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Miles City in Custer County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

Riverside Park Steamboats

Miles City Walking Path

 
 
Riverside Park Steamboats Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2020
1. Riverside Park Steamboats Marker
Inscription.  Before there was a Miles City, before there were railroads or even crude trails, there were the rivers. And the mighty Yellowstone would, for a few years, serve as the highway that brought people and their necessities to Miles City. Perhaps the best known steamboat captain of his time was Grant Marsh. He began his exploits on the Yellowstone when he and the "Josephine" went further up the river than anyone had ever attempted before. The "Josephine" was not Marsh's first steamboat command. He had command of the steamer the "Nellie Peck" in 1873. However, it was the "Josephine that went so far, because she was built for the Yellowstone rather than than the deeper Missouri. She was only 180 feet long, 31 feet wide at her widest and her hold was only four feet deep. Even at that, the Josephine has (sic, had) problems with the rapids on the Yellowstone. All the steamers did. Going upstream against the current, the gallant little paddle wheeled vessels required a lot of wood to keep their boilers hot so the steamers stopped frequently for fuel. They also has to stop at night. It was impossible to see snags or boulders in the river in the dark.
Riverside Park Steamboats Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2020
2. Riverside Park Steamboats Marker
And if they were a little overloaded and hit a sandbar, than (sic, then) everyone and everything had to be off-loaded so the boat could float free. These little steamboats bore only a superficial resemblance to great ships of the Mississippi or the Missouri. A passenger described the cabins as being so small, a fat man had to back into his room at night because there was no room for him to turn around inside the cabin. The Far West was providing support for General Terry when Grant Marsh and the other men on board were fishing off the bow and saw a lone rider coming over the hill. The rider was Curley, a scout for Colonel Custer, and he brought the occupants of the Far West the first news of what happened to Custer's command. Once Fort Keogh and the other military posts along the Yellowstone were established towns grew up to provide services like liquid refreshments to the soldiers. The steamboats brought the merchandise. They landed at Bender's Grove for old Miles City. But when the town moved, the steamship docks came with it. They landed at what is now Cook and Scanlan Lakes. But their reign was short. Many were wrecked on rapids. But mostly, they were replaced. The editor of the Yellowstone Journal noted in the spring of 1882, after the Northern Pacific had arrived. "The arrival of a steamboat doesn't make as much excitement now as formerly. A year ago, when a boat while was
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heard, every man rushed for his horse, and in ten minutes from the time of the first whistle, Miles City was well represented at the landing. But now its glory has departed. The iron horse absorbs all the surplus attention." Yes, Miles City once had docks. Miles City was once a town beholden to the steamboat.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 46° 24.316′ N, 105° 51.167′ W. Marker is in Miles City, Montana, in Custer County. Marker can be reached from Main Street near South 5th Street, on the right when traveling east. The marker is located in Riverside Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Miles City MT 59301, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Early Horse History (within shouting distance of this marker); Photography (within shouting distance of this marker); The Chappel Brothers Corporation (within shouting distance of this marker); The Horse Nation and Native People (within shouting distance of this marker); The Olive Hotel (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Commercial Block (about 500 feet away); Dr. Redd's Brick Building (about 500 feet away); Miles City Main Street Historic District (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Miles City.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 2, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 29 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 2, 2021, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 7, 2021