…reports of the discovery of gold in the Fraser river district [of British Columbia, Canada], and the people of this vicinity [St. Paul] began to grow enthusiastic over the prospects of access to that prosperous region from this end. It was in this condition of affairs that Capt. [Russell] Blakely was urged to make a trip of investigation as to whether the Red river was navigable, so as to bring the new territory into reach of this city. He made the trip [in October 1858], accompanied by J. [John] H. Irvine, they going by way of the Minnesota river and Lake Traverse, and returning across country via St. Cloud. They went as far as Fort Garry, and on their return the St. Paul chamber of commerce offered a bonus of $1,000 for the building of a steamboat on the Red river. Anson Northrup said he would build one for $2,000 and the offer was accepted. The boat was built at Fort Abercrombie, the lumber being cut on the banks of the Crow Wing river and hauled 150 miles overland in midwinter. It made one trip to Fort Garry [in July 1859] and return[ed] and was then tied up, Northrup and his party returning to St. Paul. [In 1870, Norman W. Kittson and James J. Hill teamed up to form the Red River Transportation Company, which dominated steamboat traffic on the Red River until the early 1880s.]
The Saint Paul Daily Globe
Tuesday Morning, January 14, 1896
Volume XIX, Number 14, Page 4
[Anson Northrup’s] First Steamboat Trip to the Red River Region.
From the Toronto Globe, July 9.
Mr. James Ross, a resident of Red River, arrived here yesterday evening, having left Fort Garry on the 17th ult. The steamer Anson Northrup left the mouth of the Cheyenne for Fort Garry on the 5th of June, and was four days on the voyage, stopping at night to permit of wood being cut for the next day’s operations. She took the people of Red River entirely by surprise, they knowing nothing of her approach till they heard the steam-whistle. She was greeted with the warmest demonstrations of joy; cannon were fired, and even the monopolizing fur traders rejoiced at the approach of civilization. On the 17th the boat started on her return trip, with about twenty five passengers, and a good load of furs, supplied by Mr. Kittson, the well-known American trader. Among the passengers were Mr. Ross and two Misses Ross, Miss De Tremble, the Rev. John Black, Free Church minister, and his wife, Mr. Flett, Mr. Bannatyne, the trader, who was lately arrested by the Hudson’s Bay people for buying furs, but afterwards released, and others whose names we have not learned. The boat is 90 feet in length, with 22 feet beam, and draws only 14 inches with crew and fuel on board; with passengers and freight she sinks four inches lower. The transit from Fort Garry to Fort Abercrombie occupied eight days, stopping at night as before. At Abercrombie our travelers could only find wagons with ox-teams to convey them, but they were promised regular stages on their return, their arrival being unexpected. By team to Swan River occupied six days, and there the travelers took the stage, which in two days brought them to St. Paul…
The New York Times
Tuesday, July 12, 1859