PS 'Clermont', 1807.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph by C F Cheffins. American engineer Robert Fulton (1765-1815) built the Paddle Steamer 'Clermont' after several years experimenting with small steamboats as a method of navigating inland waterways. This started with two experiments with small steamboats on the River Seine in France. After this, Fulton returned to New York and, in 1807, launched the 'Clermont' on the Hudson River, with the vesel completing the voyage to Albany (nearly 150 miles) in 32 hours. Although Fulton was not the first to apply steam to inland navigation, he was the first to do so succesfully. During the winter of 1807-1808 the Clermont was rebuilt and refitted, and continued to operate on the Hudson for many years.