“The Port of Saint Paul Welcomes the Grand Excursion”
“Oil on Canvas” – 2004
For five days each year in Saint Paul, Minnesota the great Taste of Minnesota festival is held on the Mississippi River waterfront over the Fourth of July weekend. Thousands of people come to enjoy the music, food and goodwill. The Taste of Minnesota was special in 2004 in that it hosted “The Grand Excursion”, the reenactment of an event from the summer of 1854 when President Millard Fillmore traveled from Washington D.C. by train to Rock Island, Illinois. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River across from the young state of Iowa, Rock Island was then the westernmost extension of the nation’s rapidly growing rail lines. To celebrate, President Fillmore embarked on a steamboat journey northward to Minnesota Territory. His steamboat was accompanied by a flotilla of other riverboats. Days later they arrived in the young frontier city of Saint Paul. A celebration was held, speeches were made, and four years later Minnesota became this nation’s 32nd state.
Riverboats pictured from left to right: The Jonathon Paddleford, The Julia Belle, The Empress, The Harriet Bishop, The Spirit of Peoria and The Minnesota Showboat.