nitude of her southern trade. Many of these boats are of the largest and most expensive kind, carrying from
ten to fifteen hundred tons; and frequently there are from three to ten departures hi a day. This will give
some idea of a commerce, which must be seen in order to be fully realized.
But the sources of supply are ample. The Mississippi above, navigable lor 800 or 1000 miles, pentratcs the
finest agricultural country in the world, while the turbid Missouri, navigable for fifteen hundred miles or
more, and draining states and territories of great extent, and capable of almost illimitable productions,
debouches only about twenty miles above, and necessarily brings its commerce to her door. Besides, the
Illinois river, one of the finest in the west for navigation, penetrating the center of that great agricultural
state, and navigable most of the year, enters the Mississippi forty miles above.
All these rivers have numerous navigable feeders, whose contributions to the commercial importance of
Saint Louis are very considerable, while some one hundred and eighty miles below, the Ohio and its many
tributaries, are also accessible, and bring their valuable contributions to its commerce.
Thus Saint Louis comes in directly for the principal business of Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and
Minnesota on the north and east, and Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Utah, on the west, while many of
the states south are among her most valuable customers.
The advantages of this position were readily seen by the founder, Pierre La Clede Liguest, who having
received permission to establish a trading-post in the name of the “Louisiana Fur Company ,” in 1762, loca-
ted himself on this spot on the 15th of February, 1764; and thus commenced an enterprise, which, although
small at its inception, has grown almost to greatness, during the lifetime of some of its founders.
In those early times the slow progress of the “keelboat” with the “cordelle and pole,” were not calculated
rapidly to advance the commercial importance of the place; still it was, even then, next to New Orleans, the
point of commercial importanoe.
The introduction of steamboats here, as well as on the other rivers, tended greatly to the development of
the country, and to the advancement of its commerce.
At first, from the remoteness of this position, and the rapidity of the current of the Mississippi and Mis
souri, but few, even of the western steamboats, visited Saint Louis.
The first arrival of a steamboat from Louisville, was on the 2d of August, 1817, in charge of Capt. Jacob
Reed, and was named the “General Pike.” On the 2d of June, 1819, the first steamboat arrived from New
Orleans. She was commanded by Capt. Armitage, and was called the “Harriet.” She made the voyage
from port to port in twenty seven days!! This was a great change from the old keel-boat time, of six months
for the voyage down and back; but progress has been made on this time, as the trip is now usually accom
plished in seven days, and has been made in five!
The progress of Saint Louis in her “steam marine,” has been very steady, thus indicating clearly her rapid
advance to the “Great Commercial City of the West.”
Prior to 1634, no steamboat was enrolled here, as up to this time, all, or nearly all, western steamboat
interests concentrated on the Ohio. All the fine large boats were not only owned but mainly employed
there. The second class of boats generally, with occasional exceptions, came to Saint Louis, and up to that
tune there was but little, comparatively, doing here.
The whole has changed! Now, the principal steamboat interest of the west, including the ownership and
employment of the largest class boats, is at Saint Louis.
It is a proper point now, at which to make some statements, derived from official sources, of the steamboat
interest of the port of Saint Louis.
The first record of ownership, or enrollment of tonnage at Saint Louis, is in the report of the Secretary of
the Treasury of the United States, for the year 1834, and is stated to amount to 452.04 tons. This by the
return of 1836, is increased to 2,482.53. The return of 1838, is 9,373; of 1840, is 11,259; of 1842, is 14,726.80;
of 1844, is 16,664.53; of 1846, is 22,425.91; of 1849, is 32,255.08; of 1851, is 34,065.46; of 1853, is 45,441.08;
of 1855, is 60,592.10.
Commensurate with this growth has been that which supplies these boats, and numerous others not owned
here, with continual employment; for business has, perhaps, increased more rapidly than the boats which aid
in its developement.
With a view to the further illustration of the magnitude of this commerce, we add a statement of the
number of steam boat-arrivals and their aggregate tonnage, for each of the following years, from Jan. 1st
to December 31st of each year, viz:
1853, arrivals, 3,307; tons, 835,397. 1S55, arrivals, 3,449; tons, 918,791.
In 1856, the river remained closed until March. From the first of March to the 31st of December of that
year, the arrivals were 3,065, tons 894,462, or about 340 boats per month, or tons 99,372.
All the various classes of mercantile business are profitably pursued in Saint Louis. The wholesale dry
goods houses are numerous, and their business is very large, principally occupying Maine street. On this
street may alao be found many extensive wholesale dealers in clothing, boots and shoes, hats, bonnets, hard
ware and cutlery, china, glass and queensware, books and stationery, drugs, carpets and oil cloths, jewelry and
clocks, guns and sporting apparatus, saddlery and saddlery hardware, house furnishing goods, tin, copper, stoves, &c., &c.