Up the Mississippi
THE way to travel in the Mississippi River basin was by boat, wherever this was possible. Up until 1849, not a mile of railroad existed in Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee or Texas. Even on the Eastern seaboard, such railroads as there were usually extended only from one city to another. A passenger traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York had to alight at Baltimore, transfer himself and baggage to the station of another railroad that would take him to Philadelphia, then transfer to still another station and railroad to get to New York.
With 1849 had begun a great fever for railroad building, so that there were continuous tracks for Jenny's parlor car as far as North Carolina. But the fever had not reached the central portion of the country until 1850. In early 1851, where one could not go by water it was necessary to use stagecoaches or private conveyance.
At this time, the population of the United States was a little more than 23,000,000, of whom 19,500,000 were whites, and a considerable proportion of the white population was moving westward. Pittsburgh, Columbus, Louisville and St. Louis, all had more than doubled their populations since 1840, and many adventurous souls were heading still farther west. Hence the decade between 1850 and 1860 was one of great expansion of river travel, at the same time that the railroads, being built at a phenomenal rate, were starting the trend toward travel by land. Steamboats had multiplied on the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Missouri, and