The 1859 American Fur Company Missouri River Expedition
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: The Arthur H. Clark Company
Drawing on the journals of Dr. Elias Marsh and Charles Henry Weber and the official accounts of Charles P. Chouteau and Capt. William Franklin Raynolds, who traveled aboard the steamboats Spread Eagle and Chippewa, authors Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell weave together firsthand accounts of the river journey with helpful commentary. Along the way, they interject the river’s environmental history and portraits of the Native peoples who lived along the upper Missouri. Marsh and Weber remark on everything from the Montana landscape to mosquitoes to Mandan villages, and Weber’s never-before-published journal illustrates the recent technological changes that made their voyage possible.
In the years after the Lewis and Clark expedition and before the Civil War, steamboats were crucial in establishing commercial water routes in the inland West. Larsen and Cottrell’s depiction of this one celebrated ride brings steamboat transport back to life as modern, fast, and imposing—an apt symbol of the westward expansion that spawned it.