GROWTH OF STEAMBOATING

The growth of steamboating on western rivers was very rapid. In 1819 there were sixty-three 2 steamers; in 1832, 230; in 1842, 450, with a total of 120,278 tous, while by 1855 there were 800 steamers in commission.

The Washington was the first steamer to explode her boiler, this accident occurring June 9. 1817, soon after she left Marietta, O. Twelve persons were killed and as many more seriously injured, Captain Shreve. master, and Mr. Clark, engineer, being among the latter. Between the years 1817 and 1848 there were 230 boiler explosions among the river craft, with a loss of 2,563 lives aud 2.002 seriously injured, and from 1848 to 1871 there were sixty-six explosions, with a loss of 3.033 lives. Of these accidents, the worst was the loss of the Sultana in 1865. She was loaded with Union soldiers returning borne, and by the explosion of her boilers 1,64747 men lost their lives, either by scalding or drowning.

The first steamboat to navigate the Missis­ sippi above the mouth of the Ohio was the Zebulon M. Pike, built in 1815. by a Mr. Prentice, at Henderson. Ky. She required six weeks to make her first trip from Louisville. Ky.. to St. Louis, as she ran only in daylight, tying up at night to replenish her supply of wood which was the fuel used. Coal was not exclusively used as fuel for the steamers on the river until in the late sixties. This was the first steamboat to reach St. Louis. The keel-boat, which was pushed against the current by setting poles, still ruled supreme above that point.

The first steamer to reach St. Louis from an Atlantic Port was the Maid of Orleans, a vessel of 100 tons, which was built in Philadelphia in 1818. She was intended for both ocean aud river navi­gation, having both sails and steam power. She reached the mouth of the Mississippi in due time aud then ascended the river to St. Louis.

The Glaucus was the first steamer to land at Rock Island having a steam whistle. Steamers before her time used a small cannon to announce their approach. The steamer Greek Slave, which also ran on the upper river in the late forties and early fifties, was the first boat to have a steam whistle. Capt. R. C. Gray was the first to introduce the steam calliope on the river, which lie installed on the steamer Denmark.

The average life of a river steamer was five years. The Aunt Letty and one other steamer, whose name we have not been able to obtain, were the only boats on the upper river to try out the idea of four engines and double stern wheels. The steamer Baugo was the first show­ boat to visit the upper river. She had a stage and seats for audiences, aud made a trip from St. Louis to' St. Paul in 1856 with a minstrel show, stopping at all landings to give performances.

The first steamboat to make a complete trip on the upper river \vas the Virginia, going from St. Louis to Fort Suelliiig (St. Paul) in April, 1823. She carried supplies for the fort and reached there May 10, and among her passengers were Major Biddle and John Russell, of the United States Army, Major Taliaferro, United States Indian agent, and Count Giacomi C. Beltrami.

Among the early steamboats which navigated the upper river between St. Louis and St. Paul may be mentioned: the Arabia, Asia, Audubon, Adelia. Aunt Letty, Ben Campbell, Bengal Tiger, Black Hawk, Burlington, Belfast, Brazil, Caleb Cooke, Chippewa Falls, City Belle, Cedar Rapids, Canada, Damsel, Dan Converse, Danube, Denmark, Des Moines Valley, Davenport, Dubuque. Divernon, Dr. Franklin, Dew Drop, Editor, Excelsior, Fanny Harris, Fire Canoe, Flour, Fred Lorenze. Flora Temple, Galena, Glaucus, Golden State, Golden Era, Goody Friends, Grace Darling, Greek Slave, Henrietta, Henry Clay, Hamburg, Hannibal City, Harmonia, Hawk Eye State, Ione, Itaska, John Herron, Jenny Lynd, Kate Cassell, Keokuk, Kentucky, Kieth City. Larinertine, Light Foot, Lake City, La Crosse, Laclede, Luzerne, Lucilla, Martha. Metropolitan, Mary Lee, Minnesota Belle, St. Paul, New St. Paul, New England, Oswego. Ocean Wave. Pem- bina, Prairie State, Pomeroy, Red Wing, Royal Arch, Regulator, Shenandoah. St. Croix, Tigress, Tishomingo and the William L. Ewing.

 

.Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois

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