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Steamboats transformed the Missouri Valley. Enterprising men like Joseph La Barge and Grant Marsh braved financial and mortal danger to reap fantastic profits from trade in furs and buffalo robes. But steamboats also brought smallpox, soldiers and settlers to the lands of Native Americans. Although they began as agents of commerce, steamboats came to represent confinement and war to Sitting Bull and his people. Railroads made Yankton, Bismarck and Fargo rise as ports for a few years and then drove steamboats out of business, ending an era filled with colorful characters and dramatic moments. Author Tracy Potter takes an in-depth look at the boats, trade and cultural and military relations between the United States and the native inhabitants of Dakota Territory.
About the Author
Tracy Potter writes about northern plains history in Bismarck, North Dakota, with particular interest in early relations between native peoples and people from Europe. He is the author of Sheheke, Mandan Indian Diplomat: The Story of White Coyote, Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark. Potter retired in 2015 from a career in heritage tourism with the state of North Dakota and the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, where he served as executive director and editor/writer of the Past Times, a quarterly historical tabloid. He served in the North Dakota State Senate and was the Democratic-NPL nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2010. A graduate of the University of North Dakota, Potter is married to Laura Anhalt, with whom he travels widely in retirement.
Table of Contents
1 An Ancient Mall of America 15
2 Enter the Europeans 19
3 Welcome to the United States 23
4 Steam 31
5 Testing the Waters 34
6 The Ankara War 37
7 The Wheel Boat Peace Armada 40
8 Give It Steam 46
9 Fort Union's Visitors 50
10 Voyage of Death: The St. Peters 56
11 Joseph La Barge 62
12 The Mormon Cow 69
13 War with the Sioux 72
14 Steaming the Red River 81
15 A Tale of Two Cities: Yankton and Bismarck 87
16 The Far West and Grant Prince Marsh 92
17 Bismarck's Victory 105
18 The Northern Pacific Crosses the Missouri 108
19 The Last Days of Dakota Steamboats 111
About the Author 141