The Early Days of Steam Boats
A steamboat is simply a vessel that is propelled primarily via steam power, usually driving paddlewheels or propellers. Steamboats can take on many different shapes and sizes, depending upon their purpose and the available space. Some steamboats may use the term “stern” in their name, while others may be called nothing more than “soup” boats.
Early steamboats were built mainly out of wood, with plywood panels placed over the floor to act as the deck. The steam engine was also built into the hull, and the boats had to be stored on top of the engine. As time passed and technology advanced, steamboat designs began to change. Newer boats used diesel engines, and new materials like plastics were used to help provide the strength and maneuverability needed for steamboats to move through some of the rougher rivers and streams where paddlewheel power simply did not work. In addition, the introduction of the internal combustion engine helped to improve fuel economy, making steamboat propulsion a much more viable option for many people who might otherwise have had to spend a great deal of money on fuel.
In addition to the development of new steamboat designs and technology, some of the rivers and streams where steamboats first began to go into the river are no longer navigable due to erosion, narrowing, or changes in the topography of the rivers. Many years ago, if you wanted to go cruising through one of the more scenic rivers and streams, you would need to rent a powerboat. Today, if you just want to take a lazy ride on a lazy river, you can do so for a very reasonable cost. Many rivers and streams still have the option of renting a steamboat, though there are a smaller number of river cruisers available to cater to those who want to enjoy the river without the necessity of spending money to do so. In short, this is one of the best types of boats for those who enjoy nature and the open spaces that our country has made some of its best places.