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The Western River Steamboat The Western River Steamboat

Adam I. Kane

Narrated by Bill Wiemuth

Available from Audible

Book published by Texas A&M University Press

The first Western steamboat was built in 1811 in Pittsburgh, and thousands more were constructed in the years before the Civil War. These waterborne vehicles helped define the nineteenth-century trans-Appalachian West. Decades of incremental changes created a distinctive watercraft, and the steamboat became perfectly suited to the conditions of the Western rivers, transforming the West from a wilderness into a place of economic significance. In The Western River Steamboat, nautical archaeologist Adam I. Kane traces the development of this once commonplace vessel. Kane describes the importance and impact of the steamboat in American history and complements his historical analysis with clear, concise technical explanations of the construction and evolution of Western river steamboats. He explains how the rivers dictated the design of the hull, why stern wheels replaced side wheels, how hogging chains kept hulls from buckling, and why safety valves were of little use when engineers regularly overloaded them.


“This book will be a valuable asset for historians, researchers, and modelbuilders.”

Nautical Research Journal

“Adam A. Kane is standing his watch in the wheelhouse of the history of western rivers, adding to our knowledge of steamboat structure and technology ... All historians of American economics and technology and of the Ohio and Mississippi Valley frontiers and civilization should own a copy of this book.”

The Journal of Southern History

“Adam Kane has produced an insightful, well-written, thorough book that brings together a great deal of carefully integrated information, combining recent archaeological discoveries with early, documentary sources. It highlights the value of archaeological work on wreck sites and the potential those future discoveries have for increasing our understanding of this very important type of vessel, and of the social and economic conditions of the times when the western river steamboats were the most important form of transportation in this vast region of the United States.”

The Northern Mariner

“Includes a highly useful glossary of steamboat terminology and a valuable bibliography of published primary and secondary sources. Kane’s The Western River Steamboat should quickly and rightly become regarded as a classic in its own right.”

Louisiana History

“Is a worthy melding of history, archaeology, and technology…”

The Journal of America’s Military Past

“An invaluable contribution in this brief history of the western river steamboat.... recommended for researchers as well as students interested in the history of transportation of people and things.”

Colonial Latin American Historical Review

“There is considerable curiosity about the inner workings of steamboats and this book addresses that desire to know. I like the author’s style. His material is well organized. This will make an important contribution to steamboat history. River archaeologists will find this book to be of inestimable value for identification of artifacts.”

—Captain Alan L. Bates

“With The Western River Steamboat, author Adam Kane provides the first archaeological synthesis of a growing and demanding aspect of the field of nautical archaeology. With a combination of thorough research and archaeological analysis Kane provides both archaeologists and historians with an amazing new research tool - a reference manual that no steamboat researcher will be able to do without.”

—Dr. Annalies Corbin

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks