Steam Comes Thumping Along

Steam Comes Thumping Along

The growth of steam navigation proceeded steadily, following the first commercially successful passenger run from.

New York to Albany in Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat (popularly known as the “Clermont”) in 1808.

By 1812 the Hudson had a dozen steamers plying its waters.

They changed the dynamics of passage on the Hudson and helped to rush shipwrights from.

New York City’s East River shipyards to the north woods to build the flotillas which won the vital battles of Lake Erie and Lake Champlain in the War of 1812.

These last-minute American victories defeated the heavy British counter-thrusts that had been mounted after America’s failed attempt to “liberate” Canada by force.

Fulton and other steamboat pioneers knew well, however, that the great use of steam would be opening the American interior through the Mississippi-Ohio River system,

and there toward the end of the War of 1812,a steamboat played a viral role in rushing reinforcements.

and munitions to repel the British attack on New Orleans. This attack was mounted after peace had been signed,

due to the time it took to get word across the Atlantic by sailing ship-a run where no steamship could yet function effectively.

In the decades that followed, steamboats went on to establish service in sheltered bays and sounds,

while sail continued to carry almost everything in salt water, with the exception of the occasional trip.

by steamer down the coast from New York and a few forays across the Atlantic.

In these early decades of steam navigation it could be said that the most important use of steam in the oceanic trades was in the tugs that helped the sailing vessels,

ever growing in size, in and out of port.

The big packet ships, soon reaching up to 2,000 tons, needed this assistance in narrow quarters.

and benefited from being towed in or out of harbor against head winds-though skip pers continued to take pride in clearing under sail when they could,

as demonstrated by Captain James Barker who sailed the Tusita!

aout of her Hoboken pier (across the Hudson River from Manhattan) in the late 1920s.

But as the 1840s progressed, the British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel built serious ocean-going steamships to complete his Great Western Railway,

which took people from London to the West Country ports of Bristol and Liverpool.

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