Chapter

The Wild West: Historical Setting

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/9780813032542.003.0002
The Wild West: Historical Setting

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The first steamboat on the Missouri River was the Independence, which traveled over 200 miles (321.9 km) above St. Louis in 1819. By the 1850s and 1860s, Montana Territory's newly discovered gold deposits brought scores of optimistic prospectors and large quantities of government supplies to the growing military forts on the upper Missouri. By the 1870s, ever-growing demands to supply western forts with provisions and Indian annuities led to lucrative government freight shipping contracts. As competition for contracts increased between steamboat companies, their success depended as much on skillful river navigation as on shrewd lobbying in the nation's capitol. By the midcentury, government freight hauling had fallen under the control of four dominant transportation companies: the Kountz Line, the Peck Line, the Fort Benton Transportation Company, and the Missouri River Transportation Company (also known as the Coulson Line). Of these four companies, the Missouri River Transportation Company, headed by Sanford B. Coulson, operated the largest and most successful fleet of steamboats on the river. By the century's end, Coulson directed the fastest boats, the most accomplished river pilots, and had built the most famous sister boats on the Missouri: Wyoming, Dacotah, and Montana.

Keywords: Mississippi River; Missouri River; Missouri River Transportation Company; Sanford B. Coulson; government freight hauling

Chapter.  5592 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History and Theory of Archaeology

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