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


When the steamboat New Orleans made her way down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Pittsburgh to New Orleans in 1811-1812, it marked a turning point in the Transportation Revolution.  After the New Orleans showed that it could be done, steamboats proliferated on the Ohio and the Mississippi and their tributaries.  Steamboat traffic helped create a national economy, opening markets for farm goods and drawing people and commerce to cities along the rivers.

The New Orleans passed Cincinnati on Oct. 27, 1811.

News of Events in Cincinnati:

May 29, 1811, Western Spy - "first rigged vessel that ever arrived at Cincinnati" by travelling upriver from New Orleans
July 27, 1811, Western Spy -  concerns about travelling out of Cincinnati because of the dangers from Indians
Oct. 30, 1811, Liberty Hall - shipping news, including the New Orleans' passing Cincinnati on Oct. 27
Nov. 2, 1811, Western Spy - the New Orleans passes Cincinnati on Oct. 27
Nov. 21, 1811, Western Spy - the inhabitants of Cincinnati learn about the Battle of Tippecanoe (Nov. 7)
Dec. 18, 1811, Liberty Hall - reports of the Dec. 16 earthquake (now called the New Madrid earthquake)
Dec. 25, 1811, Liberty Hall - eight discernable shocks of the earthquake from Dec. 16 to Dec. 17
Jan. 1, 1812, Liberty Hall - another shock on Dec. 31

Jan. 4, 1812, Western Spy - more shocks from the earthquake
Jan. 11, 1812, Western Spy - shocks from the earthquake continue
Jan. 18, 1812, Western Spy - the barge Cincinnati traveled from Cincinnati to New Orleans in 41 days (a record, given the conditions)
Jan. 25, 1812, Western Spy - shocks from the earthquake continue, with the Jan. 16 shock causing more damage
Jan. 29, 1812, Liberty Hall - the Jan. 23 shock was "equally severe with" the first (Dec. 16) shock
Jan. 29, 1812, Liberty Hall - Robert Livingson and Robert Fulton (through Nicholas Roosevelt) offer shares in a new steamboat company
Feb. 1, 1812, Western Spy - "comparatively light" shocks from the earthquake felt in Cincinnati
Feb. 5, 1812, Liberty Hall - another mild shock from the earthquake on Feb. 4
Feb. 8, 1812, Western Spy - daily shocks felt in Cincinnati since the first ("of considerable violence") on Feb. 4; they damage the Court House
Feb. 8, 1812, Western Spy - the editor responds to charges from the Liberty Hall over reporting on the earthquake
Feb. 12, 1812, Liberty Hall - the editor responds to criticism from the Western Spy over reporting on the earthquake
Feb. 12, 1812, Liberty Hall - detailed report of shocks from Feb. 4 to Feb. 11
Feb. 19, 1812, Liberty Hall - reports of mild shocks from Feb. 13 to Feb. 17
Feb. 26, 1812, Liberty Hall - reports of mild shocks from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22
Mar. 21, 1812, Western Spy - Cincinnati man writes of the earthquake: his boat sank, but no one on board died, and he saved part of his cargo

1871, First Steamboat Voyage - Lydia Roosevelt's brother describes the Roosevelt steaming upstream from Louisville to Cincinnati and changing attitudes in Cincinnati

More about the "Steamboat Adventure" of 1811-1812 --



Steamboat Adventure homepage


Spring 1811
Summer 1811
Fall 1811
Winter 1811-1812
Spring 1812


Louisville (Kentucky) and Madison (Indiana Territory)
New Madrid (now in Missouri)
Chickasaw Bluffs (now Memphis)
New Orleans


Nicholas and Lydia Roosevelt
The Transportation Revolution
The Great Comet of 1811
The New Madrid Earthquakes
Indian Relations

Questions or comments --