"We felt the shock and at once the boat started sinking ... (it) keeled over on one side ... there was a wild scene on board ... the chairs and stools were tumbled about and many of the children nearly fell into the water."
While the record passage from St. Louis to Fort Benton, Montana was "only" twenty-three days, most trips took far longer thanks to exasperating delays from sandbars, broken tillers, failing boilers, and various other challenges including the ever-present threat of boiler explosions, fires, and snags.
And so ... I send eighteen-year-old Fannie Rousseau north aboard a fictional steamboat ... and of course things will not go well.
If you have a chance to visit either historical sites at DeSoto Bend in Nebraska or at the Arabia Museum in Kansas City, you won't be bored. And you'll be thankful for the interstate!