Steckler's Steamboat

By Maddy Steckler


  • Before trains, cars, trucks and airplanes existed rivers were used for travel, they carried people and goods from one place to another.
  • The era of the steamboat began in America in 1787 when John Fitch made the first successful trial of a 45 foot steamboat on the Delaware river on August 22, 1787.
  • The steamboat could travel at the speed of up to five miles per hour.
  • One of the most important type of steamboat was the snagboat. these boats patrolled the rivers and removed snags so other boats wouldn't hit them and sink. before snagboats were invented in 1829, snags caused many problems for steamboats. Sometimes the damage from hitting snag was so bad it caused boats to sink.


  • Robert Fulton didn't invent the steamboat but he gets a lot of credit for it.
  • in 1800, he built a successful "diving boat" which he named the Nautilus.
  • On August 17, 1807 Robert Fulton's first american steamboat, left New York for Albany, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world.
  • There are many kinds of steamboats that have been invented. They all have a similar design, but different types of boats have different jobs. Towboats moved barge by pushing them up and down rivers; ferries carried people across rivers; snagboats cleared the river of dangers; packets carried goods, mail and people; and steamboats called fuelers met other steamboats along the rivers and re-supplied them with wood and coil or oil.


  • Steamboats didn't need sails so they aren't dependent on the wind direction.
  • The steamboat cut travel time by months
  • Steamboats became entertainment areas.
  • They increased trade.


  • The steamboats were dangerous, the engines could be a problem. To power a steam engine you must produce heat to boil water and make steam. You must then pressurize the steam, it is the pressure trapped in boilers that creates the power to drive a piston and subsequently a wheel.
  • In days when metallurgy was not as advanced, engineers had to estimate how much pressure boilers could withstand. They didn't always estimate correctly, as explosions were common.
  • It was expensive to build and maintain steamboats

importance of steamboats in ND

  • From 1872-1887 Bismarck was an important transportation center and Missouri river port.
  • Until the railroad bridge across the Missouri river was completed in 1882, during the winter trains crossed the ice on specially built track and during the summer they were ferried across.

How did steamboats impact ND?

  • 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, its hard to imagine that steam-powered paddlewheel boats were once the most important transportation.
Robert Fulton Invents the Steamboat

Steamboat Ride!

Saturday, May 23rd, 6:45pm

Missouri River

Steamboats ride, $7 for adults and $4 for kids younger than 13