The Rum and the Mississippi were river highways for the Dakota, the Ojibwa, European explorers, traders and settlers.
Between 1850 and 1870 the Rum and the Mississippi became "working rivers" for lumbermen. In the fall loggers traveled upstream to the "pineries" and cut logs throughout the winter. In the spring, river drivers living in steamboats and wanningans, rafted logs downstream to the sawmills at Anoka and St. Anthony Falls.
In June of 1850 the Governor Ramsey became the first steamboat to operate above the Falls. Other steamboats that traveled this route included the Anson Northrup, H.M Rice, Samson, J.B. Bassett and North Star. They carried cargoes of food, cloth, hardware, and immigrants who disembarked from steamboats here to settle in the Anoka area.
In those days water levels were lower and fluctuated with the seasons because there was no Coon Rapids Dam. There was fierce competition for business and the best steamboats were those that could travel during low water. One enterprising boatman bragged that his boat could navigate on "Just a heavy dew."