The Life and Times of the Steamboat Red Cloud: or, How Merchants, Mounties, and the Missouri Transformed the West

Overview


In July 1882, the steamboat Red Cloud hit a snag near Fort Peck, Montana, and settled into the bed of the Missouri River with a full cargo. The flagship of I. G. Baker & Company, which controlled much of the trade that flowed to Fort Benton and the upper reaches of the Missouri River, the Red Cloud had served as an agent of change in the West through which it traveled. Through the story of the boat and its owner, Annalies Corbin casts new light on the role of entrepreneurs ...
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Overview


In July 1882, the steamboat Red Cloud hit a snag near Fort Peck, Montana, and settled into the bed of the Missouri River with a full cargo. The flagship of I. G. Baker & Company, which controlled much of the trade that flowed to Fort Benton and the upper reaches of the Missouri River, the Red Cloud had served as an agent of change in the West through which it traveled. Through the story of the boat and its owner, Annalies Corbin casts new light on the role of entrepreneurs and steamboats in the development of the West.

The Red Cloud was a symbol—and a source—of the trading company’s success. Bought for $25,000 in 1877, it was one of three boats that I. G. Baker employed on the Missouri. A stern-wheeled, wooden-hulled packet boat, the Red Cloud carried both cargo and passengers on a “floating palace.” But for all its success, when the ship sank only five years later, the transcontinental railroad was already displacing the steamboat as the preferred way to transport both people and cargo. The era of transformation symbolized by the Red Cloud was drawing to a close.

The first book to view the development of the Canadian Rockies from a maritime perspective, The Life and Times of the Steamboat Red Cloud ties the Missouri River’s commercial development with the opening of the Canadian west and its most important communities, with the formation of the Canadian North-West Mounted Police and with the river by which they were supplied.

Readers interested in western history, maritime history, and nautical archaeology will find this well-researched and engagingly written book an invaluable addition to their libraries.

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Editorial Reviews

Nautical Research Journal
This volume is much more than the story of a river steamboat. The alternate title is much more descriptive of its contents. It is a detailed account of a river, the boats that worked on it and the economic and human aspects of both. It will be important to many groups, including nautical and historical archeologists, modelers, historians and avocational enthusiasts for riverboats and western history.
Great Plains Quarterly
. . . extends our understanding of the upper Missouri during the decisive period of settlement and trade in the steamboat era from 1859 to the arrival of railroads in the mid-1880s. This important book views the development of the American and Canadian Rockies from a maritime perspective. . . . skillfully adds to our understanding of the role of a flagship steamboat and the strategies of an aggressive trading company in the development and settlement of the American and Canadian West. . . . the most important contribution to upper Missouri maritime history since William Lass's A History of Steamboat Navigation on the Upper Missouri forty years ago. It is an important addition to Missouri River history, maritime history, and nautical archaeology.
The Northern Mariner
Corbin's work is a valuable addition to the understudied riverine history of the American-Canadian West and is accessible to a wide audience of academic and non-academic readers.
Western Historical Quarterly

This book is more than the history of a steamboat. It is a succinct case study of the business of western expansion. . . . It not only adds to our understanding of nineteenth-century inland maritime history, but also to the general history of the west.

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Annalies Corbin is an assistant professor and co-director of Underwater Archaeology at East Carolina University. With a broad publication record of her own, she is book review editor of the journal Historical Archaeology. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho, Moscow, where she specialized in transportation history and the American West, as well as historical archaeology.
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Table of Contents

1 Manifest destiny and the Missouri River west 5
2 Claiming the Missouri River : the evolution of the steamboat eras 11
3 Fort Benton on the eve of economic upturn : renewed business opportunities 31
4 A new whistle on the wind : the Red Cloud on the Missouri, 1877 52
5 Fortune building on the high plains 63
6 Freight, freight, and more freight, 1879-81 72
7 Big business on the Missouri River, 1882 93
8 The loss of the Red Cloud and the end of an era : Fort Benton in decline, 1882-85 101
App. A "Up-river on the Red Cloud" 109
App. B "To P. S. Starr" 112
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