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Robert Fulton started the very first commercially successful steamboat service in America His steam-powered paddleboat the Clermont sailed up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany in August of 1807 This trip lasted 32 hours The first steamboats were demonstrated in1787 They were used on the river ways to bring cargo cotton sugar and people to their destinations The steamboat played a major part in the population growth The steamboats were usually made of wood and were all kinds of sizes They looked like giant floating houses with large smokestacks and paddlewheels They were used for carrying people and supplies up and down the river Steamboats were later used as show boats for entertainment The purchase of Louisiana in 1803 made New Orleans a part of the US and opened the door to gamblers The high life so popular in New Orleans spread north which ushered in the era of the riverboat gambler By 1820 69 steamboats were operating the western rivers And by 1860 that number had increased to 735 These steamboats were christened floating palaces with luxurious quarters world class food well stoked bars and wealthy passengers In1937 riverboat travel entered the passenger boat era Calliopes were used on the boats to let people know that the boat was docked The name calliope comes from the Greek goddess muse of soundThe paddle wheels were mounted either on the side or back of the boat After the Civil War the stern back of the boat paddle wheel was most popular Although the paddle wheel is very large it draws just a few feet of water The wheel spins about 18 times a minute with only four planks in the water for best speed A steamboat travels about 15 miles an hour and 16 to 17 miles an hour on a swift riverThe very first paddle boats ran on wood Coal replaced wood in 1860 and oil replaced coal in 1950 Many of
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