June 2, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about a steamboat by the name of “The Western Call”. We had been aware that boats were used on the Kansas River east of Junction City, but were unaware that at least one vessel had traveled the waters of the Smoky Hill west of here. Early in June of 1904, it was announced that a steamboat had been sunk in the Smoky Hill River around Enterprise, Kansas. It seems this boat, which was named “The Western Call” made trips between Salina and Junction City and had become fairly well known. The vessel did not make regular trips between the two cities, because it could not pass a dam site unless the river was up.
On June 15, 1904, “The Western Call” went down with all on board. However, there were three occupants rescued by the life-saving crew at the Enterprise Mill Dam. The boat had floundered while trying to fight the high tide near the dam, but despite the efforts of the heroic pilot to steer clear of the breakers, the noble craft lurched to leeward and was buried in the billowy deep. The gallant crew did not abandon the ship until it was fast sinking beneath them. It was then too late to lower the life boats and the crew cast themselves bravely upon the mercy of the tempest-tossed ropes hurled to them from shore. The loss of the boat, which had recently been bought by Will Insley of Junction City, was estimated at about $200.