SteamBoats

By: Taelor Rud

History

As early as the 17th Century a handful of explorers, hardy French voyageurs, and missionaries had ventured into the environs of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Through a variety of relationships that included cooperation, intermingling, and competition with the native inhabitants of the region, several temporary encampments and forts had been established to support the lucrative fur trade. But most historians agree that nothing changed the frontier as quickly as steam transportation.

History

In April, 1823 the small steam packet Virginia backed out into the channel of the Mississippi from the St. Louis levee to become the first boat to ascend the Father of Waters into what would later become the Minnesota Territory. This remarkable journey was chronicled by Giacomo Constantine Beltrami, the Italian explorer who went on to play an important role in Minnesota history. (2) A Kentucky family en route to the lead mines of southern Wisconsin on board the 118-foot vessel represented the first trickle of what would soon become a deluge of immigration. Also on board the Virginia for this historic trip was Captain William Clark of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805.