Steamboats Travel Inland Rivers of Iowa

Time Frame: Early to Late 1800's

Before the railroad arrived, steamboats traveled up the Des Moines, Iowa, Cedar, Missouri and Mississippi rivers in the early to late 1800s.
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“From Here to There,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 6, Iowa Public Television, 1978.

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Tell me, do these steamships travel the inland rivers of Iowa?

Let me show you the map. I believe a few who travel upstream the Des Moines River, but only a short ways. It used to go further but only in times of high water—which is rare. I think a few steamers headed up the Iowa and Cedar Rivers, but never on what you’d call a regular basis. But since the railroad came in they don’t even try.

What about the Missouri River?

Of course, the Missouri still sees a lot of steamboats. There are a lot of prospectors and farmers who are heading out of Omaha and Council Bluffs looking for gold and good land. The steamers bring these people and supplies up the river from St. Louis to the Transcontinental Railroad at Council Bluffs. Missouri’s a dangerous river with a mind of its own, you might say. More so than the Mississippi, which has its share of dangers too.


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