“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Russellville in Pope County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)

Steamboats - Power on the River

Steamboats - Power on the River Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth Wilson Wilcox, June 24, 2017
1. Steamboats - Power on the River Marker
The first steamboat to ascend the Arkansas River, the Comet, arrived at Arkansas Post on March 31, 1820, and river travel was transformed.

Two years later people in the new town of Little Rock were jubilant over the arrival of the first steamboat in their area: the Eagle. The Eagle was en route to the Cherokee's Dwight Mission School, a few miles upstream.

Congress recognized that river transportation was important for settlement and commerce. Beginning in 1824, a string of legislation was passed to improve inland navigation. The 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act firmly placed authority for improvements to rivers and harbors in the hands of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As river traffic increased, so did settlements and landings. Bt 1868 there were 23 steamboat landings between Petit Jean and the town of Roseville, including Patterson's Bluff, Spadra, Shoal Creek, Scotia, Norristown and Galla Rock.

(center inset)
A successful river captain required more of a man that simple bravery, or even good eyesight and judgement. Mark Twain said that "a pilot had to know
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the river with such absolute certainty that he could steer by reading the picture in his head rather than the one before his eyes."

(bottom inset)
Steamboat travel was fast, and the boats could carry a large load, but the river could be dangerous. One newspaper called the Arkansas River the graveyard of steamboats. In 1872 the Arkansas Gazette published a list of 117 steamboats lost on the Arkansas.

River men did not expect their boat to have a long life. Moving sandbars, snags that could rip a boat apart, and boiler explosions led to a steamboat life expectancy of less than three years. Yet, profits were such that a steamboat could pay for itself in about 20 weeks.

Erected by US Army Corps of Engineers.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & PoliticsIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1820.
Location. 35° 15.127′ N, 93° 10.015′ W. Marker is in Russellville, Arkansas, in Pope County. Marker can be reached from Lock and Dam Road (Highway 7) west of Sheppard Drive. Located at the Arkansas River Visitor Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1469 Lock and Dam Rd, Russellville AR 72802, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow
Arkansas River image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth Wilson Wilcox, June 24, 2017
2. Arkansas River
flies. Exploring the Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Military Road Marker Stone (within shouting distance of this marker); Washburn Cemetery (approx. 0.6 miles away); Action at Dardenelle (approx. one mile away); Old Brearley Cemetery (approx. 1˝ miles away); Dardanelle Confederate Monument (approx. 2.1 miles away); Yell County Council Oaks (approx. 2.1 miles away); Jefferson Davis Highway (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Russellville.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 31, 2019. It was originally submitted on October 31, 2019. This page has been viewed 521 times since then and 280 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 31, 2019.

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Sep. 30, 2023