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Transportation News Gleanings
First Of Its Class
The Original Sidewheeler on the Upper Mississippi - In a supplement published by the Fort Madison Democrat in connection with the old settler's celebration in that city are many interesting reminiscenses and events of early years in Iowa on the upper Mississippi. - In an article devoted to the construction of the first sidewheeler built in the upper river teh following is quoted from an account of the boat given to a friend by Capt. Spencer J. Ball, the projector: "We began the boat in the fall of 1834. My partners failed to furnish their share of the money, and in consequence, at the solicitation of John Shaw, I removed such material as I had got ready to (?) Hamburg, Calhoun County, Ill., (the only county now in the state that has not one mile of railroad but the first to build a steamboat.) Here, I, employed John Walls, an old Cincinnati boat builder, to superintend. In company with John Shaw, half owner, we pushed forward as John and Alec Lamont could whip-was the plank, 400 to 500 feet per day, some of which were 60 feet long. Her knuckles were round and every futack was a natural bend taken from the stumps of trees that once grew upon the hillside of Hamburg.
The Dimensions - The dimensions of the hull were: 206 feet long, 33 foot, 10 inch beam and 5 &fact12; foot hold. She had 22 staterooms on a side and Texas for a crew above. She had two boilerss with five flues each, single engine, 18 inch cylinder, 7 foot stroke. About the time of the completion of my hull, the steamer Irene sunk at Cincinnati landing above, and I bought her wreck as it laid in the river, and removed it to Hamburg and put it on my hull in the fall of 1836. I named my boat Minerva. On my first trip, I loaded at Quincy for St. Louis, thence to New Orleans. The next year I sold my interest to John Shaw, who changed her name to his own, "John Shaw", and this boat was finally sunk below New Orleans, being the first sidewheel steamer built on the Misissippi River.
Source: [Rock Island Daily Argus., August 19, 1893, Page 5 - Transcribed by KP]