New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, July 15, 2024
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1812 The first steamboat arrived in New Orleans

anchored near the levee adjacent to the French Quarter on Jan. 12, 1812. The ship was appropriately named “New Orleans.” Since the plan was for the ship to carry freight and passengers from New Orleans to ports to the north, the name selection made good business sense.

Early ships were built without benefit of drawings. The customer would just make an outline on a piece of paper or sometimes in the dirt floor at the shipyard. The builder would start work, building according to what he was shown by the buyer. The workers were most capable. Building a major ship without benefit of a drawing took seasoned craftsmen with great skills. The lack of drawings for the ship leaves us 190 years later still befuddled as to whether she was a sternwheeler or sidewheeler.

But there is no doubt of the economic impact the steamboat had on Louisiana and especially the French Quarter. Chances are we will never know what type of propulsion the steamboat New Orleans had. On July 13, 1814, the historic vessel hit a submerged stump near Baton Rouge. In trying to break loose from the stump, she took on water and sank to the bottom of the river. She might be gone, but the mystery of her propulsion design is still with us.

Source: Buddy Stall at