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Painting of the Steamboat Omaha

Date: c. 1990


Description: This is a modern painting of the steamboat Omaha, the first steamboat ever to arrive in Sioux City, painted by Gary Lucy. The arrival of this boat in 1856 was the first spark in a long line of steamboat traffic that provided a lifeline for the new Sioux City. They brought food, tools, lumber, and other goods up the Missouri River to the town. The first wooden frame house, first general store, and the first goods sold at market all arrived by steamboat. We also cannot forget their most important contribution: people. A huge percentage of early Sioux City’s population all arrived by steamboat, and earned the city’s reputation as a boom town. When the railroad expanded to Sioux City in 1868, steamboat traffic actually increased at first. The city replaced St. Louis as the major transfer point for eastern goods being shipped out west by rail and transferred to steamboats at port. By 1869 Sioux City dominated the region in freight, passenger, and mail steamboat services and this brought new prospects, businesses, and development to the city as well as doubled its population. As the railroad expanded further, however, steamboats and river shipping fell out of favor.


The voyage of the Omaha from St. Louis to Sioux City in 1856 was met with great excitement and celebration. Citizens looked at the oncoming boat and spied the banner she flew, reading “St. Louis and Sioux City United. Seven days and 16 hours. Hard to beat.” This was just one of several trips the boat made between the two cities. She was commanded by Capitan Wineland, who upon each visit to Sioux City was known to wine and dine with the leading families of the town. The Omaha mostly carried the goods necessary to build a new town, but soon Sioux City began to ship its own goods back to St. Louis. The first farm products shipped in Woodbury County by river were carried by the Omaha. When Wineland passed the loss was hard to both cities. After his death the boat was sold and her new owners moved her to the Ohio River, as she was never seen on the Missouri again.


Donor: Mid-American Energy


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