Steamboat Bertrand

99 Counties | FIND Iowa
Jul 21, 2024 | 02:45

Why might people take risks to improve their lives? 

The Steamboat Bertrand sank while traveling on the Missouri River in the 1860s. It was carrying people to mining towns in Montana, seeking to make a better life for themselves.


Abby Brown: Learning about history sometimes means using our imagination to bring that story to life but when it comes to travel on the Missouri River we have real life artifacts that give us an idea how people were living and moving from place to place.

This is the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. The Visitor Center here has a display of goods and cargo that was discovered on the steamboat Bertrand, which had sunk while traveling the Missouri River.

In 1865 when Steamboat Bertrand was heading up the Missouri River from St. Louis it was carrying items to be sold to gold and silver miners all the way up in Montana but it sank here only two weeks after beginning its long journey no one died in that accident Steamboat and almost all of its cargo were lost until the boat was rediscovered and excavated a little over a hundred years later over 250 000 artifacts were found most of them are now cataloged and displayed and this place is like a really cool Time Capsule we get to see what those Montana miners wanted to buy the supplies that it took to build the town and what was on board for the passengers and crew for that long trip like dishes shovels boots and a whole lot more When Steamboat Bertrand was rediscovered and excavated they realized how fragile the wood was so they actually sunk it back in the water to keep the boat away from oxygen helping to preserve it. over 400 boats sank in about a hundred years here on the Missouri River for many different reasons but only two have been excavated and thanks to the Steamboat Bertrand Museum collection we can get a glimpse at the items that would have been aboard a steamboat in 1865.

Every County in Iowa has a treasure to discover I hope you found Harrison County as interesting as I did.