Heyday Of The Floating Palace

Nicholas Roosevelt’s fire canoe transformed the Mississippi.

More than 270 years had slipped by since Hernando de Soto first stumbled onto the Mississippi, and in all that time the river had been host to an increasing variety of boats. For longer than anyone could reckon, the sleek canoes of the Indian had been there, but slowly and almost imperceptibly they began to be outnumbered by the arks, keelboats, and flatboats of the white man, laden with furs and less romantic cargoes, making the lazy trip down river.