Chapter 14. Steamboat Days

New Orleans

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.

Romance of the river

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.