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 - River boat find leads historians to other...
River boat find leads historians to other discoveries Bob Merriman News StafTWriter FORT TOWSON, Okla. — Discovery of a paddle wheel river steam boat snagged and sunk almost 160 years ago led historian Keith Tolman to discoveries discoveries of things long forgotten. forgotten. Before railroads, settlers and merchants in this area depended on river boats to bring necessities necessities of what was then modern life. "There was a trade system, plantations, offshoot industries — River traffic is a whole 'nother story in settlement here," Tolman said of discovery of what archaeologists believe is the steam boat Caddo. Tolman has identified 75 steam boats that worked the Red River. Until studies confirm the found boat is the Caddo, "We are referring to it as 'the Fort Towson steamboat,'" Tolman said. The Caddo, built in Pittsburgh in 1839, sank three years later, presumably after hitting hitting a snag in the Red River. Three years seems a short life for a boat, but the Caddo's few years of operation were not that far from normal. "The natural life of a river boat was figured at about five years," said Tolman, curator for Fort Towson Historic Site. -- ^•/i*:.:v > /.4^ "S.^i^&tfi^-* % n =i ' -' .'•>.' V*r.-. '.Vf--" rili*,- } V=» V V?» f Jvpf"*!/^! f 3i L -^'w-^^^^r^ %,w.M^' •" «^P^^? s ^^''''7'r'*"ii »> ....^CSSSfc-iii.,. ... .^.,.,.r .,.«;''''• y "'< -,i *• •.'—X""*'}^ ,*-' III . -..-, ^ :**•<: ;.-L- ' ilf^^^ii 1 ^^- •- '"-• 'a;lf?Vif l'i : i" : '-'i-' : -'' '-^c-V^'/'./v! • • k f fJe -.^; V;.//.' i^^ft ;S?/-s| i^^^SMiy«s^aSg:::^Bs»a «S^i^^S&fe»»?«S::iBsi:*s:r;v:|;s ^P fei' i "'; i :^i < ,"«^r"f--a'',:•::- ; :^- •~-' : <&J>$. ~^^^^;-'-^W^^^^ £ AjM Steamboat Yellow Stone, although smaller than die Fort Towson steamboat, is believed similar to the boat found recently near the Red River. During the Texas Revolution, Yellow Stone ferried Sam Houston's soldiers across the Brazos River, carried Stephen F. Austin's body to Peach Point for burial and took Santa Anna and members of the Texas government to Velasco for negotiations. The \ellow Stone sank in Buffalo Bayou in late 1837. What is believed to be the steamboat Caddo rests in sand near the Red River. Spokes for one of the boats two paddle wheels are visible to the left. "They were built cheaply; they were considered expendable." River boats faced many dangers, dangers, whether on the Mississippi or the Red River. Drifting trees, changes in a river's course, sand bars, rising or falling water — All were hazards to navigation and to life. And when a boat did sink, owners removed everything possible, whether cargo or parts of the boat itself. The boat presumed to be the Caddo is missing its engine, but that is not unusual. "Owners would disassemble a boat and use the engine on another boat," Tolman said. While romantic — and romanticized — steam boats ran the Mississippi between New Orleans and St. Louis, big boats with gambling salons and dining rooms, more mundane and necessary necessary craft dodged snags and sand bars on smaller rivers. The Fort Towson steam boat was a working boat, hauling passengers and goods to its terminus terminus at Fort Towson/ Doaksville in Oklahoma; stopping stopping at other places along the Red River — Pecan Point, Gaffney's Landing and Jonesboro on the Texas side of the river. Tolman is fairly well convinced convinced the boat found is the Caddo — "There's an 80 percent percent to 90 percent shot it's the Caddo," he said — but even if the boat should prove to have gone by another name, it has all the characteristics of a river boat built in the late 1830s. "We know it's a wreck from See RWERBOAT on Page 9

Clipped from The Paris News07 Dec 1999, TuePage 7

The Paris News (Paris, Texas)07 Dec 1999, TuePage 7
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