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Rivers figure prominently in our history and culture. We can conjure images of Lewis & Clark exploring the Missouri, and the riverboat “Yellowstone” as the first steamboat on the upper Missouri.

History was made on the Red River of the North on this date in 1859. The Anson Northup steamboat first put in on the Red under the command of its owner/pilot of the same name.

Northup’s steamer became the first of many that would augment the fur trade and settlement of the Red River Valley. A later captain of the Northup described her as “a lumbering old pine basket you had to handle as gingerly as a hamper full of eggs.”

The steamboats would eventually be replaced by the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark


Engelhardt, Carroll 2007 Univ. of Minnesota Press, Gateway to the Northern Plains

Page 248