The effect which paddle-wheeler steamboats along the Mississippi River was extraordinary. The convenience or speed of traveling to the south part of the nation was increased exponentially when this type of riverboats begun transporting people to New Orleans as well as other cities along the way and helped in the colonization of the South.
The very first paddle-wheeler riverboat which traveled along the Mississippi River has been considered to be New Orleans. The ship was built in 1811 in Pittsburgh, and it was considered to be a side-wheeler of 120 feet long and weighed 370 tons. On her first sail, this riverboat has been piloted by Nicholas Roosevelt, non other than Teddy Roosevelt`s great grand-uncle; a series of strong earth tremors being known as the New Madrid Earthquake happened. The New Orleans has continued its sail, arriving in January 1812 in New Orleans. The ship has been then placed in service between Natchez and New Orleans and after years of sailing, the boat hit a stump and sank.
Zebulon M. Pike
Zebulon M. Pike is considered to be the first navigator who reached St. Louis in 1814, the northernmost port along the Mississippi River. The riverboat was named after his name, a stern-wheeler which has been built in Cincinnati. The ship is considered to be the first paddle-wheeler designed specifically for passenger traveling. The Zebulon M. Pike was owned by the United States Mail Co., being the first to carry the United States mail.
The Enterprise was considered to be the first paddle-wheeler that made the journey from New Orleans to Louisville in 1815. On another occasion, having Henry M. Shreve as a captain, the stern-wheeler carried cargo for the army of Gen. Andrew Jackson and also run the British batteries to deliver supplies to Fort St. Phillip. His inventiveness broke the monopoly of Robert Fulton on steamboat design and was essential as it made possible steamboat travel in Western states.
Robert E. Lee and Natchez VI
A popular steamboat race took place in 1870 from New Orleans to St. Louis between the Natchez VI and the Robert E. Lee. Dubbed to Great Mississippi Steamboat Race, John W. Cannon, the captain of the Robert E. Lee tried to prove that his riverboat was the fastest. He refused to take any passengers or cargo and stripped his boat of excess weight. T. P. Leathers, the captain of the Natchez VI accepted Lee`s challenge having full cargo and passengers. The riverboats refueled on the move. Natchez was stuck on a mudflat for a few hours, so Robert E. Less was the ship which eventually won.