The steamboat was the great civilizer of the West. This transportation source was responsible for moving emigrants, settlers, and freight from the edge of the frontier. The Missouri River was the highway. For twenty years, 1840-1860, the frontier line of settlement moved up the Missouri River to the Kansas-Missouri border. Here it stopped briefly. In those two decades, a boom occurred that was fuelled by a variety of factors. Towns were established along every bend of the Missouri River that catered to the whims of everyone that stopped at their banks. This was the Golden Age of steamboat navigation. Everyone speculated in town lots and real estate. Some became wealthy but everyone tried. Then, almost as quickly as the boom hit, the Panic of 1857 took everything away. Towns, people, dreams, even the steamboat itself, came and went, leaving an empty void. The railroad took over, and any town built on a narrow line of track suddenly took over the boom. This book documents a fascinating age, a time that came and left in two decades, never to return. Using primary accounts and sources, historican Dan Fitzgerald documents this boom and bust era---the dreams, the fortunes, the profit, and the eventual loss. Come aboard for the ride.
Daniel C Fitzgerald is a regional author and historian best known for his Ghost Towns of Kansas series, published from 1976 to 2009. He is also the author of a popular history of Kansas tornadoes, called Sound and Fury, released in 2009. Fitzgerald's works are tremendously popular. The Ghost Towns of Kansas series, which is a six volume set, is the longest running Kansas history series ever produced. Videos and related news stories on this series were nominated for six regional news emmy awards, winning four. The series was also the subject of an album by the rock band Kansas, called In the Spirit of Things. Fitzgerald, a Topeka native, is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He currently resides with his family in Palm Harbor, Florida. Mad Money represents Fitzgerald's eighth book.