"Never since St. Louis was a 'place,' never since broadhorns and flatboats hid their diminished heads before the introduction of mighty steam upon the vast tide of the Mississippi, has this city presented so lively an aspect as at the present moment. The expansive Levee is so narrowed by the rising river that the boats stand opposite to the store doors, so near as to present the singular appearance of a contracted street with very queer houses, having tall chimneys all along one side. What is left of the Levee is literally piled up with produce and merchandise. It is with the utmost difficulty that drays can move about, and passengers have enough to do to elbow their way along the sidewalk. All is bustle and activity. The steamer Eclipse, I am told, went off the other day with a freight barge in tow, and the value of the cargo taken down was estimated at the enormous sum of seventy-five thousand dollars! Boats are starting now every day loaded down with produce, and yet the Levee continues heaped with it. Steamers from above report that it will take all the boats in the trade a full two months to bring down the cargoes that are now ready and waiting for them.
"The winter has been very severe ... but the reaction has burst out very suddenly and with singular effect. The town seems to have jumped out of passive slumber into raging excitement. ... Three new hotels are now open.... numbers of fashionable strangers are here, as well as officers of the army and many of the prominent citizens...."
So Matt Field wrote from St. Louis to the New Orleans Picayune on April 25, 1843. 1 Every day the levee was crowded with people, coming and going. A month earlier John James Audubon and his four friends on their way to the Upper Missouri____________________