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    River navigation.
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2003 Nov 26, 10:34 +0000

    River Navigation.
    I've been interesting myself in the celestial-navigation of Lewis and
    Clark's famous journey across the American continent, and looking into some
    of the volumes of Gary Moulton's edition of their journals. To start with,
    concentrating on their initial passage in 1803 down the Ohio (to modern
    Cairo), then up the Mississippi to St Louis, before the expedition proper
    commenced, up the Missouri.
    I am aware that the river system played an important part in the opening-up
    and settling of America, and it becomes clear from the journals that much
    settlement had already taken place along those river systems.by 1803, and
    that there was considerable movement of people and goods by boat.
    This is the period before Mark Twain and the introduction of steam (though
    some steamboats had by then been introduced on Eastern rivers). One
    question that interests me is how vessels were propelled, particularly
    upstream, at that date. Lewis and Clark, with their team of soldiers, would
    sometimes row and sometimes man-haul, and seemed to average about 1
    land-mile per hour when travelling upstream. But this was for a well-manned
    army expedition.
    For more commercial journeys, there would presumably be less man-power
    available. Here, I'm not asking about birch-bark canoes, but more
    substantial craft (if they existed).
    Was horse-towage used, and did towpaths exist anywhere suitable for horses
    to use? Was man-hauling, Volga-boatman style, the usual form of traction?
    Were the local inhabitants (Indians, presumably) employed to provide
    haulage teams to pass the stretches near their homes? Was rowing or poling
    used, and if so, how strong a current could be overcome?  Was sail a
    practical proposition?: I guess that the river-shallows would demand
    flat-bottomed craft without windward ability.
    What about pilotage? It appears that at the confluence near Cairo, at
    least, some "signals" had by then been set up, presumably some sort of
    beacon or post to show the deep-water channel. Did any pilotage
    instructions exist by 1803 (or thereabouts) in print or in manuscript, to
    guide the voyager? Were they kept as a secret by those in the trade? When
    did the first pilotage publications appear?
    Asking these questions only shows my ignorance about matters that perhaps
    every US schoolchild learns.
    I am not asking for direct answers via Nav-l, though they would be most
    welcome, but guidance toward finding some publication which will provide
    such answers. The American Institute here in Oxford has a well-stocked
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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