a river steamboat
of the Civil War era

    A new boat, the steamer Bertrand, was built at Wheeling, W. Va., in the year of 1864, constructed with a shallow draft capable of navigating the upper Ohio River, but it was not necessarily designed for the larger and rougher waterways.   However, the owners and operators contracted to deliver a wide variety of goods needed way out west at Fort Benton, including clothing, foodstuffs, quicksilver, tools and implements, and other items.

    Soon the steamboat was navigating its way down the Ohio, past Cincinnati, beyond Louisville, and going right on by Hawesville, Ky.  On Saturday, March 18, 1865, the craft left St. Louis, Mo., churning against the flow of the Missouri and bound for its destination away upriver in Montana Territory.  Late in the month, the boat propelled northward from St. Joseph, Mo., and steamed alongside the eastern edge of Nebraska Territory and past Nebraska City; but on April Fools Day it sank in the river above Omaha.

    Most of the cargo remained underwater and went unsalvaged for an entire century.  The Missouri River had changed its course at times during the hundred years before the Bertrand was to be excavated in 1968.  Ingenious searchers invoked clever methods of detection and finally located the antique vessel below solid ground.

copyright © Dick Taylor, 1996 - 2007   Oldtime Nebraska -- The Bertrand   submitted by Dick Taylor, September 1997