Thursday, July 23, 2009
River Travel Before Steamships
Rebecca Gratz's trip to Troy, NY, in 1804, included a voyage up the Hudson River. Fulton's steamboat was still three years away, and the only available means of travel by water was by sailboat. Although the Hudson, even for those going north against the current, was a far superior means of travel than the roads of the era, the length of time on the river, dependent on the wind, varied greatly. Two days was the best that could be hoped for, but if the wind died, the boat had to anchor and wait. Rebecca's trip took five days. Passengers were responsible for their own food. When the boat anchored they were able to go ashore. Rebecca and her companions bought milk at a nearby farm, but she was grateful that her friend in New York had packed such a large basket for their party.
The return trip south on the Hudson from Troy to New York followed the current and was much more reliable in terms of time.