Hastings in Dakota County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Steamboats, Trains, and Barges
For thousands of years, Indians traveled on the river by canoe. By the 1850s, rivertowns like Hastings boomed as steamboats brought settlers into the region. The steamboat era was colorful but short, coming to an end with the expansion of railroads.
With the construction of the lock and dam system in the 1930s, the Mississippi again became an important shipping thoroughfare — and it remains so today.
The Steamboat Era
From the 1850s through the 1870s, steamboats carried the bulk of shipping on the river, bringing settlers, tourists, and goods to the new state of Minnesota. Steamboats also transported grain and flour from Minnesota to markets around the country.
Steamboat crews contributed a bit of wild flavor to early Hastings. There were plenty of saloons in town for crews to patronize. Gambling was a popular pastime, and fights were not uncommon between rival crews.
The Reign of the Railroads
The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Soon after, trains replaced steamboats as the preferred means of transporting freight and passengers. Trains travel faster and year round, unlike steamboats, which depended on a navigable river.
Erected by City of Hastings; National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Minnesota Historical Society marker series.
Location. 44° 44.75′ N, 92° 50.921′ W. Marker is in Hastings, Minnesota, in Dakota County. Marker can be reached from 1st Street near Tyler Street. Touch for map. Marker is along the Hastings Riverfront Trail in Veteran’s Memorial Levee Park. Marker is in this post office area: Hastings MN 55033, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hastings Grows (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Veterans Memorial Levee (about 300 feet away); Mississippi (about 500 feet away); Spiral Bridge (about 600 feet away); Hastings Spiral Bridge (about 700 feet away); American Legion Veterans Memorial (about 800 feet away); Downtown Develops (approx. 0.2 miles away); Going with the Flow (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hastings.
More about this marker. [photo captions, clockwise]
• The city of Hastings was founded because of its proximity to the river, and it provided a safe landing for large boats, such as the steamboat in this image from 1884. City of Hastings
• The Hastings and Dakota Railroad opened in 1868. The station and roundhouse at Hastings are pictured here. Operating both passenger and freight trains, the line eventually reached Lakeville before becoming a branch of the larger Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. Minnesota Historical Society
• River shipping revived in the 1930s, becoming an alternative to railroads with the creation of a lock and dam system. Minnesota Historical Society
• This image shows the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad bridge at Hastings around 1885. The bridge, built in 1871, was one of the first iron railroad bridges in Minnesota. Minnesota Historical Society
Also see . . . City of Hastings. History. (Submitted on October 21, 2011.)
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 21, 2011, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 569 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 21, 2011, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.