15. The "Western Engineer"

Drawing of the boat "Western Engineer" on the back of a fire breathing dragon by Cornelius M. Ismert, 1948. (Image courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society)
Miniature model of The Western Engineer, Frontier Army Museum collection.

The “Western Engineer” was an experimental steamboat planned by Major Stephen Harriman Long. The steamboat was needed for the Yellowstone expedition, which included a crew to perform science and engineering functions, in conjunction with U.S. Army topographical engineers.


The steamboat was 75 feet long, with a single paddlewheel at the back. The Western Engineer was designed to fit in narrow and shallow channels. When empty the boat could float in only 19 inches of water. 


The Missouri Gazette in May of 1819, reported that “The Western Engineer is well armed and carries an elegant flag representing a white man and an Indian shaking hands, the calumet of peace and the sword.”  This was the first steamboat to travel up the Missouri River into the Louisiana Purchase territory all the way to Nebraska.



For more information on the The Western Engineer: https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/when-dragon-boat-came-nebraska