Friday, February 7, 2014

The Steamboat Dacotah

The Steamboat Dacotah

This is a veritable treasure as history goes. The particulars are as follows: Dated the 16th of June, 1881, Montana would not be a state for another eight years. It is a bill of lading addressed to J. H. McKnight who had the trading post at Fort Shaw, West of what is now Great Falls on the Sun River. It was one of three sister steamboats built specifically to haul freight from St. Louis, Missouri, to Fort Benton, Montana Territory. The three sisters boats were the Montana, the Dacotah and the Wyoming.Of those three boats, the Dacotah hauled the greatest tonnage of freight to Fort Benton, and did that on its second trip of the year in 1881 arriving at Fort Benton on the 4th of July.

The Dacotah was actually the 6th boat to arrive at the levee, and the date indicated on this way bill is not the day that it arrived, but rather the day the freight was unloaded. This boat actually belonged to the Coulson brothers, and was not a boat which belonged to T. C. Powers. My assumption is that some of the freight belonging to Powers was put on the landing at Coal Banks, and was then transported to Fort Benton on the Dacotah, thus explaining the reason why this is a Power way bill rather than a Coulson way bill.

Regardless of who this boat belonged to, this image was taken from the only extant photograph of the Dacotah.

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