NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us

Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
Persistent link to this document:

Previous section

Next section

Chapter XVI. Steam Packet Lines.

CAPT. T. H. BRIERLY, President.

The immense amount of travel upon the Missouri river has induced a number of our most enterprising steamboat men to enter into arrangements by which they can afford ample accommodations to all who design to visit the Territories of Kansas, Nebraska and Utah. The universal interest that is manifested in all portions of the country by our fellow-citizens in regard to these Territories, and more especially Kansas, has caused thousands to determine to emigrate thither in order to build for themselves a home where, when old age creeps on, they can rest from the toils and cares of busy life. Ever since the exodus to Kansas began, the greatest difficulty experienced by the emigrant was that of obtaining a speedy and comfortable

-- 190 --

transit up the Missouri river; and, although a good line of packets were engaged upon this route last year, and made their trips in connection with the arrival of the cars by the Pacific Railroad at Jefferson City, they were found to be unequal to the task of affording accommodation to the immense number of travelers who were constantly seeking passage upon their boats. Any one that made this trip last year can well remember the difficulties they experienced; not on account of the officers of the different boats, for they did all that could be done to render comfortable those entrusted to their care, but on account of the insufficient capacity of the boats engaged in the trade. These difficulties, doubtless, deterred many from undertaking the trip which they longed to accomplish, and which they will make this season, now that proper accommodations have been furnished.

Knowing the wants of the traveling community as well as the requirements of the shipping interests, a number of the most enterprising steamboat men engaged upon our rivers determined to form a company for the purpose of running their boats in such a manner as to meet the demands of all classes of the community. In order to perfect the arrangements, they formed themselves into a company under the style of "St. Louis and St. Joseph Union Packet Line," and have succeeded in obtaining twelve first class boats. These boats will make daily trips between St. Louis and St. Joseph, touching at all intermediate points on the Missouri river. One of these steamers will leave St. Louis and another St. Joseph every day, and will be allowed such time to make the trip as to render a failure to depart at the hour advertised impossible. They intend to pay particular attention to way business, and will leave no endeavors untried to merit from the public a large share of the patronage. They also design making connections with the cars

-- 191 --

at Jefferson City, both ways, thereby affording to the patrons of the Pacific Railroad a superior class of Passenger Steamers. The following is a list of the Boats engaged in this Line:

PEERLESS Capt. Bissell.
A. B. CHAMBERS Gillham.
D. A. JANUARY P. Yore.
HESPERIN F. B. Kercheval.
BNE LEWIS Brierly.
SOVEREIGN Hutchinson.
KATE HOWARD Joseph Nanson.

To any one who has had the least experience in Western travel, we need not say a word in regard to these boats or the gentlemen in charge of them, for they are well enough known; but lest some one who is unacquainted with steamboat matters should fall upon these pages, we will say that every single boat is emphatically a "Floating Palace," containing every thing requisite to render a trip up the Missouri river upon one of them as delightful as could be wished. The commanders are old and experienced Missouri river steamboat men, and when we say this we need say no more, for the steamboat men are proverbial for kindness of heart and courteousness of disposition. The offices are in charge of gentlemen who exert every endeavor to render their boat a favorite. The pilots are skillful and experienced, and "know the river like a book." The engineers are competent and careful men, and ever upon the watch to guard against accidents. The table is under the charge of a skillful set of stewards, who devote particular attention to furnishing every thing the market affords.

-- 192 --

We would recommend those persons who design taking a trip up the Missouri river to secure state rooms upon some packet connected with the Union Line if they wish to enjoy themselves.

J. S. MCCUNE, President.

There is not in the annals of steamboating in the West a more striking instance of success and prosperity, which always attends labor and enterprise, than the history of the Keokuk Packet Company, a sketch of which it is our purpose to lay before our readers. In arranging and publishing the following facts, which we have taken some pains to collect, we are doing a simple act of justice to a company composed of practical business men; and their example may serve as a light to others, in fields of the same character, which are opening in the great West. Steamboating in the West, extensively as it is carried on at present, is yet comparatively in its infancy. There are many sections and localities on the Upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the resources of which are rapidly being developed. These will before many years demand a large amount of capital to conduct their several local steamboating interests; men and money will be found to meet these demands; boats will be built; the business will be done; and those individuals who can judge most correctly of the future, by the past, will be the operators in these yet unborn enterprises.

The company felt an interest in making St. Louis a boat-building point, and accordingly placed their business in the hands of our own mechanics, in preference to giving it to those of the Ohio river, even at a less first cost. This evinced

-- 193 --

a true and generous spirit toward our artizans, and it has not been without its rewards, as will be seen,

For a period of about twelve years, one daily line between St. Louis and Keokuk was sufficient to do the business, but it was found necessary in the year 1856 to establish two lines of packets — one line between St. Louis ancl Keokuk, and the other between St. Louis and Quincy — the latter line connecting with one of the company's boats through to Keokuk.

The present year has witnessed another change. There are now six regular steamers, forming two lines. One freight and passenger line between St. Louis and Quincy, and one mail and passenger line between St. Louis and Keokuk.

The following boats are now engaged in this trade. They are all first class boats and are managed by a competent and courteous corps of officers, who spare no pains to render their guests as comfortable as possible. The tables are served by competent stewards, who obtain a portion of every thing the market affords to please the taste, and have been pronounced by epicures to be perfect in every respect. The fact that this line have now been in operation for sixteen years and not a single accident causing loss of life having occurred, speaks volumes for the capacity and carefulness of the engineers. The boats are — City of Louisiana, Hannibal City, Jeannie Deans, Quincy, Keokuk, Desmoines and Warsaw, commanded by Captains R. Ford, Jas. H. Johnson, S. S. Matson, Jno. W. Malin, E. A. Sheble and S. D. Bradley.

It has become proverbial with consignees that the packets can not fail to deliver their goods promptly and in good order, and they say to shippers, "If you ship on a Keokuk packet don't insure my goods, as I have never lost a dollar there yet."

The stock of this concern, which now amounts to $400,000,

-- 194 --

is not confined to a few individuals, as is the case with some other extensive packet companies in the West, but is remarkably well distributed among the shippers themselves. About one-sixth of the stock is owned by the shippers of Keokuk; one-sixth by the shippers of Quincy, and one-sixth is owned by heavy shippers at Alexandria, Canton, Lagrange, Hannibal, Louisiana, Clarksville, and all other points on the line. The remaining half is owned in St. Louis. This shows a remarkably equal distribution of stock among the individuals most interested — the shippers.

We know of no route more favorable for reaching the Upper Mississippi than this, and we would advise all travelers and shippers who desire to reach any point above St. Louis to call at No. 34 Commercial street and secure tickets or make contracts.

-- 196 --

Previous section

Next section

Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
Persistent link to this document:
Powered by PhiloLogic