'A Midnight Race on the Misisippi', United States, 1860.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph by F F Palmer from a sketch by H D Manning, showing the 'Natchez' and 'Eclipse' paddle steamers racing at midnight on the Misisippi. Both boats are typical of the Misisippi steamboats of the period. The hulls are flat-bottomed with fine lines, but are very shallow. They are driven by two side paddle wheels and propelled by a single high presure engine. The first of the Misisippi paddle steamers, the 'New Orleans' made its maiden voyage in 1811. In these early days, the high presure boilers used on the vesels were so prone to exploding that pasengers were often towed behind the boats in barges rather than travelling on the paddle steamers themselves.