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Mississippi Paddle Boats



They are not as common as they used to be because they are mostly related to history, but Mississippi paddles boats were once a common sight on this big river. Today, the boats are part of the sightseeing industry, offering rides to tourist who can get away for a memorable two hour cruise where they can wine, dine, take photos, and even gamble. State gambling laws were changed to allow gambling on boats, even when they didn't go for a ride. But the boats that offer gambling these days usually sit at the dock and never leave. Many don't even have engines, as they are lonely barges set up as floating casinos. When gambling on the mighty Mississippi first took off in the early 90's, boat operators thought the mix would be the perfect getaway. But they soon learned that gamblers aren't interested in a cruise. From then on, things changed, and the casino powering its way up or down the river is now hardly even feasible, although the tourist boat industry still does exist where the river runs its course along the states of Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri.



Many famous people have plowed the Mississippi on a paddle boat, and many of them were steam powered. Mark Twain, a resident of Hannibal, MO when he was a young child, spent much time on the Mississippi and became a licensed steamboat captain after two years of study. Then there was also Abraham Lincoln, As a boy, Lincoln truly did live in a shack with a dirt floor. But what people don't realize is that it was not that uncommon for people who lived on the frontier to have a dirt floor. Moving ever west, his family was eventually close enough to the Mississippi that Lincoln became familiar with the river. As a young man, he made trips down the river, and it is reported that at a major slave trading center he got his first glimpse of the slave trade: black men, women and children, chained together like chattel with potential buyers inspecting their teeth.

Lined along the dirt streets, the half naked men and woman were transported to and fro by the paddle boats that plied the deep waters of the Mississippi. Missouri was a slave state, but was somewhat divided in opinions of the citizens, and it is more appropriately said that Missouri was an intermediate state. Slaves escaping the south for their freedom made their way through Missouri and Illinois along the underground railroad, championed by Harriet Tubman who was a child in the slave state of Maryland. Of course, she was not the only person who helped the underground railroad. There were many, many others abolitionist and humanitarians, with many established churches lending their assistance to the ultra-secret network of safe-houses and pathways to safety.
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