I never realized how much I loved steamboats until I started studying them in earnest for my work in progress, River Moon Don’t Cry.
I did have the pleasure of cruising aboard the Branson Belle (pictured above) for dinner and a show twice. The only part I didn’t like was how it didn’t last longer! I’d love to go on a week-long cruise. Of course, the excursions are much nicer today than there were in the early 1800s.
In the 1800s only the high-paying customers got a nice room on the upper decks of the steamboat on major United States rivers. Regular folks had to board with the animals and cargo. And from the diaries and letters I’ve read from the era, the aromas that emanated from these quarters made for a miserable trip.
Those who could afford it, had much nicer accommodations.
During the steamboat boom, boats competed for dock space. These ships lined up side by side in major ports.
Steamboats hauled everything on the Mississippi River from cows to sugar cane to cotton. They were also used to haul slaves and prisoners. It was a dangerous time on the Mississippi in those days. Fights on the docks were everyday occurrences. Pirates were a constant threat.
I think I’d love to know what it’s like to live aboard a steamboat. What say you?