Northern Light (1857)
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By The Numbers
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Service History

The Northern Light was built in Madison, Indiana in 1857. She was a 414 ton sidewheel steamer, 240 long x 40 beam x 5 deep. Engines, 22's-7 ft. Eight boilers, each 46" by 17 ft. Paddlewheels 31 ft. diameter. working 9 ft. buckets, 30" dip. The Northern Light came out in the spring of 1857, and the initial captain was Captain Preston Lodwick. There were oil paintings of St. Anthony's Falls, Dayton Bluffs and Maiden Rock in the cabin, and the paddleboxes were graced with paintings of aurora borealis. She was owned by the Minnesota Packet Company and had the same master through 1860, running the St.Louis-Galena-St. Paul route.

At the time of loss the boat was valued at $50,000.

"... lies covered by many strata of earth the hulk of the old Northern Light, but the changes of the river bed have placed it inland completely out of reach of boats even in high water, and no effort will probably ever be made to bring to light the machinery that once propelled that popular river packet." La Crosse Chronicle 5/21/1890.
Final Voyage

"04/11/1866: The sidewheel packet Northern Light, bound down river from LaCrosse, WI was surrounded by ice while in Coon Slough, about three miles below Brownsville,MN. At 7AM, a large "three cornered cake" of ice crushed her hull aft of the wheelhouse and the steamer sank within five minutes in 30 feet of water. Despite the speed with which the Northern Light sank, the whole crew managed to reach the barge that the steamer was towing, and all safely reached shore. In 1890, it was reported inland from the river, buried beneath strata, due to changes in the river course." From: Wisconsin Submerged Cultural Resource Survey.

"Removed by the U.S.dredge Montana (CE Annual Report 1892). Removed as a hazard to navigation, not necessarily removed from the river."
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