When horses walked on water: horse-powered ferries in nineteenth-century America

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Smithsonian Institution Press, May 1, 1998 - History - 292 pages
Kevin J. Crisman and Arthur B. Cohn show how a confluence of geographic, technological, economic, and social conditions in the United States and Canada turned an ancient idea into a practical alternative to more expensive and dangerous steamboats. Reviewing evidence from travelers' memoirs, regional histories, pictorial records, and the only horseboat ever studied by archaeologists - a wreck on the floor of Lake Champlain's Burlington Bay, in Vermont - the authors trace the evolution of horseboats from early mechanisms that forced the animals to walk in tight circles to "endless floor" treadmills that resembled modern exercise machines. In a lively narrative interspersed with quotes from passenger accounts, the book charts the rise and demise of horseboat businesses on the Hudson River, as well as in New York City, St. Louis, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The authors also describe and record the underwater excavation of the Lake Champlain wreck, revealing a wealth of detail about the construction and operation of a typical treadwheel horseboat of the 1830s and 1840s.

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The Horseboat Comes to North America
The Age of
Three Early Horseboat Ventures

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