Riverboat Owners and Companies
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Kansas City, Missouri
River Navigation Company Excerpt From City of the Future A Narrative History of Kansas City, 1850-1950 by Henry C. Haskell, Jr. and Richard B. Fowler 1950 Frank Glenn Publishing Co., Inc. Kansas City, Missouri

Pg. 110-111

From 1911 to the outbreak of the first World War Kansas City made its greatest effort to navigate the Missouri river. Out of an excited civic campaign 4,200 persons put more than a million collars into the stock of the Kansas City, Missouri Navigation Company.

Heading the movement was Walter s. Dickey, builder of the largest clay pipe manufacturing business in the country. He was an intensely practical man, concerned with results in dollars and cents for the shippers of the West.

Over a period of thirty years three pervious attempts to revive river navigation had been made. In 1906 E. C. Ellis, Kansas City representative in Congress, had led a major revival of interest. Lawrence M. Jones, the merchant, headed the antiquated line for a brief period but the plans for modern boats were blocked by the panic of 1907.

Backed by millions of dollars, Dickey put a fleet of fifteen boats on the river, the antiquated packet boat CHESTER, two comparatively modern tow boats and a dozen barges.

Young A.W. Mackie, later a Kansas City business man, took over the full time job of developing the line and operating it at charges of 80 per cent of the prevailing freight rates. It was a businesslike approach. For the first time Kansas City saw modern river transportation as something practical and very different from the floating palaces of the 1850s.

This town far up the Missouri river became headquarters in a national movement to stir the interest of Congress in river development, a movement that led eventually to the hundreds of millions a year that are now going into America's rivers.

The Kansas City company bucked a thoroughly neglected river. From its own funds it built a wharf, warehouse and railroad facilities at East St. Louis. At the end of six years it had sunk $400,000 of its own capital, but it had made the demonstration. Operation ceased only because the federal government took the barges for wartime (W.W.I) use on the Ohio and Lower Mississippi.

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