Learn about Civil-War-Era Shipwrecks at the Library | Alissa Wolenetz, Library Director

Please join us for our last Humanities Montana event of the summer at the Library this Thursday, July 7th, from 6-8 PM. In honor of our “Oceans of Possibilities” theme, Montana historian Ken Robison will discuss two steamboat shipwrecks. Here’s Ken’s description of the program: 

“The first steamboats ever to reach the Fort Benton Levee, the Chippewa and Key West, heralded the opening of the steamboat era on the upper Missouri in July 1860. The Chippewa returned to the upper river the next year at the dawn of the Civil War, only to blow up and sink, becoming the first steamboat to enter the upper Missouri graveyard. Five years later, just as the Civil War was ending, the new construction steamer Bertrand, loaded with freight and passengers, departed St. Louis bound for Fort Benton. She never made it, but today provides a treasure-trove of artifacts revealing much about culture and life in gold rush Montana.”

I’m guessing many of you have heard of Ken before. He joined us here at the Library several years ago to give a talk about Montana’s role in the Civil War. We also have several of his books in our collection. If you’re interested in learning more about steamboats and their connection to Fort Benton, check out “Yankees & Rebels on the Upper Missouri: Steamboats, Gold and Peace” (2016). If you’d like a more general overview of the Civil War and its aftermath in our part of the country, try “Montana Territory and the Civil War: A Frontier Forged on the Battlefield” (2013) or “Confederates in Montana Territory: In the Shadow of Price’s Army” (2014). 

Finally, if you’re not quite done with your reading logs yet, don’t worry! You have until Tuesday, July 19th to complete any remaining challenges and turn in your reading log. We’ll announce our winners the week after that.

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