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Steamboating on the Missouri & Osage Rivers

Callaway County, Missouri

Steamboating on the Missouri & Osage Rivers

Steamboating on the Missouri River

Steamboating on the Osage River

Complete List of Steamboats Operating on Missouri River - P.E.C. (1910)

Complete List of Steamboats Operating on Upper Missouri River - P.E.C. (1910)

Missouri River Steamboat Landings and Wrecks

 Link to 1894 Missouri River Commission Maps on Army Corps of Engineers Website History of the Missouri
River Commission

Congress created the Missouri River Commission (MRC) in, or shortly after, 1884, to accomplish a continuous, progressive development of the river. The commission consisted of a five-member organization which was charged to make surveys and devise plans to "maintain a channel and depth of water ... sufficient for ... commerce" and to carry out plans of improvement the commission deemed necessary. The commission went out of existence in 1902. Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The first twenty of these map panels are presented in the table below and are arranged with the Eastern half of Missouri as the first ten maps along the left side of the table and the Western half of Missouri as the second ten maps along the right side of the table.

Missouri River Commission Maps of 1895

The twenty map extractions presented below are taken from the Missouri River Commission maps of the Missouri River Basin published in 1895 and were based on the original surveys done in the Missouri area in 1879. These maps cover the Missouri River from its' confluence with the Mississippi River to the very Northwestern part of the state of Missouri. These early maps made note of the riverboat landings and steamboat wrecks that dotted the path of the river as it wound its' way through the state. In total, slightly in excess of three hundred (300) of these points of interest are presented in the map extractions provided below.

The maps presented below are latitude and longitude values that were extracted from the original map images and transferred to Google Maps for ease of display and navigation by the user. The original maps were calibrated using the three degree (3º) lines of latitude and longitude which is found on each map and for each steamboat landing and steamboat wreck the precise latitude and longitude was calculated and transferred to Google Maps KML file using Google Earth as the map preparation software.

Google maps use the center of the pin to mark the location rather than the presumed point of penetration of the pin. Consequently, the true location only becomes more accurate as one zooms in at higher and higher resolution. Oh well, a small price to pay. As one views the map they might observe that the inland pins are improperly placed without realizing the tremendous changes of the course of the Missouri River over the past 150 years. In working with locations along the river which I am most familiar with, I have come to realize the accuracy of those maps which amazes me. Surveying along a river is most difficult as is evidenced with the irregularities in the PLSS section lines on both sides of the river. Their accuracy really astounds me since they were working in difficult conditions with rather primitive tools. Comparison of scaled latitude and longitude to those taken onsite was extremely accurate.

1894 Missouri River Commission Maps

[ Links for each panel. ]

Group #01 - Eastern Missouri
Graphic Index Panel
Group # 02 - Western Missouri
Graphic Index Panel
Panel #01
Contains river information covering slightly North and South of the confulence with the Mississippi River and as far West along the Missouri River to approximately half the distance to St. Charles, MO. Covers portions of St. Louis County.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #11
Brunswick, Mo. to Waverly, Mo.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #02
Map contains information on the stretch of the river from half way between St. Louis and St. Charles almost to Chesterfield, Missouri. Covers portions of St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #12
Waverly, Mo. to Lexington, Mo.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #03
Map contains river information from Chesterfield, Missouri to Washington, Missouri inclusive. Covers portions of St. Charles, Warren, and Franklin Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #13
Lexington, Mo. to Missouri City, Mo.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #04
Contains information on the stretch of the river from just West of Washington, Missouri through New Haven to just East of Herman, Missouri. Covers portions of Warren and Franklin Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #14
Missouri City, Mo. to Riverside, Mo. (Kansas City area)
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #05
Contains river information from just East of Herman, Missouri to just West of Portland, Missouri. Covers portions of Warren, Franklin, Montgomery, Gasconade, Osage, and Callaway Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #15
Riverside, Mo. (Kansas City area) to Weston, Mo.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #06
Contains river information from just West of Portland, Missouri through Mokane, Tebbetts, and Wainwright, to just East of Jefferson City, Missouri. Covers portions of Callaway, Osage, and Cole Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #16
Weston, Mo. to Atchison, Ks.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #07
Contains river information from just East of Jefferson City, Missouri through Claysville, Marion, and Wilton to just West of the Moniteau County line. Covers portions of Callaway, Cole, Boone and Moniteau Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #17
Atchison, Ks. to St. Joseph, Mo.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #08
Contains river information from the Moniteau/Cole County line to just West of Booneville, Missouri. Covers portions of Boone, Moniteau, and Cooper Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #18
St. Joseph, Mo. to White Cloud, KS
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #09
Contains river information on the stretch of river from just East of Booneville, Missouri to just South of Glasgow, Missouri. Contains portions of Moniteau, Morgan, Cooper, and Saline Counties.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #19
White Cloud, Ks. to Indian Cave State Park, Neb.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #10
Contains river information from just South of Glasgow, Missouri to Brunswick, Missouri.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map
Panel #20
Indian Cave State Park, Neb. to Brownville, Neb.
Corresponding 1894 MRC Map

"History of Steamboating on the Missouri River"

by: Phillip E. Chappell

A lengthy article on the history of the Missouri River since its first encounter with European explorers, starting with Coronado in 1540-1542 and observations by Marquette and Joliet in 1673. Description of the development of navigation of the river for fur trade and steamboats that were eventually phased out by railroads in the late 1800s. Includes illustrations of steamboats and descriptions of many explorers, Indian tribes, etc., including the author, Philip Chappell, a steamboat captain with a boat named for him until 1860. He later became mayor of Jefferson City, Missouri, state treasurer, and in Kansas City president of Citizens' National Bank and a "member of the first board of public works in Kansas City" in 1889.

From the book we have the following listing of steamboat information on boats operating in the Cole County area.   (See links to his complete boat lists between the images above and at the bottom of this page.)

1855-'62. A. McDowell. Edds. master. A fine side-wheel boat; she sank at Murdock's, below Washington, Mo. The A. McDowell. 'Wm. Wilcox. then commander) was one of the three steamboats that were sent up the river' to Jefferson City, a day or two before the capture of Camp Jackson (May 10,1861), loaded with gunpowder for Confederate forces, then. called •• The Missouri State Guard." This powder was from the firm of Laflin-Rand Powder Company, of St. Louis, and, it has been said, was never paid for. On the arrival of the boats the powder was distributed in the. country in wagons. where it was hidden away in old barns and secluded spots until the arrival of Gen. F. P. Blair and the abandonment. of the capital by General.Price. when the most. of it was dumped into the Missouri river, to prevent its falling into the hands of the Union forces. Just before the evacuation of the capital (June 13, 1861) the three steamboats were run across the river to Cedar City and tied up and abandoned by their officers. The writer, in whose care they were left, surrendered them to General Blair on the evening of the 15th.

1846-'49. Amelia. Built in St. Louis in 1846, by Emerson, and cost $12,000. Thomas Miller, master. A side-wheel steamer; measured 150 tons. Sunk near Glasgow, Mo., in 1849. She was owned in Jefferson City, Mo., and named for Miss Amelia Cordell, a belle of that city in her day. Captain Miller used to tell the following story illustrative of one of the peculiarities of the Indian race - their stoical indifference to danger. He said: •• On one trip of the Amelia to the mountains she had on board fifteen or twenty Indians who were returning from Washington city, where they had been to visit their' great father,' and were on their way to the upper river. They were not allowed in the cabin. nor even on the lower deck, on account of the peculiar odor that always hangs around an Indian, but were required to remain on the hurricane roof. where they could have the full benefit of the breeze. There they sat. perched over the skylight. with their red blankets wrapped around them. from morning till night, like a flock of red birds sitting on a limb. Not a word did they speak to anyone, nor was a word spoken to them, as they sat there seemingly oblivious to what was going on around them. When the boat had ascended the river to about the mouth of the La Mine she caught fire one day in the hold. The cabin was at once filled with smoke and a panic ensued among the passengers, for a fire was always extremely dangerous on a steamboat. The hatches were battened down, the steam turned into the hold, and the fire soon became extinguished. In the meantime, however, as a matter of precaution, the boat was run along shore beside a dense forest and made fast to a tree. The Indians had shown no alarm during all the excitement, but no sooner had the gangplank been run out than an old chief, who seemed to be the leader. jumped up. and with a grunt of disgust • • Ugh,' walked ashore with the others at his heels. Not a word was spoken, but they struck off through the tall timber in single file, and never looked back to see what had. become of the boat. They were never heard from afterwards."

1840-' 42. Bowling Green. John J. Roe, master. Built in 1840. Sunk in Osage chute, December 12,1842. The wreck can be seen to this day in low water.

1860-'65. Cora (No.2) . . Brewster, master. A good stern-wheel boat. After the burning of the Osage and Gasconade bridges by the Confederates. in June. 1861. she ran from Hermann to Jefferson City, and cleared $40,000 in three months. She sunk, in 1865, near Omaha. She was built by Capt. Joe Kinney, of Boonville. Mo. and named for his daughter.

1860. Dew Drop. Burned at the mouth of Osage in 1860.

1849--'52. Eagle. Built and owned by John Chappell and J. T. Rogers. She sunk near Jefferson City, Mo., in 1852.

1855-'60. E. A. Ogden. Baldwin, master; Phil. E. Chappell, clerk. Side-wheel packet in lower river, built in 1855. Sunk in Murray's bend, above Jefferson City, Mo., on February '22, 1860. See, also, 7. 8,

1855-'56. Excel. An Osage river boat. Sunk in 1856. See, also, •• The Kansas River - its Navigation," by A. R. Greene, in this volume; also, 5.

1834-'36. Far West. Built at the mouth of Bonne Femme creek. below Boonville, Mo., and launched October 11, 1834. She was a typical boat of that period, and was of the following dimensions: One hundred and thirty feet long, twenty feet beam, and six feet hold. She had but one engine. and was a sidewheeler. She sunk at St. Charles, Mo .• in 1836.

1848-'49. James Monroe. An old side-wheel boat. In 1849 she came up the river loaded with California emigrants. On arriving at Jefferson City, the cholera broke out among them. and the loss of life was so great that the boat was abandoned by the officers and crew, who fled from the pestilence, and, after lying there several months, the ill-fated vessel was taken back to St. Louis.

1857-'59. Kate Howard . .Joseph S. Nanson, master. Was a splendid and popular lowerriver packet. She sunk in Osage chute, at the mouth of the Osage, August 11, 1859. Captain Nanson, now an old man, resides in St. Louis. His brother, also a captain, was killed on the Ben Lewis.

1865-'66. Mollie Dozier. Fred Dozier, master. A sidewheeler, 225 feet by 34 feet. Was sunk at Berry's Landing in 1865. After being raised she sunk again in Chamois chute, below the mouth of the Osage, October 1, 1866. The name of this boat appears in a list of steamboat arrivals at Fort Benton, June], 1866, published by the historical society of Montana, vol. 1, 1876, page 318. 7.

1852-'57. New Lucy. H. Johnson, master. A large lower-river packet. Burned opposite the town of De Witte, Mo., November 25, 1857. Tonnage. 417. Robert J. Walker, territorial governor of Kansas, came up the river on the New Lucy. The boat reached Quindaro late on Sunday afternoon, May 24,1857, and tied up a few minutes at the landing. It was soon noised around that the new governor was on the boat, and the crowd of citizens waiting at the landing at once called for Governor Walker. The governor appeared on the upper deck and made a brief speech, his first address to a Kansas audience. Hon. Henry Wilson, senator from Massachusetts, was also a passenger on the same boat, and stopped off at the Quindaro House, where he stayed all night, and on Monday morning, from the steps of the hotel, made his first Kansas speech to a Quindaro audience. . Frank A. Root, of Topeka, one of the Kansas. pioneers, and then residing at Quindaro, saw both parties and heard both speeches. The New Lucy was one of the Lightning line passenger steamers running in connection with the fast trains of the Missouri Pacific road from Jefferson City to Weston, in the spring of 1857.

1848-' 53. Plow Boy ( No.1). Built by Isaac McKee, in 1848. She was a side-wheel boat, 165 by 32 feet, and cost $19,000. She sunk at Sandy Hook. above Jefferson City, Mo., 1853, and the people started the village by buildingthe first house out of the cabin.

1852-'58. Polar Star. Conley, master. She was built in 1852 by Tom Brierly, and was one of the finest and most popular boats ever on the Missouri river. She was also exceedingly fast, and in 1853 made the run from St. Louis to St. Joseph (600 miles) in sixty hours, the fastest time ever made on the river. See, also, 7 and 11. Thos. H. Webb, secretary of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, closes a letter, dated Boston, September 18, 1854, as follows: "In closing I would state the singular and significant coincidence that our pioneer party of New Englanders crossed Lake Erie in the Mayflower, and went up the Missouri river in the Polar Star."- 141, book 1. In April, 1855, a native of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, 104 years of age, made the trip on this boat to settle in Kansas with a number of descendants. August Bondi, of Salina, came to Kansas on the Polar Star, March 26, 1855. He was a revolutionist in Vienna, Austria, in 1848, and before coming to Kansas stopped at St. Louis a few years, where he aided Thos. H. Benton and Frank P. Blair. He soldiered with John Brown in Kansas. Dr. Rufus Gillpatrick, a noted free-soil pioneer and fighter in the neighborhood of Osawatomie, came to Kansas with Bondi on this boat. Pardee Butler made his way out of the territory on the Polar Star after his shipment from Atchison on a raft. He took the boat at Weston about the middle of August, 1855, and met B. Gratz Brown, who came on at Jefferson City. Ex-Senator John Martin, of Topeka, came to Kansas on this boat in March, 1855.

1866-'75. P. T. Miller. Ferry-boat at Jefferson City, Mo. Sunk by ice.

1880-'90. Statie Fisher. Built and owned by Jefferson City Ferry Company. Phil. E. Chappell, president; Joseph Fisher, secretary. Sunk by ice in 1890.

1819. Thomas Jefferson. Orfurt, master. One of Colonel Atkinson's Yellowstone fleet. She sunk at the mouth of the Osage, in coming up, in July, 1819, being the first boat wrecked on the Missouri river.

1869-'77. Thomas Stevens. Sunk in Osage chute, at the mouth of Osage river. Ran to Fort Benton. See, also, 7, 9.

1850-'54. Timour (No.2). Ed Dix, master. She exploded just below Jefferson City, August 26, 1854, causing the loss of many lives. The timbers of her hull can yet be seen in low water. The writer, as a barefooted boy, was an eye-witness to the explosion of the Timour. It was on Saturday, about two P.M., that I was standing on the levee at Jefferson City, waiting to be crossed over the river to my home, which was on the opposite shore. My eyes were resting on the boat, watching her as she was ascending the river-when there came a loud report as of a tremendous blast, and the boat was enveloped in a great cloud of steam and smoke. In a moment the cloud had blown away, but, alas! the boat had disappeared. The ferryman and I at once realized what had occurred, and, jumping into a skiff, rowed as rapidly as possible to the wreck, which was about three miles distant. We were the first to arrive, and what a horrible scene met our gaze. All of the boilers of the boat, three in number - had exploded simultaneously, wrecking the entire forward part of the boat, and causing the hull to sink aft of the forecastle. The shrieks and groans of the dying, and their piteous appeals that they be put immediately out of existence, to end their sufferings, were heartrending, and resound in my ears to this day, although more than a half-century has passed. Many lives were lost - how many was never known, as many bodies were blown into the river and never recovered. Those still alive were so badly scalded as to have but little resemblance to human beings. Among the dead were Captain Dix and his brother Charles, and Charles Eckler, the clerk. The wounded were removed to Jefferson City, where many of them died.

1858-'69. White Cloud. Wm. Conley, master. A large lower-river boat, built in 1858. She conveyed Gov. C. F. Jackson and other state officers of Missouri from Jefferson City to Boonville, on June 19, 1861, when they left the state to join the Southern Confederacy. General Pope on this steamboat destroyed ferryboats at a number of points of the Missouri in July, 1861. See, also, 4 and 7.

Complete List of Steamboats Operating on Missouri River   P.E.C. (1910)

Complete List of Steamboats Operating on Upper Missouri River   P.E.C. (1910)

Growth of St. Louis with steamboat traffic

St. Louis Riverboat Heritage

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