1807- Fulton Sails to Albany

Fulton in New York Harbor

Robert Fulton developed a steam power ship to sail on the Hudson River. On August 17th the boat set sail from New York, arriving in Albany in 32 and ahalf hours later. Fulton's new boat and the ones that followed changed the face of America.

From the moment the steam engine had been invented its potential to power ships was clear.  The challenge was how transfer the energy created by the steam engine to power the ship.  After a number of failed designs, William Symington, a Scottish inventor, solved that problem by designing a paddle wheel.  His application was to move boats on canals, and for that the steam engine could not compete with mules moving the boats.  However the American inventor Robert Fulton took Symington’s ideas applied it to building a boat that could travel on the Hudson River. Fulton’s work was financed by Robert Livingston, who had convinced the New York State legislature to grant him a monopoly on steam travel in New York if he could develop a boat that could travel from New York to Albany at the average speed of 4 MPH. Fulton built a boat which became known as the Clermont in New York, with an imported steam engine from the Watt steam plant in England.  The boat was 146 feet long and 12 feet wide with a flat bottom. It had a wrought iron paddle wheel and metal boilers.   On the morning of August 7th 1807, *the Clermont left its pier in Manhattan and headed for Albany.  Thirty-two and a half hours later, the Clermont arrived in Albany traveling the one hundred and fifty miles at an average speed of 4 and half miles an hour.  The world had been changed.