IT STARTED WITH A STEAMBOAT: An American Saga

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She then crossed to the northern bank and picked up additional passengers at New Albany, a major river port. It has been asserted [ by whom? Lee 's famous race in with the Natchez , had also been a pilot on the Lucy Walker in About on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 23, , the vessel's engines stopped and she drifted mid-river about 4 to 5 miles 6.

Another was sliced in half by a piece of a boiler wall. The vessel then caught fire and quickly sank in 12 feet 3. Soon the water was filled with bodies of passengers and crew of the unfortunate Lucy Walker , both living and dead. Many were mangled or burned and survived only by rescue efforts of Captain L. Dunham and the crew of the nearby snagboat Gopher , which had been removing underwater obstacles under contract to the U.

Army Topographical Engineers. Loss of steamboats by collision, fire, or river obstacles snags was well understood, but boiler explosions seemed arbitrary and mysterious. Immediately after the loss of the Lucy Walker , many newspapers began to speculate on the cause or causes of the explosion. One paper opined that a faulty force pump and low water level in the boiler was the cause.

The demise of the Lucy Walker was not the worst steamboat disaster in American history see the Sultana , but it was among the most deadly. The high death toll of steamboat disasters like the Lucy Walker sparked public concern, litigation, and Congressional debates about insurance issues, compensation of victims, responsibilities of vessel owners and masters, and need for state or federal legislation. There were ad hoc local and Congressional investigations of individual steamboat disasters, especially those involving boiler explosions. The general public was concerned that steamboat racing contributed to these disasters, [12] but many steamboat captains and passengers were thrilled by the excitement and gambling accompanying the contests.

Much of the problem was ignorance by steamboat operators. In those early days, the physics and mechanics of boiler explosions were not well understood. Engineers did not know the effects of scaling, mud, etc. Safety valves could be overloaded, and there were few pressure gauges.

Too low water levels in boilers led to overheated boiler walls. Sometimes owners were simply too frugal or greedy to pay for good equipment or competent employees. In addition, steamboat safety was an important aspect of the larger conflict between partisans of Andrew Jackson 's states-rights vision of America as a federation of strong state governments and Henry Clay 's " Internal Improvements Program " by a strong central government.

It started with a steamboat : an American saga / by Steven Harvey. - Version details - Trove

In addition, engineers were subject to testing and licenses. Subsequent legislation led to the establishment of the Steamboat Inspection Service and eventually a real reduction in fatal episodes. Among the first government sponsorship for pure scientific research was a grant to the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia for the study of causes of boiler explosions.

Pegram was also an important leader in the Whig party. When he learned of Brown's demise, Cassius Clay noted that Sam Brown was the bravest of all of the many persons Clay had fought during a very combative career. Only two children and none of the women died, probably because their cabin was farther from the blast than the hurricane deck where most of the male passengers were gathered.


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Thirty-six passengers and twenty crew members were identified as killed in the explosion, and forty-eight passengers and seven crew members who survived, with a total of persons aboard. The pilot, Captain Thompson, estimated that there were at least travellers, including deck passengers, and a thirty-man crew when the Lucy Walker left Louisville. The official government certificate issued for the Lucy Walker contains a statement under oath in which Joseph Vann swore that he was a U.

This statement was false; he was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation from Indian Territory once part of Arkansas. When he purchased a steamboat at Cincinnati, Ohio, in , Vann named his new vessel after his equine pride and joy. It is unknown if the filly was one of the unacknowledged passengers that fateful day. Army [ 1 March 16, ]. The Indians had been captured in Florida by the Army as part of federal efforts to remove southern Indian tribes to Indian Territory.

Five years earlier, other commercial steamboats had been used by the Army to transport Vann's fellow Cherokees to the West as part of their own Trail of Tears. During the looming Cherokee Removal crisis, Vann was driven from his home by armed gangs of Georgians, and shifted his families and property for a time to the Cherokee town of Ooltewah, Tennessee, where he built a race track.

There he constructed a replica of "Diamond Hill", which was later destroyed by Union troops in the Civil War. By , "Rich Joe" Vann owned several hundred slaves at Webber's Falls, who worked on his plantation, took care of his horses, operated his steam ferryboat, or served as crew for his steamboat Lucy Walker. On November 15 of that year, some twenty-five slaves belonging to Vann, Lewis Ross brother of Principal Chief John Ross , and other wealthy Cherokees at Webber's Falls locked their owners in their homes, and began a futile flight for freedom, heading for Mexico.

The fugitives were joined by slaves owned by Creek Indians, but were quickly recaptured by a Cherokee posse, and many were beaten as punishment, but unlike other slave revolts elsewhere in the South, none were killed [Burton]. Vann took his black rebels to crew the Lucy Walker to separate their bad influence from the other slaves at Webber's Falls.

In , his daughter, Mrs. The WPA also interviewed another former slave, Lucinda Vann, who told a story about Jim Vann, an engineer or fireman aboard the steamboat who was forced by Captain Vann at gunpoint to toss slabs of meat into the boiler since the fat was supposed to superheat the boiler water and thus increase steam pressure. It is known from sailing notices in a Louisville newspaper that the steamboat Minerva was scheduled to depart for New Orleans at the same time as Lucy Walker.

Along with all first inventions, there was trial and error period.

The Howard Saga

The region around Seneca Lake became more popular as steamboats started chugging through the lake. Seneca Lake has been home to steamboats since the early s, and they have had a very important impact on Geneva, New York. My research had been going great. I have received some help from comments on my earlier blogs regarding information cites that helped me in my research on steamboats on Seneca Lake, New York. All of the sources that I read were topics based on steamboats. The sources talked about the development, impact on society all around, impact on business, and the city of Geneva, New York.

My research project is based on the following sources:. Robert Edwin Doran is recognized as a man of many talents.

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His book is composed of many articles written by him regarding Geneva, New York. I found two articles in his book pertaining to my topic of steamboats. This steamboat was popular because it was one of the first steamboat boathouses. Then the article from March 11, reveals the quick advancement of steamboats in Geneva. These articles are primary sources which makes them that much reliable. Robert entered Hobart College in the year and graduated in He started his surgical practice in in Geneva, New York, and then retired in Doran served in World War II and because of his experience in the Navy it created a lasting interest in all matters marine.

This novel discusses how the beginning of transportation period started with steamboats.

The author, Steven Harvey, was born in Kansas in and was a son of Midwesterners, and then educated in Florida. He has always been interested in history, how things work, and how they have changed the world. His book contains many of his own drawings and photos of his steamboats. The information he provides about the advancement of steamboats provides me with fitting information for my research project. The explosion of Onondaga was a big event for many people all around the region.

They also talk about the importance that the steamboat had on the area, and the long process that it was endured in order to build Onondaga. The author of this article, Jim Kennard, has been shipwreck diver and explorer in the northeast since This is an important finding in my research because this article goes into depth about the life span of on specific steamboats, rather then the general idea of steamboats. Through my research I have found many different interesting views and information on steamboats, not only in Seneca Lake but also in other areas. As my research starts to come to an end I am beginning to filter out my research.

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My goals for next week are to have all the information I will need to complete the final blog post. I want my information in the last blog post to me informative, interesting, and detailed. It is time to slow down the research and start organizing the information I have accumulated. As my research continues I have been able to find many more resources that I am able to use for my research project. Getting the boats ready. Finger Lakes Life. As I continue my research I am hoping to find more images dated back to the s, of Steamboats on Seneca Lake. Robert is a very trust worthy author because he had lived in Geneva for many years.

He was on the bored of trustees, and then became president for Hobart and William Smith colleges after he had graduated from Hobart in He was always known as the man with many talents. I would also enjoy learning more about the trial and error era of Steamboats because not all of the Steamboats where able to actually float.