Steamboat Landscape

Presentation by amateur historian and steamboat modeler Eric Reuter

In this fascinating and in-depth presentation, Eric Reuter used hand-made scale models of Missouri River steamboats to discuss the linked history of steamboat development and environmental changes in the Missouri basin, drawing on his professional and personal interests in the links between geology, ecology, history, and land management.

Published: March 9, 2021

View presentation on YouTube

Steamboat Arabia Model
This photo shows a scale model of the steamboat Arabia created by Eric Reuter.

Steamboats symbolize a historic era in Missouri River exploration, commerce and transportation. Missouri River steamboats evolved over time, becoming ever more adapted to the basin’s unique environment while simultaneously altering it, much like an invasive species introduced into a new ecosystem.

In this presentation, Eric Reuter used hand-made scale models of Missouri River steamboats to discuss the linked history of steamboat development and environmental changes in the Missouri basin, drawing on his professional and personal interests in the links between geology, ecology, history, and land management.

Bertrand
Presenter Eric Reuter creates lifelike scale model reproductions of historic steamboats. This is the Bertrand, a boat that was excavated just north of Omaha/Council Bluffs.

Eric Reuter’s lifelong fascination with maritime history expanded to encompass steamboats after moving to Missouri in 2006. His interest in the Missouri River is shared by his wife Joanna, a former USGS scientist who worked on the river. He holds degrees in Earth Science and Education and currently works as a freelance scientific editor, though his professional background includes geologic mapping and public interpretation for the National Park Service, diversified organic farming, grant reviewing, freelance writing, and various public education efforts. He is a member of the Nautical Research Guild, an international non-profit that focuses on combining maritime research and model shipcraft.

Eric shared a bibliography of books he recommends detailing the history of steamboats, which we’ve copied below. In addition, you can check out the Missouri River Bookshelf on the Missouri River Relief website.

The History of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Elliott Coues (ed.) (1893)

Way’s Packet Directory, 1848–1994, Frederick Way, Jr. (1901)

Steamboats on the Western Rivers, Louis C. Hunter (1949)

The Western Rivers Steamboat Cyclopœdium, Alan L. Bates (1968)

The Steamboat Bertrand, Jerome E. Petsche (1974)

The Missouri River, Cecil R. Griffith (1974)

Steamboat Legacy, Dorothy Heckmann Shrader (1993)

Unruly River, Robert Kelley Schneiders (1999)

Wild River, Wooden Boats, Michael Gillespie (2000)

The Western River Steamboat, Adam I. Kane (2004)

1491 and 1493, Charles Mann (2005 and 2011)

Steamboat Disasters of the Lower Missouri River, Vicki Berger Erwin (2020)

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The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport

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Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place in Kansas City and St. Charles.


The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Missouri River Relief, the Big Muddy Speaker Series or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.


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