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This article is about the ship type. For other uses, see Steamboat (disambiguation).

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".

Nuclear-powered ships and submarines, although powered by steam-driven turbines, are not referred to as steamships.

Early developments

1543 is the date given for a paddle steamer said to have been devised by Blasco de Garay in Spain, a myth that is now well discredited.[1]

In October 1652 Oliver Cromwell's spymaster John Thurloe received a report that a Frenchman in Rotterdam, referred to as 'a subtle mathematician', was having a ship built to his design "which is to go with certain instruments without sail, with incredible strength and swiftness, either with or against the wind." Unfortunately the Frenchman died before the ship was completed.[2]

The French inventor Denis Papin, after inventing the steam digester (a type of pressure cooker) and experimenting with closed cylinders and pistons pushed in by atmospheric pressure, designed and built a steam pump analogous to the pump advertised by Thomas Savery in England during the same period. In his writings, including his correspondence with Gottfried Leibniz, Papin proposed applying this steam pump to the operation of a paddlewheel boat. During a stay in Kassel, Germany, in 1704, he completed a paddlewheel boat, probably pedal-powered. When he left for England in 1707, hoping to sell the British on his idea of steam-powered navigation, he used his paddlewheeler to navigate down the Fulda River as far as Münden. Although Papin was probably the first to have so clear a conception of a steamboat, he found no backers in London.

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.

In France, by 1774 Marquis Claude de Jouffroy and his colleagues had made a 13-metre (42 ft 8 in) working steamboat with rotating paddles, the Palmipède. The ship sailed on the Doubs River in June and July 1776, apparently the first steamship to sail successfully. In 1783 a new paddle steamer, Pyroscaphe, successfully steamed up the river Saône for fifteen minutes before the engine failed, but bureaucracy thwarted further progress.

From 1784 James Rumsey built a pump-driven (water jet) boat and successfully steamed upstream on the Potomac River in 1786; the following year he obtained a patent from the State of Virginia. In Pennsylvania, John Fitch, an acquaintance of Henry, made a model paddle steamer in 1785, and subsequently developed propulsion by floats on a chain, obtained a patent in 1786, then built a steamboat which underwent a successful trial in 1787.

Serrafino Serrati, an Italian physicist, was reported to have sailed a steamship on the River Arno near Florence in 1787. A publication "Elements of Experimental Physics" published in Florence in 1796 claimed that he was the first to sail steam-powered boat successfully. Unfortunately, little is known about the specifics of his machine.[3] A bacteria discovered by fellow Italian national Bartolomeo Bizio was named Serratia marcescens in recognition of Serrati's steamboat.[4]

In 1788, a steamboat built by John Fitch operated in 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. In 1789, Rumsey obtained backing in England for his water-jet propelled boat Columbia Maid but at his death in 1792 no great progress had been made with it.[5]

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"; as thanks, the king despatched a snuff-box containing Swede seeds. The snuff-box, richly illustrated with maritime scenes, is now in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. "Sea-spook" is the Swedish naval architect Chapman's comment on it.[6]

Miller engaged engineer William Symington to build his patent steam engine which drove a stern-mounted paddle-wheel in a boat which was successfully tried out on Dalswinton Loch in 1788, and followed by a larger steamboat the next year. Miller then abandoned the project. Ten years later Symington was engaged by Lord Dundas to build a steamboat. In March 1802, his Charlotte Dundas towed two 70-ton barges 30 km (19 mi) along the Forth and Clyde Canal to Glasgow. This vessel, the first tow boat, has been called the "first practical steamboat", and the first to be followed by continuous development of steamboats. Although plans to introduce boats on the Forth and Clyde canal were thwarted by fears of erosion of the banks, development was taken up both in Britain and abroad, including Robert Fulton's North River Steamboat of 1807 and Henry Bell's PS Comet of 1812. The first sea-going steamboat in Europe was Richard Wright's first steamboat "Experiment", an ex-French lugger; she steamed from Leeds to Yarmouth, arriving Yarmouth 19 July 1813.[7] "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.[8][page needed]

North America

In 1787, John Fitch built the first recorded steam-powered boat in the United States. It was propelled by a bank of oars on either side of the boat. He also experimented with side-mounted paddle wheels, but in 1790 used and patented stern-mounted oars instead. Fitch was the first to operate a steamboat commercially, with scheduled transport of passengers and freight on the Delaware river between Philadelphia and Trenton in 1790. The first successful application of steam power to navigate a paddle wheel boat in North America occurred in 1793 when Samuel Morey demonstrated his steamboat on the Connecticut River near Orford, New Hampshire.

Robert Fulton may have become interested in steamboats at the age of 12 when he visited William Henry during a trip to Britain and France in 1777. He built and tested an experimental steamboat on the river Seine in 1803, and was aware of the success of Charlotte Dundas. Before returning to the United States, Fulton ordered a steam engine from Boulton and Watt, and on return built what he called the North River Steamboat (later known as Clermont). In 1807, she began a regular passenger service between New York City and Albany, New York, 240 km (150 mi) distant, which was a commercial success. She could make the trip in 32 hours. In 1808, John and James Winans built Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, the second steamboat to operate commercially.

In Canada, in 1809, PS Accommodation, built by the Hon. John Molson at Montreal, and fitted with engines made by the Eagle Foundry, Montreal, was running successfully between Montreal and Quebec, being the first steamboat on the Saint Lawrence.[9][page needed] Unlike Fulton, Molson did not show a profit. Molson had also two paddle steamboats "Swiftsure" of 1811 and "Malsham" of 1813 with engines by B&W.[10][page needed] The experience of these vessels, especially that they could now offer a regular service, being independent of wind and weather, helped make the new system of propulsion commercially viable, and as a result its application to the more open waters of the Great Lakes was next considered. That idea went on hiatus due to the War of 1812.

United States steamboats

The use of steamboats on major US rivers soon followed Fulton's success. In 1811 the first in a continuous (still in commercial passenger operation as of 2007) line of river steamboats left the dock at Pittsburgh to steam down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and on to New Orleans.[11] 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.[12][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]

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.[13][page needed]

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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] However, the steam yacht Gondola is older and still operating on Coniston Water, England.

Steamboats also operated on the Red River to Shreveport, Louisiana, after Captain Henry Miller Shreve broke the previous log jam on the river.[17]

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.

Impact on American economy

Prior to the inception of the steamboat, wagons and river vehicles were the primary modes of transportation. River transportation was much cheaper than wagons. According to Douglass North, wagon rates were over 300% more expensive than upstream river rates and over 2,500% more expensive than downstream river rates from 1784 to 1820.[18]

Before the advent of steamboats, the primary methods of river transportation were rafts, flatboats, and keelboats. River transport by rafts or flatboats was considered to be difficult, hazardous, and costly. Although they were relatively inexpensive for downstream transport, transporting upstream via foot or horse was very costly. The voyages were also time-consuming. A 1,000-mile voyage downstream took approximately 1 month and the same voyage upstream took 3–4 months.

The steamboat was first introduced in 1809 and the first steamboat was in operation in the western rivers in 1811. Although the steamboat did not reduce the hazards of river transportation, they played a substantial role in reducing the freight costs. Two developers of the steamboat, Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston, attempted to secure monopoly rights over the usage of the steamboats in the western rivers; however, their attempt was blocked by the courts.[19] This ensured that steamboats operated in a competitive environment. The freight costs decreased due to the competition and the savings were passed on to the customers. According to Haites, Mak, and Walton, "freight rates per hundred pounds from New Orleans to Louisville plummeted from approximately $5.00 to 25 cents, between 1815 and 1860... costs reductions downstream were also highly significant, with rates declining from $1.00 to just above 32 cents (per hundred pounds) over the same period."[20] Besides the decrease in cost for transporting goods, the steamboat offered a quick method of transporting goods far distances, which previously wasn’t economically feasible without the steamboat.

The steamboats also led to job creation in certain areas. Besides the decrease in freight rates and transportation time, an entirely new support industry was born. The steamboats required many services and facilities as part of their maintenance, which in turn required skilled workers. Shipyards and steamboat services became one of the quickest ways to ensure a town's commercial success and economic growth.[21]


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.[22][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 the Yukon, two vessels are preserved: the SS Klondike in Whitehorse and the SS Keno in Dawson City. Many derelict hulks can still be found along the Yukon River.

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[23] 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 largest prewar steamship that operated in Canada is in Saugatuck, Michigan. It is the SS Keewatin, built in 1907. It has 3,856 displacement and has a 3,300 hp steam engine. It operated for over 60 years on the same great lake circuit. It is planned to be moved back to Canada to be repaired, being in bad shape.

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.

Reference works on the history of these vessels include Art Downs' British Columbia-Yukon Sternwheel Days (1992 Heritage House Publishing Company, Surrey, B.C.), Robert D. Turner's Sternwheelers and Steam Tugs (1998, Sono Nis Press, Victoria, B.C.), Edward Affleck's A Century of Paddlewheelers in the Pacific Northwest, the Yukon and Alaska (2000, Alexander Nicolls Press, Vancouver, B.C.) Graham Wilson, Paddlewheelers of Alaska and the Yukon (1999, Wolf Creek Books, Whitehorse, Yukon) and Robin Sheret's Smoke, Ash and Steam (1997, Western Isles Cruise and Dive Co., Victoria, B.C.).


United Kingdom

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.[24]

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.[25]

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.

Thames steamboats

Main article: Thames steamers

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.[26]

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.

Other European steamboats

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.

The 1912 steamer TSS Earnslaw still makes regular sight-seeing trips across Lake Wakatipu, an alpine lake near Queenstown, New Zealand.

Swiss lakes are home of a number of large steamships. On 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 (1913) (de) (1913, 900 passengers, fastest paddle-wheeler on European lakes) and Stadt Luzern (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.

In Austria the paddle-wheeler Gisela (1871) (de) (250 passengers) of 1871 vintage continues in service on Traunsee.


Seeing the great potential of the steam powered-vessels, Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mang attempted to reproduce a French-made steamboat.[27] 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 Mang ordered the engineers to study and develop steam engines and steamers to equip his naval fleets. At the end of Minh Mang'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.

Ocean-going steamships

See main article: Steamships

Steamboat images

See also



External links

Commercially operating steamboats

  • , Steamer on Loch Katrine

Museums and museum boats

Historical image collections

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  • :
  • .
  • Oliver S. Van Olinda Photographs A collection of 420 photographs depicting life on Vashon Island, Whidbey Island, Seattle and other communities of Washington State's Puget Sound from the 1880s to the 1930s. This collection provides a glimpse of early pioneer activities, industries and occupations, recreation, street scenes, ferries and boat traffic at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Transportation Photographs An ongoing digital collection of photographs depicting various modes of transportation in the Pacific Northwest region and Western United States during the first half of the 20th century.
  • Images of the Saltilla Steamship at the University of Houston Digital Library
  • SSHSA Image Porthole: Thousands of digitally preserved photographs of steamships and other engine driven vessels within the collections of the Steamship Historical Society.

Associations, information and other links

  • Rainer Radow's Steam Boat Page Description of his steamlaunch project Emma and a 1,000 picture collection of over 110 small still existing steamlaunches.
  • Barlow Cumberland, , 2001
  • Robert H. Thurston, , 1878 (Chapter 5)
  • The Steam Boat Association of Great Britain
  • US inland rivers steamboats today and in history: pictures, sounds, videos, link directory, travel guide, expert discussion forums.
  • Finnish steamships Finnish Steam Yacht Association.
  • Steamboat on the Loire in the 1800s
  • The Steamship Historical Society of America The official website for the SSHSA, a historical society focused on engine driven vessels and maritime history since 1935.

Further reading

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  • . The standard history of American river boats.
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