Search billions of records on

Steamboats On The Red


Donna Easter

In 1880 the booming town of St. Vincent was bordered bythe Red River on the West and by Canada on the North. St. Vincent had apopulation of five hundred in 1880. Compared with today this is very high.St. Vincent had the first school, the first doctor and the first newspaperin Kittson County.

Most of the steamboats that passed up the Red River helpedthe growth of the settlements at the end of their journey's.

Anson Northrup, a Mississippi boat owner, sailed his boatcalled the NORTH STAR up the Mississippi River, then over to the Crow WingRiver. Here Northrup brought the boat on land and had thirty-five teamsof horses and sixty men. Northrup set out with only the horses and the menand with no guide. He accidentally landed around the Detroit Lakes area.Here the boat was launched and christened the ANSON NORTHRUP. The steamermade its first trial run to Fort Abercombie. This steamer was the firston the Red River. Anson Northrup was given two thousand dollars by the St.Paul Chamber of Commerce for having the first steamboat on the Red River.This trip was successful and navigation was opened in April, 1859. FromFort Abercombie the steamer left for Winnipeg on April 17, 1859 and reachedits destiny on June 5, 1859.

The ANSON NORTHRUP was later taken over by Captain Blakely,and C. J. Burbank. In the spring of 1860, the steamer was repaired but certainrecords show that only the machinery was saved. C. P. V. Lull is supposedto have taken this machinery and installed it in a new steamer called theINTERNATIONAL. This boat measured 137 feet in length and had a 126 footbeam, weighing 133 tons. Because of the Sioux Indians outbreaks about theuse of the river for steamboats, little progress was made and the INTERNATIONALwas sold to the Hudson Bay Company in 1861. In 1872, Norman Kittson becamecommodore over all steamboats on the Red River because he was able to getalong with the Indians. The steamer, SELKIRK, wasn't the first steamer onthe Red, nor was it the biggest. This steamer seems to be the best known.The first owners of the SELKIRK were James J. Hill and Captain Ales Griggs,one of the founders of Grand Forks. They built this steamer at McCauleyvillejust across from Fort Abercombie. The steamer left for Selkirk on April17, 1871. This steamer made its first trip down the Red River with 175 tonsof freight and 115 passengers.

The SELKIRK is believed to have collided against a railwayat Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1884, according to Ardell J. Abrahamson.When James J. Hill's railway came to St. Vincent in 1887, the steamboatsand barges came nearly to an end.

St. Vincent today is a very small but a pleasant town.It's people are all very friendly and have many memories of their town.Although St. Vincent is just a little town in the northern part of Minnesota,back in 1880 St. Vincent was known as a "booming" town.

as known as a "booming" town.