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        Harsh Reality | Steamboats on the Red

        Learn about how the 1870s was an era of prosperity along the Red River, and the steamboat industry was flourishing, in this video from the Steamboats on the Red series. Seen as dashing and romantic, steamboats were the fastest way to travel great distances north and south along the Red River but not really the most comfortable. The boat itself was noisy and overcrowded; passengers had to deal with clouds of mosquitoes along the route; and the large boats ran aground often as they tried to negotiate tight bends in the river.

        Looking at the shallow twists and turns of the Red River, it’s hard to imagine that steam-powered paddlewheel boats were once the most important transportation link between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. From the first in 1859 to the last that sank in 1909, Red River steamboats hauled thousands of settlers and millions of tons of freight across the border between the United States and Canada. Although it lasted barely 50 years, the age of the steamboat forged a commercial network between the two countries that exists to this day in the Interstate-29 corridor.

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