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La Charrette Village

Interested in what Lewis & Clark, Daniel Boone, Zebulon Pike, John Colter, President Jefferson and other notables thought about America's newly acquired westernmost village? Enjoy the west...before it became distorted by TV, movies and novels.

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Location: Port Aransas, Texas, United States

A retired professor of Food and Animal Science at Texas A&M University, The University of Connecticut and Texas Tech. A cowboy in my previous life...never thought about being a professor or an author.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Steamboats Coming to Charrette Landing

The river Landing at La Charrette Village served as the very lifeline to its community from the earliest days of fur trading into the early 20th Century. Several years after the arrival of commercial steamboat traffic in the 1820s the landing changed names. Following the loss of La Charrette Village, it became Marthasville Landing named after its nearest local village. Throughout this interval, the landing served its local residents, their guest plus transporting a myriad of products and services.

Steamboats powered by fire-generated steam boilers represented the latest technology. They were generally faster than available alternatives, but dangerous. Steamboats sank, caught fire, ran aground and more, all around treacherous Charrette Bend immediately west of the village. Many would stop at Charrette Landing to off-load their cargo and purchase firewood before continuing the process as far up the Missouri River as possible.

The Western Engineer was one of the first to pass by La Charrette. It was part of the so-called “Scientific” portion of the 1819-20 expedition led by Major Stephen H. Long. On board were the first artists to travel west, Titan Ramsey Peale and Samuel Seymour. Shown here is Peal’s sketch of his modern river transport. Also accompanying the expedition was zoologist Thomas Say. Both Say and Peale walked about 30 miles around the north of La Charrette Village to study and report on nature.

But this was no ordinary river steamer. Its boilers constantly clogged causing it to travel little faster the hand-powered vessels of Lewis and Clark’s. Most extraordinary of all though was its secondary role of impressing, if not scaring, the Native Americans encountered along the route. As a military vessel its helmsman's house was bullet proof, the paddle wheel was hidden from view with a bow designed to creat the elusion of a big-river-swimming-dragon-monster belching smoke and soot. People watching it along the way, to include those at Charrette Landing, must have thought it looked pretty silly. Check in for more details about this expedition and the boat at the title link. Eventually, steamboats were designed with greater functionality and served a major role in western expansion. But before then, Long's expedition was abandoned when the U.S. Congress pulled its fundings after the press became highly critical of how poorly things were going.

A few years later, in 1845, a deligation of Kentucky Legislators disembarked at Marthasville Landing from Captain Joseph La Barge's steamboat named the Kansas. The mission was to exhume the remains of Daniel and Rebecca Boone and rebury them in a Frankfort Cemetery. To the present day this event is considered by many of Charrette Township as an unnecessary one, fueling the question if remains of others than the Boones were actually exhumed.

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