Girls can do everything

It was 1872, and Blanche was 12 years old when she announced: “I am going to be a steamboat captain someday.”

Mr. Blackstone, captain of the J.P. Whittaker, raised his big eyebrows.

And then he laughed. “Girls don’t grow up to be steamboatmen,” he said.

Judith Heide Gilliland tells the true story of Blanche Leathers in her book Steamboat! The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers.

Blanche was determined, and she did become a steamboat captain. “Her kindness, as well as her skill, became legend on the river, and she was called ‘Angel of the Mississippi,’” Gilliland writes.

But the steamboat’s days were numbered and the locomotive soon would become all-powerful.

“Today belongs to land. Tomorrow—air. That is life, nothing humdrum about it. I love it!” Blanche once told a reporter.

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