Learn how communities began to develop on the banks of the Red River along the steamboats’ route in this video from the Steamboats on the Red series. With new, cheaper means of transportation come people—first workers, then settlers, then merchants.
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.