Uncle Sam on the Rock River

Date in History: 1898

The Rock River travels 310 miles from Horicon’s glacial lake deposits to Rock Island, Illinois where it meets the Mississippi River. One hundred years ago the Rock River was a great source of recreation for the people of Fort Atkinson.

A number of passenger boats plied its waters, including the steamer the -Uncle Sam.- Built in 1898, the Uncle Sam could carry 175 people and its engine produced enough electricity to light the boat at night. It also had a tremendous whistle that could be heard for miles. For 25 cents you could board the boat in downtown Fort Atkinson and travel down the river and across Lake Koshkonong.

The Uncle Sam was also often chartered for group parties and it was not unusual to see the entire Fort Atkinson band on board. Trips were often eventful and sometimes delayed when the boat became stranded on rocks or the boiler quit.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 06/02/2003.

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