Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know
Historic Riverboats At-Home Expedition Graphic

Historic Riverboats

At-Home Expedition Activities
   + Innovative Iowans Activity: Historic Riverboats
   + At-Home Expedition Word Search
   + Videos of National Historic Landmarks
   + Primary Source Sets
   + Additional videos, articles and more! 

Although Iowa is a landlocked state, it still has a long history of relying on rivers and river boats for travel and trade. The first Indigenous people came to Iowa by following the river valleys, and heavily depended on the rivers for many things, such as providing fresh water for cooking, drinking and gathering edible plants. Many years later, after the creation of the steam engine, Iowa's settlement pattern reflected the steam-power revolution. Along Iowa's major rivers, towns boomed and prospered. They became trade centers where goods could be sold and sent downriver to market. Today, while Iowa's rivers are not used for transporting goods and people at the volume they once were, they are still important to the state's economy. 

Explore the activities, videos and additional resources in this at-home expedition to discover more about the importance of rivers throughout Iowa's history. Also, learn about four featured National Historic Landmarks in Iowa that have deep ties to this expedition theme. 

Set Sail with Innovative Iowans

Iowa has a long history of relying on rivers for travel and trade. In this Innovative Iowans activity, young historians will learn about the four riverboats in Iowa that are National Historic Landmarks, design and create origami paper boats and test their seaworthiness.


Solve the Word Search

Find the listed words hidden in the grid of letters in this Goldie's word search puzzle. The words in this puzzle are inspired by historic riverboats and river transportation in Iowa. 


Explore National Historic Landmarks

Learn more about the four seaworthy National Historic Landmarks in Iowa showcased in this at-home expedition.
     + Video: William M. Black Dredge Boat: The Dustpan
     + Website: William M. Black Dredge Boat
     + Video: Lone Star Steamer
     + Website: Lone Star Steamer at Buffalo Bill Museum
     + Video: Aerial View of George M. Verity Riverboat
     + Website: George M. Verity River Museum
     + Website: Sergeant Floyd Towboat


Watch Videos

View additional videos about the National Historic Landmarks and the history of river transportation in Iowa from the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and Iowa PBS.
     + "William M. Black: Engine Room Communication"
     + William M. Black Dredge Boat Historical Footage from 1952
     + "Steamboats" from Iowa PBS 
     + "Steamboats on the Red River" from Iowa PBS


Research with Primary Sources

Analyze primary source sets to view photographs, maps and more cataloging the history of river transportation and innovation in Iowa. 
     + Transportation in Rural and Urban Spaces
     + Environmental Impact
     + Innovation in Transportation


Discover Additional Resources

Check out kid-friendly videos, articles and other resources about Iowa's history of riverboats and river transportation. 
     The Goldfinch: Rivers in Iowa
     + The Palimpsest - "In the Steamboat Era"
     + Video: "Steamboat Accidents" from Iowa PBS 
     + Video: "Mississippi River Fuels Iowa Industry" from Iowa PBS 
     + Transcribed records, newspaper clippings, historical accounts and diary entries about life on the Missouri River