“Wheeling the Birthplace of the American Steamboat”
“Wheeling the Birthplace of the American Steamboat”John Bowman
This book documents the history of steamboat building in Wheeling from 1815 through 1900. Beginning with Henry M. Shreve’s Washington built at Wheeling, Virginia in 1815 and launched May 12, 1816. It is little known that Wheeling is considered the birthplace of the American steamboat. The Washington arrived at New Orleans October 7, 1816. In March 1817, Shreve left New Orleans returning the Washington to Louisville, Kentucky in twenty-four days, being the first successful steamboat able to steam an up-river voyage with a full cargo under its own power. Soft Cover, 8 ½” x 11”, 110 pages, 30 pictures relating to Wheeling. Publishing date 2008, ISBN 978-0-615-34168-2 2nd Printing.
In 1929, Garnett Laidlaw Eskew writes of Wheeling, West Virginia on page 32 in his critically acclaimed book, ‘The Pageant of the Packets, A Book of American Steamboating’:
“We wonder if Wheeling knows she is the birthplace of the American steamboat. Is Midland America aware that it is indebted to this West Virginia city for sending from her ways, in the spring of 1816, the first practical, thorough-going river craft, which was to revolutionize transportation in the West- the progenitor of the great white fleet which in thirty years was the wonder of the world? The chances are no, ten to one. And the chances are even greater that the rest of the Midlands does not know it.” In addition, he writes, “It is recorded that when the first steamboat took shape on the ways at Wheeling, the whole of the surrounding river country came to ridicule her and her builder, Henry Shreve.” “For the craft which Henry Shreve built there on the ways at Wheeling in 1816 violated, in her make-up, all the accepted principles of shipbuilding.” In building the Washington, “Shreve flung to the winds all precedent.”
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