While researching Watermark, there were several resources I mined in order to learn about what life would have been like living on the Mississippi River. One of my favorite and undeniably one of the most prolific resources I came across was a website called, “Steamboat Times, A Pictorial History of the Mississippi Steamboating Era.” I don’t believe the site has been updated for several years, but the site itself is still alive and well in that eternal ether called the internet.
I came across “Steamboat Times” early in my research and was amazed at the architect’s thoroughness. In terms of design, the website is easily navigable with pages broken down into specific vessels: keelboats, flatboats, rafts, steamboats, and so on. It’s also visually rich; as the website title says, it’s a pictorial history and not simply dry facts. There’s a remarkable compilation of daguerreotypes, drawings, watercolors, wood engravings, and maps that depict every vessel imaginable. In addition, the site is a wealth of information on dimensions, steamboat races, the life of boatmen, living conditions, and the dangers they faced on the river. Firsthand accounts of the era are depicted in letters, diary entries, and even court cases.
If you have any interest in what it was like to work and live on the river during the 19th century, or even if you just want to see an example of what Malcolm’s flatboat would have looked like, visit “Steamboat Times, A Pictorial History of the Mississippi Steamboating Era” by clicking here.
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