Mississippi River History

Cape Girardeau Riverfront

...from the Gary R. Lucy Gallery    (All images property of artist)
(Resolution of original image significantly compromised to minimize loading time.)

  A The Mississippi Riverfront was the focal point for commerce and trade in and out of our city, from the 1700's by canoes, ferry's, and steam boats into the 1930's, and by trains from the late 1800's until the early 1970's. In 1902 the Frisco Railroad built a track along the banks of the Mississippi River from Cape Girardeau North to St. Louis.

Do You Remember?

Do you remember -

How the crowds used to gather on the river front when the local packet boat would arrive? It was a real treat to see and to hear the roustabouts and stevedores as they unloaded the freight.


"We're headed
for Bootsies."

The boats usually carried a crew of about 25 roustabouts and stevedores. Four or five stevedores were stationed on the levee; the third clerk would stand on the bank at the head of the stage plank and call out the names of the consignees as the roustabouts passed him.

He did not call the company name. Although he had a list of all consignees he gave each of them fictitious names which the crew could remember more easily than the company name.

For example, Taylor, Materson and Linson was known as "Tom Cat," Volgelsanger hardware was "Carnary Bird," Vandevan Mercantile Co. was Move Wagon," John Scartino was "Skyrocket," the Bahn Hardware Co. was "Bad Boy." Goddard Grocery was the "Grey Goose," S. Albert Grocery Co. was the "Ace of diamonds," and Meyer and Suedekum Hardware was "Sloppy Molly."

"...Volgelsanger hardware was "Carnary Bird," Vandevan Mercantile Co. was "Move Wagon," Soon all of the freight for Cape Girardeau was unloaded with unbelievable accuracy and the boat would then go to Thebes, Illinois, and Commerce, Missouri. On its return, approximately at 8 that night, the freight headed north would be on the levee waiting to be loaded.

As the boat's bell was ringing as a last warning to leave for St. Louis, the gang plank ready to be lifted, the last thing you would hear was the chant of the roustabouts singing. "We're headed for Bootsies." Booties' was their favorite hangout on the St. Louis water front.


Years the Mississippi River completely iced over
1872 1898 1916 1924 1962 1979
1887 1902 1918 1936 1963 1996
1889 1909 1920 1942 1977
1895 1912 1922 1951 1978

This wonderful little bit of history has been borrowed from the folks below.
Please have a look at their interesting site.

Rose City Net - Cape Girardeau, Missouri Back to Mississippi Riverfront Mississippi Riverfront 

Herbs, Vitimins and Minerals

Open The Alphabetical Index For Boats, Captains & Owners

Search this site
Site map
What's new on site