19th Century Steamboats Built for the Missouri River Trade

  • Missouri State Archives 600 West Main St. Jefferson City, MO U.S.A.

Retired Southern Illinois University Professor of Architecture Robert Swenson will present his research on 19th century steamboats built at Metropolis, Illinois, on the lower Ohio River.  These vessels played an important, yet largely unknown role in America's history and westward expansion.  the William J. Lewis, built in Metropolis in 1867, made two trips along the treacherous 2,000-mile stretch of Missouri River between St. Louis and Fort Benton, Montana, carrying military items and household goods.  Attesting this amazing feat are the hundreds of steamboat wrecks from the same period that line the river.  Swenson will discuss the beginning of steamboat design and build technology, as well as trade on the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers.  He will also examine James Eads' Civil War connection to the Ohio River towns of Metropolis and Mound City and the role of the St. Louis to New Orleans Mississippi River trade.