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route, arriving at St. Louis September 23d, at 12 o'clock—not a man missing from the party that first started out; and the people of St. Louis gave them an enthusiastic ovation.
FIRST STEAMBOATS IN MISSOURI.
Steam came at last, and revolutionized the business of navigation and commerce throughout the world. The first steamboat that ever lashed the Missouri shore with its waves, or made our river hills and forests echo back her pulsating puffs, was the "General Pike," from Louisville, which landed at St. Louis, August 2, 1817. Such boats had passed a few times up and down the whole length of the Ohio river, and between Louisville and New Orleans, before this, so that the people of St. Louis had heard about them from the keel-boat navigators. They were therefore overjoyed when the first one landed at the foot of their main business street, and thus placed them for the first time in steam communication with the rest of the civilized world. The event was celebrated with the most enthusiastic manifestations of delight by the ringing of bells, firing of guns, floating of flags and streamers, building of bonfires, etc. The second one, the "Constitution," arrived October 2; and from that onward the arrival of steamboats became a very commonplace affair.
The first boat that ever entered the Missouri river was the "Independence," commanded by Captain Nelson. She left St. Louis May 15, 1819, and on the 28th arrived at Franklin, a nourishing young city that stood on the north bank of the Missouri river, opposite where Boonville is now located. There was a U. S. land office at Franklin, and it was the metropolis of the up-Mjssouri region, or as it was then called, the "Boone's Lick Country." When this first steamboat arrived the citizens got up a grand reception and public dinner in honor of the captain and crew. The boat proceeded up as far as the mouth of the Chariton river, where there was then a small village called Chariton, but from that point turned back, picking up freight for St. Louis and Louisville at the settlements as she passed down. The town site of Old Franklin was long ago all washed away, and the Missouri river now flows over , the very spot where then were going on all the industries of a busy, thriving, populous young city.
The second steamboat to enter the Missouri river (and what is given in most histories as the first) was in connection with Major S. H. Long's U. S. exploring expedition, and occurred June 21, 1819, not quite a month after the trip of the "Independence." Major Long's fleet consisted of four steamboats, the "Western Engineer," "Expedition," "Thomas Jefferson" and "R. M. Johnson," together with nine keel-boats. The "Jefferson," however, was wrecked and lost a few days after. The
•Daniel Boone had first explored this region and discovered some rich Bait springs, and two of his sons manufactured salt and shipped it from Franklin for several years.
"Western Engineer" was a double stern wheel boat, and had projecting from her bow a figure-head representing a huge open-jawed, red-mouthed, forked-tongued serpent, and out of this hideous orifice the puffs of steam escaped from the engines. The men on board had many a hearty laugh from watching the Indians on shore. When the strange monster came in sight, rolling out smoke and sparks from its chimney like a fiery mane, and puffing great mouthfuls of steam from its wide open jaws, they would look an instant, then yell, and run like deer to hide away from their terrible visitor. They thought it was the Spirit of Evil, the very devil himself, coming to devour them. But their ideas and their actions were not a whit more foolish than those of the sailors on the Hudson river, who leaped from their vessels and swam ashore to hide, when Fulton's first steamboat came puffing and glaring and smoking and splashing toward them, like a wheezy demon broke loose from the bottomless pit. Major Long was engaged five years in exploring all the region between the Mississippi river and the Rocky Mountains which is drained by the Missouri and its tributaries; and his steamboats were certainly the first that ever passed up the Missouri to any great distance. Long's Peak, in Colorado, 14,272 feet high, was named after him.
From this time forward the commerce and travel by steamboats to and from St. Louis grew rapidly into enormous proportions, and small towns sprung up in quick succession on every stream where a boat with paddle wheels could make its way. For half a century steamboating was the most economical and expeditious mode of commerce in vogue for inland traffic; and Missouri, with her whole eastern boundary washed by the "Father of Waters," and the equally large and navigable "Big Muddy" meandering entirely across her territory from east to west, and for nearly two hundred miles along her northwestern border, became an imperial center of the steamboating interest and industry.
About 1830 the art of constructing iron-railed traffic-ways, with steampropelled carriages upon them, began to be developed in our eastern states. But it was not until 1855 that these new devices for quick transit began to affect the steamboating interests of Missouri. (The first railroads to St. Louis were opened in that year; the railroad history of the state will be found in another place.) Then commenced the memorable struggle of the western steamboat interests, with headquarters at St. Louis, to prevent any railroad bridge from being built across the Mississippi, Missouri or Ohio rivers. They held that such structures would inevitably be an artificial obstruction to the free and safe navigation of these great natural highways. But it was evident enough to clearthinking people that the steamboat business must decline if railroads were permitted to cross the great rivers without the expense of breaking bulk, and this was the "true inwardness" of the anti-railroad bridge combination. The issue was made against the first railroad bridge that ever spanned the Mississippi, the one at Rock Island, Illinois. In a long course of controversy and litigation the railroads came out ahead, and steamboating gradually declined, both in the freight and passenger traffic, to less than half its former proportions.
However, the tables have been turned again; and now, in 1881,
THE BARGE SYSTEM has suddenly leaped forth to break the threatening power of monopoly which the great east and-west railroad lines for a while enjoyed.
The first step in the historic progress of this grand revolution in the commercial relations and connections of the entire Mississippi and Missouri valley regions, was the successful construction of the jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi river by Capt. James B. Eads, a worthy and distinguished citizen of St. Louis. This great enterprise was undertaken by Capt. Eads under an act of congress approved March 3d, 1875. It required him to obtain a channel 20 feet deep and 200 feet wide at the bottom, within thirty months from the passage of the act, upon which a payment of $500,000 would be made; and upon obtaining channels of two feet additional depth, with correspondingly increased widths at bottom, until a depth of 30 feet and a width at bottom of 350 feet was secured, payments of $500,000 were to be made, with additional payments for maintenance of channel. The total cost to the government of a channel 30 feet deep by 350 feet wide would be $5,250,000. Capt. Eads was also to receive $100,000 per year for twenty years, to keep the works in repair and maintain the channel.
Before the jetty works were commenced, there existed an immense bar of sand or silt, with a depth of only eight feet of water over it, between the deep water of the Mississippi and the navigable water of the Gulf. But at the close of the year there was a wide and ample channel of 23J feet; and for the greater portion of the distance between the jetties, over this same bar, there was a channel from 28 to 35 feet deep. The scheme has been so entirely successful that it has attained a world-wide celebrity and commercial importance, owing to the fact that the largest class of sea-going vessels can now be towed in and out of the Mississippi river without risk or difficulty; and it is this achievement by our honored fellowcitizen which has made possible the success of the grain-barge system of shipments from St. Louis direct to Europe, that is now revolutionizing the entire trade and commerce of the major half of the United States. The following facts will serve to show what has already been accomplished in this direction.
The total shipments of grain by the barge lines from St. Louis to New Orleans in the month of March 1881, was 2,348,093 bushels. The St. Louis Republican of April 2d, 1881, stated:
"There were started from St. Louis yesterday about eighty trains of grain to New Orleans, or what amounts to the same thing, three different barge companies started tows down the river with 567,000 bushels of grain. This amount would have filled about 1,200 railway cars, and would have taken eighty trains of fifteen cars or sixty trains of twenty cars each to transport. All this grain was put into fifteen barges, and a matter of 2,600 tons of miscellaneous freight besides. All these three tow-boats started down the river with a freight list that would have filled between thirteen and fourteen hundred railway cars, and will be delivered to New Orleans in from five to nine days.
"The exact statement of the cost of transportation of flour from St. Louis via New Orleans to Liverpool and to Boston, per barrel, is ninety cents freight and four cents drayage to boat at levee at St. Louis, or ninetyfour cents to Liverpool, while the freight per barrel to Boston by rail, in car-loads of one hundred and twenty-five barrels, from East St. Louis, is ninety-one cents, or from St. Louis (eight cents transfer across the bridge added,) ninety-nine cents, or five cents less to Liverpool by river and ocean, than by rail to Boston. This rate to Liverpool via New Orleans was negotiated March 30 by the St. Louis, New Orleans and Foreign Dispatch Company."
George H. Morgan, Esq., secretary of the St. Louis "Merchant's Exchange," furnished the writer of this history with the following statement of grain shipments by barge line from St. Louis to New Orleans: 1881. Wheat Corn. Oats. Rye.
February 232,248 126,770 22,423
March 796,710 1,541,505 25,162
April 819,038 1,312,432 24,916
Total 1,847,996 2,980,707 50,078 22,423
Thus it will be seen that the tide has fairly turned; that St. Louis is now practically a commercial seaport, and will, within the next twelve months, become the greatest grain-shipping city on the American continent.
RAILROADS IN MISSOURI. The earliest account of any movement in this state with regard to railroads is to the effect that on the 20th of April, 1835, a railroad convention was held in St. Louis, and resolutions were adopted in favor of building two railroads—one from St. Louis to Fayette, in Howard county; and the other one southward to Iron Mountain, Pilot Knob, etc.* The reason for projecting a railroad from St. Louis into the great iron region is obvious enough; but why they should at that early day have thought of building more than one hundred and fifty miles of railroad to reach a town that was only twelve miles from Old Franklin, on the banks of the Missouri river, is an unsolved mystery. It indicates, at least, that those "early
*The first steam railroad in this country was the Baltimore and Susquehanna line, in 1830; though horse railroads had been used before, especially at coal mines and marble quarries, and in two cases engines had been used on such roads.
fathers" were not under the control of any narrow or shallow views concerning the practical value of railroads, or the future grandeur of St. Louis as the central point for all trans-Mississippi traffic. In this first railroad convention ever held west of the Allegheny Mountains there were sixty-four delegates in attendance, representing eleven counties; but practically nothing ever* came of their deliberations.
In 1840 a State Board of Internal Improvement was created, and it made a survey for a railroad from St. Louis to the Iron Mountain, by the way of Big River. February 7th, 1849, Col. Thomas H. Benton, senator from Missouri, introduced into the U. S. senate a bill to provide for the location and construction of a central national road from the Pacific ocean to the Mississippi river, to be an iron railway where practicable, and the rest a wagon way. February 20th, same year, a public meeting was held in St. Louis, which petitioned the legislature for a charter and right-of-way for a railway across the state from St. Louis to the western boundary; and on the 12th of March this charter was granted.
Next a meeting was held which called a national convention at St. Louis to consider the project of a national Pacific railway across the continent. This convention was held October 15,16, 17, 18, 1849. Fifteen states were represented; the grand project was warmly commended, and a strong memorial sent to Congress asking the public authorities to take some action in the matter.
Such was the beginning of definite moves toward a trans-continental railroad.
The Missouri Pacific was the first railroad commenced and first finished in the State. Incorporated March 12, 1849; authorized capital $10,000,000; opened to Cheltenham, March 23, 1852; amount of state aid, $7,000,000; St. Louis county aid $700,000; land sold, 127,209 acres; entire length from St. Louis to Kansas City, 382 miles; total cost, $14,362,208.
The successive stages of its construction were: Chartered, March 12, 1859; first ground broken, by Mayor Kennett of St. Louis, July 4, 1851; road opened to Cheltenham, Dec. 23,1852; to Kirkwood in May, and to Franklin July 23,1853; completed to Washington, February 11, 1855; to Hermann, August 7, the same year;'' and to Jefferson City, March 12,1856; completed to California in Moniteau county, May, 14, 1858; to Tipton, July 26, same year; and to Syracuse, August, 1, 1859; opened to Otter
* November 1,1855, a large excursion train left St. Louis to celebrate the opening of the railroad through to Medora station, about twenty miles beyond Hermann, ft was a long train filled with business men of ths city and their families, and the occasion was one or
great festivity and rejoicing. But while the train was crossing the Gasconade river the ridge gave way, and plunged cars, bridge and people in one mixed and horrible wreck into the gulf of waters fifty feet down. The president and chief engineer of the road, and 30 prominent citizens of St. Louis were killed, while scores of others were more or less injured. It was the first and the most terrible railroad accident that has ever occurred in the state.