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A steamboat is a boat that is propelled primarily by
steam power from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England A steam engine is a heat engine In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy ...
, typically driving propellers or
paddlewheel A paddle wheel is a form of waterwheel A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of flowing or falling water into useful forms of power, often in a watermill. A water wheel consists of a wheel (usually constructed from wood or ...

paddlewheel
s. Steamboats sometimes use the prefix designation SS, S.S. or S/S (for 'Screw Steamer') or PS (for 'Paddle Steamer'); however, these designations are most often used for
steamship A steamship, often referred to as a steamer, is a type of steam-powered vessel Steam-powered vessels include steamboats and steamships. Smaller steamboats were developed first. They were replaced by larger steamships which were often ocean-going. ...

steamship
s. The term ''steamboat'' is used to refer to smaller, insular, steam-powered boats working on lakes and rivers, particularly
riverboat A riverboat is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional propertie ...
s. As using steam became more reliable, steam power became applied to larger, ocean-going vessels.


Background


Limitations of the Newcomen steam engine

Early steamboat designs used Newcomen steam engines. These engines were large, heavy, and produced little power, which resulted in an unfavorable power-to-weight ratio. The Newcomen engine also produced a reciprocating or rocking motion because it was designed for pumping. The piston stroke was caused by a water jet in the steam-filled cylinder, which condensed the steam, creating a vacuum, which in turn caused atmospheric pressure to drive the piston downward. The piston relied on the weight of the rod connecting to the underground pump to return the piston to the top of the cylinder. The heavy weight of the Newcomen engine required a structurally strong boat, and the reciprocating motion of the engine beam required a complicated mechanism to produce propulsion.


Rotary motion engines

James Watt James Watt (; 30 January 1736 (19 January 1736 OS) – 25 August 1819) was a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European lang ...

James Watt
's design improvements increased the efficiency of the steam engine, improving the power-to-weight ratio, and created an engine capable of rotary motion by using a double-acting cylinder which injected steam at each end of the piston stroke to move the piston back and forth. The rotary steam engine simplified the mechanism required to turn a paddle wheel to propel a boat. Despite the improved efficiency and rotary motion, the power-to-weight ratio of
Boulton and Watt Boulton & Watt was an early United Kingdom, British engineering and manufacturing firm in the business of designing and making marine steam engine, marine and stationary steam engines. Founded in the English West Midlands (region), West Midlands ar ...
steam engine was still low.


High-pressure steam engines

The high-pressure steam engine was the development that made the steamboat practical. It had a high power-to-weight ratio and was fuel efficient. High pressure engines were made possible by improvements in the design of boilers and engine components so that they could withstand internal pressure, although boiler explosions were common due to lack of instrumentation like pressure gauges. Attempts at making high-pressure engines had to wait until the expiration of the
Boulton and Watt Boulton & Watt was an early United Kingdom, British engineering and manufacturing firm in the business of designing and making marine steam engine, marine and stationary steam engines. Founded in the English West Midlands (region), West Midlands ar ...
patent in 1800. Shortly thereafter high-pressure engines by
Richard Trevithick Richard Trevithick (13 April 1771 – 22 April 1833) was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one ...

Richard Trevithick
and
Oliver Evans Oliver Evans (September 13, 1755 – April 15, 1819) was an American inventor, engineer and businessman born in rural Delaware and later rooted commercially in Philadelphia. He was one of the first Americans building steam engines and an advocate ...
were introduced.


Compound or multiple expansion steam engines

The
compound steam engine Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
became widespread in the late 19th century. Compounding uses exhaust steam from a high pressure cylinder to a lower pressure cylinder and greatly improves efficiency. With compound engines it was possible for trans ocean steamers to carry less coal than freight. Compound steam engine powered ships enabled a great increase in international trade.


Steam turbines

The most efficient steam engine used for
marine propulsion Marine propulsion is the mechanism or system used to generate to move a or across water. While s and s are still used on some smaller boats, most modern ships are propelled by mechanical systems consisting of an electric motor or engine turni ...
is the
steam turbine A steam turbine is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It may represent human-made or naturally occurring device molecular machine that uses Power (physics), power to apply Force, f ...
. It was developed near the end of the 19th century and was used throughout the 20th century.


History


Early designs

An apocryphal story from 1851 attributes the earliest steamboat to
Denis Papin Denis Papin FRS (; 22 August 1647 – 26 August 1713) was a French physicist, mathematician and inventor, best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the pressure cooker and of the steam engine fr ...

Denis Papin
for a boat he built in 1705. Papin was an early innovator in steam power and the inventor of the
steam digester The steam digester (or bone digester, and also known as Papin’s digester) is a high-pressure cooker invented by French physicist Denis Papin in 1679. It is a device for extracting fats from bones in a high-pressure steam environment, which also ...
, the first
pressure cooker Pressure cooking is the process of cooking food under high pressure steam, employing water or a water-based cooking liquid, in a sealed vessel known as a ''pressure cooker''. High pressure limits boiling, and permits cooking temperatures well abo ...

pressure cooker
, which played an important role in
James Watt James Watt (; 30 January 1736 (19 January 1736 OS) – 25 August 1819) was a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European lang ...

James Watt
's steam experiments. However, Papin's boat was not steam-powered but powered by hand-cranked paddles. A steamboat was described and patented by English physician John Allen in 1729. In 1736,
Jonathan Hulls Jonathan Hulls or Hull (baptised 1699 – 1758) was an English inventor, a pioneer of steam navigation. Traditionally, he was recognised as the first person to make practical experiments with steam to propel a vessel; but evidence to substantiate ...
was granted a patent in England for a Newcomen engine-powered steamboat (using a pulley instead of a beam, and a pawl and ratchet to obtain rotary motion), but it was the improvement in steam engines by
James Watt James Watt (; 30 January 1736 (19 January 1736 OS) – 25 August 1819) was a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European lang ...

James Watt
that made the concept feasible. William Henry of Lancaster,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, having learned of Watt's engine on a visit to England, made his own engine. In 1763 he put it in a boat. The boat sank, and while Henry made an improved model, he did not appear to have much success, though he may have inspired others. Jordan, 1910, pp. 49–50 The first steam-powered ship ''
Pyroscaphe Model made by de Jouffroy in 1784 to show the French Science Academy the engine and paddle wheels used on the ''Pyroscaphe''. The model is now in the National Maritime Museum in Paris. ''Pyroscaphe'' was an early experimental steamship A steamsh ...
'' was a paddle steamer powered by a
Newcomen steam engine The atmospheric engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen Thomas Newcomen (; February 1664 – 5 August 1729) was an English inventor who created the atmospheric engine The atmospheric engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen ...

Newcomen steam engine
; it was built in France in 1783 by Marquis
Claude de JouffroyClaude may refer to: *Claude (given name) Claude is a relatively common French given name for males originating from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langua ...
and his colleagues as an improvement of an earlier attempt, the 1776 ''Palmipède''. At its first demonstration on 15 July 1783, ''Pyroscaphe'' travelled upstream on the river
Saône 250px, Scenic view of the banks of the Saône in Lyon, showing Lyon Cathedral, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière">Lyon_Cathedral.html" ;"title="Lyon, showing Lyon Cathedral">Lyon, showing Lyon Cathedral, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fou ...

Saône
for some fifteen minutes before the engine failed. Presumably this was easily repaired as the boat is said to have made several such journeys. Following this, De Jouffroy attempted to get the government interested in his work, but for political reasons was instructed that he would have to build another version on the Seine in Paris. De Jouffroy did not have the funds for this, and, following the events of the French revolution, work on the project was discontinued after he left the country. Similar boats were made in 1785 by in
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

Philadelphia
and
William Symington William Symington (1764–1831) was a Scottish engineer and inventor, and the builder of the first practical steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas. Early life Symington was born in Leadhills, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, to a family he described as ...

William Symington
in
Dumfries Dumfries ( ; sco, Dumfries; from gd, Dùn Phris) is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland. It is located near the mouth of the River Nith into the Solway Firth about by road from the ...

Dumfries
, Scotland. Fitch successfully trialled his boat in 1787, and in 1788, he began operating a regular commercial service along the
Delaware River The Delaware River is a major on the coast of the . It drains an area of in four s: , , and . Rising in two branches in New York state's , the river flows into where its waters enter the Atlantic Ocean near in New Jersey and in Delawar ...

Delaware River
between Philadelphia and Burlington, New Jersey, carrying as many as 30 passengers. This boat could typically make and travelled more than during its short length of service. The Fitch steamboat was not a commercial success, as this travel route was adequately covered by relatively good wagon roads. The following year, a second boat made excursions, and in 1790, a third boat ran a series of trials on the
Delaware River The Delaware River is a major on the coast of the . It drains an area of in four s: , , and . Rising in two branches in New York state's , the river flows into where its waters enter the Atlantic Ocean near in New Jersey and in Delawar ...

Delaware River
before patent disputes dissuaded Fitch from continuing. Meanwhile, Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, near
Dumfries Dumfries ( ; sco, Dumfries; from gd, Dùn Phris) is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland. It is located near the mouth of the River Nith into the Solway Firth about by road from the ...

Dumfries
,
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
, had developed double-hulled boats propelled by manually cranked paddle wheels placed between the hulls, even attempting to interest various European governments in a giant warship version, long. Miller sent King
Gustav III Gustav III (29 March 1792), also called ''Gustavus III'', was from 1771 until his assassination in 1792. He was the eldest son of and Queen . Gustav was a vocal opponent of what he saw as the abuse of political privileges seized by the since ...

Gustav III
of Sweden an actual small-scale version, long, called ''Experiment''. Miller then engaged engineer
William Symington William Symington (1764–1831) was a Scottish engineer and inventor, and the builder of the first practical steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas. Early life Symington was born in Leadhills, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, to a family he described as ...

William Symington
to build his patent steam engine that drove a stern-mounted paddle wheel in a boat in 1785. The boat was successfully tried out on Dalswinton Loch in 1788 and was followed by a larger steamboat the next year. Miller then abandoned the project.


19th century

The failed project of Patrick Miller caught the attention of Lord Dundas, Governor of the
Forth and Clyde Canal The Forth and Clyde Canal is a canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path o ...

Forth and Clyde Canal
Company, and at a meeting with the canal company's directors on 5 June 1800, they approved his proposals for the use of ''"a model of a boat by Captain Schank to be worked by a steam engine by Mr Symington"'' on the canal. The boat was built by Alexander Hart at
Grangemouth Grangemouth ( sco, Grangemooth; gd, Inbhir Ghrainnse, ) is a town in the Falkirk council area Falkirk (; sco, Fawkirk; gd, An Eaglais Bhreac) is one of 32 unitary authority council areas of Scotland. It was formed on 1 April 1996 by way of ...

Grangemouth
to Symington's design with a vertical cylinder engine and crosshead transmitting power to a crank driving the paddlewheels. Trials on the River Carron in June 1801 were successful and included towing
sloop A sloop is a sailboat sloop ged sloop Image:Sail plan sloop.svg, Gaff-rigged sloop with a Topsail#Gaff rig, gaff topsail A sloop is a sailboat with a single mast (sailing), mast typically having only one headsail in front of the mast and ...

sloop
s from the
river Forth The River Forth is a major river in central Scotland, long, which drains into the North Sea on the east coast of the country. Its drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common ...
up the Carron and thence along the
Forth and Clyde Canal The Forth and Clyde Canal is a canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path o ...

Forth and Clyde Canal
. In 1801, Symington patented a horizontal steam engine directly linked to a crank. He got support from Lord Dundas to build a second steamboat, which became famous as the ''
Charlotte Dundas ''Charlotte Dundas'' is regarded as the world's second successful steamboat, the first towing steamboat and the boat that demonstrated the practicality of steam power for ships.Fry, p. 27. Early experiments Development of experimental steam engi ...
'', named in honour of Lord Dundas's daughter. Symington designed a new hull around his powerful horizontal engine, with the crank driving a large paddle wheel in a central upstand in the hull, aimed at avoiding damage to the canal banks. The new boat was 56 ft (17.1 m) long, 18 ft (5.5 m) wide and 8 ft (2.4 m) depth, with a wooden hull. The boat was built by John Allan and the engine by the
Carron Company The Carron Company was an ironworks An ironworks or iron works is an industrial plant where iron Iron () is a chemical element with Symbol (chemistry), symbol Fe (from la, Wikt:ferrum, ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal that bel ...
. The first sailing was on the canal in
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia'' ...

Glasgow
on 4 January 1803, with Lord Dundas and a few of his relatives and friends on board. The crowd were pleased with what they saw, but Symington wanted to make improvements and another more ambitious trial was made on 28 March. On this occasion, the ''Charlotte Dundas'' towed two 70 ton barges 30 km (almost 20 miles) along the
Forth and Clyde Canal The Forth and Clyde Canal is a canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path o ...

Forth and Clyde Canal
to
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia'' ...

Glasgow
, and despite "a strong breeze right ahead" that stopped all other canal boats it took only nine and a quarter hours, giving an average speed of about 3 km/h (2 mph). The ''Charlotte Dundas'' was the first practical steamboat, in that it demonstrated the practicality of steam power for ships, and was the first to be followed by continuous development of steamboats. The American,
Robert Fulton Robert Fulton (November 14, 1765 – February 24, 1815) was an American engineer Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are Professional, professionals who Invention, invent, design, analyze, build and test Machine, machines, complex sys ...

Robert Fulton
, was present at the trials of the ''Charlotte Dundas'' and was intrigued by the potential of the steamboat. While working in France, he corresponded with and was helped by the Scottish engineer Henry Bell, who may have given him the first model of his working steamboat. He designed his own steamboat, which sailed along the
River Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French Communes of France, commune and city in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy region of nor ...
in 1803. He later obtained a
Boulton and Watt Boulton & Watt was an early United Kingdom, British engineering and manufacturing firm in the business of designing and making marine steam engine, marine and stationary steam engines. Founded in the English West Midlands (region), West Midlands ar ...
steam engine, shipped to America, where his first proper steamship was built in 1807, ''
North River Steamboat The ''North River Steamboat'' or ''North River'', colloquially known as the ''Clermont'', is widely regarded as the world's first vessel to demonstrate the viability of using steam propulsion for commercial water transportation. Built in 1807, the ...
'' (later known as ''Clermont''), which carried passengers between New York City and
Albany, New York Albany ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...
. ''Clermont'' was able to make the trip in 32 hours. The steamboat was powered by a
Boulton and Watt Boulton & Watt was an early United Kingdom, British engineering and manufacturing firm in the business of designing and making marine steam engine, marine and stationary steam engines. Founded in the English West Midlands (region), West Midlands ar ...
engine and was capable of long-distance travel. It was the first commercially successful steamboat, transporting passengers along the
Hudson River The Hudson River is a river that flows from north to south primarily through eastern New York (state), New York in the United States. It originates in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York and flows southward through the Hudson Valley ...

Hudson River
. In 1807 Robert L. Stevens began operation of the '' Phoenix'', which used a high-pressure engine in combination with a low-pressure condensing engine. The first steamboats powered only by high pressure were the ''Aetna'' and ''Pennsylvania'', designed and built by
Oliver Evans Oliver Evans (September 13, 1755 – April 15, 1819) was an American inventor, engineer and businessman born in rural Delaware and later rooted commercially in Philadelphia. He was one of the first Americans building steam engines and an advocate ...
. In October 1811 a ship designed by John Stevens, ''Little Juliana'', would operate as the first steam-powered ferry between
Hoboken Hoboken ( ; Unami language, Unami: ') is a City (New Jersey), city in Hudson County, New Jersey, Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005, having grown by 11,428 (+29.6%) fro ...

Hoboken
and New York City. Stevens' ship was engineered as a twin-screw-driven steamboat in juxtaposition to ''Clermont''s Boulton and Watt engine. The design was a modification of Stevens' prior paddle steamer ''Phoenix'', the first steamship to successfully navigate the open ocean in its route from Hoboken to Philadelphia. Henry Bell's PS ''Comet'' of 1812 inaugurated a passenger service along the
River Clyde River Clyde ( gd, Abhainn Chluaidh, , sco, Clyde Watter, or ) is a river that flows into the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is the ninth-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third-longest in Scotland. It runs through the major city of ...
in Scotland. The ''Margery'', launched in Dumbarton in 1814, in January 1815 became the first steamboat on the River Thames, much to the amazement of Londoners. She operated a London-to-Gravesend river service until 1816, when she was sold to the French and became the first steamboat to cross the English Channel. When she reached Paris, the new owners renamed her ''Elise'' and inaugurated a Seine steamboat service. In 1818, ''Ferdinando I'', the first Italian steamboat, left the port of
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of and the third-largest city of , after and , with a population of 967,069 within the city's administrative limits as of ...

Naples
, where it had been built.


Ocean-going

The first sea-going steamboat was Richard Wright's first steamboat "Experiment", an ex-French lugger; she steamed from Leeds to Yarmouth, arriving Yarmouth 19 July 1813. "Tug", the first tugboat, was launched by the Woods Brothers, Port Glasgow, on 5 November 1817; in the summer of 1818 she was the first steamboat to travel round the North of Scotland to the East Coast.


Use by country


United States


Origins

The era of the steamboat in the United States began in
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

Philadelphia
in 1787 when (1743–1798) made the first successful trial of a 45-foot (14-meter) steamboat on the
Delaware River The Delaware River is a major on the coast of the . It drains an area of in four s: , , and . Rising in two branches in New York state's , the river flows into where its waters enter the Atlantic Ocean near in New Jersey and in Delawar ...

Delaware River
on 22 August 1787, in the presence of members of the United States Constitutional Convention. Fitch later (1790) built a larger vessel that carried passengers and freight between Philadelphia and
Burlington, New Jersey Burlington is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. ...
on the Delaware. His steamboat was not a financial success and was shut down after a few months service, however this marks the first use of marine steam propulsion in scheduled regular passenger transport service.
Oliver Evans Oliver Evans (September 13, 1755 – April 15, 1819) was an American inventor, engineer and businessman born in rural Delaware and later rooted commercially in Philadelphia. He was one of the first Americans building steam engines and an advocate ...
(1755–1819) was a
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

Philadelphia
n inventor born in
Newport, Delaware Newport is a town in New Castle County, Delaware, United States. It is on the Christina River The Christina River is a tributary of the Delaware River, approximately 35 miles (56 km) long, in northern Delaware in the United States, als ...
, to a family of
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
settlers. He designed an improved high-pressure
steam engine from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England A steam engine is a heat engine In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energ ...

steam engine
in 1801 but did not build it (patented 1804). The Philadelphia Board of Health was concerned with the problem of dredging and cleaning the city's dockyards, and in 1805 Evans convinced them to contract with him for a steam-powered dredge, which he called the ''Oruktor Amphibolos''. It was built but was only marginally successful. Evans's high-pressure steam engine had a much higher
power-to-weight ratio Power-to-weight ratio (PWR, also called specific power, or power-to-mass ratio) is a calculation commonly applied to engine File:Jet engine.svg, 450px, Jet engine uses heat of combustion to generate a high-velocity exhaust as a form of reaction ...
, making it practical to apply it in locomotives and steamboats. Evans became so depressed with the poor protection that the US patent law gave inventors that he eventually took all his engineering drawings and invention ideas and destroyed them to prevent his children wasting their time in court fighting patent infringements.
Robert Fulton Robert Fulton (November 14, 1765 – February 24, 1815) was an American engineer Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are Professional, professionals who Invention, invent, design, analyze, build and test Machine, machines, complex sys ...

Robert Fulton
constructed a steamboat to ply a route between New York City and
Albany, New York Albany ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...
on the
Hudson River The Hudson River is a river that flows from north to south primarily through eastern New York (state), New York in the United States. It originates in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York and flows southward through the Hudson Valley ...

Hudson River
. He successfully obtained a monopoly on Hudson River traffic after terminating a prior 1797 agreement with John Stevens, who owned extensive land on the Hudson River in New Jersey. The former agreement had partitioned northern Hudson River traffic to Livingston and southern to Stevens, agreeing to use ships designed by Stevens for both operations. With their new monopoly, Fulton and Livingston's boat, named the ''Clermont'' after Livingston's estate, could make a profit. The ''Clermont'' was nicknamed "Fulton's Folly" by doubters. On Monday, 17 August 1807, the memorable first voyage of the ''Clermont'' up the Hudson River was begun. She traveled the trip to Albany in a little over 32 hours and made the return trip in about eight hours. The use of steamboats on major US rivers soon followed Fulton's 1807 success. In 1811 the first in a continuous (still in commercial passenger operation ) line of river steamboats left the dock at
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States and the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County. A population of 302,971 residents lives within the city limit ...

Pittsburgh
to steam down the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio River
to the
Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; a ...

Mississippi
and on to New Orleans. In 1817 a consortium in
Sackets Harbor, New York Sackets Harbor (earlier spelled Sacketts Harbor) is a village in Jefferson County, New York, Jefferson County, New York (state), New York, United States, on Lake Ontario. The population was 1,450 at the 2010 census. The village was named after lan ...
, funded the construction of the first US steamboat, ''Ontario'', to run on
Lake Ontario Lake Ontario (french: Lac Ontario) is one of the five Great Lakes The Great Lakes also called the Great Lakes of North America or the Laurentian Great Lakes, is a series of large interconnected freshwater lakes in the mid-east region ...

Lake Ontario
and the Great Lakes, beginning the growth of lake commercial and passenger traffic. In his book ''
Life on the Mississippi ''Life on the Mississippi'' (1883) is a memoir by Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, ...

Life on the Mississippi
'',
river pilot A maritime pilot, marine pilot, harbor pilot, port pilot, ship pilot, or simply pilot, is a mariner who maneuvers ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying go ...
and author
Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or ...

Mark Twain
described much of the operation of such vessels.


Types of ships

By 1849 the shipping industry was in transition from sail-powered boats to steam-powered boats and from wood construction to an ever-increasing metal construction. There were basically three different types of ships being used: standard
sailing ship A sailing ship is a sea-going vessel that uses sails mounted on Mast (sailing), masts to harness the power of wind and propel the vessel. There is a variety of sail plans that propel sailing ships, employing Square rig, square-rigged or Fore-an ...

sailing ship
s of several different types,
clipper A clipper was a type of mid-19th-century Merchant ship, merchant Sailing ship, sailing vessel, designed for speed. Clippers were generally narrow for their length, small by later 19th century standards, could carry limited bulk freight, and had ...

clipper
s, and
paddle steamer A paddle steamer is a steamship A steamship, often referred to as a steamer, is a type of steam-powered vessel Steam-powered vessels include steamboats and steamships. Smaller steamboats were developed first. They were replaced by larger ste ...

paddle steamer
s with paddles mounted on the side or rear. River steamboats typically used rear-mounted paddles and had flat bottoms and shallow hulls designed to carry large loads on generally smooth and occasionally shallow rivers. Ocean-going paddle steamers typically used side-wheeled paddles and used narrower, deeper hulls designed to travel in the often stormy weather encountered at sea. The ship
hull Hull may refer to: Structures * Chassis, of an armored fighting vehicle * Fuselage, of an aircraft * Hull (botany), the outer covering of seeds * Hull (watercraft), the body or frame of a ship * Submarine hull Mathematics * Affine hull, in affin ...
design was often based on the clipper ship design with extra bracing to support the loads and strains imposed by the paddle wheels when they encountered rough water. The first paddle-steamer to make a long ocean voyage was the 320-ton , built in 1819 expressly for
packet ship Packet boats were medium-sized boats designed for domestic mail, passenger, and freight transportation in European countries and in North American rivers and canals, some of them steam driven. They were used extensively during the 18th and 19th ...
mail and passenger service to and from
Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. With a population of in 2019, it is the List of English districts by population, tenth largest English district by population, and its ...

Liverpool
, England. On 22 May 1819, the watch on the ''Savannah'' sighted Ireland after 23 days at sea. The
Allaire Iron Works The Allaire Iron Works was a leading 19th-century United States, American marine engineering company based in New York City. Founded in 1816 by engineer and philanthropist James P. Allaire, the Allaire Works was one of the world's first companies de ...
of New York supplied ''Savannah's'''s
engine cylinder In a reciprocating engine, the cylinder is the space in which a piston A piston is a component of reciprocating engines, reciprocating pump near the Hengsteysee, GermanyA pump is a device that moves fluids (liquids or gases), or sometimes ...
, while the rest of the engine components and running gear were manufactured by the Speedwell Ironworks of
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
. The low-pressure engine was of the inclined direct-acting type, with a single cylinder and a stroke. ''Savannah'''s engine and machinery were unusually large for their time. The ship's
wrought-iron Wrought iron is an iron Iron () is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, ...
paddlewheel A paddle wheel is a form of waterwheel A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of flowing or falling water into useful forms of power, often in a watermill. A water wheel consists of a wheel (usually constructed from wood or ...
s were 16 feet in diameter with eight buckets per wheel. For fuel, the vessel carried of coal and of wood.Smithsonian, p. 618 The SS ''Savannah'' was too small to carry much fuel, and the engine was intended only for use in calm weather and to get in and out of harbors. Under favorable winds the sails alone were able to provide a speed of at least four knots. The ''Savannah'' was judged not a commercial success, and its engine was removed and it was converted back to a regular sailing ship. By 1848 steamboats built by both United States and British shipbuilders were already in use for mail and passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean—a journey. Since paddle steamers typically required from of coal per day to keep their engines running, they were more expensive to run. Initially, nearly all seagoing steamboats were equipped with mast and sails to supplement the
steam engine from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England A steam engine is a heat engine In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energ ...

steam engine
power and provide power for occasions when the steam engine needed repair or maintenance. These steamships typically concentrated on high value cargo, mail and passengers and only had moderate cargo capabilities because of their required loads of coal. The typical paddle wheel steamship was powered by a coal burning engine that required firemen to shovel the coal to the burners. By 1849 the screw
propeller . A propeller is a device with a rotating hub and radiating blades that are set at a pitch to form a helical spiral, that, when rotated, exerts linear thrust upon a working fluid, such as water or air. Propellers are used to pump fluid through a ...

propeller
had been invented and was slowly being introduced as iron increasingly was used in ship construction and the stress introduced by propellers could be compensated for. As the 1800s progressed the timber and lumber needed to make wooden ships got ever more expensive, and the iron plate needed for iron ship construction got much cheaper as the massive iron works at
Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr Tydfil (; cy, Merthyr Tudful ) is the main town in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Merthyr Tydfil County Borough (; cy, Merthyr Tudful ) has been one of the 22 Local government in Wales, unitary authorities in Wales since 1 April 199 ...
, Wales, for example, got ever more efficient. The propeller put a lot of stress on the rear of the ships and would not see widespread use till the conversion from wood boats to iron boats was complete—well underway by 1860. By the 1840s the ocean-going steam ship industry was well established as the
Cunard Line Cunard Line is a British cruise line A cruise line is a company (law), company that operates cruise ships that operate on Cruising (maritime), ocean or River cruise, rivers and which markets cruises to the public. Cruise lines are distinc ...
and others demonstrated. The last sailing frigate of the US Navy, , had been launched in 1855.


West Coast

In the mid-1840s the acquisition of Oregon and California opened up the West Coast to American steamboat traffic. Starting in 1848 Congress subsidized the
Pacific Mail Steamship Company The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was founded April 18, 1848, as a joint stock company under the laws of the State of New York by a group of New York City merchants. Incorporators included William H. Aspinwall, Edwin Bartlett (American consul at ...
with $199,999 to set up regular
packet ship Packet boats were medium-sized boats designed for domestic mail, passenger, and freight transportation in European countries and in North American rivers and canals, some of them steam driven. They were used extensively during the 18th and 19th ...
, mail, passenger, and cargo routes in the Pacific Ocean. This regular scheduled route went from
Panama City Panama City ( es, Ciudad de Panamá, links=no; ), also simply known as Panama (or Panamá in Spanish), is the capital and largest city of Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República ...

Panama City
, Nicaragua and Mexico to and from
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (dis ...
and
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...
. Panama City was the Pacific terminus of the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Kara ...
trail across Panama. The Atlantic Ocean mail contract from East Coast cities and New Orleans to and from the
Chagres River , name_native_lang = , name_other = , name_etymology = , image = Chagres river.png , image_caption = The Chagres River as seen from the highway between Panama City and Colon , map = , map_si ...
in Panama was won by the United States Mail Steamship Company whose first
paddle wheel A paddle wheel is a form of waterwheel A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of flowing or falling water into useful forms of power, often in a watermill. A water wheel consists of a wheel (usually constructed from wood or ...

paddle wheel
steamship, the SS Falcon (1848) was dispatched on 1 December 1848 to the Caribbean (Atlantic) terminus of the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Kara ...
trail—the
Chagres River , name_native_lang = , name_other = , name_etymology = , image = Chagres river.png , image_caption = The Chagres River as seen from the highway between Panama City and Colon , map = , map_si ...
. The SS ''California'' (1848), the first
Pacific Mail Steamship Company The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was founded April 18, 1848, as a joint stock company under the laws of the State of New York by a group of New York City merchants. Incorporators included William H. Aspinwall, Edwin Bartlett (American consul at ...
paddle wheel A paddle wheel is a form of waterwheel A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of flowing or falling water into useful forms of power, often in a watermill. A water wheel consists of a wheel (usually constructed from wood or ...

paddle wheel
steamship, left
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...
on 6 October 1848 with only a partial load of her about 60 saloon (about $300 fare) and 150 steerage (about $150 fare) passenger capacity. Only a few were going all the way to California. Her crew numbered about 36 men. She left New York well before confirmed word of the
California Gold Rush The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a that began on January 24, 1848, when was found by at in . The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into ...
had reached the East Coast. Once the
California Gold Rush The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a that began on January 24, 1848, when was found by at in . The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into ...
was confirmed by President
James Polk James is a common English language surname and given name: *James (name), the typically masculine first name James * James (surname), various people with the last name James James or James City may also refer to: People * King James (disambiguati ...

James Polk
in his
State of the Union address The State of the Union Address (sometimes abbreviated to SOTU) is an annual message delivered by the president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United Stat ...
on 5 December 1848 people started rushing to Panama City to catch the SS California. The picked up more passengers in , Chile and
Panama City Panama City ( es, Ciudad de Panamá, links=no; ), also simply known as Panama (or Panamá in Spanish), is the capital and largest city of Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República ...

Panama City
, Panama and showed up in San Francisco, loaded with about 400 passengers—twice the passengers it had been designed for—on 28 February 1849. She had left behind about another 400–600 potential passengers still looking for passage from Panama City. The ''SS California ''had made the trip from Panama and Mexico after steaming around
Cape Horn Cape Horn ( es, Cabo de Hornos, ) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego #REDIRECT Tierra del Fuego#REDIRECT Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of Fire", formerly also Fireland in English) is an archipelag ...
from New York—see SS ''California'' (1848). The trips by paddle wheel steamship to Panama and Nicaragua from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, via New Orleans and Havana were about long and took about two weeks. Trips across the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Kara ...
or Nicaragua typically took about one week by native
canoe A canoe is a lightweight narrow vessel, typically pointed at both ends and open on top, propelled by one or more seated or kneeling paddlers facing the direction of travel and using a single-bladed paddle A paddle is a tool used for pushin ...

canoe
and
mule A mule is the of a male (jack) and a female (). Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of s. Of the two between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a , which is the offspring of a female donkey () a ...

mule
back. The trip to or from San Francisco to Panama City could be done by
paddle wheel A paddle wheel is a form of waterwheel A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of flowing or falling water into useful forms of power, often in a watermill. A water wheel consists of a wheel (usually constructed from wood or ...

paddle wheel
steamer in about three weeks. In addition to this travel time via the Panama route typically had a two- to four-week waiting period to find a ship going from
Panama City, Panama Panama City ( es, Ciudad de Panamá, links=no; ), also simply known as Panama (or Panamá in Spanish), is the capital and largest city of Panama. It has an urban population of 880,691, with over 1.5 million in its metropolitan area. The city i ...
to San Francisco before 1850. It was 1850 before enough paddle wheel steamers were available in the Atlantic and Pacific routes to establish regularly scheduled journeys. Other steamships soon followed, and by late 1849, paddle wheel steamships like the SS ''McKim'' (1848) were carrying miners and their supplies the trip from San Francisco up the extensive
Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta from the north and the San Joaquin River from the south through Stockton, California, Stockton. , with the Sacramento River above and San Joaquin River below The Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, or California Delta, is an expansive inland r ...
to Stockton, California, Marysville, California, Sacramento, California, Sacramento, etc. to get about closer to the gold fields. Steam-powered tugboats and towboats started working in the San Francisco Bay soon after this to expedite shipping in and out of the bay. As the passenger, mail and high value freight business to and from California boomed more and more paddle steamers were brought into service—eleven by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company alone. The trip to and from California via Panama and paddle wheeled steamers could be done, if there were no waits for shipping, in about 40 days—over 100 days less than by wagon or 160 days less than a trip around
Cape Horn Cape Horn ( es, Cabo de Hornos, ) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego #REDIRECT Tierra del Fuego#REDIRECT Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of Fire", formerly also Fireland in English) is an archipelag ...
. About 20–30% of the California Argonauts are thought to have returned to their homes, mostly on the East Coast of the United States via Panama—the fastest way home. Many returned to California after settling their business in the East with their wives, family and/or sweethearts. Most used the Panama or Nicaragua route till 1855 when the completion of the Panama Railroad made the Panama Route much easier, faster and more reliable. Between 1849 and 1869 when the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed across the United States about 800,000 travelers had used the Panama route. Most of the roughly $50,000,000 of gold found each year in California were shipped East via the Panama route on paddle steamers, mule trains and canoes and later the Panama Railroad across Panama. After 1855 when the Panama Railroad was completed the Panama Route was by far the quickest and easiest way to get to or from California from the East Coast of the U.S. or Europe. Most California bound merchandise still used the slower but cheaper
Cape Horn Cape Horn ( es, Cabo de Hornos, ) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego #REDIRECT Tierra del Fuego#REDIRECT Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of Fire", formerly also Fireland in English) is an archipelag ...
sailing ship A sailing ship is a sea-going vessel that uses sails mounted on Mast (sailing), masts to harness the power of wind and propel the vessel. There is a variety of sail plans that propel sailing ships, employing Square rig, square-rigged or Fore-an ...

sailing ship
route. The sinking of the
paddle steamer A paddle steamer is a steamship A steamship, often referred to as a steamer, is a type of steam-powered vessel Steam-powered vessels include steamboats and steamships. Smaller steamboats were developed first. They were replaced by larger ste ...

paddle steamer
(the ''Ship of Gold'') in a hurricane on 12 September 1857 and the loss of about $2 million in California gold indirectly led to the Panic of 1857. Steamboat traffic including passenger and freight business grew exponentially in the decades before the Civil War. So too did the economic and human losses inflicted by snags, shoals, boiler explosions, and human error.


Civil War

During the US Civil War the Battle of Hampton Roads, often referred to as either the Battle of the ''USS Monitor, Monitor'' and CSS Virginia, ''Merrimack'' or the ''Battle of Ironclads'', was fought over two days with steam-powered ironclad warships, 8–9 March 1862. The battle occurred in Hampton Roads, a roadstead in Virginia where the Elizabeth River (Virginia), Elizabeth and Nansemond Rivers meet the James River (Virginia), James River just before it enters Chesapeake Bay adjacent to the city of Norfolk, VA, Norfolk. The battle was a part of the effort of the Confederate States of America to break the Union Naval blockade, which had cut off Virginia from all international trade. The Civil War in the West was fought to control major rivers, especially the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers using paddlewheelers. Only the Union had them (the Confederacy captured a few, but were unable to use them.) The Battle of Vicksburg involved Monitor (warship), monitors and ironclad riverboats. The USS ''Cairo'' is a survivor of the Vicksburg battle. Trade on the river was suspended for two years because of a Confederate's Mississippi blockade before the union victory at Vicksburg reopened the river on 4 July 1863. The triumph of Eads ironclads, and Farragut's seizure of New Orleans, secured the river for the Union North. Although Union forces gained control of Mississippi River tributaries, travel there was still subject to interdiction by the Confederates. The Ambush of the steamboat J. R. Williams, which was carrying supplies from Fort Smith National Historic Site, Fort Smith to Fort Gibson along the Arkansas River on 16 July 1863 demonstrated this. The steamboat was destroyed, the cargo was lost, and the tiny Union escort was run off. The loss did not affect the Union war effort, however. The worst of all steamboat accidents occurred at the end of the Civil War in April 1865, when the steamboat ''SS Sultana, Sultana'', carrying an over-capacity load of returning Union soldiers recently freed from a Confederate prison camp, blew up, causing more than 1,700 deaths.


Mississippi and Missouri river traffic

For most of the 19th century and part of the early 20th century, trade on the Mississippi River was dominated by paddle-wheel steamboats. Their use generated rapid development of economies of port cities; the exploitation of agricultural and commodity products, which could be more easily transported to markets; and prosperity along the major rivers. Their success led to penetration deep into the continent, where ''Anson Northup'' in 1859 became first steamer to cross the Canada–United States border, Canada–US border on the Red River of the North, Red River. They would also be involved in major political events, as when Louis Riel seized ''International (steamship), International'' at Fort Garry, or Gabriel Dumont (Métis leader), Gabriel Dumont was engaged by ''Northcote (steamboat), Northcote'' at Battle of Batoche, Batoche. Steamboats were held in such high esteem that they could become state symbols; the Iowa (steamboat), Steamboat ''Iowa'' (1838) is incorporated in the Seal of Iowa because it represented speed, power, and progress. At the same time, the expanding steamboat traffic had severe adverse environmental effects, in the Middle Mississippi Valley especially, between St. Louis and the river's confluence with the Ohio River, Ohio. The steamboats consumed much wood for fuel, and the river floodplain and banks became deforested. This led to instability in the banks, addition of silt to the water, making the river both shallower and hence wider and causing unpredictable, lateral movement of the river channel across the wide, ten-mile floodplain, endangering navigation. Boats designated as snagpullers to keep the channels free had crews that sometimes cut remaining large trees or more back from the banks, exacerbating the problems. In the 19th century, the flooding of the Mississippi became a more severe problem than when the floodplain was filled with trees and brush. Most steamboats were destroyed by boiler explosions or fires—and many sank in the river, with some of those buried in silt as the river changed course. From 1811 to 1899, 156 steamboats were lost to snags or rocks between St. Louis and the Ohio River. Another 411 were damaged by fire, explosions or ice during that period. One of the few surviving Mississippi sternwheelers from this period, ''Julius C. Wilkie'', was operated as a museum ship at Winona, Minnesota, until its destruction in a fire in 1981. The replacement, built ''in situ'', was not a steamboat. The replica was scrapped in 2008. From 1844 through 1857, luxurious palace steamers carried passengers and cargo around the North American Great Lakes. Great Lakes passenger steamers reached their zenith during the century from 1850 to 1950. The is the last of the once-numerous passenger-carrying steam-powered Train ferry, car ferries operating on the Great Lakes. A unique style of bulk carrier known as the lake freighter was developed on the Great Lakes. The ''St. Marys Challenger'', launched in 1906, is the oldest operating steamship in the United States. She runs a Skinner Marine Unaflow 4-cylinder reciprocating steam engine as her power plant. Women started to become steamboat captains in the late 19th century. The first woman to earn her steamboat master's license was Mary Millicent Miller, in 1884. In 1888, Callie Leach French earned her first class license. In 1892, she earned a Sea captain, master's license, becoming the only woman to hold both and operating on the Mississippi River. French towed a showboat up and down the rivers until 1907 and boasted that she'd never had an accident or lost a boat. Another early steamboat captain was Blanche Douglass Leathers, who earned her license in 1894. Mary Becker Greene earned her license in 1897 and along with her husband started the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, Greene Line.


=Steamboats in rivers on the west side of the Mississippi River

= Steamboats also operated on the Red River of the South, Red River to Shreveport, Louisiana, Shreveport, Louisiana. In April 1815, Captain Henry Miller Shreve was the first person to bring a steamboat, the Enterprise, up the Red River. By 1839 after Captain Henry Miller Shreve broke the Great Raft log jam had been 160 miles long on the river. In the late 1830s, the steamboats in rivers on the west side of the Mississippi River were a long, wide, shallow draft vessel, lightly built with an engine on the deck. These newer steamboats could sail in just 20 inches of water. Contemporaries claimed that they could "run with a lot of heavy dew".


Walking the steamboat over sandbars or away from reefs

Walking the boat was a way of lifting the bow of a steamboat like on crutches, getting up and down a sandbank with poles, blocks, and strong rigging, and using paddlewheels to lift and move the ship through successive steps, on the helm. Moving of a boat from a sandbar was by its own action known as "walking the boat" and "grass-hoppering". Two long, strong poles were pushed forward from the bow on either side of the boat into the sandbar at a high degree of angle. Near the end of each pole, a block was secured with a strong rope or clamp that passed through pulleys that lowered through a pair of similar blocks attached to the deck near the bow. The end of each line went to a winch which, when turned, was taut and, with its weight on the stringers, slightly raised the bow of the boat. Activation of the forward paddlewheels and placement of the poles caused the bow of the boat to raise and move the boat forward perhaps a few feet. It was laborious and dangerous work for the crew, even with a Steam donkey driven capstan winch.


Double-tripping

Double-tripping means making two voyages by leaving a cargo of a steamboat ashore to lighten boats load during times of extremely low water or when ice impedes progress. The boat had to return (and therefore make a second trip) to retrieve the cargo.


Piston Rings, Steel replaced cotton seals, 1854

1854: John Ramsbottom publishes a report on his use of oversized split steel piston rings which maintain a seal by outward spring tension on the cylinder wall. This improved efficiency by allowing much better sealing (compared to earlier cotton seals) which allowed significantly higher system pressures before "blow-by" is experienced.


Allen Steam Engine at 3 to 5 times higher speeds, 1862

1862: The Allen steam engine (later called Porter-Allen) is exhibited at the London Exhibition. It is precision engineered and balanced allowing it to operate at from three to five times the speed of other stationary engines. The short stroke and high speed minimize condensation in the cylinder, significantly improving efficiency. The high speed allows direct coupling or the use of reduced sized pulleys and belting.


Boilers, Water Tubes, Not Explosive, 1867

1881: Alexander C. Kirk designs the first practical triple expansion engine which was installed in SS Aberdeen. 1884: Charles Algernon Parsons develops the steam turbine. Used early on in electrical generation and to power ships, turbines were bladed wheels that created rotary motion when high pressure steam was passed through them. The efficiency of large steam turbines was considerably better than the best compound engines, while also being much simpler, more reliable, smaller and lighter all at the same time. Steam turbines would eventually replace piston engines for most power generation.


Triple Expansion Steam Engine, 1881

,


Steam Turbine, 1884


20th century

The ''Belle of Louisville'' is the oldest operating steamboat in the United States, and the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world. She was laid down as ''Idlewild'' in 1914, and is currently located in Louisville, Kentucky. Five major commercial steamboats currently operate on the inland waterways of the United States. The only remaining overnight cruising steamboat is the 432-passenger ''American Queen'', which operates week-long cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers 11 months out of the year. The others are day boats: they are the steamers ''Chautauqua Belle'' at Chautauqua Lake, Chautauqua Lake, New York, ''Minne-Ha-Ha II, Minne Ha-Ha'' at Lake George (village), New York, Lake George, New York, operating on Lake George; the ''Belle of Louisville'' in Louisville, Kentucky, operating on the Ohio River; and the ''Natchez (steamboat), Natchez'' in New Orleans, Louisiana, operating on the Mississippi River. For modern craft operated on rivers, see the Riverboat article.


Canada

In Canada, the city of Terrace, British Columbia, Terrace, British Columbia, celebrates "Riverboat Days" each summer. Built on the banks of the Skeena River, the city depended on the steamboat for transportation and trade into the 20th century. The first steamer to enter the Skeena was ''Union'' in 1864. In 1866 ''Mumford'' attempted to ascend the river, but it was only able to reach the Kitsumkalum River. It was not until 1891 Hudson's Bay Company sternwheeler ''Caledonia'' successfully negotiated Kitselas Canyon and reached Hazelton, British Columbia, Hazelton. A number of other steamers were built around the turn of the 20th century, in part due to the growing fish industry and the gold rush. For more information, see Steamboats of the Skeena River. Sternwheelers were an instrumental transportation technology in the development of Western Canada. They were used on most of the navigable waterways of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC (British Columbia) and the Yukon at one time or another, generally being supplanted by the expansion of railroads and roads. In the more mountainous and remote areas of the Yukon and BC, working sternwheelers lived on well into the 20th century. The simplicity of these vessels and their shallow draft made them indispensable to pioneer communities that were otherwise virtually cut off from the outside world. Because of their shallow, flat-bottomed construction (the Canadian examples of the western river sternwheeler generally needed less than three feet of water to float in), they could nose up almost anywhere along a riverbank to pick up or drop off passengers and freight. Sternwheelers would also prove vital to the construction of the railroads that eventually replaced them. They were used to haul supplies, track and other materials to construction camps. The simple, versatile, locomotive-style boilers fitted to most sternwheelers after about the 1860s could burn coal, when available in more populated areas like the lakes of the Steamboats of the upper Columbia and Kootenay Rivers, Kootenays and the Steamboats of Lake Okanagan, Okanagan region in southern BC, or wood in the more remote areas, such as the Steamboats of the Yukon River or northern BC. The hulls were generally wooden, although iron, steel and composite hulls gradually overtook them. They were braced internally with a series of built-up longitudinal timbers called "keelsons". Further resilience was given to the hulls by a system of "hog rods" or "hog chains" that were fastened into the keelsons and led up and over vertical masts called "hog-posts", and back down again. Like their counterparts on the Mississippi and its tributaries, and the vessels on the rivers of California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, the Canadian sternwheelers tended to have fairly short life-spans. The hard usage they were subjected to and inherent flexibility of their shallow wooden hulls meant that relatively few of them had careers longer than a decade. In the Yukon, two vessels are preserved: the in Whitehorse and the in Dawson City. Many derelict hulks can still be found along the Yukon River. In British Columbia, the ''Moyie (sternwheeler), Moyie'', built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1898, was operated on Kootenay Lake in south-eastern BC until 1957. It has been carefully restored and is on display in the village of Kaslo, where it acts as a tourist attraction right next to information centre in downtown Kaslo. The ''Moyie'' is the world's oldest intact stern wheeler. While the SS ''Sicamous'' and SS ''Naramata'' (steam tug & icebreaker) built by the CPR at Okanagan Landing on Okanagan Lake in 1914 have been preserved in Penticton at the south end of Okanagan Lake. The SS ''Samson V'' is the only Canadian steam-powered sternwheeler that has been preserved afloat. It was built in 1937 by the Canadian federal Department of Public Works as a snagboat for clearing logs and debris out of the lower reaches of the Steamboats of the Upper Fraser River, Fraser River and for maintaining docks and aids to navigation. The fifth in a line of Fraser River snagpullers, the ''Samson V'' has engines, paddlewheel and other components that were passed down from the ''Samson II'' of 1914. It is now moored on the Fraser River as a floating museum in its home port of New Westminster, near Vancouver, BC. The oldest operating steam driven vessel in North America is the . It was built in Scotland in 1887 to cruise the Muskoka Lakes, District of Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. Originally named the S.S. ''Nipissing'', it was converted from a side-paddle-wheel steamer with a walking-beam engine into a two-counter-rotating-propeller steamer. The first woman steamboat captain on the Columbia River was Minnie Mossman Hill, who earned her master's and pilot's license in 1887.


Great Britain

Engineer Robert Fourness and his cousin, physician James Ashworth are said to have had a steamboat running between Hull and Beverley, after having been granted British Patent No. 1640 of March 1788 for a "new invented machine for working, towing, expediting and facilitating the voyage of ships, sloops and barges and other vessels upon the water". James Oldham, MICE, described how well he knew those who had built the F&A steamboat in a lecture entitled "On the rise, progress and present position of steam navigation in Hull" that he gave at the 23rd Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement for Science in Hull, England on 7 September 1853. The first commercially successful steamboat in Europe, Henry Bell's ''PS Comet, Comet'' of 1812, started a rapid expansion of steam services on the Firth of Clyde, and within four years a steamer service was in operation on the inland Loch Lomond, a forerunner of the lake steamers still gracing Swiss lakes. On the Clyde itself, within ten years of ''Comet's'' start in 1812 there were nearly fifty steamers, and services had started across the Irish Sea to Belfast and on many British estuaries. By 1900 there were over 300 Clyde steamers. People have had a particular affection for the Clyde puffers, small steam freighters of traditional design developed to use the Scottish canals and to serve the Scottish Highlands, Highlands and Islands. They were immortalised by the tales of Para Handy's boat ''Vital Spark'' by Neil Munro (Hugh Foulis), Neil Munro and by the film ''The Maggie'', and a small number are being conserved to continue in steam around the west highland sea lochs. From 1850 to the early decades of the 20th century Windermere, in the English Lakes, was home to many elegant steam launches. They were used for private parties, watching the yacht races or, in one instance, commuting to work, via the rail connection to Barrow in Furness. Many of these fine craft were saved from destruction when steam went out of fashion and are now part of the collection at Windermere Steamboat Museum. The collection includes SL Dolly, 1850, thought to be the world's oldest mechanically powered boat, and several of the classic Windermere launches. Today the 1900 steamer still sails on Loch Katrine, while on Loch Lomond PS Maid of the Loch, PS ''Maid of the Loch'' is being restored, and in the English Lakes the oldest operating passenger yacht, SY Gondola, SY ''Gondola'' (built 1859, rebuilt 1979), sails daily during the summer season on Coniston Water. The paddle steamer ''PS Waverley, Waverley'', built in 1947, is the last survivor of these fleets, and the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world. This ship sails a full season of cruises every year from places around Britain, and has sailed across the English Channel for a visit to commemorate the sinking of her predecessor, built in 1899, at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940. After the Clyde, the Thames estuary was the main growth area for steamboats, starting with the ''Margery'' and the ''Thames'' in 1815, which were both brought down from the Clyde. Until the arrival of railways from 1838 onwards, steamers steadily took over the role of the many sail and rowed ferries, with at least 80 ferries by 1830 with routes from London to Gravesend and Margate, and upstream to Richmond. By 1835, the Diamond Steam Packet Company, one of several popular companies, reported that it had carried over 250,000 passengers in the year. The first steamboat constructed of iron, the ''Aaron Manby'' was laid down in the Horseley Ironworks in Staffordshire in 1821 and launched at the Surrey Docks in Rotherhithe. After testing in the Thames, the boat steamed to Paris where she was used on the
River Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French Communes of France, commune and city in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy region of nor ...
. Three similar iron steamers followed within a few years. There are few genuine steamboats left on the River Thames; however, a handful remain. The SL (steam launch) ''Nuneham'' is a genuine Victorian era, Victorian steamer built in 1898, and operated on the non-tidal upper Thames by the Thames Steam Packet Boat Company. It is berthed at Runnymede. SL ''Nuneham'' was built at Port Brimscombe on the Thames and Severn Canal by Edwin Clarke. She was built for Salter Bros at Oxford for the regular passenger service between Oxford and Kingston-upon-Thames, Kingston. The original Sissons triple-expansion engine, triple-expansion steam engine was removed in the 1960s and replaced with a diesel engine. In 1972, the SL ''Nuneham'' was sold to a London boat operator and entered service on the Westminster Pier to Hampton Court service. In 1984 the boat was sold again – now practically derelict – to French Brothers Ltd at Runnymede as a restoration project. Over a number of years French Brothers carefully restored the launch to its former specification. A similar Sissons triple-expansion engine was found in a museum in America, shipped back to the UK and installed, along with a new coal-fired Scotch boiler, designed and built by Alan McEwen of Keighley, Yorkshire. The superstructure was reconstructed to the original design and elegance, including the raised roof, wood panelled saloon and open top deck. The restoration was completed in 1997 and the launch was granted an MCA passenger certificate for 106 passengers. SL Nuneham was entered back into service by French Brothers Ltd, but trading as the Thames Steam Packet Boat Company.


Europe

Built in 1856, PS ''Skibladner'' is the oldest
steamship A steamship, often referred to as a steamer, is a type of steam-powered vessel Steam-powered vessels include steamboats and steamships. Smaller steamboats were developed first. They were replaced by larger steamships which were often ocean-going. ...

steamship
still in operation, serving towns along lake Mjøsa in Norway. In Denmark, steamboats were a popular means of transportation in earlier times, mostly for recreational purposes. They were deployed to carry passengers for short distances along the coastline or across larger lakes. Falling out of favour later on, some of the original boats are still in operation in a few places, such as ''Hjejlen''. Built in 1861, this steamboat is running second to the Norwegian Skibladner as the oldest steamship in operation and sails the lake of Julsø near Silkeborg. Swiss lakes are home of a number of large steamships. On Lake Lucerne, five paddle steamers are still in service: ' (built in 1901, 800 passengers), ' (1902, 800 passengers), ' (1906, 900 passengers), ' (1913, 900 passengers, fastest paddle-wheeler on European lakes) and ' (1928, 1200 passengers, last steamship built for a Swiss lake). There are also five steamers as well as some old steamships converted to diesel-powered paddlewheelers on Lake Geneva, two steamers on Lake Zurich and single ones on other lakes. In Austria the paddle-wheeler ' (250 passengers) of 1871 vintage continues in service on Traunsee.


New Zealand

The New Zealand-built 1912 steamer TSS Earnslaw, TSS ''Earnslaw'' still makes regular sight-seeing trips across Lake Wakatipu, an alpine lake near Queenstown, New Zealand, Queenstown.


Vietnam

Seeing the great potential of the steam-powered vessels, Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mạng attempted to reproduce a French-made steamboat. The first test in 1838 was a failure as the boiler was broken. The task supervisor was chained and two officials Nguyễn Trung Mậu, Ngô Kim Lân from the Ministry of Construction were jailed for false report. The project was assigned again to Hoàng Văn Lịch and Võ Huy Trinh. In the second test two months later, the engine performed greatly. The Emperor rewarded the two handsomely. He commented that although this machine could be purchased from the Westerner, it is important that his engineers and mechanics could acquaint themselves with modern machinery. Therefore no expense was too great. Encouraged by the success, Minh Mạng ordered the engineers to study and develop steam engines and steamers to equip his naval fleets. At the end of Minh Mạng 's reign there were 3 steamers produced named ''Yến Phi, Vân Phi and Vụ Phi''.Khâm định Đại Nam hội điển sự lệ. However, his successor could not maintain the industry due to financial problems, worsened by many years of social unrest under his rule.


Images

File:SteamboatEnglishPatent.gif, 1736 steamboat English patent. File:Clermont illustration - Robert Fulton - Project Gutenberg eText 15161.jpg, Robert Fulton's ''Clermont''. File:Elise-vapeur.png, The ''Steam ship Élise, Élise'' (ex Scottish-built ''Marjorie''). File:Enterprise 03.jpg, "''Enterprise (1814), Enterprise'' on her fast trip to Louisville, 1815" File:ПервыйРусскийПароход.jpg, Elizaveta, The first Russian steamship, 1815 File:Paddle wheel small.jpg, Left: original paddlewheel from a paddle steamer on the lake of Lucerne. Right: detail of a steamer. File:Edward L Ryerson Welland Canal 2008.JPG, 730-foot lake freighter ''Edward L Ryerson'' File:PS Waverley off Greenock 1994.jpg, Paddle steamer PS Waverley, PS ''Waverley'' steaming down the Firth of Clyde. File:TS Queen Mary 1981.jpg, Turbine steamer TS Queen Mary, TS ''Queen Mary''. File:SS Shieldhall in Clyde 2005.jpg, steams down the Firth of Clyde. File:Sky-Wonder---Villefranche.jpg, ''Sky Wonder'' last steam-powered cruise ship built 1984 File:BelleOfLouisville.jpg, ''Belle of Louisville'' File:Steamboat Natchez. New Orleans. (48759732042).jpg, ''Natchez (boat), Natchez'' File:DeltaQueenRacing.jpg, ''Delta Queen'' racing File:Delta King.JPG, ''Delta King'' File:Hobby Steamboat Margaret S.jpg, Steam Sidewheeler File:Big 4 Bridge Belle of Cincinnati.jpg, ''Belle of Cincinnati'', a participant in the Great Steamboat Race File:American Queen in New Orleans.jpg, ''American Queen'' docked at the The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, Riverwalk in 2015


See also

*Allan Line Royal Mail Steamers. *Chain boat navigation *Charles Baird (engineer), Charles Baird, engineer who was responsible for Russia's first steamboat. *Howard Steamboat Museum *List of steamboats on the Columbia River *Lists of ships *Motor ship or Motor vessel, a ship Marine propulsion, propelled by an Internal combustion engine, engine, usually a diesel engine. The name of motor ships are often prefixed with MS, M/S, MV or M/V. *Murray-Darling steamboats *Naphtha launch *''President (narrowboat), President'', a preserved English steam narrowboat *Riverboat *Steam Navigation Company, a list of companies that share the name *Steam-powered vessels *Steam yacht *Steamship *Steamship Historical Society of America *Tourist sternwheelers of Oregon


Footnotes


External references

* . * .


Bibliography

* * *


Further reading

* . * . * . * . * . * . The standard history of American river boats. * . * . * . * . * . * .


External links


Commercial operations


Directory of steamboats/riverboats in the U.S. and EuropeSteamboat ''Natchez'', based in New Orleans, Louisiana''American Queen'' Steamboat Company – cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio, Columbia and Snake Rivers
*''Julia Belle Swain'' is currently laid up, but there are plans to put it back in service
Lake George Steamboat Company
Lake George, New York
Loch Katrine Steamship ''Sir Walter Scott''
Steamer on Loch Katrine
Isle of Shoals
Portsmouth, New Hampshire * *
The ''Belle of Louisville'', oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat


Museums and museum boats



* . The coal-burning steam narrow-boat President is owned by the Black Country Living Museum, and tours the English canals in summer. * * Howard Steamboat Museum, Jeffersonville, Indiana, Jeffersonville, Indiana * . * . * . * . * . * . * Mud Island, Memphis, Mud Island Mississippi River Museum, Mud Island Park, Memphis, TN * National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque, IA * Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Hannibal, MO * ''Captain Meriwether Lewis'' Museum of Missouri River History, Brownville, NE * ''Delta King'', Sacramento, CA


Historical image collections

* . * .
Transportation Photograph Collection
– University of Washington Library * .

A collection of 420 photographs depicting life on Vashon Island, Whidbey Island, Seattle and other communities of Washington State's Puget Sound from the 1880s to the 1930s. This collection provides a glimpse of early pioneer activities, industries and occupations, recreation, street scenes, ferries and boat traffic at the turn of the 20th century. *Images of the Saltilla Steamship at th
University of Houston Digital LibrarySSHSA Image Porthole
Thousands of digitally preserved photographs of steamships and other engine driven vessels within the collections of the Steamship Historical Society.


Associations, information and other links


Rainer Radow's Steam Boat Page
Description of his steamlaunch project Emma and a 1,000 picture collection of over 110 small still existing steamlaunches. *Barlow Cumberland
''A Century of Sail and Steam on the Niagara River''
2001 *Robert H. Thurston

1878 (Chapter 5)
The Steam Boat Association of Great BritainSteamboats.org
US inland rivers steamboats today and in history: pictures, sounds, videos, link directory, travel guide, expert discussion forums.
Finnish steamships
Finnish Steam Yacht Association.
Steamboats
historical marker in Bainbridge, Georgia
The Steamship Historical Society of America
The official website for the SSHSA, a historical society focused on engine driven vessels and maritime history since 1935.
North West Steam Society – Steam power association in US Pacific Northwest – many boats, cars, trains, etc.The Steamboating Forum – for discussion of a variety of steam launches. Dort in Stoom – Largest steam event in Europe, held semi-annually in Dordrecht, the Netherlands.
{{authority control Ship types Boat types Steamships, Steamboats,