From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
A steamboat, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels. Steamboats sometimes use the prefix designation SS, S.S. or S/S (for 'Steam Ship') , however these designations are most often used for Steamships.
The term steamboat is usually used to refer to smaller steam-powered boats working on lakes and rivers, particularly riverboats; steamship generally refers to larger steam-powered ships, usually ocean-going, capable of carrying a (ship's) boat. The S.S. Humboldt engine room, to the right, is a concept drawing during the construction of the ship. The term steam wheeler is archaic and rarely used. In England, "steam packet", after its sailing predecessor, was the usual term; even "steam barge" could be used.[notes 1] The French transatlantic steamer SS La Touraine was probably the last of her type to be equipped with sails, although she never used them. Steamships in turn were overtaken by diesel-driven ships in the second half of the 20th century. Most warships used steam propulsion from the 1860s until the advent of the gas turbine in the early 20th century.
Screw-driven steamships generally carry the ship prefix "SS" before their names, meaning 'Steam Ship' (or 'Screw Steamer' i.e. 'screw-driven steamship', or 'Screw Schooner' during the 1870s and 1880s, when sail was also carried), paddle steamers usually carry the prefix "PS" and steamships powered by steam turbine may be prefixed "TS" (turbine ship). The term steamer is occasionally used, out of nostalgia, for diesel motor-driven vessels, prefixed "MV".
Early attempts at powering a boat by steam were made by the French inventor Denis Papin and the English inventor Thomas Newcomen. Papin invented the steam digester (a type of pressure cooker) and experimented with closed cylinders and pistons pushed in by atmospheric pressure, analogous to the pump built by Thomas Savery in England during the same period. Papin proposed applying this steam pump to the operation of a paddlewheel boat and tried to market his idea in Britain. He was unable to successfully convert the piston motion into rotary motion and the steam could not produce enough pressure. Newcomen's design did solve the first problem, but remained shackled to the inherent limitations of the engines of the time.
In 1736, Jonathan Hulls was granted a patent in England for a Newcomen engine-powered steamboat (using a pulley instead of a beam, and a pawl and ratchet to obtain rotary motion), but it was the improvement in steam engines by James Watt that made the concept feasible. William Henry of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, having learned of Watt's engine on a visit to England, made his own engine. In 1763 he put it in a boat. The boat sank, and while Henry made an improved model, he did not appear to have much success, though he may have inspired others.
The first steam-powered ship was built in France in 1783, by Marquis, Claude de Jouffroy and his colleagues, as an improvement of an earlier attempt, the 1776,Palmipède. The paddle steamer, Pyroscaphe, successfully steamed up the river Saône for fifteen minutes before the engine failed. The idea was not developed any further.
Similar boats were made in 1785 by John Fitch in Pennsylvania and William Symington in Dumfries, Scotland. Fitch successfully trialled his boat in 1787, and in 1788, he began operating a regular commercial service along the Delaware river between Philadelphia PA and Burlington NJ, carrying as many as 30 passengers. This boat could typically make 7 to 8 miles per hour, and traveled more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km) during its short length of service. The Fitch steamboat was not a commercial success, as this travel route was adequately covered by relatively good wagon roads. The following year a second boat made 30 miles (48 km) excursions, and in 1790, a third boat ran a series of trials on the Delaware River before patent disputes dissuaded Fitch from continuing.
Meanwhile, Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, near Dumfries, Scotland, had developed double-hulled boats propelled by manually cranked paddlewheels placed between the hulls, even attempting to interest various European governments in a giant warship version, 246' long. Miller sent King Gustav III of Sweden an actual small-scale, 100-foot-long version called "Experiment". Miller then engaged the engineer William Symington to build his patent steam engine which drove a stern-mounted paddle-wheel in a boat in 1785. The boat was successfully tried out on Dalswinton Loch in 1788, and followed by a larger steamboat the next year. Miller then abandoned the project.
The failed project of Patrick Miller caught the attention of Lord Dundas, Governor of the Forth and Clyde Canal Company, and at a meeting with the canal company's directors on 5 June 1800, they approved his proposals for the use of "a model of a boat by Captain Schank to be worked by a steam engine by Mr Symington" on the canal.
The boat was built by Alexander Hart at Grangemouth to Symington's design with a vertical cylinder engine and crosshead transmitting power to a crank driving the paddlewheels. Trials on the River Carron in June 1801 were successful and included towing sloops from the river Forth up the Carron and thence along the Forth and Clyde Canal.
In 1801 Symington patented a horizontal steam engine directly linked to a crank, and got the support of Lord Dundas for a second steamboat which would become famous as the Charlotte Dundas, named in honour of his Lordship's daughter. Symington designed a new hull around his powerful horizontal engine, with the crank driving a large paddle wheel in a central upstand in the hull, aimed at avoiding damage to the canal banks. The new boat was 56 ft (17.1 m) long, 18 ft (5.5 m) wide and 8 ft (2.4 m) depth, with a wooden hull. The boat was built by John Allan, and the engine by the Carron Company.
The first sailing was on the canal in Glasgow on 4 January 1803, with Lord Dundas and a few of his relatives and friends on board. The crowd were pleased with what they saw, but Symington wanted to make improvements and another more ambitious trial was made on March 28. On this occasion, the Charlotte Dundas towed two 70 ton barges 30 km (almost 20 miles) along the Forth and Clyde Canal to Glasgow, and despite "a strong breeze right ahead" which stopped all other canal boats it took only nine and a quarter hours, giving an average speed of about 3 km/h (2 mph). The Charlotte Dundas was the "first practical steamboat"; it demonstrated the practicality of steam power for ships, and was the first to be followed by continuous development of steamboats.
The American, Robert Fulton, was present at the trials of the Charlotte Dundas and was intrigued by the potential of the steamboat. While working in France, he corresponded with and was helped by the Scottish engineer Henry Bell, who may have given him the first model of his working steamboat. He designed his own steamboat which sailed along the River Seine in 1803.
He later shipped his first proper steamship to America in 1807, the North River Steamboat (later known as the Clermont), which carried passengers between New York City and Albany, New York. The Clermont was able to make the 150 mile trip in 32 hours. The steamboat was powered by a Boulton and Watt engine and was capable of long-distance travel. It was the first commercially successful steamboat, transporting passengers along the Hudson River.
The first sea-going steamboat was Richard Wright's first steamboat "Experiment", an ex-French lugger; she steamed from Leeds to Yarmouth, arriving Yarmouth 19 July 1813. "Tug", the first tugboat, was launched by the Woods Brothers, Port Glasgow, on 5 November 1817; in the summer of 1817 she was the first steamboat to travel round the North of Scotland to the East Coast.[page needed]
The Aaron Manby was the first iron steamship to go to sea. Built by Aaron Manby at the Horseley Ironworks, she carried passengers and freight to Paris in 1822 at an average speed of 8 knots (9 mph, 14 km/h).
The American ship SS Savannah first crossed the Atlantic Ocean although she was actually a hybrid between a steamship and a sailing ship, and only used the steam engine for half of the journey. The title of the first ship to make the transatlantic trip substantially under steam power is possibly the British-built Dutch-owned Curaçao, a wooden 438 ton vessel built in Dover and powered by two 50 hp engines, which crossed from Hellevoetsluis, near Rotterdam on 26 April 1827 to Paramaribo, Surinam on 24 May, spending 11 days under steam on the way out and more on the return. Another claimant is the Canadian ship SS Royal William in 1833.
The SS Archimedes, built in Britain in 1839 by British engineer Francis Pettit Smith, was the world's first steamship to be driven by a screw propeller. It had considerable influence on ship development, encouraging the adoption of screw propulsion by the Royal Navy, in addition to her influence on commercial vessels.
The first steamship purpose-built for regularly scheduled trans-Atlantic crossings was the British side-wheel paddle steamer SS Great Western built by the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1838, which inaugurated the era of the trans-Atlantic ocean liner.
(See also: Steamboats of the Mississippi)
The era of the steamboat began in America in 1787 when John Fitch (1743-1798) made the first successful trial of a forty-five-foot steamboat on the Delaware River on August 22, 1787, in the presence of members of the Constitutional Convention being held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fitch later built a larger vessel that carried passengers and freight between Philadelphia and Burlington, New Jersey on the Delaware. His steamboat was not a financial success and was shut down after a few months service.
Oliver Evans (1755-1819) was an American inventor born in Newport, Delaware to a family of Welsh settlers. He designed an improved high-pressure steam engine in 1801 but did not build it. (patented 1804). The Philadelphia Board of Health was concerned with the problem of dredging and cleaning the city's dockyards, and in 1805 Evans convinced them to contract with him for a steam-powered dredge which he called the "Oruktor Amphibolos". It was built but was only marginally successful. Evan's high pressure steam engine had a much higher power to weight ratio, making it practical to make locomotives and steamboats. Evans got so depressed with the poor protection that the U.S. patent law gave inventors that he eventually took all his engineering drawings and invention ideas and destroyed them to prevent his children wasting their time in court fighting patent infringements.
Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston, who owned extensive land on the Hudson River in New York, met in 1802 and drew up an agreement to construct a steamboat to ply a route between New York City and Albany, New York on the Hudson River. They were successful in obtaining a monopoly on the Hudson River traffic to make sure their proposed boat named the "Clemont", after Livingston's estate, could make a profit. The "Clermont" was nicknamed "Fulton's Folly" by doubters. On Monday, August 17, 1807, the memorable first voyage of the "Clermont" up the Hudson River was begun. She traveled the 150 miles (240 km) trip to Albany in a little over 32 hours and made the return trip in about eight hours. The use of steamboats on major US rivers soon followed Fulton's 1807 success. In 1811 the first in a continuous (still in commercial passenger operation as of 2007[update]) line of river steamboats left the dock at Pittsburgh to steam down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and on to New Orleans. In 1817 a consortium in Sackets Harbor, New York funded the construction of the first US steamboat, Ontario, to run on Lake Ontario and the Great Lakes, beginning the growth of lake commercial and passenger traffic.[page needed] The river pilot and author Mark Twain, in his Life on the Mississippi, described much of the operation of such vessels.[page needed]
By 1849 the shipping industry was in transition from sail powered boats to steam powered boats and from wood construction to an ever increasing metal construction. There were basically three different types of ships being used: standard sailing ships of several different types. Clippers, and paddle steamers with paddles mounted on the side or rear. River steam boats typically used rear mounted paddles and had flat bottoms and shallow hulls designed to carry large loads on generally smooth and occasionally shallow rivers. Ocean going paddle steamers typically used side wheeled paddles and used narrower deeper hulls designed to travel in the often stormy weather encountered at sea. The ship hull design was often based on the clipper ship design with extra bracing to support the loads and strains imposed by the paddle wheels when they encountered rough water.
The first paddle-steamer to make a long ocean voyage was the 320 ton 98 feet (30 m) long SS Savannah, built in 1819 expressly for packet ship mail and passenger service to and from Liverpool, England. On 22 May 1819, the watch on the Savannah sighted Ireland after 23 days at sea. The Allaire Iron Works of New York supplied Savannah's's engine cylinder, while the rest of the engine components and running gear were manufactured by the Speedwell Ironworks of New Jersey. The 90-horsepower low-pressure engine was of the inclined direct-acting type, with a single 40-inch-diameter (100 cm) cylinder and a 5 feet (1.5 m) stroke. Savannah's engine and machinery were unusually large for their time. The ship's wrought-iron paddlewheels were 16 feet in diameter with eight buckets per wheel. For fuel, the vessel carried 75 tons of coal and 25 cords of wood.
The SS Savannah was too small to carry much fuel and the engine was intended only for use in calm weather and to get in and out of harbors. Under favorable winds the sails alone were able to provide a speed of at least four knots. The Savannah was judged not a commercial success and its engine was removed and it was converted back to a regular sailing ship. By 1848 steamboats built by both United States and British shipbuilders were already in use for mail and passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean—a 3,000 miles (4,800 km) journey.
Since paddle steamers typically required from 5 to 16 tons of coal per day to keep their engines running, they were more expensive to run. Initially, nearly all seagoing steamboats were equipped with mast and sails to supplement the steam engine power and provide power for occasions when the steam engine needed repair or maintenance. These steamships typically concentrated on high value cargo, mail and passengers and only had moderate cargo capabilities because of their required loads of coal. The typical paddle wheel steamship was powered by a coal burning engine that required firemen to shovel the coal to the burners.
By 1849 the screw propeller had been invented and was slowly being introduced as iron increasingly was used in ship construction and the stress introduced by propellers could be compensated for. As the 1800s progressed the timber and lumber needed to make wooden ships got ever more expensive and the iron plate needed for iron ship construction got much cheaper as the massive iron works at Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, for example, got ever more efficient. The propeller put a lot of stress on the rear of the ships and would not see large spread use till the conversion from wood boats to iron boats was complete—well underway by 1860. By the 1840s the ocean-going steam ship industry was well established as the Cunard Line and others demonstrated.
In 1846 the Oregon boundary dispute was settle with Great Britain and California was conquered in 1847 and annexed in 1848. The United States was now a Pacific Ocean power. Starting in 1848 Congress, after the annexation of California but before the California Gold Rush was confirmed there, had subsidized the Pacific Mail Steamship Company with $199,999 to set up regular packet ship, mail, passenger and cargo routes in the Pacific Ocean. This was to be a regular scheduled route from Panama City, Nicaragua and Mexico to and from San Francisco and Oregon. Panama City was the Pacific terminus of the Isthmus of Panama trail across Panama. The Atlantic Ocean mail contract from East Coast cities and New Orleans to and from the Chagres River in Panama was won by the United States Mail Steamship Company whose first paddle wheel steamship, the SS Falcon (1848) was dispatched on 1 December 1848 to the Caribbean (Atlantic) terminus of the Isthmus of Panama trail—the Chagres River.
The SS California (1848), the first Pacific Mail Steamship Company paddle wheel steamship, left New York City on 6 October 1848 with only a partial load of her about 60 saloon (about $300 fare) and 150 steerage (about $150 fare) passenger capacity. Only a few were going all the way to California. Her crew numbered about 36 men. She left New York well before confirmed word of the California Gold Rush had reached the East Coast. Once the California Gold Rush was confirmed by President James Polk in his State of the Union address on 5 December 1848 people started rushing to Panama City to catch the SS California. The SS California picked up more passengers in Valparaiso Chile and Panama City Panama and showed up in San Francisco, loaded with about 400 passengers—twice the passengers it had been designed for—on 28 February 1849. She had left behind about another 400-600 potential passengers still looking for passage from Panama City. The SS California had made the trip from Panama and Mexico after steaming around Cape Horn from New York—see SS California (1848).
The trips by paddle wheel steamship to Panama and Nicaragua from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, via New Orleans and Havana were about 2,600 miles (4,200 km) long and took about two weeks. Trips across the Isthmus of Panama or Nicaragua typically took about one week by native canoe and mule back. The 4,000 miles (6,400 km) trip to or from San Francisco to Panama City could be done by paddle wheel steamer in about three weeks. In addition to this travel time via the Panama route typically had a two- to four-week waiting period to find a ship going from Panama City, Panama to San Francisco before 1850. It was 1850 before enough paddle wheel steamers were available in the Atlantic and Pacific routes to establish regularly scheduled journeys.
Other steamships soon followed and by late 1849 paddle wheel steamships like the SS Mckim (1848) were carrying miners and their supplies the 125 miles (201 km) trip from San Francisco up the extensive Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta to Stockton, California, Marysville, California, Sacramento, etc. to get about 125 miles (201 km) closer to the gold fields. Steam powered tugboats and towboats started working in the San Francisco Bay soon after this to expedite shipping in and out of the bay.
As the passenger, mail and high value freight business to and from California boomed more and more paddle steamers were brought into service—eleven by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company alone. The trip to and from California via Panama and paddle wheeled steamers could be done, if there were no waits for shipping, in about 40 days—over 100 days less than by wagon or 160 days less than a trip around Cape Horn. About 20-30% of the California Argonauts are thought to have returned to their homes, mostly on the East Coast of the United States via Panama—the fastest way home. Many returned to California after settling their business in the East with their wives, family and/or sweethearts. Most used the Panama or Nicaragua route till 1855 when the completion of the Panama Railroad made the Panama Route much easier, faster and more reliable. Between the 1849 and 1869 when the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed across the United States about 800,000 travelers had used the Panama route. Most of the roughly $50,000,000 of gold found each year in California were shipped East via the Panama route on paddle steamers, mule trains and canoes and later the Panama Railroad across Panama. After 1855 when the Panama Railroad was completed the Panama Route was by far the quickest and easiest way to get to or from California from the East Coast of the U.S. or Europe. Most California bound merchandise still used the slower but cheaper Cape Horn sailing ship route. The sinking of the paddle steamer SS Central America (the Ship of Gold)) in a hurricane on 12 September 1857 and the loss of about $2 million in California gold indirectly led to the Panic of 1857.
Steamboat traffic including passenger and freight business grew exponentially in the decades before the Civil War. So too did the economic and human losses inflicted by snags, shoals, boiler explosions, and human error.[page needed]
During he US Civil War the Battle of Hampton Roads, often referred to as either the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack or the Battle of Ironclads, was fought over two days with steam powered ironclad warships, March 8–9, 1862. The battle occurred in Hampton Roads, a roadstead in Virginia where the Elizabeth and Nansemond Rivers meet the James River just before it enters Chesapeake Bay adjacent to the city of Norfolk. The battle was a part of the effort of the Confederate States of America to break the Union Naval blockade, which had cut off Virginia's largest cities, Norfolk and Richmond, from all international trade.
The US Civil War spilled over to the Mississippi with naval sieges and naval war using Union paddlewheelers. The Battle of Vicksburg involved monitors and ironclad riverboats. The USS Cairo is a survivor of the Vicksburg battle. Trade on the river was suspended for two years because of a Confederate's Mississippi blockade before the union victory at Vicksburg reopened the river on July 4, 1863. The triumph of Eads ironclads, and Farragut's seizure of New Orleans, secured the river for the Union North.
The worst of all steamboat accidents occurred at the end of the Civil War in April 1865, when the steamboat Sultana, carrying an over-capacity load of returning Union soldiers recently freed from a Confederate prison camp, blew up, causing more than 1,700 deaths.
For most of the 19th century and part of the early 20th century, trade on the Mississippi River was dominated by paddle-wheel steamboats. Their use generated rapid development of economies of port cities; the exploitation of agricultural and commodity products, which could be more easily transported to markets; and prosperity along the major rivers. Their success led to penetration deep into the continent, where Anson Northup in 1859 became first steamer to cross the US-Canadian border on the Red River. They would also be involved in major political events, as when Louis Riel seized International at Fort Garry, or Gabriel Dumont was engaged by Northcote at Batoche. Steamboats were held in such high esteem that they could become state symbols; the Steamboat Iowa (1838) is incorporated in the Seal of Iowa because it represented speed, power, and progress.
At the same time, the expanding steamboat traffic had severe adverse environmental effects, in the Middle Mississippi Valley especially, between St. Louis and the river's confluence with the Ohio. The steamboats consumed much wood for fuel, and the river floodplain and banks became deforested. This led to instability in the banks, addition of silt to the water, making the river both shallower and hence wider and causing unpredictable, lateral movement of the river channel across the wide, ten-mile floodplain, endangering navigation. Boats designated as snagpullers to keep the channels free had crews that sometimes cut remaining large trees 100–200 feet or more back from the banks, exacerbating the problems. In the 19th century, the flooding of the Mississippi became a more severe problem than when the floodplain was filled with trees and brush.
Most steamboats were destroyed by boiler explosions or fires, and many sank in the river, some to be covered over by silt as the river changed course. From 1811 to 1899, 156 steamboats were lost to snags or rocks between St. Louis and the Ohio River. Another 411 were damaged by fire, explosions or ice during that period. One of the few surviving Mississippi sternwheelers from this period, Julius C. Wilkie, was operated as a museum ship at Winona, Minnesota until its destruction in a fire in 1981. The replacement, built in situ was not a steamboat. The replica was scrapped in 2008.
From 1844 through 1857, luxurious palace steamers carried passengers and cargo around the North American Great Lakes. Great Lakes passenger steamers reached their zenith during the century from 1850 to 1950. The SS Badger is the last of the once-numerous passenger-carrying steam-powered car ferries operating on the Great Lakes. A unique style of bulk carrier known as the lake freighter was developed on the Great Lakes. The St. Marys Challenger, launched in 1906, is the oldest operating steamship in the United States. She runs a Skinner Marine Unaflow 4-cylinder reciprocating steam engine as her power plant. However, the steam yacht Gondola is older and still operating on Coniston Water, England.
The Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating steamboat in the United States, and the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world. She was laid down as Idlewild in 1914, and is currently located in Louisville, Ky.
Five major commercial steamboats currently operate on the inland waterways of the United States. The only remaining overnight cruising steamboat is the 432 passenger American Queen which operates week long cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers 11 moths of the year. The others are day boats: they are the steamers "Chautauqua Belle" at Chautauqua Lake, New York, Minne Ha-Ha at Lake George, NY, operating on Lake George; the Belle of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, operating on the Ohio River; and the Natchez in New Orleans, Louisiana, operating on the Mississippi River. For modern craft operated on rivers, see the Riverboat article.
During World War II Kaiser Richmond Shipyards, Richmond, California (a Kaiser facility) had four Richmond Shipyards, located in the city of Richmond, California and another shipyard in Los Angeles. Kaiser had still other yards in Washington (state) and other states. They were run by Kaiser-Permanente Metals and Kaiser Shipyards. The Richmond yards were responsible for constructing more Liberty ships during World War II, 747, than any other shipyards in the United States. Liberty ships were chosen for mass production because their somewhat obsolete design was relatively simple and their triple expansion piston steam engine components were simple enough that they could be made by several companies that were not highly needed to manufacture other parts. Ship building was given a high priority for steel and other needed components as the German U-boats till 1944 sunk more ships than could be built by all the shipyards in the United States. The U.S. shipyards built about 5,926 ships in World War II plus over 100,000 more small craft made for the U.S. Army naval components.
(See also: Maritime history of California for many more examples of steam ships.)
In Canada, the city of Terrace, British Columbia (BC), celebrates "Riverboat Days" each summer. Built on the banks of the Skeena River, the city depended on the steamboat for transportation and trade into the 20th century. The first steamer to enter the Skeena was Union in 1864. In 1866 Mumford attempted to ascend the river, but it was only able to reach the Kitsumkalum River. It was not until 1891 Hudson's Bay Company sternwheeler Caledonia successfully negotiated Kitselas Canyon and reached Hazelton. A number of other steamers were built around the turn of the 20th century, in part due to the growing fish industry and the gold rush.[page needed] For more information, see Steamboats of the Skeena River.
Sternwheelers were an instrumental transportation technology in the development of Western Canada. They were used on most of the navigable waterways of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC (British Columbia) and the Yukon at one time or another, generally being supplanted by the expansion of railroads and roads. In the more mountainous and remote areas of the Yukon and BC, working sternwheelers lived on well into the 20th century.
The simplicity of these vessels and their shallow draft made them indispensable to pioneer communities that were otherwise virtually cut off from the outside world. Because of their shallow, flat-bottomed construction (the Canadian examples of the western river sternwheeler generally needed less than three feet of water to float in), they could nose up almost anywhere along a riverbank to pick up or drop off passengers and freight. Sternwheelers would also prove vital to the construction of the railroads that eventually replaced them. They were used to haul supplies, track and other materials to construction camps.
The simple, versatile, locomotive-style boilers fitted to most sternwheelers after about the 1860s could burn coal, when available in more populated areas like the lakes of the Kootenays and the Okanagan region in southern BC, or wood in the more remote areas, such as the Steamboats of the Yukon River or northern BC.
The hulls were generally wooden, although iron, steel and composite hulls gradually overtook them. They were braced internally with a series of built-up longitudinal timbers called "keelsons". Further resilience was given to the hulls by a system of "hog rods" or "hog chains" that were fastened into the keelsons and led up and over vertical masts called "hog-posts", and back down again.
Like their counterparts on the Mississippi and its tributaries, and the vessels on the rivers of California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, the Canadian sternwheelers tended to have fairly short life-spans. The hard usage they were subjected to and inherent flexibility of their shallow wooden hulls meant that relatively few of them had careers longer than a decade.
In British Columbia, the Moyie, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1898, was operated on Kootenay Lake in south-eastern BC until 1957. It has been carefully restored and is on display in the village of Kaslo, where it acts as a tourist attraction right next to information centre in downtown Kaslo. The Moyie is the world's oldest intact stern wheeler. While the SS Sicamous and SS Naramata (steam tug & icebreaker) built by the CPR at Okanagan Landing on Okanagan Lake in 1914 have been preserved in Penticton at the south end of Okanagan Lake.
The SS Samson V is the only Canadian steam-powered sternwheeler that has been preserved afloat. It was built in 1937 by the Canadian federal Department of Public Works as a snagboat for clearing logs and debris out of the lower reaches of the Fraser River and for maintaining docks and aids to navigation. The fifth in a line of Fraser River snagpullers, the Samson V has engines, paddlewheel and other components that were passed down from the Samson II of 1914. It is now moored on the Fraser River as a floating museum in its home port of New Westminster, near Vancouver, BC.
The oldest operating steam driven vessel in North America is the RMS Segwun. It was built in Scotland in 1887 to cruise the Muskoka Lakes, District of Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. Originally named the S.S. Nipissing, it was converted from a side-paddle-wheel steamer with a walking-beam engine into a two-counter-rotating-propeller steamer.
Engineer Robert Fourness and his cousin, physician James Ashworth are said to have had a steamboat running between Hull and Beverley, after having been granted British Patent No. 1640 of March 1788 for a "new invented machine for working, towing, expediting and facilitating the voyage of ships, sloops and barges and other vessels upon the water". James Oldham, MICE, described how well he knew those who had built the F&A steamboat in a lecture entitled "On the rise, progress and present position of steam navigation in Hull" that he gave at the 23rd Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement for Science in Hull, England on 7 September 1853. The first commercially successful steamboat in Europe, Henry Bell's Comet of 1812, started a rapid expansion of steam services on the Firth of Clyde, and within four years a steamer service was in operation on the inland Loch Lomond, a forerunner of the lake steamers still gracing Swiss lakes.
On the Clyde itself, within ten years of Comet's start in 1812 there were nearly fifty steamers, and services had started across the Irish Sea to Belfast and on many British estuaries. By 1900 there were over 300 Clyde steamers.
People have had a particular affection for the Clyde puffers, small steam freighters of traditional design developed to use the Scottish canals and to serve the Highlands and Islands. They were immortalised by the tales of Para Handy's boat Vital Spark by Neil Munro and by the film The Maggie, and a small number are being conserved to continue in steam around the west highland sea lochs.
The Clyde sludge boats had a tradition of occasionally taking passengers on their trips from Glasgow, past the Isle of Arran, down the Firth of Clyde, and one has emerged from retirement as SS Shieldhall, offering outings from Southampton, England.
From 1850 to the early decades of the 20th century Windermere, in the English Lakes, was home to many elegant steam launches. They were used for private parties, watching the yacht races or, in one instance, commuting to work, via the rail connection to Barrow in Furness. Many of these fine craft were saved from destruction when steam went out of fashion and are now part of the collection at Windermere Steamboat Museum. The collection includes SL Dolly, 1850, thought to be the world's oldest mechanically powered boat, and several of the classic Windermere launches.
Today the 1900 steamer SS Sir Walter Scott still sails on Loch Katrine, while on Loch Lomond PS Maid of the Loch is being restored, and in the English Lakes the oldest operating passenger yacht, SY Gondola (built 1859, rebuilt 1979), sails daily during the summer season on Coniston Water.
The paddle steamer Waverley, built in 1947, is the last survivor of these fleets, and the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world. This ship sails a full season of cruises every year from places around Britain, and has sailed across the English Channel for a visit to commemorate the sinking of her predecessor, built in 1899, at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940.
After the Clyde, the Thames estuary was the main growth area for steamboats, starting with the Margery and the Thames in 1815, which were both brought down from the Clyde. Until the arrival of railways from 1838 onwards, steamers steadily took over the role of the many sail and rowed ferries, with at least 80 ferries by 1830 with routes from London to Gravesend and Margate, and upstream to Richmond. By 1835, the Diamond Steam Packet Company, one of several popular companies, reported that it had carried over 250,000 passengers in the year.
The first steamboat to be constructed of iron, the Aaron Manby was laid down in the Horseley Ironworks in Staffordshire in 1821 and launched at the Surrey Docks in Rotherhithe. After testing in the Thames, the boat steamed to Paris where she was used on the River Seine. Three similar iron steamers followed within a few years.
There are few genuine steamboats left on the River Thames; however, a handful remain.
The SL (steam launch) Nuneham is a genuine Victorian steamer built in 1898, and operated on the non-tidal upper Thames by the Thames Steam Packet Boat Company. It is berthed at Runnymede.
SL Nuneham was built at Port Brimscombe on the Thames and Severn Canal by Edwin Clarke. She was built for Salter Bros at Oxford for the regular passenger service between Oxford and Kingston. The original Sissons triple-expansion steam engine was removed in the 1960s and replaced with a diesel engine. In 1972, the SL Nuneham was sold to a London boat operator and entered service on the Westminster Pier to Hampton Court service. In 1984 the boat was sold again – now practically derelict – to French Brothers Ltd at Runnymede as a restoration project.
Over a number of years French Brothers carefully restored the launch to its former specification. A similar Sissons triple-expansion engine was found in a museum in America, shipped back to the UK and installed, along with a new coal-fired Scotch boiler, designed and built by Alan McEwen of Keighley, Yorkshire. The superstructure was reconstructed to the original design and elegance, including the raised roof, wood panelled saloon and open top deck. The restoration was completed in 1997 and the launch was granted an MCA passenger certificate for 106 passengers. SL Nuneham was entered back into service by French Brothers Ltd, but trading as the Thames Steam Packet Boat Company.
Built in 1856, PS Skibladner is the oldest steamship still in operation, serving towns along lake Mjøsa in Norway. In Denmark, running her a near second, is p.s. Hjejlen, built in 1861 and still running on a lake in Denmark.
Swiss lakes are home of a number of large steamships. Ofucjufjgnvmvnnv vmcaton Lake Lucerne, five paddle steamers are still in service: Uri (1901) (de) (built in 1901, 800 passengers), Unterwalden (1902) (de) (1902, 800 passengers), Schiller (1906) (de) (1906, 900 passengers), Gallia (Schiff, 1913) (de) (1913, 900 passengers, fastest paddle-wheeler on European lakes) and Stadt Luzern (Schiff, 1928) (de) (1928, 1200 passengers, last steamship built for a Swiss lake). There are also five steamers as well as some old steamships converted to diesel-powered paddlewheelers on Lake Geneva, two steamers on Lake Zurich and single ones on other lakes.
Seeing the great potential of the steam powered-vessels, Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mạng attempted to reproduce a French-made steamboat. The first test in early 1839 was a failure as the boiler was broken. In the second test two months later, the engine performed greatly. Encouraged by the success, Minh Mạng ordered the engineers to study and develop steam engines and steamers to equip his naval fleets. At the end of Minh Mạng 's reign there were 11 steamboats produced in total. They were classified into 3 classes: heavy, medium and light. However, his successor could not maintain the industry due to financial problems, worsened by many years of social unrest under his rule.
The Élise (ex Scottish-built Marjorie).
"Enterprise on her fast trip to Louisville, 1815"
PS Waverley leaving Dunoon on the Firth of Clyde.
730-foot lake freighter Edward L Ryerson Welland
Paddle steamer PS Waverley steaming down the Firth of Clyde.
Turbine steamer TS Queen Mary.
SS Shieldhall steams down the Firth of Clyde.
SS United States laid up in Philadelphia.
Sky Wonder last steam powered cruise ship built 1984
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steamboat.|
Thomson_2009was invoked but never defined (see the help page).