Steamboats on the Red: It Was All About Commerce

The steamboats that navigated the Red River were designed to transport goods, not people. Cargo transported included food, farm implements, wagons, livestock, imported goods, and immigrants; but with all that weight in a very shallow river, running aground was a frequent problem.

Looking at the shallow twists and turns of the Red River, it’s hard to imagine that steam-powered paddlewheel boats were once the most important transportation link between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. From the first in 1859 to the last that sank in 1909, Red River steamboats hauled thousands of settlers and millions of tons of freight across the border between the United States and Canada. Although it lasted barely 50 years, the age of the steamboat forged a commercial network between the two countries that exists to this day in the Interstate-29 corridor.

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Producer: Kim Stenehjem; Editor: Ben Strommes; Narrator: Doug Hamilton; Research: Ed Ledohowski; Videographers: Dave Geck, Ryan Sailer, Ben Strommes, Frode Tilden; Engineer: Chris Wilkes; Production Manager: Barbara Gravel; Animation: Tim Eissinger, Data3D, Ben Strommes; Executive Producer: Bob Dambach


“Steamboats on the Red” Prairie Public 2012

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