First Steamer on the Red River
|In 1858, the Anson Northup became the first steamboat on the Red River. Namesake and captain of the boat, Anson Northup was a pioneer businessman in Minnesota. After hearing of a prize offered for the Fort Garry voyage, he proposed to dismantle his steamboat the North Star, transport its machinery and fittings overland to the Red River and reassemble it for the maiden voyage down the Red River. |
At the junction of the Crow Wing and Gull Rivers, in Minnesota, his crew dismantled the boat and loaded the machinery, cabin, furniture and timber onto wagons and sleighs for the 150 mile (240 1cm) trek to the Red River. The party consisted of 60 men, 13 yoke of oxen and 17 horses. By the time it reached Lafayette some two months later in April 1849 there were oniy seven oxen left.
The steamer was reconstructed in 1849 and measured 90 feet long with a 22-foot beam. It held between 50 and 75 tons of cargo. She travelled between Fort Abercrombie in Minnesota to Fort Garry, transporting Hudson Bay Company freight south and bringing agricultural machinery north. The Hudson Bay Company was a silent partner in the boat until 1861. When it arrived at Fort Garry on June 10, 1859 so many people wanted to go on the trip to Lake Winnipeg, that not all of them could be accommodated.
Over the winter of 1859-60 the boat was completely overhauled at Netley Creek. The boiler was patched and repaired, the cabin was raised and skylights installed. The first deck was properly laid and the entire vessel painted. The refurbished boat had three decks. The kitchen and engine room were on the first deck. The second deck, or boiler deck, had twenty-four berths and four state rooms providing accommodation for twelve ladies, an office, pantry and washrooms. The pilot house was situated on the uppermost deck. The steamer unfortunately sank at Cookâ€™s Creek in the winter of 1861. The Anson Northup helped to draw the Red River Settlement into the developing commercial life of mid-nineteenth century North America.