The Steamboat Twilight Museum
Kansas City and St. Louis will ever be identified by the vast movement of people and commodities to and
from their central location. Fundamental to this identity are the rivers which serve them, and
allow them to serve millions more, elsewhere. Inherently, the rivers are Kansas City and St. Louis'
beginning and future; its perpetual persona.
A museum is now proposed to commemorate, and answer an international regard for that
heyday in river history, when the steamboat was boss; and still is so fondly related to by the
outer world—The Steamboat Era— that excitement in yore from which our
cities are so purposefully named, "Gateways to the West."
A thrilling, one-of-a-kind, embodiment of that evocative period, exists in the recently
recovered Steamboat Twilight, sunk on the Missouri River September 10, 1865,
en route to the gold fields of Montana and their ultimate outpost, Fort Benton.
There never likely will be a more complete salvage of a buried packet steamboat structure.
The Twilight is discovered to be as richly jammed with lore as she was once with cargo.
Her short actual life produced a long, heroic tale. A no more demonstrative focus and
fulfilling odyssey for such a steamboat museum can be found, than in this treasure
The Twilight was built in St. Louis, and licensed there a matter of days after General
Lee's surrender. Her maiden voyage began the day of President Lincoln's burial. The
Twilight transported settlers, soldiers, equipment, food and arms to the mining and
logging regions and their forts in The Rockies. Her place in history is from America's
explosive migration of trans-Mississippi hordes; from Kansas City and St. Louis to the Wild West,
through territories of hostile Native Americans, over perilous snags, sandbars and
rapids—in the path of Lewis and Clark.
As with all such things meant to attract interest and visitors from here and afar,
the creation of a world class steamboat museum will call for many resources;
among them, money. Yet, it's on-the-money, makes compelling sense, has long been
missing, asks and deserves to happen.