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Otsego Herald

June 5, 2014

New ferryboat speeds travel

From the Otsego Herald

for Wednesday, June 8, 1814

Compiled, with comments


The “Teamboat”

Progress of the arts — For several days past, the new ferry boat, invented by Moses Rodgers, Esq. of this city, propelled by the draught of six horses, has been plying between this city and Brooklyn, a distance of three quarters of a mile.

On slack water she crosses in seven minutes. In one of her passages she had upwards of 300 persons, on board. For short distances she answers all the valuable purposes of steamboats. We congratulate the public on this cheap and important addition to their comfort and safety. – New York Paper.

COMMENT: The “Teamboat Ferry,” as it was called, was a double-hulled boat with a paddle wheel between the two hulls, designed so it would not be harmed by floating ice. Eight horses walked in a circle on deck, turning a crank which in turn moved the paddle wheel.

This ferry could cross the East River in from eight to 15 minutes, and was widely copied. It had no steam, no boiler, no fuel, and no sails — and unlike steamboats could not blow up! Besides — you didn’t have to pay any fee to Robert Fulton for using his patent steamboat design.

“Teamboats” continued to be used on rivers until the Civil War, though most seem to have had twin paddle wheels, one on each side of a single hull. The wreck of a “teamboat” that sank in Lake Champlain was discovered in 1983.

Moses Rodgers (ca. 1779-1821) went on to Captain the “Savannah,” which in 1819 became the first steam powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. She went from Savannah, Ga. to St. Petersburg in Russia, and back, stopping in London, Stockholm, and other ports on the way. But she also carried sails, and only a fraction of the trip was made under steam power.

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Otsego Herald
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