Ohio History Journal

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64 Ohio Arch

64         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


and, of course, there is a constant demand for new vessels." Further

along, after traversing a portion of the Ohio river, the same author

writes: "The boats which float upon the Ohio river are various--from

the ship of several hundred tons burden, to the mere skiff. Very few, if

any, very large vessels, however, are now built at Pittsburgh and

Marietta; but the difficulties incident to getting them to the ocean have

rendered such undertakings infrequent. An almost innumerable number

of steamboats, barks, keels and arks are yearly set afloat upon the river

and its tributary streams. The barks are generally about one hundred

tons burden, have two masts, and are rigged as schooners or hermaphro-

dite brigs. The keels have, frequently, covered decks, and sometimes

carry one mast. These and also the barks are sometimes moved up the

river by polling, and by drawing them along shore with ropes."

The first steamboat built on western waters, the New Orleans, was

constructed at Pittsburgh, in the year 1811, but four years after Fulton's

Clermont made its first successful trip on the Hudson. There is record

of a steamboat having been built by Capt. John Walker at Elizabeth in

1815, and soon after that there were yards in operation in various towns

on the Monongahela and Ohio, turning out the new type of vessels.

These soon largely took the place of all other kinds of craft in bearing

the commerce of the rivers, and the sea-going vessels made New Orleans

their port of arrival and departure. Indeed, so far as a searching

investigation has revealed, no ships were built in this region after the

construction of the first steamboat. Thus came to an end a notable

movement which in its entire activity does not seem to have covered

more than a score of years, but which must have done much, in its time,

to bring this then obscure region to the notice of the rest of the world.









Professor of History in Northwestern University.


From the opening of the Revolutionary War, American leaders

looked to the conquest of Detroit, the headquarters of the posts and key

to the fur trade and control of the Indian tribes to the northwest of the

Ohio.1 Throughout the war this post, in the possession of the British,

"continued," as Washington wrote, "to be a source of trouble to the whole

western country."2

The garrison at Detroit, at the beginning of the year 1776, consisted

of 120 soldiers under the command of Capt. Richard Lernoult. The