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Ohio Archæological and Historical Society
Publications, Volume XX

Ohio Archæological and Historical Society Publications, Volume XX [1911], Page 378 [Click for larger image]Page 378

EARLY STEAM BOAT TRAVEL ON THE OHIO RIVER. BY LESLIE S. HENSHAW, CINCINNATI, OHIO. October, 1911, marks a centennial of considerable importance to the Western country, for it was in that month in 1811, that the first steamboat on Western waters, passed down the Ohio River. The boat, a "side-wheeler",1 was built at Pittsburgh, under the direction of Nicholas J. Roosevelt of New York, an agent of Fulton, the inventor, and Livingston, the financial aid, and was called the "New Orleans."2 It passed Cincinnati on the twenty-seventh of October3 and arrived at Louisville on the twenty-eighth.4 The Cincinnati newspaper, "Liberty Hall", in its issue of Wednesday, October thirtieth, 1811, adds a small note to commercial and ship news to the following effect: "On Sunday last. the steamboat lately built at Pittsburgh passed this town at 5 o'clock in the afternoon in fine stile, going at the rate of about 10 or 12 miles an hour." The water was too low to allow passage over the falls, so to prove that it could navigate against the current, the boat made several trips between Louisville and Cincinnati and, on November twenty-seventh, arrived at Cincinnati in forty-five hours from the falls.5 When the water rose, the "New Orleans" proceeded on its way towards its destination and arrived at Natchez, late in December6 and plied as a regular packet between Natchez and New Orleans for several years. Following the "New Orleans", a group of boats was built at Pittsburgh; the "Comet" under the French patent; the "Vesuvius" and the "Aetna" on the Fulton plan. In the meantime, Brownsville had entered the field as a steamboat building town, for the "Enterprise" was constructed there and later, the engine for the "Washington," under the supervision of Captain Henry M. Shreve, while the boat itself was built at Wheeling. This boat by its voyage in 1817, from Shippingport to New Orleans and back in forty-five days. convinced the skeptical public that steamboat navigation would succeed on Western

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