With the romantic experience, great value for money, delectable food, utmost relaxation, and family-friendly atmosphere it offers, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t choose to take a cruise ship vacation. Adding the amazing destinations and the fascinating sights, it’s a trip that can allow you to discover new treasures and experiences along the way. Thanks to the advancement of technology, high-end cruise lines are also now available, providing us with ravishing new vessels that make the excursions even more exciting than before.
Yet, before the advent of these new ships, you might be wondering how people enjoyed cruising before? As steamboat ships were widely popular, did they actually use them to take vacations? Answering that won’t be complete without sailing on the esteemed history of these ships. Hop in and discover below!
History of the Steamboat Ships
Long before the arrival of trains, cars, and planes, traversing waterways using boats has been the means of transportation for people. Traveling downstream was a breeze, as the current propelled the then-used pole-powered riverboats. Going upstream and fighting the current became their problem.
Things changed with the invention of the steamboat. Some of the earlier names associated with pioneering the vessel were James Rumsey, John Steven, and John Fitch. They were the first to create and operate steamboats on the American rivers. Incorporating a hull design and the steam engine, Robert Fulton was credited for designing the first practical, profitable, and commercially successful steamboat.
In 1807, Fulton’s “Clermont” (or North River Steamboat) was invented and enjoyed immense success. It operated between New York to Albany and back, with each trip carrying about 100 passengers. “Clermont” completed the journey in 32 hours, drastically shortening it from the nearly four days it required regular sailing ships and boats to finish the trip.
As Clermont proved to be an effective means of commercial water transportation and citing the economic potential of steamboats to transport goods in the Mississippi River, Fulton and Robert R. Livingston constructed “New Orleans” in Pittsburgh in 1810. It took its maiden voyage in 1811 on the mighty river, which led to the expanded trade and growth in the cities along its route, as well as immensely helping in the expansion of the United States to the west.
It wasn’t long enough when steamboats reached other parts of America. By the 1850s, steamboats were one of the lifebloods of the nation, transporting passengers and goods quicker than ever before. The industry was interrupted by the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 but was able to thrive again.
Steamboats for Cruising
As the Industrial Revolution peaked in the 1870s, railroads have become the preferred mode of transport, taking the place of the steamboats. Transporting of passengers and people became more efficient and faster, relegating the ships as a second option.
Eventually, the speed and reach resulted in the gradual end of steamboats traveling in the Mississippi River. Almost all ships were retired from the river. Though its glorious era may be finished, they were revived and found their new purpose in the following century.
While they were no longer used for transport, steamboats have been used for pleasure and vacations. From carrying cargo and passengers, there are still steamboats used today for day trips to overnight voyages. They now allow people to relish grace the rivers that aided the nation’s expansion and serve as a luxurious and more comfy way to witness America and the rich steamboat heritage.