Riverboat

Riverboat

Overview


A riverboat is a ship built boat
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

 designed for inland navigation
Inland navigation
Inland navigation is transport with ships via inland water between inland ports or quays and wharfs.-See also:* Code Européen des Voies de la Navigation Intérieure -External links:...

 on lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s, river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s, and artificial waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

s. They are generally equipped and outfitted as work boats in one of the carrying trades, for freight or people transport, including luxury units constructed for entertainment enterprises, such as lake or harbor tour boat
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

s. As larger water craft, virtually all riverboats are especially designed and constructed, or alternatively, constructed with special purpose features that optimizes them as riverine or lake service craft such as dredgers, survey boats, fisheries management craft, fireboat
Fireboat
A fireboat is a specialized watercraft and with pumps and nozzles designed for fighting shoreline and shipboard fires. The first fireboats, dating to the late 18th century, were tugboats, retrofitted with firefighting equipment....

s and law enforcement patrol craft.

These vessels are usually less sturdy than ships built for the open seas, with limited navigational and rescue equipment, as they do not have to survive the high winds or large waves characteristic to large lakes, seas or oceans.
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Encyclopedia


A riverboat is a ship built boat
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

 designed for inland navigation
Inland navigation
Inland navigation is transport with ships via inland water between inland ports or quays and wharfs.-See also:* Code Européen des Voies de la Navigation Intérieure -External links:...

 on lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s, river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s, and artificial waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

s. They are generally equipped and outfitted as work boats in one of the carrying trades, for freight or people transport, including luxury units constructed for entertainment enterprises, such as lake or harbor tour boat
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

s. As larger water craft, virtually all riverboats are especially designed and constructed, or alternatively, constructed with special purpose features that optimizes them as riverine or lake service craft such as dredgers, survey boats, fisheries management craft, fireboat
Fireboat
A fireboat is a specialized watercraft and with pumps and nozzles designed for fighting shoreline and shipboard fires. The first fireboats, dating to the late 18th century, were tugboats, retrofitted with firefighting equipment....

s and law enforcement patrol craft.

Inland design differences


These vessels are usually less sturdy than ships built for the open seas, with limited navigational and rescue equipment, as they do not have to survive the high winds or large waves characteristic to large lakes, seas or oceans. They can thus be built from light composite materials. They are limited in size by width and depth of the river as well as the height of bridges spanning the river.

While a ferryboat is often used to cross a river, a riverboat is used to travel along the course of the river, while carrying passengers and cargo, or both, for revenue. (Vessels like 'Riverboat casino
Riverboat casino
A riverboat casino is a type of casino found in several areas of the United States which use a riverboat as a casino. Several states authorized this type of casino to limit the areas where casinos could be constructed under a type of legal fiction.-History:...

s' are not considered here as they are essentially stationary).

The significance of riverboats is dependent on the number of navigable rivers and channel
Channel (geography)
In physical geography, a channel is the physical confine of a river, slough or ocean strait consisting of a bed and banks.A channel is also the natural or human-made deeper course through a reef, sand bar, bay, or any shallow body of water...

s as well as the condition of the road
Road
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways each with one or more lanes and also any...

 and rail
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 network. Generally speaking, riverboats provide slow but cheap transport especially suited for bulk cargo
Bulk cargo
Bulk cargo is commodity cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities. This cargo is usually dropped or poured, with a spout or shovel bucket, as a liquid or as a mass of relatively small solids , into a bulk carrier ship's hold, railroad car, or tanker truck/trailer/semi-trailer body...

 and containers
Intermodal container
An intermodal container is a standardized reusable steel box used for the safe, efficient and secure storage and movement of materials and products within a global containerized intermodal freight transport system...

.

History


As early as 20,000 BC people started fishing in rivers and lakes using raft
Raft
A raft is any flat structure for support or transportation over water. It is the most basic of boat design, characterized by the absence of a hull...

s and dugouts
Dugout (boat)
A dugout or dugout canoe is a boat made from a hollowed tree trunk. Other names for this type of boat are logboat and monoxylon. Monoxylon is Greek -- mono- + ξύλον xylon -- and is mostly used in classic Greek texts. In Germany they are called einbaum )...

. Roman sources dated 50 BC mention extensive transportation of goods and people on the river Rhine. Upstream, boats were usually powered by sail
Sail
A sail is any type of surface intended to move a vessel, vehicle or rotor by being placed in a wind—in essence a propulsion wing. Sails are used in sailing.-History of sails:...

s or oars. In the Middle Ages, towpath
Towpath
A towpath is a road or trail on the bank of a river, canal, or other inland waterway. The purpose of a towpath is to allow a land vehicle, beasts of burden, or a team of human pullers to tow a boat, often a barge...

s were built along most waterways to use working animals or people to pull riverboats. In the 19th century, steamboat
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

s became common.


The most famous early riverboats were on the rivers of the midwestern and central southern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, on the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, Ohio
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 and Missouri
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 rivers in the early 19th century. Out west, riverboats were common transportation on the Colorado
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

, Columbia
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

, and Sacramento
Sacramento River
The Sacramento River is an important watercourse of Northern and Central California in the United States. The largest river in California, it rises on the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains, and after a journey south of over , empties into Suisun Bay, an arm of the San Francisco Bay, and...

 rivers. These American riverboats were designed to draw very little water, and in fact it was commonly said that they could "navigate on a heavy dew."

Australia has a history of riverboats. Australia's biggest river, the Murray
Murray River
The Murray River is Australia's longest river. At in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between New South Wales and Victoria as it...

, has an inland port called Echuca
Echuca, Victoria
Echuca is a town located on the banks of the Murray River and Campaspe river in Victoria, Australia. The Border town Moama is on the northern side of the Murray river in New South Wales. It is the administrative centre and largest settlement in the Shire of Campaspe...

. Many large riverboats were working on the Murray, but now a lower water level is stopping them. The Kalgan River
Kalgan River
The Kalgan River is a river in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.The mouth of the river is found at coordinates 34°57'3.13"S 117°58'41.41"E.- Geography :The river is long and, along with the King River, drains into Oyster Harbour...

, in Western Australia is one of the oldest rivers in the world, it has had two main riverboats. The Silver Star, 1918 to 1935, would lower her funnel to get under the low bridge. Today, the Kalgan Queen riverboat takes tourists up the river to taste the local wines. She lowers her roof to get under the same bridge.

It is these early steam-driven river craft that typically come to mind when "steamboat" is mentioned, as these were powered by burning wood, with iron boilers drafted by a pair of tall smokestacks belching smoke and cinders, and twin double-acting pistons driving a large paddlewheel at the stern churning foam. This type of propulsion was an advantage as a rear paddlewheel operates in an area clear of snags, is easily repaired, and is not likely to suffer damage in a grounding. By burning wood, the boat could consume fuel provided by woodcutters along the shore of the river. These early boats carried a brow (a short bridge) on the bow, so they could head in to an unimproved shore for transfer of cargo and passengers.

Modern riverboats are generally screw (propeller) driven, with pairs of diesel engine
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

s of several thousand horsepower.

Modern Riverboats


Many of the riverboats shown below were operating on the Yangtze (Chang Jiang) river.

Luxury tourist transport


Some large riverboats are comparable in accommodation, food service, and entertainment to a modern oceanic cruise ship
Cruise ship
A cruise ship or cruise liner is a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship's amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different destinations along the way...

. Tourist boats provide a scenic and relaxing trip through the segment they operate in.

On the Yangtze River, they typically employ staff for double duties: both as serving staff and as evening-costumed dancing entertainers.
Smaller luxury craft (without entertainment) operate on European waterways - both rivers and canals, with some providing bicycle and van side trips to smaller villages.

High speed passenger transport


High speed boats such as those shown here had a special advantage in some operations in the free running Yangze. In several
locations within the three gorges one way travel was enforced through fast narrows. While less maneuverable and deeper
draft vessels were obliged to wait for clearance these high speed boats were free to zip past waiting traffic by running in the shallows.

Local and low cost passenger transport


Smaller riverboats are used in urban and suburban areas for sightseeing and public transport. Sightseeing boats can be found in Amsterdam, Paris, and other touristic cities where historical monuments are located near water.

The concept of local waterborn public transport is known as Water taxi
Water taxi
A water taxi or water bus, also known as a commuter boat, is a watercraft used to provide public transport, usually but not always in an urban environment. Service may be scheduled with multiple stops, operating in a similar manner to a bus, or on demand to many locations, operating in a similar...

 in English-speaking countries, vaporetto
Vaporetto
Vaporetto is a waterbus operation. It has a set of 19 scheduled lines that serves locales within Venice, Italy, and travels between Venice and nearby islands, e.g., Murano and Lido. The natives used to call the Vaporetto Batèo...

 in Venice, water/river tramway in former Soviet Union and Poland (although sightseeing boats can be called water tramways too). Local waterborn public transport is similar to ferry.

The transport craft shown below is used for short distance carriage of passengers between villages and small cities along the Yangtze, while Larger craft are used for low cost carriage over longer distance, without the fancy food or shows seen on the tourist riverboats. In some cases the traveller must provide their own food.

Multimodal





Roads through this region are inadequate for heavy truck transport and roads along the river are extremely dangerous. As the major rivers are mostly east-west, most railroad transport is typically north-south.

Here, a drive/on drive/off ramp barge is used to transport trucks. In many cases the trucks transported
are new and are being delivered to customers or dealers. Perhaps unique to China, the new trucks observed traveling upstream were all
blue, while the new trucks traveling downstream were all white.

Bulk cargo


Low value goods are transported on rivers and canals worldwide, since slow speed barge traffic
offers the lowest possible cost per ton mile and the capital cost per ton carried is also quite
low compared to other modes of transport

History


Terrace, British Columbia
Terrace, British Columbia
Terrace is a city on the Skeena River in British Columbia, Canada. The Kitselas people, a tribe of the Tsimshian Nation, have lived in the Terrace area for thousands of years. The community population fell between 2001 and 2006 from 12,109 with a regional population of 19,980 to 11,320 and...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, celebrates "Riverboat Days" each summer. The Skeena River
Skeena River
The Skeena River is the second longest river entirely within British Columbia, Canada . The Skeena is an important transportation artery, particularly for the Tsimshian and the Gitxsan - whose names mean "inside the Skeena River" and "people of the Skeena River" respectively, and also during the...

 passes through Terrace and played a crucial role during the age of the steamboat
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

. The first steam-powered vessel to enter the Skeena was the Union in 1864. In 1866 the Mumford attempted to ascend the river but was only able to reach the Kitsumkalum River. It was not until 1891 that the Hudson's Bay Company sternwheeler the Caledonia successfully negotiated through the Kitselas Canyon
Kitselas Canyon
Kitselas Canyon, also Kitsalas Canyon is a stretch of the Skeena River in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, between the community of Usk and the Tsimshian community of Kitselas. It was a major obstacle to steamboat travel on the Skeena River....

 and reached Hazelton
Hazelton, British Columbia
Hazelton is a small town located at the junction of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers in northern British Columbia, Canada. It was founded in 1866 and has a population of 293...

. A number of other steamers were built around the turn of the century, in part due to the growing fish industry and the gold rush
Gold rush
A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers to an area that has had a dramatic discovery of gold. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.In the 19th and early...

.

WT Preston
WT Preston
The W.T. Preston is a specialized sternwheeler that operated as a snagboat, removing log jams and natural debris that prevented river navigation on several Puget Sound-area rivers. It is now the centerpiece of the Snagboat Heritage Center in Anacortes, Washington. It was designated a National...

, a museum ship that was once a specialized river dredge
Dredge
Dredging is an excavation activity or operation usually carried out at least partly underwater, in shallow seas or fresh water areas with the purpose of gathering up bottom sediments and disposing of them at a different location...

, also called a "snagboat."

See also

  • Barge
    Barge
    A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

  • Ferry
    Ferry
    A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

    boat
  • Fireboat
    Fireboat
    A fireboat is a specialized watercraft and with pumps and nozzles designed for fighting shoreline and shipboard fires. The first fireboats, dating to the late 18th century, were tugboats, retrofitted with firefighting equipment....

  • Hydrofoil
    Hydrofoil
    A hydrofoil is a foil which operates in water. They are similar in appearance and purpose to airfoils.Hydrofoils can be artificial, such as the rudder or keel on a boat, the diving planes on a submarine, a surfboard fin, or occur naturally, as with fish fins, the flippers of aquatic mammals, the...

  • McKenzie River dory
    McKenzie River dory
    The McKenzie dory or Rogue River dory also called by many a Drift Boat is an evolution of the open-water dory, converted for use in rivers. The design is characterized by a wide, flat bottom, flared sides, a narrow, flat bow, and a pointed stern. The sole identifying characteristic of the McKenzie...

  • P.A. Denny (ship)
    P.A. Denny (ship)
    The P.A. Denny is a long three-deck paddle wheel boat that cruised the Kanawha River in the eastern United States for nearly three decades as a tour boat. It provided excursions and parties, before leaving for Ohio in August 2004....

  • Paddle Steamer
    Paddle steamer
    A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat, powered by a steam engine, using paddle wheels to propel it through the water. In antiquity, Paddle wheelers followed the development of poles, oars and sails, where the first uses were wheelers driven by animals or humans...

  • River cruise
    River cruise
    A River cruise is a voyage along inland waterways, often stopping at multiple ports along the way. Since cities and towns often grew up around rivers, river cruise ships frequently dock in the center of cities and towns.- Descriptions :...

  • Narrowboat
    Narrowboat
    A narrowboat or narrow boat is a boat of a distinctive design, made to fit the narrow canals of Great Britain.In the context of British Inland Waterways, "narrow boat" refers to the original working boats built in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries for carrying goods on the narrow canals...

  • Sampan
    Sampan
    A sampan is a relatively flat bottomed Chinese wooden boat from long. Some sampans include a small shelter on board, and may be used as a permanent habitation on inland waters. Sampans are generally used for transportation in coastal areas or rivers, and are often used as traditional fishing boats...

  • Sternwheeler
  • Towboat
    Towboat
    Not to be confused with the historic boat type with the same name, also called horse-drawn boat.A towboat is a boat designed for pushing barges or car floats. Towboats are characterized by a square bow with steel knees for pushing and powerful engines...

  • Tugboat
    Tugboat
    A tugboat is a boat that maneuvers vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs move vessels that either should not move themselves, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal,or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for...


Further reading

  • Crump, Thomas, Abraham Lincoln’s World: How Riverboats, Railroads, and Republicans Transformed America. (New York: Continuum, 2009) 272 pp. isbn 978-1-84725-057-5