Teams of volunteers built our replica flatboat under the direction of Joseph Engleman in 2003 for The Spirit of Boone County Flatboat project. Our flatboat was moored on Big Bone Creek where visitors boarded and got a feel for Flatboat living. After the Celebration in Boone County, Joe and Joyce Engleman donated the project to Jane’s Saddlebag to protect and enhance our heritage tourism destination.
The Spirit of Boone County Flatboat project of 2003 was in celebration of the Bicentennial of Captain Meriwether Lewis coming to Big Bone Lick. In 1803, Captain Meriwether Lewis walked from the Ohio River up Big Bone Creek to the present site of Big Bone Lick State Park. Captain William Clark returned in 1807. They were both here to study the remains of the Ice Age Mega beasts.
In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, thousands of flatboats were floated on one-way trips down the Ohio River taking pioneer families west. Even after steamboats came on the scene on inland rivers in 1811, river men continued using flatboats because of their low cost. These flatboats evolved into coal boats. Coal boats evolved into the enormous steel barges of today.
Today Americans enjoy a high quality of life due in part to efficient use of the interconnecting rivers of mid-America and a spirit that will not die, a pioneering, learned, and inherently good spirit. It is simple projects like these that make us reflect on our history and encourage us all to evolve into better citizens.
For more information about flatboats, see: Flatboat History