Saturday, 19 October 2013

Steamboats on the Mississippi


I received this lovely photograph of steamboats on the Mississippi River, 1907, by email. It shows hectic activity on the 6,210-km (3,860-mile) long river which rises in northern Minnesota and flows southward into the Gulf of Mexico. Steam-powered river boats carried both passengers and cargo up and down the river until the advent of the US railroad in early 19th century. Even then, steamboats continued to play a key role in trade and commerce till the 20th century. Frontier settlements came up in the Mississippi River region as well as on the vast and barren land between the river and the Rocky Mountains. Several rivers like the Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Arkansas are tributaries of this great river. The Mississippi has a rich history. It was the cradle of the Frontier.

For previous Vintage Pictures, see under Labels.

10 comments:

  1. Steam boats played a very big role in the westward expansion of America. For example, Irish immigrants arriving in New York City often made group bookings on steamships to head west.

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    1. Hi Mel, thanks for that bit of information. In the course of this post I read some interesting things about steamboats on the Mississippi. In fact, such and other boats play a marginal but fairly important role across rivers in India too.

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  2. What excitement it must have been to be there when those ships came in. The River and its tributaries were the "interstate highway system" of their day. Mark Twain did much to embed riverboating into the national myth. There is still plenty of traffic on the rivers; I am now reminded of meeting a riverboatman 50 years ago while traveling by train from Chicago to New Orleans. He had quite the story to tell.

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    1. Ron, I couldn't agree with you more. Whatever the realities at the time, the picture speaks of travel and adventure. Mark Twain's stories revolving around the Mississippi will stay on in memory. As I put this post together, I was inspired to read a story about the river and I'll be posting the review shortly. I hope you will tell that river boatman's story some day.

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    2. I should properly have called him a bargeman, which is the form of transportation you see most of on the water. As for his "story," it had to do with having a woman in every port, and the specifics are best left unsaid here. Ha.

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    3. Ron, barges carry iron ore ply between some of India's riverine ports and its major ports and other destinations. They do so mainly in the mining regions of the country. I suspect the bargeman wasn't alone in what he did! On-the-road truck drivers in India would have similar stories to tell.

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  3. When I saw that picture I immediately thought of the 1936 film Show Boat with Irene Dunne and Allan Jones. It has always been a favorite movie, but mostly for the Jerome Kern songs. And while looking for that, I found a lot of other movies featuring steamboats that I was not aware of. Very interesting.

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    1. Tracy, I think I've seen SHOW BOAT though I'll have to revisit the film and see if it clicks. I'm sure there're many films featuring steamboats, especialy in the mid-20th century period.

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  4. Those vintage prints will look stunning framed.

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    1. Mystica, they look stunning, I agree. It shouldn't be too hard to find prints but they might come at a price.

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