SOSHome :: Records Services :: Missouri State Archives :: Presentation Videos :: 19th Century Steamboats and the Missouri River Trade

19th Century Steamboats and the Missouri River Trade

Presented by:
Robert Swenson

Publish Date:
May 27, 2016

Presentation Length:
1 hour 15 minutes 31 seconds (1:15:31)

Retired Southern Illinois University Professor of Architecture Robert Swenson will present his research on 19th century steamboats built at Metropolis, Illinois, on the lower Ohio River. These vessels played an important, yet largely unknown role in America’s history and westward expansion. The William J. Lewis, built in Metropolis in 1867, made two trips along the treacherous 2,000-mile stretch of Missouri River between St. Louis and Fort Benton, Montana, carrying military items and household goods. Attesting this amazing feat are the hundreds of steamboat wrecks from the same period that line the river. Swenson will discuss the beginning of steamboat design and build technology, as well as trade on the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. He will also examine James Eads’ Civil War connection to the Ohio River towns of Metropolis and Mound City and the role of Metropolis in building steamboats for the St. Louis to Fort Benton Missouri River trade and the St. Louis to New Orleans Mississippi River trade.


The Office of the Missouri Secretary of State and Missouri Archives make NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, regarding the accuracy, reliability, completeness, timeliness or applicability for a particular purpose of the information contained in this video and make no endorsement of the opinions of the presenter offered therein. This video is being offered as it was recorded during the live presentation. The video is being provided for your convenience and entertainment and may contain opinions and viewpoints that may not be the opinions and viewpoints of the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State and Missouri Archives.