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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 6:

"Virginia," the First Steamboat and Beltrami

-As transcribed from pages 61 - 62

The first steamboat to ascend the upper Mississippi, the "Virginia," passed Trempealeau Mountain in May, 1823, and arrived at Fort Snelling, near the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, May 10. A number of prominent people were aboard. Steamboat traffic thus being opened, Trempealeau Mountain, a landmark and a point of interest to all travelers, became widely known. J. Constantine Beltrami, who explored the Red River of the North and the sources of the Mississippi River, was one of the passengers aboard the "Virginia" when it made its first trip to Fort Snelling. Of Trempealeau he says:

"From this spot (118 miles from Prairie du Chien) a chain of mountains, whose romantic character reminds one of the valley of the Rhine, between Bingen and Coblentz, leads to the Mountain which dips into the water. This place would exhaust all my powers of expression if I had not seen Longue Vue. Amid a number of delightful little islands, encircled by the river, rises a mountain of a conical form equally isolated. You climb amid cedars and cypresses, strikingly contrasted with the rocks which intersect them, and from the summit you command a view of valleys, prairies, and distances in which the eye loses itself. From this point I saw both the last and the first rays of a splendid sun gild the lovely picture. The western bank-presents another illusion to the eye. Mountains, ruggedly broken into abrupt rocks, which appear cut perpendicularly into towers, steeples, cottages, &c., appear precisely like towns and villages."46  

Resources for the above information:

46 - J. C. Beltrami; A Pilgrimage in Europe and America Leading to the Discovery of the Sources of the Mississippi and Bloody River (London, 1828), II, 178-179.


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