Russ Gifford
Traveling America in the 19th Century


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My Presentations:

Those Who Came Before Us: Regional Prehistory

Native Americans and American History

The Founding Fathers

The American Revolution & Creation of the Republic

A History of the House of Representatives

Presidential Leadership

Contentious Elections in American History

One Term Wonders

Pivotal Moments In American History

The American Civil War and Reconstruction

The Crucible - America After the War of Rebellion

Westward Expansion

Traveling the West in the 19th Century

Supremely Confident: Legal Cases that Changed History

The Fight for the Right to Vote - the Women's Movement

Women Making a Difference

The Rise and Fall of Mass Media

The Great War

The 1920s

Regional Greats

WWII - 75 Years Later

Justice Delayed: The Civil Rights Movement

The Cold War

The History of the CIA

The War in Vietnam

My Generation: The History of the 1960s

Boomer Classics: Books that Shaped the Sixties

Into the Darkness: 1968

Power to the People - from the 1950s to Today

The History of Rock n Roll: The First 30 Years

Regional History

Those Who Came Before: The Mill Creek Culture

Iowa in the American Civil War

Sioux City: Our History and Our Hopes

Sioux City: Ground Zero in the Great Depression

Sioux City: Crime Corruption, & Redemption

World History

The Crusades

The Reformation at 500

Written Works and Articles

Spectacular Voyage: Lewis and Clark in Our Region

Murder On Water Street: The Death Rev. Haddock

A Glimpse of the Past: Steamboat Perils

Empty Parking Lots and Dark Wal-Marts

Susan B. Anthony and  Sioux City in the 1870s

A Chance Encounter with a Legend


Music of 1966:Summer in the City

Music of 1966:Music of Blond on Blond

About Russ Gifford

Contact Russ



These programs are live captures of talks with audio and video.
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Traveling 19th Century America  

In this series, ride along via horse, coach, riverboat, and train, and see the landscape through a traveler's eyes. In the process, we will gather a better understanding of their times and their intentions. Taking words from the traveler’s journals, we will paint a picture of places we know but learn far more about the differences and the changes that occurred.

The Antelope Steamboat at the wooding station at the foot of Douglas Street, Sioux City, 1873. Photo Courtesy of the Sioux City Public Museum.

Horses, Wagons, Stages and Saddle Sores: Sioux City (link Session 1)
Hear the stories of what Wagon rides were really like, along with a trip by horse along the Missouri. Bring your bug spray!
Iowa roads were well known even then: “no one can imagine what a bad road is until he has traveled in the Western States of America.”

Short Seasons: River Passage via Steamboat (link Session 2)
Steamboats sound romantic. The reality might be a bit less is they were working boats that hauled a lot of freight
and a lot of people on a very difficult river.  And yet, they did have a lot of style about them.

And yes, you might hear a train story or two in these talks!  

The first train into Sioux City, March 9, 1868.  Photo Courtesy of the Sioux City Public Museum.

Traveling in the 19th Century - Additional Stories! (link Session 3)
Sign on the side of a wagon read: In God we Trusted, in Kansas we Busted.
Hear the stories of these hardy souls that gave up on the Plains - yet had to walk to Oregon to do so!

Hell-bent for Leather:
Riding with the Pony Express! (link Session 4)
The true stories of the Pony Express riders. How the service came to exist, where they road, and the hair raising stories they told!

The End of the Steamboat Era! (link Session 5)
The Steamboats made Sioux City - yet within a decade, the leadership role of Sioux City moved upriver as the railroad reached Yankton, and then Bismarck. Watch how Sioux City responded! This program will track the steamboats to almost the end of their run, but the focus will be on the Sioux City area!



Looking for a speaker that holds audiences spellbound? Attend one of Russ Gifford's many classes!

       “His ratings were the highest for our entire season of 12 workshops, and far eclipsed those for the previous season. He created a fantastic class, and people left feeling empowered.” -- Dr. Lynn Barteck, Tri State Graduate Center

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