The History of Steam Boats in America

Old Steam Boats Models

The prominence of the steam boats in America came about in 1787 the year when John Fitch made headway in the discovery of a steam boat that was about 45 foot on the river Delaware on August 22 of the same year.

After the success of the first steam boat Fitch later constructed a much bigger vessel that was able to carry people and freight between Philadelphia and Burlington New Jersey.

Between 1785 and 1796 Fitch constructed four steamboats that later plied rivers and lakes something that increased water transport in America.

Another man called Robert Fulton was also another prominent person in the pioneer of steamboats in America, in fact he is the one regarded as the father of steam navigation. He was christened the “father of steam navigation” due to his ability to justify the economic viability of steam navigation.

Steamboats unlike the previous ships or canoes that relied on wind or water current to move were capable of self propulsion. This was really an impediment to the movement of such ships upstream and so with the invention of the steamboats subsequent ships that were built were now able to travel upstream and against the currents and wind.

The result of this was an improved water transport for people and goods on rivers and other water bodies across America. Steamboats were very influential in opening the west and south of America for more settlement.

The west of America agricultural economy was stimulated by the steamboats because the boats provided better access to her markets at an economical cost.

The improvement of steamboats saw farmers in the west of America buy land near navigable rivers. They did this because this made it easy for them to ship their agricultural produce to their target markets either in the east or south.

As the water transport continued improving accentuated by the revolution of the steamboats what were just mere villages along strategic waterways developed into centers of commerce and urban life sprung up in them.

Between 1830s and 1840s New Orleans grew and surpassed all other ports in terms of exports thanks to the steamboats. Transport by steamboats was also comfortable than the other means of transport that existed then.

Transportation by steamboats led to the construction of canals in the Northeast as a way to further enhance water transport. These canals were intended to open up the hinterland to the coastal areas so that boats from the coast could travel upstream and also boats from the hinterland to the coast.

In 1817 a canal construction to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie was commenced. This project was completed in 1825 and as a result New York and Buffalo was connected. Transportation between the two cities was thus improved because people could travel between the cities by the steamboats.

The canal also lessened the time that one took to travel between New York City and Buffalo from 20 days to about six days. The cost of ferrying freight was also reduced as a result because the steamboats provided easy transportation.