11:04 PM

Today I began cleaning out a 2 car garage so I can finally have a Steamboat Arabia office/library. Twelve years ago this idea was suggested by my husband and he was right. It will keep everything in one space and make it so much easier finding a particular file. So, with the help of Rob in 90 degree heat, we loaded the F150 truck with two loads for Goodwill. By the weekend, I should have this new space ready for my bookcases et al. The space is already finished and has a dehumidifier, so I just a need an air conditioner and electric baseboard heat to make it a comfortable year round space.

St Louis Gateway Arch (completed in 1967)

While going through boxes, I found a souvenir my mom bought when we first visited the St Louis Arch back in the 1960s. I remember seeing this massive structure when I was 9 or 10 years old and the ride up to the top.

Once there, I couldn’t believe the view- it was higher than the Washington Monument or the Statue of Liberty. I will never forget the trip and consider the Gateway Arch is on the top 10 list for children to see.

Today, it blows my mind to think the Steamboat Arabia docked in front of the same site as the Gateway Arch and that makes the Arabia Museum on the top 10 list too.

Many years later as an adult in the 1990s, I made another visit to the Arch after researching all day at the Mercantile Library (now at the Washington University at St Louis).  

This Library was established at the corner of Olive and Main Street in 1846 and moved in 1854 to a larger building  up the hill at the corner of Broadway and Locust streets. The 1854 building was grand to see; after entering, I had to climb a marble staircase that had a status next to the top of the stairs which was good enough to be in the Louve in Paris. The reading room was covered with panels of walnut and many portraits were hung on the right wall.

Since then, the St Louis Mercantile Library moved to the University of Missouri- St Louis
Thomas Jefferson Library Building
One University Blvd.
St. Louis, Missouri 63121-4400
Telephone: 314.516.7240 or 314.516.7247
Fax: 314.516.7241
The Special Collections Curator, Deborah Cribbs has been kind enough to email that she will recommend my blog to other interested parties.

Back then, there was no internet and so save time I had ordered a copy of their catalogue holdings ahead of time. With only three days to research, I focused on the Robert Campbell collection. Charles Brown who is now the Assistant Director of the Mercantile Library and a very charismatic gentleman brought me reel after reel of microfilm.  
I found a number of letters written by Robert Campbell to John Shaw (Arabia’s second owner). During this period, Shaw owned the Steamboat Garden City and was at Ft Laramie collecting Buffalo Robes and other pellets for Campbell. The tone of the letters seemed friendly but obviously Shaw worked for Campbell. I also read Bank records which revealed Shaw paid $20,000 for the Garden City and borrowed the money from Campbell’s bank. (Bank records can give so much information, so I am glad these were donated). Unfortunately for me, Campbell’s records did not continue into 1855 and 1856 so couldn’t learn anything directly about the Steamboat Arabia in the establishment of Ft Pierre. However, as a researcher, I know there is more that could be found by reviewing other records in the Mercantile Libraries collection.

On a Personal Note- All in all, a great day and you never know who'll you'll meet.
After spending the day reading, I walked over to the St Louis Gateway Park and it was just prior to closing, so I had to make a choice between going up the arch or see the I-Max Movie about Emigrants going west. I chose the I-Max Movie and bought my ticket. I was the only one in the theater and sat in the back row centering the screen. About 5 minutes before the movie started, these four senior citizens came in and they sat next to me on both sides. They were friends traveling and as odd as it was, I enjoyed our conversation and the movie.

After the movie, I walked down to the river and followed the path going under the Eads Bridge in hope to find a good place to eat. I found a nice restaurant with tables outside and it was a lovely dinner with some of the restaurant’s own brewed beer. I chatted with a man who was worked at a company that made large incinerators and had built one near my home. I told him all about the 1848 fire that sweep thru St Louis and that’s why so much of old St. Louis is brick or stone.