The First Steamboat Voyage on the Western Waters

by J. H. B. Latrobe




Too much excited to sleep, Mr. Roosevelt and his wife passed the greater part of the first night on deck, and watched the shore, covered then with an almost unbroken forest, as reach after reach, and bend after bend, were passed at a speed of from eight to ten miles an hour. The regular working of the engine, the ample supply of steam,


the uniformity of the speed, inspired at last a confidence that quieted the nervous apprehension of the travellers. Mr. Jack, the pilot, delighted with the facility with which the vessel was steered, and at a speed to which he was so little accustomed, ceased to express misgivings and became as sanguine as Mr. Roosevelt himself in regard to the success of the voyage. The very crew of unimaginative men were excited with the novelty of the situation; and when the following morning assembled all hands on deck to return the cheers of a village whose inhabitants had seen the boat approaching down a long reach in the river, and turned out to greet her as she sped by, it probably shone upon as jolly a set as ever floated on the Ohio.


[Note that J. H. B. Latrobe was Lydia (Latrobe) Roosevelt's brother, and he consulted her as he was writing this history of their 1811-1812 voyage.
The full text of his history is available through the University of Michigan's Digital Library Production Service.]

Steamboat Adventure
Made possible by the Rivers Institute and the
History Department of Hanover College.


How to cite this article:  J.H.B. Latrobe, The First Steamboat Voyage on the Western Waters (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1871), p. 14-15, available at