Food and Culture

The Amazing Adventures of Steamboat Springs, Kansas

When most people picture what a steamboat looks like they think of sleek, streamlined boats with large engines and bright colors. In truth, steamboats come in many sizes and shapes. They can be rowed by hand, can be propelled by the wind or can be towed behind other vessels. Whatever type of steamboat you imagine, chances are that there is one that can fit your bill!

The first thing that you should know about steamboat springs is that they work! A steamboat spring works by driving pistons, generally wheels, through a combination of oil and hot water. The heated water in the piston (usually referred to as a “piston rod”) pushes against the piston’s seat, creating the forward motion that propels the boat. Steamboat Springs usually contain two sets of springs: The main spring, which supplies the steam for the pistons, and the emergency spring, which counteracts the effect of the main spring should the main spring fail to function. Steamboat Springs generally use either cast iron or steel, but other metals such as brass, bronze, copper and nickel may be used as well.

When I was a child living in the small town of Leavenworth, Kansas, not too far from the Canadian border, I enjoyed visiting various historic sites and shopping at antique shops. My favorite place to go was the local river which flowed through town, and on several occasions I came upon a small tourist center that had a gift shop where visitors could purchase steam engines and parts from the late th century up until the early noughties. If you have a chance to visit Kansas, don’t hesitate to take a drive up the Lewis and Clark Trail and look at the steam engines and other memorabilia that would-be travelers would have to view while touring the United States.