below us the day we were
there, a big side-wheeler, in the New Orleans trade, sixteen hundred
tons. The "Mary Morton" was four hundred and fifty, and had shrunk
perceptibly since the big liner came alongside. There were two or
three other boats, little ones, ferries and traders, sprinkled along
the three miles of levee. In 1857 I have seen boats lying two deep,
in places, and one deep in every place where it was possible to stick
the nose of a steamboat into the levee--boats from New Orleans, from
Pittsburg, from the upper Mississippi, from the Missouri, from the
Tennessee and the Cumberland, the Red River and the Illinois, loaded
with every conceivable description of freight, and the levee itself
piled for miles with incoming or outgoing cargoes. Now, it was enough
to make one sick at heart. It seemed as if the city had gone to
decay. The passage of a train over the bridge every five minutes or
less, each way, reassured one on that point, however, and indicated
that there was still plenty of traffic, and that it was only the
river that was dead, and not the city.

In old times the steamboat crews were comprised principally of white
men--that is, deck hands and roustabouts (or stevedores). The firemen
may have been darkies, and the cabin crews were more than likely to
have been, but the deck crews were generally white. Now, the deck
crews are all colored men. They are a happy-go-lucky set, given to
strong drink and craps, not to mention some other forms of vice. In
old times the crews were hired by the month. The members of a modern
deck crew never make two trips consecutively on the same boat. The
boat does not lay long enough in St. Louis to give them time to
spend ten days' wages, and then get sober enough, or hungry enough,
to reship for another trip. Therefore, as soon as the last package
of freight is landed, the crew marches to the window of the clerk's
office opening out onto the guards, and gets what money is coming to
each individual after the barkeeper's checks have been deducted. With
this wealth in hand the fellow makes a straight wake for one of the
two or three score dives, rum-holes, and bagnios that line the levee.
He seldom leaves his favorite inn until his money is gone and he is
thrown out by the professional "bouncer" attached to each of these
places of entertainment.

The boat does not remain without a crew, however. While one of the
clerks is paying off the old crew, another has gone out on the levee
with a handful of pasteboard tickets, one for each man he desires
to ship for the next round trip to St. Paul. Mounting the tallest
snubbing post at hand, he is instantly surrounded by a shouting,
laughing, pushing, and sometimes fighting mass of negroes, with an
occasional alleged white man. This mob of men are clothed in every
conceivable style of rags and tatters, and all are trying to get near
the man on the post.

After a minute's delay the clerk cries out: "All set! Stand by"! and
gives his handful of tickets a whirl around his head, loosening them
a few at a time, and casting them to every point of the compass so
as to give all a fair chance to draw a prize. The crowd of would-be
"rousters" jump, grab, wrestle, and fight for the coveted tickets,
and the man who secures one and fights his way victoriously to the
gang plank is at once recorded in the mate's book as one of the crew.
The victorious darky comes up the gang plank showing every tooth in
his head. It is the best show to be seen in St. Louis.

"Why do they not go out and pick out the best men and hire them in a
business-like and Christian-like manner?" inquires the unacclimated

"Because this is a better and very much quicker way", says the mate,
who knows whereof he speaks. "The nigger that can get a ticket, and
keep it until he gets to the gang plank, is the nigger for me. He is
the 'best man'; if he wasn't he wouldn't get here at all. Some of
'em don't get here--they carry 'em off to the hospital to patch 'em
up; sometimes they carry 'em off and plant 'em. There wasn't much of
a rush to-day. You ought to see 'em in the early spring, when they
are pretty hungry after a winter's freezing and fasting, and they
want to get close to a steamboat boiler to get warm. There was not
more'n three hundred niggers out there to-day. Last April there was a
thousand, and they everlastingly scrapped for a chance to get close
to the post. Some of 'em got their 'razzers', and sort of hewed their
way in. The clerk got a little shaky himself. He was afraid they
might down him and take the whole pack."

"I shouldn't think that you would care to ship the men with 'razzers'
as you call them."

"Oh, I don't mind that if they can tote well. Anyway, they all have
'em. They don't use them much on white men, anyhow. And then we look
out for them. After we back out from here they will get enough to
do to keep them busy. They don't carry any life insurance, and they
don't want to fool with white folks, much."

Having watched the mates handling the crew on the down trip one could
form a pretty clear judgment why the "niggers" were not solicitous to
"fool with" the white men with whom they were in contact while on the

That night we steamed across to East St. Louis and took on three
thousand kegs of nails for different ports on the upper river. These
were carried on the shoulders of the newly-hired deck crew a distance
of at least two hundred feet from the railroad freight house to
the boat; every one of the forty men "toting" seventy-five kegs,
each weighing a hundred and seven pounds. At the conclusion of this
exercise it is safe to say that they were glad enough to creep under
the boilers so soon as the boat pulled out from the landing. The next
morning we were well on our way up the river. I steered most of the
daylight watches for Mr. Link all the way upstream. He had a terrible
cough, and was very weak, but had the hopefulness which always seems
to accompany that dread disease (consumption), that he "would soon
get over it". I was glad to relieve him of some hard work, and I was
also greatly pleased again to have an opportunity to handle a big
boat. Poor fellow, his hopefulness was of no avail. He died at his
home in Quincy within two years of that time.

We arrived at St. Paul on schedule time, with no mishaps to speak of,
and I parted with regret from old and new friends on the boat, none
of whom I have ever seen since that parting twenty-five years ago.
Thomas Burns, Henry Link, George McDonald, and Captain Boland are all
dead. Charles Mathers, the chief clerk, was living a few years ago at
Cairo, an old man, long retired from active service.

As we started to leave the boat, we were arrested by an outcry, a
pistol shot, and the shouting of the colored deck hands, followed
by the rush of the mate and the fall of one of the men, whom he had
struck with a club or billet. Still another colored man lay groaning
on the wharf, and a white man was binding up an ugly gash in his
neck made by the slash of a razor. In a few minutes the clang of
the patrol wagon gong was heard, as it responded to the telephone
call, and two darkies were carried off, one to the hospital and the
other to the jail. The slightly-interrupted work of toting nail
kegs was then resumed. Thus the last sights and sounds were fit
illustrations of river life as it is to-day, and as it was a half a
century ago--strenuous and rough, indeed, but possessing a wonderful
fascination to one who has once fallen under the influence of its

[Illustration: STEAMER "MARY MORTON," 1876; 456 tons. Lying at the
levee, La Crosse, Wisconsin. (From a negative made in 1881.)]

[Illustration: STEAMER "ARKANSAS," 1868; 549 tons. With tow of four
barges, capable of transporting 18,000 sacks--36,000 bushels of wheat
per trip. The usual manner of carrying wheat in the early days,
before the river traffic was destroyed by railroad competition.]


Appendix A

_List of Steamboats on the Upper Mississippi River,

In the following compilation I have endeavored to give as complete
a history as possible of every boat making one or more trips on
the upper Mississippi River--that is to say, above the upper
rapids--prior to 1863, not counting boats engaged exclusively in
the rafting business. Owing to the repetition of names as applied
to different steamers, which were built, ran their course, and were
destroyed, only to be followed by others bearing the same name, it is
altogether likely that some have escaped notice. Others that may have
made the trip have left no sign. In nearly every case the record is
made either at St. Paul or at Galena. Whenever possible, the names of
the master and clerk are given. Where boats were running regularly
in the trade but one notation is made: "St. Paul, 1852; 1854; etc.",
which might include twenty trips during the season. The record
covers the period from 1823, when the first steamer, the "Virginia",
arrived at St. Peters from St. Louis, with government stores for Fort
Snelling, up to 1863, one year after the writer left the river.

ADELIA--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1853; 127 tons; St.
Paul, 1855; 1856; 1857--Capt. Bates, Clerk Worsham.

ADMIRAL--Side-wheel; built at McKeesport, Pa., 1853; 245 tons; 169
feet long, 26 feet beam; in St. Paul trade 1854--Capt. John Brooks;
went into Missouri River trade; was snagged and sunk October, 1856,
at head of Weston Island, in shallow water; had very little cargo at
time; was raised and ran for many years thereafter in Missouri River

ADRIATIC--Side-wheel; built at Shousetown, Pa., 1855; 424 tons; was
in great ice jam at St. Louis, February, 1856.

ADVENTURE--In Galena trade 1837--Capt. Van Houten.

A. G. MASON--Stern-wheel; built at West Brownsville, Pa., 1855;
170 tons; in St. Paul trade 1855; 1856; 1857--Captain Barry, Clerk

ALBANY--Very small boat; in Minnesota River trade 1861.

ALEX. HAMILTON--Galena and St. Paul trade 1848--Captain W. H. Hooper.

ALHAMBRA--Stern-wheel; built at McKeesport, Pa., 1854; 187 tons;
Minnesota Packet Company, St. Paul trade 1855--Captain McGuire;
1856--Captain W. H. Gabbert; 1857--Captain McGuire; same trade 1858;
1859; 1860; 1861; 1862, in Dunleith Line, Captain William Faucette.

ALICE--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1853; 72 tons; at St.
Paul 1854.

ALPHIA--Galena and St. Louis trade 1837.

ALTOONA--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1853; 66 tons; was
in great ice jam at St. Louis, February, 1856; at St. Paul 1857; sunk
at Montgomery tow-head 1859.

AMARANTH--(First)--Galena trade 1842--Captain G. W. Atchinson; sunk
at head of Amaranth Island 1842.

AMARANTH--(Second)--At Galena, from St. Louis, April 8, 1845.

AMERICA--Sunk 1852, opposite Madison, Iowa.

AMERICAN EAGLE--Cossen, master, burned at St. Louis, May 17, 1849;
loss $14,000.

AMERICUS--Stern-wheel; at St. Paul 1856.

AMULET--At Galena, from St. Louis, April 9, 1846.

ANGLER--St. Paul 1859.

ANNIE--At Galena, on her way to St. Peters, April 1, 1840.

ANSON NORTHRUP--Minnesota River boat; was taken to pieces and
transported to Moorhead in 1859, where she was put together again and
run on the Red River of the North by Captain Edwin Bell for J. C.
Burbank & Co., proprietors of the Great Northwestern stage lines.

ANTELOPE--Minnesota River packet 1857; 1858; 1860; 1861. One hundred
and ninety-eight tons burden.

ANTHONY WAYNE--Side-wheel; built 1844; in Galena & St. Louis trade
1845, 1846, and 1847--Captain Morrison first, later Captain Dan
Able; 1850--Captain Able; went up to the Falls of St. Anthony 1850,
first boat to make the trip; made a trip up the Minnesota River
into the Indian country, as far as Traverse des Sioux with a large
excursion party from St. Paul in 1850; went into Missouri River trade
and sank March 25, 1851, three miles above Liberty Landing, Mo.,
being a total loss.

ARCHER--At Galena, from St. Louis, Sept. 8, 1845; sunk by collision
with steamer "Di Vernon", in chute between islands 521 and 522, five
miles above mouth of Illinois River, Nov. 27, 1851; was cut in two,
and sunk in three minutes, with a loss of forty-one lives.

ARCOLA--St. Croix River boat, at St. Paul 1856; sunk in Lake Pepin
1857, cut down by ice.

ARGO--Galena and St. Peters trade, 1846--Captain Kennedy Lodwick;
1847--Captain M. W. Lodwick, Clerk Russell Blakeley; regular packet
between Galena and St. Paul, including Stillwater and Fort Snelling;
at Galena from St. Croix Falls 1847, with 100 passengers; sunk fall
of 1847 at foot of Argo Island, above Winona, Minn.

ARIEL--(First)--At Fort Snelling and St. Peters June 20, 1838; August
27, 1838; Sept. 29, 1838, from Galena; 1839--Captain Lyon, at Fort
Snelling April 14; made three other trips to Fort Snelling that
season. She was built by Captain Thurston.

ARIEL--(Second)--Built at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1854; 169 tons; Minnesota
River packet 1861.

ARIZONA--Stern-wheel--Captain Herdman, from Pittsburg, at St. Paul,

ASIA--Stern-wheel; St. Paul trade 1853; made twelve trips between St.
Louis and St. Paul during season.

ATLANTA--At St. Paul, from St. Louis, Captain Woodruff, 1857; again

ATLANTIC--At St. Paul 1856--Captain Isaac M. Mason.

ATLAS--Side-wheel; new at Galena, 1846--Captain Robert A. Riley; at
St. Peters, from Galena, 1846; sunk near head of Atlas Island.

AUDUBON--Stern-wheel; built at Murraysville, Pa., 1853; 191 tons;
St. Paul trade 1855; Captain William Fisher made his initial trip as
an independent pilot on this boat.

AUNT LETTY--Side-wheel; built at Elizabeth, Pa., 1855; 304 tons; in
Northern Line, St. Louis and St. Paul, 1857--Captain C. G. Morrison;
1859, same.

BADGER STATE--Built at California, Pa., 1850; 127 tons; St. Paul
trade 1855 and 1856; sunk at head of Montgomery tow-head 1856.

BALTIMORE--Sunk, 1859, at Montgomery tow-head; hit wreck of "Badger
State" and stove. Wreck of "Baltimore" lies on top of wreck of
"Badger State".

BANGOR--St. Paul 1857; 1859.

BANJO--Show boat--first of the kind in the river; was at St. Paul in
1856; with a "nigger show". Was seated for an audience, and stopped
at all landings along the river, giving entertainments. Captain
William Fisher was pilot on her part of one season.

BELFAST--At St. Paul 1857; 1859.

BELLE GOLDEN--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1854; 189 tons;
at St. Paul 1855--Captain I. M. Mason.

BELMONT--At Galena, from St. Louis, April 9, 1846; again May 22, 1847.

BEN BOLT--Side-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1853; 228 tons; at
St. Paul, from St. Louis, 1855--Captain Boyd; at St. Paul, 1856; 1857.

BEN CAMPBELL--Side-wheel; built at Shousetown, Pa., 1852; 267 tons;
in Galena & Minnesota Packet Co., 1852--Captain M. W. Lodwick; rather
slow, and too deep in water for upper river; at St. Paul 1853--Capt.
M. W. Lodwick; at St. Paul 1859.

BEN COURSIN--Stern-wheel; built at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1854; 161 tons;
at St. Paul 1856; 1857; sunk above mouth of Black River, near La
Crosse, fall of 1857.

BEN WEST--Side-wheel; at St. Paul, from St. Louis, spring 1855; went
into Missouri River trade; struck bridge and sank near Washington,
Mo., August, 1855.

BERLIN--At St. Paul 1855; 1856; 1859.

BERTRAND--Rogers, master, at Galena 1846; regular St. Louis packet;
advertised for pleasure trip to St. Peters June 19, 1846.

BLACKHAWK--Captain M. W. Lodwick, 1852; bought that year by the
Galena Packet Co., for a low water boat; ten trips to St. Paul 1853;
Captain R. M. Spencer, opening season 1854, later O. H. Maxwell;
1855, Minnesota River packet, Capt. O. H. Maxwell; at St. Paul 1859.

BLACK ROVER--Eleventh steamboat to arrive at Fort Snelling, prior to

BON ACCORD--At Galena, from St. Louis, Captain Hiram Bersie, August
31, 1846; in Galena and upper river trade, same captain, 1847; in St.
Louis and Galena trade 1848, same captain.

BRAZIL--(First)--Captain Orren Smith, at Galena April 4, 1838; at
Fort Snelling June 15, 1838; advertised for pleasure excursion from
Galena to Fort Snelling, July 21, 1839; advertised for pleasure
excursion from Galena to Fort Snelling, 1840; sunk in upper rapids,
Rock Island, 1841, and total loss.

BRAZIL--(Second)--Captain Orren Smith, new, arrived at Galena Sept.
24, 1842; 160 feet long, 23 feet beam; arrived at Galena from St.
Peters, Minn., June 5, 1843.

BRAZIL--(Third)--Stern-wheel; built at McKeesport, Pa., 1854; 211
tons; at St. Paul 1856; 1857--Captain Hight, from St. Louis; at St.
Paul 1858.

BRIDGEWATER--At Galena, from St. Louis, April 11, 1846.

BROWNSVILLE--Snagged and sunk in Brownsville Chute, 1849.

BURLINGTON--(First)--At Galena, from St. Peters, June 17, 1837; at
Fort Snelling, Captain Joseph Throckmorton, May 25, 1838, and again
June 13, 1838; third trip that season, arrived at the Fort June 28,
1836, with 146 soldiers from Prairie du Chien, for the Fort.

BURLINGTON--(Second)--Sunk at Wabasha, prior to 1871; in Northern
Line; built 1860.

BURLINGTON--(Third)--Large side-wheel, in Northern Line, 1875; St.
Louis and St. Paul Packet.

CALEB COPE--Galena & St. Paul Packet Company; in St. Paul 1852.

CALEDONIA--In Galena trade, 1837.

CAMBRIDGE--At St. Paul 1857.

CANADA--Side-wheel, with double rudders; Northern Line Packet Co.,
Captain James Ward, 1857; 1858; 1859, as St. Louis and St. Paul
packet; Captain J. W. Parker, 1860, 1861, same trade; 1862, same

CARRIE--Stern-wheel; 267 tons; went into Missouri River trade and was
snagged two miles above Indian Mission, August 14, 1866; boat and
cargo total loss; boat valued at $20,000.

CARRIER--Side-wheel; 215 feet long, 33 feet beam; 267 tons; at St.
Paul 1856; snagged at head of Penn's Bend, Missouri River, Oct. 12,
1858; sank in five feet of water; boat valued at $30,000; was total

CASTLE GARDEN--At St. Paul 1858.

CAVALIER--At Galena April 9, 1836, for St. Louis; in Galena trade

CAZENOVIA--At St. Paul 1858.

CECILIA--Capt. Jos. Throckmorton, at St. Peters 1845. Bought by the
captain for Galena & St. Peters trade. Same trade 1846, regular.

CEYLON--Stern-wheel; at St. Paul 1858.

CHALLENGE--Built at Shousetown, Pa., 1854; 229 tons; at St. Paul 1858.

CHART--At St. Paul 1859.

CHAS. WILSON--At St. Paul 1859.

CHIPPEWA--(First)--Capt. Griffith, in Galena trade 1841; arrived at
Galena from St. Peters May 2, 1843.

CHIPPEWA--(Second)--Capt. Greenlee, from Pittsburg, at St. Paul,
1857; in Northwestern Line, Capt. W. H. Crapeta, St. Louis and St.
Paul trade 1858; 1859; burned fifteen miles below Poplar River, on
the Missouri, in May, 1861; fire discovered at supper time on a
Sunday evening; passengers put on shore and boat turned adrift, she
having a large amount of powder on board; boat drifted across the
river and there blew up; fire caused by deck hands going into hold
with lighted candle to steal whiskey. She was a stern-wheel, 160 feet
long, 30 feet beam.

CHIPPEWA FALLS--Captain L. Fulton, in Chippewa River trade, 1859;

CITY BELLE--Side-wheel; built at Murraysville, Pa., 1854; 216 tons;
Minnesota Packet Co., Galena & St. Paul trade 1856--Captain Kennedy
Lodwick; 1857--Captain A. T. Champlin, for part of the season; 1858;
burned on the Red River in 1862, while in government service; was a
very short boat and very hard to steer, especially in low water.

CLARA--Stern-wheel, of St. Louis; 567 tons burden, 250 horse-power
engines; at St. Paul 1858.

CLARIMA--At St. Paul 1859.

CLARION--(First)--Went to Missouri River, where she was burned, at
Guyandotte, May 1, 1845.

CLARION--(Second)--Stern-wheel; built at Monongahela, Pa., 1851;
73 tons; made 25 trips up Minnesota River from St. Paul, 1853;
same trade 1855; 1856--Captain Hoffman; 1857; 1858; had a very big
whistle, in keeping with her name--so large that it made her top

COL. MORGAN--At St. Paul 1855; 1858.

COMMERCE--At St. Paul, from St. Louis, 1857--Captain Rowley.

CONESTOGA--St. Louis and St. Paul trade 1857--Captain James Ward, who
was also the owner.

CONEWAGO--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1854; 186 tons; St.
Louis and St. Paul Packet Co., 1855; 1856; 1857--Capt. James Ward;
1858; 1859.

CONFIDENCE--At Galena, from St. Louis, Nov. 7, 1845; same April 11,
1846; same March 30, 1847.

CONVOY--Stern-wheel; built at Freedom, Pa., 1854; 123 tons; at St.
Paul 1857.

CORA--Side-wheel; single engine; two boilers; hull built by Captain
Jos. Throckmorton at Rock Island; 140 feet long, 24 feet beam, five
feet hold; engine 18 inches by 5 feet stroke, built at St. Louis. At
Galena, on first trip, Sept. 30, 1846, Captain Jos. Throckmorton,
in Galena and St. Peters trade; first boat at Fort Snelling 1847,
Captain Throckmorton; Galena and St. Peters trade 1848, same captain,
also running to St. Croix Falls. Sold to go into Missouri River
trade fall of 1848; snagged and sunk below Council Bluffs, May 5,
1850, drowning fifteen people.

CORNELIA--Sunk, 1855, in Chain of Rocks, lower rapids; hit rock and

COURIER--Built at Parkersburg, Va., 1852; 165 tons; owned by W. E.
Hunt; in St. Paul trade 1857.

CREMONA--Stern-wheel; built at New Albany, Ind., 1852; 266 tons; in
Minnesota River trade 1857--Captain Martin.

CUMBERLAND VALLEY--At Galena August 2, 1846; broke shaft three miles
above Burlington, Aug. 18, 1846.

DAISY--Small stern-wheel; St. Paul 1858.

DAMSEL--Stern-wheel; 210 tons; in St. Paul trade 1860; 1864, Farley,
clerk; chartered as a circus boat, Charles Davis, pilot; snagged at
head of Onawa Bend, Missouri River, 1876; had on board the circus
company, which was taken off by Captain Joseph La Barge, in the
steamer "John M. Chambers"; no lives lost; boat total loss.

DAN CONVERSE--Stern-wheel; built at McKeesport, Pa., 1852; 163 tons;
at St. Paul 1855, and at other times; went into Missouri River trade
and was snagged Nov. 15, 1858, ten miles above St. Joseph, Mo.; total

DANIEL HILLMAN--At Galena May 25, 1847, from St. Louis.

DANUBE--(First)--Sunk, 1852, below Campbell's Chain, Rock Island
Rapids; hit rock and stove.

DANUBE--(Second)--Stern-wheel; at St. Paul 1858.

DAVENPORT--Side-wheel; built 1860; in Northern Line; sunk by breaking
of ice gorge at St. Louis, Dec. 13, 1876, but raised at a loss of

DENMARK--(First)--Sunk, 1840, at head of Atlas Island, by striking
sunken log.

DENMARK--(Second)--Side-wheel, double-rudder boat; Captain R. C.
Gray, in Northern Line, St. Louis & St. Paul, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860;
1861, same line, Captain John Robinson; 1862, same line.


DEW DROP--Stern-wheel; 146 tons; at St. Paul 1857; 1858; Capt. W. N.
Parker, 1859, in Northern Line; went into Missouri River trade and
was burned at mouth of Osage River, June, 1860.

DIOMED--St. Paul 1856.

DI VERNON--(Second)--Built at St. Louis, Mo., 1850; cost $49,000; at
St. Paul June 19, 1851; in collision with steamer "Archer" Nov. 27,
1851, five miles above mouth of Illinois River. (See "Archer".)

DR. FRANKLIN--(First)--First boat of the Galena & Minnesota Packet
Co.; bought 1848; owned by Campbell & Smith, Henry L. Corwith,
H. L. Dousman, Brisbois & Rice; M. W. Lodwick, Captain, Russell
Blakeley, Clerk, Wm. Meyers, Engineer; first boat to have steam
whistle on upper river; Captain Lodwick 1849; 1850; in Galena and St.
Paul trade; Capt. Lodwick in 1851; took a large party on pleasure
excursion from Galena to the Indian treaty grounds at Traverse des
Sioux, Minnesota River; 1852, Captain Russell Blakeley, Clerk Geo. R.
Melville; out of commission 1853; sunk at the foot of Moquoketa Chute
1854; total loss.

DR. FRANKLIN--(Second)--Called "No. 2"; bought of Capt. John McClure,
at Cincinnati, in the winter of 1848, by Harris Brothers--D. Smith,
Scribe and Meeker--to run in opposition to "Dr. Franklin No. 1";
Smith Harris, Captain; Scribe Harris, Engineer; 1850 went up to St.
Anthony Falls; in 1851 was the last boat to leave St. Paul, Nov. 20;
the St. Croix was closed and heavy ice was running in the river;
Capt. Smith Harris 1852; made 28 trips to St. Paul in 1853; Capt.
Preston Lodwick, 1854.

DUBUQUE--(First)--At Galena April 9, 1836, for St. Louis, Captain
Smoker; lost, 1837; exploded boiler at Muscatine Bar, eight miles
below Bloomington.

DUBUQUE--(Second)--At Galena April 20, 1847, Captain Edward H. Beebe;
162 feet long, 26 feet beam, 5 feet hold; on her first trip; regular
St. Louis, Galena and Dubuque trade; same 1848; at Galena July 29,
1849, Captain Edward H. Beebe, loading for Fort Snelling; sunk above
Mundy's Landing 1855.

DUBUQUE--(Third)--Side-wheel, 603 tons; in Northern Line, St. Louis &
St. Paul 1871.

EARLIA--At St. Paul 1857.

ECLIPSE--Eighth steamboat to arrive at Fort Snelling prior to 1827.

EDITOR--Side-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1851; 247 tons; very
fast; St. Louis & St. Paul 1854--Capt. Smith; same trade 1855--Capt.
J. F. Smith; 1856; 1857--Captain Brady, Clerks R. M. Robbins and
Charles Furman.

EFFIE AFTON--At St. Paul 1856; small stern-wheel; hit Rock Island
Bridge and sank, 1858; total loss.

EFFIE DEANS--St. Paul 1858; Captain Joseph La Barge; burnt at St.
Louis 1865.

ELBE--In Galena trade 1840.

ELIZA STEWART--At Galena May 26, 1848, from St. Louis, with 350 tons
freight. Left for St. Louis, with 100 tons freight from Galena.

EMERALD--In Galena trade 1837; sunk or burned 1837.

EMILIE--(First)--Side-wheel, Capt. Joseph La Barge, American Fur
Company, at St. Peters, 1841; snagged, 1842, in Emilie Bend, Missouri

ENDEAVOR--Stern-wheel; built at Freedom, Pa., 1854; 200 tons; at St.
Paul 1857.

ENTERPRISE--(First)--Small stern-wheel; twelfth boat to arrive at
Fort Snelling, prior to 1827; again at the Fort June 27, 1832; sunk
at head of Enterprise Island, 1843.

ENTERPRISE--(Second)--Small side-wheel boat from Lake Winnebago;
owned and captained by Robert C. Eden, son of an English baronet, on
an exploring and hunting expedition; Geo. B. Merrick piloted for him
for two months on the upper river and the St. Croix.

ENTERPRISE--(Third)--Built in 1858, above the Falls of St. Anthony,
to run between St. Anthony and Sauk Rapids. Work superintended by
Capt. Augustus R. Young. Before the work was completed the boat
was sold to Thomas Moulton, and when finished she was run above
the Falls during 1859, 1860, and 1861. She was officered by four
brothers--Augustus R. Young, Captain and Pilot; Jesse B. Young, Mate;
Josiah Young, First Engineer, and Leonard Young, Second Engineer.
Thomas Moulton and I. N. Moulton took turns in running as clerk. In
1863 she was sold to W. F. and P. S. Davidson, who moved her around
St. Anthony Falls on skids, and launched her in the river below.
She ran as freight boat in the Davidson Line between La Crosse and
St. Paul for several years, and was then sold to go south. She was
a stern-wheel boat, 130 feet long, and 22 feet beam. The Youngs are
dead, with the exception of Leonard. Captain I. N. Moulton is living
(1908) at La Crosse, where he is engaged in the coal business.

ENVOY--(First)--In Galena trade 1857.

ENVOY--(Second)--Stern-wheel; built at West Elizabeth, Pa., 1852; 197
tons; at St. Paul 1857--Capt. Martin, Clerk E. Carlton; at St. Paul

EOLIAN--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1855; 205 tons; in
Minnesota River trade 1857--Captain Troy; same trade 1858; 1859.

EQUATOR--Stern-wheel; built at Beaver, Pa., 1853; 162 tons; in St.
Paul trade 1855, 1856; Minnesota River 1857--Captain Sencerbox;
wrecked in great storm on Lake St. Croix April 1858--Captain Asa B.
Green, pilots Charles Jewell, Geo. B. Merrick; Engineer John Lay;
Mate Russel Ruley.

EXCELSIOR--Side-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1849; 172 tons;
St. Louis & St. Paul trade 1850; Captain James Ward, owner and
captain; same 1852; arrived at St. Paul Nov. 20, 1852, with 350 tons
of freight, taken at $1.00 per hundredweight for any distance; over
$8,000 in the trip. In 1853 made 13 round trips from St. Louis to St.
Paul; "Billy" Henderson owned the bar on this boat and sold oranges
and lemons, wholesale, along the river; 1854, Captain Owen; 1855,
Capt. James Ward; 1856, Capt. Kingman; 1857, Capt. Conway, in St.
Paul trade.

EXPRESS--One of the first boats to reach Fort Snelling prior to 1827.

FALCON--Capt. Legrand Morehouse, St. Louis, Galena, Dubuque & Potosi
regular packet 1845; same 1846; in August, in Galena and St. Peters
trade, reports very low water at St. Peters; 1847, Capt. Morehouse,
St. Louis and Galena regular packet.

FALLS CITY--Stern-wheel; built 1855, at Wellsville, Ohio, by St.
Anthony Falls merchants, who ran her to the foot of the Falls in
order to show that the river was navigable to that point; 155 feet
long, 27 feet beam, 3 boilers; Captain Gilbert, 1855; in St. Louis
trade 1856, and got caught in great ice jam at St. Louis that year;
Capt. Jackins, 1857; wintered above the lake and was sunk by ice in
Lake Pepin in April, 1857. 183 tons.

FAIRY QUEEN--At St. Paul 1856.

FANNY HARRIS--Stern-wheel; 279 tons; built at Cincinnati, and owned
by Dubuque merchants; put into St. Paul trade in 1855, from Dubuque
and Dunleith, Capt. Jones Worden, Clerk Charles Hargus; same 1856;
1857, Capt. Anderson, Clerk Chas. Hargus, Second Clerk Geo. B.
Merrick, in Galena, Dunleith & St. Paul Packet Co.; same 1858, 1859;
Capt. W. H. Gabbert 1860; wintered at Prescott; 1861, Capt. William
Faucette, Clerks Hargus and Merrick, Engineers McDonald and William
Hamilton, Pilots James McCoy, Harry Tripp, James Black, Thomas Burns
and Thomas Cushing, Mate "Billy" Wilson; went up Minnesota River in
April, three hundred miles to bring down Sherman's Battery; Thos.
Burns raised a company for the 45th Illinois in 1861; Capt. Faucette
in command 1862; Merrick left her for the war in August, 1862; she
was sunk by the ice at Point Douglass in 1863; Charles Hargus died at
Dubuque, August 10, 1878.

FANNY LEWIS--Of St. Louis, at St. Paul.

FAVORITE--Side-wheel; Minnesota River packet 1859; same 1860, Capt.
P. S. Davidson; transferred to La Crosse trade in 1860; Capt. P. S.
Davidson, 1861, in La Crosse trade; Minnesota River trade 1862; 252
tons burden.

FAYETTE--At Fort Snelling May 11, 1839; reported at St. Croix Falls
May 12, 1839.

FIRE CANOE--Stern-wheel; built at Lawrence, Ohio, 1854; 166 tons; at
St. Paul May, 1855--Captain Baldwin; 1856; 1857--Captain Spencer; in
Minnesota River trade 1858; sunk by ice in Lake Pepin, three miles
below Wacouta, April, 1861; passengers and crew were taken off by
"Fanny Harris", which was near her when she sank.

FLEETWOOD--At St. Paul June 26, 1851.

FLORA--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1855; 160 tons; St.
Paul trade 1855; Dubuque and St. Paul 1856, in Dubuque and St. Paul
Packet Co.

FOREST ROSE--Built at California, Pa., 1852; 205 tons; at St. Paul

FORTUNE--Bought by Captain Pierce Atchison in April, 1845, at
Cincinnati at a cost of $6,000, for St. Louis & Galena trade; same
trade 1846; same 1847; sunk, Sept., 1847, on upper rapids.

FRANK STEELE--Small side-wheel; length 175 feet; beam 28 feet; Capt.
W. F. Davidson, in Minnesota River trade 1857; same 1858; same
trade, Capt. J. R. Hatcher, 1859, and spring of 1860; transferred
to La Crosse & St. Paul trade 1860, in Davidson's Line; same 1861;
Minnesota River 1862.

FRED LORENZ--Stern-wheel; built at Belle Vernon, Pa., 1855; 236
tons; Capt. Parker, St. Louis & St. Paul Line, 1857, 1858, 1859; in
Northern Line Packet Co., St. Louis & St. Paul, Captain I. N. Mason,
1860, 1861.

FREIGHTER--In Minnesota River trade 1857, 1858; Captain John Farmer,
1859. She was sold, 1859, to Captain John B. Davis, who took a cargo
for the Red River of the North, and attempted to run her via Lake
Traverse and Big Stone Lake, and over the portage to Red River. His
attempt was made too late in the season, on a falling river, with
the result that the "Freighter" was caught about ten miles from Big
Stone Lake and was a total loss. Her timbers remained for many years
a witness to Captain Davis's lack of caution.

FRONTIER--New 1836; built by D. S. and R. S. Harris, of Galena;
Captain D. Smith Harris, Engineer R. Scribe Harris, arrived at Fort
Snelling May 29, 1836.

FULTON--Tenth steamboat to arrive at Fort Snelling prior to 1827; at
Galena, advertised for St. Peters, June, 1827.

G. B. KNAPP--Small stern-wheel; 105 tons, built and commanded by Geo.
B. Knapp, of Osceola, Wisconsin; ran in the St. Croix River trade
most of the time.

G. H. WILSON--Small stern-wheel; built for towboat, and powerfully
engined; 159 tons; at St. Paul first 1857; afterward in Northern Line
as low water boat; sunk opposite Dakota, Minnesota, 1862.

G. W. SPARHAWK--Side-wheel; built at Wheeling, Va., 1851; 243 tons;
in St. Paul trade 1855; sunk one mile below Nininger, Minnesota.

GALENA--(First)--Built at Cincinnati for Captain David G. Bates;
Scribe Harris went from Galena to Cincinnati and brought her out as
engineer, David G. Bates, Captain; at Galena 1829, 1835, 1836, 1837.

GALENA--(Second)--Captain P. Connolly, at Galena, in Galena & St.
Peters trade; nearly wrecked in great wind storm on Lake Pepin in
June, 1845; J. W. Dinan, clerk, August 12, 1845; at Dubuque Nov. 28,
1845, at which time she reports upper river clear of ice, although
Fever River is frozen so that boats cannot make that port; 1846,
Captain Goll, Clerk John Stephens.

GALENA--(Third)--Side-wheel; 296 tons; built 1854 at Cincinnati
for Galena & Minnesota Packet Company; in St. Paul trade, D. B.
Morehouse, 1854; Captain Russell Blakeley 1855; Captain Kennedy
Lodwick, 1856; Captain W. H. Laughton, 1857; first boat through lake
1857, arriving at St. Paul at 2 A. M., May 1; passed "Golden State"
and "War Eagle" under way between Lake Pepin and St. Paul; there were
twelve boats in sight when she got through; burned and sunk at Red
Wing in 1857, the result of carelessness, a deck passenger having
dropped a lighted match into some combustible freight; several lives
lost; had 46 staterooms.

GALENIAN--At Galena March 30, 1846.

GENERAL BROOKE--Side-wheel; built 1842; Captain Joseph Throckmorton,
at Galena, from St. Peters, May 26, 1842; seven trips Galena to St.
Peters, 1843; at Galena 1845; sold to Captain Joseph La Barge, of St.
Louis, in 1845, for $12,000, to run on the Missouri; continued in
that trade until 1849, when she was burned at St. Louis levee.

GENERAL PIKE--Side-wheel; built at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1852; 245 tons;
at St. Paul 1857; 1859.

GIPSEY--(First)--In Galena trade, 1837; at Galena, for St. Peters,
1838; at Fort Snelling with treaty goods for Chippewa Indians, Oct.
21, 1838; Captain Gray, at Fort Snelling, May 2, 1839.

GIPSEY--(Second)--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1855; 132
tons; at St. Paul, 1855; 1856.

GLAUCUS--Captain G. W. Atchison, in Galena trade, 1839; at Fort
Snelling, May 21, 1839, and again June 5, 1839.

GLENWOOD--At St. Paul 1857.

GLOBE--Captain Haycock, in Minnesota River trade, 1854, 1855, 1856.

GOLDEN EAGLE--At St. Paul 1856.

GOLDEN ERA--Side-wheel; built at Wheeling, Va., 1852; 249 tons; in
Minnesota Packet Company; Captain Hiram Bersie, 1852; Captain Pierce
Atchison, at St. Paul, from Galena, May, 1855; later in season
Captain J. W. Parker, Dawley, clerk; Captain Parker, 1856; Captain
Sam Harlow and Captain Scott in 1857, in Galena, Dunleith & St. Paul
Line; same line 1858; Captain Laughton, in La Crosse & St. Paul Line
1859; Captain Laughton, in Dunleith Line 1860; Captain W. H. Gabbert,
in Dunleith Line 1861.

GOLDEN STATE--Side-wheel; built at McKeesport, Pa., 1852; 298 tons;
1856--Captain N. F. Webb, Chas. Hargus, clerk; 1857, Captain Scott,
Clerk Frank Ward, in Galena, Dunleith & St. Paul Line; at St. Paul

GOODY FRIENDS--At St. Paul 1859.

GOSSAMER--At St. Paul 1856.

GOV. BRIGGS--At Galena July 23, 25, and 28, 1846, in Galena & Potosi

GOV. RAMSEY--Built by Captain John Rawlins, above the Falls of St.
Anthony, to run between St. Anthony and Sauk Rapids; machinery built
in Bangor, Maine, and brought by way of New Orleans and up the
Mississippi River.

GRACE DARLING--At St. Paul 1856.

GRAND PRAIRIE--Side-wheel; built at Gallipolis, Ohio, 1852; 261 tons;
made three trips from St. Louis to St. Paul 1853; in St. Paul trade

GRANITE STATE--Side-wheel; built at West Elizabeth, Pa., 1852;
295 tons; in Minnesota Packet Company, 1856--Captain J. Y. Hurd;
1857--Captain W. H. Gabbert, Galena, Dunleith & St. Paul Line.

GREEK SLAVE--Side-wheel; Captain Louis Robert, 1852; made 18 trips
Rock Island to St. Paul in 1853; St. Paul trade 1854; Captain Wood
1855; St. Paul trade 1856.

GREY CLOUD--Side-wheel; built at Elizabeth, Ky., 1854; 246 tons; St.
Louis & St. Paul trade 1854; 1855.

GREY EAGLE--Large side-wheel; built at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Captain
D. Smith Harris, for the Minnesota Packet Company; cost $63,000;
length 250 feet; beam 35 feet; hold 5 feet; four boilers, 42 inches
diameter, 16 feet long; cylinders 22 inches diameter, 7 feet stroke;
wheels 30 feet diameter, 10 feet buckets, 3 feet dip; 673 tons
burden; launched spring of 1857; Captain D. Smith Harris, Clerks John
S. Pim and F. M. Gleim; Engineers Hiram Hunt and William Briggs;
in Galena, Dunleith & St. Paul trade 1857, 1858 and 1859; in St.
Louis and St. Paul trade 1860, 1861; sunk by striking Rock Island
Bridge, May 9, 1861, at 5 o'clock in the evening going downstream.
Captain Harris was in the pilot house with the rapids pilot when a
sudden gust of wind veered her from her course and threw her against
the abutment; she sank in less than five minutes, with the loss of
seven lives. Captain Harris sold out all his interest in the Packet
Company and retired from the river, broken-hearted over the loss of
his beautiful steamer, which was the fastest boat ever in the upper
river. She had made the run from Galena to St. Paul at an average
speed of 16-1/2 miles per hour, delivering her mail at all landings
during the run.

H. S. ALLEN--Small stern-wheel; Minnesota River boat 1856, 1857,
1858, 1859; after 1860 went into St. Croix River trade as regular
packet between Prescott and St. Croix Falls, Captain William Gray,
Pilots Chas. Jewell, Geo. B. Merrick.

H. T. YEATMAN--Stern-wheel; built at Freedom, Pa., 1852; 165 tons;
wintered above lake, at Point Douglass, 1856-7; left St. Paul for
head of Lake, April 10, 1857, and was sunk at Hastings by heading
into rocks at levee, staving hole in bow; drifted down and lodged on
bar one-half mile below landing; in Minnesota River trade 1855, 1856.

H. M. RICE--Minnesota River packet 1855.

HAMBURG--Large side-wheel; Captain J. B. Estes, Clerk Frederick K.
Stanton, Dubuque and St. Paul packet, 1855; Captain Rowe, St. Louis &
St. Paul trade 1856, 1857; at St. Paul 1858.

HANNIBAL CITY--Sunk, 1855, at foot of Broken Chute.

HARMONIA--Stern-wheel; Captain Allen, at St. Paul, from Fulton City,
Iowa, 1857.

HASTINGS--At St. Paul 1859.

HAWKEYE STATE--Large side-wheel; in Northern Line; at St. Paul 1859;
same trade, Captain R. C. Gray, 1860, 1861, St. Louis & St. Paul;
same line 1862; 523 tons; made 14 trips St. Louis to St. Paul 1866.

HAZEL DELL--At St. Paul 1858.

HEILMAN--Sunk 1856, half way between Missouri Point and second ravine
below Grafton, Mo.

HELEN--At Galena April 11, 1846, from St. Louis.

HENRIETTA--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1853; 179 tons; 2
trips to St. Paul, 1853; 1854--Captain C. B. Goll; St. Paul trade
1855, 1856, 1858, 1859.

HENRY CLAY--New 1857; in Northern Line; Captain Campbell 1857;
Captain Chas. Stephenson 1858; at St. Paul 1859; Captain Chas.
Stephenson 1860; Captain C. B. Goll 1861; sunk by Confederate
batteries at Vicksburg 1863.

HENRY GRAFF--Stern-wheel; built at Belle Vernon, Pa., 1855; 250 tons;
St. Paul 1856; 1857--Captain McClintock, Clerk Stewart, at St. Paul
from St. Louis.

HERALD--At Galena July 11, 1845, from St. Louis.

HERMIONE--Captain D. Smith Harris, at Galena, prior to 1852.

HEROINE--In Galena trade 1837; sunk or burned same year.

HIBERNIAN--At Galena, for St. Peters, 1844; same 1845, Captain
Miller, Clerk Hopkins.

HIGHLANDER--In upper river trade, burnt at the levee, at St. Louis,
May 1, 1849; valued at $14,000.

HIGHLAND MARY--(First)--Sunk, 1842, at foot of Thomas Chute.

HIGHLAND MARY--(Second)--Galena & St. Paul trade 1848, Captain Joseph
Atchison; arrived at St. Paul April 19, 1850, together with the
"Nominee", first arrivals of the season, Captain Atchison in command;
she was sold to Captain Joseph La Barge to run on the Missouri
in 1852; was greatly damaged by fire at St. Louis July 27, 1853.
(Captain Jos. Atchison died of cholera, which was very prevalent
on the river in 1850, and his boat was temporarily withdrawn from

HINDOO--Two trips to St. Paul, from St. Louis, in 1853.

HUDSON--(First)--Upper River trade about 1830, at which time she was
at Fort Snelling; sunk one mile below Guttenburg Landing, Iowa.

HUDSON--(Second)--Stern-wheel; 176 tons; still running, 1868.

HUMBOLDT--Eleven trips to St. Paul 1853; in St. Paul trade 1854.

HUNTRESS--In Galena trade 1846.

HUNTSVILLE--At Galena May 6 and May 17, 1846, from St. Louis; Clerk

IDA MAY--St. Paul 1859.

ILLINOIS--Captain McAllister, in Galena trade 1841.

IMPERIAL--Large side-wheel; burned at the levee at St. Louis in 1861
by rebel emissary, as is supposed.

INDIANA--Fifth steamboat at Fort Snelling prior to 1827; Captain Fay,
at Galena, 1828.

INDIAN QUEEN--Captain Saltmarsh, at Galena 1840.

IOLA--Made five trips to St. Paul 1853; in St. Paul trade 1854, 1855.

IONE--In Galena trade 1840; made pleasure trip Galena to St. Peters,
1840; Captain LeRoy Dodge, in Galena trade 1842, also 1845. (Captain
James Ward, afterward one of the most successful steamboatmen from
St. Louis, was carpenter on this boat.)

IOWA--Captain Legrand Morehouse, Clerk Hopkins, in Galena trade 1842;
same captain, in Galena and St. Peters trade 1844, 1845. She was a
side-wheel steamboat of 249 tons burden, and cost her captain $22,000
to build. Snagged and sunk at Iowa Island Sept. 10, 1845, in her
third year; total loss.

IRENE--At Galena, for St. Peters, June, 1837.

IRON CITY--At Galena Nov. 7, 1844, from Pittsburg; at Galena Oct.
24, 1845; last boat out of Galena Nov. 28, 1845, at which date Fevre
River closed; at Galena April 11, 1846, from St. Louis, Captain J. C.
Ainsworth; same trade and same captain 1847, 1848; crushed and sunk
by ice at St. Louis, Dec. 31, 1849, killing the cook and steward.

ISAAC SHELBY--At St. Paul Nov. 14, 1857; in Minnesota River trade
1858, 1859.

ITASCA--Side-wheel; new 1857; sister boat to "Key City"; 230 feet
long, 35 feet beam; 560 tons; cylinders 22-inch, seven feet stroke;
wheels 28 feet diameter, 10 feet buckets; Captain David Whitten,
Clerks Chas. Horton and W. S. Lewis, 1857; Prairie du Chien and St.
Paul 1857, 1858, 1859, Captain Whitten; St. Louis & St. Paul, Captain
Whitten, 1860; Dunleith & St. Paul 1861, 1862, Captain J. Y. Hurd;
burned at La Crosse Nov. 25, 1878.

J. BISSEL--Captain Bissell, from Pittsburg, 1857; in Minnesota River
trade 1857, 1858.

J. B. GORDON--Minnesota River boat 1855.

J. M. MASON--Stern-wheel; sunk 1852, above Duck Creek Chain, Rock
Island Rapids; hit rock and stove.

JACOB POE--St. Paul 1857.

JACOB TRABER--Large stern-wheel; had double wheels, operated by
independent engines; very slow; at St. Paul 1856, 1857, 1858.

JAMES LYON--Stern-wheel; built at Belle Vernon, Pa., 1853; 190 tons;
at St. Paul, from St. Louis, 1855, 1856; 1857--Captain Blake; 1858;
went into Missouri River trade, and was snagged and sunk at Miami
Bend, Missouri River, 1858; total loss.

JASPER--Made seven trips Galena to St. Peters, Minn., 1843.

JAMES RAYMOND--Stern-wheel; built at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1853; 294
tons; show boat; at St. Paul 1858; William Fisher piloted her for one

JEANETTE ROBERTS--Small stern-wheel; Captain Louis Robert 1857, 1858,
in Minnesota River trade; Captain F. Aymond 1859, same trade; same
trade 1860, 1861, 1862; 146 tons.

JENNIE WHIPPLE--Small stern-wheel boat, built for Chippewa River
trade; at St. Paul 1857.

JENNY LIND--Stern-wheel; built at Zanesville, Ohio, 1852; 107 tons;
one trip to St. Paul 1853; at St. Paul 1859.

JO DAVIESS--Captain D. Smith Harris, in Galena and St. Peters trade
prior to 1850.

JOHN HARDIN--Built at Pittsburg 1845, for St. Louis, Galena and upper
river trade.

JOHN P. LUCE--At St. Paul 1856.

JOHN RUMSEY--Stern-wheel; Captain Nathaniel Harris, Chippewa River
boat 1859.

JOSEPHINE--(First)--Ninth steamboat to reach Fort Snelling; arrived
there 1827; at Galena 1828, Capt. J. Clark; in Galena & St. Louis
trade 1829, Captain J. Clark.

JOSEPHINE--(Second)--Stern-wheel; St. Paul trade 1856, 1857, 1858.

JULIA--(First)--Side-wheel; snagged in Bellefontaine Bend, Missouri
River, about 1849.

JULIA--(Second)--In Upper River trade 1862.

JULIA DEAN--Small stern-wheel, at St. Paul 1855, 1856.

KATE CASSELL--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1854; 167 tons;
at St. Paul 1855; wintered above the lake; 1856--Captain Sam. Harlow,
Clerk Chas. Hargus; Geo. B. Merrick and Sam. Fifield made their first
appearance on the river as pantry boys on this boat this season;
Russell Ruley mate, Nat. Blaisdell, engineer; at St. Paul 1859.

KATE FRENCH--Captain French, at St. Paul 1857, from St. Louis.

KENTUCKY--Side-wheel; Captain W. H. Atchison, at Galena April 3,
1847, from St. Louis; in Sept. same year, Captain Montgomery, running
from Galena to the Rapids, and connecting there with the "Anthony
Wayne" and "Lucy Bertram" for St. Louis, not being able to run the
rapids on account of low water.

KENTUCKY NO. 2--Side-wheel; built at Evansville, Ind., 1851; 149
tons; at St. Paul 1855; owned by Captain Rissue, of Prescott; at St.
Paul 1857; sunk on bar at foot of Puitt's Island, one mile below
Prescott, 1858.

KEOKUK--Side-wheel; St. Paul trade 1858, 1859; Captain E. V. Holcomb,
in Minnesota Packet Company, La Crosse & St. Paul, 1860, 1861;
Davidson's Line, La Crosse & St. Paul, 1861; first boat at Winona,
April 2, 1862, Captain J. R. Hatcher; 300 tons.

KEY CITY--Side-wheel; new 1857; built for the Minnesota Packet Co.;
sister boat to "Itasca"; length 230 feet, beam 35 feet, 560 tons
burden; very fast; Captain Jones Worden, Clerk George S. Pierce,
1857, Galena, Dunleith & St. Paul run; same 1858, 1859; same captain,
in St. Louis & St. Paul run, 1860, 1861; same captain, in Dunleith
& St. Paul run, 1862. "Ned" West was pilot of the "Key City" every
season, I think, from 1857 to 1862. He was one of the very best
pilots on the upper river. He died at St. Paul in 1904.

KEY STONE--Side-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1853; 307 tons.

KEY WEST--At St. Paul 1857.

KNICKERBOCKER--At Fort Snelling June 25, 1839.

LACLEDE--(First)--Built at St. Louis in 1844, for the Keokuk Packet
Co.; burned at St. Louis August 9, 1848.

LACLEDE--(Second)--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1855; 197
tons; at St. Paul 1855, 1856, 1857--Captain Vorhies at St. Paul from
St. Louis; St. Paul 1858.

LA CROSSE--At St. Paul, from Pittsburg, 1857--Captain Brickle; again

LADY FRANKLIN--Side-wheel; built at Wheeling, Va., 1850; 206
tons; at St. Paul June 19, 1851, for first time; in Minnesota
Packet Company; at St. Paul, from St. Louis, May 5, 1855, with 800
passengers--Captain J. W. Malin, Clerks Ed. W. Halliday, Orren Smith;
1856--Captain M. E. Lucas, at St. Paul; sunk at foot of Coon Slough
fall of 1856--snagged.

LADY MARSHALL--In St. Louis & Galena trade 1837.

LADY WASHINGTON--Captain Shellcross, at Galena, loading for Fort
Snelling, 1829.

LAKE CITY--Stern-wheel; built at Pittsburg 1857; Captain Sloan, at
St. Paul 1857; in St. Paul trade 1858, 1859; burned by guerrillas at
Carson's Landing, Mo., 1862.

LAKE OF THE WOODS--At Galena, from St. Louis, June 5, 1847.

LAMARTINE--First trip to St. Paul 1850; went up to Falls of St.
Anthony 1850; at St. Paul June 19, 1851.

LASALLE--At Galena from St. Louis, April 19, 1845.

LATROBE--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1853; 159 tons; at
St. Paul from St. Louis, 1855.

LAWRENCE--Sixth steamboat to reach Fort Snelling; arrived there in

LEWIS F. LYNN--Captain S. M. Kennett, at St. Peters, from Galena,

LIGHT FOOT--In company with "Time and Tide" took excursion from St.
Louis to Fort Snelling in 1845; Captain M. K. Harris, first boat at
Galena from St. Louis April 20, 1847; at Galena Sept. 25, 1846.

LINN--At Galena, for St. Anthony Falls, May, 1846. (Possibly intended
for "Lewis F. Lynn".)

LITTLE DOVE--Captain H. Hoskins, regular Galena & St. Peters packet,
season 1846.

LLOYD HANNA--Advertised for a pleasure excursion from Galena to St.
Peters, summer of 1840.

LUCIE MAY--Stern-wheel; built at West Brownsville, Pa., 1855; 172
tons; in St. Louis & St. Paul trade 1856, 1857; 1858--Captain J. B.
Rhodes, same trade; 1859, Northwestern Line, St. Louis & St. Paul;
sunk five miles below Lagrange, Mo., 1860.

LUCY BERTRAM--Running from St. Louis to the foot of rapids, summer of
1847, in connection with "Kentucky", running above rapids, forming a
low water line from St. Louis to Galena.

LUELLA--Stern-wheel; built at Nashville, Tenn., 1851; 162 tons; first
trip to St. Paul fall of 1852--Captain D. Smith Harris; seven trips
to St. Paul 1853, 1854, 1855--Captain Sam. Harlow, Galena & St. Paul
run; 1856; had boilers and engines of a much larger boat which had
been sunk, and was consequently very fast; dismantled at Dunleith.

LYNX--At Galena from St. Louis, 1844, Captain W. H. Hooper; Captain
John Atchison, Galena & St. Peters trade 1845, Mr. Barger, clerk;
Captain Atchison, in Galena & St. Peters trade 1846, 1847; sunk at
head of Atlas Island 1849; first through lake 1846.

MAID OF IOWA--At Galena June 15, 1845; running to Fort Winnebago
(now Portage, Wis.) on Wisconsin River, in connection with steamer
"Enterprise" on Fox River, the two forming a line from Green Bay to
Galena; Captain Peter Hotelling master and owner.

MALTA--Side-wheel; Captain Joseph Throckmorton, at Fort Snelling July
22, 1839; advertised at Galena in summer of 1840 for pleasure trip
to St. Peters; went into Missouri River trade, where she was snagged
in Malta Bend, August, 1841, and sank in 15 feet of water, in little
more than a minute after striking a snag; boat and cargo total loss;
no lives lost; Captain Throckmorton was in command at the time and
owned nearly all or quite all of the boat.

MANDAN--Side-wheel; fourth boat to arrive at Fort Snelling prior to
1827; snagged at mouth of Gasconade River, on the Missouri, sometime
in the forties; Captain Phil Hanna, master at the time.

MANSFIELD--Stern-wheel; built at Belle Vernon, Pa., 1854; 166 tons;
St. Paul 1856, 1857--Captain Owens; Clerk Bryant.

MARTHA NO. 2--Built at Shousetown, Pa., 1849; 180 tons; at St. Paul
April 24, 1851, from St. Louis; 1852.

MARY BLANE--Captain J. C. Smith, regular St. Louis and Galena Packet,

MARY C--At St. Paul 1853.

MATTIE WAYNE--Side-wheel; built at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1852; 335 tons;
at St. Paul 1856; greatly damaged by fire at St. Louis 1855.

MEDORA--Owned in St. Paul by William Constans, 1857; Captain Ed.
McLagan, in Minnesota River trade 1858.

MENDOTA--Captain Robert A. Reilly, at St. Peters, from Galena, 1844;
same captain, in St. Louis & Galena trade 1845; Captain Starnes, in
St. Louis & Galena trade 1846; snagged opposite Cat Island October,
1847, but raised.

MERMAID--Side-wheel; in collision with Steamer "St. Croix", near
Quincy, April 11, 1845; larboard wheel and cook's galley knocked off.

MESSENGER--Large stern-wheel; built at Pittsburg, Pa., 1855; 406
tons; very fast, in St. Paul trade in opposition to Minnesota Packet
Company, 1857, from St. Louis; raced with "Key City" for championship
of Upper River and was defeated.

METROPOLITAN--Very large side-wheel; St. Louis & St. Paul trade
1856; Captain Thos. B. Rhodes, same trade 1857; Northwestern Line,
same captain, 1858, 1859; Captain J. B. Jenks 1860; Captain Thos.
B. Buford 1861; sunk at St. Louis by breaking of ice jams, Dec. 16,
1865; valued at $18,000.

MILWAUKEE--Large side-wheel; one of the crack boats of the Minnesota
Packet Company, built at Cincinnati winter of 1856; 240 feet long,
33 feet beam; 550 tons burden; Captain Stephen Hewitt, in Prairie
du Chien & St. Paul run 1857, 1858, 1859; Captain John Cochrane,
in Dunleith & St. Paul run 1860, 1861; Captain E. V. Holcombe, in
Dunleith run 1862.

MINNESOTA--(First)--Stern-wheel; built at Elizabethtown, Ky., 1849;
at St. Paul, from Galena, 1849--Captain R. A. Riley; at St. Paul
June 25, 1851; 1857, 1858, Captain Hay, in Minnesota River trade.

MINNESOTA BELLE--Side-wheel; built at Belle Vernon, Pa., 1854; 226
tons; 1854, 1855, 1856--Captain Humbertson, in St. Louis & St. Paul
trade; 1857--Captain Thos. B. Hill, same trade; 1859, in Northern
Line, St. Louis & St. Paul, Captain Hill.


MISSOURI FULTON--Captain Culver, first part 1828; at Galena for St.
Peters, Captain Clark later in 1828; arrived at Fort Snelling May 8,
1836, Captain Orren Smith; same captain, in Galena & St. Peters trade

MOHAWK--Sunk 1859, at head of Clarkesville Island.

MONDIANA--At Galena, from St. Louis, June 6, 1847.

MONITOR--Small stern-wheel, 99 tons, from Pittsburg, at St. Paul,

MONONA--At Galena from St. Louis March 10, 1845, Captain Nick Wall;
sunk opposite Little Washington, Missouri River, Oct. 30, 1846;
raised; in Galena & St. Peters trade, Captain E. H. Gleim, 1846; at
Galena, from St. Louis, April 3, 1847, Captain Ludlow Chambers.

MONTAUK--(First)--At Galena Oct. 18, 1847, from St. Louis; at Galena,
from St. Louis 1848, Captain John Lee; regular packet.

MONTAUK--(Second)--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1853; 237
tons; at St. Paul from St. Louis, 1855; 1856--Captain Parker, from
St. Louis; 1857--Captain Burke, Clerks Mullen and Ditto, from St.

MONTELLO--Small stern-wheel from Fox River, Wis., in Minnesota River
trade 1855; built over hull of barge--no boiler deck.

MOSES McLELLAN--Side-wheel; built at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1855; 400
tons; Captain Martin, in Davidson Line, La Crosse & St. Paul, 1862.

MOUNT DEMING--At St. Paul 1857.

MUNGO PARK--At Galena from St. Louis April 16, 1845; regular packet.

MUSCODA--Captain J. H. Lusk, in Galena trade 1841.

NAVIGATOR--Large stern-wheel; Captain A. T. Champlin, in St. Louis &
St. Paul trade 1854; same trade 1855; 300 tons; built at Pittsburg,
by William Dean.

NEIVILLE--Second steamboat to arrive at Fort Snelling prior to 1827.

NELLIE KENT--Small stern-wheel, built at Osceola, Wis., by Captain
Kent, to run between Prescott and St. Croix Falls.

NEW HAVEN--At Galena, for St. Louis, Nov. 5, 1844; regular St. Louis,
Galena, Dubuque & Potosi Packet, 1845, Captain Geo. L. King; at
Galena June 12, 1846.

NEW ST. PAUL--Side-wheel; built at New Albany, Ind., 1852; 225 tons;
Captain James Bissell; went into Missouri River trade, and was
snagged and sunk at St. Albert's Island, Aug. 19, 1857; boat and
cargo total loss; boat cost $25,000.

NEW YORK--At St. Paul 1856.

NIMROD--At Galena from St. Louis, June 14, 1845; American Fur Company
boat; went into Missouri River trade.

NOMINEE--Side-wheel; built at Shousetown, Pa., 1848; 213 tons;
Captain D. Smith Harris, arrived at St. Paul, April 19, 1850, in
company with "Highland Mary", first boats through lake; in Minnesota
Packet Co.; Captain Orren Smith, at St. Paul April 16, 1852, 8 P. M.,
first boat through lake; Captain Russell Blakeley, 29 trips Galena
to St. Paul, 1853; Captain Russell Blakeley, first boat at St. Paul
April 8, 1854; sunk below Britt's Landing, 1854; Mr. Maitland was
clerk in 1852.

NORTHERNER--Side-wheel; built at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1853; 400 tons;
very fast; contested with "Key City" for championship of Upper River,
but was beaten; in Northern Line, St. Louis & St. Paul; Captain Pliny
A. Alford, commanded her 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861, 1862; burned at St.
Louis prior to 1871.

NORTHERN BELLE--Side-wheel; 498 tons; built at Cincinnati, under
supervision of Captain Preston Lodwick in 1856, for Minnesota Packet
Co.; 226 feet long, 29 feet beam, light draft and very handsomely
finished, outside and in; Galena & St. Paul Line 1856, Captain
Preston Lodwick; Captain J. Y. Hurd, Dunleith Line, 1858; same
captain, in La Crosse Line 1859; same captain, in Dunleith Line,
1860; in La Crosse Line, Captain W. H. Laughton, 1861; took five
companies of the First Minnesota Infantry Volunteers from St. Paul to
La Crosse, June 22, 1861; Captain W. H. Laughton, in Davidson's La
Crosse Line, 1862.

NORTHERN LIGHT--Large side-wheel; built at Cincinnati for Minnesota
Packet Co., winter of 1856; length 240 feet, beam 40 feet, hold 5
feet; 740 tons; cylinders 22 inches, seven feet stroke; 8 boilers,
46 inches diameter, 17 feet long; wheels 31 feet diameter, 9 feet
buckets, 30 inches dip; came out in the spring of 1857 with Captain
Preston Lodwick, Clerks J. D. DuBois and K. C. Cooley; Engineers
James Kinestone and Geo. Radebaugh; Mate James Morrison; had oil
paintings of St. Anthony Falls, Dayton Bluffs and Maiden Rock in
panels in the cabin; paddle boxes had paintings of _aurora borealis_;
Captain P. Lodwick, in Galena, Dunleith & St. Paul Line 1857, 1858,
1859; same captain, in St. Louis & St. Paul Line 1860; Captain John
B. Davis, St. Louis Line 1861; Captain Gabbert, in Dunleith Line
1862; sunk in first bend below head of Coon Slough, by Jackson
Harris, pilot, who swung stern of boat into solid shore ice in making
fast turn of the bend, tearing out the stern of the boat and sinking
her in 30 feet of water in a few minutes.

NORTH STAR--Built above the Falls of St. Anthony by Captain John
Rawlins in 1855; running from St. Anthony to Sauk Rapids until 1857.

NUGGET--Stern-wheel; snagged April 22, 1866, abreast Dacota City,
Nebr., on Missouri River; boat and cargo total loss; boat valued at

OAKLAND--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1853; 142 tons;
Captain C. S. Morrison, at St. Paul, 1855; at St. Paul from St. Louis
1856, 1857, 1858.

OCEAN WAVE--Side-wheel; built at Elizabeth, Ky., 1854; 235 tons;
very short boat and very hard to steer; cost $17,000; in Minnesota
Packet Company, Captain E. H. Gleim 1856; 1857, Captain Andrews in
spring, and Captain James in fall, in Galena & St. Paul Line; 1858,
1859--Captain Scott, in Prairie du Chien Line; 1860, Captain N. F.
Webb, in Dunleith Line; 1861, Captain Webb, in La Crosse Line.

ODD FELLOW--Cline, master, at Galena 1848.

OHIO--Captain Mark Atchison, in Galena trade 1842; at Galena for St.
Louis, Nov. 5, 1844.

OLIVE BRANCH--Captain Strother, at Galena, for St. Louis, April 9,

OMEGA--At Galena for St. Peters, Minnesota, spring of 1840, Captain
Joseph Sire, Pilot Joseph La Barge; owned by American Fur Co.; went
into the Missouri River trade.

ORB--Stern-wheel; built at Wheeling, Va., 1854; 226 tons; at St. Paul
from St. Louis, 1857, Captain Spencer.

OSCEOLA--Small stern-wheel boat, built for St. Croix River trade; at
St. Paul 1855.

OSPREY--In St. Louis & Galena trade 1842, Captain N. W. Parker; same
trade 1845, 1846.

OSWEGO--At St. Paul Nov. 13, 1851.

OTTER--Built and owned by Harris Brothers; D. Smith Harris, captain;
R. Scribe Harris, engineer; in Galena and St. Peters trade 1841,
1842; 7 trips to St. Peters in 1843; Captain Scribe Harris, in same
trade 1844, 1845; arrived at Galena from St. Peters, April 8, 1845,
having passed through lake on up trip; in same trade 1846, 1847;
Harris Bros, sold her in 1848; her engines were taken out and placed
in the "Tiger" prior to 1852.

PALMYRA--Captain Cole, arrived at Fort Snelling June 1, 1836, with a
pleasure excursion consisting of some 30 ladies and gentlemen from
Galena; in Galena & St. Peters trade 1837, Captain Middleton; arrived
at Fort Snelling July 14, 1838, bringing the official notice of the
Sioux treaty, opening of St. Croix Valley to settlers; also brought
machinery for sawmill to be built on St. Croix, and Mr. Calvin
Tuttle, millwright, with a number of workers to erect the mill.

PANOLA--At St. Paul 1858.

PARTHENIA--Stern-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1854; 154 tons; in
St. Paul trade 1856, 1857.

PAVILION--Captain Lafferty, at Galena for St. Peters, June 1, 1837.

PEARL--At Galena for St. Louis, March 16, 1845; same October, 1847,
Montgomery, master; regular Galena & St. Peters trade 1848; also for
St. Croix Falls.

PEMBINA--Side-wheel; in Northwestern Line and Northern Line; Captain
Thos. H. Griffith, St. Louis & St. Paul 1857, 1858, 1859; Captain
John B. Hill, same trade 1860, 1861.

PENNSYLVANIA--Captain Stone, at St. Paul June 1, 1839.

PIKE--At Galena, on her way up the river, Sept. 3, 1839; arrived at
Fort Snelling with troops Sept. 9, 1839; arrived again Sept. 17,
1839; in same trade 1840.

PILOT--At Galena from St. Louis, Sept. 6, 1846.

PIZARRO--At Galena, new 1838; built by Captain R. Scribe Harris; 133
feet long, 20 feet beam, 144 tons burden; in Galena trade 1840.

PLANET--At Galena from St. Louis May 21, 1847.

PLOW BOY--Side-wheel; 275 tons; snagged above Providence, Mo., on
Missouri River, 1853.

POMEROY--Minnesota River boat, Captain Bell 1861.

POTOSI--Collapsed flue at Quincy, Ill., October 4, 1844, killing two
passengers; at Galena, Ill., from St. Louis, April 11, 1846.

PRAIRIE BIRD--Captain Nick Wall, in Galena, St. Louis & St. Peters
trade 1846; at Galena April 11, 1846; at Galena, April 3, 1847,
Captain Nick Wall, same trade; 213 tons burden; cost $17,000; sunk
above Keithsburg, Iowa, 1852.

PRAIRIE ROSE--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1854; 248 tons;
in St. Louis and St. Paul trade, 1855, Captain Maratta.

PRAIRIE STATE--(First)--One of the early boats on the Upper River;
exploded boilers at Pekin, Ill., April 25, 1852, killing 20 of the
deck passengers and crew.

PRAIRIE STATE--(Second)--Stern-wheel; 281 tons; 59 horse power;
Captain Truett, St. Louis & St. Paul Packet, 1855.

PRE-EMPTION--Built by Harris Bros., of Galena; Captain D. Smith
Harris, some time prior to 1852.

PROGRESS--Stern-wheel; built at Shousetown, Pa., 1854; 217 tons;
Captain Goodell, at St. Paul, loading for St. Louis, 1857.

QUINCY--In Galena trade 1840.

RARITAN--Captain Rogers, at Galena 1846.

REBUS--St. Paul trade 1854.

RED ROVER--Captain Throckmorton, in Galena trade 1828, 1829, 1830.

RED WING--(First)--Side-wheel; 24 feet beam; new 1846; Captain
Berger, in St. Louis & St. Peters regular trade, 1846; at Galena
April, 1846; Clerk Green; Captain Berger, St. Louis & St. Peters,
1847, 1848.

RED WING--(Second)--Side-wheel; at St. Paul 1855; Captain Woodburn,
at St. Paul 1857; Captain Ward, latter part 1857; Captain Ward, at
St. Paul 1858.

RED WING--(Third)--In Northwestern Line, 1879-1880; side-wheel, 670
tons burden.

REGULATOR--Stern-wheel; built at Shousetown, Pa., 1851; 156 tons; in
St. Louis & St. Paul trade 1855.

RELIEF--Captain D. Smith Harris, prior to 1852.

RESCUE--Stern-wheel; built at Shousetown, Pa., 1853; 169 tons; built
for towboat; very fast; Captain Irvine, at St. Paul from Pittsburg,

RESERVE--At St. Paul 1857.

RESOLUTE--Stern-wheel (towboat); very powerful engines; 316 tons;
owned by Capt. R. C. Gray, of Pittsburg Tow-boat Line.

REVEILLE--Small stern-wheel; wintered above the lake 1855; St. Paul
trade 1855, 1856, 1857.

REVEILLE--At Galena, from St. Louis, April 18, 1846; regular packet
in that trade; (do not know whether it is the same as above).

REVENUE--Captain Turner, in Galena trade 1847; burned on Illinois
River, May 24, 1847.

REVENUE CUTTER--Captain McMahan and Oliver Harris, owners, McMahan,
master, at Galena, from St. Louis, May 9, 1847; in Galena & St.
Peters trade; bought to take place of steamer "Cora" sold to go into
Missouri River trade.

ROBERT FULTON--At St. Paul July 3, 1851.

ROCHESTER--Built at Belle Vernon, Pa., 1855; 199 tons; at St. Paul

ROCKET--At St. Paul from St. Louis, 1857.

ROCK RIVER--Small boat, owned and commanded by Augustin Havaszthy,
Count de Castro, an Hungarian exile; in Galena and upper river trade
1841; made trips between Galena & St. Peters once in two weeks during
season of 1842; in same trade 1843, 1844; laid up for winter at
Wacouta, head of lake, in fall of 1844, her cook and several others
of the crew walking on the ice to La Crosse; the captain and two or
three others remained on board all winter, and in the spring, as soon
as the ice was out of the lake, went south with the boat, which ran
on some lower river tributary, and the Count was lost sight of.

ROLLA--At Galena for St. Peters, June 18, 1837; had on board Major
Tallaferro, U. S. A., with a party of Indians; arrived at Fort
Snelling Nov. 10, 1837, bringing delegations of chiefs who had been
to Washington to make a treaty whereby the St. Croix Valley was
opened to settlers; collapsed a flue and burned near Rock Island,
Ill., November, 1837, killing one fireman and severely scalding the
engineer on watch.

ROSALIE--(First)--In Galena and St. Louis trade 1839.

ROSALIE--(Second)--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1854; 158
tons; Captain Rounds, from Pittsburg, with stoves and hardware, sunk
below St. Paul 1857; was raised and continued in St. Paul trade,
1858, 1859.

ROYAL ARCH--Side-wheel; built at West Elizabeth, Pa., 1852; 213 tons;
Captain E. H. Gleim, in Minnesota Packet Co., 1854; 1855; 1856, same
line; sunk opposite Nine Mile Island 1858.

RUFUS PUTNAM--Third steamboat to reach Fort Snelling; arrived there
in 1825.

RUMSEY--Small Minnesota River boat; sunk on mud flat opposite levee
at St. Paul.

SAM GATY--Large side-wheel; built at St. Louis, Mo., 1853; 367 tons,
288 horse-power engines; Captain Vickers, at St. Paul 1855; went into
Missouri River trade; struck a bluff bank at point opposite Arrow
Rock, Mo., knocked her boilers down and set fire to boat, burned and
sank, June 27, 1867. She had been a money-maker for many years, both
on the Mississippi and on the Missouri.

SAM KIRKMAN--At St. Paul 1858.

SAM. YOUNG--Built at Shousetown, Pa., 1855; 155 tons; at St. Paul
1856; Captain Reno, from Pittsburg, at St. Paul 1857.

SANGAMON--Stern-wheel; built at New Albany, Ind., 1853; 86 tons;
Captain R. M. Spencer, at St. Paul 1854.

SARACEN--New 1856; built at New Albany, Ind., Captain H. B. Stran,
Clerk Casey, at St. Paul 1857.

SARAH ANN--Captain Lafferty, in Galena trade 1841; sunk, 1841, at
head of Island 500; raised; regular St. Louis & Galena packet.

SAXON--At St. Paul 1859.

SCIENCE--Running between St. Louis and Fort Winnebago, on the
Wisconsin (now Portage); made three trips to the Fort in 1837 with
troops and government supplies.

SCIOTA--Seventeenth steamboat to arrive at Fort Snelling prior to

SENATOR--At Galena, from St. Louis, April 20, 1847, first; Captain
E. M. McCoy; in Galena and upper river trade 1847; bought by Harris
Brothers 1848; Captain D. Smith Harris, in Galena & St. Peters trade
1848; arrived at Galena, from St. Peters April 13, reporting heavy
ice in Lake Pepin, but was able to get through; Captain Orren Smith,
1849, 1850, in Galena & St. Paul trade. She was the second boat owned
by the Minnesota Packet Company, the "Dr. Franklin" being the first.

SHENANDOAH--Made five trips to St. Paul, from St. Louis, in 1853;
same trade 1855; was in great ice gorge at St. Louis, February, 1856.

SILVER WAVE--Stern-wheel; built at Glasgow, Ohio, 1855; 245 tons; in
upper river trade 1856.

SKIPPER--At St. Paul 1857.

SMELTER--Captain D. Smith Harris, Engineer Scribe Harris, Galena &
St. Peters trade 1837; was one of the first boats on the upper river
to be built with a cabin answering to the "boiler deck" of modern

SNOW DROP--At St. Paul 1859.

STATESMAN--Built at Brownsville, Pa., 1851; 250 tons; at St. Paul

STELLA WHIPPLE--Stern-wheel; Captain Haycock, Minnesota River trade,
1861; built for the Chippewa River.

ST. ANTHONY--Side-wheel; 157 feet long, 24 feet beam, 5 feet hold;
30 staterooms; small boat, but highly finished and furnished for
that time; hull built by S. Speer, of Belle Vernon, Pa., engines by
Stackhouse & Nelson, of Pittsburg, modeled by Mr. King; Captain A. G.
Montford, in Galena & St. Peters trade 1846, regularly.

ST. CROIX--Side-wheel; built by Hiram Bersie, William Cupps, James
Ryan and James Ward; Captain Hiram Bersie, Mate James Ward, 1844, in
St. Louis, Galena & St. Peters trade; in collision with "Mermaid",
near Quincy, April 11, 1845, losing her barge; damaged by fire May
13, 1845; in upper river trade 1845, 1846, 1847, Captain Bersie,

ST. LOUIS--Stern-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1855; 192 tons; at
St. Paul 1856, 1859.

ST. LOUIS OAK--Side-wheel; Captain Coones, St. Louis, Galena &
Dubuque trade 1845; snagged and lost at head of Howard's Bend,
Missouri River, 1847, Captain Dozier in command.

ST. PAUL--Side-wheel; built at Wheeling, Va., 1852, for Harris Bros.,
Galena, Ill.; 1852, Captain M. K. Harris, in Galena & St. Paul trade;
was very slow, and drew too much water for upper river trade; 1854,
Captain Bissell, at St. Paul for St. Louis; at St. Paul 1855.

ST. PETERS--(First)--Captain Joseph Throckmorton, at St. Peters
and Fort Snelling July 2, 1836; brought as one of her passengers
Nicollet, who came to explore the Northwest Territory.

ST. PETERS--(Second)--Built and owned by Captain James Ward (formerly
mate of the "St. Croix"), who commanded her; burned at St. Louis May
17, 1849; valued at $2,000.

SUCKER STATE--Side-wheel; in Northern Line; Captain Thos. B. Rhodes,
in St. Louis & St. Paul Line, 1859, 1860, 1861; Captain James Ward,
in same line, 1862; was burned at Alton Slough, together with three
or four other boats, while lying in winter quarters.

SUTLER--Captain D. Smith Harris, prior to 1850.

TEMPEST--(First)--Regular St. Louis, Galena, Dubuque & Potosi packet;
at Galena April 11, 1846, Captain John Smith.

TEMPEST--(Second)--Side-wheel; went into Missouri River trade and was
snagged and lost about 1865, at Upper Bonhomme Island.

THOS. SCOTT--Large side-wheel; at St. Paul, from St. Louis, 1856.

TIGER--Had engines of old "Otter"; Captain Maxwell, in St. Paul trade
1850; same captain, in Minnesota River trade 1851, 1852; 104 tons, 52
horse power; very slow.

TIGRESS--Large stern-wheel; 356 tons; Ohio River towboat; powerful
engines and very fast; at St. Paul 1858; sunk by Confederate
batteries at Vicksburg 1863.

TIME--At Galena May 15, 1845; regular St. Louis & Galena packet; at
Galena April 11, 1846, from St. Louis, Captain Wm. H. Hooker, in
regular trade; snagged and sunk one-half mile below Pontoosuc, Ia.,
August, 1846.

TIME AND TIDE--(First)--Captain D. Smith Harris, Keeler Harris,
engineer, brought excursion party to Fort Snelling, in company with
steamer "Light Foot", in 1845; at Galena April 13, 1847, E. W. Gould,
master, in regular St. Louis, Galena & St. Peters trade.

TIME AND TIDE--(Second)--Stern-wheel; built at Freedom, Pa., 1853;
131 tons; Captain Louis Robert, at St. Paul 1855, 1856; same captain,
in Minnesota River trade 1857, 1858; Captain Nelson Robert, same
trade 1859.

TISHOMINGO--Side-wheel; built at New Albany, Ind., 1852; 188 tons;
very fast boat; bought by one Johnson, of Winona, Minn., from lower
river parties, to run in opposition to Minnesota Packet Company;
was in St. Paul trade 1856, but lost money and was sold for debt at
Galena in winter of 1856; bought for $25,000 by Captain Sargent;
reported as having left St. Louis April 14, 1857, Jenks, master, for
St. Paul with 465 cabin passengers and 93 deck passengers, besides a
full cargo of freight, worth to the boat about $14,000.

TUNIS--At St. Paul 1857.

TWIN CITY--Side-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1853; 170 tons; in
St. Paul trade 1855; burned at St. Louis Dec. 7, 1855.

UNCLE TOBY--Captain Geo. B. Cole, at St. Peters, from St. Louis,
1845; at Galena April 9, 1846, from St. Louis Captain Geo. B. Cole;
regular St. Louis, Galena & Dubuque packet for season; 1847, Captain
Henry R. Day, regular St. Louis & St. Peters packet; in same trade
1851; arrived at Point Douglass, Minn., Nov. 20, 1851, and there
unloaded and had freight hauled by team to St. Paul on account of
floating ice; put back from Point Douglass to St. Louis.

U. S. MAIL--At St. Paul 1855.

VALLEY FORGE--Advertised a pleasure trip from Galena to St. Peters,

VERSAILLES--Arrived at Fort Snelling May 12, 1832, from Galena.

VIENNA--Stern-wheel; built at Monongahela, Pa., 1853; 170 tons; in
St. Louis & St. Paul trade 1855, 1856.

VIOLET--At St. Paul 1856.

VIRGINIA--At St. Louis April, 1823, with government stores for Fort
Snelling, John Shellcross, master; arrived at Fort May 10, 1823;
built at Pittsburg; 118 feet long, 22 feet beam, 160 tons.

VIXEN--Stern-wheel; built at St. Paul; from Pittsburg, 1857, 1858,

VOLANT--Thirteenth steamboat to arrive at Fort Snelling, prior to

W. G. WOODSIDE--Built at Moundsville, Va., 1855; 197 tons; at St.
Paul 1856.

W. H. DENNY--Side-wheel; built at California, Pa., 1855; 276 tons;
Captain Lyons, at St. Paul from St. Louis, 1857; sunk opposite head
of Fabius Island 1857.

WM. L. EWING--Large side-wheel; Captain Smith, St. Louis & St. Paul,
1857; in Northwestern Line, Captain Green, 1858; same 1859; Northern
Line 1860, 1861, Captain J. H. Rhodes, St. Louis & St. Paul.

W. S. NELSON--Captain Jameson, at St. Paul 1857; at St. Paul 1859.

WAR EAGLE--(First)--Built by Harris Brothers for Galena & St. Peters
trade in 1845; 156 tons burden; commanded by Captain D. Smith Harris,
Scribe Harris, engineer; in Galena & St. Peters trade 1845, 1846,
1847; St. Louis & St. Peters 1848; in 1848 Harris Bros. sold her and
bought the "Senator", in order to get a faster boat.

WAR EAGLE--(Second)--Built at Cincinnati, winter of 1853-4;
side-wheel; 219 feet long, 29 feet beam, 296 tons; had 46 staterooms;
3 boilers, 14 feet long; in Minnesota Packet Company, Captain D.
Smith Harris, Galena & St. Paul, 1854, 1855, 1856; made the run from
Galena to St. Paul, 1855, in 44 hours, handling all way freight;
1857, Captain Kingman, Clerks Coffin and Ball, in Dunleith & St. Paul
Line; Captain W. H. Gabbert, 1858, same line; La Crosse Line 1859;
Captain J. B. Davis, 1860, in La Crosse Line; spring of 1861 started
out from La Crosse with following roster of officers: Captain A.
Mitchell, Clerk Sam Cook, Second Clerk E. A. Johnson, Pilots Jackson
Harris, and William Fisher; Engineers Troxell and Wright; Steward
Frank Norris; later in the season Captain Mitchell was succeeded by
Captain Chas. L. Stephenson and ran in Dunleith Line; June 22, 1861,
left St. Paul with five companies of the First Minnesota Infantry
Volunteers, the "Northern Belle" having the other five companies,
which were landed at La Crosse and transferred to the railroad for
transportation to Washington; 1862, in Dunleith Line, Captain N. F.
Webb; in St. Paul trade 1862, 1863; Thomas Cushing, master in latter
year; burnt, La Crosse (year not learned).

WARRIOR--Built in 1832 by Captain Joseph Throckmorton, for upper
river trade; took part in the battle of Bad Axe, where the Indians
under Blackhawk were defeated and dispersed, Captain Throckmorton in
command of boat, E. H. Gleim, clerk, William White, pilot; arrived
at Fort Snelling on first trip of the season, June 24, 1835, having
among her passengers General Geo. W. Jones, U. S. A., Captain Day and
Lieut. Beech, U. S. A., and Catlin, the artist, on his way to study
the Indians of the northwest; at Fort again July 16, 1835; at Galena
advertised for Pittsburg, Nov. 7, 1835; in Galena & St. Peters trade

WAVE--Small stern-wheel; Captain Maxwell, in Minnesota River trade,
1857, 1858. At Galena, from St. Louis, 1845. (Possibly another boat.)

WENONA--Stern-wheel; built at Belle Vernon, Pa., 1855; 171 tons;
Captain L. Brown, in Minnesota River trade; also in St. Croix River
trade for a time; at St. Paul 1859.

WEST NEWTON--Captain D. Smith Harris, 1852, in Galena & St. Paul
trade; first boat at St. Paul 1853, Captain Harris; made 27 trips
between Galena and St. Paul 1853; sunk at foot of West Newton Chute,
below Alma, in Sept., 1853.

WHITE BLUFF--At St. Paul 1856.

WHITE CLOUD--(First)--Burnt at St. Louis May 17, 1849.

WHITE CLOUD--(Second)--Side-wheel; very fast; had double rudders;
Captain Alford, from St. Louis at St. Paul, 1857; sunk at St. Louis,
Feb. 13, 1867, by ice; total loss.

WINNEBAGO--Built 1830, by Captain George W. Atchison and Captain
Joseph Throckmorton; in Galena & St. Louis trade, Jos. Throckmorton,
master; also visited Fort Snelling with government stores.

WINONA--Side-wheel; Captain J. R. Hatcher, Davidson Line, La Crosse &
St. Paul, 1861.

WIOTA--New 1845; built and owned by Captain R. A. Reilly, Corwith
Bros., and Wm. Hempstead, of Galena; side-wheel, 180 feet long,
24 feet beam, 5 feet hold; double engines, 18 inch diameter, 7
feet stroke, 3 boilers, wheels 22 feet diameter, 10 feet buckets;
gangway to boiler deck in front, instead of on the side as had been
customary; in St. Louis & Galena trade, R. A. Reilly, master.

WISCONSIN--Captain Flaherty, at Galena, for St. Louis, April 9, 1836.

WYANDOTTE--Captain Pierce, Dubuque & St. Paul Line, 1856.

WYOMING--In Galena & St. Louis trade 1837.

YANKEE--Stern-wheel, 145 feet long, 200 tons burden, at St. Paul
Sept. 27, 1849; August 1, 1850, started on trip of 300 miles up the
Minnesota River with a party of ladies and gentlemen, on an exploring
expedition; Captain M. K. Harris, Clerk G. R. Girdon, Pilot J. S.
Armstrong, Engineers G. W. Scott and G. L. Sargent; reached a point
many miles further up the river than had heretofore been reached by
steamboats; at St. Paul June 26, 1851, Captain Orren Smith.

YORK STATE--Side-wheel; built at Brownsville, Pa., 1852; 247 tons;
Captain Griffiths, in St. Louis & St. Paul trade 1855; at St. Paul
1856--Captain James Ward, who also owned her.

Appendix B

_Opening of Navigation at St. Paul, 1844-1862_

      |               |          |              |Length of  | No. | Total
      |               |          |              |Season (No.| of  | No. of
 Year |   First Boat  |   Date   | River Closed |of Days)   |Boats| Arrivals
 1844 |     Otter     | April  6 | November 23  |    231    |   6 |   41
 1845 |     Otter     | April  6 | November 23  |    234    |   7 |   48
 1846 |      Lynx     | March 31 | December  5  |    245    |   9 |   24
 1847 |      Cora     | April  7 | November 29  |    236    |   7 |   47
 1848 |    Senator    | April  7 | December  4  |    241    |   6 |   63
 1849 | Highland Mary | April  9 | December  7  |    242    |   8 |   85
 1850 | Highland Mary | April 19 | December  4  |    229    |   9 |  104
 1851 |    Nominee    | April  4 | November  8  |    218    |  10 |  119
 1852 |    Nominee    | April 16 | November 18  |    216    |   6 |  171
 1853 |  West Newton  | April 11 | November 30  |    233    |  17 |  235
 1854 |    Nominee    | April  8 | November 27  |    223    |  23 |  310
 1855 |   War Eagle   | April 17 | November 20  |    217    |  68 |  536
 1856 | Lady Franklin | April 18 | November 10  |    212    |  79 |  759
 1857 |     Galena    | May    1 | November 14  |    198    |  99 |  965
 1858 |   Grey Eagle  | March 25 | November 15  |    236    |  62 | 1090
 1859 |    Key City   | March 19 | November 27  |    222    |  54 |  802
 1860 |   Milwaukee   | March 28 | November 23  |    240    |  45 |  776
 1861 |   Ocean Wave  | March  8 | November 26  |    203    |  32 |  977
 1862 |     Keokuk    | March 18 | November 15  |    212    |  18 |  846

Appendix C

_Table of Distances from St. Louis_

                          |          |DISTANCE |GOVERNMENT
                          |1858      |PORTS    |1880
 Alton, Ill.              |    25    |   --    |    23
 Grafton, Ill.            |    --    |   16    |    39
 Cap au Gris, Mo.         |    65    |   27    |    66
 Hamburg, Ill.            |    --    |   22    |    88
 Clarkesville, Mo.         |   102    |   14    |   102
 Louisiana, Mo.           |   114    |   10    |   112
 Hannibal, Mo.            |   144    |   29    |   141
 Quincy, Ill.             |   164    |   20    |   161
 La Grange, Mo.           |   176    |   10    |   171
 Canton, Mo.              |   184    |    7    |   178
 Alexandria, Mo.          |   204    |   19    |   197
 Warsaw, Ill.             |   204    |   --    |   197
 Keokuk, Iowa             |   208    |    5    |   202
 Montrose, Iowa           |   220    |   12    |   214
 Nauvoo, Ill.             |   223    |    3    |   217
 Fort Madison, Iowa       |   232    |    8    |   225
 Pontoosuc, Ill.          |   238    |    7    |   232
 Dallas, Ill.             |   240    |    2    |   234
 Burlington, Iowa         |   255    |   14    |   248
 Oquawaka, Ill.           |   270    |   13    |   261
 Keithsburg, Ill.         |   282    |   12    |   273
 New Boston, Ill.         |   289    |    6    |   279
 Port Louisa, Iowa        |   294    |    9    |   288
 Muscatine, Iowa          |   317    |   14    |   302
 Buffalo, Iowa            |    --    |   19    |   321
 Rock Island, Ill.        |   347    |   10    |   331
 Davenport, Iowa          |   348    |    1    |   332
 Hampton, Ill.            |    --    |   10    |   342

                          |          |DISTANCE |GOVERNMENT
                          |1858      |PORTS    |1880
 Le Claire, Iowa          |   365    |    6    |   348
 Port Byron, Ill.         |   365    |   --    |   348
 Princeton, Iowa          |   371    |    6    |   354
 Cordova, Ill.            |   372    |    1    |   355
 Camanche, Iowa           |   381    |    9    |   364
 Albany, Ill.             |   384    |    2    |   366
 Clinton, Iowa            |   390    |    5    |   371
 Fulton, Ill.             |   392    |    2    |   373
 Lyons, Iowa              |   393    |    1    |   374
 Sabula, Ill.             |   412    |   17    |   391
 Savanna, Ill.            |   415    |    2    |   393
 Bellevue, Iowa           |   438    |   21    |   414
 Galena, Ill.             |   450    |   12    |   426
 Dubuque, Iowa            |   470    |   12    |   438
 Dunleith, Ill.           |   471    |    1    |   439
 Wells' Landing, Iowa     |   485    |   13    |   452
 Cassville, Wis.          |   500    |   16    |   468
 Guttenberg, Iowa         |   510    |   10    |   478
 Glen Haven, Wis.         |    --    |    1    |   479
 Clayton, Iowa            |   522    |    7    |   486
 Wisconsin River, Wis.    |    --    |    7    |   493
 McGregor, Iowa           |   533    |    4    |   497
 Prairie du Chien, Wis.   |   536    |    3    |   500
 Lynxville, Wis.          |   553    |   17    |   517
 Lansing, Iowa            |   566    |   12    |   529
 De Soto, Wis.            |   577    |    5    |   534
 Victory, Wis.            |   582    |    7    |   541
 Bad Axe, Wis.            |   589    |    8    |   549
 Warner's Landing, Wis.   |    --    |    5    |   554
 Brownsville, Minn.       |   591    |    8    |   562
 La Crosse, Wis.          |   617    |   10    |   572
 Dresbach, Minn.          |   627    |    8    |   580
 Trempealeau, Wis.        |   632    |   11    |   591
 Winona, Minn.            |   645    |   13    |   604
 Fountain City, Wis.      |   655    |    7    |   611
 Mount Vernon, Minn.      |   666    |    9    |   620
 Minneiska, Minn.         |   669    |    3    |   623
 Buffalo City, Wis.       |   676    |   --    |    --
 Alma, Wis.               |   684    |   10    |   633

                          |          |DISTANCE |GOVERNMENT
                          |1858      |PORTS    |1880
 Wabasha, Minn.           |   693    |    9    |   642
 Reed's Landing, Minn.    |   696    |    3    |   645
 North Pepin, Wis.        |   701    |    4    |   649
 Lake City, Minn.         |   708    |    6    |   655
 Florence, Minn.          |   713    |   --    |    --
 Frontenac, Minn.         |   719    |   --    |    --
 Maiden Rock, Wis.        |    --    |   10    |   665
 Wacouta, Minn.           |   723    |   --    |    --
 Stockholm, Wis.          |    --    |    3    |   668
 Red Wing, Minn.          |   726    |    8    |   676
 Trenton, Wis.            |    --    |    4    |   680
 Diamond Bluff, Wis.      |   741    |    6    |   686
 Prescott, Wis.           |   756    |   13    |   699
 Point Douglass, Minn.    |   757    |    1    |   700
 Hastings, Minn.          |   759    |    2    |   702
 Nininger, Minn.          |   764    |    5    |   707
 Pine Bend, Minn.         |   775    |   --    |    --
 Newport, Minn.           |   782    |   13    |   720
 St. Paul, Minn.          |   791    |    9    |   729
 St. Anthony Falls, Minn. |   805    |   12    |   741

Appendix D

_Improvement of the Upper Mississippi, 1866-1876_

The following table gives in detail the different divisions into
which the river was divided for convenience in letting contracts, and
prosecuting the work of improvement, the number of miles covered in
each division, and the amount expended in each in the ten years from
1866 to 1876:

             DIVISION                        | MILES | AMT. EXPENDED
 St. Anthony Falls to St. Paul               |   11  | $   59,098.70
 St. Paul to Prescott                        |   32  |    638,498.56
 Prescott to Head Lake Pepin                 |   29  |    111,409.17
 Harbor at Lake City                         |   --  |     16,091.62
 Foot Lake Pepin to Alma                     |   12  |    341,439.26
 Alma to Winona                              |   29  |    365,394.25
 Winona to La Crosse                         |   31  |    236,239.39
 La Crosse to McGregor                       |   72  |    308,311.07
 McGregor to Dubuque                         |   59  |    137,236.65
 Dubuque to Clinton                          |   67  |    131,905.29
 Clinton to Rock Island                      |   40  |    228,298.99
 Rock Island to Keithsburg                   |   58  |     70,071.85
 Keithsburg to Des Moines Rapids             |   60  |    515,971.20
 Keokuk to Quincy                            |   40  |    355,263.71
 Quincy to Clarksville                       |   60  |    552,051.47
 Clarksville to Cap au Gris                  |   43  |    389,959.31
 Cap au Gris to Illinois River               |   27  |    137,116.97
 Illinois River to Mouth of Missouri River   |   25  |     70,688.77
 Miscellaneous, maintenance of Snag-Boats,   |       |
   Dredges, wages, provisions, etc.          |       |    549,760.92
                                             |  ---  | -------------
                                             |  695  | $5,200,707.25

Appendix E

_Indian Nomenclature and Legends_

The name Mississippi is an amelioration of the harsher syllables of
the Indian tongue from which it sprang. Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell,
late of Winona, Minnesota, a personal friend and old army comrade,
is my authority for the names and spelling given below, as gleaned
by him during many years' residence among the Chippewa of Wisconsin
and the Sioux (or Dakota) of Minnesota. Dr. Bunnell spoke both
languages fluently, and in addition made a scholarly study of Indian
tongues for literary purposes. His evidence is conclusive, that so
far as the northern tribes were concerned the Mississippi was in
the Chippewa language, from which the name is derived: _Mee-zee_
(great), _see'-bee_ (river)--Great River. The Dakota called it
_Wat-pah-tah'-ka_ (big river). The Sauk, Foxes, and Potawatomi,
related tribes, all called it: _Mee-chaw-see'-poo_ (big river). The
Winnebago called it: _Ne-scas-hut'-ta-ra_ (the bluff-walled river).
Thus six out of seven tribes peopling its banks united in terming it
the "Great River".

Dr. Bunnell disposes of the romantic fiction that the Indians called
it the "Great Father of Waters", by saying that in Chippewa this
would be: _Miche-nu-say'-be-gong_--a term that he never heard used
in speaking of the stream; and old Wah-pa-sha, chief of the Dakota
living at Winona, assured the Doctor that he had never heard an
Indian use it. The Chippewa did, however, have a superlative form of
the name: _Miche-gah'-see-bee_ (great, endless river), descriptive of
its (to them) illimitable length.

Dr. Bunnell suggests the derivation of the name Michigan, as applied
to the lake and state. The Chippewa term for any great body of water,
like Lakes Michigan, Superior, or Huron, is: _Miche-gah'-be-gong_
(great, boundless waters). It was very easy for the white men who
first heard this general term as applied to the lake, to accept it as
a proper name, and to translate the Indian term into Michigan, as we
have it to-day.

It is a source of gratification that the names applied to the Great
River by the Jesuit fathers who first plied their birch-bark canoes
upon its surface, did not stick. They were wonderful men, those
old missionaries, devoted and self-sacrificing beyond belief; but
when it came to naming the new-found lands and rivers, there was a
monotony of religious nomenclature. Rivière St. Louis and Rivière de
la Conception are neither of them particularly descriptive of the
Great River. In this connection it must be said, however, that there
was something providential in the zeal of the good missionaries in
christening as they did, the ports at either end of the upper river
run. The mention of St. Louis and St. Paul lent the only devotional
tinge to steamboat conversation in the fifties. Without this there
would have been nothing religious about that eight hundred miles of
Western water. Even as it was, skepticism crept in with its doubts
and questionings. We all know who St. Paul was, and his manner of
life; but it is difficult to recall just what particular lines of
holiness were followed by Louis XIV to entitle him to canonization.

Trempealeau Mountain, as it is called, situated two miles above
Trempealeau Landing, Wisconsin, is another marvel of nature that
attracted the attention of the Indians. It is an island of limestone,
capped with sandstone, rising four hundred feet above the level of
the river. Between the island and the mainland is a slough several
hundred feet wide, which heads some five or six miles above. The
Winnebago gave it a descriptive name: _Hay-me-ah'-shan_ (Soaking
Mountain). In Dakota it was _Min-nay-chon'-ka-hah_ (pronounced
Minneshon'ka), meaning Bluff in the Water. This was translated by
the early French voyageurs into: _Trempe à l'eau_--the Mountain that
bathes its feet in the water. There is no other island of rock in the
Mississippi above the upper rapids; none rising more than a few feet
above the water.

It is but natural that the Indians who for centuries have peopled
the banks of the Mississippi, should have many legends attaching to
prominent or unusual features of the river scenery. Where the Indians
may have failed, imaginative palefaces have abundantly supplied such

There is one legend, however, that seems to have had its foundation
in fact--that of the tragedy at Maiden Rock, or Lover's Leap, the
bold headland jutting out into Lake Pepin on the Wisconsin side,
some six or eight miles below the head of the lake. Dr. Bunnell
devoted much study to this legend, and his conclusion is that it is
an historic fact. Divested of the multiplicity of words and metaphor
with which the Indian story-teller, the historian of his tribe,
clothes his narrative, the incident was this:

In the days of Wah-pa-sha the first, chief of the Dakota band of
that name, there was, in the village of Keoxa, near the site of
the present Minnesota city of Winona, in the latter part of the
eighteenth century, a maiden whose name was Winona (_Wi-no-na_:
first-born daughter). She had formed an attachment for a young
hunter of the tribe, which was fully reciprocated by the young man.
They had met often, and agreed to a union, on which all their hopes
of happiness centered. But on applying to her family, the young
suitor was curtly dismissed with the information that the girl had
been promised to a warrior of distinction who had sued for her
hand. Winona, however, persisted in her preference for the hunter;
whereupon the father took measures to drive him out of the village,
and the family began to use harsh measures to coerce the maiden into
a union with the warrior whom they had chosen for her husband. She
was finally assured that she was, with or without her consent, to be
the bride of the man of their choice.

About this time a party was formed to go to Lake Pepin to lay in a
store of blue clay, which they used as a pigment. Winona, with her
family, was of the party. Arriving at their destination the question
of her marriage with the warrior again came up, and she was told that
she would be given to him that very day. Upon hearing this final
and irrevocable decree the girl withdrew, and while the family were
preparing for the wedding festival she sought the top of the bluff
now known as Maiden Rock. From this eminence she called down to her
family and friends, telling them that she preferred death to a union
with one she did not love, and began singing her death song. Many of
the swiftest runners of the tribe, with the warrior to whom she had
been sold, immediately ran for the summit of the cliff in order to
restrain her; but before they reached her she jumped headlong from
the height, and was dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks a hundred
and fifty feet below.

This story was in 1817 related to Major Long, of the United States
Army, by a member of Wahpasha's tribe, Wa-ze-co-to, who claimed to
have been an eyewitness of the tragedy. Wazecoto was an old man at
the time, and his evident feeling as he related the tale went far
toward convincing Major Long that the narrator was reciting the tale
of an actual occurrence.

Maiden Rock itself is a bluff about four hundred feet in height. One
hundred and fifty feet of it is a sheer precipice; the other two
hundred and fifty is a steep bluff covered with loose rocks, and
grown up to straggling scrub oaks. Some versions of the legend state
that Winona in her grief leaped from the bluff into the waters of
the lake and was drowned. On my only visit to the top of the Leap,
in company with Mr. Wilson, the mate, we found it somewhat difficult
to throw a stone into the water from the top of the bluff. If Winona
made it in one jump she must have been pretty lithe, even for an

I hope that I may not be dubbed an iconoclast, in calling attention
to the fact that Indian stories similar to this have been localized
all over our country. Lovers' Leaps can be counted by the score,
being a part of the stock in trade of most summer resorts. Another
difficulty with the tale is, that the action of the young pair does
not comport with the known marriage customs of Indians.




A. B. CHAMBERS: steamboat, 238.

Able, Capt. Dan: 259.

Accordion: 16.

Adriatic: steamboat, 238.

Africa: 161.

Afton (Catfish) Bar: 107.

Agents, transfer: 30.

Ainsworth, Capt. J. C.: 275.

Alex. Mitchell: steamboat, 122, 124.

Alford, Capt. Pliny A.: 282, 293.

Algoma: steamboat, 18.

Allegheny River: 66.

Allen, Capt. Charles J.: 225, 226, 273.

Alma, Wis.: 293.

Alton, Ill.: 29, 188.

Alton Line. _See_ Steamboats.

Alton Slough: 290.

Altoona: steamboat, 238.

Amaranth Island: 258.

American Fur Co.: 266, 282, 284.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers: 43.

Anchor Line. _See_ Steamboats.

Anderson, Capt. ----: 234, 268.

Andrews, Capt. ----: 284.

Anglo-Saxons: 70, 114, 211.

Anthony Wayne: steamboat, 277.

Antietam: battle of, 215.

Appendices: 257-303.

Apple River: 104.

Appomattox Ct. House: battle of, 215.

Archer: steamboat, 265.

Argo Island: 259.

Armstrong, Joseph: pilot, 116, 294.

Army: 80, 83, 84, 114, 115, 141, 190, 191, 204-206, 209, 212-214, 224,
  226, 241, 283, 285, 288, 292.

Arnold, John: pilot, 116.

Arrowheads: 20.

Arrow Rock, Mo.: 288.

Art and artists: 152, 155, 283, 293.

Assault: 48.

Atchinson, Capt. G. W.: 258, 271, 277, 293.

Atchison, Capt. John: 279.

Atchison, Capt. Joseph: 274.

Atchison, Capt. Mark: 284.

Atchison, Capt. Pierce: 269, 271.

Atlas Island: 259, 264, 279.

Australia: steamboat, 238.

Aymond, Capt. F.: 276.

Ayres, Lieut. Romeyn, U. S. A.: 212.

BADGER STATE: steamboat, 260.

Baldwin, Capt. ----: 269.

Ball, ----: clerk, 292.

Baltimore, Md.: 80.

Bangor, Maine: 272.

Banks (Newfoundland): 15.

Banks, bankers, and banking: 174-180.

Barbers: 157.

Barger, ----: clerk, 279.

Barkeepers: 132, 135.

Barley: 169, 247.

Barnes, Charles: 246.

Barry, Capt. ----: 258.

Bass, black: 104.

Bateaux. _See_ Ships.

Bates, Capt. ----: 257.

Bates, David G.: 270.

Battles: 20, 21 (Indian), 184, 203, 211, 212, 215, 293.

Bayous: 22, 227.

Beadle, Hiram: pilot, 116.

Beans: 29.

Bears: 22.

Beaver, Pa.: 267.

Beaver Falls: 206.

Beebe, Capt. Edward H.: 265.

Beech, Lieut. ----, U. S. A.: 293.

Beef Slough: 76, 95, 247.

Bell, Capt. Edwin: 258, 285.

Bellefontaine Bend: 276.

Belle Plaine, Minn.: 209.

Belle Vernon, Pa.: 269, 274, 276, 279, 287, 289, 293.

Bellevue, Iowa: 118.

Ben Campbell: steamboat, 117.

Ben Franklin: name for steamboats, 229.

Berger, Capt. ----: 286.

Berlin, Ger.: 201.

Bersie, Capt. Hiram: 271, 289.

Biddle, Maj. John: 187.

Big Stone Lake: 269.

Bissell, Capt. James: 275, 282, 289.

Black, James (Jim): pilot, 80, 116, 268.

Black Hawk: Indian chief, 184, 293.

Black River: 113, 260.

Blacksmiths: 35, 188.

Blaisdell: family in Prescott, 22.

Blaisdell, Nathaniel: 35, 277 (engineer).

Blake, Capt. ----: 276.

Blakeley, Capt. Russell: 113, 180, 259, 265, 270, 282.

Blanchard, Mr. ----: 56.

Bloody Island: 115.

Bloomington, Iowa: 265.

Boats. _See_ Ships.

Boilers: 39;
  how cleaned, 37.
  _See also_ Engines.

Boland, Capt. ----: 245, 253.

Books: 200.

Boston, Mass.: 80, 84.

Boughton: family in Prescott, 22.

Boulanger's Island: 223.

Boyd, Capt. ----: 260.

Brady, Capt. ----: 266.

Brandy: 108, 135.

Brickie, Capt. ----: 278.

Bridges: 148, 189, 250, 260, 266, 272.

Briggs, William: engineer, 272.

Brisbois & Rice: 265.

Britt's Landing, Tenn.: 150, 282.

Brock, Capt. ----: pilot, 117.

Broken Chute: 273.

Brooks, Capt. John: 257.

Brown, Capt. L.: 293.

Brownsville, Pa.: 95, 258, 260, 263, 266, 267, 277, 278, 285, 287,
  289, 294.

Brownsville Chute: 261.

Brunette: steamboat, 238.

Bryant, ----: clerk, 279.

Buchanan, Pres. James: 144.

Buffalo, N. Y.: 187.

Buford, Capt. Thomas B.: 280.

Bull Run: battle of, 215.

Bunnell, Dr. Lafayette: _Hist. of Winona_, cited, 150, 300, 302.

Burbank & Co., J. C.: 258.

Burke, Capt. ----: 281.

Burlington, Iowa: 264.

Burlington: name for steamboats, 230.

Burnett, Ellsworth: 205.

Burns, Thomas (Tom): pilot, 78, 80-88, 103, 116, 240-242, 245, 248,
  249, 253, 268.

CABLES: 144.

Cairo, Ill.: 185, 187, 188, 242, 253.

California, Pa.: ships built at, 257, 260, 269, 271, 273, 276, 277,
  281, 283, 284, 291, 292.

Campbell, Capt. ----: 273.

Campbell & Smith (Steamboat Co.): 265.

Campbell's Chain: 264.

Canada: 21, 64, 196.

Canals: 79, 199, 223, 225.

Canoes. _See_ Ships.

Cape Girardeau, Mo.: 188.

Captains (of steamboats): 59, 93, 95, 99, 112, 124, 126, 143, 144,
  157, 161, 163, 167, 170, 173, 193, 199, 229.

Cards, Playing: 139-141.

Carlisle College: 216.

Carlton, E.: clerk, 267.

Carpenters: 50, 163, 175, 194, 213, 275.

Carson's Landing, Mo.: 278.

Casey, ----: clerk, 288.

Cassville, Wis.: 167.

Cassville Crossing: 86, 95.

Cassville Slough: 250.

Casualties: 69, 74, 76, 96, 103, 104, 172, 192-195, 210, 211, 214,
  215, 227, 229-239, 257-293.

Catfish Bar (Reef): 107, 108, 192.
  _See also_ Afton.

Cat Island: 280.

Catlin, George: artist, 293.

Cedar Creek, Va.: 152.

Celts: 70.
  _See also_ Irish.

Centennial: steamboat, 124.

Chain of Rocks: 264.

Challenge: steamboat, 238.

Chambers, Capt. Ludlow: 281.

Champlin, Capt. A. T.: 263, 282.

Channels: in river, how kept, 40.

Charlevoix, Pierre François Xavier de, S. J.: _Hist._, cited, 21.

Charters, bank: 176.

Chicago, Ill.: 16, 175, 176, 242, 248.

Chicago River: 113.

Chickens: 127, 128.

Chippewa: name for steamboats, 230.
  _See also_ Indians.

Chippewa River: 113-115, 190, 263, 276, 289.

Chittenden, Capt. H. M., U. S. A.: cited, 186, 230, 232, 233.

Cholera: 274.

Cincinnati, Ohio: 144, 175, 184, 187, 242, 259, 265, 268, 269-272,
  276, 280-283, 292.

City Belle: steamboat, 101.

City of Quincy: steamboat, 117.

Clara: steamboat, 239.

Clark, Capt. J.: 276, 281.

Clarkesville, Ind.: 188.

Clarkesville Island: 281.

Clayton, Iowa: 60.

Clerks (on steamboats): 14, 37, 59, 71, 167, 179, 251, 252, 267, 270,
  275, 276, 278, 279, 281-283, 286, 288, 292-294;
  first or chief, 52, 55-57, 65, 72, 136, 157, 163, 170, 240, 242,
  second or "mud," 52, 57, 58, 61, 65, 163, 170, 240, 242, 248, 268.

Cleveland, Pres. Grover: 84.

Cline, ----: 284.

Clinton, Iowa: 29.

Clothing: 26.

Cochrane, Capt. John: 280.

Coffin, ----: clerk, 292.

Cold Harbor, Va.: 203.

Cole, Capt. George B.: 284, 291.

Colonel Bumford: steamboat, 184, 187.

Commerce: large on Mississippi, 13;
  on St. Joseph River, 15;
  trading posts, 21;
  lines of, 79, 80 (_see also_ Steamboats);
  Mississippi may regain, 80;
  lessens on Mississippi, 221.

Commissions, shipping: 30.

Confederates: 50, 211, 212, 231, 273, 290.

Congregationalists: 216.

Congress: 221, 222, 225.

Connolly, Capt. P.: 270.

Constans, William: 280.

Contractors: 222-225, 227.

Conway, Capt. ----: 267.

Cook, Samuel: clerk, 292.

Cooks: 126, 128, 199.

Cooley, K. C.: clerk, 283.

Coones, Capt. ----: 289.

Coon Slough: 84, 103, 278, 283.

Cora: steamboat, 287.

Cormack, Pleasant: pilot, 113.

Corwith Bros.: 294.

Corwith, Henry L.: 265.

Cossen, ----: 258.

Cottonwood Prairie (_now_ Canton): 188.

Council Bluffs, Iowa: 264.

_Coureur du bois_: 113.

Crawford, Capt. ----: 112.

Crawford County: 113.

Creeks: 22.

Crows: 206.

Cuba: 185.

Culver, Capt. ----: 281.

Cumberland River: 250.

Cupp, William: pilot, 116.

Cupps, William: 289.

Cushing, Thomas (Tommy, Tom): pilot, 73, 78, 80, 86, 88, 99, 116, 159,
  268, 293.

DACOTA CITY, Nebr.: 283.

Daily Bugle: newspaper, 180, 181.

Dakota, territory: 80.

Dakota, Minn.: 270.

Dakota Co., Minn.: 180.

Dalles, Wis.: 202.

Dalton, Stephen: pilot, 116.

Dams: 85, 225, 227, 228.

Danube: name for steamboats, 230.

Davidson, Payton S.: 124, 125, 267, 268.

Davidson, Com. William F.: 122-124, 267, 269.

Davidson Line. _See_ Steamboats.

Davis, Capt. ----: 124.

Davis, Charles: pilot, 264.

Davis, Jefferson: 114.

Davis, Capt. John B.: 269, 283, 292.

Dawley, ----: clerk, 271.

Day, Capt. ----, U. S. A.: 293.

Day, Capt. Henry R.: 291.

Dayton Bluff: 103, 155, 283.

Dean, William: 282.

Deck hands: 163, 193, 194, 215, 250, 262.

Deer: 22.

DeMarah (Demerer--corruption), Louis: earliest steamboat pilot of
  upper Mississippi, 112, 113.

Demerer, Louis. _See_ DeMarah.

Denmark: name for steamboats, 230.

De Soto, Hernando: 247.

Des Plaines River: 113.

Detroit, Mich.: 187.

Diamond Bluff: 26, 35, 60, 246.

Diamond Jo Line. _See_ Steamboats.

Dikes: 85, 225, 227, 228, 239.

Dinan, J. W.: clerk, 270.

Ditto, ----: clerk, 281.

Di Vernon: steamboat, 259.

Divers: 124.

Dr. Franklin: name for steamboats, 184, 230, 288.

Dodge, Col. ----: U. S. Engineer, 228.

Doemly, Ingenuous: 139, 180.

Dogs: 200.

Donnelly, Patsey: barkeeper, 135, 136, 140.

Dousman, H. L.: 265.

Dove, Bill: gambler, 139, 141.

Dove, Sam: gambler, 139, 141.

Dozier, Capt. ----: 289.

Dredges: 228.

Dreming, T. G.: pilot, 116.

Du Barry, Lieut. Beekman: 212.

DuBois, J. D.: clerk, 283.

Dubuque, Iowa: 61, 66, 123, 135, 164, 172, 265, 268, 269, 270, 291.

Dubuque: name for steamboats, 230.

Dubuque & St. Paul Packet Co. _See_ Steamboats.

Duck Creek Chain: 275.

Ducks: 23.

Dunleith, Ill. (_now_ E. Dubuque): 30, 56, 130, 144, 147, 164, 167,
  168, 172, 179, 180, 258, 268, 271, 279, 280, 283, 292.

Dutch: 114;
  Pennsylvania, 66, 70.

Dynamos: 79.


East Dubuque, Ill.: its former name, 30.

Eden, Capt. and Maj. Robert (Bob) C.: son of English baronet, 196-205,

Editors: 182, 196.

Edward Bates: steamboat, 233.

Electricity: 34, 89, 245, 247, 249.

Elizabeth, Ky.: 272, 283.

Elizabeth, Pa.: 260.

Elizabethtown, Ky.: 280.

Emigrants: 65.

Emilie Bend: 266.

Endors: steamboat, 233.

Engineers (generally of steamboats, although at times army and civil):
  14, 35, 42, 56, 57, 72, 73, 79 (govt.), 96, 105, 110, 112, 148, 163,
  170, 184, 199, 207, 208, 210, 213, 216, 222, 224-227, 230, 242, 246,
  247, 265, 268, 270, 272, 277, 283, 284, 287, 289, 290, 292, 294;
  assistant or "cub," 39, 50, 52;
  two types, 46;
  description and duties, 35-40, 43-51.

Engine-room, of ship: 38-45, 193, 207, 246.

Engines (of steamboats): 51, 75, 96, 97, 102, 150, 151, 163, 194,
  207-209, 213, 246, 248, 263, 276, 279, 289;
  described, 36, 38, 39, 47;
  of stern-wheelers, 39 (two);
  on side-wheelers, 40-43;
  poppet-valve, 41, 44;
  repaired, 36;
  danger of centering, 41;
  stroke, defined, 41;
  how power of, increased, 41, 42.

England: 203, 204.

English: 114.

Enterprise: steamboat, 199, 200, 279.

Enterprise Island: 266.

Equator: steamboat, 191, 194.

Estes, Capt. J. B.: 273.

Ethiopians: 70.
  _See also_ Negroes.

Europe: 185.

Excelsior: steamboat, 132, 156, 157, 177.

Explosions (on steamboats): 39, 73, 230-232, 262, 265;
  cause, 39, 42, 43, 47.

FALLS CITY: steamboat, 234, 238.

Fanny Harris: steamboat, 35, 38, 49, 51, 74, 80, 84, 99, 118, 120,
  135, 139, 150, 206, 210, 214, 234, 237, 245, 269.

Farley, ----: clerk, 264.

Farmer, Capt. John: 269.

Farms: 60, 80, 176, 185, 187, 195, 222.

Father of Waters: 152.
  _See_ Mississippi River.

Faucette, Capt. William: 48, 55, 61, 258, 268.

Favorite: steamboat, 101.

Fay, Capt. ----: 274.

Federal Arch: steamboat, 238.

Fevre River: 74, 80, 117, 270, 275.

Fifield: family in Prescott, 22.

Fifield, Hon. Samuel S.: lieut.-gov. of Wis., 35, 276.

Firearms: 20, 200, 201, 211, 213, 214.

Fire Canoe: steamboat, 234.

Firemen: 47, 48, 158, 194, 199, 208, 215, 242, 247, 250, 287.

Fires: 232-234, 262, 263, 265.

Fish: 19, 23, 104, 189, 199.

Fisher, Capt. William: pilot, 78, 116, 117, 121, 123, 260, 276, 292.

Fishing tackle: 200.

Flaherty, Capt. ----: 294.

Floods: 13, 207-211, 216, 238.

Flour: 29, 96, 169.

Forest Rose: steamboat, 239.

Forges: 35.

Fort Armstrong: 188.

Fort Crawford: 114, 115.

Fort Edwards, Ill.: 188.

Fort Haskell: 203.

Fort Henry: 84.

Fort Ridgeley, Minn.: 206, 211-220.

Fort Snelling, Minn.: 112, 187, 207, 210, 215, 257, 259, 261, 263,
  265, 266, 269, 270, 271, 274, 276-279, 281, 282, 284, 285, 287-291,

Fort Sterling: 268.

Fort Sumter, S. C.: 209, 213.

Fort Winnebago (_now_ Portage, _q. v._), Wis.: 279, 288.

Foundries: 161.

Fowl, wild: 22.

Fox River: 112, 196, 199, 202, 279, 281.

France: 112.

Frank Steele: steamboat, 101.

Frauds: bank and land, 174-183.

Freedom, Pa.: 263, 266, 273.

Freight: 19, 29, 30, 33, 34, 52, 55, 57, 64, 65, 74, 76, 109, 137,
  143, 147, 149, 151, 162, 164, 167-169, 171-173, 179, 185, 233, 240,
  241, 246, 248, 250, 252, 266, 267, 270, 291, 292.

French: 21, 113, 114, 301.

Frenchman's: sand bar, 223.

Frontier: steamboat, 184.

Fruit: 23.

Fuel: on river boats, 59-63.

Fulton, Capt. L.: 263.

Fulton City, Iowa: 273.

Furman, Charles: clerk, 266.

Furs: 22, 164, 169.

Fur-traders: 112.

F. X. Aubrey: steamboat, 239.

GABBERT, CAPT. W. H.: 118, 258, 268, 271, 272, 283, 292.

Galena, Ill.: 19, 36, 37, 55, 56, 66, 71, 80, 83, 84, 99, 115, 117,
  118, 127, 129, 148, 149, 164, 167-169, 172, 182, 184, 187-189, 237,

Galena: name for steamboats, 230.

Galena, etc., Packet Co. _See_ Steamboats.

Gallipolis, O.: 272.

Gambling: 124, 138-142.

Game: 22, 199, 201.

Gasconade River: 279.

Gates, William R., brother-in-law of G. B. Merrick: 30.

Gauge, steam: 48.

General Brooke: steamboat, 152.

Gilbert, Capt. ----: 268.

Gilpatrick, Henry: pilot, 116.

Girdon, G. R.: clerk, 294.

Glasgow, O.: 289.

Gleim, Capt. E. H.: 281, 284, 287, 293.

Gleim, F. M.: clerk, 272.

Glenmont, Wis.: 195.

Gloucester, Mass.: 15.

Gody, Alex.: pilot, 116.

Gold: in mountains near Missouri River, 164.

Golden Era: steamboat, 80.

Golden State: steamboat, 270.

Goll, Capt. C. B.: 270, 273.

Goodell, Capt. ----: 286.

Gordon, Gen. ----: 203.

Grafton, Mo.: 273.

Grant, Maj.-Gen. Ulysses S.: 212.

Gray, Capt. ----: 107, 108, 109, 271.

Gray, Capt. R. C.: 264, 273, 286.

Gray, Capt. S. E.: 80.

Gray, Capt. William: 273.

Great Northwestern Stage Lines: 258.

Great River: appellation of Mississippi (_q. v._), 13.

Green, ----: clerk, 286.

Green, Capt. Asa B.: 190-195, 267, 292.

Green Bay, Wis.: 112, 279.

Greenlee, Capt. ----: 262.

Grey Cloud: sand bar, 95, 223.

Grey Eagle: steamboat, 41, 144, 147, 148, 152, 184.

Griffith, Capt. Thomas H.: 262, 285.

Griffiths, Capt. ----: 294.

Guardapie, Joe: pilot, 113, 114.

Guttenburg Channel: 249.

Guttenburg Landing, Iowa: 274.

Guyandotte: 263.


Half-breeds: 112, 113, 115.
  _See also_ Indians.

Hall, Peter: pilot, 116.

Halliday, Edward W.: clerk, 278.

Hamilton, William ("Billy"): engineer, 35, 38, 46-51, 73, 159, 268.

Hanks, Stephen: pilot, 116.

Hanna, Capt. Phil: 279.

Hannibal, Mo.: 29, 188, 229.

Hardman, Capt. ----: 259.

Hargus, Charles (Charley): clerk, 55, 56, 61, 62, 135, 180, 268, 271,

Harlow, Capt. ----: 271.

Harlow, Samuel (Sam): pilot, 116, 276, 279.

Harriman, Gen. Samuel: 141.

Harris Bros.: 265.

Harris, Capt. Daniel Smith: 144, 148, 149, 184, 187, 189, 265, 270,
  272, 274, 276, 282, 284, 286, 288-290, 292, 293.

Harris, Jackson (Jack): pilot, 103, 116, 283, 292.

Harris, James: 184.

Harris, Keeler: engineer, 290.

Harris, Meeker K.: 265, 278, 289, 294.

Harris, Capt. Nathaniel: 276.

Harris, Oliver: 287.

Harris, R. Scribe: 184, 265, 270, 284, 285, 289, 292.

Harris Slough: 74, 80.

Hastings, Minn.: 20, 21, 115, 122, 140, 168, 191, 195, 245, 273.

Hatcher, Capt. J. R.: 269, 277, 293.

Havaszthy, Augustin: Count de Castro, 287.

Hawes, Chaplain ----: officiates at wedding, 204.

Hay, Capt. ----: 281.

Hay, Col. John: cited, 46.

Haycock, Capt. ----: 271, 289.

Hempstead, William: 294.

Henderson, Billy: 132, 267.

Herculaneum, Mo.: 188.

Hewitt, Capt. Stephen: 280.

Highland Mary: steamboat, 282.

Hight, Capt. ----: 261.

Hill, Capt. John B.: 285.

Hill, Capt. Thomas B.: 281.

Hoffman, Capt. ----: 263.

Holcomb, E. V.: pilot, 116, 277, 280.

Holloway, J. F.: describes steamboat race, 41, 43-45.

Hooper, Capt. William H.: 258, 279, 290.

Hopkins, ----: clerk, 274.

Horton, Charles: clerk, 275.

Hoskins, Capt. H.: 278.

Hotelling, Capt. Peter: 279.

Howard's Bend: 289.

H. S. Allen: steamboat, 80, 104, 106, 108.

Hudson, Wis.: 29, 83, 108, 109, 148, 195, 201.

Humbertson, Capt. ----: 281.

Hungarians: 65.

Hunt, Hiram: engineer, 272.

Hunt, W. E.: 264.

Hunters: 20.

Hurd, Capt. J. Y.: 272, 283.

Huron, Lake: 300.

ICE: steamboats crushed in, 234, 237, 238, 239, 257, 258.

Illinois, state: 18, 30, 64, 80, 84, 175, 188.

Illinois River: 231, 250, 259, 265.

Immigrants and immigration: 19, 62.

Improvements: cost of, 222, 223, 226;
  on upper Mississippi (1866-76), 297.

Indiana, state: 175.

Indian Mission: 262.

Indians: 13, 18-28, 113, 114, 184, 187, 189, 201, 202, 209, 211-213,
  219, 220, 287, 293;
  numerous about Mississippi River, 20;
  chiefs, 21, 22;
  squaws, 22;
  characteristics, 23;
  nomenclature and legends, 300-303.
  Various tribes--
    Chippewa, 19, 20, 21, 112-114, 200, 219, 271, 300;
    Dakota (Dakotah), 20, 112, 300-302 (_see also below_ Sioux);
    Hurons, 112;
    Sioux, 19, 20, 21, 22 (Red Wing band), 82, 182, 200, 206, 211, 212
      (agency), 216, 219 (various bands), 284;
    Winnebago, 301.

Indian Territory: 211.

Indies: 185.

Industries: 29, 30, 113, 161, 162.

Insurance: 162, 234.

Intoxication: 66, 115, 140, 141, 157.

Iowa, state: 64, 89, 219, 248.

Iowa Island: 275.

Irish: 48, 49, 65, 66, 69, 70, 114, 135, 215, 241.

Iron and steel: 163.

Irvine, Capt. ----: 286.

Islands: 21, 22, 110, 111, 188, 189, 223, 224, 232, 248, 257-259.

Italians: 65.

Itasca: steamboat, 84, 144, 147, 151, 277.

JACKINS, CAPT. ----: 268.

James, Capt. ----: 284.

Jameson, Capt. ----: 292.

Jenks, ----: 172, 291.

Jenks, Capt. J. B.: 280.

Jesuits: 301.

Jewell, Charles (Charley): pilot, 80, 106, 192, 193, 267, 273.

J. M. White: steamboat, 41.

John M. Chambers: steamboat, 264.

Johnson, ----: 291.

Johnson, E. A.: clerk, 292.

Johnson, John: 182.

Jones, Gen. George W., U. S. A.: 293.

Jones, Joseph: 118.

Josephine: steamboat, 249.

Josie: steamboat, 249.


Kate Cassell: steamboat, 35, 84, 115, 150.

Keithsburg, Iowa: 285.

Kendall, Ned: musician, 157.

Kennett, Capt. S. M.: 278.

Kent, Capt. ----: 282.

Kentucky: steamboat, 279.

Keokuk, Iowa: 188, 232, 239.
  _See also_ Steamboats.

Keokuk Rapids: 117.

Keoxa: Indian village, 302.

Key City: steamboat, 84, 89, 101, 103, 148, 149, 151, 275, 277, 280,

Kinestone, James: engineer, 283.

King, ----: 289.

King, Capt. George L.: 282.

King, John: pilot, 78, 116.

Kingman, Capt. ----: 267, 292.

Kinnickinnic Bar: 107.

Kinnickinnic River: 204, 205.

Knapp, Geo. B.: 270.

LA BARGE, CAPT. JOSEPH: 264, 266, 271, 274, 284.

La Crosse, Wis.: 29, 112, 150, 167, 183, 208, 216, 260, 267-269, 271,
  275, 281, 283, 284, 287, 292, 293.

Lady Franklin: steamboat, 171.

Lafferty, Capt. ----: 285, 288.

Lagrange, Mo.: 279.

Lake City, Minn.: 246.

Lakeland, Minn.: 29, 108.

Lakes: 19, 29;
  Great, 117, 187, 200, 300.

Lambs: 127.

Land: government, 60;
  frauds, 180-183.

Lansing, Iowa: 89, 122, 123.

La Pointe, Charles: pilot, 115.

Laughton, Capt. W. H.: 122-124, 270, 271, 283.

Lawrence, O.: 269.

Laws, banking: 174.

Lay, John: engineer, 192, 193, 194, 195, 267.

Leadlines: 92, 95.

Le Claire, Iowa: 29.

Lee, Capt. John: 281.

Lee, Gen. Robert E.: 141, 203.

Le Fevre (_now_ Galena, _q. v._), Ill.: 184.

Le Seuer, Pierre Charles: French explorer and trader, 21.

Lewis, W. S.: clerk, 275.

Libbie Conger: steamboat, 249.

Liberty Landing, Mo.: 259.

Limestone: 301.

Lincoln, Abraham: 161, 215.

Lindergreen, Henry: printer, 181.

Link, Henry: pilot, 102, 245, 247, 252, 253.

Liquors: 66, 108, 130-137, 140.

Little Crow: Sioux chief, 211.

Little Washington, on Missouri River: 281.

Locomotives: reversing gear of, 40.
  _See also_ Railroads.

Lodwick, Capt. Kennedy: 259, 263, 270.

Lodwick, Capt. M. W.: 259, 260, 261, 265.

Lodwick, Capt. Preston: 265, 282, 283.

London, Eng.: 201.

Long, Maj. ----, U. S. A.: 303.

Long Island Sound: 42.

Longstreet, Gen. James: 203.

Louis XIV: king of France, 301.

Louisiana, Mo.: 18, 188.

Lover's Leap: 155, 302 (Legend).
  _See also_ Maiden Rock.

Lucas, Capt. M. E.: 278.

Lucy Bertram: steamboat, 277.

Ludloff, Louis: 215.

Luella: steamboat, 18, 184.

Lumber and lumbering: 29, 113, 114, 162, 185, 190, 191, 221.

Lusk, Capt. J. H.: 281.

Lynn, Lewis F.: 278.

Lyon, Capt. ----: 259.

Lyon, Kimball (Kim): 16, 17.

Lyons, Capt. ----: 292.

MCALLISTER, CAPT. ----: 274.

McClintock, Capt. ----: 274.

McClure, Capt. John: 265.

McCoy, Capt. E. M.: 288.

McCoy, James B.: pilot, 115, 116, 268.

McDonald, George: engineer, 46, 241, 245, 246, 253, 268.

McGregor, Iowa: 179, 248, 249.

McGuire, Capt. ----: 258.

McKeesport, Pa.: 257, 258, 261, 264, 271.

McLagan, Capt. Ed.: 280.

McMahan, Capt. ----: 286, 287.

McPhail, Sandy: raftsman, 114, 115.

Machinery: 35, 36, 72, 110, 111, 227, 272, 284.

Mackinac, Mich.: 112.

Madison, Iowa: 258.

Maiden Rock (near Winona): 155, 283, 302, 303.

Mail: 147.

Maitland, ----: clerk, 282.

Malin, Capt. J. W.: 278.

Mallen, Bill: 139, 141.

Malta Bend: 279.

Manning, Charley: pilot, 116.

Maratta, Capt. ----: 285.

Marquette, Jacques, S. J.: 113.

Marshall, Sam: musician, 158, 159.

Martin, Capt. ----: 264, 267, 281.

Maryland, state: 47.

Mary Morton: steamboat, 102, 240-242, 245, 247, 249, 250.

Mason, Capt. Isaac M.: 259, 260, 269.

Massacres, Indian: 206, 213.

Mates (on steamboats): 64-73, 75, 77, 93, 95, 126, 136, 194, 251, 253,
  first, 163;
  second, 71, 72, 163.

Mathers, Charles (Charley): clerk, 240, 245, 253.

Maxwell, Capt. O. H.: 261, 290, 293.

Melville, Geo. R.: clerk, 265.

Mendota, Minn.: 206.

Mermaid: steamboat, 289.

Merrick: family in Prescott, 22.

Merrick, Col. ----: 211.

Merrick, George B. (author): ancestry, 15;
  birthplace, 15;
  early impressions, 15-19;
  first glance of Mississippi River, 18;
  escapes from drowning, 26;
  chased by wolves, 27, 28;
  enters river service, 35;
  becomes ship pantry boy, 35, 276;
  printer, 35, 181;
  second or "mud" clerk, 37, 52-58, 268;
  second engineer, 38-45;
  never centered his engine, 41;
  bashful, 52;
  appointment as clerk becomes permanent, 56;
  threatened with loss of position, 61;
  pilot, 80, 266, 267, 273;
  his initiation as pilot, 106-110;
  on "Golden Era," 80;
  on "Equator," 192;
  accident to his boat, 104;
  engaged by Eden, 199;
  his experience with wild-cat money, 179;
  knows game haunts, 200;
  great reader, 201;
  visits Maiden Rock, 303;
  enlists and serves during Civil War, 51, 83, 190, 268;
  marries, 83;
  agent and superintendent of N. Y. Steamship Co., 83;
  railroad agent, 83, 240;
  newspaper man, 83;
  his trip on "Mary Morton," 240-253.

Merrick, L. H., father of G. B. M.: 29, 30.

Merrick & Co., L. H.: 30-33, 55.

Merrick, Samuel, brother of G. B. M.: 25, 26.

Messenger: steamboat, 149.

Methodists: 190, 191.

Metropolitan: steamboat, 132.

Mexico, Gulf of: 64.

Miami Bend: 276.

Michigan, state: 15, 19, 175, 186, 199, 201;
  possible etymology of, 300, 301.

Michigan, Lake: 300, 301.

Middleton, Capt. ----: 284.

Miller: family in Prescott, 22.

Miller, Capt. ----: 274.

Miller, John S.: 188.

Mills: 18, 169, 221, 222, 284.

Milwaukee, Wis.: 248.

Mines, lead: 184.

Minks: 22.

Minneapolis, Minn.: 96, 169, 183, 226.
  _See also_ St. Anthony.

Minnesota, territory and state: 19, 20, 62, 80, 116, 117, 129, 152,
  155, 162, 164, 180-182, 206, 211, 213, 219, 222, 248.

Minnesota Packet Co. _See_ Steamboats.

Minnesota River: 206, 207, 209, 216, 258, 259, 261, 264, 265, 267-269,
  271, 273, 275, 276, 280, 281, 285, 288-290, 293, 294.

Minnesota: steamboat, 152.

Minnesota Belle, steamboat: 18, 19, 152.

Mishawaka, Mich.: 187.

Missionaries: 190, 301.

Mississippi River: its former glory, 13;
  navigation impaired, 13, 56;
  diminished in size, 13;
  boats of, compared to others, 15;
  railroads lessen traffic on, 18, 83;
  traffic of, dead, 221, 250;
  great traffic on, 19;
  tributaries to, 19, 20, 199, 206;
  Indians numerous near, 20, 219, 301;
  islands in, 21, 110, 111, 188, 223, 232, 248, 258, 259, 264, 266,
    277, 279-281, 287, 288, 290, 301;
  sloughs in, 21, 283, 301;
  description of banks and valley, 21, 88, 89, 156, 188, 189, 239;
  trading posts and towns on, 21, 29, 30;
  storms on, 25, 110, 122, 123, 231, 249;
  saloons along, 29;
  warehouses on, 30, 33;
  sand bars and reefs in, 36, 41, 74, 76, 85, 92, 93, 223, 224;
  steamboats of, described, 36, 42;
  explosions on, frequent, 39;
  channels, 40;
  Com. Porter opens, 50;
  requirements necessary for offices on ships of, 55;
  woodyards along, 59;
  farms along, 60;
  slavery on west bank of, 64;
  beginning of its trade boom, 66;
  change in character of crews on, 69, 70;
  code of honor of, 74;
  accidents during low water, 74, 76;
  obstructions in, 78;
  piloting and navigation on (difficulties, etc.), 78-99, 101-103,
    111-116, 223, 224;
  improvements on, 79, 221-228, 299;
  may regain prestige in commerce, 79, 80;
  boats aground in, 80;
  Twain's _Life on the Miss._, cited, 83;
  numerous turns in, 85;
  dams and dikes in, 85, 225;
  difficulties of paddling on, 85-91;
  pilots must know, 86-88;
  "knowing" it, 92-109;
  official etiquette on, 109;
  pioneer steamboats of, 111, 112, 187, 257;
  modern boats, 110;
  fur-traders on, 112;
  raftsmen on, 113, 114;
  incidents of river life on, 117-125;
  steamboatmen on, 124;
  morals on, 125, 251;
  menus of boats on, 126-131;
  water of, used as beverage, 129-131;
  contaminated by sewage, 131;
  gambling on, 138-142;
  life of steamboats on, 161;
  duration of navigation, 170;
  keel boats on, 188;
  legends of, 302;
  floods on, 216, 225, 238;
  mills along, 221, 222;
  commission, 226;
  wrecks on, 227;
  snags removed from, 227;
  dredging in, 228;
  losses of steamboats on, 229-239;
  reliving old days on, 240-253;
  steamboats on upper, before 1863, 257-294;
  rapids in, 257;
  origin and etymology of name, 300;
  its French names, 301.

Missouri Point: 273.

Missouri River: 112, 130, 131, 164, 186, 222, 226, 227, 230-233, 237,
  250, 257, 259, 260, 262-266, 271, 274, 276, 279, 281-285, 287-290.

Mitchell, Capt. A.: 292.

Molasses: 29.

Molino del Rey, Mex.: battle of, 212.

Money: wild-cat, 174-180.

Monongahela, Pa.: 263, 291.

Monopolies: 56, 173.

Monterey, Mex.: battle of, 212.

Montford, Capt. A. G.: 289.

Montgomery, Capt. ----: 277, 285.

Montgomery, Mo. (?): 258, 260.

Moore, Seth: pilot, 116.

Moorhead, Minn.: 258.

Moquoketa Chute: 265.

Morals: along Mississippi, 114, 124, 251.

Moreau, Louis: 113.
  _See also_ Moro.

Morehouse, D. B.: 270.

Morehouse, Capt. Legrand: 268.

Moro (Morrow, Moreau), Louis: pilot, 113.

Morrison, Capt. ----: 258, 259.

Morrison, Capt. C. S.: 283.

Morrison, Capt. G. G.: 260.

Morrison, James: mate, 283.

Moulton, I. N.: 267.

Moulton, Thomas: 266, 267.

Mounds: near Mississippi, 21.

Moundsville, Va.: 292.

Mountains: 301.

Mouseau (Mo'-sho), Antoine: half-breed Indian chief, 22.

Mouseau, Louis: pioneer of St. Paul, 22.

Mules: 213, 214.

Mullen, ----: clerk, 281.

Mundy's Landing: 265.

Murraysville, Pa.: 259, 263.

Muscatine Bar: 265.

Music: 16.
  _See also_ Steamboats.

Musicians: 157.

Muskrats: 22.

Mutinies: on ships, 48, 66, 69.


Nashville, Tenn.: 279.

Natchez: steamboat, 143.

Navigation: lessened on Mississippi, 13;
  difficulties of, 206, 207;
  improvements in, 221-228;
  greatest disaster in western, 234, 235;
  opening at St. Paul (1844-62), 295.

Nebraska, state: 222.

Nebraska: steamboat, 239.

Negroes (darkies): 47, 48, 64, 65, 70, 127, 128, 136, 157-160, 241,
  250-253, 260.

New Albany, Ind.: 264, 282, 288, 291.

Newburyport, Mass.: 15.

New England: 130, 131.

New Orleans, La.: 47, 78, 80, 117, 143, 185, 230, 250, 272.

Newport, Minn.: 102.

New St. Paul: steamboat, 184.

Newspapers: 202, 203, 238.

New Ulm, Minn.: 213.

New York City: 51, 80, 83, 159, 182.

Nichols, George: 116.

Nicollet, ----: explorer, 290.

Niles, Mich.: 15, 17, 186, 187.

Nine Mile Island: 287.

Nininger, Minn.: land frauds at, 139, 180-183, 223, 270.

Nobleman, stray: 196-205.

Nominee: steamboat, 149, 150, 184, 274.

Norris, Frank: steward, 292.

Northern Belle: steamboat, 152, 292.

Northerner: steamboat, 148.

Northern Light: steamboat, 103, 155.

Northern Line. _See_ Steamboats.

Northwestern Line. _See_ Steamboats.

Northwestern: newspaper, 202.

Northwest Territories: 174, 222, 290.

Norwegian: 114.

OAK: 60, 61, 76, 303.

Ocean Wave: steamboat, 33, 101.

Ohio River: 43, 66, 161, 185, 187, 188, 290.

Ohio, state: 184.

Onawa Bend: 264.

Orchestras: 157.

Osage River: 265.

Osceola, Wis.: 29, 270, 282.

Oshkosh, Wis.: 196, 199, 202, 204.

Otter: steamboat, 290.

Oxford Univ.: 196, 201.

Owen, Capt. ----: 267.

Owens, Capt. ----: 279.


Pantry boy: 52, 115.

Paris, France: 201.

Parker, ----: 115, 116.

Parker, Capt. ----: 269, 281.

Parker, Capt. J. W.: 262, 271.

Parker, Capt. N. W.: 284.

Parker, Capt. W. N.: 265.

Parkersburg, Va.: 264.

Parkman, Francis: _La Salle and Disc. of Gt. West_, cited, 113.

Parthenia: steamboat, 238.

Paul Jones: steamboat, 238.

Pearman, ----: clerk, 258.

Pekin, Ill.: 285.

Peltries: 112.
  _See also_ Furs.

Pemberton, Capt. John C.: 212.

Penn's Bend: 262.

Pennsylvania, state: 66, 212.

Pepin, Lake: 29, 35, 149, 234, 237, 238, 246, 259, 268-270, 288, 302.

Petersburg, Va.: 141, 203.

Philadelphia, Pa.: 80.

Phil Sheridan: steamboat, 152.

Physicians: 57.

Pictures. _See_ Steamboats.

Pierce, George S.: clerk, 277.

Pigs: 127.

Pig's Eye: bad crossing on Mississippi, 95, 223, 245.

Pike: name for steamboats, 229.

Pilots: 14, 17, 35, 36, 38-40, 42-44, 47, 51, 52, 56, 57, 63, 71-74,
  76, 80, 83, 84, 100, 101, 103-105, 110, 112, 115, 116, 122, 124,
  130, 150, 151, 163, 170, 188, 199, 202, 207, 209, 210, 223, 224,
  226-228, 232, 240-242, 246, 260, 264, 267, 268, 273, 277, 284, 292,
  duties and responsibilities, 78-99;
  early, 111-116;
  oldest of upper Mississippi, 117.

Pim, John S.: clerk, 272.

Pine Bend: 245.

Pine Ridge, S. Dak.: 216.

Pine trees and wood: 22, 34, 74, 232.

Pioneers: 185, 188.

Pitch: 147.

Pittsburg, Pa.: 30, 185, 250, 259, 262, 275, 276, 278, 280-282,
  286-289, 291, 293.

Pittsburg: steamboat, 249.

Planters: 138.

Point Douglass: 49, 171, 237, 268, 273, 291.

Pokagon: Indian chief, 19.

Polar Star: steamboat, 239.

Pontoosuc, Ill.: 290, 296.

Poplar River: 262.

Population: 19, 188.

Pork: 29, 30, 241.

Portage, Wis.: 197, 279, 288.

Portages: 113.

Porter, Com. ----: 50.

Post Boy: name for steamboat, 230.

Potatoes: 56, 169.

Potosi, Wis.: 268, 282, 290.

Prairie Belle: steamboat, 46.

Prairie du Chien, Wis.: 56, 69, 112-114, 144, 147, 151, 164, 167-169,
  171, 172, 202, 248, 261, 275, 280, 284.

Prairie Grove: battle of, 211.

Prairies: 21, 27, 28, 107, 188, 209-211.

Preachers: 190, 193.

Pre-Emption: steamboat, 184.

Presbyterians: 46.

Prescott, Wis.: 19, 20, 21, 22, 27-29, 34, 49, 55, 60, 80, 85, 95,
  106-108, 114, 140, 148, 152, 171, 179, 191, 193, 195, 199, 201, 215,
  223, 225, 245, 268, 273, 282;
  typical river town, 29;
  transfer and shipping point, 29, 30.

Prescott Island: 223.

Prices and values: 59, 62, 64, 65, 80, 124, 139, 144, 155, 161-164,
  167-169, 171, 172, 181, 184, 216, 219, 222, 223, 225, 226, 234, 262,
  265, 267, 269, 271, 272, 274, 275, 280, 282, 289-291.

Pringle: steamboat, 239.

Printers: 35, 95, 181, 182.

Prize fights: 115, 116.

Profits: 170-172.

Providence, Mo.: 285.

Provisions: 29, 30, 127, 128, 149, 163, 185.

Puitt's Island: 223, 277.

Pumps: 36.

QUINCY, ILL.: 188, 252, 280, 285, 289.

Quincy: steamboat, 249.

Quicksand: 76.


Radebaugh, George: engineer, 283.

Rafts: 26, 114, 122, 185, 221, 249, 250;
  men, 30, 106, 113, 114.
  _See also_ Ships.

Railroads: 56, 83, 105, 162, 164, 167, 173, 221, 234, 240, 241, 248,
  kill traffic on rivers, 18;
  Various lines--Dunleith, 172;
  Galena & Western Union, 164;
  Illinois Central, 164;
  Milwaukee & Mississippi, 164;
  Prairie du Chien, 172.

Rapids: 186, 225, 231, 257, 261, 264, 269, 275, 279, 301.

Rawlins, Capt. John: 272, 283.

Red River of the North: 250, 258, 263, 269.

Red Wing, Minn.: 19-21, 167-169, 246, 270.

Red Wing: Sioux chief, 19-22.

Reed's Landing, Minn.: 29, 246.

Reefs, 36, 40, 92-94, 96, 99, 100, 109, 200. _See also_ Sand bars.

Reilly (Riley), Capt. Robert A.: 259, 280, 281, 294.

Relief: steamboat, 184.

Reno, Capt. ----: 288.

Resin: 148.

Reynolds, Joseph: 248, 249.

Rhodes, Capt. J. B.: 278.

Rhodes, Capt. J. H.: 292.

Rhodes, Capt. Thomas B.: 280, 290.

Rice: 30;
  wild, 22.

Rice, Dan: circus man, 122.

Richardson, ----: deserts ship to join army, 215.

Riley, Capt. Robert A. _See_ Reilly.

Rissue, Capt. ----: 277.

River Falls, Wis.: 201, 204, 205, 240.

Rivers: 13, 19;
  improvements on, 221-223.

Rivière de la Conception: appellation of Mississippi, 301.

Rivière St. Louis: appellation of Mississippi, 301.

Robbins, R. M.: clerk, 266.

Robert E. Lee: steamboat, 143.

Robert, Capt. Louis: 272, 276, 290.

Robert, Capt. Nelson: 290.

Robinson, Capt. John: 264.

Rock Island, Ill.: 18, 19, 35, 85, 93, 122, 130, 148, 152, 164, 168,
  184, 188, 261, 263, 266, 272, 275, 287;
  rapids, 264.
  _See also_ Bridges.

Rogers, ----: 260.

Rogers, Capt. ----: 286.

Rolling Stone, Minn.: 95, 182, 183.

Rosin: 34.

Rounds, Capt. ----: 287.

Roustabouts. _See_ Deck hands.

Rowe, Capt. ----: 273.

Rowley, Capt. ----: 263.

Ruley, Russel: mate, 35, 267, 277.

Rusk, Jeremiah (gov. of Wis.): 83.

Russell, Capt. Joseph, U. S. A.: 187.

Ryan, Capt. ----: 289.


St. Anthony, Minn.: 96, 169, 272.
  _See also_ Minneapolis (with which it is incorporated).

St. Anthony Falls, Minn.: 99, 112, 155, 223, 265, 266, 268, 272, 278,

St. Croix, Minn.: 285;
  Falls, 29, 80, 104, 106, 191, 199, 259, 263, 264, 269, 273, 282,
  Lake, 19, 105, 148, 191, 192, 195, 267;
  River, 19, 20, 29, 113, 191, 199, 200, 202, 259, 265, 266, 270, 273,
    284, 293;
  valley, 284, 287;
  steamboat, 280, 290.

St. Genevieve, Mo.: 188.

St. Joseph, Mich.: 16, 187, 264;
  river (St. Joe), 15, 17, 18, 186, 199.

St. Louis, Mo.: 19, 30, 43, 60, 64, 66, 70, 79, 83-85, 103, 106, 112,
  114, 115, 117, 118, 124, 132, 136, 143, 158, 172, 175, 186, 188,
  207, 221, 230, 231, 233, 234, 237, 241, 247, 250-252, 257-294, 301;
  table of distances from, 296-298.

St. Paul, Minn.: 18, 22, 35, 55, 56, 60, 62, 66, 71, 78, 79, 83-85,
  93, 96, 99, 103, 106, 115, 117, 122, 127, 129, 132, 136, 140, 144,
  147, 149, 151, 157, 162, 164, 167, 168, 171, 172, 180, 182, 206,
  207, 222, 223, 225, 228, 230-232, 234, 240-242, 248, 251, 253,
  257-294, 301;
  opening of navigation at (1844-62), 295.

St. Paul: name for steamboats, 230, 249.

St. Peters, Minn.: 257-260, 262, 266, 268, 270, 271, 274-276, 278-281,
  284-289, 291, 292.

Salem, Mass.: 15.

Saloons: 29. _See also_ Intoxication;
  _and_ Liquors.

Saltmarsh, Capt. ----: 275.

Sam Cloon: steamboat, 239.

Sand bars: 74-77, 112, 163, 169, 170, 186, 223, 224, 228, 247, 249,
  danger of, 41. _See also_ Reefs.

Sargent, Capt. ----: 291.

Sargent, G. L.: engineer, 294.

Sauk Rapids: 266, 272, 283.

Savanna, Ill.: 118.

Schaser: family in Prescott, 22.

Schools: 84, 184.

Scotchman: 84, 115.

Scott, Capt. ----: 271, 284.

Scott, G. W.: engineer, 294.

Search-lights: 89, 245, 249, 250.

Senator: steamboat, 184, 292.

Sencerbox, Capt. ----: 267.

Settlers: 60, 174, 179, 185, 222.

Shaw Botanical Garden: in St. Louis, 250.

Shellcross, Capt. John: 278, 291.

Shenandoah: steamboat, 239.

Sherman, Tecumseh W.: 206, 212, 216, 217, 268.

Ships and water craft: shipyards and shipbuilding, 15, 161, 230;
  captains (masters), 14, 35, 46, 47, 52, 71-77;
  crews, 48, 64, 69, 70;
  watches on, 56, 57;
  caste on, 69, 70;
  shipping methods, 29, 30, 33;
  cargoes carried by, 30 (_see also_ Freight);
  competition in shipping, 33;
  "shipping up" defined, 40.
  Various kinds of water craft: Arks, 185.
    Barges, 149, 150, 171, 246, 248, 289.
    Bateaux, 112.
    Broadhorns, 185.
    Canal-boats, 185, 239.
    Canoes, 22-27, 112, 301.
    Circus-boat, 122.
    Dugouts, 20, 23.
    Flatboats, 62, 239.
    Gunboats, 50.
    Keel boats, 15, 185-187.
    Lifeboats, 123, 231.
    Lumber hooker, 16.
    Mackinac boats, 112.
    Packets (_see below_ Steamboats).
    Sailing, 117.
    Scows, 62, 63, 185.
    Steamboats--13-18, 24, 33, 117;
      stern-wheelers, 18, 33, 39, 40, 84, 85, 101-103, 155, 163, 170,
        191, 194, 199, 206, 207, 258-294;
      side-wheelers, 18, 33, 39-42, 85, 102, 152, 155, 199, 250, 257-294;
      night landings, 33, 34;
      Merrick enters service of, 35;
      close of navigation for, 35;
      machinery on, 35, 36;
      described, 35, 36, 43, 44, 74-76;
      duties of engineers on, 35-37;
      engine-room, 38-45, 73, 79;
      rate of speed, 42;
      racing, 43-45, 143-151;
      become fewer on Mississippi, 56, 222;
      wooding up, 59, 62, 63;
      official etiquette on, 62;
      captain must know thoroughly, 71, 73, 74;
      captains own interest in, 72;
      cabins, 72;
      how handled in accidents, 74-77;
      sparring off, 74-76;
      hogging, 75;
      spars, 74-76;
      how hauled over bars, 76, 77;
      patrol Mississippi, 79;
      forced out by railroads, 83;
      lights covered at night, 90;
      art of steering, 100-105;
      early, 111, 112, 187, 257;
      list of, on upper Mississippi (before 1863), 257-294;
      early pilots on, 111-116;
      size, 117, 163, 164, 169, 199, 200, 206, 250, 257-294;
      bars (abolished) and beverages on, 124, 129-137;
      cost, 124 (_see also_ Prices);
      kitchen, 126;
      menus on, 126-131;
      "grub-pile," 129;
      gambling on, 138-142;
      music and art on, 152-160;
      bonanzas, 161-173;
      few insured, 162;
      passenger accommodations, 167, 171;
      passenger rates, 167-169;
      pioneer steamboatmen, 184-189;
      wrecks and accidents, 192-195, 229-239, 257-293;
      desertions from, 215;
      logs towed by, 221;
      U. S. Govt. procures, 227, 228;
      dredges worked by, 228;
      many with same name, 229, 230;
      U. S. inspection of, 232;
      improvements on, 245-247, 249, 250;
      where built, 257-293.
  Steamship lines (some same company under various names)--Alton, 157,
    231, 239;
    Anchor, 250;
    Davidson, 267, 269, 277, 281, 283, 293;
    Diamond Jo, 136, 151, 167, 240, 245, 246, 248, 249;
    Dubuque & St. Paul Packet Co., 269;
    Galena, Dubuque, Dunleith & St. Paul Packet Co. (Galena and Minn.
      Packet Co.), 30, 261, 265, 268, 270-272 (_see also below_ Minn.
      Packet Co.);
    Keokuk Packet Co., 277;
    Minnesota Packet Co., 30, 41, 84, 116, 129, 148, 151, 170, 172,
      180, 216, 258, 260, 263, 271, 272, 277, 278, 280, 282-284, 287,
      288, 291, 292;
    N. Y. Steamship Co., 83;
    Northern Line, 132, 260-262, 264-266, 269, 270, 273, 281, 282,
      285, 290, 292;
    Northwestern Line, 124, 279, 280, 285, 286;
    St. Louis & St. Paul Packet Co., 180, 263, 264, 266, 269;
    St. Louis Line, 148.
  Towboats, 122.
  Submarine boats, 238.
  "Wild" boats, 30.
  Woodboats, 63, 239.
  Yawls, 74, 207, 222.

Shousetown, Pa.: 257, 260, 262, 280, 282, 286, 288.

Shovelin, Con: second mate, 70.

Sidney: steamboat, 249.

Sire, Capt. Joseph: 284.

Slaves and slavery: 47, 50, 64, 65, 164. _See also_ Negroes.

Sloughs: 21, 22, 227, 248, 301.

Smelter: steamboat, 184.

Smith: family in Prescott, 22.

Smith, Mr. ----: owns woodyard, 60.

Smith, Capt. ----: 266, 292.

Smith, Capt. J. C.: 280.

Smith, Capt. J. F.: 266.

Smith, Jerome: pilot, 116.

Smith, Capt. John: 290.

Smith, Capt. Orren: 149, 150, 261, 278, 281, 282, 288, 294.

Smoker, Capt. ----: 265.

Soap: 30.

Soldiers: 191, 222, 241, 261.

South Bend, Mich.: 15, 187.

Speer, S.: 289.

Spencer, Capt. R. M.: 261, 269, 284, 288.

Stackhouse & Nelson: 289.

Standing Bear, Henry (Sioux): 216, 219, 220.

Stanton, Frederick K.: clerk, 273.

Starnes, Capt. ----: 280.

Statistics: of casualties to steamboats, 229, 259.

Steamboats. _See_ Ships.

Stephens, John: clerk, 270.

Stephenson, Capt. Charles L.: 273, 292.

Stewards (on steamboats): 35, 126-129, 163, 242.

Stewart, ----: clerk, 274.

Stillwater, Minn.: 29, 106-109, 115, 140, 164, 167, 168, 179, 191,
  192, 221, 259.

Stone, Capt. ----: 285.

Storms: 107-110, 122, 123, 191, 192, 231, 234, 249.

Stran, Capt. H. B.: 288.

Strother, Capt. ----: 284.

Sturgeons, fish: 19.

Sugar: in cargo, 30.

Superior, Lake: 300.

Sutler: steamboat, 184.

Swamp, wild rice: 22.

TALLIAFERRO, Laurence: Indian agent, 187.

Talliaferro, Maj. ----, U. S. A.: 287.

Telegraph: name for steamboat, 230.

Tennessee River: 250.

Thomas, Chute: 274.

Thompson's _Bank Note Detector_: 179.

Throckmorton, Capt. Joseph: 261, 262, 263, 271, 279, 286, 289, 293.

Thurston, Capt. ----: 259.

Tibbles, Henry: pilot, 116.

Tiger: steamboat, 284.

Time and Tide: steamboat, 278.

Tishomingo: steamboat, 172.

Tools: 20, 35, 36.

Torches: 34.

Trader, Boney (Napoleon Bonaparte): gambler, 139.

Transportation. _See_ Railroads;
  _and_ Ships.

Traverse, Lake: 269.

Traverse des Sioux, Dakota: 219, 259, 265.

Treaties: Indian, 206, 219, 284, 287.

Trees: 22, 26, 34, 74, 232.

Trempealeau, Wis.: 69, 95;
  Landing, 301;
  Mountain, 301.

Tripp, Harry: pilot, 80, 116, 268.

Trout: 202, 205.

Troxell, ----: engineer, 292.

Troy, Capt. ----: 267.

Trudell, ----: mate, 123.

Trudell Slough: 21, 25.

Truett, Capt. ----: 286.

Turkey River: 249.

Turner, Capt. ----: 286.

Tuttle, Calvin: millwright, 285.

Twain, Mark (S. L. Clemens): _Life on Lower Miss._, cited, 83, 84, 87,
  130, 188.


United States: 20, 206, 219;
  federal officers, 60;
  inspects steamboats, 84, 231, 232;
  danger to govt., 208;
  charters vessel, 216;
  war dept., 227.

Upper Bonhomme Island: 290.

VAN HOUTEN, Capt. ----: 258.

Vermillion Slough: 21.

Vermont, state: 205.

Vickers, Capt. ----: 288.

Vicksburg, Miss.: 212, 273, 290.

Victoria, Queen: 144, 147.

Victory, Wis.: 123, 247.

Virginia, state: 141.

Virginia: steamboat, 112, 187, 257.

Vorhies, Capt. ----: 277.

Voyageurs: 113, 115, 301.

WABASHA: 247, 261;
  Prairie, 182.

Wabash River: 155.

Wacouta, Minn.: 29, 149, 234, 269, 287.

Wages: 56, 103, 122, 126, 137, 157, 158, 163, 199, 201, 215, 224, 241,

Wah-pa-sha: Dakota chief, 300, 302, 303.

Waiters: on boats, 157.

Wall, Capt. Nick: 281, 285.

Ward, Frank: clerk, 271.

Ward, Capt. James: 156, 262, 263, 267, 275, 286, 289, 290, 293.

War Eagle: steamboat, 76, 84, 184, 230, 270.

Warehouses: 19, 29, 30, 33, 182, 188.

Warrior: name for steamboats, 230.

Wars: Civil (Secession), 22, 50, 51, 78, 80, 117, 174, 190, 196, 197,
  203, 206-211, 215, 216, 222, 231;
  Indian, 213, 216;
  Mexican, 212.

Washington, D. C.: 51, 83, 208, 226, 287, 292.

Washington, Mo.: 260.

Wa-ze-co-to: Dakota Indian, 303.

Webb, Capt. N. F.: 271, 284, 292.

Wells's Landing: 123.

Wellsville, O.: 268.

West, Edward (Ed., Ned) A.: pilot, 78, 103, 106, 116, 148, 277.

West Brownsville, Pa.: 258, 278.

West Elizabeth, Pa.: 267, 272, 287.

West Newton: steamboat, 149, 184.

West Newton Chute: 293.

Weston Island: 257.

West Point Mil. Acad.: 79, 209, 224, 226.

Whales and whalers: 15, 16.

Wheat: 30, 56, 152, 169, 171, 246, 248, 249.

Wheeling, Va. (_now_ W. Va.): 270, 271, 278, 284, 289.

Whipple: family in Prescott, 22.

Whiskey: 29, 30, 135, 136.

"Whiskey Jim:" appellation of deck hand, 215.

White, Capt. ----: 188.

White, Hugh: pilot, 116.

White, William: pilot, 116, 293.

White Cloud: steamboat, 233.

Whitten, Capt. David: 144, 147, 275.

Wilcox, Gen. O. B.: 141, 204.

Wilderness: battle of, 215.

Williams, Rufus: pilot, 116.

Willow River: 109.

Wilson, Billy, mate: 48, 66-70, 268, 303.

Winnebago, Wis.: 202;
  Lake, 197, 266.

Winona: Indian maiden, 302, 303.

Winona, Minn.: 29, 69, 168, 183, 259, 277, 291, 300, 302.

Wisconsin: River, 112, 199, 202, 279, 288;
  territory and state, 19, 20, 25, 35, 83, 113, 164, 175, 190, 195,
    203, 219, 300.

Wise, Gen. ----: 203.

Wolf River: 197.

Wolves: 22, 27.

Wood and woodyards: 57, 59-63, 69, 115, 143, 163, 179.

Wood Lake: 202.

Woodburn, Capt. ----: 286.

Woodruff, Capt. ----: 259.

Woods, John: 188.

Worden, Capt. Jones: 149, 268, 277.

Worsham, ----: clerk, 257.

Wrecks: 78, 93, 124, 192-195, 227.

Wright, ----: engineer, 292.


Yankees: 70, 114, 131, 196, 211.

Young, Capt. Augustus R.: 266, 267.

Young, Jesse B.: mate, 267.

Young, Josiah: engineer, 267.

Young, Leonard: engineer, 267.

Young Men's Christian Association: 216.


Transcriber's notes

Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.

Words changed:

- rythmical to rhythmical (Chapter I) "... "Algoma"! The word
has a rythmical measure, and ..."

- Francois to François (Index) "... Charlevoix, Pierre Francois
Xavier de,..."

- Appendix E refers to Louis XIV; the city of St. Louis was in
fact named after Louis IX.

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