An interpretative observation of a Mississippi steamboat race by Steve Williams (AKA Deshawn J.)

Racing on the Mississippi

April 14, 1863

My name is Steve Williams. I am 24 years old and I own a steamboat named Austin 3:16. When I was a kid, steamboats amazed me. My father was the captain and pilot of a steamboat. He liked to race. He once got injured and fell in the river. During his life, he continued to race until he became a race champion. His name was known all over town. I really looked up to my dad. He died on August 8, 1857. He was racing and had a heart attack. He died on the way to the hospital.

I'm now the captain and the pilot of Austin 3:16. It is a two-side wheeler.

April 17, 1863

Today, while I was taking cargo to shore, a steamboat came up beside me and started going faster. I took one guess that he wanted to race me so I yelled down to Rayshawn, "Put more coal in the boiler."

As we were racing, I remembered that there were logs in the water ahead so I stopped racing and let him win. The people watching were disappointed. I said not to worry because there would be a next time.

April 22, 1863

I have to take people across the Mississippi River. Then I have to pick up cargo to take to New Orleans. I will watch for the many water hazards on the route to New Orleans.

April 22, 1863

Today we had another race. People were watching on shore. This time I was prepared. I moved to the left side and started to move ahead. Rayshawn put coal in the boiler. I got to dock my boat first. When I looked back, all the cargo had fallen into the river!

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