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  1. Note: I altered the title and topic of this post later on, to be more inclusive of rivercraft from all parts of the world. I'd started it as a topic on river craft of western American rivers in the nineteenth century, because that's what I know most about and what most of the models here seem to be of. But the burst of interest in other regions and periods led me to think it'd be best to open this up to a broader set of interests. Below is my original starting post. Many unique and interesting watercraft developed along the interior and western rivers of the United States, especially the Mississippi River system and its major components such as the Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, and Red rivers. The most recent issue of the Nautical Research Journal (spring 2016) has several good articles about early, unpowered craft on these rivers, like the keelboats, flatboats, and barges that were poled/rowed/sailed up the rivers and floated down again. Once steam power developed in the 1830s, a unique class of steamboats developed along these river systems. There seem to be a number of folks with an interest in western river craft on MSW, judging from the interest in recent projects like my own sternwheeler Bertrand (1865), ggrieco's sidewheeler Heroine (1838), gerhardvienna's USS Cairo (1862), chborgm's Mississippi riverboat (1870), and so on. It's easy for general questions and discussions to take over such build logs, so I thought perhaps we should have a discussion/question forum for this topic in general. Perhaps it'll take root, perhaps not. I'll kick off with two topics. One, I was delighted to see the articles on keelboats and such in the latest NRJ, as a few years ago I build models of a Missouri River keelboat and Lewis & Clark's barge when I was first getting into maritime modelling. As a Missouri resident and river buff, I never expected to see my inland maritime empire so prominently featured. Here are the models I built based on the research I was able to do from home: I thought some folks who read the NRJ articles might be interested in seeing models of the subject matter. Two, although steamboat wrecks were exceedingly common in western US rivers, very few boats have ever been found, recovered, and studied. Thus, there was some great news recently when the team that excavated the Arabia (and displayed its cargo in a beautiful museum in downtown Kansas City, Missouri) announced its discovery of the steamboat Malta in central Missouri. The town of Malta was named for the boat, as the wreck was well-known when it happened in 1841, but the location was long-lost as the river's course shifted dramatically over time and left the wreck buried somewhere beneath miles of farm fields, as was the fate for many such wrecks. Here's a news story about the discovery; this should be especially exciting because we have almost no information about early steamboats from the 1830s and 40s; the Heroine is a rare exception. If this team does end up excavating Malta, we'll have a lot more information about this period. I drive through the town of Malta whenever I go to Kansas City, and it's really neat that its namesake craft has been found.

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If you enjoy building ship models that are historically accurate as well as beautiful, then The Nautical Research Guild (NRG) is just right for you.

The Guild is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to “Advance Ship Modeling Through Research”. We provide support to our members in their efforts to raise the quality of their model ships.

The Nautical Research Guild has published our world-renowned quarterly magazine, The Nautical Research Journal, since 1955. The pages of the Journal are full of articles by accomplished ship modelers who show you how they create those exquisite details on their models, and by maritime historians who show you the correct details to build. The Journal is available in both print and digital editions. Go to the NRG web site (www.thenrg.org) to download a complimentary digital copy of the Journal. The NRG also publishes plan sets, books and compilations of back issues of the Journal and the former Ships in Scale and Model Ship Builder magazines.

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