On this day (October 1), 1811, the first ship to cross the Mississippi River arrives in New Orleans.
From the beginning of its discovery by settlers, the Mississippi River was an important communications and trade hub for the entire East. The city of New Orleans was a commercial exit to Europe for the products of the new world and an entrance for new settlers and European manufactured products.
Many products (wood, skins,...) were transported down the river with relative ease on barges. The problem was the ascent in an almost unexplored territory full of Indians not very friendly with the settlers, river pirates and other dangers for the merchants.
This need gave rise to the "Keelboats", wooden boats that were helped by the strength of their crew members to go up the river with pulleys, oars or the force of the wind.
Robert Fulton was born in Pennsylvania on November 14, 1765, he was an engineer, businessman, and inventor. He is known for developing the first successful commercial steamboat.
From a very young age he was interested in navigation and the steam propulsion of ships. He went to study in England where he learned about various steam navigation projects. He managed to design a model that he sent to New York and it was a success.
Given that experience, he teamed up with Nicholas Roosevelt (inventor who introduced vertical blades to steamboats) and Robert R. Livingstone (New York politician and founding father of the United States) to build a ship of steam that crosses the Mississippi river; the "New Orleans"
In 1811 they leave Pittsburgh and go down the Ohio River and the Mississippi with their steamboat. Wherever they pass, people go out to observe the novelty. A few weeks later they end up arriving in New Orleans.
The ascent of the river is more complicated. But they manage to maintain a regular line between New Orleans and the city of Natchez.
- Dad, what's coming?
- I don't know son, it looks like a big ugly hippopotamus
- and it seems to smoke
- he must have farted.
- Too much fart for a hippo
- Dad, that's not a hippo
- you're right son, it looks like a car that goes by water, how does it move like that?
- well I guess because of the smoke
- because of the farts?
- I don't think that's it