OUR FIRST STEAMBOAT.
IN the spring of 1859, the business men of Fort Dodge organized a stock company for the purpose of raising funds to build a steamboat to navigate the Des Moines river. the stock was readily taken and Captain AARON F. BLACKSHIRK and others were sent to Pittsburg to superintend the building of the boat. A small stern-wheel boat of fifty tons capacity, with adjustable smoke-stack and pilot-house, so as to enable it to go under the bridge at Des Moines, was built, launched and sent by the way of the Ohio and Mississippi to Keokuk, then up the Des Moines to Fort Dodge. The name of this boat was the " Charles Rogers."
One dark night in the month of April, 1859, as Captain BLACKSHIRE, came steaming up the river, he blew the whistle so long and loud that the citizens imagined a Mississippi river fleet had arrived, and before he could land at the levee and make fast the bow line, the bunks of the stream were lined with men, women and children, anxious to get a sight at the new comer. Captain BLACKSHIRK made some half a dozen trips with the boat to Des Moines and Keokuk, bringing up emigrants, groceries and provisions, and loading down with potatoes and grain. Excursion parties at half rates. Then the water getting low the boat was taken down to the White river and sold.
Ten years elapsed before our citizens again heard a whistle, but in 1869 the iron horse was heard on the prairie to the east of town.