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

Louisville and Madison

New Orleans
The New Orleans arrives in Louisville, painting by Gary R. Lucy.


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 Madison and Hanover (where Hanover College now is) about mid-day of October 28, reaching Louisville in the evening of that day.  On October 30, Lydia gave birth to their son, Henry Latrobe Roosevelt.  Just beyond Louisville was a series of dangerous rapids, the Falls of the Ohio.  Because the rapids could only be passed when the river was high and only with a relatively flat-bottomed boat, they were the most significant impediment to steamboat traffic on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  After waiting several weeks for the river to rise enough to risk the passage, the New Orleans made it over the Falls on December 8.

News of Events in Louisville:

May 11, 1811, Western Spy - report of the 113 boats that passed the Falls of the Ohio in the previous month and of their cargo
Sept. 18, 1811, Liberty Hall - Gov. William Henry Harrison requests Kentucky cavalry for his "proposed expedition against the Indians," including two troops from the Louisville area
Sept. 18, 1811, Liberty Hall - argues it is the "duty and interest of the United States" to build a canal around the Falls of the Ohio
Oct. 28, 1811 - The New Orleans Steaming Upstream by Moonlight, 1811 (painting by Gary R. Lucy) captures the moment the steamboat arrived in Louisville
Nov. 21, 1811, Liberty Hall - the New Orleans arrives in Louisville on Oct. 28
Nov. 21, 1811, Western Spy - on Nov. 15, a Louisville newspaper publishes breaking news of the Battle of Tippecanoe
Nov. 23, 1811, Western Spy - another report of the New Orleans' arrival in Louisville, Oct. 28
Dec. 7, 1811, Louisiana Gazette - reports on the dead from the Battle of Tippecanoe, including men from neighboring Shelby county, nearby Indiana Territory, and elsewhere in Kentucky
Dec. 7, 1811, Louisiana Gazette - reports that a company of men left Louisville to support William Henry Harrison's force against the Indians
Jan. 1, 1812, Liberty Hall - earthquake report from Louisville
Jan. 1, 1812, Liberty Hall - report that the earthquake was "even more violent" in Louisville than in Cincinnati
Jan. 4, 1812, Western Spy - more detailed report of the earthquake in Louisville
Jan. 18, 1812, Western Spy - report from a Louisville newspaper about Indian aggression
Jan. 29, 1812, Liberty Hall - shares offered for sale in a new steamboat company that would provide transport between Pittsburgh and Louisville
Feb. 12, 1812, Liberty Hall - recent earthquake shocks in Louisville knocked down chimneys, stopped clocks, broke china, and left long fissures in the ground
Feb. 14, 1812, Pittsburgh Gazette - report on the goods passing over the Falls of the Ohio in October and November, 1811

1871, First Steamboat Voyage - Lydia Roosevelt's brother describes the Roosevelts' stay in Louisville, their son's birth, and the New Orleans's passage over the Falls of the Ohio

News of Events in Madison:

Jan. 30, 1811, Liberty Hall - lots for sale in the town of Madison, "one of the most healthy and elegant situations" on the Ohio River

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

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