A very unusual steamboat arrived in St. Louis on this day in 1918. Called “Long’s Dragon,” in reference to explorer Steven Long, the Western Engineer was built to travel up the Missouri. It was shaped and painted to resemble a huge serpent. This gave the steamboat a unique way to announce its presence, since the steam whistle hadn’t been invented yet.

The Western Engineer’s escape pipe (from the boilers) projected out over the bow and was shaped like a huge serpent with black scales, a fiery red mouth, and long tongue. 

When Indians appeared on the river banks, the “serpent” moaned and groaned, and spouted and hissed fire and smoke. The Indians fled in terror, believing the white man had captured their  “River God” and made him carry their boat up river!

Based upon content from the Missouri State Archives, Timeline of Missouri History.  

Pictured: Officers of the Missouri Human Rights Commission in Kirkwood circa 1971. Photo credit: [Francis Scheidegger Collection, Collection S0809. S0809-7662.], The State Historical Society of Missouri, Photograph Collection.