Mark Twain Homes


Birthplace of S.L.C., Florida, Missouri. Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in this house on 30 November, 1835, in the frontier village of Florida, Marion County, Missouri. The 6th child of John Marshall Clemens and Jane (Jean) Lampton Clemens, he was born two months premature and sickly, into a family comprising: brother Orion … Read more

Steamboat People


Pilot At The Wheel Quote:~ My chief was presently hired to go on a big New Orleans boat, and I packed my satchel and went with him. She was a grand affair. When I stood in her pilot-house I was so far above the water that I seemed perched on a mountain; … Read more

Steamboat Resources


Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994 Frederick Way, Jr., was a noted steamboat pilot and river historian who collected steamboat data throughout some 80 years of his life. Whether you are a steamboat historian or a genealogist whose ancestors traveled on the rivers, Way’s Packet Directory is bound to help in your research. Steamboats … Read more

Steamboat Interiors

Steamboat Interiors

GRAND REPUBLIC Salon ~ 1876 A view looking down the salon of Grand Republic’s Salon in 1876. GRAND REPUBLIC Cabin ~ 1876 Passengers photographed in the Cabin of the Grand Republic, 1876. Photographs of steamboat interiors were usuually taken without people in view, since it was the ornate architecture that the photographer sought to … Read more

Steamboat Artwork Group 6


‘St. Louis, Laclede’s Landing’ ~ 1885 Pierre Laclede and his 13-year old stepson Auguste Chouteau, arrived at the future site of St. Louis in 1763. They had set out from New Orleans with a small band of men, landing in November, eighteen miles downstream of the confluence with the Missouri River where … Read more

Currier & Ives


Printmakers Currier & Ives, headed by Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) and James Merritt Ives (1824-1895), produced some of the most popular American art of the 19th century. The company specialized in publishing inexpensive hand-colored lithographic prints for the growing American middle class. It is estimated that over 8500 lithograph titles were published by … Read more

The Story Behind This Website


My name is Finn ~ at least that’s my ‘river’ name. I’m a raftsman, and I began my rafting career on a log-raft. I run my own rafting business, here. As you probably know, Huckleberry Finn, together with Jim, undertook a memorable journey down the Mississippi on a log-raft, similar to the raft … Read more

Steamboat Artwork Group 1


‘Lewis & Clark: The Departure’ ~ May 14, 1804 Having left their winter camp at Wood River on the banks of the Mississippi adjacent the Missouri River confluence, the expedition at last broaches the swift, snag-studded waters of the Missouri. The 55-foot keelboat, fully loaded with supplies and trade goods, is rowed … Read more

Steamboat Artwork Group 5


‘Steamboat Warping Through a Suck’  circa 1872 Navigating the Tennessee River was especially challenging for steamboats. Some ten miles below Chattanooga there was a narrow gorge called The Suck, also known as the Valley of the Whirlpool Rapids. This is a hand-colored woodcut of a steamer being tediously ‘warped through a suck’ on … Read more

Steamboat Artwork Group 4


‘New Orleans’ Quote: ~ Opposite the city the levee is so broad as to furnish a landing-place for all the bulky merchandise in which the trade of New Orleans mainly consists. The broad space is literally buried under the wealth of the Great Valley. Bales of cotton, hogsheads of sugar, barrels of … Read more

Mark Twain Family


Jane Lampton Clemens (1803 ~ 1890) B: 18 June 1803, Lexington, Adair County, Kentucky. D: 27 October 1890, Keokuk, Iowa. Married: John Marshall Clemens, 6 May 1823, Columbia, Kentucky. Children: Orion, Pamela, Margaret, Benjamin, Samuel, Henry (See below). Mother of Samuel Clemens. The daughter of Benjamin Lampton and Margaret Casey, Jane was raised in Lexington, Kentucky. As a … Read more

Levee Scenes


St. Louis Levee ~ 1852 Steamboats in this scene of the St. Louis levee include the DUBUQUE, EXPRESS, HIGHLAND CHIEF and the AMULET. Steamers would often land two or three tiers deep here during the 1840s and 1850s. Note the covered wagon in the foreground. This is possibly the first photographic image of the St. Louis levee. Quote: ~ … Read more

Steamboat Artwork Group 2


‘Moonlight Encounter on the Mississippi’ In the 1800s large log rafts were floated down the Mississippi River from the pine forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The first documented raft taken through to St. Louis was in the charge of Henry Merill, who refitted it at the mouth of the Wisconson River, and delivered it … Read more

Steamboat Artwork Group 3


Night Stop on the Mississippi’  In this moonlit scene, a small sidewheeler lands against a levee with the Mississippi at flood stage. The landing places either rose with the river or were relocated, depending on the current. The flat-bottomed hull design of the riverboat, drawing as little as two-and-a-half-feet, afforded easy access … Read more

Steamboats 1850-53


ECLIPSE Built: 1852, New Albany, Indiana. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 350 feet, 1,117 tons. Cost: $375,000. There were several Eclipse boats. This was the largest sidewheeler to carry the Eclipse name, with 42-foot wheels, operating from New Orleans to Louisville. She was damaged beyond repair at New Orleans in 1860 when she was blown from … Read more

Steamboats 1860-61


CITY OF ALTON Built: 1860, Madison, Indiana. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 283′ x 40′ x 7′. Engines: 36′ – 9 ft. Operating between St. Louis and Alton, her master was Captain Mitchell, and in 1861 Captain Barnes. The CITY of ALTON was involved in one of the first acts of daring in the Civil … Read more

Steamboats 1861-64


C.J. CAFFREY Built: 1861, Louisville, Kentucky, as J.H. BALDWIN. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Converted to sternwheel 1874. Size: 173 tons. Originally the J.H. BALDWIN, and built for the Louisville-Cumberland trade, under Captain McGuire, she was captured by the U.S. in the spring of 1862 on the Cumberland River. She was sold for $12,000 to steamship agents … Read more

Steamboats 1840-44


ALEX SCOTT Built: 1842, Jeffersonville, Indiana. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 266′ x 34′ x 8′, 709 tons. Engines: 25’s x 10 ft. Boilers: Six boilers. Paddlewheels: 30′ diameter with 15′ buckets, 28″ dip. Named for Captain Alexander Scott, and built by a veteran of the river, Captain John C. Swan, her principle owner and master, this … Read more

Steamboats 1880-84


CITY of NEW ORLEANS Built: 1881, by Howard & Co., Jeffersonville, Indiana. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 290′ x 48′ x 8′ 5″. Engines: 26’s – 10 ft. Boilers: Five boilers, each 44″ by 30 ft., four flues. Paddlewheels: 38 ft. diameter, with 15 ft. buckets. One of ten Anchor Line boats built between 1880-87 without … Read more

Steamboats 1890-94


CITY OF HICKMAN Built: 1890, by Howard & Co., Jeffersonville, Indiana. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 285′ x 44′ 5″ x  9′ 5″. Engines: 26’s – 10 ft. Boilers: Five boilers. Paddlewheels: 26 ft. diameter. Capacity: 200 passengers, 2,100 tons. Built for the Anchor Line, the CITY of HICKMAN had 38 staterooms and 72 berths and cost $66,000 (one … Read more

Steamboats 1870-74


FAR WEST Built: 1870, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Type: Sternwheel wooden hull packet. Mountain riverboat. Size: 190′ x  33′ x  6′. Engines: 15’s – 5 ft. Boilers: Three boilers Capacity: Could carry 200 tons and 30 cabin passengers, drawing only 20 inches, un-ladened. Operating on the Missouri, Yellowstone and Osage Rivers, the FAR WEST earned a place in history in 1876, … Read more

Steamboats 1895-99


BELLE OF CALHOUN Built: 1895, St. Louis, Missouri. Built at the Carondelet Marine Ways, Carondelet, Missouri, and completed at the St. Louis wharf. Type: Sternwheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 180′ 9″ x 36′ 4″ x  4′ 7″. Engines: 15’s – 6 ft. Boilers: Two boilers, each 44″ by 26 ft. The BELLE OF CALHOUN was named for Miss … Read more

Steamboats 1865-69

PHIL SHERIDAN Built: 1866, Cincinnati, Ohio Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 227′ x 35′ 6″ x 6′, 728 tons. Engines: 22’s – 7 ft. Boilers: 4 boilers, each 40″ x 26 ft. with five 9″ flues. Operating on the Upper Mississippi River, the PHIL SHERIDAN was owned first by the Cincinnati and Wheeling Line before being sold … Read more

Steamboats 1845-49


‘BIG’ MISSOURI Built: 1845, Cincinnati, Ohio. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 304 feet, 886 tons. This is a 1850 lithograph of the MISSOURI, also called the BIG MISSOURI because it was the largest steamboat on the river below Louisville before the launch of the SULTANA in 1848. It operated mainly between St. Louis and New Orleans and was … Read more

Steamboats 1857-59


ITASCA Built:1857, Cincinnati, Ohio. Type:Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 230′ x 35′ x 5′ 6″, 340 tons. Engines: 20’s x 7 ft. Boilers:Four boilers. Paddlewheels:28 ft. diameter with 10 ft. buckets. The ITASCA ran in the Upper Mississippi trade between St. Louis and St. Paul, and was operated by the Northwestern Union Packet Company from 1864. She … Read more

Steamboats 1811-29


NEW ORLEANS Built: 1811, Pittsburgh, Ohio. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull. Size: 116 ft long, 20 ft beam, 371 tons Engine: Cylinder 34 inch diameter Cost: $38,000 The beginning of steamboating on the Western rivers dates to 1811 when Nicholas Roosevelt, great granduncle of Theodore Roosevelt, piloted a Fulton built steamboat, the NEW ORLEANS from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. … Read more

Steamboats 1830-39


YELLOW STONE Built: 1830-31, Louisville, Kentucky (order placed November 24, 1830). Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 130′ x 19′ x 5′ 5″, 144 tons. Engine: Single cylinder. Boilers: Three boilers. Paddlewheels: 18′ diameter. Cost: $8,950 ($4,000 contracted for the boat, $4,950 for the steam engine). The little YELLOW STONE earned a notable place in American history. She … Read more

Steamboats 1854-56


WAR EAGLE Built: 1854, Fulton, Cincinnati, Ohio. Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 225′ x 27′, 296 tons. Boilers: Three boilers. Built by the Minnesota Packet Company, the WAR EAGLE operated mostly between Galena & St.Paul, and Dunleith & St.Paul. During a trip on the Tennessee River for the Union in 1862, she was attacked while wooding up … Read more

Civil War Ironclads


When the Civil War broke out, neither side were prepared for naval battles on the western rivers. The inevitable result was an urgent and innovative period of warship experimentation. Before the war, James Buchanan Eads (1820-1887), an inventive self-taught engineer living in St. Louis and familiar with the Mississippi River, proposed that the U.S. government … Read more

The Life and Times of Mark Twain


In the early 1890s the financial situation was becoming serious. The Paige compositor, Webster & Company, and the cost of maintaining the Nook Farm lifestyle at the Hartford House, brought Sam to the brink of personal bankruptcy. To reduce their living costs, Sam closed down the Hartford House in June of 1891 and … Read more