The first steamboat to run the Mississippi, named New Orleans, was launched in 1811 in Pittsburg, P.A. on the Monongahela. Few people believed that these rivers could be navigated with a steamboat, fearing especially the Falls at Louisville; however, the New Orleans had a draft under six inches. Nicholas Roosevelt had measured the depths of the rivers, and waited near Louisville until the waters rose sufficiently.
For a steamboat pilot the romance of the river was such that life and death was decided by how many inches the boat must come to the timbers of a hidden wreck, and every point, island, bend, bar, snag, dock, cabin and woodpile on the bank sings its love song to the pilot’s eyes and ears whether day or night.