Dubuque County Historical Society Images

The River People

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Captain Daniel Smith Harris

Captain Daniel Smith Harris'colorful career as a master boat builder and captain on the Upper Mississippi River earned him his induction into the National Rivers Hall of Fame. Captain Harris began as a cub pilot in 1829. He built, piloted and captained nearly a score of vessels including the Grey Eagle (I) and (II) and the War Eagle (III), the pride of the upper river during the golden era of steamboating.

Daniel Smith Harris achieved the most brilliant exploit of his career in 1858 when his Grey Eagle, carrying news of the successful laying of the Atlantic cable, beat the Itasca in a 290 mile race to St. Paul, Minnesota, at an average speed of 16 1/2 mph. Captain Harris long held the record for the first spring arrival at St. Paul which was set March 25, 1858, and not broken until 1947.

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