King of Mississippi Paddlewheel Steamboat reminds us of Mark Twains famous literary characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Mississippi riverboats were jacks-of-all-trades. They served as the lifeline for cotton and inland trade, towed barges and ferried railroad trains across the river. As passenger boats, they helped to shrink the vastness of America, and as showboats, they made that vastness a little less lonely. King of Mississippi was the very first one of this type in the United States.