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Before We Were Yours, a novel by Lisa Wingate.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story. hardcover | audiobook | Kindle

Come Hell or High Water: A Lively History of Steamboating on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers

Steamboat to the Shore: A Pictorial History of the Steamboat Era in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Chesapeake Ferries: A Waterborne Tradition, 1636-2000

Wild River, Wooden Boats

Mark Twain Mark Twain books at this shop - click here.

A Treasury Of Mississippi River Folklore: Stories, Ballads and Traditions of the Mid-American River Country, by B.A. Botkin. This is a collection of river lore, described and preserved in this book.
Treasure in a Cornfield: The Discovery & Excavation of the Steamboat Arabia

One Man and the Mighty Mississippi: A Sixty-Year Adventure on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers

A Riverman's Lexicon

Steam: The Untold Story of America's First Great Invention

King and Queen of the River: The Legendary Paddle-Wheel Steamboats Delta King and Delta Queen

A Mississippi Family: The Griffins of Magnolia Terrace, Griffin's Refuge, and Greenville 1800-1950
Sternwheelers and Steam Tugs
Arkansas, 1800-1860: Remote & Restless
Steamboats on the River Coloring Book

Mississippi riverboat research: Way's Packet Directory 1848-1994

"Contains some 6,000 entries describing passenger steamboats by rig, class, engines, boilers, where and when built, and historical information, organized alphabetically by ship name. Includes black and white photos."
- Booknews, Inc.

I highly recommend this book. This is the bible of steamboat history for the Mississippi River system 1848-1994. If you want answers to your steamboat history questions, this is the primary source. Mississippi River system only.

Cajun Culture books by Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D.
Fiction: Delta Queen, by Charles Bowen. More than 30 years ago, Walker Raines lost the woman he loves. Now he has clandestinely orchestrated what he hopes will appear to be an accidental meeting in very romantic circumstances: aboard the beautiful Delta Queen during a leisurely four-day spring cruise from New Orleans to Natchez.
The Steamboat Bertrand, by Jerome E Petsche, 1974 out of print, available used
Pacific Steamboats From Sidewheeler To Motor Ferry A Vivid Pictorial History of the west Coast's Boats and Boatsmen out of print 1958 photo book, available used
Steamboats and Modern Steam Launches 1973 out of print, available used
Long Day's Journey: The Steamboat and Stagecoach Era in the Northern West, by Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes. . . historical photographs, advertisements, posters, and contemporary accounts of . . . transportation and communication between the eastern United States and the new territories that became Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming . . . . including paddle wheel boats

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The Nightingale Moon, by Nicholas Sweedo. A novel set in the 1800s following the Civil War. Two boys enter a Hearts tournament on a Mississippi River steamboat and cross paths with Wild Bill Hickok and Mark Twain.

Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin'!, by Jill Esbaum, Adam Rex. Children's story about the excitement a packet boat brought to otherwise tranquil towns along the Mississippi River.


Chippiepierre's Magic Paintbrush Tail: A Steamboat Adventure, by Barbara Dietz, a tale of feline friendship, cooperation and adventure on the Chesapeake Bay. This book is richly illustrated with thirty pen and ink drawings by artist George Frayne. Visit the author's website:

Paddle Steamers: An Illustrated History of Steamboats on the Mississippi and Its Tributaries, by Ken Watson, 1985 out of print, available used

The Mississippi Steamboat Era in Historic Photographs: Natchez to New Orleans, 1870-1920, by Joan W. Gandy, Thomas H. Gandy

Steamboats on the Western Rivers: An Economic and Technological History (Dover Books on Transportation, Maritime)
The Evolution of the Mississippi Delta: From Exploited Labor and Mules to Mechanization and Agribusiness
Natchez: Landmarks, Lifestyles, and Leisure (Images of America: Mississippi)

Chesapeake Bay Steamers (MD and VA) (Images of America)


Steamboats: Icons of America's Rivers, by Sara Wright. The author is a member of the American Sternwheel Association (, for which she is a regular contributor to their newsletter. A professional artist and photographer, she has also been involved with the restoration of sternwheel houseboats.

Steamboat! The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers
Tidewater by Steamboat: A Saga of the Chesapeake
Steamboats on Louisiana's Bayous: A History and Directory
The Delta Queen Cookbook: The History and Recipes of the Legendary Steamboat
Black Life on the Mississippi: Slaves, Free Blacks, and the Western Steamboat World
A Journey into Florida Railroad History (Florida History and Culture)

When Steamboats Reigned in Florida, by Bob Bass, University Press of Florida (Sept. 2008) . . . history and stories of those who ran or established the steamboat routes along most of the major rivers in Florida - the Kissimmee, St. Johns, Ocklawaha, Suwannee, Apalachicola, and Caloosahatchee - as well as Lake Okeechobee and Ft. Myers. Through past historical accounts and his own family's personal experiences, Bass sheds new light on Florida's steamboat saga.

A-Rafting on the Mississip (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book Series), by Charles Edward Russell

Old Times on the Upper Mississippi: Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863 (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book Series), by George Byron Merrick. Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854 to 1863 (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book Series), Read a review of these two books (at this site): click here.

A Fashionable Tour Through the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi: The 1852 Journal of Juliette Starr Dana

Second Age: A Recall of Things Gone By and a Bit of Now
by Carl A. Franson
paperback click here
Kindle edition click here

Views on the Mississippi: The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse

Ways Packet Directory 1848-1994: Passenger Steamboats Of The
Steamboats Come True: American Inventors in Action


Steamboats in the Timber, by Ruby El Hult. If you want to look into the history of steamboats in Idaho, this is a good place to start. The author shares her knowledge of the paddlewheel steamboat era in her state. Includes numerous photos.

Plantations on the Mississippi River: From Natchez to New Orleans/Map
Portraits of the Riverboats
The Western River Steamboat (Studies in Nautical Archaeology, No. 8)
Steamboats A wild ride across a stormy Lake Michigan, Karl Zimmermann takes young readers aboard lakers, ferries, and paddle-wheelers for a look at steamboats past and present.
Death on the Mississippi - A Mark Twain Mystery, by Peter J. Heck
Historic Photos of Steamboats on the Mississippi

Live Steam: Paddlewheel Steamboats on the Mississippi System

The Green River country from Bowling Green to Evansville: Its traffic, its resources, its towns and its people, embracing a history of the improvement
The saga of the Delta Queen
Lake Erie, by Harlan Hatcher
The Great Lakes
The Mississippi River in Maps & Views: From Lake Itasca to The Gulf of Mexico

Steamboat Disasters


Lloyd's Steamboat Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters
by James T. Lloyd

Lloyd's Steamboat Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters was first published in 1856. The new edition, by Land Yacht Press, includes a new introduction and an overview of steamboating during Lloyd's time.

We asked the publisher, Jay Richiuso, why he chose to reprint Lloyd's disaster directory and he said, "By profession I'm an archivist and a historian. I started Land Yacht Press to publish new history books, and to reprint out of print books that should be back in print. As for Lloyd's Directory, I work with a couple of guys who are interested in steamboating and they brought it to my attention, knowing that I'm interested in reprinting/republishing good books that are out of print. I tracked down a copy and here we are."

This is a must-read for anyone who loves steamboats. It's an excellent companion to Fred Way's Packet Directory because you can look up boats that have sunk and find out why, how and where it happened. The list price is $25 (US) plus $3.50 for priority shipping and handling (Tennessee residents should add 8.25% sales tax), for a total of $28.50. Send checks or money orders to Land Yacht Press, P. O. Box 210262, Nashville, Tn 37221-0262 or order it now through

Exploding Steamboats, Senate Debates, and Technical Reports: The Convergence of Technology, Politics, and Rhetoric in the Steamboat Bill of 1838, by R. John Brockmann

Find out why the steamboats are bent on destroying civilization as we know it and how a select Senate committee tried to stop them.

By 1838, over two thousand Americans had been killed and many hundreds injured by exploding steam engines on steamboats. After calls for a solution in two State of the Union addresses, a Senate Select Committee met to consider an investigative report from the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, the first federally funded investigation into a technical catastrophe. Although the investigation report was well written by the top scientists of the day, and the authors included an effective bill to correct the technical problems of steam engines and stop the fatalities and injuries, the bill was drawn up with a key segment X-ed out. As a result, the wrong piece of legislation was passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by President Van Buren as the United States' first piece of interstate commerce legislation. The explosions and deaths aboard steamboats continued for another fourteen years before corrective legislation was passed. Exploding Steamboats investigates the rhetoric, politics, and technology of antebellum America, offering timeless insights into the nature of writing, reading, and public control of technology.

This is part of Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.'s Technical Communications Series. To read more about this title, go to Amazon or to Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.


Hudson River Steamboat Catastrophes
The History Press will release a new book by J. Thomas Allison that covers the great Hudson River steamboat disasters of the mid-1800s.
Click here to see the book at
Visit the publisher, click here.

Hell Gate of the Mississippi, the Effie Afton Trial and Abraham Lincoln's Role in It by Larry A. Riney
For fifteen days in September, 1857, the attention of both the United States and Europe turned to a rundown Chicago courtroom. The steamboat Effie Afton had crashed into a pier of the first railroad bridge thrown across the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois. The controversial lawsuit that followed promised to change the economy and the social fabric of the vast Mississippi River Valley. Some of the sharpest legal minds practicing in what was called at that time the Far West tried the test case. One of those lawyers was Abraham Lincoln. Hell Gate of the Mississippi puts you in the jury box for an up-close, firsthand look at this highly charged trial.
Author's website:
Publisher's website:


Terrifying Steamboat Stories: True Tales of Shipwreck, Death, and Disaster on the Great Lakes


A Guide to Steamboat Boiler Explosions
In the United States of America: 1813-2003

Compiled by Jerry Canavit, ASN

The book includes a history of steamboat explosions, including how it all started. The government attempted to regulate steam engines, but they continued to blow up regularly until 1911 when Massachusetts established uniform boiler safety rules, which set the industry standard. The book lists the worst explosions, explosions by year, and the names of boats, locations where disasters happened, and numbers of fatalities. Spoiler alert: since 1920 there have been fewer than twenty steamboat boiler explosions. Contact the author to order a copy: jcanavit[at] $12.

A 23 page booklet with information on 31 sunken steamboat on the Mississippi River between Trempealeau, WI and Victory, WI. Booklet contains many photos, aeriel photos, and maps. Cost $10 for booklet plus $1.50 postage (U.S.).

Poster: Shows location of 31 steamboat sinkings on Mississippi River between Trempealeau, WI and Victory, WI (many boats were recovered and refitted). Poster 17" x 22". Contains photos of War Eagle and steamer Reindeer. Cost $8 for poster plus $3.50 postage (U.S.).

Send to: Patrick Rash
P.O. Box 931
La Crosse WI 54602-0931

Steamboating Accidents essay on steamboat accidents: "The age of the steamboat introduced an era of unprecedented speed into the American consciousness."

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