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Captain Meriwether Lewis

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Completed  1932
Launched  12 December 1931
Added to NRHP  28 October 1977
Crew  52
Length  82 m
Captain Meriwether Lewis
Owner  US Army Corps of Engineers 1931–1976 Nebraska State Historical Society 1976–
Builder  Marietta Manufacturing Co.
Installed power  2 × oil-fired Foster-Wheeler boilers 2 × steam engines (paddlewheels) 1 × 1,300 hp (970 kW) triple-expansion steam pumping engine
Propulsion  Side paddlewheel (maneuvering) 2 × deck gypsies (dredging)
Similar  Lewis and Clark Park, Clarkson Historical Museum, Prospect Hill Cemetery, Grenville M Dodge House, Weaver Hotel

The dredge Captain Meriwether Lewis is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The dredge is one of the few surviving examples of its type built to control flooding and improve navigation along the nation's rivers.



Built by the Marietta Manufacturing Company in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, Captain Meriwether Lewis was launched on December 12, 1931 while only half-complete by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps completed construction the following year.

This side-wheel steam paddle dredge was operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help channel the Missouri River and to maintain it as a navigable waterway.

This massive vessel, at a length of 268' 11-1/2", housed a standard operating crew of 52, with quarters available for 58 men. Captain Meriwether Lewis could dig to a depth of 20 feet at an average speed of 150–200 feet per hour, all powered by the 25-foot steam-propelled paddle wheels. With all three steam engines running, the dredge burned up to 6,000 gallons of oil in a day.

The Babcock & Wilcox marine boilers could produce up to 40,000 pounds of steam or more per hour when dredging. The triple expansion engine that drives the pump turbine is rated at 1,300 hp. The dredge was pulled forward by the two deck gypsies and not propelled by the paddlewheels when dredging.

In 1976, Captain Meriwether Lewis was given to the Nebraska State Historical Society and moved to Brownville one year later. It was dry-berthed along the Missouri River where it remains today.

Captain Meriwether Lewis was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. Today, Captain Meriwether Lewis houses the Museum of Missouri River History, where exhibits from Native American history to exploration and westward expansion can be seen. Visitors can also learn about the vessel and its role in improving navigation on the Missouri River.

Museum of Missouri River History

The Nebraska State Historical Society took possession of the ship in 1976 and moved it to Brownville, Nebraska the next year. The ship is dry-berthed along the Missouri River. Visitors can tour the ship, which includes the Museum of Missouri River History, opened in 1981. The museum's exhibits are located in several rooms of the boiler deck. Exhibits include Native American history, area exploration, westward expansion, the ship and navigation on the river.


Captain Meriwether Lewis Wikipedia

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