The Life and Times of the Steamboat Red Cloud
or, How Merchants, Mounties, and the Missouri Transformed the West
Nautical Archaeology - American History
6 x 9, 157 pp.
31 b&w photos., 6 maps., 23 tables.
Pub Date: 01/27/2006
Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series
  unjacketed cloth
Price:        $45.00 x

978-1-58544-484-7
  paper
Price:        $19.95

978-1-58544-516-5

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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The Life and Times of the Steamboat Red Cloud

or, How Merchants, Mounties, and the Missouri Transformed the West

By Annaliese Corbin
Foreword by William E. Lass

In July 1882, the steamboat Red Cloud hit a snag near Fort Peck, Montana, and settled into the bed of the Missouri River with a full cargo. The flagship of I. G. Baker & Company, which controlled much of the trade that flowed to Fort Benton and the upper reaches of the Missouri River, the Red Cloud had served as an agent of change in the West through which it traveled. Through the story of the boat and its owner, Annalies Corbin casts new light on the role of entrepreneurs and steamboats in the development of the West.

The Red Cloud was a symbol—and a source—of the trading company’s success. Bought for $25,000 in 1877, it was one of three boats that I. G. Baker employed on the Missouri. A stern-wheeled, wooden-hulled packet boat, the Red Cloud carried both cargo and passengers on a “floating palace.” But for all its success, when the ship sank only five years later, the transcontinental railroad was already displacing the steamboat as the preferred way to transport both people and cargo. The era of transformation symbolized by the Red Cloud was drawing to a close.

The first book to view the development of the Canadian Rockies from a maritime perspective, The Life and Times of the Steamboat Red Cloud ties the Missouri River’s commercial development with the opening of the Canadian west and its most important communities, with the formation of the Canadian North-West Mounted Police and with the river by which they were supplied.

Readers interested in western history, maritime history, and nautical archaeology will find this well-researched and engagingly written book an invaluable addition to their libraries.

Annalies Corbin is an assistant professor and co-director of Underwater Archaeology at East Carolina University. With a broad publication record of her own, she is book review editor of the journal Historical Archaeology. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho, Moscow, where she specialized in transportation history and the American West, as well as historical archaeology.

What Readers Are Saying:

“…every sentence has details too important to miss in this history of the opening of the West along the Missouri River to Ft. Benton and beyond.” --S&D Reflector

“It will be important to many groups including nautical and historical archaeologists, historians, and the vast audience of avocational enthusiasts for river boat and western history . . . Dr. Annalies Corbin is already, at a young age, a leading light in the field of nautical archaeology.” --J. Barto Arnold III, Director of Texas Operations, Institute of Nautical Arch

“Exhaustively researched, Merchants, Mounties, and Shipwrecks is more than the biography of the Missouri River steamboat Red Cloud. It is a detailed and compelling account of a river, the boats that worked it, and the economic and human aspects of both. The principals in this story and the steamer Red Cloud figured prominently in the history of the Montana-Manitoba region, spanning both the United States and Canada, and Dr. Corbin has masterfully ignored the national border in her text to write an integrative history, making this an internationally important work. Merchants, Mounties, and Shipwrecks sets a new standard for histories of the craft that plied the interior of the continent.” --James P. Delgado, Executive Director, Vancouver Maritime Museum, former head

"This volume is much more than the story of a river steamboat. The alternate title is much more descriptive of its contents. It is a detailed account of a river, the boats that worked on it and the economic and human aspects of both. It will be important to many groups, including nautical and historical archeologists, modelers, historians and avocational enthusiasts for riverboats and western history." --Nautical Research Journal

“…a well researched economic study of the important roles a steamboat and its parent company played in the development of the region…Through firsthand accounts of upper Missouri River trips by individuals are few, they are fascinating and insightful glimpses into daily life aboard a steamboat…Corbin’s scholarly contribution is a welcome addition.” --Montana Historical Society

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