On the Water

Rigged Model, River steamboat Far West

The sternwheel river steamer Far West was built at Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1870. Measuring 190’ long and 33’ in beam, the West needed only 20” of water to navigate when unloaded. In extreme shallow water, the two tall spars at the front of the boat could be lowered into the river bottom. With the aid of the capstan and engine power, the vessel could be lifted over sandbars or other obstructions, a bit or “hop” at a time. This practice was called “grasshoppering.”

The Far West spent much of its early career chartered to the U. S. Army supplying remote Army outposts in Montana and the Dakota Territory during the Indian campaigns. In June 1876, Capt. Grant Marsh transported Gen. George Custer’s forces to the Little Big Horn. On June 30, the steamer received news of the Indian victory over Custer. It loaded wounded soldiers from another action and travelled 710 miles down the Missouri in only 54 hours to bring the wounded soldiers and the news of Custer’s loss to Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory. Nine days later, Capt. Marsh and the Far West steamed back to the Little Big Horn with horses and supplies for the soldiers there.

The Far West hit a snag on the Missouri River near St. Charles, Mo., in October 1883 and was lost.

ID Number:
John L. Fryant & Co.
8 in x 26 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in; 20.32 cm x 67.31 cm x 11.43 cm

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