No announcement yet.

*Sidewheel vs. Sternwheel & Insurance*

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    *Sidewheel vs. Sternwheel & Insurance*

    Steamboating colleagues:
    Back in January, 2015 Jim Reising kicked off a fine discussion RE: 'Sidewheel vs Steremwheel' which got a number of us thinking. Several opinions offered with brief references to STEAMBOATS ON THE WESTERN WATERS, Louis C. Hunter, 1949 Dover Publications. This hefty volume at 664 Pgs. a challenge but worth the time and effort. I recently picked up a new paper edition at the gift shop, Ohio River Museum Marietta, Ohio for a tidy $24. Prompty I thumbed to the section on 'Ledgers and Balances' as I'm inerested in the nuts and bolts of steamboat money, expenses etc. along with digging in old steamboat ledgers, accounts here for the untold story not often written about.

    Hunter's book, and other archival sources here, mention 'Sidewheel vs. Sternwheel' but in a different light. One of many financial factors steamboat operators faced with from the 1820 on were the many and varied kinds of insurance in operating, protecting a boat and it's cargo. Insurance rates varied from season to season, month to month, high water and low, 'downstream vs. upstream' steaming, need to 'round to' in and out of landings, stopping to pick up itinerant freight outside of big city landings. Also upper Mississippi vs. lower Mississippi rates varied due to to navigation on the 'upper' with more ice in the winters. Missouri River steamboats due to the vagaries, challenges on those waters paid very high insurance rate. From earliest development, building of sternweheelers they were considered not as reliable, maneuverable as sidewheelers. And with this came much high insurance rates. After better design, dependable equipment the 'sterns' grew in number. No doubt more economical than the sidewheelers demanding more engineers, decline of the big sidewheel cotton boats. In time a notation of 'Ins' appeared on freight bills, contracts indicating that the carrier 'was insured.' Other times the shipper paid their own insurance before loading cargo. Then I find the accounts on 'who owned the steamboats?' with that another story with surprises. That's all I know.

    R. Dale Flick
    Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati

    Several sources mention