The Steamboat Josephine on the Yellowstone

Josephine At A Glance

Wood hull

Originally owned by the Coulson Family

183 feet long. 31 feet wide, and 4 feet deep

Named for the daughter of General Stanley

Had two boilers to supply steam to the engines

Made 50 trips to Montana

Was used during the Sioux-Cheyenne War in 1876

Crashed due to ice on March 3, 1907, at Running Water, South Dakota

Engines salvaged for use in a Yukon River steamboat in Alaska

The steamboat Josephine, a sternwheel packet, was one of three boats to get any distance above the narrow, fast portion of the river around Pompeys Pillar. The others were the F.Y. Batchelor and the Key West. The Yellowstone was thought to be impassible beyond the mouth of the Bighorn River to steamboat travel. However in 1875, Captain Grant Marsh piloted the Josephine beyond the Bighorn confluence to the vicinity of present day Billings. The Josephine made a total of ten trips up the Yellowstone until her destruction in 1907. Steamboats were a big part of life along the river in the late 1860s and 1870s until the transcontinental railroad line was completed.

Reprinted with permission from the “Outlaw News”, a publication of Missouri River Country.

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