The Passenger Steamboat Phoenix: An Archaeological Study of Early Steam Propulsion in North America
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The advent of steam contributed heavily to the economic transformation of early America, facilitating trade through the transportation of goods along the country’s lakes, rivers, and canals. Serious experimentation with steam navigation began in the last quarter of the 18th century. By the turn of the 19th century, fledgling US steamboat companies vied for control of navigation rights in the country’s northern waterways. The second steamboat to be launched on Lake Champlain, Phoenix, operated as a passenger steamer between 1815 and 1819, when she caught fire and sank in the lake. The intention of this study is to advance our knowledge of early steamboat design and use in the United States through the archaeological investigation of the country’s earliest-known steamboat wreck. As little is known about the development of these early steam vessels, the study of Phoenix offers a unique opportunity to gain new information related to steamboat design in the early 19th century as well as a glimpse into life on the lakes and rivers of North America during this era. The dissertation presents detailed information on Phoenix’s construction, operation, and sinking based on historical and archaeological analysis and interpretation. In combination with the available archival record and analytical comparisons with steamboats of similar size and age, a more comprehensive understanding of the developmental phases of steam travel and its impact on early America can be gained.
Schwarz, George 1977- (2012). The Passenger Steamboat Phoenix: An Archaeological Study of Early Steam Propulsion in North America. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from