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“At the beginning of the year 1812 no steamboat had ever appeared at New Orleans but on the 12th of January in that year there was great excitement in the Crescent City. A vessel run by steam had come down the river from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was to be seen at the levee. A curious wondering crowd assembled to view the strange object. Before this time all the products of the West had been brought down to the city in flatboats keel boats and barges. The flatboats were so large and so hard to steer that when they reached New Orleans they were broken up as soon as they were unloaded and sold for old lumber. The keel boats were long with sharp ends and when they were covered over with a rough shed roof were called barges. Keels and barges could be taken back up the river with long poles and heavy oars but it was slow hard work.
Robert Fulton who some years before had a steamboat to run on the Hudson in New York decided to make a model for a steamboat which trade between Natchez and New Orleans. The of building the boat and the engine was to be superintended by Mr Nicholas J Roosevelt, a known navigator of that day. First of all Mr Roosevelt and his wife floated down the Ohio the Mississippi from Pittsburg to New Orleans a flatboat. On this trip he examined these rivers their currents and their channels and even purchased a lot of coal which he had piled up on banks at certain stations for the steamboat he had not yet built but which he felt sure would build. The old boatmen on the told him that a steamboat would be lost in the whirling eddies and currents of a great river like the Mississippi, but Mr Roosevelt thought he knew better. At any rate he was determined to make the trial”. (Source: Stories from Louisiana History, Grace Elizabeth King, John Rose Ficklen, pp. 272-273)