The Steamer Josephine

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In 1873, construction of the Josephine was completed in Freedom, Pennsylvania. The steamer was originally owned by the Coulson Packet Company and named after the daughter of the esteemed General David S. Stanley. The Josephine had a storied career braving the waters of the Yellowstone River.

The Josephine was commandeered for exploratory missions in the Montana Territory. A notable journey was the Yellowstone Expedition of 1875. The purposes of the expedition was to test the viability of steamboat travel for supplying military units in the area and mark strategic points for future military forts. After departing from Bismarck, North Dakota on May 23rd, the official expedition began at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. From the mouth of the Yellowstone River the Josephine traveled 250 miles. On June 7th, the Josephine docked at its furthest feasible point near present-day Riverfront Park. The expedition was a success. Steamship travel up the Yellowstone River was practical and several sites were marked to create a strong military presence in the region.

After the Yellowstone Expedition, the Josephine braved roughly 50 more trips on Montana rivers. Her voyages were primarily for the Coulson Packet Company, but also served the military in conflicts with the Sioux by transporting supplies to troops. In 1907, the final journey ended when the steamer struck ice and sank.