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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Thebes in Alexander County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Steamboats on the Mississippi River

 
 
Steamboats on the Mississippi River Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, November 29, 2020
1. Steamboats on the Mississippi River Marker
Inscription.  In 1817 the Zebulon M. Pike reached St. Louis, the northern-most steamboat port on the Mississippi River. The western steamboat of later years was a credit to the frontier American mechanic who drew upon experience to build a large craft (eventually over 300 by 40 feet) which would carry heavy cargoes in shallow water against the strong Mississippi current. Owners boasted that steamboats could run on heavy dew, but in fact seasonal variations in river depth limited their use - medium sized steamboats needed at least four feet of water. The influence of the steamboat spread far and wide in the Mississippi Valley and hastened the development of the region.

Snags, explosions, collisions and fires sank many steamboats. An 1867 investigation recorded 133 sunken hulks in the Mississippi between Cairo and St. Louis, a stretch rivermen called the 'Graveyard.'

Even as the north-south river trade flourished in the 1850's transportation lines running east and west developed. Railroads, which followed a more direct route than winding rivers, began to haul freight to and from the Mississippi valley. Steamboats aided the North in the
Steamboats on the Mississippi River Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, November 29, 2020
2. Steamboats on the Mississippi River Marker
Marker is located in a roadside park overlooking the Mississippi River.
Civil War, but the reorientation of civilian commerce foreshadowed their decline. Although they continued to churn the Mississippi for the rest of the nineteenth century, they were eventually replaced by strings of barges guided by a single steamboat or later by a diesel boat which transported the cargoes individual steamboats had once carried.
 
Erected 1986 by Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Historical Society.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: DisastersWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Illinois State Historical Society series list.
 
Location. 37° 13.567′ N, 89° 27.6′ W. Marker is in Thebes, Illinois, in Alexander County. Marker is on Pecan Street west of Illinois Route 3. Marker is located in a roadside park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Pecan St, Thebes IL 62990, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lewis and Clark in Illinois (a few steps from this marker); Welcome to Illinois (approx. 5.6 miles away); Cape Girardeau River Crossings (approx. 5.9 miles away in Missouri); St Vincent's Seminary and Southeast Missouri State University (approx. 5.9
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miles away in Missouri); Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company (approx. 5.9 miles away in Missouri); Cape Girardeau and the Railroad (approx. 5.9 miles away in Missouri); Champion Beech Tree (approx. 5.9 miles away in Missouri); River Commerce (approx. 5.9 miles away in Missouri).
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 29, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 42 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 29, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.
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Feb. 26, 2021