Sweepers, Snags, and Steam The Steamboat Era on Montana's Missouri River

ByEd Wolff

$19.95

Smoke-belching, whistle-blowing, water-churning, multistoried paddlewheel steamboats flourished on Montana’s Missouri River in the 1800s. By carrying thousands of tons of freight and thousands of passengers, these boats forever changed the character and cultures of Montana and the Northern Plains.

From 1850 to 1889, hundreds of steamers fought their way up the treacherous “Big Muddy” to Fort Benton, Montana, the world’s most inland port. Every trip was an adventure full of risks: hull-piercing snags and sweepers, grounding sandbars, powerful rapids, herds of swimming buffalo, Indian attacks, and exploding boilers. The dangers were great but the rewards were enormous—until the railroads came.

In this engaging, readable history, Montana author Ed Wolff captures the golden age of steamboats on the Upper Missouri. With rich detail and more than 50 rarely seen historic photographs and illustrations, he describes steamboat construction, river navigation, famous captains, daily life aboard a steamboat, and notable steamboat journeys.

Format:

Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-60639-109-9
Author: Ed Wolff
Pages: 184

The history of Montana’s steamboat era is captured in “Sweepers, Snags, and Steam,” a new book by Stevensville author Ed Wolff. The engaging text is accompanied by more than 60 historic photographs of steamboats that plied the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and their ports of call.

From 1850 to 1889, hundreds of steamers fought their way up the treacherous Missouri River to Fort Benton, Montana, the world’s most inland port. By carrying thousands of tons of freight and thousands of passengers, these boats forever changed the character and cultures of Montana and the Northern Plains.

Every trip was full of risks: hull-piercing snags and sweepers, grounding sandbars, powerful rapids, herds of swimming buffalo, Indian attacks, and exploding boilers. The dangers were great but the rewards were enormous—until the railroads came.

In his book, Wolff chronicles the golden age of steamboats in Montana. With rich detail, he describes steamboat construction, river navigation, famous captains, daily life aboard a steamboat, and notable steamboat journeys, including the famous, record-setting trip with wounded soldiers from the Battle of the Little Bighorn that brought news of the “Custer Massacre” to the world.

Published by Riverbend Publishing of Helena, the book sells for $20.

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