Chapter

Introduction: Rediscovering a Local Legend

Annalies Corbin and Bradley A. Rodgers

in The Steamboat Montana and the Opening of the West

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032542
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039244 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813032542.003.0001
Introduction: Rediscovering a Local Legend

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The identification of the steamboat Montana in September 2002 in the Missouri River near St. Charles, Missouri, by an East Carolina University (ECU) research team unlocked a tantalizing opportunity: a chance for researchers to combine history and archaeology on a known shipwreck. The Montana archaeological site provided researchers the perfect opportunity to amass a body of evidence about the construction details of western river steamers. Archaeology and history had the perfect opportunity to generate comprehensive insight into this understudied genre of historic ship architecture. Archaeologists brought to the excavation their arsenal of documenting tools and analysis while historians sought out archival information concerning the life of the Montana. Together they explored steam vessels of the nineteenth century that represented valuable capital and most often, regardless of the extent of damage, were floated and repaired in a short time. The thorough study of the Montana makes clear the lengths to which steamboat engineering evolved in order to economically compete against railroads. The study of the Montana also revealed the fatal architectural flaw that, in combination with striking the bridge abutment, destroyed the steamboat.

Keywords: Montana; steamboats; Missouri River; shipwreck; river steamers

Chapter.  1694 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History and Theory of Archaeology

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