Robert Fulton's first steamboat, 1803.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model (scale 1:27) representing the first experimental steamboat, built at Paris for Robert Fulton, the American pioneer of steamboat propulsion. On the first trials on the Seine on 9 August, 1803, the boat reached reported speeds of 2.9 miles per hour against the current and different reports state that it attained either 3.58 or 4.5 miles per hour with the current. The original 66.5 ft long hull broke in half and sank in the river due to a combination of a violent storm and the weight of the machinery. The machinery was recovered from the river bed and installed on this more sturdy hull. The engine was rated at 8 horsepower, and the two paddle wheels were 12 ft in diameter, each with ten fixed radial boards.