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Steamboats and Ferries on the White River

Duane Huddleston, Sammie Cantrell Rose, and Pat Taylor Wood

Published Date: September 19, 1998

Available in



A Heritage Revisited
196 pages
8 1/4 x 10 3/4
More than 120 photographs


From the time the Waverly first steamed up the White River to Batesville from the Mississippi River in 1831, the haunting blast of river whistles signaled service, comfort, and delight for residents along this major Arkansas waterway. In a terrain that lacked good roads, steamboats contributed significantly to new economic development and settlement of the region. They carried animal hides, cotton, and rendered bear oil downriver to market and transported settlers, food staples, and manufactured goods upriver. For a hundred years these elegant boats were used for mail delivery, excursion parties, and freight hauling, eventually bringing about their own demise when they hauled in the material to build the railroads.


Over 120 black-and-white photographs, sketches, and maps illustrate the colorful text. Interwoven with the history of steamboats is that of ferries keelboats, flatboats, and Civil War tinclads, all of which plied the White River in the 1800s and early 1900s. A keenly researched regional study, this book is nonetheless representative of conditions and activities on similar river systems in many parts of America during the same period. Steamboats and Ferries on the White River pays lasting tribute to the golden age of steam travel.

About the authors

Duane Huddleston was a noted local historian who specialized in the history of steamboating on the White, Black, and Arkansas Rivers and was assistant principal at North Little Rock’s Ole Main High School before his death in 1982.


Sammie Cantrell Rose is curator of the Boone County Heritage Museum in Harrison, Arkansas, and coeditor of the Boone County Historian.


Pat Taylor Wood is a freelance writer living in Kirbyville, Missouri, who has authored historical articles for Wild West, Ozarks Mountaineer, True West and Facets magazines.

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