FLAT BOATS

d n english

 
Definition: Flatboat
.
A flatboat (or broadhorn) was a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with square ends used to transport freight and passengers on inland waterways in the United States. The flatboat could be any size, but essentially it was a large, sturdy tub with a hull.
Flatboats were seen on the Hatchie River bringing people and goods. Coming down the Hatchie could be families with as many as 5 boats. Each boat had the family, livestock, and other belongings .When they
Landed they would take apart the boats take the lumber to their plot of land. The lumber from the boat was used to start on their homestead. Other boats were full of goods for the merchants along the River.

FYI..At one time below what we know as the Riverside Cemetery was a flatboat building center. These boats were built to navigate the Forked Deer River.

Early history

Flatboats among the river traffic at New Orleans, 1873
The flatboat trade first began in 1781, with Pennsylvania farmer Jacob Yoder building the first flatboat at Old Redstone Fort on the Mononganhela River. Yoder shipped flour down the Mississippi River to the port of New Orleans. Other flatboats would follow this model, using the current of the river to propel them to New Orleans where their final product could be shipped overseas. Through the antebellum era, flatboats were one of the most important modes of shipping in the United States.

The flatboat trade before the War of 1812 was less organized and less professional than during later times. Flatboats were generally built and piloted by the farmers whose crops they carried. They were limited to 20 feet (or approximately 6 meters) in width in order to successfully navigate the river but could range from 20 to 100 feet (or approximately 6 to 30 meters) in length. Flatboats could be built by unskilled farmers with limited tools and training making them an ideal mode of transport for isolated farmers living in the Old Northwest and the Upper South. Farmers could make the journey down the river after the harvest. The boats themselves were usually salvaged for lumber at New Orleans because they could not easily make the journey upriver. A boatman’s return journey up the river was long and usually arduous. Passage on a (human-powered) keelboat was expensive and took weeks to make the journey up the Mississippi. Returning to northern reaches on foot required about three months.[3]

A flatboat itself was a serious investment for a Midwestern farmer. One generally cost about $75 to construct in 1800 (which was equivalent to $1,107.21 in 2018), but could carry up to $3,000 worth of goods.] These flatboats could typically be salvaged for around $16 in New Orleans, recouping some of the initial investment] Flatboats carried a variety of goods to New Orleans including agricultural products like corn, wheat, potatoes, flour, hay, tobacco, cotton, and whiskey. Livestock such as chickens, cows, and pigs also made their way down the Mississippi in flatboats. Indiana native, May Espey Warren, recalled that as a young girl, she saw a flatboat loaded with thousands of chickens headed down the Mississippi. Other raw materials from the Old Northwest, like lumber and iron were also sent down the Mississippi to be sold in New Orleans.

Many American cities along the river network of the Mississippi boomed due to the opportunities that the flatboat trade presented. New Orleans was the final destination for most flatboats headed down the Mississippi, and it was there that most of the goods were shipped on the oceans. Cincinnati, another major American trading city, first built itself on the flatboat trade. Its large sawmills produced most of the heavy lumber sent down on flatboats and it also became a large hub for the pork trade. Other cities, like Memphis, Tennessee and Brownsville, Pennsylvania became hubs for outfitting and supplying flatboat traders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s