Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Steamboat Imperial

From: steamboattimes.com

Built: circa 1855.
Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet.
Size:  Unknown except for Harpers Weekly illustration.

On July 16, 1863, the steamboat IMPERIAL arrived in New Orleans from St. Louis, marking the opening of the Mississippi River in the closing stages of the Civil War, following the cessation of river traffic in 1861. She had left St. Louis on July 8, four days after the surrender of Vicksburg to General Grant.

The whole town was thrown into a state of pleasing excitement on Thursday last, just after the CREOLE sailed, by the sudden appearance at the levee of the large steamboat IMPERIAL, just in from St. Louis. She came down freighted with some 600 head of cattle, part of a large haul that was made at Natchez a short time ago. She had a pleasant, unmolested trip all the way down, and reported the river perfectly quiet between this and St. Louis.

The IMPERIAL is an immense, showy vessel, one of the first-class river steamers, which completely dwarfs the LAUREL HILL, EMPIRE PARISH, and others that we have been long accustomed to look upon as leviathans. But it was not her size nor fine equipments which impressed the eager multitudes who thronged to see her; it was the fact that she was the first freight boat which had ventured down the Mississippi since the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson; and every one who gazed upon her proud form saw in her the embodiment of reawakened commerce with the Mississippi Valley. She staid in New Orleans just long enough to receive the greetings of hundreds, and then went on to Carrollton, near the city, where she unloaded her living freight.
Credit:~ Harpers Weekly, August 8, 1863.

Credit: Artist, J.R. Hamilton. Published in Harper's Weekly (1863).
Medium: Wood engraving.
Created: 1863.

On a trip down the Missouri in 1867, she left Cow Island in September, 198 miles below Ft. Benton, with 275 passengers aboard at $130 per head. Suffering unseasonably low water, she grounded repeatedly on sandbars  (132 of them) until 2 months later and 1000 miles above St Louis, all the passengers had deserted her. She was later sold at public auction.


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