Sweet Steamboats

Affordable and Quick.

Advantages and Disadvantages

- Advantages: They allowed faster travels of goods and passengers. More reliable than than sailing ships.

- Disadvantages: They were not regulated and killed a lot of people due to boiler explosions and/or unsafe operation.

- Example: One steamboat on the Mississippi, at the end of the Civil War overloaded 300% or so with returning Union soldiers who had been released form Southern POW camps. Boiler exploded and over 3,000 people died.

History of the Steamboat

Before trains, cars, trucks and airplanes existed, rivers were used for travel. They carried people and goods from one place to another. River travel was often slow because speed of travel depended on the river current and manpower. That all changed with the introduction of steampowered boats in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The steam-powered boats could travel at the astonishing speed of up to five miles per hour. They soon revolutionized river travel and trade, and dominated the waterways. The dangers of steamboat travel such as explosions, sinkings, Indian attacks, and daring steamboat races captured the imagination of the country.

Important to settling the West

The great steam-powered boats of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries also played an important role in the expansion of the United States to the west.

Steamboats quickly became a symbol of the West. As such, westerners continuously sought to improve and decorate the boats. In competition for passengers, they began to offer luxurious cabins and built ornate lounges on board. The elegance of these steamboats served as a reassurance to westerners that they were not the primitive backwoods hicks painted by the eastern press. However, most steamboat passengers did not have access to this elegance. The onboard saloons were open only to those who had purchased expensive cabin passage. Passengers who could afford only deck passage slept in dirty, crowded conditions on a cotton bale if they could find one, on the floor if they could not.

How it impacted North Dakota

With new, cheaper means of transportation come people—first workers, then settlers, then merchants. Communities began to develop on the banks of the Red River along the steamboats’ route.

Looking at the shallow twists and turns of the Red River, it’s hard to imagine that steam-powered paddlewheel boats were once the most important transportation link between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. From the first in 1859 to the last that sank in 1909, Red River steamboats hauled thousands of settlers and millions of tons of freight across the border between the United States and Canada. Although it lasted barely 50 years, the age of the steamboat forged a commercial network between the two countries that exists to this day in the Interstate-29 corridor.
- See more at: http://www.ndstudies.org/media/steamboats_on_the_red_steamboats_bring_people_and_businesses#sthash.6aJmsrSe.dpuf
The Steamboat - History Key Assignment - February 2014