Paddlewheel riverboat, showboat, sternwheeler: in all its myriad forms, the steamboat revolutionized American travel in the 1800s, taking millions of people inland and helping to settle and develop the vast territories beyond the original colonies. It was an era in which young boys dreamed of becoming steamboat pilots and Mark Twain immortalized the “floating palaces” that traveled up and down the Mississippi River.
In 1857, Clemens became an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River. The following year, while employed on a boat called the Pennsylvania, he got his younger brother, Henry, a job aboard the vessel. Clemens worked on the Pennsylvania until early June. Then, on June 13, disaster struck when the Pennsylvania experienced a deadly boiler explosion & his brother Henry died. Clemens was devastated but worked on steamboats until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.
1819 - The "Western Engineer" was the 1st steamboat to travel the MO River. Orders given to Major Long: "You will assume the command of the expedition to explore the country between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. You will first explore the Missouri and its principle branches. The object of the expedition is to acquire as thorough and accurate knowledge as may be practicable of a portion of our country which is daily becoming more interesting but which is yet but imperfectly known."