Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Wiggins Ferry - A Connecting Point Over the Mississippi River


When I was plotting out the details of Ainsley - Book 8 in the Love Train Series, I knew Ainsley MacKenzie was from Boston. Therefore, she'd need to travel as far as the Mississippi River on regional train lines until she arrived in East St. Louis, Illinois. However, in 1872 there were no railroad bridges spanning the river in that area. 

So, how would she get across to the Union Pacific Train 1216 to get to New Hope, Kansas?

Through my research, I discovered the Wiggins Ferry Company. In 1797, Captain James Piggott was granted the right to operate a ferry between St. Louis and the opposite shore of the Mississippi River. Passengers loaded into small hollowed-out tree trunks at Piggott's ferry house just below Market Street and were shuffled across the river by poles or paddles with long sweeps. After a few changes in ownership, Piggott's ferry ended up in the hands of Samuel Wiggins, whose name would be tied to it for than a century to come.

Like the one in this painting, Wiggins ferries had one platform on each side of the pilothouse. Typically, new passengers and cargo loaded onto one side, and outgoing passengers and cargo disembarked on the other.   Missouri Historical Society Collection

Crossing the river in the earliest years of the Wiggins Ferry was a gargantuan task. John Darby, who became the mayor of St. Louis in 1835, moved his family and their belongings across to St. Louis in 1818 over a three-day period and for the fee of $50--no small sum of money at the time.


"The ferry consisted of a small keel-boat, which was managed entirely by Frenchmen. Every portion of the body--every muscle, in fact--was brought into play...the vessel rocked so that the trace-chains at the end of the tongue often dipped into the that the enterprise seemed a dangerous and hazardous undertaking."

Mr. Wiggins soon acquired some 900 acres of land along the Illinois banks of the river directly across from present day St. Louis, Missouri. Not only did the ferry company operate a service for individuals wanting to cross the river, but it also developed boat yards, depots, warehouses, railroad tracks, and elevators. Soon, the Wiggins Ferry Company became a major connecting point for the many railroads terminating at East St. Louis, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri.

Through the haze of early 1900s St. Louis, the Eads Bridge looms over the icy Mississippi River. Murphy Library Special Connections, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

Winter river crossings in 1839 became easier thanks to the Iceland and its pointed, ice-smashing iron hull. Despite some setbacks--including an 1851 ferry explosion and the loss of four boats to an ice field in 1864--the Wiggins Ferry company kept expanding as did St. Louis.

From those small beginnings and makeshift rafts, the Wiggins Ferry Company built an empire transporting people to and from St. Louis. By the 1820s, Wiggins had a fleet of ferryboats with names fit for battleships, such as the Sea Serpent, Rhinoceros, and Antelope. He even experimented with ferries by horses on treadmills. In 1830, the company upgraded to steam power, with the St. Clair and the Ibez ferries making two regular daily river crossings. By the early 1870s, the company was averaging river crossings of 1,500 people, 10,000 bushels of coal, and 750 wagons each day.

The company's stock reached $1 million just as the Eads Bridge, St. Louis's first bridge across the Mississippi was rising in the middle of the river. As the bridge would not be completed until 1874, I had my answer!

The Love Train series is now complete! Penned by ten best-selling and award-winning authors, each book is a stand-alone romance that you don't want to miss!


If you'd like to read an excerpt of Ainsley, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Books for 2022

Have you found our Old Timey Holiday Kitchen series books for 2022 yet? This series is sponsored by the Sweet Americana Book Club on Facebook. Several of our blog authors are writing for 2022. Here are the individual titles with their covers, plus links for most:


Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Books


Aebleskiver by Annika : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 11

By Linda Carroll-Bradd

She is being flattered by two handsome men, but guilt plagues her.

Releases – Aug 16 



Bee Sting Cake by Brunhilde : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 12

By Zina Abbott

She just arrived from Germany. What does a holiday about English pilgrims have to do with her?

Releases Aug 30



Sauerkraut Cake by Sophie : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 13

By Janice Cole Hopkins

Can her recipe for a sauerkraut cake show her what she should do?

Releases Sep 13



Divinity by Delilah : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 14

By Farrah Lee

Delilah has divinity on her mind along with the man she is in love with.

Releases Sep 27



Lasagna by Lucia : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 15

By Elissa Strati

Will the man the family priest arranged for her to marry appreciate her cooking?

Releases Oct 11



Forget-Me-Not Cookies by Fern : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 16

By Janice Cole Hopkins

Which man will end up not forgetting her?

Releases Oct 25 



Molasses Cookies by Minnie : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 17

By Marisa Masterson

She has siblings to provide for and he has a broken heart that needs healing.

Releases Nov 8


Victoria Sponge by Vicki : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 18

By P. Creeden

Releases Nov 22 

(Link available in November)



Cider Cake by Cecily : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 19

By Kandice E. Geddes

Will two broken hearts find renewal and healing, or will secrets only further destroy them both?

Releases Dec 6 

Frosty Cake by Flannery : Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 20

By Annee Jones 

Does she stand a chance of winning this year's holiday baking contest and the heart of the man she loves?  

Releases Dec 20



You will also find all of our Old Timey Holiday Kitchen books on the series page by clicking on the tab at the top of this blog. The tabs are located under the blog banner.

To find the Amazon series page, please CLICK HERE