In the early to mid 1800s, Warsaw was a thriving river town. Sited on the Osage River, now the Lake of the Ozarks, Warsaw became a major year-round river port. Numerous steamboats lined the riverbank along the downtown, loading and unloading goods and passengers. It came to be known as Steamboat Landing.
The following article was written by the late Mayor and newspaper editor, MK (Jab) White.
“Steamboats: On a rocky ledge bordering the Osage in Lay Park, steamboat mooring rings can still be found. In the years before the Civil War, as many as a dozen would be docked there at the same time. Unless the Osage River was at flood stage, Warsaw was usually the farthest point upstream the boats could come after leaving the Missouri River. Most of the steamers had St. Louis as a home port. And what wonderful names these boats had! The Wave, St. Louis Oak, Lake of the Woods, The Mary Blane, Faraway, Gossamer, Pearl No. 2 and the Fire Canoe.
Coming to Warsaw, they brought cargoes of groceries, salt, nails and iron. Going back, they took pork from hogs fattened on acorns, pelts and furs, barley, deer skins, dried fruit, ginseng, cigars, hemp, hoop poles, iron ore, lard, bee cords, wax and whiskey. In March of 1850, The Wave arrived at St. Louis with a cargo including 301 venison hams from Warsaw. In 1854, Warsaw shipped out 144 bales of deer skin. March to June, and October to December were the best months for navigation, due to the seasonal rains. Usual speed, going upstream, was about five miles an hour. Speed doubled going back with the current to St. Louis. One of the largest boats to dock here was the General Meade. She was 192 feet long and 29 feet wide. She carried a crew of forty, with deck hands to unload agricultural equipment. The coming of the narrow gauge railroad in the 1870s was a death blow to the steamboat trade.”